Friday Flowers: Tropical Colours

One thing about the tropics, the colours of the flowers usually burst out at you….they do have to compete with some pretty bright light.

Sadly i have no idea what this plant is called but it is in Darwin's Botanical Gardens.

Sadly i have no idea what this plant is called but it is in Darwin’s Botanical Gardens.

A common or garden purple bougainvillea is enlived by its unusual presentation.

A common or garden purple bougainvillea is enlived by its unusual presentation.

A passionfruit flower (not sure which variety)

A passionfruit flower (not sure which variety)

Heliconias/gingers are readily available here, especially as cut flowers at the markets.

Heliconias/gingers are readily available here, especially as cut flowers at the markets.

I hope these gorgeous flowers have brought sunshine to you this Friday.


Garden flamboyance

Flowers and flags_edited-1
Before I started visiting Open Gardens it wouldn’t have occurred to me to add “artificial” colour and sculptures to the garden. I’m now a convert and love the additional splashes of colour. Tropical light and gardens welcome vivid colours. Balinese flags appear in almost every garden.

On the Road: Mataranka Hot Springs

Yes it looks like a swimming pool and it has been formed into a man-made pool, but it’s a natural phenomenon: hot springs at Mataranka.

It’s ages since we’ve been here but it was a great stop on the final day of my July drive home. Being the Dry Season the weather was in the balmy late 20s so a warm dip was just perfect and so refreshing. Don’t you wish you could be here?

You can even combine this interlude with a bit of culture as it’s closely associated with an autobiographical novel many Australians will have read: We of the Never Never by Jeannie Gunn, about her life on Elsey Station. There’s a model of the homestead near the parking lot.
Blissful bathing_edited-1

Shadow Shot Sunday: Tropical Tranquility

Another photo from Jasmine Jan wonderful bush garden near her inspirational artist’s studio. Darwin people can take watercolour workshops and classes with Jasmine if they aspire to be artists themselves. I’m going to work up my courage and have a try myself next year.

Kayaks lillies and shadows_edited-1

Quiet paddling

Among paperbarks

And snowflake lillies

Natural tranquility

Shadow Shot Sunday

Check out the other amazing photos in Shadow Shot Sunday.

Shadow Shot Sunday: Yin and Yang

Another photo from last weekend’s Open Garden which was so full of magnificent shadows, and some interesting contradictions.

While yin and yang is not entirely appropriate for Buddhism, nevertheless it reveals light and shadow. Similarly it’s interesting the Balinese-influenced gardens here so often include a Buddha, yet Bali is predominantly Hindu. That oracle of all things, Wikipedia, says “Balinese culture is a mix of Balinese Hindu/Buddhist religion and Balinese custom”

Yin and yang

Light and Shadow

Buddhist and Hindu

Balinese tranquility

In Darwin gardens

Yin and Yang, Light and Shadow

Yin and Yang, Light and Shadow

Shadow Shot Sunday

Do have a look at the other wonderful images posted under Shadow Shot Sunday.

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.


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.

E is for Echoes of War


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.


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 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).


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.

Heading out of town

As we drove out to Crab Claw Island for a Sunday excursion yesterday we were much amused by this dog having a fine time hanging into the wind at 110kph+. As we drove past he “smiled” at us, happy as Larry.

This red cattle dog was having a fine time!

Autumn comes to Darwin

As you walk along the waterfront at Fannie Bay you might think that autumn has indeed come to Darwin mid-summer (ignoring the fact we never have an autumn). Trees are half-green, half-brown, leaves drift from the trees like early snowflakes and scatter to the ground.  Why this strange autumnal phenomenon? Well in our years here we’ve never seen it happen like this before: a combination of strong wind, high tides and heavy salt spray has coated the leaves killing them with their burden of salt and windburn. Local gardens near the waterfront have been decimated by the winds and salt. How long will it all take to recover I wonder?

A parade of autumn-coloured trees.

This poor bottle tree (front left below) has been stripped on the windward side. Hopefully it’s reserves of water, held in the trunk, will make it more resilient to the effects of the salt…or might it make things worse? Will the tree absorb the salt into its water reserves? Time alone will tell.

The poor battered bottle tree front left-ish.

Meanwhile a typical Wet Season storm is building up in the sky and slowly the salt may be flushed from the plants. Thunder has been rolling around the sky for hours.  Take a seat and be astonished by nature’s forces.