Darwin is the most northerly city in Australia. In April it is just too hot and humid for words. April is the wet season and is characterized by high humidity, monsoonal rains and storms. I learned of this just now while writing this blog, not as we planned our trip. Darwin can receive 17 inches of rain in January and zero in June. This is a land of extremes.
Beautiful Darwin, Australia
None of our trip was planned around optimal seasonal weather. Five months ago we hopped on a cruise ship out of Miami which went to South America and we went on our way from there. Many places we visited were during the least optimal times of the year. Oddly, they were still very crowded. Photographically, this trip to Darwin would ideally have been a few months later during some very high tides. This would have allowed the photograph above to have big waves crashing through the fingers of rock, blurred during a long photo exposure.
Despite the high tide now being quite low, I rented a car to drive to this beach for sunset. The beautiful colors and easy access drew me in for more exploration. Everywhere I turned there were abstract animals and designs in the colorful rocks. Possibly a geologist could explain some of these unique rock colors and designs. With no geologist at hand, I was left to interpret the designs on my own.
What do you see in these designs?
Being the happiest ant in the colony,
he often leapt into the air and flew about,
much to the chagrin of the more grounded elder ants.
The leaf stem he brought her was not necessary
as it was love at first sight for the two worms.
Many pass by, but few take the time to see the Trojan Beach Horse of Darwin
The only eye witness to the passing seagull was the walrus.
More abstract photographs of this area can bee seen in my Gallery:
More Beaches in Darwin
While visiting the above beach I could see it faced the wrong direction for a good sunset, so I drove, or raced, to a second beach for sunset. I’ve heard Darwin is well-known for great sunsets.
Destruction from Cyclone Marcus
We arrived after much of the cleanup from Cyclone Marcus was completed. While in Cairns, near the Great Barrier Reef weeks earlier, we endured 15 inches of rain in a single day from the tail winds of this most destructive cyclone in 30 years. Darwin suffered terrible wind damage. Thousands of huge trees were blown down throughout the city.
By the way, that gas station in the background is selling gasoline for the equivalent of $4.24 a gallon.
Prince Charles gets to meet Harold
Prince Charles was in Darwin to lay a wreath in a ceremony commemorating Anzac Day. As we all know, Anzac stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and falls on April 25 each year. The site of the wreath laying was only a couple blocks from our condo. Expecting a large crowd, we went over an hour early, standing in the unrelenting heat and sun. I have much respect for Prince Charles to wear a suit and tie, looking very dapper in such heat.
As luck would have it, I chose to stand along the rope barricade next to a politically connected lady in Darwin whose father served in the Australian military. Mrs. Grey had purchased an army green dress just for this occasion. She also had the good sense to bring an umbrella as shelter from the terrible heat. Wearing her father’s military medals and holding a photo of her dad, it was her high hopes and dreams to meet and talk with Prince Charles.
While we waited, we were coached by their version of the secret service on what we could and could not do. No reaching out to shake hands first, wait for him to make the gesture if he so chooses, no taking pictures when he is adjacent to you and above all, no selfies.
This is the last photo I took just before Prince Charles walked over and had a lengthy discussion with Mrs. Grey about her father. Below he is asking the person with the outstretched arm “Who is next… What is their background and name” etc. It was certainly a day Mrs. Grey will never forget. He eventually turned to me and asked if I was her husband. I replied no, I was her personal photographer. We shook hands and discussed where I was from and where I had visited. Then he was on to the next lucky guests. Mrs. Grey was then interviewed by the local TV station which wanted nothing to do with the likes of me…
By this time my shirt and shorts were totally soaked through from standing for hours in the hot sun. So that is how I appeared when shaking hands with the dapper prince. Near the end, officials were passing out free chilled bottled water for all the remaining guests. In the USA there surely would have been several people selling iced water and other goods. Here there were no vendors and the water was free by the bucket load.
Our Visit to Crocodylus Park
Initially I had hoped to see the deadly cassowary bird in the rain forest. Since that was increasingly unlikely, especially since it was too hot to hike in any such forest, we went to a zoo, Crocodylus Park. It is mainly about crocodiles, holding baby crocs for family photos and feeding chickens to 15-foot adults as they leap six feet out of the water.
The cassowary is known as the world’s most dangerous bird. They reach up to 5.9 feet in height and weigh over 100 pounds. They have a stubby five-inch long middle claw and powerful stout legs. These are used to disembowel people and small horses on occasion when they feel threatened. Their main diet is fruit. Having that in common with them, and a big fence between us, we got along just fine.
I’m now in the process of ordering a crocodile belt from this place as I could not justify it while there…
The Aboriginal Peoples
When driving in the more remote areas of Australia like Alice Springs or Darwin, it will eventually occur to the first time traveler they have just seen their first Aborigine. Photographing them is not intended to be insensitive. It seems posting their photos should be no different from me photographing the Peruvians with their unique hats or Navajos in Arizona.
However, through my photographs I found many of the Aboriginal People in my photos seemed to have some eye affliction. What an amazing tool the Internet is. Turns out the Aboriginal People suffer from the eye disease trachoma. This eye disease was long ago eliminated from the mainstream population through improved hygiene facilities and living conditions. The Australian government sets aside large sums of money to treat the disease, yet it persists. Since this blog is not so much a documentary, nor intended to rile my readers, I omitted the photographs depicting the ravages of trachoma.
On a brighter note, some of the Aboriginal People seem to be wonderful artists making and selling their art through galleries.
Their art really appealed to me and I would liked to have purchased some. But it was not inexpensive and we still had Singapore, Thailand and Japan customs agents ahead of us.
Now on to Singapore.