Sunday, October 15, 2006

Playing Tourist in the Northern Territory

Friday we headed to the airport and off to Darwin, via a short layover in Alice Springs. Our host in Darwin, Melanie Brenton, met us at the airport and took us to the Darwin Museum where again, we deeply enjoyed both the art and the local history. For the evening, we strolled downtown, watched a blazing sunset, and then had some Thai food. We made it an early evening.

Saturday, 14 October – Darwin, Northern Territories

What can you say about a place nearly surrounded by turquoise water that you can’t swim in? We arrived in the land of box jellies and other jellies, so swimming in the sea was not an option. October is the end of the dry season, with clouds scuttling across the sky, but no rain. It is warm and humid, but the breezes are nice.

We started the day at Parap market, the local craft/produce/food market. We took a shared shuttle out, a nice alternative between a taxi and a bus. I wish we had those in Seattle – I think we could reduce the number of car trips and help get us out of our cars if we had something like that.

The market, a tangle of umbrella covered stalls, is a mix of produce, seafood, imports and a few crafts. The highlight for me were the food vendors – we had a mango shake with mango, ice cream and milk, and fried Indonesian rice balls in a coconut fish sauce. If we would have had more room, we would have eaten more. If you are going to Parap in the future, go hungry!

We next hopped a bus to the Darwin Botanical Gardens. We got the bus thanks to a local who noticed us sitting at a bus stop near the market and came over to tell us that on market days, the bus stopped a bit up the road. We appreciated that!

The gardens spread up over a gentle hill filled with the widest variety of palms I’ve ever seen. As we entered into the gardens, the birds chattered and kids with Nature Ranger hats ran from station to station for what appeared to be a Saturday nature challenge.

In the afternoon our host Melanie Brenton, her husband Peter and wonderfully talkative 2 year old Victoria took us out into the bay to fish in their fast, new boat. We bounced over the waves and had a great time, catching nothing but relaxation, conversation, cold chicken and gin and tonics. I can't thank Melanie enough for a bit of deep relaxation. I needed it. After time out on the chop, we headed deeper into the bay and then up a creek to trawl for barramundi. We saw a crocodile trap, but only spotted birds, mudskippers and a few flipping fish. Another beautiful sunset and we headed back into port. Ahhhhh....

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