Saturday, September 5, 2009

Darwin- beachside markets and bombers

After 2 months in one of the most sparsely populated regions on the planet, it's pretty weird being back in a city. Plenty would argue that Darwin barely qualifies- the NT's capital (and home to more than half of it's population) is actually barely half the size of Wollongong, (or about the size of Tauranga or Dunedin for the Kiwis) and wandering around the CBD on a Saturday afternoon it feels more a provincial backwater than a state capital. The museum is interesting- some great displays of Aboriginal art and artifacts, and some fascinating stuff on Darwin's short history. If Territorians have an attitude that they have had more crap to deal with than other Australians it's not without foundation, having had to almost totally rebuild the city twice within the space of 50 years, first after the Japanese flattened it during WWII, then again after cyclone Tracy did an even more thorough demolition job in 1974. It still seems a bit of a haphazardly laid out place though- with the port and CBD at one end, a big airport complex in the middle and suburbs on the opposite sides, with the occasional miserable looking aboriginal settlement here and there.
We head to Mindal markets in the evening, which as well as a nice sunset, provide a whole swag of nice ethnic food nibbles, including East Timorese pork and bean stew and grilled camel (which for the record is a bit chewy, and tastes something like venison).

Oh and the aviation museum is pretty cool too- amongst other military and civilian planes and choppers they've got an entire B-52 Stratofortress bomber there (formerly based in Darwin, and kindly donated by the US military when it was retired from service), which takes up almost the entire width of the museum! Just try not to think of the number of unfortunate Viets and Cambodians that it likely rained high explosives onto at some point....

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