Darwin Again (this time by plane)

November 2021

After a lovely two weeks cruising the Whitsundays on Opal Lady in Queensland with Taylor, we all flew off to Darwin, to meet my Mum.  We were using Darwin like they used Casablanca during WWII.  Qld could travel to the NT without quarantining and WA could travel to the NT without quarantining, but WA and Qld couldn’t travel to each other (COVID has made it a funny world for travelling).  Two weeks holiday in the NT would count as Taylor’s quarantine for returning from Qld, and he gets to spend some time with his Nana and we get to see Mum.

We prepped the boat for leaving her alone during the cyclone season; double dock lines, valves off and everything that is moveable outside goes inside (it takes some time but we take photos and email them to our insurance company so they are fully aware that we have done our bit in the insurance agreement).

Lots of labels

Masking tape makes a great temporary label.  Something so simple can prevent those embarrassing/messy/maintenance inducing moments when we come back to the boat and try to use the toilet/airconditioners/genset etc. without checking which valves have been closed

Neon was dropped off at a Cat Resort (totally unimpressed, but we would expect nothing less) and we drove up to Cairns.  We caught up with the ‘Mad Macs’ and ‘AraRoa’ over lunch before flying out to Darwin.

I knew I was back in the Territory as soon as I used the loo.

I love Darwin humour.

This is not the way I prefer to be woken at 5am.  It turned out to be a false alarm, but it was very loud (it even managed to wake Taylor up, but he didn’t get out of bed until we told him it was an actual evacuation).  How many people, like us, assumed that we had somehow set the alarm off and spent time waving newspapers at smoke detectors trying to stop the noise?  It wasn’t until I stuck my head outside that I noticed the fire truck and realized that the whole building was making a noise, not just our room – Oh dear.  The building was not on fire (a breaker had gone off in the control box) and Peter was not alone in stalking around trying to find an open coffee shop.

We had fun showing Taylor around Darwin and explaining the important things to him…

That Low tide really means Low. 

Around the corner on the right of the photo are the big doors that hold the water inside the marina where we used to berth.  The boats get used to leaning over every day, but it does look odd. 

That Big Ass fans (their actual brand name) might still not be big enough to cope with the humidity.  Taylor was sopping wet in this photo.  His father took him out for a run on those cute scooters down to Lilys Pub, in a tropical downpour – apparently it took a few ciders to recover enough for the trip back.

We had splurged out and were renting a very nice apartment in the redeveloped Darwin Waterfront Precinct.  Our flat overlooked the lagoon, and the air-conditioning was almost arctic – perfect for Mum as she feels the humid heat.  I was really chuffed that she was willingly to travel to Darwin during the Wet season to see us (maybe it’s because it’s been 3 years since we last saw each other).  We picked her up from the airport in an air-conditioned car, I carried an umbrella, cold water, wet flannels and a small battery powered fan – just in case the shock of the Territory Wet season were too much – it wasn’t – she was just bubbling to see us all after so long.

Wongi Falls with Mum

Now I would like you to meet one of the people you should thank for the style and continuity of these blogs.  Our blog entries are based around the messages and photos that I send to my Mum (I may occasionally call them “proof of life” messages, but call it what you may, it is the reason I have any recollection of what we do).

Jackie (Darwin friend) was due to receive an award for her work (HUGE work) on the rehabilitation plan for the old Ranger Uranium mine (she is a very clever cookie).  Her parents flew in from Queensland for the ceremony, so we decided to have an early Christmas while we had parents present.  There was a distinct lack of Christmas trees available so we commandeered a stack of pool floaty toys and built our own. 

[Unfortunately, there was a lock-out declared just before Jackie’s big day and the ceremony was postponed (yes you read correctly, it wasn’t a lock down).  Happy ending though, when it was finally ceremony time, Andreas (Jackie’s partner) was back in Darwin and actually rocked a suit (with real shoes) for the event].

A photo of a photographer taking a photo of an L plate photographer

Taylor is taking a photo of Dot learning how to take a panorama shot with her new phone while we had Fish and Chips at Stokes Wharf.  The casual eateries at Stokes Wharf are excellent, quick and convenient and the view …

…. is second to none.

One of the things we needed to do while we had Dotty in Darwin, was getting her using ‘i’ technology, so that she could use an apple watch with fall detection. I had done a lot of research and knew that she wouldn’t wear the usual pendant devices (Mother-in-Law doesn’t wear hers because a. she is not going to fall (she assures us) and b. it doesn’t match anything in her wardrobe.  She lives in a village, so we are not too worried about a fall going unnoticed).   Mum lives on her own and is a keen gardener, paver and mover of incorrectly-located stone-edging around the house.  Peter speaks both ‘i’ tech and fluent Dotty, so Taylor and I left them to it and worked on winning our fortune on a crossword puzzle (we didn’t win).  Dotty was concerned that she might accidentally set it off, or that it wouldn’t actually go off or that she might not be able to turn it off it wasn’t needed. So, Taylor was called on to do some test dummy work.  In true thespian style he threw himself dramatically onto the carpet and reassuringly the watch started asking him if he needed assistance and equally reassuringly was easy to turn off.  [addendum: Her and Peter have phone and iPad tutoring sessions every couple of weeks; usually because she has managed to ‘lose’ her News feeds or our blog link].  We knew she was finally comfortable with the new technology when she phoned me a few weeks later and I had trouble to hearing her.  Her voice kept fading and then getting stronger while she was talking, and I was quite concerned.  Then she admitted that she was in the chicken’s yard digging a hole for a new orange tree and had phoned me using her watch!

Because of the weather and limited time, we had to choose our tourist destinations carefully as there are so many around Darwin. One of the definites was a trip out to Lichfield National Park; close enough to be a comfortable day trip, definitely Territory scenery and there was plenty of water around.

She’s getting the hang of the camera

There was unfortunately no swimming at Wongi Falls, as the water was now high enough that the Salties (the crocodiles that are often in the news for eating people) could, and did, come wandering up.  So only photos here.

But D looked like she could use a dip, so we popped in to Berry Springs on the way home, it’s not far out of Darwin.

A pool noodle and goggles is a real help at the springs.  It is rubbly and there is a current, but it is straight down to a safe pool and the water is lovely and cool.

The Museum/Art Gallery was also a must.  Dot loves her art and airconditioning, so win-win.

The other touristy thing we chose to do, partly because we had never visited it during our time in Darwin, was a visit to Crocodylis.  It seemed odd that a crocodile park would be located in the centre of the city, but that is exactly what and where it is. 

Dot saying hello to Houdini and Bess.

Only sections of it were airconditioned (crocs don’t like the cold) so Dotty was making good use of my fan, but she had a great time looking at and reading about the various crocodiles and other reptiles there. 

I was actually impressed with the set up – it is well worth a visit it you want to see a live crocodile. The not small fee for the touristy photo goes towards re-homing the big guys (this little guy does 15 minutes photo time and then he is swapped out).

Here comes the storm

Dot came to Darwin to see a storm (it must run in the family as Taylor wanted the same, and Peter and I had been disappointed that we hadn’t really had any good ones while we were here.)  She got her wish.  These were really only thin bands of storm fronts, but they turned out to be pretty impressive from where we were experiencing it.

There was enough wind to give us all most unbecoming hair styles.  Dot is trying to catch the lightning.

The cabaret show for the afternoon was called, ‘Collecting twelve Seadoos that had been blown off their pontoons behind Stokes Wharf’ (the area between the wall and the wharf in the photo of Taylor demonstrating wind force).  It was a bit frantic down there for a while as the machines bobbed around heading for the rock wall, but I don’t think any of the Seadoos or people were damaged too much.  We did ask if Dotty wanted to do a Seadoo tour, but she declined.

We stayed out on the balcony trying to get the best photo of the truly impressive lightning, until we were forced inside by the rain.  And there was a goodly amount of that too.  We didn’t go swimming that day.

Ordinarily we took D down stairs from the Arctic apartment, into the Tropics of the elevators, across the Sahara of hot concrete and paving, and into the Tepid waters of the lagoon for a swim each day.

And it’s not just swimming that amuses people around the lagoon…

Getting Dotty into and out of the big deckchair was a hoot.

My Mum is an artist (watercolour is her thing).  Before she left, we had to take her to photograph all the street art she could find in Darwin central city (and there is quite a bit of it). She loved the black and white piece with Gough Whitlam passing dirt.  She remembers hoping at the time that it would be the start of change (it turned out that change is taking a really long time).

Taylor and I have always done puzzles, usually crosswords, when travelling.  This time we thought we would tackle a jigsaw puzzle – easy peasy.  We left our run a bit late and were still up at 3:30am the morning we all flew out!  This is as far as we got – sooo close and yet so far.

Dot could only stay for a week in Darwin, but it was so good to see her (and in Darwin!).

[addendum to the story: Unfortunately, we didn’t all get out of Dodge (Darwin) in time.  T got to do two weeks home quarantine after all.  WA changed the COVID status for travelers from Darwin 20 minutes before his plane started boarding (rather frustrating as it had been delayed for 4 hours).  He was pretty relaxed about it as he said he needed some time to recover from a month of his parents retired lifestyle.  I sent him a food hamper… and the jigsaw puzzle – hehehe.  Such are the times in which we live, as reflected in T having to watch auditions for his up-coming play via Zoom]

Neon Notes:

And does anyone care about me!!! Where was I while they were off with the storms and crocodiles and the best Laksa in Australia?

Boat Works:

Nil for a change!!!!

Banner photo: View from the Waterfront Precinct over Stokes Wharf

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