Finally Seeing the Sights and Night Markets

Trip Start Sep 05, 2005
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Thursday, May 4, 2006

It's taken me nearly a month but I finally got off my arse and hit out to see a few sights around town. We are trying to flog the car at the moment so whilst we still had it I reckoned I should still use it.

The first port of call was the National History and Art Gallery of the Northern Territories. I knew roughly where it was but ended up at the port instead. Used the opportunity to take some photos of ridiculously expensive houses and boats before jumping back in the scorching hot car and driving to the museum. For the last couple of weeks there has been a really foul smell in the car, that I describe as similar to rotting corpses, but we finally managed to shift it, only for it to be replaced by another smell. Petrol! The Jerry can in the back leaked everywhere and now the car reeks! Had to basically drive along with my head out the window to avoid getting gassed.

Finally made it to the museum and managed to miss the turning. There are loads of signposts pointing to all the sights but they were really misleading in places. Arrived at the beach so thought it was best to take a couple of pictures before actually entering the museum.

The museum was a good way to spend 30 minutes. It was quite interesting and mainly focused on 2 topics, Cyclone Tracy and Aboriginal art. The first section on aboriginal art was quite interesting with loads of brightly coloured objects and details on aboriginal beliefs. There is then a smaller section on dangerous creatures, fossils etc with the highlight being a stuffed croc called Sweetheart.

The last section I looked at, and main reason for visiting, was about Cyclone Tracy. Tracy was the biggest cyclone to ever hit Australian soil when it arrived on Christmas Eve 1947. The storm destroyed around 90% of all the buildings in Darwin and killed 65 people. Looking at the pictures of the destruction it seems unbelievable that a storm could do so much damage. Cyclone Monica, which hit last week with no real damage, was at one stage far stronger than Tracy and I can't even imagine what the damage would have been like if it hit with it's full strength. The hostel we are staying in is only designed to withstand a Category 3 cyclone, Tracy was a 4 and Monica was a 5!

In the cyclone Tracy section there is a small, pitch black room with a recording of the noises heard during the storm. It was quite unnerving standing there in the dark and it must have been terrifying for the residents.

Decided I had seen enough and went looking for the next sight of interest, the old Fannie Bay Gaol. Again managed to get lost on the way as this place was nowhere near as well sign posted as the other sights. Eventually found my way in and went for a look around.

This was Darwins main jail until it closed in 1979 and was opened as a museum 3 years later. You are allowed to walk around freely and check out all the rooms in the jail. I was amazed at the size of the place. It was tiny! There hardly seemed to be many cells and at it's peak there were nearly 200 people in the jail. The cells were tiny and some had been preserved with the rooms still furnished. The infirmary houses the gallows where the last 2 people in the Northern Territories were hanged in 1952. I think this was the only time the gallows were actually used.

At 7pm we jumped in the car and shot off to Mindil Beach for the first sunset market of the year. There is a massive night market every Thursday and Saturday during the dry season, which is finally here!, and I was quite looking forward to it.

The whole place was packed! It took us 30 minutes to find a parking space and it seemed as if all of Darwin had turned up. I know there isn't much else to do in Darwin but I hadn't expected it to be this big an event. Straight away upon entering the market I headed in the direction of the really cool music I could hear. Some local band called eMDee were playing some amazing didgeridoo drum and bass! It was great and it's the first time I can remember actually buying a cd based on a live performance.

The main reason I had wanted to visit the night market is for the food! 200 food stall with every type of food imaginable. I headed straight to get some Thai food and it was delicious. Far more expensive than in Thailand but just as authentic. During the night I also visited the Road Kill stall and got some possum and crocodile satays! Had to be done and as expected the croc tasted like chicken. Also had a great fruit salad, really missed them since Asia, but unfortunately no little kids screaming "Hey Mister, you want buy fruit salad?".

Headed back to the hostel absolutely stuffed and out of money. It had been an expensive day as I'd blown $90. Fair enough $40 was on 2 nights accommodation and the cd cost $25 so I can't complain really. Everyone in our room was leaving tomorrow so I was quite up for a big night to see them off. However they took so bloody long getting ready that I was so tired I couldn't be bothered to get out of bed. Oh well I only would have spent loads of money at the terrible Vic pub anyway so no bother really.

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Another couple of additions. Last night we all went out to watch Mission Impossible 3. What a load of crap! A non-stop American cheese fest the whole film only saved by a few decent action scenes. At the end when he says, "I work for the IMF, Impossible Mission Force!" everyone in the cinema couldn't stop laughing! Cost me $20 as well with a coke! Cinema is bloody expensive in Aus.

Did some washing today and decided to wash my sleep sheet as well. Bad idea! Half my clothes came out pink as a result so I had to throw them away. Not very good when you haven't got many clothes to start with!
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