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  • Day2

    Hanging out in Darwin City

    August 20, 2017 in Australia ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    20 August 2017
    Darwin - history and exploring

    Today we had a quick breakfast at the hotel before heading up to the Tourist Information Centre to organise a few tours while we are in town. We dropped by the Paspalley Pearl shop and had a chat with the lady who explained all the different types and colours of pearls, very interesting but also very expensive.

    We scored some tickets on the obligatory Big Red Bus and organised some activities for when we get back from Mary River - but more on that later. We hopped aboard the bus and went for a drive. The P&O Pacific Eden arrived this morning so there are a huge number of tourists around, luckily the ship leaves at 11pm so it should all go back to normal.

    Darwin has been destroyed 4 times over the years, three times by cyclones and once by the Japanese. Of course cyclone Tracy in 1974 was the most destructive and our first stop at the Museum and Art Gallery had a whole gallery devoted to the cyclone and its impact. In short around 70 people died, 71% of all dwellings were destroyed, and it was complete devastation. They use steel poles for power lines out here because of the termites they had one in the museum that was completely bent over. The Navy patrol boat HMAS Arrow was destroyed when it hit the wharf. They don't know what the maximum wind speed was because the instruments were blown away but they estimate it was over 200 kph.

    Of course the Navy were the first help on the scene and this was recognised in the museum. It significantly changed Darwin and continues to impact today in the way the City has evolved since and in the future. All buildings are of course now built to withstand cyclones and the Harbour now has safe anchorages for ships and boats of various sizes.

    Anyway the museum was interesting, as well as the Cyclone exhibit they had lots of info about the animals, bugs, and sea life around the top end - and there are a LOT of bugs.

    We then hopped back on the bus and went up to East Point which is the old military base for Darwin. They had a couple of big 5 inch guns in large concrete emplacements as well as lots of interesting stuff from the various wars, The Navy was well represented. Around 10% of the population is employed by the military so it is a big part of the economy up here. The Patrol Boat base is just on the edge of town and there is a big US Marine presence here as well.

    The bus the wound its way back to the waterfront area we explored yesterday so we had a beer on the wharf before going into the Royal Flying Doctors Museum. Very well done with a hologram of John Flynn talking about how the service came to be and what it means to people up here.

    After that we caught the last bus into town and walked back to the Hotel. Just down from the Hotel is Mindil Beach and every Sunday during the dry season they have the Minddil Beach markets which was quite big for Darwin. Everyone grabbed some dinner and then walked up and sat on the beach to eat and watch the spectacular sunset - they have really good sunsets up here.

    We wandered around for a bit and then headed back to the Hotel.

    Tomorrow our tour begins!
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