I was pretty disappointed on my return to Darwin to receive a call from Real Aussie Adventures (the company from which I bought my package of tours). There weren’t enough people to make up a tour group between Darwin and Alice Springs, and so they would not be running it. I couldn’t wait for the next available tour group as this would mean delaying my return to Sydney, so the company sorted me out with hostel accommodation in Darwin (plus a day trip to Katherine Gorge – see my next post) and I booked a flight to Alice Springs.
However, this left me with a couple of extra days in Darwin, which I decided not to waste. I walked through the Botanic Gardens, visited the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, watched the sunset, and strolled along the seashore. I also went out in the evenings – both with Aussie locals and with fellow Brits in the hostel. Hostelling seemed luxurious compared to camping!
On my first free day I went to a cafe and treated myself to waffles (organic, gluten free etc etc) before going out to explore.
Darwin itself is an unusual city, both from a World War II perspective (see my next post) and due to the still-evident destruction wrought by Cyclone Tracey. The Town Hall was devastated in the cyclone, and the ruins were stabilised and left as a reminder.
Browns Mart was also damaged in Cyclone Tracey. The building had many functions throughout the years: as a warehouse, military building, bank, brothel, motor vehicle registry, legislative council office, World War II torpedo workshop, Crown Law Office, police headquarters, and finally as Browns Mart Theatre.
Except for the porch and gateway, Christ Church Cathedral was entirely destroyed in Cyclone Tracey. A new cathedral was constructed around the porch in 1976.
It was a beautiful day for walking around the city…
…and for watching the sunset.
The next day I went to visit the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. I especially liked the exhibitions on Australian wildlife. (Who doesn’t..?)
Sweetheart was a large male saltwater crocodile, infamous in the Northern Territory. His notoriety came from attacks on aluminium dinghies at a popular Darwin fishing spot, but he eventually died in an attempted capture. Here’s a picture of the little fella:
I also liked these Australian fish:
I finished up in the museum and decided to wander past Mindil Beach. Unfortunately the famous Mindil Markets weren’t on at that time of year, but it was still a lovely spot.
NB. Darwin waters are infested with crocodiles and jellyfish, so it’s not really the place for a dip…
I finished off the day at the Botanic Gardens. These showcased plants from both the Top End and elsewhere in the world.
Next stop, Katherine Gorge!