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Published: July 31st 2015
Our over night flight proves a little difficult as I get the largest chap on the plane next to me. He's so big that he can't fit between the armrests and has to put them down after he's seated. His knees hit the seat in front. I feel trapped in the middle seat and can't even see around him. To make things worse the child in front on us starts crying as soon as we take off and continues for the next 5 hours. Sleep is impossible.
We land at 4am and as it's dark we decide to stay in the airport. We eventually decide to take the 8am shuttle bus into town. There's no timetable, the buses only come to meet the flights except by 8.30 it's still not come so we share a taxi with another waiting couple.
We book into the Vitina Studio Motel. It's not as grand as the last few hotels but will be fine for the next few days. We catch up on some sleep for a few hours before going into Darwin town.
We walk through the Bicentennial Park adjacent to the sea. There's some really nice war
memorials and views over the ocean.
We call in at Tourist Info and pick up some tips for the next few days before walking down to the Water Front. It's a redeveloped area with a lagoon and wave pool and sunbathing greens. It's again really nice.
On the way back we see the remains of many of the 1800's buildings which originally formed Darwin and were destroyed by a cyclone in 1974. It's a pity.
Darwin seems a very lively place with lots of young backpackers and pubs ! Luckily we're in a quieter area.
In the evening we go into town for dinner. The place is heaving with young people drinking, shouting and having fun. The doormen make a very careful check on the youngsters ages before letting them in.We eat and slink away quietly!
We catch the bus to the Aviation Heritage Centre so that Christine can investigate her dad's war service as he was station here in 1942 assembling Spitfires. At first the museum chap isn't very helpful until Christine shows him a few of her dad's photos. He then finds some books and photos of the squadron
and we get quite a bit of information.
The Centre's got some interesting photos and films about the Japanese bombing of Darwin and the war in the Northern Territories.
We then catch the bus back towards town and get off for the Botanical Gardens. It's about a mile walk away from our stop. They're the first we've been to since our last trip.
The gardens are pretty big but are mainly made up of grassed areas and some trees and shrubs. They have some quality specimens but the grass is very brown in some areas. We have our picnic lunch beside a lilly pond in the shade and then go off to Kindle for a while before walking back to the hotel.
We decide to relax around the hotel pool but swimming is a gasp as it's freezing! Christine manages two lengths while I look on.
Later we try a Skype with Carol & David only for me to do my Norman Collier impression! It's not a success so we have to give up.
We go to last night's bar again for dinner. After 9 they have female jelly wrestling! We decide to go
to the cimema instead.
This morning we walk about 3K to Mindil Beach and take a look at the sea. It's a pretty area with a few boats moored just off shore. We continue along the shoreline and reach The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territories.
It's a great place with lots of interesting displays. The scaryist being the display of box jelly fish, poisonous snakes, spiders, bugs and scorpions! There's dozens of dangerous things out there! That's without the 5m crocodile on display.
The museum also has a number of ancient boats and in the gallery some Aboriginal paintings and rock art.
Afterwards we continue walking along the sea front until we reach the amusingly named Fannie Bay. On we go until we reach the top of Fannie Cliff where we stop under a tree for our picnic. It's been a walk of about 6 or 7K and it's getting hot.
We sit eating with half a dozen or so Kites flying just above us all the time. Often they swoop down right in front of us.
The walk to the War Museum is just too far
and there's no bus service there either so we have to give it a miss. We catch the bus back into town. There are lots of Aborigines around and unfortunately we have seen many sitting around drunk and shouting. A group get on our bus who are very drunk and start shouting and the driver has to eject them. We have also found on buses that in large groups they really smell.
Once in town we try sort out a new sim card and dongle only to find I need my passport. It's a long walk back to get it and then return. However we make the trek both ways and sort them out. It's pretty tiring after this morning walk.
First thing we walk into town and find a Sports and Outdoor shop so that I can get advice on fishing and what bait I need.
He sells me two packs of different coloured Squidgies and a Bomber and says “they'll do you right mate!” I also buy a de hooker so that I don't get near their teeth when I'm getting them back! He tells me the fish are huge and
I'm concerned my tackle's not heavy duty enough.
We walk further into town and around the wave pool which looks really good fun and out to Stokes Hill Wharf. There's not a lot to see.
Walking back we decide to get the bus out to the War Museum. It drops us about 4K away and we have to walk to it and back in the searing heat.
The museum's well set out and shows a film about the bombing of Darwin and various vehicles and guns. It's a good museum but it's a long walk there and back and we're glad to see the bus for our return journey as we're worn out. The first thing we do at the hotel is soak our feet in the pool.
Dinner tonight is a takeaway pizza and a beer around the pool.
We catch an early bus to Apollo to collect our camper van. After filling in all the forms we finally get away just before 11am. The van looks fine and is a real Boys Toy of a machine. A big 4x4 with a box on the back.
Our first stop
after half an hour or so is at a big Woolworths store to stock up with as much food and water as possible and of course lots of wine and beer before heading out into out back country.
Half an hour later we stop at the Strauss air strip used in the War and where Christine's dad was stationed. The air strip is still there and three metal cut out planes and information boards. It means a lot to Christine to see where her dad was stationed.
We finally set off for Kakadu NP and make a quick stop to fill up two Jerry cans with extra diesel in order to prevent running out of fuel in remote areas.
We drive towards the Park and the scenery's pretty flat with lots of scrubby trees and huge termite hills, some over 8 feet! There's also beware of crocodile signs at every river.
We finally stop for the night at the Auroa camp site. After booking in I notice the battery warning light has come on. I phone Apollo who send a man to fix it but unfortunately the alternator has packed up! Just our luck, first day
after only 5 hours driving.
We have to wait until the morning to see what is going to happen.
During the night I hear Dingoes howling around the site and other animals running around.
At 8.10am I call Apollo and report that the van can't be used and am asked to call back at 10.30 to see what can be done. I call back and am told that they will send a replacement. A much newer one this time and to expect it around 3pm.
We decide to go off on a bush walk. Its 3.6K and through the bush and past a large bilabong full of lillies. The walk's ok but not a lot to see until we get to the bilabong. It's huge and completely covered with lillies. The only problem is the warning signs for crocodiles! We don't see any.
The heat is terrific, about 40 degrees and we're exhausted after only this short walk. When we get back we head straight to the swimming pool to cool off. We are watched by dozens of white cockatoos, up in the trees who make an awful noise.
rest of the day is spent hanging around waiting for the new van and keeping out of the heat which is really a problem.
Eventually it arrives just before 5pm and we swap over our gear and suffer for the exercise in the heat again.
It's a much nicer van but storage is more of a problem. We celebrate with a well earned glass of wine before showering.
Later we find that our new grill doesn't work! Luckily the people in the van next to our's let us use their microwave.
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