20th February

Darwin lies in the Northern Territories of Australia, an area known mainly for its vast resources of minerals. Indeed, in my youth, I spent time plodding to Japan and back from here, the northward journey laden with iron ore and southward, after discharging the ore at steelworks in Japan, laden with ballast, (seawater), so the cycle continued.

Now of course, it’s a beautiful cruise ship that I sail on and no need for the grimy work of yesteryear.  Darwin  is accessed from the east via a series of narrow channels which wend their way between reefs and islands, this necessitates additional Bridge resources, in this case, me and so I found myself opening the Bridge door at 5 in the morning, in preparation of the transit.  We still had our Great Barrier Reef pilot on board and although this is not one of the areas he is required for, he came up anyway, purely for interests sake.

With the advent of the ‘electronic’ age, (those of you who read regularly will remember we use electronic charts now), the navigational aspect is improved when one compares it to ‘days of old’.  Transiting such channels would probably have been left to daylight, so that one could see the reefs and low-lying islands.  Now, with radar and electronic aids to Navigation, it is easier, (although it is still done cautiously).  Chart overlays on radars, GPS too and one can tell if one is even so much as a meter off track.

Our route between the islands and reefs

Our route between the islands and reefs

..and a more detailed section of the reef passage, this one is the Howard Channel

..and a more detailed section of the reef passage, this one is the Howard Channel

Having negotiated the reef passages, we boarded our pilot at 8 a.m. for the 1½-hour passage down-river to the berth.  A strong ebb tide is running, however the channel is reasonably wide.

The dock chart

The dock chart

Passage through the channel

Passage through the channel

During the passage, I asked the pilot what an Indonesian fishing boat was doing here, in this case escorted by a tug.  Australia has an immigrant problem too, those that come from the north, mainly the Indonesian islands.  Oz has a large naval contingent and if they came across illegal immigrants, they used to give them a lifeboat and send them back, this became expensive and so they had fishing boats built in Indonesia and they towed them across to Australia.  Now, when they discover immigrants, they ship them back home, but in the new fishing boats they had built!  The boats can be built for $30k Aus, while the lifeboats were costing $100k +


Having arrived off the dock, it was a matter of swinging off the berth, to dock starboard side to.

Taken later in the day, docked.

Taken later in the day, docked.

View from the Bridge

View from the Bridge

City of Darwin, the white building, centre is the Government building.

City of Darwin, the white building, centre is the Government building.

Unbearably hot and humid, (34C/93F), we set off for a quick jaunt.  The ladies had shopping to do, however I had no intention of staying out in the heat any longer than I had to.  A taxi first took us to Collen Bay, an upscale area of Darwin.

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The girls found a crocodile to bother....

K! and K2 found a crocodile to bother….

Thence off to the Museum and Art gallery of the Northern territories; fascinating stuff; did you know Darwin was totally destroyed in 1974 when a cyclone hit it, I certainly didn’t.  There are relics of WW2 everywhere, Darwin was bombed by the Japanese constantly and many casualties resulted.  There were some wonderful exhibits and amongst them were some jellyfish, the ‘Box’ amongst them, the sting will kill you in  a few minutes  😯 


Some aborigine art

Some Aborigine art

Having taken the taxi back to the city, I left the ladies to their ‘hunting’ and wandered around, looking for photos for you.  Frankly, it was quite difficult, lots of concrete, however there were some lovely parks and recreational areas too.

Government centre

Government centre

Shaded boulevards in the shopping area, (you need it)!

Shaded boulevards in the shopping area, (you need it)!

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Back to the ship and the blessed AC.  Worked for a while before preparing for our departure.  As luck would have it, we were facing almost due west and a lovely sunset.


One of the main tours in the area has to do with crocodiles.  They are saltwater species, numerous and dangerous, however one can go out in a boat and watch them.  “Watch” may not be the correct term as the tour involves dangling chunks of meat on a long pole and then watch the crocodile leap out of the water to get.  Photos are far better way top describe and I was kindly given these by Victoria Kruse, she was brave enough to go on the boat  😕 

First you gotta find one....

First you gotta find one….

...not too agressive

…not too aggressive

Now, a nice chop looks tasty...

Now, a nice chop looks tasty…

...dangle it a bit and whoa!....

…dangle it a bit and whoa!….

leaning outside the boat is not recommended......

leaning outside the boat is not recommended……

 Makes one think twice about swimming anywhere in Australia, ‘stingers, box jellyfish and even the rivers…..

I’ll leave you to it, I have a wonderful video to post!

4 thoughts on “20th February”

  1. My dad was in Townsend and Darwin during the war…three years. He brought me a stuffed bear and, thankfully, didn’t dwell on that later in life but it had to be hell because he lost all his hair in his late 20s.
    All the charts are fascinating Captn. God speed…Glad that rough patch is over for you up the Eastern Coast. Am wondering how it compared to our leave taking from Antarctica on the 2012 trip. I was confident you would handle it all with a steady hand…

  2. Captain Jonathan – thanks for this the final posting from the Land Down Under. You arrived in Darwin close to the 74th anniversary of Darwin being bombed by Japan on February 18 1942.

    Charles Darwin gave his name to the city, HMS Beagle visited northern Australia in the 1830s. Beagle Gulf is the body of water into which Port Darwin opens.

    Thank you again for your detailed posts during the Australian section of the Amsterdam’s world voyage. You have catalougued some great photos which combined with an entertaining commentary has been appreciated.

    The added bonus for us having sailed with you ex Seattle last September was we were able to see the ms Amsterdam in Sydney.

    Safe sailing!


    Allan Gibson OAM & Lois Gibson

  3. Being an Aussie and very proud of the fact, we do have some lovely beaches down South where it is very safe to swim. Also, you are correct in that Darwin was totally destroyed on Christmas Day, 1974 and in the end everyone was evacuated south until the Army moved in and helped to get it back together again.

    We also weren’t told about the bombing of Darwin until after the war as with our small population at the time and all our able bodied men fighting overseas, it would have demoralised the rest of the population of our Country. Darwin is now a great city though not so good in the “Wet Season”. June, July and August are the best times to visit, 30C every day and no rain. Perfect! Jennie

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