Darwin Festival 2021 – Hot August Nights

We had no idea that we’d be in the capital of the Northern Territory during their Festival and it was a wonderful surprise.

Parking was easy in Port Darwin and we walked past the impressive Parliament House, following the crowds and the lights to one of the entrances.

The art displays, entitled Wish Upon A Jellyfish, by Aly deGroot, were illuminated and free,

along with general entry which also gave you live entertainment in a huge Amphitheatre.

Having not scoured the program to see what we might be interested in, we just took a turn about the park, admiring the sculptures and the music and marveling at the number of people at long trestles, eating from the variety of takeaway on offer.

From here we took the road to the Waterfront precinct and from the skywalk, admired the illuminations of the Ferris Wheel.

There were many venues and exhibitions.

If you are going to be in Darwin in August, do some research beforehand and book in for your taste of culture, art and entertainment. We certainly will, next time.

Litchfield National Park

An easy hour by car, south of Darwin, in the Northern Territory, lies Litchfield National Park. Named after an early explorer, the region has been cared for by the Mak Mak Marranunggu, Werat and Waray Aboriginal people for thousands of years.

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The region was used for grazing and the mining of tin, copper and uranium. There are many falls to explore and some areas that have been developed to encourage tourists and visitors, with carparks, picnic areas, boardwalks and campgrounds. There are still natural trails and 4WD tracks for the adventure-seeking.

Berry Springs has 3 ‘pools’ that join if you want to ride downstream on a noodle. Not too deep and quite safe. The water is very clear near the edge – you can see fish. Wangi Falls is a surprise. You swim out to one of the waterfalls and get pounded by the downpour. The floor of the lagoon (?) begins as sandy and is dark in the centre, with twigs and debris. You would have to be able to tread water or swim maybe 60m unless you stay by the edge, and many do.

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Beautifully maintained, Wangi has unpowered sites but we chose not to stay here, as there was limited shade in the camping area. We stayed at Litchfield Tourist Park instead, on a grassed site amid beautiful flowers and unusual birdsong that defied description.

Rangers check daily to keep an eye on crocodiles and remove them from public swimming holes, but I would ask at the ranger station, too. I have read that you shouldn’t sit on bare ground in Litchfield, as scrub typhus is a possibility. So spread that towel on the ground and dry off in the heat!

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Take a hat, bathers/swimmers, water, first aid kit and shoes, but don’t miss it!

 

Darwin

The capital city of the Northern Territory, Australia, is Darwin. It is neat and small and tropical and a major port for trade and travel.

 

We stayed in the BIG 4 Howard Springs caravan park, about 30 km from Darwin, but there are several other options available and had we known what a quiet city it was, we may have gone for something in the heart of Darwin. Several of the park dwellers worked in the city and some were transient, while others thought they would be and were lured to stay in this warm site – 34-36C all year round.

Australia is so far from anywhere that during WWII we received very little attack, compared to other countries more central to the war. Darwin, however, at the top of the country was bombed 97 times between 1942 and 1943. There are ruins and memorials to commemorate this and most Australians are unaware of the loss of life due to raids and attacks, possibly as these were not pivotal to the war at large and inconsequential to writers of history.

 

The Darwin information centre is a good place to start and with the short time we had, we visited the Parap Markets and after unsuccessfully trying to find the War Museum, had lunch on Stoke’s Wharf. There was a lot of Balinese goods, being so close to the mainland, but not much local produce.

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We walked through the town and went to the lookout, over Darwin Harbour and the town beach. As with many northern cities in Australia, in the Summer months there are stingers, sharks can also venture close, and the waters can be swampy, so a “beach” was created with sand and nets to keep out the unwanted. It was pretty strange to see people having a swim on their lunch break in the middle of the city, but who wouldn’t?

 

The tunnels are reported to be very good to see – where ammunition was stored to hide it from the Japanese, if they should land – but we didn’t do the tour.

Make 2 or 3 days for Darwin. It is a good base from which to visit Litchfield and Katherine.

Hats, water and shoes will see you travel safely.