Darwin and environs

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Oceania » Australia
September 5th 2020
Published: September 5th 2020
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Wednesday we needed a break after two jam packed days of travelling and touring. We took our time in the morning and decided to explore the city after that. The Hilton is in Mitchell St, the main drag in town. We had gone across the road the night before to watch the second half of the Crows game, our first win for the season, at the Hotel Darwin. This was because, unbelievably the Hilton did not have cable TV!! We set out along the street and went into the Mitchell Centre, a shopping complex, where Fletcher managed to procure a cable to connect his camera to the laptop. He had left his at home. We walked a fair way, noting the various bars and restaurants along the way. Then we branched off to Smith St which then led down to The Mall.More shops and cafes along there. From there we continued to The Waterfront. This is a relatively new area, consisting of shops, apartments,cafes fronting onto a lawned expanse which leads to a beach and swimming area..Many families were taking advantage of the inviting water and happily splashing around in the safe, crocodile free environment. It was very warm but we sat for awhile admiring the view.We explored the various shops and cafes and finally returned to Mitchell St and stopped at Monsoon's for lunch. This was disappointing. I had ordered a Cajun chicken wrap and Fletcher , a prawn salad. However, the salad had been drowned in sweet chilli sauce dressing which he despises so we swapped. The prawns were OK but there was so much dressing on the salad that was all I could taste. He said the wrap was OK but could only eat half so I scoffed the prawns and left the rest..

After buying some supplies from Coles and Liquorland we returned to the hotel so I could finish my blog and we could rest. About 4-30 we set out to walk to Stokes Hill Wharf from which the sunset cruise we had purchased on board the Ghan was leaving at 5-30pm. We had scouted where the boat was during the day and thought we had plenty of time but discovered there was no shortcut from the Waterfront as we thought and we had to walk for miles around the Convention Centre and take a circuitous route to get there. It was hot, and we were both puffing and panting by the time we arrived, just before we were due to board!!. We weren't the only ones to make that mistake!! From then on the evening improved. We boarded and were allocated a table in the main dining room. However, we were asked to move out onto the front deck as there had been a mixup with another couple. This was great as we were now outside, right in the front of the boat , with excellent views of the sunset to come.

We motored out into the harbour and along the coast towards East Point. The sun gradually sunk lower sending a gorgeous tinge of pink and yellow across the sky. As it dipped below the horizon the colours intensified and the light was glowing reds and pinks. The other unexpected event that happened then was that a full moon rose spectacularly in the sector of the sky directly opposite where the sun had set. The juxtaposition of the two heavenly bodies was amazing. The food on offer was ecellnt, consiting of a seafood buffet with plenty of large fresh prawns, salads and other meats etc, washed down with a delicious Leo Buring Riesling.. Bliss! We returned to the wharf about 8-30 and to avoid that long walk I managed to quickly snag a taxi. It had been a good day overall.

Thursday morning we were up at 6am as our tour to Litchfield National Park was starting early. We were in the lobby at 6-55am as requested but the bus was late and finally arrived about 7-40. There were some friends from the Ghan on the same trip so it promised to be a good day. We headed to Batchelor about an hour's drive from Darwin and then continued towards the south-west. Our first stop was at Banyan Caravan Park where most headed for the loo and a cold drink. then it was on the road again. The first real tourist stop was at the Termite Mounds. These are all through the territory but there is a large number of them at this one particular place. There were two kinds, Cathedral and Magnetic. The Cathedral mounds live up to their named towering over the vegetation. These are not ant hills but ants do make use of them. termites are closer to cockroaches than ants. The Magnetic mounds are so called ad they face North/South and line up along that direction. Nature is amazing.

Further into the National Park we stopped at the first of the falls. There are several in the park but we were to see three.The first was Florence falls. To get to it we descended a steep staircase made of wood and iron and came to a pretty spot with a plunge pool at the bottom and the falls trickling down the canyon walls. As it is still the dry season, there was not as much water but it was still a pretty scene. Some people went swimming there but we decided to walk back to the bus via the Shady Creek walk, 1 kilometre long but mostly flat. I couldn't face climbing back up all those stairs. However, this was not as easy as it sounds. It was cool at first, being shaded by dense foliage but gradually got harder and hotter. My fitness levels are nonexistent so by the time we arrived back I was puffing and panting and had needed many stops for breath along the way.

We then drove to Wangi Falls. There we were served lunch, a simple buffet of cold meats and salad which was pleasant and adequate. We then only had a short stroll to the falls where Fletcher and I did go in for a swim. The water was cool and refreshing and we had tiny fishes nuzzling up to us. A very enjoyable, relaxing experience. Here the plunge pool was very large and had many young families taking advantage of the cool water. A walk to the viwing platform was followed by an icecream and then we were off to our next stop.

This was Tolmer Falls. Here we walked down to the viewing platform and looked at the Falls from a distance. These were the least spectacular but in a very rugged area.We were asked to be back at the bus at 3-10 but when we returned we found trouble. Gary, our driver, could not get the bus into first gear and he had found fluid leaking from the gear box. That bus was not going anywhere!here was no mobile coverage there but he had a satellite phone and managed to contact his headquarters. Then it was a 3 hour wait for a replacement bus!! He could not provide airconditioning in the bus but he did have some camping chairs which he brought out. So for three hours we chased the shade and chatted amongst ourselves. A few of the younger, fitter ones went off for a bush walk, but all of us were so relieved when at 6pm, the second bus arrived to ferry us back to Darwin

We only made one stop on the way, at the Banyan Tree Roadhouse where the company shouted us a cold drink. Boy, that beer went down quickly!! We arrived back at the hotel at 8-30 making it a 13 hour excursion! .After dropping our bags in the room we changed and went next door to the Outback Lounge where we had a nice meal which consisted of three entrees. I had Szechuan Calamari while Fletcher enjoyed the garlic prawns and then we shared a Territorian platter which had kangaroo, crocodile and buffalo kebabs. Unfortunately the meat was overcooked and tough. It had been a long tiring day so we were glad to get back to the room and rest.

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