M is for Mindil and to market, to market

a-to-z-letters-mM is for MARKETS: MINDIL BEACH and PARAP

I don’t know about you but I love visiting markets when I’m travelling though I can’t say  buying a fat pig is a prime objective. Without a doubt the markets in the Top End are one of its major tourist attractions. Not that this is the exclusive province of the Territory, or indeed to the Darwin area, as you’ll find wonderful markets in the north of Queensland as well as in Broome in Western Australia.

However Darwin’s varied markets are certainly full of fun and a great passion of the local foodies as well as the tourists. Being so close to Asia, the culinary influences are very evident and there are times you might even think you’ve been transported (ha ha, Aussie convict joke).

Breakfast, brunch or lunch, Parap Market has what you want.

Breakfast, brunch or lunch, Parap Market has what you want.

Mindil Beach is the most popular of the tourist markets even though it’s only on during the Dry Season months, usually commencing on the Thursday evening closest to Anzac Day, 25th April. It can be a veritable Babel with chatter in innumerable languages and almost as many food choices as well.DSC_0603

My own preference is for Parap Markets so all the photos are from there but you’ll see most of the same stalls at both places. Somewhere I have photos of Mindil, but where, that is the question.

Food is the dominant attraction and it’s a cheap place to have a night out with friends (BYO chair, wine etc) and you get another of those Darwin sunsets thrown in for good measure. The glitter of flashbulbs is enough to make you think the paparazzi have hit town. What would you like to eat? From Cambodian dishes to Dutch poffertjes, Thai temptations, Japanese Ramen or Vietnamese snacks, you won’t be disappointed.DSC_1015

Do as the locals do and match your meal or snack with a delicious tropical fruit smoothie…how about mango, pineapple and lime? The young ladies on the smoothie stalls run non-stop for the whole time the markets are on and if you could bottle their serving and order skills Darwin wouldn’t have the dubious reputation it often has for restaurant wait-staff.

Your choice of fresh fruit drink...always popular.

Your choice of fresh fruit drink…always popular.

And since it’s tourist central during the Dry there’s also lots of local crafts like fragrant frangipani soap or crocodile skin belts not to mention the whip-cracker who delights the audiences, or the jewellery and sarong stalls.

I loved this stall with butterfly craft.

I loved this stall with butterfly craft.

There’s inevitably a didgeridoo player to give some local atmosphere. No wonder people enjoy themselves. You may even find some quality Aboriginal craft like the baskets and weavings (below), which I photographed last Saturday with permission. Not inexpensive but there’s a lot of work in these.DSC_0575

The local Parap Markets on Saturday mornings are my favourite, hands down, a manageable size and not so touristy or crowded. Are you after breakfast, brunch, or lunch? You can pick up a samosa, a sushi, laksa, stir-fries or satays on sticks cooked over coals, and those fruit smoothies.

Delicious satays cooked over coals as you wait.

Delicious satays cooked over coals as you wait.

Grab a bunch of beautiful tropical flower for a pittance to liven up your hotel room if you’re here for a few days. Do as the locals do and have a crepe delight from Ken’s Crepes.

Buy a bunch of tropical flowers for under $10.

Buy a bunch of tropical flowers for under $10.

Shop around the many little local craft stalls…lots of souvenirs to be found and you’ll probably find that perfect gift for someone at home, or even for yourself. If you’re staying somewhere self-contained you may even want to buy some tropical fruit and Asian vegetables so you can cook up a storm.

Need to find some tropical clothes? They're here in abundance.

Need to find some tropical clothes? They’re here in abundance.

While you’re at Parap, wander round to Parap Fine Foods, Darwin’s iconic deli with delicious treats in store. 

Love the colours!

Love the colours!

Rapid Creek markets on Sunday mornings are a great place to check out the diversity of Asian fruit and vegetables especially if you’re unfamiliar with them. Don’t forget to take the camera and get some photos while you’re there.

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Why visit: to mix it with the locals, get a great feed at a great price, see the sunset (Mindil) and just plain have fun!

I was tempted to venture down the track to Mataranka or further still to the McDonnell Ranges, for the letter M but I thought you might find the markets more fun.

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

 Mickey Mouse: Unlike the American version (as I understand it), this is rhyming slang for “grouse” and so means something is great, rather than that it’s cheap and rubbishy.

Mad as a cut snake: truly cranky and annoyed.

Mongrel: a nasty unpleasant person ( a worse insult than “bastard” I reckon)

Mate: the ubiquitous Aussie greeting for another person. Increasingly in recent years it includes women. It’s also the ultimate compliment defining a friendship of great loyalty. “G’day mate, how’re you goin’?“  or “He’s my best mate” or “you’ve got to stick by your mates”.

Misery guts: an unhappy, often whingeing person

Magpie: someone who collects bits and pieces (alternatively “bower bird” might be used, both after two Australian birds).

 Mate’s rates: either an official or unofficial price for a friend or perhaps even a local resident.

 Mozzie: aka a mosquito –definitely a word you need in the northern, tropical half of Australia.

 Matilda: a swag, as used by a swaggie (itinerant person looking for work) rather than the modern day camping version. Famously in our unofficial anthem Waltzing Matilda, there are variants depending on which state you come from, but since it started in Queensland I reckon that version has precedence.

Tomorrow’s excursion will take us over to the blue waters off the west coast of Australia…where is it?

J is jumping into Jabiru

a-to-z-letters-jJ is for JABIRU

Jabiru is both the name of a bird and also a town in the Kakadu National Park. It’s a stopping point into Arnhem Land, that vast stone country on the eastern side of the Territory’s Top End. It’s also famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view for its uranium mines, Ranger (about to close) and Jabiluka. This link reveals why the local people opposed the white man’s mines for their encroachment into sacred sites and dreamtime storylines. They also knew that some areas were “sickness” areas which they avoided, and these are closely linked with the presence of uranium. Of course many balanda (white people) also oppose uranium mining for its land destruction and its risks.

A Jabiru in a run-off near Jabiru, March 2013. © Pauleen Cass

A Jabiru in a run-off near Jabiru, March 2013. © Pauleen Cass

Jabiru township services the local community and provides health services as well as general facilities such as a small supermarket. It also hosts the Holiday Inn Crocodile Hotel, famous for the fact that it is constructed in the shape of a croc, with its legs providing the steps to different floors and its glowing red eyes at night. Of itself the town is not especially photogenic, so today I’ll be showing you photos of some of the places I mention.

All the sites I mentioned in the C for Cooinda post are easily accessible from Jabiru and a standard vehicle will serve to visit them. You only need 4WD for some of the more challenging places like Jim Jim Falls, Twin Falls or Koolpin Gorge. Although cut off by heavy rain and flooding during the Wet Season, one of Kakadu’s more imposing sites is most easily accessible from Jabiru and that’s Ubirr, home of wonderful Aboriginal rock art dating back thousands of years.

Views of the escarpment. © Pauleen Cass

Views of the escarpment. © Pauleen Cass

Visitors are inspired to see the open-fronted caves where the Indigenous people sheltered during the Wet Season, or Gudjewg in their language, living their lives, sharing culture, and their kinship stories. It’s also inspiring to look out over the vast flood plains, from the top of Ubirr, and to watch a tropical sunset colour the land and turn the colour of the rocks.

If you’re visiting during the Wet (or Dry) you can also do a boat cruise with Gulumyambi Cultural tours (a different perspective from the Yellow Waters cruise) which teaches you more about Aboriginal culture and life as well as giving you an opportunity to see Ubirr in the Wet and to visit a tiny portion of Arnhem Land. I notice the tours get rave reviews on Trip Advisor too.

Jim Jim Falls near Xmas 1998 in full flood. Photo taken on a scenic flight. © Pauleen Cass

Jim Jim Falls near Xmas 1998 in full flood. Photo taken on a scenic flight. © Pauleen Cass

Kakadu touring can be slightly more limited during the Wet as some touring options are cut off by flooding or higher crocodile risks, but there’s a way around this if your budget stretches to it. Why not take a short flight from Jabiru’s airport? In a heavy Wet this is a great way to see the powering drama of Jim Jim Falls in full flow (by the time the road’s accessible, the impact of the waterfall has diminished), and you will also get a quick view of the uranium mines. Most importantly what you will get is a view over the stone country of Arnhem Land, the completely different sense of place from the open bush and floodplains that you see from your vehicle.

On your drive into or away from Jabiru, do stop and have a look at the floodplains, lotus flowers and waterlilies and birds at Mamukala Wetlands, especially in the Dry tourist season as the birds congregate here when other waterholes dry up. You can see my waterlily photos from April 2012 here.

Mamukala Wetlands

Mamukala Wetlands

Why visit: as a base for your touring, to see the art at Ubirr and the views of sunlit floodplains, and if possible, to take a flight over the escarpment.

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

We’re a bit light-on for J Aussie-isms.

Jaffle: a sandwich made with a particular cooking implement, that toasts the bread and contains the filling (cheese/egg/ham/tomato or chop all of them together). Delicious over a camp fire. I inherited my jaffle iron from my grandmother many years ago.

Jackaroo (male) or Jillaroo (female): a novice working on a cattle property. This definition says in training for management but I’ve always thought it was about “learning the ropes” at a grass roots level.

Jag: manage to get something (more or less by luck) eg “I jagged a good spot at the outdoor concert”

Jake:  it’s all good, “she’s jake mate”

Joker: a man, usually a bit of an idiot/said disparagingly, but sometimes just means “some bloke” eg “That joker over there”.

Joey:  a baby kangaroo in the pouch, or a small one that’s progressed out of the pouch.

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.

F is for Fannie Bay Flying

a-to-z-letters-f

F is for FANNIE BAY

For most tourists to Darwin, the near-city suburb of Fannie Bay is visited primarily for its sea views and sunsets, and perhaps a visit to the local cafe where you can combine both.

However behind the suburban streets lies a wealth of aviation history –perhaps rather more than might be found in many places, or perhaps I’m being parochial. No doubt its claims to fame arise largely from its geographic location at the top of the country and hence the first landfall for many.

So what’s my evidence for saying Fannie Bay is so important to flying obsessives? I think even those indifferent to aviation will recognise many of these names with links to Darwin.

359 Great Race

On 10 December 1919, pilots Ross Smith his brother Keith, and their mechanics, Sergeants Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett, won the £10,000 prize money for The Great Race, being the first to fly from England to Australia, taking 28 days. This amount, now worth about $500,000, must have been an amazing bonus for the men on top of their record achievement and coming at the end of World War I. They landed on the Parap Police Paddock beside the Fannie Bay Gaol, a site now marked only as a vacant block with a plaque and a sign, tucked among suburban houses.

DSC_0501502 Fannie Bay landingA more impressive memorial, erected by the Commonwealth, stands near the waterfront at Fannie Bay and the nearby Aviators’ Park memorialises Darwin’s aviation history. In a quirk of family history my husband’s great uncle, Colonel WEH Cass, was the chairman of the reception committee in Melbourne to welcome the aviators. Ross Smith was a hero as well as an expert pilot, being awarded the Military Cross twice and the Distinguished Flying Cross three times. He and his brother were both knighted after their international flying success.

339 Great Race Memorial

Ross Smith and Jim Bennett were killed in an aviation accident in England in 1922.

337 Ross SmithThis flight was just one of many to make the link between aviation history and Darwin.

Great RaceOn 22 February 1927, another famous Aussie, and Queenslander, Charles Kingsford-Smith, along with Charles Ulm, landed here during a round Australia flight.

In 1928, Bert Hinkler, from Bundaberg in Queensland, broke the Smiths’ record for a flight from England to Australia. However the record was beaten only a few years later by Kingsford-Smith and Ulm who shaved a further 10 days off the time.

In January 1930, Francis Chichester also attempted to beat Hinkler’s record and landed in Darwin – I found this interesting given his later sailing exploits. Chichester was British-born but had lived in New Zealand from the age of 18.

A few months later the women started to make their mark, with English aviator Amy Johnson landing in Darwin on 24 May 1930.

Amy johnson NLA

Modest Australian aviator, Lores Bonney, set forth on her solo flight from Australia to England on 13 April 1933. She was a force in Australian women’s aviation for decades to come, making a number of solo flights which created records. You can read more about her here, but how disappointing that she does not have an entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography…. I feel quite indignant! She is also the subject of a book called Pioneer Aviator by Terry Gwynn-Jones.

Lores Bonney in front of her aircraft. NT Library image http://hdl.handle.net/10070/1348 Copyright expired.

Lores Bonney in front of her aircraft. NT Library image http://hdl.handle.net/10070/1348 Copyright expired.

Amelia Earhart in Darwin 1937. NT Library photo PH0122/0053. Free of copyright.

Amelia Earhart in Darwin 1937. NT Library photo PH0122/0053. Free of copyright.

On 28 June 1937, Amelia Earhart also stopped in Darwin on her attempt to fly around the world. A few days later she and her plane would disappear in the Pacific after leaving Lae in Papua New Guinea.

On 19 February 1942, Darwin would make both aviation and military history for being the first place in Australia to be bombed by the Japanese. During the bombing raid, the Air Force base at Parap (adjacent to Fannie Bay) was also bombed, damaging and destroying many of the Wirraways and other aircraft stationed there before they could get airborne.

Bombed Wirraway at Parap 1942. National Library Image, non-commercial use. http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/180015810

Bombed Wirraway at Parap 1942. National Library Image, non-commercial use. http://trove.nla.gov.au/version/180015810

Throughout the war, the runway ran through the centre of Parap towards Fannie Bay, on a street now known as Ross Smith Avenue. Taxiways ran along Philip St but all that remains of this history are plaques in the footpaths.
It’s probably fair to include the massive airlift of residents after the devastation of Cyclone Tracy (Christmas Day 1974) in Darwin’s historic aviation events. Some residents became refugees in their own country for the second time in their lives, once after the war-time bombing and once after Tracy. Many lost precious family memorabilia including childhood photos and inherited items. The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory has excellent displays on the impact of Tracy, which hit Fannie Bay hard, but not to the extent of the northern suburbs which were nearly destroyed.

P1190247Darwin’s pivotal role in the country’s airborne defence is emphasised with biennial training for air forces in the region. Known as Operation Pitch Black, , this generates constant sound over the skies of Darwin. Although the airport is no longer at Fannie Bay/Parap, their proximity to one end of the runway (the other end is called Amy Johnson Drive) means that there’s plenty of opportunity to watch the Top Guns at work.

 Why visit: to celebrate the remarkable achievements of early aviation across vast distances. Throw in a sunset, a drink and a sea view and you’ve got it made!

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.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Fair dinkum: a compliment basically indicating the person’s honesty, integrity and sincerity. Also used to indicate patriotic nationality.

Flaming*: another Aussie swear word but not heard so often these days.

Flicks*: a word much in use in my childhood for the movies but now overtaken by “cinema”.

Flat as a tack: feeling a bit deflated personally or alternatively the tyre’s flat as a tack.

Flat out like a lizard drinking: busy as anything, too much to do.

Floozie: “No better than she ought to be”, a woman of low morals, a definite insult.

Fag: used for a cigarette (I’m going to have a fag) but also pejoratively for homosexual men.

Freshie: a freshwater crocodile –less threatening than the saltwater version but still wise to steer clear. Some billabongs in the Top End are cleared for salties (saltwater) crocs though there are known to be freshies in them. Definitely a word to have in your Top End vocabulary.

Fella: person or man eg blackfella, whitefella or “he’s a wild fella that one”.

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.

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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.

C is for Cooinda touring

a-to-z-letters-c

Today we’re travelling to Kakadu National Park, about 300kms from Darwin in the Northern Territory.

C is for COOINDA

Cooinda offers one of Kakadu’s hotel options, Gagadju Lodge Cooinda. More importantly it’s also home of the famous Yellow Waters cruise which is a year-long tourist opportunity. For my money it’s a “must do” activity if visiting the Top End of the Northern Territory and this will be our visit on . Cooinda provides a hub for a variety of tourist activities from visiting Nourlangie Rock to checking out the bird life (but preferably not the crocs) on Anbangbang billabong.

Approaching Nourlangie. © Pauleen Cass 2012

Approaching Nourlangie. © Pauleen Cass 2013

Cooinda is also the neighbour to a wonderful Indigenous museum, the Warradjan Cultural Centre which offers the visitor the opportunity to learn more about Indigenous life and culture. The video-taped interviews are well worth listening to. It’s sometimes called the Turtle House because it’s in the shape of a turtle which is really only apparent from the air.

Anbangbang Billabong is a bird-spotter's delight in the Dry Season. © Pauleen Cass 2012

Anbangbang Billabong is a bird-spotter’s delight in the Dry Season. © Pauleen Cass 2012

Yellow Waters is a bonzer tourist opportunity and is enjoyable in either the Wet or the Dry Season. In the Dry season, Yellow Waters is a haven for bird life as the surrounding billabongs and waterways contract. The crocs also quite like to sit on the banks to sun themselves when the water’s a bit chilly. Like any wildlife opportunity what you see varies enormously but on the early morning or late afternoon cruises you are more likely to see birds. Of course in the Dry, being peak tourist season, there’s also a proliferation of tour buses etc. Visitors who venture forth in the Wet need to be aware they won’t see as much bird life, or as many crocs, but it’s so tranquil boating through the laneways of overhanging paperbarks (Melaleucas).

A taste tempter: Y is for Yellow Waters © Pauleen Cass 2013

A taste tempter: Y is for Yellow Waters © Pauleen Cass 2013

Why Visit: If you love nature, have a fascination with birds, are obsessed with crocodiles or want to learn more about traditional Aboriginal life and culture.

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.

TODAY’S AUSSIE-ISMS

Cranky: cross or in a bad temper

Crank: someone who’s a bit obsessed about something (hmm another name for family historians)

Calithumpian*: a description used for someone with no fixed religious affiliation, or perhaps doesn’t want it known. eg “She’s a Calithumpian not a Catholic/Methodist/Anglican”

Cobber*: Once a vitally important word in the Aussie lexicon, this term has progressively disappeared. It was very much in vogue at the time of World War I and expresses something beyond mere friendship – a deep link between men who could rely on each other in times of great need or danger like the outback or war. “Don’t forget me Cobber” is the name of a book about WWI men at the Battle of Fromelles.

Charge like a wounded bull: an exorbitant price being charged for something. “You don’t want to shop there mate, they charge like a wounded bull.”

Crook: usually meant to signify someone is unwell (he’s feeling a bit crook today). Alternatively, it means he/she is something of a thief etc “he’s a crook, he’ll charge like a wounded bull”.

Carry on like a pork chop: make a fuss (She/he’s carrying on like a pork chop because he didn’t win the game).

Chunder: vomit aka “Technicolour Yawn” or “Driving the porcelain bus” (especially with a hangover)

Join me tomorrow for an excursion several hundred kilometres down the Stuart Highway.

A2Z Challenge: B is for Berry Springs and the Berrimah Line

A2Z-2013-BADGE-001Small_zps669396f9 (1)Today’s A to Z takes us on a short excursion south of Darwin – a day’s outing for a bit of R&R.

BERRIMAH LINE

Since much of this series will be about the Northern Territory I have to mention this in passing. At one time the Berrimah Line was roughly the end of the bitumen heading south out of Darwin. It’s now about half-way to the satellite town of Palmerston.

Totally artificial, the Berrimah Line is a psychological divide. Some people live in the Top End without ever travelling south of the Berrimah Line either for shopping, work or tourism. Always used disparagingly by those who live much further south to imply that Darwin’s residents, especially politicians and bureaucrats, don’t have a clue about their world.

BERRY SPRINGS

Berry Springs is a delightful swimming spot about 45 minutes drive south of Darwin. Fresh water springs makes it so relaxing to swim, and when you get out you feel like your hair has had a beauty treatment. Overhanging pandanus trees shelter birds which flit across the water picking up insects. It’s rather like having your own tropical swimming paradise.

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It’s closed during the Wet Season (about December to April) as the heavy rains mean flooding and a risk of crocodiles. Once the rains have passed the rangers check the water and place traps to ensure they’re croc-free before once again opening it to the public. You might want to see my earlier post about Berry Springs here. The park also has a great BBQ area if you also want to have a barbie as well as a swim.

Why visit: For a refreshing swim in a safe, croc-free zone, to watch the birds as you float along and just generally chill out.

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.

TODAY’S “B” AUSSIE-ISMS

Bloody: Australia’s all-time favourite swear word used in an infinite variety of intonations and meanings, some strongly aggro and some indulgent.

Blow-in: This is very much a Territory expression, used for those who arrive in the Northern Territory (and quite probably the Kimberley) and aren’t expected to stay. Blow-in status is a hard one to shake: I used to say facetiously I didn’t have long enough to live to cease being one, but now after 16 years perhaps I’m slowly getting local status.

Bloke: a man. It used to be in constant use when I was growing up but has been replaced with “man” or the more polite “gentleman” and with the <40s  has been Americanised to “dude” which sets my teeth on edge.

Back of Bourke: Used to signify somewhere miles away but most particularly far away in the Australian outback. Bourke is a town in western New South Wales.

Bastard: It has to be said, this is another pervasive Aussie-ism with vast nuances of meaning. It generally isn’t a reflection on parentage (though occasionally may imply that). It can be meant as an insult or affectionately –it’s all in the tone of the sentence.

Bonzer*: no longer in use. Once used often to mean something was great.  Probably replaced by “fantastic”.

Barbie: a BBQ not the doll of the same name.

 Bludger: Someone who doesn’t do any work, a lazy person. A real Aussie insult! No one, but no one, likes a bludger.

 Blow me down: an expression of surprise.

 Blue arsed fly: rushing around like a “lunatic”. “She’ll never get it done on time..she’s running around like a blue arsed fly”.

 Brass razoo*: money/coin. eg I haven’t got a brass razoo to give you.

 Basket case: Mad/crazy/pretty weird person, or sometimes just very distressed by something.eg “she’s been a basket case since she lost her job”.

 Banana bender: A Queenslander, someone born or who comes from the state of Queensland (count me in!)

 Bagged: gain or get eg “we bagged a bargain on that” or Bagging, which on the other hand means to be rude, dismissive, “sledging” eg  “that movie got a bagging”

Back hander: a compliment that doesn’t sound like one OR a bribe, kick-back.

Bull-sh**: Not polite, but a phrase that is commonly used to indicate the person is telling a highly exaggerated story or talking rubbish.

Tomorrow we’re off to Cooinda in Kakadu National Park, one of Australia’s World Heritage Areas.

Someone has to do it

Cornucopia Cafe is a lovely spot for brunch or lunch – a view overlooking Fannie Bay, sitting on the deck having tasty food with a cooling breeze. Aaah.

It’s a tough life, but someone has to do it, right?!

Then when you’ve worked too hard, you can visit the adjoining Museum with its fascinating displays: Sweetheart the giant croc, Aboriginal Art, old boats, the Cyclone Tracy exhibition (preferably not if you’re a local).  Culture + food, what more could you want?

View from the verandah at Cornucopia…just gorgeous.

Waterfall coolness

There is a new playground and water feature being installed at Howard Springs Nature Park, about 35kms south of Darwin. The playground is close to completion but the waterfall and adjoining rock pools are already proving to be an enjoyable outing. The pools are about calf-high so good for littlies to paddle around in, and adults to laze in. The water is salt-water treated, not chlorine which makes it very pleasant.

The waterfall packs a punch and provides an excellent shoulder massage. All in all, it looks like being a great success.

The ability to stand behind the waterfall is enjoyed by adults and children alike.

Springtime in Darwin

Well it may be officially Spring in the southern states today but this is what we have to put up with in Darwin!  

Unfortunately truth be told the Build Up is definitely on its way and the humidity is rising so we’ll soon be back at the Darwin Waterfront and Wavepool…and looking for some shade to sit under. It’s been too cold (!!) for a while to go swimming!. Seriously, I laughed when someone said this to me 15 years ago, but now I can so relate!

If you visit Darwin you must find your way here, there’s just so much to do.

The walkway from the CBD down to the Waterfront.