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Published: August 22nd 2015
Daly River Pub
Beer garden - The Barra was beaut
Well folks, we reluctantly left Camooweal with only a short stretch on the Barkly Highway to the Northern Territory border, then a few more hours drive, turn right to the Three Ways Roadhouse, the intersection with the Stuart Highway, needing fuel we stopped to be greeted at the bowser with a sign "Leave your photo id with the operator before these pumps will work", a welcoming introduction to the NT, ok, fuelled up and asked if we could buy wine, by this time I realised this man had a severe attitude problem, he looked at his watch, said "its after 2pm, ok, wait in the bar area", so we waited and waited, probably 20 minutes before he walked behind the bar, one label only, bottles, ok, I asked for a small taste, horrified, he asked why, I politely explained, if its ok, I'll buy two, if not it will be only one. Doug didn't want to risk asking for a taste of the red so decided on a case of beer with my one bottle of white wine. I'm probably labouring the point but as we found out, the NT has really conflicting legalities on liquor sales. If this man operated
Daly River Pub
The Bough Shed and Thong Tree
a business with any competition, he would go broke, as we will have to pass again on our return, we will ensure we don't need fuel, alcohol or even use his toilet. Onwards and upwards, we stopped at Attack Creek rest area, named at the point where John McDougall Stuart turned back from the 1860 across country expedition after an encounter with the Warumungu aboriginals and illness. Then to Daly Waters, how the hell it is pronounced Daily Waters, I don't know? The pub was fantastic, different but on a par with the "Lions Den" in Qld, Barramundi and chips for lunch, huge, we will share a plate next time, hope the photos do the decorations justice, I didn't realise you could be so creative with beer cans or thongs? Up the road a bit to Warlock rest area for the night, slightly off putting was the cautionary sign on the "Ladies" door to watch for the brown snake above the door, needless to say I wasn't finding out.
A little detour to the Mataranka Homestead and thermal pond where the homestead of Elsey Station was recreated for the movie of "We of the Never Never", I had just
Daly River Pub
The Bough Shed and Thong Tree
re-read the book, which was far more interesting than the movie, as well as the cemetery and the site of the original homestead.
Then on to Litchfield National Park, stopped at a caravan park as there was no free camps anywhere around and the washing was mounting up. Spent next day touring, magnetic and giant termite mounds, Florence Falls walked to Buley Rock Hole and back, Wangi Falls and Tolmer Falls, other trails required a 4WD so we missed a bit. Interestingly, the indigenous people pronounce Wangi as "Oneguy" so we are now confused as to where we live? Another night at the caravan park with a young German family for neighbours, just arrived for six weeks with the four of them in a tiny Toyota camper van, a mistake he said.
Heading towards Darwin, with no free camping to be found, we stopped at Coolalinga, which we had been told had a bus service into the city, well, I misread the timetables and arrived 10 minutes too late with the next service 4 hours later, decided the day could be better employed catching up with e-mails, the last blog and some cleaning. We were camped next to
The graves from Elsey Homestead (We of the Never-Never) were moved from the original site to make way for a road in WW11
an English couple who brought their own motor home, trailer and their Hungarian manufactured Suzuki 4WD on a 12 month visa to see Aus. With both suspension and panel damage to the 4WD, they had been stuck there for 6 weeks waiting for parts from Hungary, which was turning out to be identical to Aussie parts except for the part numbers, I suspect they were getting a little peeved.
The Darwin Cultural Festival was on, combined with free parking in the city on weekends, we drove in Saturday for art galleries and museums, the harbour and sea are the most beautiful aqua shade of blue, unfortunately too dangerous because of crocodiles. Sunday, we went to the Military Museum, we were really excited to see Uncle Cliff's video recollections of his war experience which he recorded in 2012 at almost 90 when he returned for the 70th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, I found it quite emotional when he said he was only 19 when he arrived, I thought, just too young, a Troop Sergeant, although he explained his job was "the gun positioners assistant". Credited with 4 strikes, one experience he told was of 9 Japanese bombers, the
Grave of Aeneas Gunn and memorial to Jeannie Gunn (authoress of the book We of the Never-Never)
first to fly under the radar, about 50 feet directly above the HAA guns which they couldn't get positioned fast enough. He said he and the gunner in the tail of one of the planes were looking at each other, but miraculously the Japanese didn't drop their bombs or open fire, they flew on and bombed another location, my knees just went to jelly. Another thing we didn't know was, there were more bombs dropped on Darwin on 19th February, 1942 than on Pearl Harbour and 107 bombing attacks on northern Australia over the next 20 months, extending from Learmouth (south of Broome) in Western Australia, continually across the top of NT to Townsville in QLD. Needing lunch, we headed towards the Fannie Bay Yacht Club when I noticed a small brown sign, high up and half obliterated by other signs, we returned, truly it was the site where the heavy anti-aircraft guns were mounted at Fannie Bay and Uncle Cliff was stationed. There was an historic site information board, when we read it, Uncle Cliff was mentioned, relating a story about poor food rations, a fish trap and a crocodile, he told us the story a couple of years
ago, the photo tells the story, (which I hope you can enlarge) and here it is, inscribed in history. There is only one other Anti Aircraft site left in Darwin, we didn't find it, perhaps next visit. I felt so proud, in 2012, Uncle Cliff at almost 90 year of age, spoke so articulately, clearly and concisely in the video, I had to watch it three times with tear filled eyes.
Next morning we bade our English neighbours farewell, with the hope they will be leaving sooner rather than later. Next instalment, Kakadu National Park.
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