(forgot the USB Cable so words for now….)
Just in case you had some mistaken impressions – Darwin may be remote. It may be hot and humid comes to mind as well. But it is not a cowpoke kind of place where the streets are dusty and the shootout happens at sundown after which everyone heads home so that they can be up with the chickens.
It might have been pretty much bombed out in WWII, but that my friends is a long long time ago as you measure progress and modern buildings. Ferry, tugs, container ships and an oils derrick or two dot the seas.
The harbor is just a small way out of town and I eschewed the $6 bus in favor of a nice hike. The first and last search of the day are for WiFi and the other main item of importance is the purchase of the obligate postcards.
And as it turns out, Darwin has some free city Wifi. Just enough that none of the cafes, bars or pubs need to have it available. It is not exactly high speed and there is a limit to both the bandwidth and the amount which can be transferred. Now, my choice is a hike back to the ship to pick up the hardwire connector so that I can use THE internet / computer repair shop (25,000 people have some choices but not a tremendous lot) but I am thinking Museum and Art Gallery of the NT Territories. Looks like just the right hike (2-3km).
The Other Darwin
My hiking tour took me off the beaten track and to locations not on the top ten list. Or maybe on the list but for different reasons.
After heading out of town on Smith, I wound up exploring Cullen Bay which has all the feel of recent yuppy and gentrification. It is a lovely area, complete with Ferry Terminal, good restaurants, decent shops and the ubiquitous ATMs.
Back up the hill, I picked up Gilruth and wound up making a detour to Burnett House on the National Trust site. Apparently the Northern Territories were not exactly the most sought after location in the early 1930s, so about five very nice houses were build to attract some senior bureaucrats. As with most houses of that period, the living quarters were primarily upstairs with screened windows all the way around the house to catch the breezes. Most doors internally upstairs are what I think of as saloon doors (a pair of hanging doors covering the middle portion of the door opening and operating on two-way swinging hinges).
Had a lovely chat (and lots of nice cool water) courtesy of the volunteer docent. He and his wife retired to Darwin about five years ago from Sydney. They were sick of the cold and the expense.
Back to the houses – Burnett was built for the director of public works. There is a huge open front room downstairs which was probably used both as an office and perhaps dining as the kitchen is also on this level. Upstairs there is the landing which opens into rooms both on the left and right. These rooms in tern all connect as well. (and yes, there is in-door plumbing. House was for upper level probably English origin family. They would have expected plumbing).
After leaving here, I headed out along Gilruth and managed to miss the Museum and Art Gallery of the NT. Instead, I spotted a sign “1934 Quantas Hanger”. Down the end of Lange, surround by a fence is one of the original Quantas Airline Hangers. Flights from Sydney to Singapore used to take 3-4 stops just to reach Darwin (I’ll get the map up sooner or later). Darwin was the last stop prior to Timor. Since the flights only went during the day, there was an overnight facility as well.
Significantly damaged by Japanese bombing in WWII, the building was later repaired but passed out of airlines hands and Is now home to the Motor Vehicle Enthusiasts Club. Besides an exhibition of the WWII bombings, the building is a treasure trove of old cars and trucks, most but not all restored. I talked to one of the “old coots” who told me all about the place before showing me around. He has lived in the area since 1946, moving to Darwin as a small child just after the war.
Next down the road was the Fennie Bay Gaol Museum. Established in the 1870s-1880s, various updates, changes and expansions occurred over the next century. It was permanently taken out of commission around 1979 when the extent of unregistered juveniles in the population finally forced change.
It was at this point that I realized my end goal – the Military Museum was still more than a couple of km down the road on East Point. Ok, off I went. The Museum was founded in 1969 by the Artillery Association who cleared the land, planted trees and collected military “stuff” from across the NT. Frankly it is better than a lot of “professional” military museums.
Like many from the Northern Hemisphere – WWII for me was Europe. Family perishing, troops, deployed for the duration, concentration camps and the NATO aftermath. Being stationed in Europe has not exactly helped to widen my perspective. But seeing the reality of Northern Australian, the Japanese bombing raids, the number of ships destroyed both initially and over the months that followed made both the short distance to Indonesia and the extent of the war in the Pacific a lot clearer. As did the memorial wall to the allied forces who perished here.
According to my UP – I have logged about 22,850 steps today so I am contemplating taking the bus back to town…..