I’ve always wanted to visit Darwin: at school in the 60’s we learnt about the terrifying bombings and loss of life during WWII, and I was horrified by the total devastation of Hurricane Tracy that flattened the town over Christmas 1974. But Darwin is a thriving centre of commerce, art and industry and Suzi and I spent a few days there, seeing all the sights and enjoying shopping.
We checked into our “camp ground” – stunning tropical gardens, cool swimming pool and bar then headed out to see the town….first up, we dropped into Australian Bush Traders, an indigenous owned art gallery & café in the downtown core. Stunning artworks and decorative pieces – wish I could have taken everything! Thanks to Ruby and Jeff for showing us around and making our purchase decisions even harder. Oh, by the way, their are happy to ship things overseas so take a look at their website: https://aboriginalbushtraders.com/ and tell them I sent you! We strolled down the main shopping precinct, dropping in on more galleries and a fab bookstore. We walked the back alleys to find the most exciting street art ever! Time for a quick nap after such a full day of shopping and exhausting humidity & heat. Eduardo kept me company while I snoozed.Suzi and I enjoyed a delightful sunset dinner cruise, departing from the famed Stokes Hall Wharf.
How delightful….our tour guide had a wealth of information on the history of Darwin from the early settlers through WWII and the big hurricane of ’74. He pointed out all the important buildings and points of interest that Suzi and I visited the next day from the land. But it was all about the sunset…. Sailing back into port, we were greeted by a fantastic light show from the big Ferris wheel (I went up earlier but it was too slow and the seats were surrounded by plastic curtains so no great photo opps…urgh!)Next day, we drove around the various beaches east of town and found all sorts of bays and stretches of sand. But remember, Darwin is home to saltwater crocs, sea snakes and sharks so no bathing for us…not even paddling!!
In the evening, we hit the famous Mindil Market overlooking the main beach and joined thousands of people watching the sunset.
The market is famous for its food trucks as well as trinkets and indigenous art. We had fun deciding what were were gonna eat but I was a little wary of the “giant octopus balls”…LOL
Time to bid farewell to Darwin and head south west to Broome, a town that’s been on my “bucket list” since childhood. Broome was and is the pearling capital of Australia and the s.w. Pacific region. So many legends of famous pearling luggers (boats) that plied the seas around the N.W. of Western Australia. Plus it’s recently been the location for a number of award-winning tv shows featuring our favourite actor, Aaron Pedersen, who starred in The Circuit and Mystery Road II shot in and around town. It’s rumoured he even lives there now. So bags are packed, Eduardo is excited to board the plane so off we go….
One of my favourite beaches in Australia has always been Manly, just east of Sydney harbour and a 20 min. ferry ride from the city’s Circular Quay. My travelling companion, Suzi, is also a fan of Manly so the first thing we did when she arrived in town was head down to the ferries for our Manly adventure. The trip was relaxing and scenic, going past the glamorous neighborhoods with multi-million dollar homes, sailing clubs and national parks and indigenous tribal lands.Upon arrival, we headed along The Corso, the shopping/dining pedestrian precinct that runs straight to the beachfront. There was an ANZAC memorial event the day we visited with lots of old “diggers” in attendance and a youthful contingent of military personnel paying respect. Aaaah, the beach – the broad golden sands looked stunning, even on an over-cast day.
After a half-hour stroll along the beachfront, we walked back towards the ferry docks stopping to admire some of the great old Victorian and Edwardian buildings, including the New Brighton Hotel (where I would frequent enjoy a frosty beer when travelling home for Christmas in the 80s and early 90s), and various vintage advertisements…
Heading back, the ferry offered some great photo opps of the harbour, the bridge, the Opera House and the big cruise ship that was docked at Circular Quay. A fantastic and affordable ride. I wonder what other adventures await us tomorrow…..
Throughout the 80s and 90s, I frequently journeyed home to Australia from Toronto, always spending a day or two in Hawaii to break up the very long journey half-way around the globe and chillin’ on the beach at Waikiki. I had originally booked for 3 days in Honolulu so I could do the touristy thing before heading Down Under but thanks to Qantas being so short-staffed with pilots and crew, my flight was cancelled and I had to scramble to find a seat on a plane 2 days earlier so all I had was 36hrs to enjoy the tropical paradise.This trip, I checked into the Holiday Inn Express, a couple of rows back from the beach and several hundred dollars a night cheaper!! Had a great view over the canal and up into the mountains…and the comfiest queen bed in which to recover from the Air Canada economy seats from Toronto and Vancouver (12 hours in total flying time). First place I visited was the Duke Kahanamoku memorial (below) on Waikiki beach – it is said he invented surfing as we know it today.I then worked by way along Kalakaua Avenue to view the grand old ladies – hotels Royal Hawaiian (the “pink palace”) and the Moana (pictured below) – I’ve stayed at both in the past and you get a real feel for 1920s old school hotel glamour when you walk in. Being on a budget this time, I headed over to Duke’s Lane, a great flea market where I found some treasures including a beautiful hair comb that the lovely stall holder lady put in my hair…isn’t it lovely? The famous International Market was torn down about 20yrs ago and in its place, there’s a suburban style mall with fancy-schmancy boutiques that you get in any major city. I really miss Trader Vic’s and all the cute stalls…but I did like seeing Don Ho’s memorial (below)Time to depart for the longest leg of my journey – the 10 1/2hrs across the Pacific to Sydney. But look what I found in the lounge at the Honolulu airport. I was having visions of Jack Lord calling Hawaii 5-O HQ while chasing a villain through the airport…”book him, Danno”!! So Aloha and mahalo to Hawaii, and westward ho on to Australia….