Darwin’s a Sweetheart

I had heard in a history class that Darwin, Australia, was actually bombed by two Japanese air assaults in 1942. I figured, yeah, whatever, they probably lost a barn and a goat.

Well, those events are still deeply felt, even by those who weren’t alive at the time. Two hundred and fourth three were killed, and up to 400 wounded.

I guess in a sense it’s still perceived as Australia’s Pearl Harbour.

I learned about this from Rob, the driver and guide for a half-day tour that I jumped on in a spur-of-the-moment decision. And I’m glad I did.

Rob drove about nine of us around, showing the highlights such as the art gallery, museum and so forth, things I was going to see anyway.

He also told us of the 1975 Cyclone Tracey that very nearly razed the city. The museum actually has a “cyclone experience” room, essentially a darkened room with loud wind noises.

The effect was a bit of a let-down actually, but I knew what they were trying to do.

No tour of Darwin can ever be complete without a visit to see Sweetheart, the stuffed crocodile in the museum. The thing is massive. Five point one meters long; that’s almost seventeen feet of ornery dinosaur. In was starting to develop a taste for boats, so in 1979 it was captured and killed. A record of that event, a short film, is part of the display.

As for Darwin itself, well, I suppose it’s an OK place. Lots of youth travel hostels in town so most businesses cater to that group. I won’t be in a hurry to return. But I’m glad I came.

***************

Tomorrow is a travel day, off to Yulara and the oven-like red center of Australia, home of Uluru, The Olgas, King’s Canyon and countless square kilometers of baked, scorch wilderness.

Back in a couple of days.

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