On the second day we left the van and drove into Adelaide River to see Charlie. Who is Charlie? Well his real name was Nick, Charlie was just his screen name. Charlie weighed in at 1,000 kilograms and had a horn width of 2.25 meters. He died in 2000, and his claim to fame was he stared in 2 of the Crocodile Dundee moves with Paul Hogan as Co-Star. Charlie was a water buffalo and the pet of the owner of the local pub. When he died the owners had him stuffed and now he proudly stands at the end of the bar.
The bar offers a number of unusual items for the tourist. I am not really sure how you would describe them but to say they are uniquely Australian.
Adelaide River began as a base for workers building the telegraph line that ran from Port Augusta to Darwin. It increased in size when gold was discovered and then with the railway line passing through the town.
We had lunch at the bar and then went to the local cemetery. After Japan entered the war it became too dangerous for supplies to arrive by sea. Everything had to be transported overland. The route was 1460 kilometers on dirt roads with became impassable in the wet season. By 1942 over 3,900 tons of supplies were being transported each day. In February of that year the war came to Australian soil, as Darwin was bombed. It was the start of 64 air raids on Darwin over 2 long years. The first two raids of 188 aircraft sunk 80 ships in the harbor and killed more than 230 people, wounding more than 300. Many civilians and military personnel fled to Adelaide River making the town an important supply base. At one time over 24,000 Australian and American military called it home (the 24,000 was part of the 64,000 allied military personnel stationed in Northern Territory.) To help the war effort performers often visited the area. This included Hollywood star Gary Cooper and Australian singer Marjorie Lawrence.
The military and civilians who lost their lives in those raids are now held with love in the Adelaide River War Cemetery. Adrian and I walked around the grounds in awe. It was a very solemn experience. Two buses of tourist arrived when we were there. We all walked in silence reflecting on the young live wasted.
Did I know Darwin was bombed? Yes. Did I know there were 64 raids over 2 years? No. I thought it was a once off thing. I can remember my mother talking to my father when I was a child about the bombing. She said the government kept it secret from the country for many years and if it looked like we would lose the war, then how the plan was to pull everyone out of the top end and let the Japanese have it, knowing the country would defeat them in the end.
The Adelaide River War Cemetery is the fourth largest of the Australian War Cemeteries. Staff of the office of Australian War Graves maintains all. The grounds looked truly amazing. It was nice to see and to know even after all this time, “we have remembered them.”