A Travellerspoint blog

May 2011

Darwin sunsets

Watching the sun set over the sea in the Top End

sunny 29 °C

Mindil Beach sunset

Mindil Beach sunset

At home, the rises over the sea. In Darwin, it sets there. That's lucky really because our big chunk of Australia trip didn't stretch all the way to Perth on the west coast. Darwin sunsets will do nicely.

On two of our first four nights there, we were in lovely locations to watch the sunset. On the Thursday, it was Mindil Beach Sunset Market. You get there, set up your picnic rug, go and buy some Asian food for dinner and eat it as you watch the sun sink slowly over the ocean. Then, once that's done, you shop. It's quite touristy with the car park full to overflowing and some tacky souvenirs among the treasures - but lots of fun. Parap Market on a Saturday lacks the sunset viewing but is more of an authentic local market.

The second Darwin sunset we saw was from a boat cruise on Darwin Harbour. Our friend Lee had organised for a group of us to do a cruise on an old pearling boat, 'Streeter'. We brought wine and cheese and soft drink and chips and again, watched the sun set over a calm tropical sea. It was so warm, we didn't need jackets - usually essential items for boat cruises.

Oddly enough, Darwinites think it's cold right now. Temps are down, especially overnight. One resident even got hypothermia. She was walking to the shop to buy a newspaper at 4.30am in bare feet. The NT News tells the story here.

Keith on Darwin sunset cruise

Keith on Darwin sunset cruise

Posted by kecasumi 21:30 Archived in Australia Tagged sunsets_and_sunrises beaches boats markets Comments (1)

In search of a croc-free swim

Sometimes the crocodiles get the good swimming spots

sunny 29 °C

Up the Creek at Trephina Groge

Up the Creek at Trephina Groge

Now we're in the tropics (the Tropic of Capricorn is about 40km north of Alice Springs), we love a good swim. The days are warmer and as you go up the Stuart Highway from Alice Springs to Darwin (where we are now), the nights get warmer too.

There are some lovely swimming holes in the East and the West MacDonnell Ranges near Alice Springs. We waded in the creek at Trephina Gorge and the waterhole at Simpson's Gap (brrrr!). But you couldn't wade in a creek near Darwin. The crocs would be waiting!

Fortunately, an hour south of Katherine, Mataranka Thermal Springs pump out 30.5 million litres of warm (34 degrees C) water every day. The area was formerly part of Elsey Station, where the classic Australian book 'We of the Never Never' is set. Pastoralists swam at Mataranka, and later, soldiers based in the area in WW2. No doubt, Aboriginal people have swum there for millenia. No crocs here and a lovely place to swim, surrounded by palm trees.

Disappointingly, Edith Falls, just north of Katherine, belonged to the crocs the day we visited. Early in the dry season, park rangers haven't got round to checking for crocs so they keep everyone out until they do. In Darwin, they outwit them by building wave pools!

Croc-free, clear, warm water in Mataranka Thermal Pool

Croc-free, clear, warm water in Mataranka Thermal Pool

Posted by kecasumi 08:53 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes waterfalls outback Comments (0)

A visit to Alice Springs School of the Air

Susie talks about lessons she saw in the world's biggest classroom

sunny 27 °C

Susie with the metal 'quilt' outback students made for ASSOA's 60th anniversary on 8 June 2011

Susie with the metal 'quilt' outback students made for ASSOA's 60th anniversary on 8 June 2011

Alice Springs School of the Air (ASSOA) is a school that communicates with students online and through videoconference. The School of the Air is for people who are a long way from a school they can attend. ASSOA has been around since 1951 when they used radio, but only in the last 5 years they started using videoconferencing for lessons.

The School of the Air does very well in the NAPLAN because they have no-one to distract them. The School of the Air is in Alice Springs. Normally the kids are sent two weeks' worth of work as well as library books and art packs. Every student has someone who helps them with their work when they are not online or videoconference. Most kids are way out of town. They range from kinder (transition) to Year 9. Read more about ASSOA by clicking here.

Posted by kecasumi 17:55 Archived in Australia Tagged outback schools Comments (0)

A camel called Trevor

Seeing Uluru by camel

sunny 22 °C

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There are over a million feral camels in Australia, so we're told. They're descended from the ones brought here by the Afghan (really Pakistani) cameleers that the Ghan train is named after.

Trevor, Jack, Digger and their mates were all feral camels once. Then men caught them, gelded them, named them and trained them. Now they are the friendliest outback tour transport you could ever hope to meet. They patiently carried us through the dunes near Uluru, responding to commands like 'stand' (stay) and 'hoosh' (kneel).

On our own feet, we've been on a few bushwalks in the National Park - at the base of Uluru and to a lookout at Kata Tjuta. It's like doing a sculpture walk - amazing colours, shapes and textures on a huge scale. Aboriginal rock paintings pattern some of the walls. It's easy to see why it's a spiritual place for the local Anangu people.

One evening, Susie and I went to watch the sun set over Uluru. With friendly people from India, Germany and everywhere cramming the sunset viewing area, we watched in awe as the rock changed from luminous orange to purple-blue to chocolate brown. Then the full moon rose.
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Posted by kecasumi 11:54 Archived in Australia Tagged landscapes sunsets_and_sunrises people deserts Comments (0)

Why I like opals

Michael tells what he discovered in Coober Pedy

semi-overcast 18 °C

Opal has really nice colours like red, green, blue and orange. The noodling (fossicking) was annoying because you might think you'd find opal but you didn't always.

I got some opal from loads of places - from the mine tour we did, the shop at the underground motel we stayed at, noodling in the public noodling area, and the opal shop where I bought some. Going in the mine and being pulled up on the swing thing was really fun. (Read more about opals by clicking here).
Going up an opal mine shaft

Going up an opal mine shaft

Posted by kecasumi 20:41 Archived in Australia Tagged mines opals Comments (0)

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