After our morning jumping croc exhibition, we arrived in Darwin with 18,016 km on the trip odometer. We’ve been traveling above the Tropic of Capricorn since April, and I feel we have only scratched the surface of the marvelous north. Fortunately for us, we were able to ‘borrow’ the driveway of the house of friends of Kris’s cousin Ros and her husband Sajeel, complete with access to their laundry complete with loo, shower and a simply brilliant washing machine (our lives have become quite exciting). With the kids having a sleep over at Kris’s cousins for the night, we were treated to a night out on the town – alone. This resulted in a lovely Indian Restaurant around the corner.
Next morning it was hands on deck for me. I had the Cruiser booked in for an inspection-cum-service. Old Betsy was hoisted up and greased to within an inch of her life. Apart from some worn suspension bushes, the mechanic’s report was a clean bill of health. Basically I am changing major fluids and filters myself at required intervals, but I wanted things double checked to make sure nothing was amiss. My bill was just $167, much better than other traveling companions, one friends Landcruiser got hit with a $2200 bill, and a Pajero of some other friends was a card melting $3300 – so I felt pretty good (touch wood). I also had the tyres rotated and rebalanced – definitely beyond my single car jack abilities! After returning to Ros’s place for coffee and morning tea, I took the boys to the Darwin Military Museum.
They had fun playing on some of the exhibits, and I took the opportunity to mention the radial Mitsubishi Zero engine (reputed to be from a crashed Zero from the February ’42 Japanese air raids on Darwin) I’d spotted at a garage sale in Spotswood, Melbourne in late January – the curator was pretty interested, and thanks to Google street view, I was able to find an address and contact number in minutes.
Later that afternoon we coincided a catch up with the Lonergans with a visit to Leayner Recreation Area about 10 min drive from where we were staying. Everyone had a ball on the water slides and water playground (even the grown-ups). All for free!
The next day was shopping (to buy James a new bike – the old one was beyond trashed), washing and a dab of homework for the boys, before we headed off to the famed Mindil Markets with Ros and Sajeel where Kris felt compelled to replenish her own and the boys supply of rainbow tie-dyed garments. I bought a croc skin belt, ate a croc burger and watched flame twirlers dance as the sun set over the beach, quite the quintessential NT evening.
The remaining few days of Darwin were filled with water parks, museums and art gallery visits (I was able to look up records of my sister in-law Vanessa, who was evacuated from cyclone Tracy in ’74), bike rides, go-carting (a first for the boys) and dinners with Ros and Sajeel.
So much to see, so little time . . . a year is not really long enough we are finding. We consoled ourselves with the fact that Darwin is a mere 5 hour flight from Sydney and a perfect place to visit in July school holidays. I would love to revisit, and not just in winter, but in the wet season too, when the skies swell with bloated electrically charged thunder heads before deluging the north.