(11-14 August 2010)
Finally we reach Darwin – as far north as we plan to get on this trip. The vastness of suburban Darwin is similar to Sydney but on a smaller scale – it’s just the lack of high rise that likens it to a lop-sided fried egg, the yolk the city, the white the ‘burbs.
We visit the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery which has displays of local fauna, and one in particular infamous croc called ‘Sweetheart’ which measures five metres. Also there is an exhibit devoted to Cyclone Tracy, the storm that devastated Darwin at Christmas in 1974, which included a sound room with the actual recording of the storm – Zak was particularly intrigued with the room as it was dark, but the HOWL was truly frightening, so we didn’t go in.
The museum’s excellent Children’s Room was a bonus – with displays of snakes, birds, and one huge sea sponge, as well as an activity room, the tribe enjoyed the dressing up, games and puzzles. There was even a microscope to check out minerals in rock samples.
After the museum, M took Saffiya for a walk to Mindil Beach where they met some local beach residents.
On our first morning in Darwin, we head for the lagoon in the wharf precinct – where there is a wave machine and you can pass the time lounging in one of the huge blow-up rings or attempt to paddle a body board. The tribe got thrills on the body board – their first time, as they juggled the concept of holding on, keeping their bodyweight far enough back to lift the nose and not take mouthfuls of water as they shrieked and laughed at the fun.
Given that it was Thursday, we head to the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets – and how popular is the markets? Damn crowded, packed with locals and visitors, all vying a taste or few from the myriad food stalls, as well as seeking a souvenir of sorts from one of the gift stalls, or be entertained by various musicians/ bands/ performers. M came away with a beautiful red necklace and I bought a pair of fisherman pants.
The tribe were too mesmerised by the crowds and the scenes that surrounded them as well as the fire-playing entertainer to concern themselves too much with the food on offer, hence the need to snack on breakfast cereal on our return to camp later that evening.
Friday the 13th! And it certainly was a black Friday for Kaydin, Zak and Soraya as we had booked them for their 4 year immunisation. Soraya was first and she screamed a little but after the needles were done, and the tears only lasted a short time. Kaydin, bravely took the first needle in his stride, until it was withdrawn, then he cried. And Zak, screamed his best ear-piercing scream, kicking the doctor in the vain hope of avoiding the needles. In the end, the trio were immunised and they were fine after the event.
Their treat for the pain of immunisation was an afternoon trip to shops to spend their birthday money they received from Mamita – a successful trip with an assortment of toys, DVDs and clothes all chosen by them.
Following Friday is obviously Saturday, so off to markets again! This time to the Parrup Markets, smaller and village-like than the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets although with some of the same stalls. The village shopping centre was a little bit of old Paddington with its small art galleries, cafés and fashion boutiques. After the markets, we headed off to Alexandra Lake for a picnic and a dip to cool off.
Later in the evening, as a belated treat, we go out for dinner at the local tavern, adjacent to the caravan park. The dinner is to celebrate the trio’s birthday as we didn’t make the opportunity at the time in Katherine. The bonus was that the tavern also had a mini-playground – an essential necessity when taking 4 kids to dinner.
Mind you, we quickly learnt where we were when I ordered a round of drinks (juices for the tribe, natch), as the barmaid asked me after viewing the spirits shelves,
“Shiraz is a wine isn’t it?”
Me, “umm, yeah, it’s a red wine”
“Oh, I know, it’s one of our house wines”, as she looks into the fridge at the 15-litre cask of shiraz.
Glad to see it came in casks and not in 15ml measures! As for the quality? Best not to ask.