MONDAY FEBRUARY 7 DARWIN
I had a great night’s sleep. The bed was king size and it was so wonderful to be able to spread out. It had already started me thinking about changing our bed at home to a king sized one. The room temperature was conducive to sleeping and when I’d wandered out onto the balcony, before bed, to have a look, the night seemed almost cool.
John got dressed and went down to the Sunset Restaurant for breakfast. I could lounge around in nightclothes for a while as I’d ordered two slices of bread to toast, from the room service menu. There was a toaster provided in the room. But my two bread slices cost $8.50. John’s breakfast – all he could eat, from a great variety – wasn’t much more expensive than mine.
I texted son and mentioned the breakfast experience. From his prior experience of working in hotel management, he texted back, in capitals: NEVER, EVER, EAT BREAKFAST IN HOTELS.
The Tour Tub bus, for which we had all day get on/get off vouchers from Great Southern Rail, phoned to say they’d altered their schedule to a standard guided tour. I said we didn’t want that – the man seemed miffed. But there was a world of difference between making up one’s own schedule of sights to see, and for how long, and being herded into a tour that someone else dictates.
In view of this, I phoned Thrifty to see if we could get our hire car a day early; no problems doing so. Not the busy season in Darwin so not that much demand, I guessed.
It was already obvious that a number of tourist attractions were not open during this part of the Wet. Fortunately, we’d already spent plenty of time in Darwin in the dry time of year, so were not disappointed by closures. But any visitor coming here for the first time at this time of year would have to be prepared for a limited choice of attractions.
We went to the Casino and joined their Action Club. This gave us some “free” money to use in the place. Since we were confident of our ability to be disciplined in the Casino environment, I saw no issues with availing ourselves of offered freebies.
Caught a taxi to the Thrifty depot. The paperwork for the hire car took ages to finalize – mainly because John was being obtuse and asking the staff questions to which I already knew the answers – because I’d read all the information beforehand and he hadn’t bothered.
We were upgraded to a Mitsubishi Lancer, which was great. It did take John a little while to get the hang of driving it – more modern than anything he’d driven before, and very different to our 1996 Defender and 1986 Barina!
Out of the controlled environment of the hotel, it was hot and extremely humid.
We went to the NT Museum, had a coffee at the cafe there, then browsed in the establishment.
There was a feature exhibition of the music group AC/DC history and memorabilia. It was really interesting, including letters from Bon Scott, who had died at age 33, that made it clear he was heavily into booze and drugs.
Another interesting display featured fossils and reconstructed skeleton models of some prehistoric critters.
I made sure John also saw the stuffed form of Sweetheart – the very large crocodile who made himself unpopular attacking outboard motors on fishing dinghies at a popular fishing location. Over five metres long, he accidentally died after being trapped for relocation.
Another must-do at the museum was the Cyclone Tracey exhibit. This was an extensive display. Particularly memorable was the experience that replicates the darkness, wind noise and general clattering and banging that those who lived through the cyclone in 1974 would have known. It was scary, even though we knew it wasn’t “real”.
There was much debate going on in Darwin, at the moment over whether Cyclone Tracey or Cyclone Yasi was bigger. NT people seemed indignant that Tracey might be overshadowed!
I always enjoyed the art gallery section here, featuring an extensive collection of various forms of aboriginal art.
By now it was well and truly late lunch time. Went to the nearby Nightcliff shops. John didn’t want anything, having had such a huge breakfast, but I was really hungry. John was getting tired and impatient, so I grabbed a bread roll from Brumbys, but didn’t stop to eat it because John didn’t want to linger. So we did a quick shop at the nearby Woolworths – coffee, milk (the long life milk in our room was awful), bottled water. John bought Coca Cola. I wanted to get fruit but John didn’t want to go there. Then he decided to do a big alcohol buy up: wine, scotch, Jim Beam, rum! I’d have preferred food.
Back to our room, where John had a sleep and I read.
I’d tried to phone old boss, P, this morning, but the mobile number he left was wrong, and there was no answer at the number of the office he maintained in Darwin. A former student of our school was now a lawyer in Darwin who had a lot of contact with P, so I phoned and left a message at the law office. P rang me while John was asleep, wanting to arrange dinner at Bogarts, an eatery at Parap. We agreed on Wed evening. Old student M and his wife would be there too. P would pick us up here at 7pm.
We went down to eat dinner at the Sunset Restaurant, which offered 20% off their meals Monday to Wednesday. It was a seafood buffet. Lots of choice, and delicious food. I was super hungry, having only had a couple of bites of a bread roll since my toast this morning. I wrapped some wedges of camembert in a serviette and took them back to our room for later.
John watched TV. I read, wrote up diary.
So far, the anticipated spectacular lightning displays had not eventuated, much to John’s disappointment. Plenty of dramatic cloudy skies but that was it.