H is for Humpty Doo-dling

a-to-z-letters-hH is for HUMPTY DOO

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.

You are heading into Road Train country on the Arnhem Highway -be careful before you overtake -they're long!

You are heading into Road Train country on the Arnhem Highway -be careful before you overtake -they’re long!

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.

The old railway building at Wishart Siding.

The old railway building at Wishart Siding.

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.

652 Railway Workers plaque

A boxing croc ..have you been drinking?

A boxing croc ..have you been drinking?

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.

The so-called World Famous Humpty Doo Hotel.

The so-called World Famous Humpty Doo Hotel.

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.

Dragon fruit vines -weird aren't they?

Dragon fruit vines -weird aren’t they?

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.

The mango trees have already had their crew cuts. By the end of the year they'll be laden with fruit and providing shady shelter for the magpie geese.

The mango trees have already had their crew cuts. By the end of the year they’ll be laden with fruit and providing shady shelter for the magpie geese.

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.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

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.

Advertisements

E is for Echoes of War

EAST POINT (Darwin)

Today we’re going to have a short excursion into one of Darwin’s historic areas, East Point.

The heavy gun emplacements at East Point.

The heavy gun emplacements at East Point.

East Point is significant for its World War II artefacts: the lookouts and the gun points. It’s also the location of Darwin’s Military Museum and its new Defence of Darwin  Museum  Experience.. Although not well publicised during the war, Darwin was subject to a major Japanese bombing raid on 19 February 1942. Australian Air Force and Army personnel were stationed up and down the Stuart Highway to counter-attack if an invasion took place although the bombing raid caught everyone largely unprepared.

DSC_0292

If you’re a bird watcher you may also care to look out for the little crimson finches which can sometimes be seen flitting among the vegetation with their trademark “peep peep” call. If you’re lucky, and mighty alert, you might even spot a family of curlews among the bushes.

Looking rather like a deteriorating water tank, this is actually a gun position (interstice) near the BBQ area and playground.

Looking rather like a deteriorating water tank, this is actually a gun position (interstice) near the BBQ area and playground.

Why not join the locals and follow up your history lesson with a barbie (BBQ) near the beach and an evening drink while admiring the setting sun? One of Darwin’s features is that it actually faces west (even though it’s at the north of the country), so you see sunsets over water…something to get used to if you’ve grown up or lived on the east coast. Sunset-watching is a soothing way to close the day and you get a different view of the Darwin skyline as well. There’s also a good playground and a man-made lake, free of crocs, where the ankle-biters can have some fun.

Why visit: Military history, natural environment, great views and sunsets.

FYI: There are a couple of maps on my A to Z planning post which will help you to pinpoint where today’s post is situated.

Darwin sunset

ELLIOTT

Elliott is a “whistle-stop” between the Devil’s Marbles and Daly Waters, a mere 800 or so kms from Darwin. Never a great place, frankly it’s now dodgy as… you really wouldn’t want to stop here overnight unless you had to, as far as I can tell it has no mitigating features. It’s a place to refuel, take a toilet break, grab a cold drink or an ice cream and set forth on the next leg of your journey. I remember transiting here once when I had to make a call about a job…they seriously thought I could get back to Darwin to talk to someone that same afternoon, within a couple of hours!!

Why visit: Refuel, refresh, facilities stop. (Trust me, you don’t need a photo of Elliott).

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Esky: a portable cooler for keeping drinks and food cold while out camping or on a picnic (in NZ I believe it’s called a chilly bin)

Ear bash: talk constantly (talk the leg off an iron pot); go on and on about something

Elbow grease: muscle/hard work, put some elbow grease into it to clean something.

Eat the table/horse etc: so hungry you could eat a horse or a table or….

Ex-y: expensive, maybe beyond its worth

Tomorrow we’re not straying far from East Point as we’ll spend time looking at some world-famous aviation achievements in neighbouring Fannie Bay.

The renewable energy research facility at East Point.

The dual alternative energy research facility at East Point.

D is for dallying in Daly Waters and the Devil’s Marbles

a-to-z-letters-dToday we’re going to head off down the Stuart Highway, the road that bisects the Northern Territory, north to south. You’ll hear about it a bit more later in the series, but suffice to say the distances are vast. Although there’s a tendency to have one’s motoring head down and notch up the kilometres, there are a couple of breaks worth taking along the way.

DALY WATERS

Around the 600km mark you can take a short right hand detour to Daly Waters. The historic Daly Waters pub is the sort you see in old movies of Australia….timber with a metal roof to flex in the heat and bougainvillea growing up to the roof. Inside, like every bush bar in the Territory, you’ll find quirky displays: in some it’s number plates, in one it’s cop’s badges, others have hats, caps or buffalo horns not to mention undies or foreign currency notes, and some like the Daly Waters pub include all of them!  There’s a great website hosted by the pub so I suggest you go for a short journey over there. I was very interested to learn of the role of the Daly Waters airstrip in early international flying from Australia to the UK.

Bush Pub Daly Waters

Fans of Bill Bryson’s books may have already encountered today’s D places in his book Down Under. Chapters 15 and 16 nicely account for Darwin, Daly Waters and the Devil’s Marbles. I love Bryson’s irreverent sense of humour and his search for a hotel in Darwin was truly (and aptly) hilarious, as is his story of an evening spent boozing in the Daly Waters pub.

If walls could indeed talk then the pub’s bar would have amazing stories to tell of travellers and tourists, soldiers and drovers. Standing at the entry to the treacherous Murranji Track, one of the fierce cross-country droving tracks, there’d have been many hard-bitten drinkers knock “a few” back at the bar before setting forth (always assuming the boss drover let them near the pub I suppose). Ted Egan, former Administrator of the Territory and a bush balladeer sings a song called “Old Paraway” which talks of these hardy cattle men.

Why visit: To get a taste of outback life, see a quirky pub and have a cold drink.

FYI: There’s 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.

A road train near the Daly Waters highway stop. This one is carrying petrol but cattle are moved in equally long road trains. Droving over vast distances is no longer economical.

A road train near the Daly Waters highway stop. This one is carrying petrol but cattle are moved in equally long road trains. Droving over vast distances is no longer economical.

DEVIL’S MARBLES

If you don’t have your mind set on getting to Queensland, you might choose to have a stop-over in the Three Ways or Tennant Creek and from there visit the Devil’s Marbles, now known as Karlu Karlu National Park. I think it’s the contrast between the ochre of the rocks against a clear blue Territory sky that impresses visitors but for Indigenous people it has a broader meaning over centuries of journeying.

From the Devil’s Marbles you’re a mere “stone’s throw” to Alice Springs with under 400kms to drive.

Why Visit: To see a natural wonder.

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.

Devil's Marbles© Pauleen Cass 1994

Devil’s Marbles
© Pauleen Cass 1994

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

First horse out of the gate today just has to be drover given their importance to this country.

Drover: a person (previously mostly men) who moves big mobs of cattle across vast areas of land either to take up new settlement or to take the mob to the saleyards. Other places may call them cowboys but we don’t!! You can read about them more here. These days the drover is a dying profession as road trains transport live cattle to export.

Dunny: toilet, particularly an outdoor long-drop toilet complete with spiders. These used to be in back yards prior to the installation of sewerage systems. Old Aussie “curse”….”May your chooks turn into emus and kick your dunny down!”

Dump: a multi-purpose word. A house might be a “dump” (not worth living in), a teenager’s bedroom might be a dump (stuff flung everywhere) or you might “dump on” someone (mock or mildly insult them or give them too much to do). For example, the teenager cleared up his dump of a bedroom then dumped all his clothes on mum to have them washed.

Desert pee: our family’s name for a facilities-free toilet break. When you do all these bush drives, there’s not always a toilet around when you need one, especially if you’ve been drinking lots of coffee to stay alert. Named after the flower Desert Pea.

Done like a dog’s dinner: Completely destroyed/ demolished or wiped out. Or perhaps just taken out of action by someone else’s behaviour.

 Drongo*: a stupid or silly person. While judgemental it’s not meant as a particularly nasty insult, rather in a “you’re hopeless” tone.

 Dinkum: True Blue/Ridgey Didge or Fair Dinkum all mean much the same thing: a person who is the genuine article and reliable. Sometimes used as a patriotic term.

 Dead as a dodo: the issue is finished, there’s no hope for it to be resuscitated in the future eg a person’s plans.

Tomorrow we’re back in Darwin, looking at some of its historic military history and a relaxing spot for a barbie.