Perhaps you’ve decided to go to Kakadu National Park for an exploration or a few days R&R. You’ll head south down the Stuart Highway away from the suburbs of Darwin and the satellite city of Palmerston, until you reach what is known as the rural area, broadly centred on Humpty Doo. Visitors seem to find this name incredibly quirky which is kind of fitting since the residents can be pretty quirky themselves. This is the land of the multi-acre block where the spare land is as important as the house, and most residents have the 4WD, the large dog, boat, large shed and often a caravan and/or a quad bike.
None of this matters much to the tourist but it does set the scene for the place. Just before you turn off the Stuart Highway and onto the Arnhem Highway and Humpty Doo proper, you might want to call into Reidy’s to buy some fishing lures in case you have fond hopes of catching a barramundi while you’re in Kakadu.
Walk the hundred metres down the road and have a look at the historic old building which used to be part of Wishart Siding, now privately owned, and the memorial to all the railway workers who kept the train lines operational during the war years. With so many railway workers in my family tree I was pleased to see them remembered in this way.
If your time in the Territory has tempted you to buy a didgeridoo (as it seems to do for many younger tourists) you can visit the Didgeridoo Hut on the highway junction and check out their range. Or you might want to visit the Country Music Shack, just up the road, to restock your music collection for those hours on the road, or perhaps to get a selection of Aussie country music.
If it’s time to refuel why not pull in and snap a croc while you’re about it.
You really haven’t driven far enough to be too tempted by the “World Famous” Humpty Doo pub but if you feel you must, be warned it’s not exactly a boutique experience.
Humpty Doo is also the source of many of Darwin’s fresh local produce as this is the home of many of the Asian market gardeners who bring their varieties of Asian fruit, vegetables and herbs to the various weekly markets in town. And if you’re looking for mangoes, this is the place to find them in season…the area is replete with mango farms.
Despite these agricultural successes, Humpty Doo was originally envisaged as the feeder town for a planned rice growing area at nearby Fogg Dam which is now a great sight for the bird-watchers, but do be aware there are crocs in the area….real ones this time.
If you’re tempted by all this Humpty Doo-dling around, or you just would like to try a stay somewhere a little different, there are also a few B&B establishments in the area. This would leave you free to have a round of golf at the Humpty Doo Golf Course, where I’m told that you occasionally get to tee off among the wallabies.
Why visit: To get a sense of the rural lifestyle in the Top End and its general quirkiness, to pick up a fishing lure or two, or buy a didgeridoo.
FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s tourist spots are situated.
Humbug: A very Northern Territory word which can be either a noun or a verb. Used when someone is pestering you for something: money/services/goods. It can also be used to mean someone who’s fibbing or telling a lie. For example, “I wish he’d stop humbugging me” or “he’s such a humbug, that’s not what happened:.
Hoon: a speed-demon taking risks, doing burnouts or laying rubber. Speed bumps may be in suburban streets to counteract this silliness.
Hurl: to vomit (also chunder or chuck)
Hang on a tick: wait a moment
Happy little vegemite: A very Aussie expression based on the sandwich spread for which Aussies are famous (rather like the British Promite, I think, but then I’m not a fan of either). This phrase suggests the person is as “happy as Larry” (whoever Larry was!)
Hey: Can be a greeting like “Hi” but also added to a sentence as a weird add-on. They had a good time, hey? Said to be a habit of people from the state of Queensland, I actually think it’s more of a country thing. It can be contagious 😉
Hit the piss: Get on the grog, go for an alcoholic drink (or lots).
Why not visit tomorrow when the topic will be Indigenous Australians.