This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2011 Travels February 14

MONDAY 14 FEBRUARY     DARWIN

After breakfast “in”, we drove back to Star City and the Casino, through rain.

In our apartment. The curtained window, rather strangely, looked onto the walkway and atrium

Being a Monday, we were due to receive a free recharge on our Action Cards: $20 worth of poker machine credits, vouchers for $5 Keno games and a free drink. Provided one stuck to the limits of the freebies, this was worth having. It provided us with something to do, as we were, to some extent, just filling in time now. My original plans had us spending last Thursday, Friday and most of Saturday on a trip out to Kakadu, so by now we’d done the Darwin based things that really appealed, that could be done in the increasingly wet weather.

We played the pokies, taking winnings as we went. When my “free” money ran out on the card, I had $17 cash. I’d had to put in a dollar of my own to start, and another dollar because John told me wrong information, so the actual profit was $15. John didn’t do quite as well, but still made money. Then we played Keno while we had our free drinks. John said I had to pay $5 to get the free $5 worth, so I did that, buying ten games. He was wrong, and I could have just had the free games. Anyway, I got back $7, so finished that with a profit too. Again, John didn’t do as well and just broke even. So we left Star City with profits.

I’d have spent time in the Aqua Bar there, just to watch the unicorn fish they had swimming around in the large fish tank. Loved them.

Went to the Nightcliff shops, where I mailed some postcards to grandchildren. Bought a couple of novels from a book exchange – reading for the train. Bought some lunch – a pasty and sausage roll for John,  savoury bread roll for me. Parked out by the little jetty there, to eat the food. The seas were really wild.

John wanted to drive out the Kakadu road, to see some more of the bush and country in the wet conditions. But we only got as far as  Palmerston when it became obvious that the rain and storms were getting worse, so we turned back.

On the way back, stopped at the fish wharf and bought a kilo of really large, cooked, tiger prawns, for tea, and half a dozen oysters as well to be a dinner appetizer for John.

Then, back to the unit. Sat out on the balcony watching the marina and the changing skies, until we were driven inside by rain squalls blowing in.

Not long after, we saw a light moving over the trees beyond the marina. It grew into the top lights of a  big ship. Quite surreal. Once it cleared the low hills, it was obvious that it was a really large cruise ship. We watched it “turn the corner” and disappear behind the buildings. The shipping channel here is really close to the shore. Unfortunately, it was too dark to take photos of the ship.

The upper decks of a ship were clearly seen above the tree line shown here

Our prawn dinner was lovely, with some salad.

Heavy rain came, with wind squalls, just as we finished tea. The Bureau of Meteorology for Darwin was hopeless, we decided. “Showers” had been forecast for today. There was a dinky little tropical low in the region. For the rest of the night we had heavy rain and wind.

Marina in the rain

Today’s grey and wet weather had, at least, made the temperature a bit lower – only 28 degrees top today, compared to the 31 degrees we’d been having each day previously.


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2011 Travels February 13

SUNDAY 13 FEBRUARY     DARWIN

It was pleasant to have a normal sort of breakfast, in our apartment. Grapefruit and toast.

Spent some of the morning relaxing, and watching the marina activity from the balcony. Being a weekend, there was quite a bit of boat movement, in and out.

Looking across towards the Marina entrance at Cullen Bay

Went out and walked around the Marina complex itself, up at the end of Marina Drive, where our apartments were. It did not seem to have changed much since 2006. There were similar food outlets, including Yots, the Greek establishment where we had dined then. It was still expensive! Much as we’d enjoyed the food back then, we were not tempted to eat there again, this time.

There were some empty shop fronts and the place did still seem a bit dead.

Cullen Bay was developed in the 1990’s, by enclosing a natural bay to create a sheltered anchorage, for pleasure craft. The surrounding housing and accommodation, and the small commercial area, were developed at the same time. In 2006, we’d caught the Mandorah ferry from its terminal by the marina entrance.

Cullen Bay Marina (Wikipedia).Apartment complexes on the left and central Darwin in distance

We had a sandwich, “at home”, for lunch.

Looking the other way, from our balcony

Went out driving – felt the need to do something, rather than stay all day in the apartment.

Went to have a look at the newer port development along Frances Bay. There had been a lot more industrial development since we last saw it.

Frances Bay

Continued out Tiger Brennan Drive – very pleasant motoring along that – to Berrimah, East Arm and the Ghan Railway Station. Mainly, we wanted to check out the route and access, for later on. It was small, and closed and there was really nothing to see. Just another industrial area out here. People arriving in Darwin, for the first time, on The Ghan, would definitely not get a very favourable first impression of the city.

After that, drove back towards the city and out to Fanny Bay where we bought fish and chips for dinner. As we’d headed back from East Arm, the sky was looking increasingly black and rain seemed imminent, so we’d decided an early meal was in order, rather than venture out later in poor conditions.

Ate our meal sitting out on our balcony – it really was a most pleasant spot. The food was a bit pricey, having cost us $30 for snapper for two, 3 potato cakes, a dim sim, and a heap of chips. We drank our last bottle of wine.

After tea, John watched football on TV. I read and did some of the embroidery I’d brought from home. Predictably, it rained steadily from before dusk, on.


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2011 Travels February 12

SATURDAY 12 FEBRUARY     DARWIN

Moving day today. Had the original plan worked, we’d have been returning from Kakadu today.

Left Star City about 10.30am. Couldn’t go into our apartment at Cullen Bay until 2pm, so had time to fill in.

Outside our Sky City room

Went to the weekly Parap Markets and wandered about there. Unlike the better known tourist destination of the Mindil Beach Market, the ones centred on the Parap Village centre operate all year round. They are not of the same scale as Mindil Beach, or at least they weren’t at this time of year. But in some ways, I preferred these to Mindil Beach. They seemed more geared to the permanent residents of Darwin, and less to tourists.

There were many food stalls and some selling fruit and vegies. There were a few  stalls with the usual Darwin market kitch offerings.

We bought some greengroceries – our apartment was self catering, and I fancied a salad tea.Tomatoes, cucumber, capsicum, red onion, a dragon fruit because John wanted to try it.

We browsed the surrounding Parap shops too. Went into one art gallery shop. I was initially attracted by some aboriginal print fabric that was on display, thinking it would make up into great cushions. But then we looked at some limited edition prints on paper. John was very attracted to a stylized one of an owl. I loved it too, so we bought it, for $350. One of only 20 made. It would be mailed to Melbourne for us. With my artist brother now specializing in doing prints on paper, these days I had more of an appreciation of print making as an art form.

From the Markets, drove to the Wharf precinct and wandered about some more. We only had cool drinks there. We’d both had a final big breakfast at the Sunset, this morning (despite my supplies purchase yesterday), so neither of us was hungry at lunchtime.

All that filled in the time for us. Our final stop was at the Nightcliff shops for more supplies for the apartment. I bought olives, feta cheese, a carrot, some mixed leaves, milk, bread, margarine, a little jar of marmalade, bananas and oranges. Bought a couple of pasta dura rolls for tonight, and a Weekend Australian – that cost $4! We needed to be careful not to oversupply ourselves with foodstuffs. It wasn’t like a caravan park, where we could take food with us when we moved on.

So, to our establishment at Cullen Bay Apartments.

Our Cullen Bay apartment complex (Google)

We had Apartment 403, several levels up. The complex was built around a central atrium, like Sky City. Maybe it’s a tropical thing, for some reason? However, unlike Sky City, this had more of a roofed effect because of the walkways at each level, so was gloomier, with no plants growing.

Internal atrium at Cullen Bay

The underground car park spaces were tight to get into, because of the placement of pillars. But at least, they were under cover, with a degree of security, and with lift access to each floor.

Our apartment was fine. It was clean. We had a bedroom, kitchen/living area, bathroom off the bedroom. There were two split system aircons, ceiling fans, a good TV, couch, a couple of tables. All we needed to stay in comfort – except there were no microwave specific cooking dishes.

Living room

We had a nice little balcony, where we could sit out and look over the Cullen Bay Marina – interesting in itself. Below us, in front, a street of waterfront houses edged this part of the Marina. Presumably, the residents accounted for a number of the definitely upmarket boats moored there.

Marina and residences from our balcony

If there were any lightning storms over Darwin, we should have a good view of same, from our balcony.

So, I was happy with the unit. Back in 2006, we had visited a friend of M’s who lived in one of these serviced apartments, provided  as part of her job. So I’d had a fair idea of what they were like.

We unpacked. John watched sport on TV. We had a beer each for happy hour, out on the balcony, watching the boat activity in the marina, and the sunset over it.

I made a Greek salad, and a leafy green one, for tea. These made a nice change from all the large and heavy meals we’d been eating. We didn’t have any wine with the meal – again, a change. I only had one bottle left from the supplies we’d bought, and was saving that for another time. The dragon fruit tasting was really a non-event. John wasn’t keen on it.

There were some storms at night, but no lightning.

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