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Life in the Northern Territories

Monday 3rd August

sunny 32 °C

We decided to go for another quiet and relaxing day yesterday, mindful that we had got some busier days ahead. We had another leisurely breakfast, this time a more Aussie one of a sausage sandwich, and then wandered down to the Aboriginal Bush Traders Gallery. They have a great selection of indigenous art work, both in the form of printmaking and oil on canvas as well as some other merchandise. I bought a small painting of some turtles which was as much as I felt I could afford at this stage of our trip.

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After leaving there we stopped off for a quick ice cream before going to Woolworths for some groceries for dinner which included some kangaroo steaks which turned out to be delicious. We spent the rest of the day relaxing in our apartment (watching some women's rugby and drinking a beer in Aussie Sunday afternoon fashion) and then by the hotel pool, which was chilly but refreshing in the Darwin heat.

Today has been a busier but thoroughly enjoyable day. We relaxed a bit this morning and had a leisurely start. We had already booked a sunset cruise for the evening, but rather than just hang out in our apartment for the rest of the day we decided to get a bus up to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territories. This wasn't quite as easy as we thought, despite our careful research. What we didn't know was that the first Monday in August is 'Picnic Day' in the Northern Territories which meant that the buses were running to a Sunday timetable. Once that little blip was ironed out we were on our way to the museum. By the time we got there it was gone 1pm and we were getting a bit hungry. They have a great cafe called Cornucopia; Nigel ordered some calamari and I decided on the Asian beef salad. The food was delicious and once we had polished that off we thought we ought to go and have a look round the museum as that had been the purpose of our visit.

They have an eclectic mix of exhibits including a section on Aboriginal art, exhibits on the wildlife of the NT, and a section on cyclone Tracy which struck Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974. It was shocking to see the devastation caused.

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There was also a temporary exhibition of portraits relating the war in Afghanistan by artist Ben Quilty which I found very moving. Last but not least as well as an exhibit of boats from Darwin and South East Asia, there was Sweetheart, a 5 metre long saltwater crocodile that was terrorising local boats and animals in the 1970's. Sadly it drowned in an attempt to capture it and move it to a crocodile farm.

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Once we had looked at all we wanted to see in the museum we decided to walk the two miles past Mindil Beach to Cullen Bay Marina where we had been told we would board the Catamaran which was going to take us on our cruise. The walk was interesting with some lovely scenery but by the time we had got to the marina we were quite hot and flagging a bit.

Fortunately we were able to find a bar for a quick drink before it was time to go to the jetty to board the Sundancer. We were welcomed aboard and given the first of many glasses of bubbly. Once everyone was on board we soon set off, initially by motor but then under sail. We stayed close to the land and got a different view of the city skyline and our hotel going down as far as Stokes Hill Wharf before turning back towards the sunset. The food was meze in style and course after course was brought round for the duration of the trip whilst Dave, the skipper, continually came round to top up everyone's glasses before they were ever in danger of becoming empty. The crew had two quite small children with them and initially I found this a little scary, but they seemed very at home on the boat and were closely monitored and they were soon interacting with a chatting to the guests.

To add to the excitement we were joined by a couple of dolphins at one point who swam alongside the catamaran first one side and then the other. There was room on the boat for people to have whatever experience they chose, whether this was a romantic evening or time chatting with old friends, or meeting new ones. By the time we got back to the marina it was completely dark.

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Several people who had driven there by car decided to travel back to the city by taxi given the amount of alcohol that had been consumed, and one nice Aussie/ Kiwi family ordered us a taxi which we shared part of the way home with another couple about to return home to New Zealand.

Posted by Gill's Travels 07:56 Archived in Australia Tagged darwin

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