How many people get to live their dreams? I am..........!

This is my story from the time when Capt'n John and I first decided to sail around the big block, to circumnavigate this great land of ours, AUSTRALIA.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Territory Wildlife Park

Saturday 17th November 2012

Territory Wildlife Park
passing a roadtrain on its way up the highway
MrJ and I were so lucky to have the use of Alison’s car for the whole weekend; this enabled us to get out and about a bit further, this time we were up early and driving 50ks south down the Stuart Highway before turning off onto the Cox Peninsula Rd past Berry Spring and into the Territory Wildlife Park. No cars allowed in this tourist spot: we left the car in the shade and went on foot with both backpacks filled with camera and bottled water, in tow.
The Territory Wildlife Park has numerous tracks and pathways to hike or bike along plus the there is a great motorised train that runs around the entire park at half hour interval all day. The Park has a couple of extensive indoor exhibits as well as several interest outdoor areas.

MrJ and I walked along the bush track to the nocturnal house. Glowing with an eerie light the nocturnal house has an enormous range of reptiles, birds, amphibians and marsupials all of which prefer the night shift.
Add a white python, spiders, bats and the baby-like cry of the curlew and the atmosphere is delightfully spooky.

Brahminy Kite also known as the Red-backed Sea-eagle

Coming out into the harsh sunlight we left the nocturnal house to find our way along the tracks to the Birds of Prey display at the flight deck, definitely a must see.
Black breasted buzzard cracking an egg

As we looked on an osprey repeatedly dive bombed a pond to retrieve a fish, a huge wedge tailed eagle swooped down to land on a handler’s heavily protected arm and a barn owl silently flitted about, eyeing us all off.

And all the while a Jabiru, Australia’s only stork, strutted about looking for a free feed.

sea eagle

A running commentary informed us that an eagle can see in UV allowing it to follow urine and blood trails.

black cockatoo

We also learned that an osprey is equipped with polarised lenses so it can peer into the water and, to complete the league of superbirds, the Jabiru is armed with a beak strong enough to crack a turtle’s shell.

The special bird for me was the Black breasted buzzard a large dark raptor (bird of prey) with a very short, square-tipped tail. Long feathers on the nape may be raised in a short crest. White 'bull's eye' marks are seen under the wings, which are long and 'fingered' in flight. The breast is sandy-brown in light-phase birds or dark brown and black in the dark-phase. The tail is short and the wings are longer than the tail when the bird is perched. Females are larger than males. They soar high and, when flying low and hunting, often rock or sway from side to side. This species may also be called the Black-breasted Kite. Black-breasted Buzzards use stones to open eggs by picking up and dropping a stone onto the egg until it breaks.

Barn owl

young female white breasted sea eagle
Wedge-tailed Eagle
After the live display there was a meet and greet with the birds under the cover of the main building with two of the guides and two of the birds of prey.

Next MrJ and I hike in the scorching heat across to the Goose Lagoon which has a bird hide.

The Park is part of the natural environment which makes the Lagoon home to whatever might turn up including magpie geese, herons, ibis and assorted ducks.

After the outside heat we were glad to get back inside at the huge indoor aquarium display. The massive aquarium is remarkable, following the journey of a typical Top End river from the escarpment country, through to its estuary and on to the ocean.

freshwater croc

The centrepiece is a walk through section representing ponds and billabongs teeming with turtles, whip rays, barramundi and freshwater sawfish.

The smaller aquariums are home to various reef fish in their natural environment.

Nemo was there, peering out from the safety of his anemone, and there are plenty of other bizarre and colourful creatures.
my friend Mr Salty
The Territory Wildlife Park is big, 400 hectares, which sits squarely among three distinct zones; woodlands, wetlands and monsoon forest. The Park also plays a significant role in conservation. There are breeding programs for endangered species and facilities for the care of injured animals

black necked stork

There are many things to see and a program of activities, including animal feeding, continues throughout the day.

motor train

MrJ and I were feeling the intense heat; thank goodness for all the water drinking fountain placed around the park. A person could die of dehydration out there, especial since they left their water bottle in the car. ;o) It was time to be heading home, it was easier to catch the motorised train back to the entrance than to walk, back to where we left the car and be on our way but not without refuelling our weary bodies with a late lunch snack and an iced coffee from the cafe.

On the way back to Darwin we stopped off to look at the large termite mounds and the old WW2 airstrips long the side of the highway.

Two giant termite mounds standing up to two metres high on the side of the Cox Peninsula Rd about 50ks south of Darwin. Up to 100 years old these structures are unique to the northern parts of Australia. Called Magnetic Termite Mounds, enormous magnetic compasses, with their thin edges pointing north-south and broad backs east-west. This aspect minimises their exposure to the sun keeping the mounds cool for the magnetic termites inside.

WW2 Airstrips – Airstrips were constructed next to the Stuart highway to accommodate the influx of allies bombers and fighter planes. While travelling down the Stuart Highway you can't miss the signs and displays that indicate the WW2 Airstrips.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Cullen Bay Marina and the East Point Military Area

Friday 16th November 2012

Cullen Bay
Cullen Bay Marina and the East Point Military Area
Cullen Bay Marina
After leaving the tunnels MrJ and I drove down to the Cullen Bay Marina area, leaving the Darwin CBD behind to follow the unit and apartment lined road that winds down to the marina. The units were on the left and a 10mt high rock wall was on the right. At the marina we found a car park where we left the car and ventured on foot. The first thing that I noticed was that the commercial strip resembled more of Sanctuary Cove on the Gold Coast in Queensland with its cafes and shops. Some of Darwin's most recognized and frequented cafes and restaurants are situated here such as Yots and The Boatshed and Buzz Cafe which is where MrJ and I decided to have a burger for early lunch at not so light prices. Cullen Bay Marina which was built in 1988, has around 100 craft; large tourist ferries (the ferry to Mandorah leaves from this marina), fishing charter boats, overseas visiting yachts and local yachts in its berths at any one time. Mandorah is a sleepy town and secret getaway with the Darwin locals.

Driving away from Cullen Bay MrJ and I travel along the coast where possible out past Fanny Bay and the new Lake Alexander which provides free swimming and playground facilities, with a safe beach, bike tracks, BBQ and picnic areas.

We continue on East Point Road out to East Point (funny about that) and the former East Point military area. The drive through to East Point was amazing especially with the bright orange coloured flowering trees lining the road

The military structures are listed in the Register of the National Estate. Of major historic significance, the area provided the last major ‘fortress’ built on Australian soil and is a reminder of a prominent element of Australia's only battleground. East Point played a particular role in the naval strategy of Australia and Britain.

The gun emplacement precinct comprises much of the north eastern section of the peninsula. The area includes 150mm and 230mm gun emplacements and a plotting room.
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the magarzine

The main sites are easily linked by walking tracks and comprise examples of early sites from the build up period to the post-bombing period.

today there is a riding school nearby

In the 1960s the Royal Artillery Association commenced work on the artillery museum, which was eventually opened in 1969. This small but interesting military museum mainly displays the WWII history including the 'Bombing of Darwin' by the Japanese. The aviation and naval sections followed in 1972 and 1974.

After the War the East Point area continued to be used by the military. Its chief use at this time was for horse stables.

The low lying coastal cliffs at East Point consist of sedimentary rock commonly known as Porcelainite which has been naturally eroded largely by wave action from the ocean to form horizontal to undulating cliff faces of varying colours.
Over seventy years ago, the concerns of Captain Nurse were expressed and still the cliffs are steadily disappearing as the erosion continues. With the erosion some of the wartime relics have toppled into the sea and more are not far from joining them.
Little is known of the cliff top observation and machine gun post other than there were were two constructed in late 1941, early 1942 as a response to a perceived threat of Japanese invasion. The erection work on the post was done in a rush using whatever materials that was available including galvanised iron and timber for forming.
The post comprised of two reinforced concrete structure, one has already been taken by the sea while the other barely sits on the cliff top just waiting to be taken.


Take a look at the two photos of the site; one is the information board at East Point with a photo taken in 2005.

My photo was taken today. How long before there is nothing left?

Nowadays the gates to East Point close at 11pm allowing the visitor to experience the delight of a magnificent sunset and the city’s nightlights from this vantage point. MrJ and I were not hanging around till then; I had some shopping to do on our way home. In the supermarket we could relax and cool off under the aircon.
night begins in the marina


Friday, 23 November 2012

The World War II Oil Storage Tunnels

Friday 16th November 2012

The World War II Oil Storage Tunnels

MrJ and I were very lucky to get a loan of Alison’s car for a few days we used this opportunity to do a little more sightseeing in comfort. It was Friday I needed some items from the shops but before going shopping MrJ and I drove back down to Kitchener Drive at the Waterfront Precinct to take a look through the World War II Oil Storage Tunnels. What an interesting place to see. Going underground, inside the old tunnels in the dull light and damp conditions was a bit spooky but also a real treat and the aie temperature was a lot cooler underground.

The old photos that lined the old steel wall reminded me of the photos that my dear old dad had collected from his WWII Darwin and Territory days.

My dad served in the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) during that war, he did all of his war time in the Northern Territory helping to build and maintain the airfields and transport. He was in Darwin at the first bombing and in the Territory during consequent bombings sothese war photos and stories are of a special interest to me.

The World War II Oil Storage Tunnels were built during WWII by the Civil Construction Corps beneath the cliffs of Darwin city. Following the bombing of the fuel oil storage tanks at Stokes Hill on 19 February 1942 in the first Japanese air raid, engineers began looking at British government designs for oil storage tanks in underground tunnels secure from aerial bombardment.

In 1943 contractors Johns and Waygood began work on a series of tunnels running under the escarpment. The tunnels were, on average, designed to be about 15m underground. The longest tunnel, Tank 10, was nearly 200m long. Pipe headings connected the rear ends of the tunnels to an underground pumping station.
The tanks were designed to hold distillate, diesel and furnace oil. A camp was set up nearby for about 40 workers but estimates of the total manpower required were as high as 400 men. Conditions were tough and contrary to their expectations the men were not paid above award wages or overtime. As a consequence industrial action slowed the construction pace.

The tunnels were lined with concrete and thin steel to prevent cracking under bombardment creating a virtual tank within a tank. By November 1944 the tunnels that still exist today, 1, 5, 6, 10 and 11 had been lined with welded steel sheeting. Despite these precautions, it became apparent in 1945 that the tunnels leaked. As water seeped between the steel lining and the concrete walls, corrosion set in.

Various solutions were attempted but with little success. By the end of the war, estimated costs for the entire project, if completed, would have been well in excess of £1,000,000. In the 1950s, tunnels 5 and 6 were used to store jet aircraft fuel for the RAF and RAAF. After about three years and a period of heavy rain the whole system became inoperable because of seepage and was not used again. The World War II Tunnels were reopened in 1992 as a public place of interest to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin.
we stopped and chattered with the gate keeper on our way out