Thursday, 21 June 2012

166 - Darwin Retreats

Being hung out to dry dear

When ever possible we stay at retreats. The retreats are never crowded, they are affordable, and very importantly, all the other guests are all just fantastic genuine people.

Now there are three retreats in Darwin. All three obviously operate with their regular guests, with two closing for the wet, with the established one staying open all year round. Of course our choice of retreats definitely doesn't suit everybody

The negativity is, they are a fair way out of Darwin, however close to Berry Springs, Kakadu and Litchfield National Park.

The open air alfresco shower and laundry area. Someone forgot the doors!!!!!

Ahhhhh a nice peaceful camp area

Only a little pool, but just great to get wet and have a splash

As we are new to Darwin, we have done the tourist things as in previous posts. If we stay in for the day, we generally chill out, and that's cool. We may have a game of darts or a game Boulee (like bowls except there in no green and you use steel balls). Follow that by the mandatory 5pm happy hour, then the camp dinner, if you want too, which consists of (roasts, BBQ, seafood, and you name it.) It all gets put together in culinary presentation that would make Manu Fidell look like an apprentice chef.) Some nights the day is topped off with a camp fire and many grogs.  If you don't want to join in...hey that's cool also

So we all really have a great time.  Beats being lined up in your average CP.

This is the happy hour, BBQ and socialising area for the camp

Stay tooooooned for more on Darwin!

165 - TAP Day @ Sky City Casino

The beach side (Mindil Beach) of the Star City Casino

Now it is tradition during the dry season, that every Monday, the Sky City Casino in Darwin, has what they call Mad Monday, or to most it is know as TAP day which means TIGHT ARSE PENSIONERS day.

So we all (from the camp) got picked up by the free casino bus at Cooralinga, which is about 20 minutes from our retreat. The bus then proceeds to go to most of the CP's in the area to pick up more guests, who want to go to the Casino for the day. This process is all about first in best dressed. Once the bus is full, tough titties, you miss out. The beauty for us, is were the first on board, so we were guaranteed a seat.

Now by going in the bus you get the opportunity to become associate members of the Casino, and you get given a special Mad Monday voucher pack. Now that consists of one free standard drink, $5.00 to play Keno and $10.00 to play the pokies....and its all free. Then you have got the opportunity to go to the buffet restaurant to the, all you can eat $9.95 buffet. And that's the only thing you pay for!

The drink and the Keno is a voucher system, the pokies $20 is registered on a 24 hour credit card thingy....very clever.

Overlooking Mindil Beach from the lawns of the Casino.

Now this day is definitely a win, win day for all. The TAP's get a lot for not much outlay dollar wise, however and inevitably the TAP's will gamble more and drink more. So everybody benefits. All in all a good marketing ploy from the Casino.

Now I know why they call it TIGHT ARSE PENSIONERS day. There must have been a trillion Geriatric Gypsies, in on this deal. The buffet was huge, and all that I can see, would load their plates to the brim and more and gorge on the delights that was presented. Now I will tell you, there was absolutely a huge buffet on tap. From soups, roasts, assortment of hot and cold dishes, veggies, salad, and deserts. Just amazing!!!!!!!

Now me being a Geriatric Gypsy, Recycled Teenager, Ageing Delinquent and now a Tight Arse Pensioner, mate I was head of the line in making sure I over indulged in everything. I visited the buffet until my sagging belly, sagged even further over my undersized shorts, my eyes were bulging at the delicious delights, and wiping my mouth after all the dribble, one sat back and just said, "ain't life grand being a TAP."

So yes I got my moneys worth. Ms Gillard would be proud of all of us budgeting our meagre pensions for this fantastic day.

The pool area at the Casino

Feel like a swim?

So of course we played our electronic money on the pokies and keno, had a free beer and spent my $9.95 on the humongous buffet. Me being a typical TAP, the day only cost me about $15.00. Yahooooooo!!!!!
I have since picked up around the ridges, TAP's, are often called PAP's which means PAIN in the ARSE PENSIONERS. Don't care what we get called, just a great economical day all round.

We caught the 1500 hours bus back to Cooralinga from the Casino. Most of us had missed our "nanny nap" or in my case my "poppy pause." So with the gentle mutterings of perfectly toooooned Toyota Coaster bus, and with the setting sun caressing our worn out bodies, most sunk into a pregnant pause, watching our eye lids, and quietly burping and farting,  reminiscing of what can only be described as great day out.

Stay toooooooned

Saturday, 16 June 2012

164 - Litchfield National Park

Some of the Termite Mounds in LNP

We are slowly chewing away the things to do, here in Darwin. One of the major events was to visit Litchfield National Park. Now as per my previous post, the bride was in Coffs Harbour for my visit to LNP. Of course I would have liked the bride to join me, but that was just not possible due to the circumstances.

Apart from that there was a fair bit of walking down some very steep terrain which would have been an obstacle for the bride, so by going on my own, I was basically the forward scout, for when or if, we visit again prior to our departure from Darwin.

Now LNP was everything I expected. There are four major waterfalls and swimming holes as well as the skillions of Termite Mounds. There are a couple of other history sites to visit, however I am not a history buff. So my first stop on the leg was the Termite Mounds

These things go for miles

Now it was this visit that I came across the gazillions of back scratchers. It seems they have an itinerary of things to see, and hence they were there on mass. Next stop was Bluey Rockhole. This was a fantastic stop, however not as spectacular as what was to be seen further down the track.

Bluey Rockhole

More on the Blueys

And still more

A few Back Scratchers getting beaten up in the free flowing water

After Blueys Rockhole is Florence Falls. These falls are accessed by a walking track from Blueys, however to access the swimming area there is 135 steep, heart breaking stairs. Luckily I am on my own as the bride would have waved me good bye. The bride doesn't do stairs let alone steep ones.

Florence Falls

The swimming area at the bottom of 135 feeeeeerk'n stairs

Ahhhhhh very refreshing

After climbing back up those stairs, I headed back to the Val to venture forth to the remaining two falls Tolmer and Wangi. I had it on good authority that Wangi was the most popular, mainly because of the large swimming and picnic area, and the ease of access from the car park.  So I decided to miss Tolmer Falls and go straight to Wangi. As I had to back track, I decided to do Tolmer Falls on the way back to Berry Springs. If I had a fourby I could do the complete loop back to Berry Springs, via a very ordinary gravel road, however the Val couldn't handle the road. So it was off to Wangi Falls.

As I expected the car park was packed, with a gazillion back scratchers and tour buses. But what the "heck." I parked the Val, grabbed the back pack and headed to the falls...........most impressed.

Wangi Falls and swimming area

I could imagine these falls during the wet

Very pleasant for a swim

You can swim under the falls....yahooooo!!!!!

After a refreshing swim at Wangi, it was time to back track, and hence the last falls to visit was Tolmer Falls the last of the falls on the agenda. Now Tolmer falls is not a swimming area, just a viewing platform. From the car park was a 400 meter walk to the viewing platform. Yep another spectacular part of Mother Nature.

Tolmer Falls

Looking down the valley from Tolma Falls

All in all the trip was really worth the effort. For obvious reasons it would have been a more enjoyable day with the bride..............however we may visit together before we leave here, which we think, we may start to head east by no later than the end of June.

Stay toooooooned

Friday, 15 June 2012

163 - Joshua Cronin R.I.P.

Before I get into my next posts, the bride received the news earlier in the week that her nephew (the son of her sister Julie) had passed after a short battle with Melanoma Cancer.

The bride flew back to Sydney then off to Coffs Harbour earlier in the week, to attend the funeral and subsequent wake. The passing of  Joshua Cronin is very tragic considering his tender age of 28. Circumstances didn't allow me to attend, however the Bride and myself are very thank full to her sister and family for enabling the Bride to attend the very sad occassion.

I have been advised the service was beautiful and the wake was party, party, party, the only way Joshua would have liked it.

Joshua rest in peace, and I have had a few beers for ya in Darwin.

Cheers and beers

Paul and Wendy

162 - Mandoorah

Darwin Skyline from Mandoorah on a sunny but hazy day

For those avid viewers of Sunrise on channel 7 will note every time the weather presenter does his thing in Darwin, you may notice the Darwin skyline in the back ground. This of course, where the broadcast is done is Mandoorah.  Now Mandoorah is directly across the bay from Darwin proper, and a short ferry ride from the CBD. However if you want to drive from Darwin it is a two hour journey, however from Berry Springs where we are now, it is about 60kms.

Now where we are camped all or fellow campees decided to go to Mandoorah for a fish off the jetty, then after that activity, it is off to the Noonamah tavern for a countery, a few sherbets then back to our camp at Berry Springs.

The bride using a "steel pole" to go fishing. You can tell she doesn't fish much.

Mandoorah Tavern from the jetty

Now there is a very frequent ferry service to and from Mandoorah, seven days a week. There is a lot of rural properties on this side of the bay, hence the ferry service. It reminded the bride and I very much of our days on Fraser Island, sitting at the Sand Bar waiting for the ferry to take us back to the mainland.

Here is the fellow campers at our retreat at the Mandoorah Tavern

The tavern has a terrific atmosphere and the views are sensational. being a week day we figured it wouldn't be to busy........WRONG!!!!!!!!!!.

Part of the outdoor area of the Mandoorah Tavern

Maybe we have been in the hospitality industry for to long. However with our group and a scheduled tour group and along with the blow ins............the kitchen just couldn't cope. I won't go into the way they should have done lunch, however an hour and a half later the bride and I got fed. Apart from the wait, the lunch size was about what you would expect from an entree. Anyway the fresh Barra was delicious. I have now changed my mind about Barra.

Might trade the Val in on this beauty

Hey mister wait for meeeeeee!

Stay toooooned for Litchfield National Park

Sunday, 10 June 2012

161 - More On Darwin and Surrounds

Strauss WW2 airstrip

I have finally caught up with my posts. This one is all about the things we have not included in previous postings. Sure we still have a lot to do and see, and they will be posted as they happen.

On our way up to Darwin along the Stuart highway there is a lot of memorials and WW2 airfields. Most of the airfields are visible from the road, like the two going into Darwin....Strauss and Sattler. However all the way down the Stuart Highway there are off shoots to WW2 airfields. What is left of them is just a long strip of gravel, and unless they were marked, and some with history postings, to the uninformed, they just look like an alternate road.

The history surrounding these times during WW2 is quite fascinating. I didn't know that Darwin was bombed 64 times. Even though I wasn't even around during that period, just a twinkle in the old mans eyes, while he was on the Kokoda trail, it has only just come to light with me, after the 70th anniversary of the bombings.

One only has to move around the area, and it is easy to get caught up in the emotion and history of these times.
Cut outs of Spitfire Aircraft used extensively during WW2

Very emotional and moving part of our history

This is a mural down at the Darwin Harbour wharf

A service vessel in at Darwin Harbour

The Val on the wharf @ Darwin Harbour

Part of the development at Darwin Waterfront Precinct

As mentioned before, we took a lot of photos of this precinct, the wave pool and the swimming lagoon. As we lost those somehow, we will again take some more next time we head into town. That may not be for a while. Prior to that we are going to Litchfield NP, Mandorah, again visit Berry Springs and possibly Kakadu NP.

Stay toooooooned

Thursday, 7 June 2012

160 - Darwin Dam

Now this dam is Feeeeeerk'n huge

Now as we are on a roll to do the touristy things, one said to the bride on a clear, very warm Friday in Darwin, "How about we go and see the Darwin Dam, it is only down the road." "Why not" was the inquisitive reply from the bride.

Now you may wish to go back on several posts and see I am a bit of a dam junkie. Don't know really. I guess the engineering of these beasts always amazes me, as being as mechanically minded as a cockroach, stranger things have happened.

Now I won't bore you with details about capacity etc., etc. I have taken a photo of all the guff and just enlarge the photos FYI.

Watch out for those snapping hand bags!!!!!

The dam goes for miles and miles

Water as far as the eye can see. No water restrictions up here. No sirree!!!!!!

The other side of the dam wall, just another million miles of bush

Keen for swim?????????

A few stats for ya!

A few more

And that's all folks

Stay tooooned for more on NT.

159 - Mindil Beach Markets Darwin Museum

Sunset @ Mindil Beach Markets

Mindil Beach markets is an icon to all us ageing delinquents. This was a second visit. The first I lost the photos like a Wally, however this visit the sunset was just magical.

Now every Thursday arvo and Sunday, this place goes off. We arrive around 4.30pm. That
is a good time as the parking area is still quite empty, and the stall holders in some cases are still setting up. Being a little early also beats the cast of thousands that arrive for this institution, and we can get a meal without having to line up.

However before going to the markets we visited Darwin Museum which is just up the road from the markets. Now I have said it a million times, I am not into museums, however really wanted to go to this one especially for the section on Cyclone Tracy. The exhibition was very moving, and the sound booth that captured the sounds and devastation during the event was just unbelievable.

Now we have been through a few cyclones. Cyclone Steve, which passed over head of us at Trinity Beach in 2000. Of very recent times on the edge of cyclone Yasi........but nothing would ever prepare you for Tracy. I wasn't allowed to take any photos, however if you are ever in Darwin, that is a must see.

During my previous blogs, I have been a little critical of Darwin, however the more we move around its town ship and northern suburbs, it has grown us quite a bit. Plus the weather is more bearable with days of around 28 degrees and cool to cold nights. The skys are clearing with the smoke haze being a predominant feature of late, however all the burning off seems to have ceased, making way for crystal clear sunny skys.

Now back to the market.............we parked the Val in a spot where we could get out of very quickly and headed off to the markets proper for a bit of a wander  around, and get some real Chinese food. Now Mindil Markets is really a food fest, with a sprinkling of crafts, clothing and other peddlers, doing their best to make them richer and the visitors poorer. But that's the way life is.

The bride off and running. Two hours from when this pikkie was taken it was wall to wall people.

Two hours before sunset at Mindil Beach

Now as the afternoon wears on it is tradition for the multitude to bring their chairs, nibblies and grog and just hang out on the lawn, waiting for the sunset and getting comfortable for the nights entertainment.

The crowd building up on the lawn to the right of us

Still building

Now about three quarters of an hour before the sunset, the throngs of people start to jockey for their positions on the sand dunes and on the beach of Mindil to get the best advantage for those memorable photos.

The bride settling in for the spectacular

This is only a quarter of the crowd waiting for sunset

Building, building

Ceeeeeee I told ya. It is bigger than a Cecil B De Mills production

Let the show begin

The start of the decent

Check out the sailing boat

Sliding away

As the sun slowly sinks in the west

Nearly gone

Good bye Mr. Sun
All Over Red Rover

We left the beach and headed for the Val and homeward bound back to Berry Springs. This time we didn't get lost as I have managed to fix the power supply to the GPS.

Stay tooooooned Darwin Dam