We were looking forward to seeing Darwin. Several years ago friend took a trip around Australia but only got to Darwin, loved it so much they purchased 2 properties. As Northern Territory was still in school holiday time we were a bit concerned about getting into a van park. As soon as we could get service Adrian started the ring around. Van Park after Van Park were filled or the only spot left was unpowered. Adrian tried the Barramundi Fishing Park. It had one spot left, unpowered but as it was only $20 and half the price of other unpowered sites we jumped at it. As we could get water we asked if we could use our gennie and they were happy for us to do so. Great. Our washing will be done.
First things first. Set up camp, put the first load of washing on, eat lunch and put another load of washing on. Then we could sit back and have a look around the park. It is a very unique park. It only operates for roughly 6 months of the year and it is a cat haven full time. There are only 14 sites and half of them are powered. It is a magic little place. The owners stock the lagoon with fish and they have a fleet of boats you can use to fish with. (Ok the fleet is only two tinnies but the lagoon isn’t very big so it works.) On our first night a man set up at fishing line on the other side of the water. He was on his way back to his van with the line started to play in the water. He ran back to take charge. Adrian and I were standing talking to some people we had met before when the shout went out. We had turned to watch at the right moment as a large fish jumped into the air breaking the line. We were all very impressed with the size of it. The owner of the rod then took one of the fleet out to try his luck on the water. No success.
The first full day in Darwin we drove around town and then walked down to the waterfront. The town has a wave pool. I had never seen one before so was pretty impressed with it. The waterfront was lovely but I don’t think it would live up to what it could be. Maybe I am used to Perth and in the center of the city there are pop up stores and buskers to add life. There were so many people at the waterfront it just surprised me no one had taken advantage of them in the way of busking or setting up a pop up store. The only thing I could think was that the city didn’t allow it. If that is the case I think it is a shame.
Just across the road from the waterfront are “the Tunnels.” They were on Adrian’s list of must do, so we did. The tunnels were built to house alternative fuel after the destruction of the above ground tanks by air raids in 1942. Like most government project the price jumped from £850,00 to over £1,087,000. The ground was soft and unstable. Over 400 workers did most of the work by hand in horrific conditions. Steam driven shovels came later but they added to the conditions by pushing the humidity up to 90%. Then there was the wet season when water poured through into the tunnels making the tunnels useless and dangerous. How they kept it a secret I don’t know. Some 400 men working seven day a week (being war time no breaks other than Christmas day) sneaking in and out of a hillside. Construction machinery and waste to bring in or take out of the work site and shh don’t tell anyone. Although the project was supposed to be a big secret the soil that had be removed for the tunnels had been dumped at the entrance. Any aerial photos would have shown building work going on and as it wouldn’t have shown any above grown work it would have been obvious something was happening underground. With all this happening, the secret was kept. Amazing.
We peeked into tunnel 6.
Length: 77 m (84 yards, 252 feet)
Height: 4.5 m (4 yards, 2.7 feet)
Width: 5 m (5 yards, 1.4 feet)
Top: 635 mm
Side: 533 mm
Floor: 350 mm
After all the money and time spent on building the tunnels they were never used for what they were built for. Today they are open to the public. An interesting thing, the secret was kept from the public up until 1992 when the tunnels were opened to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Darwin. The tunnels are interesting in a dull kind of way. You walk into a tunnel and basically that is it. Dull. Interesting are the information boards along the walls. They talked not only about the tunnels but also Daly Waters and Adelaide River involvement and the history of Darwin. The boards mentioned many of the places we had visited with old photos and some told personal stories.