Australia · 12 Days · 32 Moments · September 2018

Darwin & The Kimberley

14 September 2018

Friday September 14 We spent our final day in Darwin at the Mercure Darwin Airport Hotel AND the Novotel Darwin Airport Hotel. Yep, we mucked it up & the Webbs & the Lesters booked separate hotels. Ahhhhh, but all was not lost: the pool, restaurant & bar were much better at the Mercure & the breakfasts much cheaper at the Novotel. Both were affiliated, so we just marched across the road to each as it suited us. Perfect! We were appreciative of being back in the land of “wifi” & Chris & Di wasted no time messaging the kids and updating our Journi blogs & of course Ray & Phil had TV again, & the AFL footy finals were on. Bliss. I even watched the whole game between Hawthorn & Melbourne. A great game. My thoughts were of Aunty Barb...a mad keen Dees’s supporter & texts back and forth revealed that she was glued to her iPhone in America watching the game too....with ‘bated breath. “Travel is the only thing that makes you richer” i have said it before...and this trip proved it.

13 September 2018

Thursday 13 September Ahh well...all good things must come to an end. Last night here at Berkeley Lodge and while waiting for Chris & Phil to return from their helicopter jaunt Ray & I headed back to the lodge for a last drink as the sun dropped low in the sky.

12 September 2018

Ice cold Rosé & cheese platter on our deck to watch the WA sun set over the sand dunes. We invited the neighbours!!!
Another dip after our hike...all we need now is a nice cold beer!,,
Wednesday September 12 Carla showed us an amazing array of native bushes and bush tucker plants & the nest of a bower bird decorated with White Sea shells...carried one by one by Mr Bower all the way from the coast to impress a future Mrs Bower. White is THE colour and nothing else will do. Towards the end of our trek a welcome dip in this amazing waterhole...fresh water & too high up for crocs, thankfully.
Wednesday September 12 More photos from our hike. Ray stands atop the waterfall that we visited at River level yesterday. The pic of the rock art is about 10,000 years old and thought to be a Thylacine which shows that this creature roamed throughout the whole land prior to being wiped out by man.
Wednesday September 12 After much deliberation & “ will we/won’t we” type thinking Ray & I embarked on the 3.5 hour hike. A slight breeze at 7.45am when we left but by the time the boat dropped us off upriver & we started the first climb uphill clambering over rocks and boulders & soon the Kimberley sun was in full force. However, the view at the top was incredible. Carla, our guide was amazing & à walking encyclopaedia about the flora, fauna and Indigenous history. We saw rock art more than 20,000 years old, learnt about those amazing little creatures -termites- that do so much for our ecosystem & rocks that bore amazing patterns & shapes. I even got to taste the bum of a green ant...the first flavourless but the second full of lime tang!!! I will be definitely watching out for the “green ant” gin that has just hit the market from now on!!!!!

11 September 2018

Tuesday 11 September Thank goodness we have these two with us to share this amazing trip with us.
Tuesday September 11 Cruised down Berkeley River today..saw amazing scenery, a couple of crocs, lots of bird life and swam in waterholes. (Away from the rocs) Can’t explain how fantastic this place is. One thing our guide said was that there were no fossils found in the area as this rock formation was created prior to life forms...1.8 billion years ago!!! And only mapped by Europeans 100 years ago.

10 September 2018

Tuesday 11 September Another few pics from our river cruise. Pics of an osprey, boat tree, and lunch at an amazing rock formation called the Amphitheatre.
After a quick debrief in the main lodge we embarked on a drive along the beach, learning about the flora & fauna, discovering aboriginal artifacts, & finishing up with champagne & cheese as the sun dipped down behind the dunes. Our first Kimberley sunset.
Took Carla 3 attempts to climb this sand dune . She shoved it into gear, planted the foot & WHAM we were over.
Our landing in WA at Berkeley River. I was SO excited!!! I could see the red dirt landing strip from my seat & Rohan just eased that little Cana in beautifully. Kate was madly waving at us when we landed and then as our feet hit the Kimberley soil she popped the cork on the champagne!! Bless her!!
Flying in a south-west direction still in NT. Reminds me of the Rainbow Serpent.
Not your Qantas business seats!!! Wicked Megan photo-bombed us...& we hadn’t even been formally introduced !!
Our plane to Berkley River is just a wee bit smaller than what we are use to !!!
Sunday 9 September Another bus adventure, this time to Mindil Beach area & the Darwin Museum & Art Gallery. Free bus ride & free entry.. thanks Darwin. The casino is also in the area so Raymondo opted for Keno over Culture. The art by Mullen Wirrpanda & John Wolseley was impressive. In fact the artwork on display was stunning & I would love a few hanging at my place!! Loved the museum & Cyclone Tracy exhibits and reading about poor Sweetheart who was accidentally killed in efforts to relocate it.
Sipped on coffee while Ray had a swim... we are going to miss this view . Goodbye Darwin until next weekend ... look out Berkeley River Lodge... the Webbs & Lesters are on their way.

9 September 2018

Chris, Phil & I took the coastal track and walked from the Gallery/Museum to the Mindil Beach Markets. We tracked Raymondo down and within minutes decided that the Mindil Markets were great, but not for us, so off we trotted to find the Darwin Sailing Club, sip on a Rosé or two, or three, & watch another magnificent sunset.
Sunday 9 September Up a bit earlier today to beat the heat for my walk. Ray joined me & we wandered through the City laneways looking for the murals that are being painted over a 10day period as part of the Darwin Street Art Festival. One artist was also beating the heat and it was fascinating to see how he had marked out his work proportionately ... must go back and see the finished product.

8 September 2018

Saturday 8 September Ray wrestled with a croc today...well yes, it was only 2 years old and, with a name like “Fluffy”, was never going to be a real threat. Matt Wright...your job is safe.

7 September 2018

Friday 7 September The sun comes up & the sun goes down every day, but the image of both is always remarkable. We boarded the Cape Adieu at 5.30pm for a sunset cruise & dinner & we were not disappointed. We were mesmerised for the next several hours and the changing colours in the sky could never emote the feelings as in real time. Fabulous.
Friday 7th Sept Off we trundled to pick up the No. 4 bus to Fannie Bay. ( free travel for old people like us!) According to my information gleamed from a signboard, on my walk this morning, Fannie Bay was a “cafe quarter”. Ahhh well..that info obviously out of date..... after a wee promenade we finally found ONE coffee shop. Nearby is the Darwin Military Museum and it was quite easy to while away another hour or two here.

6 September 2018

My walk this morning took me along the coast, past Government House and through the Bi-Centennial Gardens . It was 26C with a light breeze. Along the track there is a lot of info about the bombing of Darwin & memorial plaques commemorating those that fought during WWII. ( although I might write to RSL suggesting they give the plaques a bit of a polish) . Yesterday’s marathon effort slowed us down a bit so more of a relaxing slow day we popped downstairs and had a swim. The Webb’s are more “beach babes” than us so no sunbaking for Ray & Di but I did enjoy that swim. I have to say the Territorians move & talk at a slower pace...not a bad thing.
The WW2 oil tunnels are just near our apartment. The story goes that in 1923 the decision to store fuel was imperative to the defence of the Allies. The ‘Singapore Strategy” identified Darwin as a key location within the Australia-Singapore defence line. Above ground oil tanks were built starting in 1926 & five days after the 11th & final tank was finished in 1942 the Japanese bombed Darwin & most of the tanks were destroyed. The strategic planning for land & sea attacks had overlooked défense against air attacks!!!!! Oops!!! So a “top secret ” mission began to build tanks underground. Interestingly while the project was to be secret, aerial photos show the soil removed from the tunnels was just dumped in the entrances, so any intelligence photos would have told what was going on. An interesting visit.

5 September 2018

Katherine ( 3rd largest town in NT) Australia is such a vast country. After boarding the bus before 6am we finally arrived into Katherine around 1pm & grabbed a quick lunch at the Tourist/Information Centre before hopping onto the boat for our cruise through the Gorge. The temp was hitting 37C by this time. There are 13 gorges in total. We only saw 2 & it took us more than 2 hours. It truly as majestic. We sailed through the first one then walked overland to another boat to explore the second & on the way saw aboriginal rock art that dates back almost 10,000 years. There was a tranquility yet the tourists were flowing in one boat after the other. The trip back home was broken with a dinner stop but still another 4 house in a bus after a long day holds not much of the longest bus rides I have had!!!
Nitmiluk National Park & Edith Falls We entered the National Park which, as you can see, is unlike any other NP I have ever see. Dry, dusty, yellow & the trees look like they are gasping for survival but in the middle of nowhere....a natural oasis. Out of yellow pops up lush green. Look closely & you can see Phil swimming in the waterhole.
Catherine Gorge, Adelaide River & Emerald Springs Early start for this tour. Pick up at 5.55am & after going up & down Darwin’s, streets picking up & dropping off others,( as you would assume there was one that didn’t show )we were on our way out of town just as the sun came up. First stop was the Adelaide River military war cemetery. Beautifully maintained. There was a civilian section for those that died during the bombing by the Japanese including the 9 civilians that took refuge in the Post Office. I had read about this in the book, Awkward Truth:the bombing of Darwin, by Peter Grose, so was pleased to acknowledge these poor folk. Morning tea of coffee & scones at a quirky roadhouse at Emerald Springs. Didn’t see any sparkling emeralds or signs of bubbling water!! Have to say the landscape monotonous..bit like the voice of our driver/guide.

3 September 2018

Our first full day in Darwin was today and started in true NT pace....slow & steady. We had an early start yesterday flying out of Melbourne at 8.45am and not reaching our apartment here at the waterfront until 2pm. Leaving Melbourne’s cold weather to Darwin’s 32 degrees Celsius was a joy and it was lovely eating outdoors last night. Early morning walk around the port this morning past the several navy ships was interesting. The Indonesian Naval vessel played the ALL Of Advance Australia Fair through their loudspeakers. Walked into town, caught a bus to Cullen Bay and had a super lunch at Yots Greek restaurant. Caught the bus back to town ( free for seniors...yay!) and visited the Royal Flying Doctor & Bombing Of Darwin Museum. What a wonderful man John Flynn was to have had vision and work so hard to achieve this amazing service. The insightful 3D display was fascinating...You were in the midst of the bombing,flying above it and swimming in the oily ocean