Spend a week in Darwin (BL14)
This is my second attempt at a week in Darwin. In mid July on my way to Darwin I put a stick into my foot (well I didn’t, the stick just appeared out of nowhere) at Batchelor so after it got infected I spent the week at Robbie Robbins Reserve in Darwin (Berrimah) with my foot raised and on antibiotics. There was no point in trying to hobble around and as I wanted to go back to Daly River again I thought I would give Darwin and Kakadu a miss until next time but after getting a scheduled service on my bus in Katherine I was advised to return to Darwin to get further urgent work to the bus.
So I am unexpectedly back in Darwin for a week so decided to make the most of the opportunity. As it was advisable not to drive Rhonda, or as little as possible, I decided Public Transport was the way to go. I am back at Robbie Robbins Reserve and it is right on the Stuart Highway on the Palmerston-Darwin No 8 Bus Route and also on the No 9 Palmerston-Casuarina Route. It was about 40 minutes into the heart of the Darwin CBD. $3 each way or $20 for a weekly unlimited pass. I thought this was the way to go as I can use it on any of the other routes as well. Far better value than the $40 for the Hop-On-Hop-Off Darwin Double Decker Bus which covers only a 24 hour period.
On my first day I got off in town (opposite the Visitors Information Centre) and took a stroll down to the Darwin Wharf Precinct. It had a Darling Harbour (Sydney) feel to it with plenty of restaurants, cafes, hotels and a convention centre. After wandering around (aimlessly) I came across the WW2 Oil Storage Tunnels. For $8.50 entry fee you get to walk into the No 5 and No 6 tunnels which were constructed in 1943 to protect Darwin’s oil supplies. The main tunnel which is 173 metres long has numerous picture boards giving accounts of the building of the tunnels and other aspects of Darwin during the war. The self guided tour is well worth the entry fee.
I found my way up to Bicentennial Park which is adjacent to the city centre overlooking Darwin Harbour. It reminded me of Kings Park in Perth in as much as it is on the doorstep of the city and is very much a peoples park with numerous joggers and families enjoying the sunshine. It also houses a number of important dedications to our Servicemen and Women. I then headed back into town and wandered up and down the 3 main streets of Darwin CBD, Mitchell, Smith (including Mall) and Cavanagh Streets.
On the Tuesday I was booked in for repairs. One of the parts that I needed had to come from interstate and the owner of the business kindly allowed me to stay in his yard until the repairs could be done. This ended up being on the following Saturday when Henry worked nonstop on Rhonda from 10am and didn’t finish until after 6pm.
Other places of interest that I visited included the Darwin Museum and Art Gallery (free entry), East Point Military Museum ($20), 1934 Qantas Hanger which included old Motor cars , Motor Bikes and Machinery (donation) and Fannie Bay Goal (free entry). I enjoyed all these, especially the Darwin Museum with its Cyclone Tracey Section and the Military Museum. I am sure the rest of Australia were not aware/informed of how perilously close Australia came to being occupied during World War 2.
On the Thursday evening I met up with some friends from Bomaderry (NSW) who were doing a half lap and in Darwin for a week or so. They were staying on the edge of the CBD so we met at their apartment and walked down to the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. These are Darwin’s iconic markets that are held Thursday’s and Sundays from 4-9pm during the dry season. Every conceivable food stall was there and what I tasted was yummy too. Thousands of people were there. I spoke to a stallholder a couple of days later and he told me that was a quiet night! Just as the sun starts to set everybody walks over the dunes to the beach to watch the setting sun. The experience was right up there with an iconic Broome Cable Beach Sunset. After a stop at the Casino next door for a couple of nightcaps and a walk back into town, I only just made the last bus out of Darwin. A great night.
During the week I would have travelled hundreds of kilometres by bus and walked almost as many. Darwin was high on my bucket list and it didn’t disappoint. It reminded me of when I first moved to Perth back in 1988. It just felt like a big country town. The locals in Darwin that I met were all friendly and engaging and it felt like a safe place. Walking around at night on my own didn’t faze me and it felt comfortable.
If I was giving it a score, Darwin would rate a 10 out of 10. Loved the place and look forward to returning again in the future.