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Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin

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Darwin

She was a carefree flower girl of 18
Selling flowers on Bourbon Street
1968
I was a street artist…

Life with Covid as of an hour ago

To Darwin 05-February 2021

Flight Adelaide to Darwin 3.5 hours

Flight Adelaide to Darwin 3.5 hours

Notes/photos of three weeks in Darwin.  Individual articles were tossed up to https://neuage.substack.com/

Narda in italics Terrell whatever

Adelaide airport

Adelaide airportIt always happens. I think it has to do with getting old. Any change in our routine and we have a terrible night’s sleep. As our flight to Darwin was leaving at 6.40 AM, we do as we usually do when we have an early morning flight. We stay at the Altura Adelaide Airport Hotel. Nothing fancy about the place, just the typical overpriced airport hotel. What is so good though is that it is a part of the airport – just walk from the hotel into the check-in area. Our last flight was to the Netherlands -January 2020 – then covid…we were back in Adelaide by mid-March.

It is more than an hour to the airport by bus from our house, which is free for us seniors, and we would rather pay the hotel than the taxi ride which is about $70. The hotel has specials and this time it was $122. We even walked over to Ikea for dinner which was less than half the cost of eating at the hotel.

Back to our messed routines. When there is a change in our routine, we get little sleep. We went to sleep about 9 pm – wide awake at 1 am – another hour or so sleep before the alarm at 4.30. Narda had just gotten back to sleep since being awake at one, I think I went to sleep about 2.30 which is the last time I saw the clock. By five am we were checking in. We had breakfast at the airport; a good Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce for me and an omelette for Narda. We were on the plane by a bit after six. Half an hour later they said we all had to get off the plane due to mechanical error and get onto another plane. As any zombie with little sleep would be, we staggered to the next plane. By 8.30 – a couple of hours later than we were supposed to leave we were on our way.

When we got to Darwin, taking a taxi ($35) to our hotel we were told our apartment was not ready, so we dragged ourselves to the nearest supermarket to get a few things.

We are on the 13th floor of the Ramada Suites – Zen Quarter. They have cute little Zen sayings all over the place and statues of Buddha. This one just happens to be on our floor viewed getting off the lift on the way to our flat.

By 3 pm we were taking our nap – I lasted half an hour. Writing this I feel pretty icky. I am going off to the gym soon and tomorrow we will go into the pool and try doing our Aqua Zumba without a leader. We do the Zumba three times a week in Adelaide at an hour each time. Not being disciplined I doubt we will last fifteen minutes. We tried this a couple of years ago in Florida and after ten minutes then a lap or three we would go home.

After our first or was it the second nap? We went to the roof which is only a couple of floors above us. Great views of the sea and port. Narda is concerned about the balcony and at night pushed the sofa in front of the door in fear that I may sleepwalk and fall off the balcony. Considering I have never sleepwalked in my life that I know of I feel even more safe now. There are few people in the hotel now as this is low season.

Eating on our balcony is one of our favourite things to do (so far after one day here). This is with a storm rolling in.

A few views from our floor – there is a balcony in each direction so we do not always have to go to the rooftop to get a view.

A view of road-trains loading up the morning’s catch on their way across Australia

Strangers in a foreign land 08-02

Here we are day 3 in Darwin. Day one we spent bits of the afternoon after arriving getting caught up on sleep and viewing the city from the roof of our building. Darwin CBD is small we walk it all in fifteen minutes. There is a mall and a shopping centre with a Coles supermarket ten-minutes away and a Woolworths supermarket eleven-minutes away. Fifteen-minute walk is the Darwin Waterfront Precinct a cool area with lots of restaurants and shops and Stokes Hill Wharf where cruise ships would come in if it were not for Covid-19. I have lived in Hawaii (1969 – 1971 / 1980 – 1981) as well as a few visits. I took my parents to Pearl Harbor and thought I knew lots of stuff. But until yesterday I did not know that more aircraft attacked Darwin than attacked Pearl Harbor. More bombs fell on Darwin than on Pearl Harbor. More ships were sunk in Darwin. On 19 February 1942 Darwin was bombed. We watched folks setting up a huge tent for the memorial in ten-days 19th February. A lot going on here in the next couple of weeks.

This is not what I was really going to write about – got side-tracked.

Living like a local 11-02

what Narda likes especially about Darwin – after being here for 5 days

  • Found chicken parmie special at Hotel Darwin last night. $19, a bargain for Darwin. (as for me…being a vegetarian for 50+ years, I ate their veggie mix which was adequate)
  • We cross the road at the lights diagonally!
  • Attended our first Aqua Gym class, made a new friend Susie.
  • Riding all buses for free all hours.
  • Found a local servo with $1 coffees: nice ones. We have a family rule, you cannot NOT buy a $1 coffee.
  • Found a suburb we might like to live in, Fannie Bay. Lots of houses there for $2,000,000 plus!!!! Blimey. Decided to stay where we are. (PS, I later decided that Nightscliff is more to our taste…more authentic, less yuppie)

When we miss Darwin, we’ll buy a humidifier.

We had our second aqua class today. Deep water – meaning feet do not touch the bottom. Luckily, being old as we are – we get a floaty thing to wrap around our belly. It is our first time to do this for 45 minutes – it was a good work out. Our instructor is from the Bronx so that made two out of about eight people there from New York. 25% New Yorkers in Darwin – a very cosmopolitan city.

Democracy sucks 14-02

I get up at five every morning watching the impeachment trial – always knowing the result. I want to sleep in – I am on holiday – well, being 73 and retired, every day is a holiday. But I am somewhere else, Darwin, we can only travel in Australia. Now even our home state South Australia is locking out our neighbouring state of Victoria for a week due to covid – 14 new cases in the whole state and the rest of the country locks their doors. More than one-hundred thousand new cases in the USA so far today – a few days ago there were more than two-hundred thousand in a day – 4,500 dead whereas in Australia no new deaths – there have not been any deaths for a long time. Happily, this is the end of the so-called impeachment trial. They just voted 57 – 43 so he is guilty but not guilty enough. What can I do? Millions of people worldwide are upset. I have given up on America and I am an American. My big protest I dumped on to Twitter.

Oh look! I have one retweet and 2 likes.

Another beautiful morning in Darwin from our 13th floor.

We walked along the wharf to the fishing fleet’s early morning arrival.

Yesterday we went to the Parap Market – rather disappointing, expensive eating places and local crafts. Took a random bus out of there and spent the rest of the day at Casuarina Square which is the largest shopping mall in the Northern Territory.

Now, Saturday morning, sick of all the senate farcical impeachment nonsense we are watching ‘Groundhog Day’. No more news – goodbye America – your democracy is a failure.

On ferries and other vessels

Narda in italics Terrell whatever

We arrived at the bus stop outside of Woolies for bus number 4 which would take us to the National Museum and Art Gallery. A minute later, a bus arrived heading to Cullen Bay Ferry Terminal. We looked at each other, and without much further thought or discussion, jumped on board. Luckily there were a few friendly folk on the bus who filled in the information we needed. “This is a bus taking you to the ferry terminal, you can go across the harbour to Mandorah”. It cost $30 for 2 return tickets, a fancy ferry. It was only on the ferry we realised that there was not a town at the other end, just a jetty. It was, however, a nice ten-minute ride. A free shuttle bus was taking travellers to Cox’s Tavern, but we were told that it might be full of people who had purchased package deals. On arrival we were the first off. We briskly walked to the minibus and sheepishly asked if we might come if there are spare seats. The bus driver said, “just get in”. We did. It was free. All is well.

A nice drive through some tropical forest, and there we were, a pub in the middle of nowhere, a band due to play in the avo, and pub grub waiting for us. We ordered fisherman’s baskets and sat with our young backpacker friend, called Max, with whom we had wonderful engaging conversation. The kid was 19 and heading out for a year long trip through Australia. Cool.

see our short video of this https://youtu.be/q96RNjktc54

https://youtu.be/q96RNjktc54

A nice drive through some tropical forest, and there we were, a pub in the middle of nowhere, a band due to play in the avo, and pub grub waiting for us. We ordered fisherman’s baskets and sat with our young backpacker called Max, with whom we had wonderful engaging conversation. The kid was 19 and heading out for a year long trip through Australia. Cool.

This morning Max joined us in our second boat ride. It was a small, but fast vessel, with an amazing guy giving us the low down on the invasion of Darwin by the Japs in WW2. Fascinating. Incredible stories about Australian politicians ignoring warnings from the military and naval people, resulting in a gigantic surprise attack. Even as the bombers approached, folks pointed and said that it must be the Americans. There were many deaths, far bigger than Pearl Harbour, and  also many heroic tales of sacrifice. One of the worst things was that fuel tankers and containers were bombed, spilling the fuel into the fast retreating 26-foot tide, out into the sea. It caught fire, burning many sailors and wharfies alive as they were thrown into it from the bombed ships. The ironic upside was that the thick black smoke obscured more vessels from the bombers, probably saving many lives as well.

there are sometimes that being a vegetarian means missing out on some good old tucker

torn between crocodile schnitzel - Kangaroo schnitzel - Barra schnitzel: what's a vegetarian to do?

torn between crocodile schnitzel – Kangaroo schnitzel – Barra schnitzel: what’s a vegetarian to do?

or just chilling with a good ice coffee on the wharf 

our video for this is below- it is not as long as it looks…

Stokes Hill Wharf

we spent a lot of time at Stokes Hill Wharf

we spent a lot of time at Stokes Hill Wharf

these tugs @ low tide - @ high tide they would be level with the jetty - we often saw them out towing a large ship into port or pushing one out

these tugs @ low tide – @ high tide they would be level with the jetty – we often saw them out towing a large ship into port or pushing one out

World War 2, Darwin bombing & etc

We sat under a fan in a giant marquee with I recon at least a thousand others. 

Bombing of Darwin Day

Bombing of Darwin Day

The band of the 1st Brigade played, wreaths were laid, the last post was played, and notable people spoke. It was very moving. Then the air raid sounded sirens and a jet flew over, real loud, real close. The gunners shot rounds into the sea. Cosmetic smoke whirled around us.

Today is the 79th year anniversary of the bombing of Darwin.

After attending this commemoration service, we walked up to Stokes Wharf and saw the Flying Doctor Museum 

Narda attempts to save stuffed bear on operating table but it died before we could learn her name

Narda attempts to save stuffed bear on operating table but it died before we could learn her name

and learned more about the bombing. There were special headsets where you could experience, virtual reality style, what it was to be there in the harbour as the bombs fell, the smoke, then falling from a fighter jet and nearly drowning. Quite the experience. 

Our video of this wonderful day… https://youtu.be/j9kQd3e9jbQ

Cyclone Tracy

It was a small one but extraordinarily strong. No one expected it to disrupt their Christmas eve in 1974. The cyclone made a direct hit on Darwin, destroying 70% of the buildings and 80% of the homes, with gusts of wind up to 250 Km per hour. 30,000 people were evacuated, many of them never returned.

The museum has a special exhibition for the cyclone, lots of footage, even a small booth you could go into to experience the noise it made, in total darkness. Pretty amazing. 

Cyclone Tracy Museum

Cyclone Tracy Museum

The museum was really good, one of the highlights of the museum was a maritime exhibition of many of the boats that carried people from Indonesia, Vietnam, Borneo and other islands, trying to get into Australia. Back then, in the 70s and 80s they were welcomed, though some were repatriated back to their countries. Now we treat them horribly and lock them up.

Hotel Darwin

Barramundi was on the specials menu and Terrell wanted to return for the third time. I had Caveman Pizza…Yum. You can imagine it. Back to Stokes Wharf, we met with Joel and Phoebe. It was very enjoyable, lots of interesting conversation. These guys have done well here and love it. Cannot see them leaving. There is much to love, everywhere you look, you see water. Lots of rain, almost every afternoon. And friendly people. We have almost forgotten that it is also expensive. 

QANTAS begins

QANTAS begins

Our new friend Max has found a temporary job in Kakadu, in a hotel called Crocodile Hotel, a nice start to his gap-year backpacking adventure. He said we should come down and see it all. Unfortunately, it is a 3 hour drive away, and with no car…though it was tempting.

Darwin Botanic Gardens: which is more dangerous? a python or a badass wife

Darwin Botanic Gardens: which is more dangerous? a python or a badass wife

We slept in late today

We slept in late today because it was Sunday…oh wait! We do that every day. Nevertheless, when we did get our sorry asses out of the flat, we looked at our list of stuff to do in Darwin and in our first two weeks we have done most of what has been recommended – or we found what we like to do already done.

So, we took a random bus – the first bus that we saw to wherever it was going. We do this wherever we are in the world – a great way to see places never thought of or known about. Here in Darwin, being old farts has its benefits, there is no charge for public transportation with our senior’s card. The first bus to come along was the number 10. As we were enjoying the view of going through the Darwin burbs, we saw a market across the street from a stop and quickly alighted. The Rapid Bay Sunday Market was a local and wonderful market. It was like being in Asia except with Darwin prices (about 25% more than Adelaide and Adelaide is about 56% more than Asia). Lots of food stalls. We went to one that is advertised as ‘the one’, last Saturday (Parap Village Market, they even have a yuppie webpage https://parapvillage.com.au/)  – very touristy – very western – like those organic markets one finds in the States etc. – where they just double the price and put the word ‘organic’ in front of everything. Like one would find in Eugene Oregon (think ‘Portlandia’) everyone looking so fresh, young, wholesome…organic. Perhaps I should not say such stuff, after all I was a tofu manufacturer in Adelaide for eight-years, flogging my bloody organic soyfoods… https://tofu.neuage.us/

That’s it – we had some lunch @ the Rapid Bay Sunday Market. I took a few photos – see our  one-minute clip at

Oh, back to our list – most of which is done and crossed off in our first two weeks – five-more days to do the rest.

  1. Watch sunset @ Cullen Bay
  2. Darwin’s Doctors Gully – fish feeding – http://aquascene.com.au/
  3. Casino – not to gamble (maybe) just an alleged groovy place to visit
  4. Darwin Aviation Museum https://www.darwinaviationmuseum.com.au/
  5. Military Museum – I think we are giving this a miss
  6. Cyclone Tracy Museum
  7. National Art Museum https://www.magnt.net.au/
  8. Flying Doctor Museum https://www.rfdsdarwin.com.au/
  9. Commemoration Bombing of Darwin 19th Feb https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Darwin
  10. Parliament House https://parliament.nt.gov.au/
  11. Botanic Gardens

Darwin Aviation Museum

The number 8 bus goes from central Darwin along Stuart Highway to the Darwin Aviation Museum.

Not really real – but close…

Darwin Aviation Museum: two crazy pilots

Darwin Aviation Museum: two crazy pilots

Interesting stories about Darwin’s aviation history and wartime experience with 19 aircraft including a B52 bomber, 21 engines and a rare amateur footage of the first air-raid in Darwin on display. Aircraft include a B-25 Mitchell Bomber (one of the few surviving in the world), a replica Spitfire, Mirage, Avon Sabre, a Royal Australian Navy Wessex helicopter that assisted in the clean-up of Darwin after Cyclone Tracy, F-111C, the legendary B52 Bomber.

Loving aircraft this was toward the top of my list. However, knowing that the beauty of these aircraft has the only purpose of killing takes away some of the lustre. The most distressing display was the photos of more than 500 Australians killed in the VietNam War. Even more distressing is that these young people, mostly in their early 20s, were conscripted– they had no choice about dying. What did it accomplish?

I (Narda) still have memories of bring my trannie (transistor radio) to my high school at the age of 15 and crouching over it with a group of my friends listening to the roll call of birth dates. My then boyfriend, Peter, later my first husband, (now my good friend) was not called.

To quote from https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news

WHEN the wooden balls began dropping from the barrel 50 years ago this week, there were many people who were hoping that this was one lottery in which their number wouldn’t come up. 

The prize was a trip to Kapooka or Puckapunyal, for National Service training and possibly a tour of duty in Vietnam.

Often known as the “birthday lottery” it was held in secret in the boardroom of the Department of Labour and National Service in Melbourne. 

The draw was done from a barrel that had been used for 50 years for Tattersall’s cup sweeps, filled with 181 numbered marbles representing the days of the year from January 1 to June 30. Alternate lotteries would have 184 balls for the dates of the rest of the year.

If one of the balls drawn corresponded to the birth date of one of the thousands of Australian men, aged 20, who had registered for National Service, it meant they were eligible for call-up.

From that first ballot, on March 10, 1965, around 2100 men would be called up. While many of those went willingly, the birthday lottery was not without controversy. It was also not the first time a bingo barrel had been used to call up men for national service.

That was how it was done in Australia. In the States it was a bit different for us.

Nevertheless, a visit to this museum is well worth it.

See our two minute clip at https://youtu.be/Bu-gazFBOF4

Zen of Mac & Cheese

Baked Mac and Cheese – perhaps an American thing like peanut butter and jelly. I have had to give it up for way too long. I am on one of those low-carb diets – defeating diabetes, wishful – wild attempts @ that… to reboot the system – with some success if success can be counted as being close but never complete. I have brought blood sugars down though still too high to proclaim that besides machine-learning my body is best (it isn’t).

We do Aqua Zumba a few times a week. We have been doing this for years in Adelaide; me and 35 women – my fantasy from 50 years ago, finally come true. We even found a class here in Darwin with our groovy NYC instructor, Audrey. We do a Tuesday Aqua- Pilates class and a Thursday deep water (over our head for 45 minutes) class. That is what brings my sugars down. For example, yesterday before class my sugars were 9.8 – 45 minutes later 5.9 (anything below 6 is normal). I will do anything to be normal – apart from aspiring to being a bogan – it is my second my sought after title, ‘normal’. After mac & cheese my sugars are between 18 – 20 – oops. The same with my second favourite food, mashed potatoes – and rice, bread, maple syrup…

Not being able to spend 67% of my life in the pool I try to control my diet. However, last night we decided to go out for dinner. Mitchell Street, ten minutes from our hotel, is a hub for restaurants. We go there most mornings, to McDonalds of all places, but that is because we get senior’s coffee – the second cup is free, and they do make good latte. I had it in my mind that I wanted a meal of mac & cheese – for the first one of 2021. I don’t think I had any in 2020 – but that was a bit of an unusual year anyway wasn’t it? We looked at heaps of places and no one was offering such godly tastes. We needed to find one that catered to Yanks. It is in the news that ‘Thousands of US marines to touch down in Darwin before June 2021’ (arriving in batches of 200-500 marines) – probably to find a good mac and cheese. Knowing that heaps of the critters are already roaming the streets of Darwin was a good piece of information. There must be a place that panders to the American palate.  And there was. Six Tanks, a micro-brewery bar was our nirvana.

Six Tanks, a micro-brewery bar

Six Tanks, a micro-brewery bar

And yes, they had six tanks

Six Tanks Brew Co.

Six Tanks Brew Co.

And yes, they had mac & cheese… (Narda had lasagna, probably because it had meat…yuck – though she claimed it was yummy)

Six Tanks Brew Co. Mac and Cheese

Six Tanks Brew Co. Mac and Cheese

And that is it. Nothing Zen about it. Perhaps it is because I once chased the Zen concept, whatever that was, lots of decades ago. I was thinking about that period so long ago when I saw that my favourite beat poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, passed away on Monday, February 22nd – he was 101 years old…
I remember going often to the City Lights bookstore in San Francisco in the 1960s – seeing him in NYC – following him for decades… reading my own poems all over the place back in 1960s. But that was then now isn’t and the only Zen in view is our hotel here in Darwin. Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin – https://www.zenquarter.com/

Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin

Ramada Suites by Wyndham Zen Quarter Darwin

And this is the meal I was so excited about

Then we stopped at Woolworths on the way home and got some magical chocolate and peanut butter ice creams to celebrate my high sugar/carb intake as we watched ‘Outlander’ on Netflix. I do not take my sugar readings during these times – I am having a holiday from myself. Loving it! However, here I am up since 3.30 am because I could not get back to sleep so perhaps I will not have mac and cheese for a while.

Goodbye Darwin

During our three-weeks here I took photos of the street art around Darwin and made a short clip of them.

Here we are back home. We took a chance going to Darwin. Often, lately, we would turn on the morning news and some area of Australia would be closed due to Covid. Flights, after landing, would be sent back. South Australia would close its border then Queensland or Victoria or Western Australia or New South Wales – it was a roulette table featuring a map of Australia – a dart board that once blindfolded the area we would want to be in would be the winner of our getting there.

We bought our roundtrip tickets to Darwin; a few days later a couple of states became closed for a week or so. The day before we were to leave, we booked into the airport hotel, Atura, as we do when we go overseas and leave early in the morning. We were up at 4.30 and thankfully our flight was still listed. We spent our three-weeks in Darwin, as highlighted below, and got back to Adelaide without a hitch. At Adelaide airport after going through a check to see where we had been, that we were not near any covid hotspots or overseas or feeling yucky and then we each got a little ticket that we could show on our way through the airport to safely get out. Really sophisticated tickets to say the least,

Our last morning we had breakfast at the Ramada where we were staying. The sunrise was so spectacular that even the kitchen folks came out to take photos.

These were taken minutes apart and are not photo-shopped. Obviously, I changed the settings on my camera but don’t recall what they were.

One of our evening past times was playing pool on the fifteenth floor. Narda beat me every time – not quite sure why. I think I used to be quite good.

As always, I bought a fridge magnet to add to our collection. Hopefully, we get lots more this year – probably none from overseas.

right fridge door

right fridge door

Of course, they become lost when the fridge is looked at from a distance – the two front doors and the left/right side leave little room for more. Narda’s rule is that we can not have a magnet from a place unless we stay at least one night there. No airport transit or day trip through a city – which as you can see limits me a lot, so I am just satisfied with this, now slowly, growing collection.

side of fridge (right)

side of fridge (right)

left side - right side of fridge - Soon we will need a new fridge for our next overseas trip

left side – right side of fridge – Soon we will need a new fridge for our next overseas trip

and that is all for now. Our next trip is a four to six month caravan trip through the Outback Queensland.

Stokes Hill Wharf is the main wharf for the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia and is named after Stokes Hill, which it sits beside. The hill itself was named after the previous commander of HMS Beagle, Captain Pringle Stokes, by the current commander of the Beagle, John Clements Wickham in 1839.

Stokes Hill Wharf is the main wharf for the city of Darwin in the Northern Territory of Australia and is named after Stokes Hill, which it sits beside. The hill itself was named after the previous commander of HMS Beagle, Captain Pringle Stokes, by the current commander of the Beagle, John Clements Wickham in 1839.

Thanks for sharing this moment with us.

#Daily Thoughts 03 March 2021
Our current life with Covid as of 03 March 2021
how we see the world today 01 March 2021 (Goodbye Darwin)
youtube videos
25 February 2021 (Darwin Street Art

video – (ties in isolation)
previous youtube channel (prior to 2013)

picture poems are available at these sites: Twitter, Google Plus ~ Tumblr ~ Pinterest ~ linkedin updated 05 February 2019 Adelaide, South Australia

Leaving Australia Book 2‘ (new NOW IN PAPERBACK & AS E-BOOK)
Leaving Australia “Again’: Before the After” (See the first ten pages of each for free) Paperback Edition

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