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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😯
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.
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 😕
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!