Sunday, June 24, 2012


Arrived safely in australia's most northern city of Darwin capital of the Northern Territories located on the Timor Sea. Darwin has a population of 127,000 and a tropical climate with a wet and dry season. The weather now is in the mid to high twenties and it is the high season for tourist as it is not the wet season nor the summer temp of the high thirties with high humidity. In the 1800's Darwin grew because of the gold rush. Today this area of Australia is where most of the mining (uranium, cobalt etc) is located and because the income is high here it is very expensive. It was very difficult finding accommodation under $300 per night. However I did find the Value Inn - the name says it all. One side of the parking lot is the backpackers building and the other is the hotel (if you can call it that). It is located in the middle of Darwin which is good to be close to everything but it is surrounded by backpacker hotels which means there is a lot of noise (luckily I can sleep in spite of the noise). The room is small and minimal but clean - it cost $120 a night (in Asia it would have cost $20 maybe). There are lots of backpacker accommodation in Darwin which is great because there are lots of young people visiting from all over the world.

The first night I walked to the Mindil Beach Market where I got to watch another amazing northern Australian sunset. The numerous food stalls sold everything from crocodile to vietnamese Pho soup to food from Sri Lanka - the difficulty was making a choice so I had spicy calamari and a mango shake. Then I watched the entertainment, browsed the stalls, made a few purchases of course and walked back to my accommodation.

OIn addition to mining the northern territories grow numerous varieties of fruit including 28 varieties of mangos. This area use to be a large producer of bananas, however someone brought in some seeds from asia and did not declare them. The growth of these seeds spread a disease to the banana plantations and all the banana plants had to be destroyed to avoid spreading the disease to the banana plants in Queensland. End of growing bananas in the northern territories - guess this is why Australian customs are so strict about what you bring into the country.

The beaches may be lovely here and the water looks inviting but there are boxed jelly fish so no one swims in the ocean around Darwin.

Purple are box jellyfish

There is also a huge alcohol problem in the northern territories - which has led to an increase in rape and domestic violence. Some communities are prohibited from selling alcohol which has created an illegal industry where people bring truck loads of alcohol into these communities and sell beer for $250 to $500 a case - however get caught and it is a $78,000 fine! When you purchase alcohol you have to show your driver's license no matter how old you are. The license is swiped through a special scanner to see if you have a DUI or have been banned from any license premises in the state - this prevents those who have been banned from one establishment just going to another.

The city of Darwin has been rebuilt twice - once due to Japanese air raids and once due to cyclone Tracy in 1974. Darwin now has a lovely wharf area and an esplanade to enjoy. So you may not be able to go in the ocean but there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy looking and walking along it!

Walking along the beach I came across some and array of colored rocks in the sand to practice my photography skills.
Something I did not know was that Darwin was bombed by the Japanese. In 1942 just Ten weeks after pearl harbour the same Japanese fleet invaded Darwin harbour (this year was the 60th anniversary). More bombs were dropped on Darwin harbour than pearl harbour. All civilians were removed from this area and it became the first line of defense against Japanese invasion. Given the terrain and extreme weather conditions in this area you can only imagine how difficult it was for these soldiers. To this day there is still some artillery buried in the land outside Darwin as it all has not been accounted for!


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