Across the Arafura to Darwin
First, some old business: Leaving Thursday Sunday, we headed west across the Arafura Sea. It is probably named for inhabitants of Indonesia’s Moluccas (Maluku Islands) who called themselves ‘children of the mountains’: haraforas. Interesting factoid: During the Ice Age, circa 18,000 BCE, sea levels were so low, peoples crossed between Australia and New Guinea on the dry land bridge, which led to an exchange of language and customs. Pulled into Darwin early yesterday… the morning was all the time allotted there. The 4-hour shore excursion bus tour of the city and its surrounds left an hour late due to incredibly tight port security that would allow only 3 buses onto the pier at a time — and we had 14 buses. The driver of our bus, whom we assumed was going to drive and guide, could only do the former and didn’t know enough to do the latter. He was a nice enough guy and by the end of three hours we’d mellowed to him a bit.
Us: What’s the population of Darwin?
Him: Oh, I dunno… 200, 300 thousand? [It’s 106,000.]
Him: Would you like to see the Botanic Garden?
Us: YES !!! PLEASE !!!! ANYTHING !!!!
Two minutes later, we had driven through the entire garden, which brought this comment:
Him: Our botanical garden may not be the biggest, but, you know what they say: Small things come in small packages.
We were driven through a park area with lots of wallabies — including lots of them boing-boing-boinging along and two males standing on their hind legs and fighting! When we got out of the bus to photo them closer, they, naturally, ran off. So this is all you get:
We visited the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, a little local museum that was mostly taxidermy and dioramas... this is the lovelorn Bowerbird made famous by David Attenborough: he not only collects shiny objects to attract a mate, he might paint the inside of the bower with paint made of spit and plants. She appears to be considering it.
Many taxidermy displays of every sort of critter.
Besides an installation about Cyclone Tracy, which leveled much of Darwin in 1974, there was an extensive painting exhibit by this North Territory artist, called Franck Gohier: A Thousand Miles from Everywhere.
So I guess we did see a few things on our ‘tour.’ Another Viking bus had the same issue but their driver said right up front, ‘I’m a school bus driver — I don’t know enough to be your guide. All I now is what my kids and the kids on the bus tell me. And, anyway, I can’t hold a microphone and drive.’ So since one passenger had T-mobile and could access the internet, he Googled information about things they were seeing and passed the phone to a second passenger, who used the mike to read the info off the phone to the rest of the bus.
That is what Viking calls being ‘travellers,’ not just ‘tourists.’ The only shot I took of downtown Darwin. What many other tour guides in many other countries refer to as ‘the U.S. embassy.’ Note the Golden Arches on the little sign sticking out of the pink part.
But, mostly, I just shot clouds. They are stunning in this half of the world.
Stay tuned for a very important Public Service Announcement, coming up next. When you read it, you’ll understand why I’m taking advantage of having gotten online at 5:30 am by doing two posts. #
Update: the Public Service Announcement has been replaced by a post entitled ‘Well, Screw That!’ I hope you’re all more amused than I am.