Wednesday, 5 June 2013

#64 - #68 - Darwin - Goodbye Canadians!

Of course the road to Darwin is not a straight one - we pull off to the left and to the right looking for birds and the "Windows on the Wetlands" that overlooks the Adelaide River floodplains is a bit of a let down so it's onto Fogg Dam. 

No Pitta there!

The Limilingan-Wulner people were the traditional owners of the dam but the government tried rice plantations back in the 60's and luckily they failed and the dam is now a Conservation Reserve. The wetlands are full of birds … and (now) the odd crocodile (you can no longer walk over the dam - it's car only).  At the dam I see my first Brolgas of the trip - those and Jabirus were the only two birds on my list and I see a Jabiru flying nearby and Brolgas in the swamp - so my list is complete. 

Those two grey specs are my Broglas!
The real birder's lists are not complete -  still looking for a Rainbow Pitta - no luck!

No Pitta - but there is water buffalo!
There's one more side trip to look for the Pitta but it's not there either and (finally) we arrive in Darwin.  It's been almost four weeks that we've been on the road with the Canadians and the sight of tall buildings and a large(er) town is quite exciting and we have our treasured 2 x 2 setup in the (crowded) caravan park and we are ready for the count down - three more days together.

Next morning we find a "People-Mover" van in the park and pay him to cart all eight of us into downtown . Everybody seems pleasantly surprised by Darwin 

We head over to Cullen Bay and catch the ferry to Mandorah for lunch.  There is only one hotel on the island! 

It's a lovely shady, breezy spot with simple meal choices and a great view looking back to Darwin and we are happy to sit until the returning ferry two hours later.

The beach next to the ferry dock with hotel in the background

Ferry Dock - Perth in the distance

We head for The Wharf Precinct where there is a wave pool and lagoon amongst the lawns and hotels,cafes/restaurants and convention centre. 

The Wharf Precinct - looking down on "the beach"

the Wave Pool "beach"

Nice "beach" for all to enjoy!
The city has made a wonderful public area and it's a nice spot to sit and have a coffee and then eventually a light dinner. There is a night market out near the Casino so downtown is fairly quiet and that's OK with us… we sit there until we head off to the movies.  

Pip and Paul and the two of us ... just sitting!
WOah - the big-city experience is tiring - next day is cleanup day and a few head back downtown and the real birders head out for one-last try at the Pitta and I stay "home" and work on my blog.  

Our last supper is a treat of fish (baramundi) and chips and some seafood for some. We toast each other's resolve for making it through these last four weeks - over 2,500 kms, lots of good times, some trying times, but with amazing scenery and definitely a life-memory experience.  The group says thank you to Joseph for all of his hardwork in preparing for the trip and then again in organizing everybody everyday for  30 days. They give him a beautiful "Bungle Bungle" mug and they give me a pair of t-light holders hand-carved from a tree pod  - I tell them I contributed almost nothing except for lots of grumbling and complaining (the heat, the ants, the mosquitoes etc.) but they insist it was useful to have me along - so I accept the gift gracefully and promise to record my thanks in this blog!  "EIGHT is a lot of legs David" and having eight people agree on where to go and what to eat every day for 30 days is a testament to the long-standing friendships that went into the trip and came out the other end intact.

Sadly there are no photos of the last supper - it was dark!

Next morning the Canadians return their vans and give Britz an earful - they are unrepentant but offer up a small refund to K&E (rightly so) but nothing for the other six people who were also inconvenienced. I think I shall write them a note - I have a few days with time on my hands! 

So now it's Goodbye Ken & Eileen - Goodbye Pip & Paul - Joseph drops them at the airport and they are off.

Greg & Florrie spend the afternoon with us until their evening flight. 

We spend some time feeding the fish.

 We are all "pooped" so have a very relaxing afternoon back at the waterfront precinct where there is a multi-cultural festival happening ...

Aboriginal men dancing.

Greg makes some new friends - just as he is leaving!

The dancers were very keen to have their photos taken with everybody!

It provides us with some entertainment and snacks then then it's Goodbye Greg & Florrie and Jill and Joe are by ourselves ... again!

Joseph with his hero again - Darwin - in Darwin!
We have another week ahead of us as we head south to Adelaide with Alice Springs and Uluru on the way.

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