Wednesday 10 November 2021

Darwin day 6 and 7 -- Katherine Gorge, Adelaide Cemetery, Darwin

Friday 24th September 2021 - 

After a continental breakfast at the Knotts Crossing Resort in Katherine, we checked-out, loaded our bags into the tour van, and at 7am were ready to drive the 37km (23mi) to Katherine Gorge in the Nitmiluk  (Cicada Place) National Park.

The tour tickets had been pre-purchased, so we just had to wait to be called to board one of the boats at the jetty for the 2 hour tour. In the meantime we noticed the trees above the ticket area were full of scary (to me) bats.

The flat-bottomed boats are able to navigate the shallow waters in the dry season, but sometimes the boat had to slow down to avoid underwater rocky areas.

The guide told us stories about the local Aboriginal people - the Jawoyn -  pointed out a few birds, the small sandy beaches, talked about films that were shot in the area, etc.

A lot of swallow nests in this cave, but they were too quick, so didn't capture any with my small camera

Small sandy beaches


During the dry season it is safe to swim and canoe (which you can hire), there are freshwater crocodiles in the area, but these are harmless if you don't disturb them. Saltwater crocodiles will get into the area during the rainy season, but we were shown a lot of traps along the way and they are removed from the area before the dry season. 

There are 100km (62mi) of walking trails, which are best explored during the cooler early morning.

We cruised until a certain point, then disembarked, had a look at Aboriginal rock art, walked a few metres and got back onto another boat the other side of the rocky area to sail into the second gorge.

On our return to the base, from the tour boat the Baruwai lookout was pointed to us. Apparently the most popular lookout at the western end of the gorge, with extensive views over the park and with the best views at sunset, and the trail to get there is only around 1,8km (1.12mi) return.

When we finished, we had a toilet visit, top up our water bottles and back to the bus on our way to Darwin.

About 1,30h later, we stopped for lunch at Pine Creek, the old mining town we had visited the previous day, on our way to Katherine.  It's the fourth larges town in the Northern Territory, with a population of about 328 people, which gives you an idea of the population density in this State.

At the pub I ordered Fish and Chips for me, which I could hardly finish as it was a huge serving, but was delicious.

Toilet signs at the Pine Creek Pub

The "snake charmer", a snake in water, a bike full of signs and my lunch of Fish and Chips

   On our return to the van, someone pointed to an elderly local who was holding a snake, can't remember what is was, but not dangerous. He offered if I wanted to hold it, but I'm petrified of snakes, whether good or bad. A few more snakes were in cages on the side of the pub, one might have been hot as she was inside water.

Just over one hour later we reached Adelaide River Cemetery.  Situated 116km south of Darwin, and 100mt from the Adelaide River it is a beautifully laid out cemetery with manicured gardens, tropical flowers...

The entrance to the Cemetery


Established in 1942, it is the last resting place for service men and women who lost their lives in Northern Australia as a result of WWII.

Divided into two sections - the eastern section if the military cemetery with 434 graves and memorials to persons who died but whose bodies were not recovered and the western section contains burial places of 64 civilians, including a memorial to 9 people killed in the Darwin Post Office, during the first Japanese raid to Darwin on 19th February 1942.

When we were there "Pat Cullinan and his 4x4 adventures" (Australian TV show) team was there filming, so who knows I might be a tv star by now 😏

Next a pit stop at the nearby Adelaide River Inn. I loved the sign "Sorry, we do not have wi-fi. Talk to each other (like it's 1990).

At the entrance to the pub there is a gigantic saltwater crocodile in a glass case. 

Inside, on top of the counter is "Charlie", the now embalmed water buffalo that featured in the first Crocodile Dundee movie in 1986. 

The movie was inspired by the "real Crocodile Dundee" - the strong and brave Rod Ansell.  In  August 1999, more than a decade after the movie, from which he didn't profit at all, Rod who was 44 was shot dead by police after an amphetamine induced rampage, that saw him wound 3 men and kill a 33 year old policeman - Glen Huitson.

Glen Huitson was the Officer in Charge of the Adelaide River Police Station and the town has a park named in his honour. There is a statue to the Officer in Livingstone, 60km up the road, where the shooting happened.

Back on the bus, we made our way to Darwin arriving about 1,15h later.

We checked back into the same hotel - Oaks Darwin Elan Hotel, and Jenny and I were even given the same room. As we were waiting in line to check-in I looked behind me and saw the journalist husband of one of my work colleagues also waiting to check-in. Imagine being about 4000km away from home and coming across someone you know!

Oaks Elan Darwin Hotel and hotel room

It was our last night in Darwin and after getting ready, we walked a couple of blocks to best tapas restaurant in Darwin- Moorish Cafe.

Once again we were surprised at the high quality of restaurants, the fresh food and great service in Darwin.

Saturday 25th September

After breakfast, we said our goodbyes, and I checked out and left my suitcase at reception. My two travelling companions would be leaving soon to the airport, but I had a late afternoon flight, so had plenty of time to do some sightseeing around Darwin.

I ordered an Uber to take me to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

The Museum and sign at the entrance

The entry-free museum is a must to visit, with interesting exhibitions about Darwin and Northern Territory's history and how the settlers lived when they first arrived in the area.

The star of the Museum is "Sweetheart" a 50 year old, 5,1mt male crocodile, which weighed 780kg when caught in 1979, and drowned while being caught, probably due to the muscle relaxant used.

Another interesting exhibit is the display on Cyclone Tracy that devastated Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974, with footage and reports about the event and what it has taken to rebuild Darwin into the modern city it is today. 

There is a sound booth where you can hear a recording of what the cyclone sounded like as it ripped through the city, killing 71 people, destroying 80% of the houses, and leaving more than 25 thousand out of the 47000 residents homeless. 

Cyclone Tracy newspaper photos

       There is a pavilion housing boats, pearl luggers and historic craft from the Pacific area, and an Indigenous art gallery with works from artist from the Top End.

Various boats

The Indigenous Art Gallery

                               The museum is situated right next to the beach at Fannie Bay, but no swimming in Darwin beaches, unless you wish to be eaten by a croc or stung by a deadly jellyfish!

Fannie Bay Beach - right by the Museum

  Another Uber was called to take me to the George Brown Botanic Gardens 2km away...I would have walked if I had the time, but it was also getting hot.

I picked up a map from the information centre, but kept getting lost!

The 42 hectares gardens were a tropical paradise with many unusual plants I had never come across, divided into many different "garden rooms" - cycad garden, frangipani garden, food garden, African garden, shade garden, and lots of statues - crocodile, dinosaurs...

Dinosaurs in the Botanic Gardens

A metal crocodile statue with fish in his mouth

During Cyclone Tracy, 89% of the plants were lost. George Brown, who had worked in the gardens since 1969, took charge of the restoration from 1971 to 1990 and the gardens were named after him.

All over the park were Orange Footed Scrubfowl, throwing up soil, not sure if they were making nests...



The beach
When I left the garden I ordered an Uber to take me to the Esplanade (seaside), took photos of the beach, bought some Sushi for lunch and sat down in a park enjoying some sun while eating.
Flowers in a park near the seaside

Then I walked a few blocks up to the hotel, finding mural after mural... I was in mural heaven 😉, retrieved my bag from the hotel reception, and called another Uber to take me to the airport.

The Qantas flight departed at 4,30pm and I landed in Perth about 3 hours later at 7pm (we are 1 1/2h behind Darwin).

Unlike the flight to Darwin that was half empty and I had 3 seats to myself, this flight was almost full, and the 2 seats next to me were occupied. 

And that is the end of my Northern Teritory adventure! Hope you enjoyed the virtual trip and didn't get bored by the dozens of photos...

                                                        * * * * * * * * * 

The best time to visit Darwin, Katherine and Kakadu National Park would be in the dry season, from May to October, the cooler months.  The area has two seasons: hot/wet and hot/dry.

Darwin, is the capital and the largest city of the Northern Territory. Its population is around 150,000 and while the Northern Territory about twice the size France, Spain and Italy combined, or the State of Texas, the total population of the NT is only about 250,000 people.  The CBD (central business district) or city centre is small and easily walked. Lots of murals can be found in this area.

I was pleasantly surprised with the city of Darwin and surrounding national parks - a modern city, helpful people, great restaurants, lots of cultural places, diverse markets (which I didn't get a chance to visit), incredible landscapes and abundant wildlife... Even though the beaches are beautiful, they are empty, and you shouldn’t swim at the beaches - jellyfish and saltwater crocodiles await you... and most swimming holes are either closed or not safe to swim in during the rainy season (except in Litchfield National Park, where they remain accessible year round).

Map of our itinerary from Katherine to Darwin:
We covered about 376 Km (234 miles) from 7am to about 5.30pm.


  1. This is a big one, and so interesting with great photos.
    I've never thought of a good reason to hold a snake.
    Adelaide Cemetery is just beautiful.
    You mentioned service in Darwin on your last night. People complain about service in Australia but I've so rarely had any problem.
    Travelling around in an Uber! How modern.
    The museum was pretty good in 2005 and had the cyclone noise room back then. I think after the museum we went to the casino and sat glued to the huge plasma tv screen showing the bombings in London. It didn't look good and was worse that we thought.
    Thanks for the Darwin visit.

    1. Thanks Andrew. I wouldn't hold a snake either, I'm petrified.
      Very rarely have I had a problem with service in Australia either. Would you believe it, it was the first time ever I used an Uber and then used it 4 times in a day. Not a good end to your Museum/Casino visit Andrew :(

  2. ...Darwin certainly is wonderful destination. I love the "Drip Dry" and "Shake Dry" signs. That sure is an oversize truck or is it a lorry? I don't think that a Cape York Carpet Python sounds good to me. Thanks Sami for joining the party, I hope that you are enjoying your week.

    1. I thought those signs were hilarious Tom :)
      It is a truck Tom, the ones with lots of semi-trailers are called "road trains". Apparently the snakes they had there were all harmless, but even then I'm not a snake person. Thanks for hosting Tom.

  3. I can see that roughing it in the bush has taken on a whole new meaning, Sami!

    1. Thanks David, not too much roughing luckily :)

  4. Great post, Amazing series of pics.

    1. Thanks Rupam, enjoy the rest of the week :)

  5. Stunning photos of the final time on your trip. I have NEVER seen bats in sunlight like that before. I thought they prefer dark and cool. That was a bit scary to me.

    I would have held the snake. They don't scare me. I know I'm a bit weird. I think I would have enjoyed a glass bottom boat. I was in one in California, but it wasn't the same.

    I was impressed with the cemetery and the museums. I always LOVE to visit museums and these were so different. Those botanical gardens were beautiful, too. Sounds like a great last day with everyone else gone and you on your own. Four Ubers in a single day! Fun!

    BTW, loved seeing the fish and chips, too.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth. I enjoy visiting Museums too, you learn so much about history, the country, culture, etc.
      The cemetery was the most beautiful I have seen. I had never even ridden an Uber before, and then in one day I ordered 4!!

  6. What a beautiful post. Love all the flowers and all the food. I would have loved to come along. Such a fun trip.

    Have a fabulous day and rest of the week, Sami. ♥

    1. Thanks Sandee, glad you enjoyed the virtual trip with me. Enjoy the rest of the week.

  7. Dearest Sami,
    WOW, that was quite a few days' stories to be written down with photos.
    You did not mention your photo with the extreme long truck road train...
    Only once did we see such 42-wheelers, when I was driving through the north of Michigan:
    Aha, the movies about Crocodile Dundee had somebody else living out all those adventures before. Did not know that and how tragic that he died the way he did. Good thing that he got his Aboriginal funeral, as he spoke their language and naturally was one of them.
    Very informative post!
    Would not want to swim there, salt or sweet water crocs; not for me!
    Snakes feel very soft and are not at all ugly to the touch. Tried it once and was quite surprised how nice the felt! 😉

    1. Thanks Mariette. Road trains as those long trucks are called here are very common in country roads. They can take a while to overtake.
      Yes, it was a tragic death of someone who was not mentally stable.

  8. Beautiful landscapes. Weird about the inspiration behind Crocodile Dundee.

    1. Thanks William. I had no idea until our tour guide mentioned it, I just thought someone had written a funny story about an Australian adventurer.

  9. Replies
    1. Jardins tropicais, eram lindos. Obrigada Pedro.

  10. Ohhhh, the bats, I love them!
    Cool boat, you really had some adventure there, wonderful!
    Uh-oh, no, not even with freshies, no way I´d go in there...
    Love the blue crocs. The handbag sure cracked me up :-)
    Wow, these oversize roadtrains sure are a pain...
    Interesting they point out guide dogs. Clever. Not that the guided person could see that, though. In... I guess McKay it was... a sign "Blind persons cross here" and you could easily misunderstand that as "invitation" for them and not as warning for drivers, LOL.

    I´ll look out to that show (well, it might be here in 10 years or such...)

    I SO agree with 1990-sign! Great displays of the two animals. Scary, a bit.
    Sad story about Ansell. A small world, LOL.
    Never heard of Sweetheart or that they get that old.
    Yes, that sound booth... the first time it really did freakk me out. Horrible, scary.
    Is the Christmas-scene still there, also? And the Fannie Bay Goal Museum? That was scary and I was the first to go.... brrrr. Ingo´s feet sure suffered as I stepped back in "panic", LOL.

    The Botanical Garden looks great!

    Ohhh. I´m really a bit sad that your trip ended already. I enjoyed it immensly, thank you for sharing it, Sami!

    1. That toilet sign was quite funny indeed and so was the wi-fi one :)
      I didn't know crocodiles lived that long either, but they are ancient creatures. Yes, the Christmas scene was there. I didn't go to the Fannie Bay Goal Museum, I probably would have the time, but didn't want to chance it. Glad you enjoyed the trip and it brought back good memories Iris.

  11. Dearest Sami,
    Forgot to reply to your fruit bats as we always observed them hanging from the trees in Indonesia.
    LOVE bats and here we have our very own, tiny ones that catch ALL our mosquitoes. The best environmentally friendly one can get; far better than any repellent.

    1. Thanks Mariette, I get they get a bad rap because of virus they transmit, but I still find them a bit scary.

    2. Sami, they indeed can spread the rabies virus but such a fruit bat never would attack a human being... Neither do other bats, they live off insects. Mosquitoes can spread a lot more diseases!

  12. Wow, that was quite a trip! Really interesting and different from what we have here in Virginia.

    1. Thanks Linda. Very different from where I live too.

  13. Um belo passeio e estou a gostar de ver as fotografias.
    Um abraço e bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa
    O prazer dos livros

    1. Obrigada Francisco, foi realmente um passeio maravilhoso.

  14. You have had such a fabulous holiday and I'm delighted. It certainly is incredibly beautiful. I was imagining myself being on that riverboat going through those "rock walls" on either side. How wonderful. Beautiful flowers and a fascinating museum. I love that you enjoyed a good tapas resto on your last night. It looked delicious. I hope re-entry back into your normal world wasn't terribly hard. I know it would be for me!


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