Darwin- Arriving at the Top End

Excitement this morning as we headed to the airport. Once again Brisbane was grey & rainy. We left home in short sleeves carrying sun hats as Darwin our most northern capital is still hot.

The plane was crowded and nearly four hours of wearing a mask is not fun!

Darwin is a very different capital. Even from the air it appears laid back , tropical , slightly dusty, low level buildings, a bit of the Wild West feeling about it …..and lots of water. Bays, beaches, rivers – all of them unsafe for swimmers. This is the outback – by the water.

Stepping out of the airport the heat feels tropical. I love these airports. Small, casual , lots of greenery and lots of thongs. That is the footwear of choice.

A very long taxi queue had us on the Uber app which worked well and we reached our apartment around 3pm.

The Argus Apartments are huge but a little tired looking. But the bed is good, it’s cool,the view is great and it’s big enough for 4. Our friends Chris & Jill are at Kakadu and will join us tonight.

We unpacked changed into more tropical clothes- shorts & tshirts and went exploring. What struck us at first was how empty the streets appeared. No one around. Like a sleepy Sunday… but it’s Thursday 3.30. Coming up to peak hour.

We searched for somewhere to eat something light. Lunch was served in the plane but at 10.30am I didn’t feel like sausages.

The very busy mall.

We walked into the mall. It was not crowded. I’m fact we barely saw anyone. After walking into an arcade we found a cafe and had a berry smoothie. We didn’t want to fill up because tonight we are heading to the Mindel Beach markets. They are famous for their food and flaming sunsets.

We walked to the waterfront and found a few of the older buildings in town.

Cyclone Tracey back in 1974 flattened most of Darwin. It was Christmas Eve and 71 people died There are just a few buildings left. One being Lyon’s House one of the only stone houses in Darwin. It was used during WW2 by the Americans. Darwin was bombed during the war and again suffered a lot of damage.

Lyon House. Today a museum

Across the road another old building Admiralty House today houses a restaurant.

The streets have some great trees providing pedestrians with some much needed shade. And there is some great street art to catch the eye.

We found a Coles for a few supplies and a Liquorland for some refreshments. A few mini bottles of Prosecco and some beer. Steve needed to show his ID to buy the alcohol. Later he realised he’d bought Zero alcohol beer! Not sure that will be a taste pleaser!

After dropping our supplies back to the apartment we caught the bus to the markets. The Gov here in the Northern Territory provides free bus travel for over 65’s. I knew there were benefits and this is one !

The markets are set under shade tree along the beach. The food handicraft and clothing stalls run for around a kilometre. And they were super busy. If you visit Darwin these markets are a must. The food is a reflection of the cultures which make up this northern tropical city. Asian, including Chinese, Vietnamese, Sri Lankan, Thai, Greek, Italian even the Aussie crocodile burger were attracting big lines. The smells were incredible. A heady mix of spices and bbq along with a dose of sweat.

People were buying food and drinks and heading over the low dune to sit on the beach. There seemed to be a no alcohol policy so the blenders were whirring madly making smoothies and juices.

In a crowd this size it’s hard to know if you should be wearing a mask. Covid is everywhere in Australia at the moment and we are trying to avoid it for our holiday. So far so good.

The build up to sunset was filled with anticipation. Crowds were sitting on the beach picnicking on their food stall delights. Children played, local aboriginal people sang as we all looked over the ocean watching as the sun dipped and its colour changed.

Watching the changing scene was magical.

When the sun disappeared the crowds did as well. After a hearty round of applause then it was …..Back to the markets for more food.

There was music and children playing in the candlelight.

Back to the apartment by bus and a glass of Prosecco to welcome Jill and Chris.

Plans were discussed about our trip to Tiwi Island tomorrow. And so our adventure begins.