Some places we've been and some places we're going.

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Day 36 Darwin

Our Caravan Park is at Winnellie and just across the Stuart Hwy is the RAAF Base and Darwin International Airport. Yesterday we didn’t really notice much aircraft noise at all but this afternoon I think the RAAF were playing games, the noise from at least two jets was DEAFENING! It started about 4:30 but by 5:00 it was only helicopters and small planes coming in.

It’s not the planes I’m cursing but Sandflies. Alex has some little red spots around his ankles, I have big, hard red lumps on my arms, ankles and legs, the itching from them is torture. They attacked silently and invisibly at Dundee Beach! Today I bought some antihistamine and it seems to have helped combined with the two creams I’ve been using.

Conversation between GPS Karen and The Prado Pilot:

“ Drive 200 metres and turn right onto the Stuart Highway.”

“Don’t be ridiculous!”

The Stuart Highway at that point is three lanes wide in each direction with a 90 kph limit.

This evening we went to the Mindil Beach Markets and it was an eye opener. It’s about 15 years since we were last there and my most vivid memory is of people wandering around the Markets gnawing on Lamb Shanks. It had a Hippie feel, now it’s more mainstream and the Carpark was like Football Park for a Grand Final.

We walked from the Carpark to the Markets where a very nice, very big man told us we couldn’t bring Fergus into the Market but we could take him on the beach. I asked him how we could get to the beach and he said just walk straight across the Market, he’d OK us to do that. We went down onto the beach past an Aboriginal group singing and playing rhythm sticks.

Alex went back into the Markets to find something for us to eat while I stayed on the beach with Fergus. More and more people came onto the beach and a few stopped to talk with Fergus. People often tell us they’ve left their dog at home and are really missing it. One little girl, about two, came back again and again to see Fergus and to entertain us, and herself, losing her feet and toes in the sand then miraculously recovering them. Alex came back with a scrumptious Yiros Platter which we shared. Fergus got his tiny share and Eloise was very pleased with herself when she fed some little bits of meat to Fergus.

Some boats loaded with passengers were cruising up and down waiting for the sunset. When the sun finally went below the horizon all along the beach people started clapping. I hope the sun appreciated the applause and will return for another performance tomorrow night.

Day 35 Dundee Beach to Darwin

We enjoyed our time at Dundee Beach and can understand people opting out and moving there, not everyone has to fish all the time. The old Radio Australia transmission station which we thought we’d visit, has been dismantled and the land returned to the original owners. Wagait Beach though, is on Cox’s Peninsula and we checked out the Mandorah Jetty there. The view was great, we could see Darwin straight out from the end of the Jetty and a ship way out in the Timor Sea. People were fishing and we could see fish everywhere but they were outsmarting the fishermen. Enormous schools of Bait Fish were swimming all around the jetty. On some rocks across from the jetty was what looked like the part of a chair but a local told us it was the remains of a frame used to support netting placed as a barrier to Japanese subs trying to reach Darwin.

When we left Wagait Beach we checked out the wreck site of a WW2 Bomber. Seeing the thick vegetation growing there I think it’s amazing the wreck was found. I noticed some very stark shrubs that had vivid red flowers and it reminded me of the red Poppies and Flanders.

We saw very little wildlife today, one Wallaby, a Dingo but not the creator of the nest at the top of a transmission pole.

When we were at Daly Waters a couple recommended a restaurant at Fannie Bay, Darwin, and we ate there early this evening, I think my meal trumped Alex’. I had Grilled Prawns with Mango and Chilli Salsa, Charred Corn and Garden Salad topped with crispy Sweet Potato slivers. Alex had Spaghetti Marinara which had local prawns, crab, white fish and squid. The Neapolitan Sauce had a hint of chilli, he said his meal was delicious but I still think mine was better.

After we’d eaten we walked along a path above the foreshore overlooking Fannie Bay. I thought that a market was on at the Trailer Boat Club but it was people eating there under marquees.

Day 33 Katherine to Dundee Beach

Why Dundee Beach? We could get a site for a couple of nights, it sounded promising and it was relatively close to Darwin. Closer by boat than road though.

On the way here we passed touring cyclists on the road, sitting at home choosing a route probably seemed straight forward but the reality of the roads is anything but routine. There are enormous road trains, big 4WDs and caravans that often get a bit of a wiggle up especially when passing and on top of that most of the roads don’t have a nice safe, hard shoulder to ride on. Most of the roads have very rough edges and dodging around the broken parts puts cyclists even more at risk.

Our first stop of the day was at Pine Creek where Alex enjoyed a Sausage Roll though he didn’t think it lived up to the last one he had at Mayse’s Cafe. The cafe has now been absorbed into the pub which is a shame. I would have liked to find out the connection between the cafe and the wife of the character remembered at “Bogger’s Park”. He had quite an employment record….miner, road builder, Pastoralist, Publican, professional boxer and wrestler! The manager of the cafe though was flat out while the Argentinian “help”, who’d only been there a week, flitted and chatted as she did her job.

Maybe the little statue of the miner is another tribute to Bogger.

We made another wee stop at Adelaide River, it looks an interesting place and worth spending more time there in the future maybe but we had a place to be.

After turning off the main road to Darwin at Noonamah we continued north west about 60 kms to Dundee Beach. There seemed to be a lot of small “hobby farms” lining the road but all we could see were driveways, the bush was too thick to see anything more. Many were for sale.

Dundee Beach reminds me of Karumba with all the boats, caravan sites set up for a prolonged holiday and tonight even a Corella Cacophony. I saw how the experienced load their boats, they give the boat some welly and drive it up onto the trailer.

I’ve seen a few different birds today- Butcher Bird, Kingfisher, Masked Lapwing and very differently coloured native Pigeons.

Quote of the day: “I don’t care how many legs he has, it’s the beard I’m interested in!”