I was up fairly early this morning, around 7:30, as Esther has an early start for work – she’s the Dutch girl I probably mentioned earlier who I’m sharing my dorm with. I’m an early riser anyway, so this suits me.
I’d decided that I wanted to go to the museum today. It’s nearby, kind of, and free. The last time I was in Darwin, I actually walked past it when I went for a stroll along the beach but I didn’t go in. It is quite a walk from the city centre, so I opted for a bus this time.
As far as museums go, it’s quite a small one. Having said that, what they do have is rather nice and they do seem to change the exhibits and displays round fairly often. When I visited they had a display of Aboriginal art, predominantly from the local nation, a collection of stuffed native animals, another sizeable display detailing the evolution of many of the creatures, a boat yard, cyclone exhibit, huge display of Aboriginal basketwork and a crocodile called Sweetheart.
Sweetheart is a permanent exhibit and his (yes – “his”) story is a sad one. During the 1970s, he became well known in the area for attacking boats and even capsized a couple although nobody was ever hurt. There are verious theories as to why he did this (the noise of the engines mimicking a territorial croc grunt is one) but otherwise it’s simply not normal behaviour. Eventually, by 1979, he was considered too dangerous so a trap was set. Full marks to the Aussies who were going to shift him to another location rather than just shoot him.
Sadly, things didn’t go exactly to plan. After being caught and drugged, Sweetheart got tangled on a log and the anaesthetic administered also didn’t seem to work correctly and the big croc died before they could get him out of the river. So, they stuffed him and put him in a museum as a fine example of his kind. He’s 780kg and 5.1m long – and still isn’t as large as salties get.
The cyclone exhibit is also eye-opening, giving details of a huge storm – Cyclone Tracy – that hit Darwin around December 24th/25th 1974 and which pretty much demolished the entire city. The before and after aerial photographs are particularly shocking, though the “worst” part is a pitch dark room where a recording of sounds of the cyclone battering the city is played at full volume. A sign on the door warns that it could be upsetting to people who remember Cyclone Tracy. Well, it scared the willies out of me.
If you go, allow about 2-3 hours depening on whether you’re a browser or a looker. It’s on bus route 4 from the city centre and costs $1.40 each way. You can walk it as well, though I’d guess it’s 40-60 minutes’ walk in baking heat from the CBD.
In the afternoon, I did my old Brisbane trick and headed for the library to read comics. And Lonely Planet Guides. And play on the X-Box. Yes, the library has an X-Box you can book for 30 minutes sessions for free. Their collection of Lonely Planets is also superb and they’re in the reference section so can’t be checked out. Ideal for travellers like me!
I did pop online again later on as many of you are likely aware, and my email is down to a more manageable level. After that, a quick dip in the pool and off out for dinner with Sharna, the birthday girl from the Vic.
Getting in the mood for the next 2 1/2 months, we went to a place called Nirvana which sells Thai, Malay and Indian food. Good stuff, too, and very reasonably priced. The only complaint I had was the usual restaurant issue of never seeming to want to sort the bill for you, so we were late leaving for the cinema and missed the first couple of minutes of Borat. I laughed a lot at this film, but feel really rather guilty about it. Amazingly, it actually gives Jackass a run for its money in the insensitivity and disgusting stakes – I can understand why the Khazakhstani government wanted it banned!
After that, a quick drink with Sharna’s mates and then we each headed home. Me with an 8am rise, Sharna with a 5:30am one. Ouch.