ARAGORN ... Not all those who wander are lost (JRR Tolkien)

Darwin: "The Top End"

Darwin Australia sits at the top end of the Northern Territory of Australia. For thousands of years it has been home to a large number of Aborigines. Darwin was named by British Captain John Stokes after his friend Charles Darwin. The Northern Territory has some significant national parks for sight-seeing.

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After twenty days of cruising and passaging, we made it to Darwin. From right to left three Blue Water Rally boats: ARAGORN, ISHTAR and OCEAN SONG.

Darwin is an interesting city: capital of a territory (not yet a state), remote, surrounded by harsh, scenic lands, with a significant Asian population, and Aboriginal people seen regularly. One of the best of the Asian imports is the “night market”, a carnival of food sellers, craft hawkers, jugglers and magicians, etc. This photo shows the Thursday night Mindel Beach market, the largest in Darwin. The stalls and people cover almost a half-mile of walkway, start at five PM and go through eleven. Almost every kind of cuisine that can be sold from a stall is represented … we tried as many as we could handle!

We discovered the Shredded Green Papaya Salad at the night markets. Here is our favorite Thai-Australian making the salad from green papaya, chilies, ground peanuts, tomatoes, tamarind juice, lime juice, a bit of sugar and fish sauce.

Malaysian food anyone? Tofu, Samosas, Chicken Satay, Chili Tempe, Chili Eggplant, and noodle soups on the top of the counter. Can you tell by Dick’s photos of all the food vendors that he intends to eat his way through Southeast Asia?

We met this man in one market, then later in a supermarket buying up the entire shelf of chunky and super-chunky peanut butter for his satay sauce. When we finally photoed him at the night market, he showed off his grilling skills – waving the mat to keep the coals at hottest temperature for the satays.

The Aboriginal people sometimes show off their music. Here two members of a trio show off their percussion section. We learned to keep time with two sticks, but could not master the didgeridoo! The trio was very friendly, and wanted to know all about us, where we were from, etc….

So Leslie had to shoot this photo. As stated, mastering the didgeridoo means puffing like a horse, clicking like a bird and breathing in and out, all at the same time … so Dick is holding it just for show.

We saw some neat natural phenomena while on a tour outside Darwin. Here we take a ferry boat ride up Katherine Gorge, a wonderful waterway through some spectacular fault lines.

While in Katherine Gorge, we also saw the freshwater croc … but not too closely.

The Aboriginal people left paintings in many places. This wall art in Katherine Gorge is about five feet tall and about nine feet up. Other than the upside-down man on the left, the rest of the painting depicts what kind of food a hunter is likely to find in the area. Kind of an original food guide for the hunter-gatherer!

Of course we saw the elusive kangaroo. But, we confess, we cheated and saw it a wildlife park outside Darwin.

Leslie shares a laugh with the two other skippers who went to the wildlife park with us – Brit Peter Goldsmith off SAINT BARBARA, and American David Rucker off SCARAMOUCHE.

To help integrate some of the new players in the rally, all the boats joined in a pot luck on the dock in front of ARAGORN and ISHTAR. Five new boats joined to go from Australia to the Mediterranean.

All play and no work is not good, so most of the skippers and crew put in maintenance time in Darwin. Here Dick is up SAINT BARBARA’s mast, replacing a bulb in the tricolor light for Peter Goldsmith. On the rally we have had the greatest outpouring of help from one boat to another, and spread throughout the rally fleet there are experts in all boat systems.

Because of the 24-foot tides in Darwin, the marina entrance had a lock. Here we are locking down a mere 4.5 meters (15 feet), just to get to the fuel dock, outside the lock. By the way, when you lock down like this, you should not forget to close your ports, as there are relieving holes in the sides of the lock to allow water built up behind the lock wall to pour out … and into your galley if you left the galley port open … but who would do that? ARAGORN’s Admiral, on the bow was not amused (the Skipper chuckled though).

Of course, one of the last jobs is clearing out. One of the many benefits of a cruising rally, is that the organizers can get Customs, etc. to come to the marina, saving many trips to their offices. Here David Arnold (PAROO) and Stuart Milne (GAULTINE III) get processed by the efficient Australian Customs men. I did find it amusing that the agent on the right side of this picture, Bill Cruz, was born and raised on the lower east side of Manhattan, and is now in Australian Customs in Darwin!

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