Darwin Fun in the Dry: Photos, Stories and a Laugh

It’s the Dry Season in the Top End and as usual Darwin has been humming with activities, but this month it reaches a crescendo of activity with the Darwin Festival.

August in Darwin is filled with such amazing opportunities: Indigenous singers and performers, international artists, the Aboriginal Art Festival, the Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award and exhibition, plus free concerts, cultural displays and markets. Throw in the fighter jets in a multi-nation Operation Pitch Black 12 and the associated Open Day on the RAAF base for all the aircraft junkies in our midst (count me in!).  And for some outdoor fun, a visit to the new waterpark at Palmerston with its huge water slide (scary…eeek!).

We’ve had an excellent few days over the weekend with a flying visit from our daughter  who now lives in Kenya and the fun we’ve packed in as a family having all sorts of “adventures” around town.  It’s great to have all the kids and grandchildren in one place even for a short time. So much excitement in a few days that I was plumb tuckered out last night.

If you’re interested in any/all of the fun and games, why not pop over to my photo blog Tropical Territory and see what’s going on.

And for today’s laugh I share with you a quote from this morning’s world-class (hah!!) newspaper, the NT News: Beyond the quest for gold, silver and blondes in the final days of the Olympics…“.

I kid you not! Well it was in the sports pages, but even so…The story’s theme was the craze for athletes to get Olympic tattoos to celebrate their participation. Aussie swimmer Ryan Napoleon was warning about the need for caution as he’d seen one tatt that said “Oylmpics”. I reckon “I won an Oylmpic blonde” would go one better!

Beauty & the Beast, united in death

Beauty and the Beast: the night heron and the cane toad.

I think this image speak volumes of the march of the cane toad into the Northern Territory (apart from all those shades of brown).  We stopped to look at some brolgas near a waterway on our drive home from down south, and happened to see this tableau.

It may not be the case, but it looked to me like the night heron had possibly pecked at the toad, killing it, only to die itself from the toad’s poison. It certainly reminds us that the cane toad migration is in full force and has a substantial impact on the native wildlife. This is the first year we’ve had them on our suburban block. Call in Toadbusters and the toad traps.

For those unfamiliar with cane toads, some bright spark brought them in the 1930s to combat the cane beatle which was affecting crops. Like so many introduced species it then went crazy and has had a terrible effect on native animals. Unfortunately there’s also a native frog in the Top End which at a casual glance looks similar to a cane toad -those we don’t want to destroy!

BTW I am not a bird expert so if my bird identification is incorrect please leave a comment and set me straight.

Top End Open Gardens: Jade Vine is this week’s star

The spectacular jade vine in all its glory taken at Anthill Gardens today.

One of the joys of the Top End in the Dry Season is the array of gardens which are open and visiting them is part of our “social” agenda. Unfortunately due to our interstate trip we’ve missed a few but last week’s garden and this week’s have been delightful. I loved the intimacy of last week’s garden with its many rooms, lush foliage, fun mosaics and absolute privacy. This week, the feature plant at today’s garden, Anthill Gardens, was the Jade vine. Apparently the combination of a heavy Wet Season and a chilly spell in the Dry has produced a good flowering season. I thought you might like to see some images of this vine which is native to the Philippines but don’t get too carried away and plant it in your own garden unless you have lots of space. Apparently it has a tendency to take over. This garden (with which I have no connection) is about to be a commercial tourist attraction in the Top End as Tropical Display Gardens.If you’re travelling around it will be worth a look. The front of the property has some fairly spectacular termite mounds too. In fact, if you’re touring the Top End and enjoy gardens, keeping an eye out for the Open Garden information is well worth while for a pleasant outing….it’s unlikely you’d be disappointed.

A glade of jade vine flowers

Living with Top Gun in the Top End

Boeing's F/A18s against the sunset from http://www.boeing.com/defense-space/military/fa18/index.htm

There are days when our house is like an extra in Top Gun: you know, the movie with Tom Cruise, fly-boys in leather jackets, great soundtrack, lots of super-fast planes and serious motorbikes for those with that predilection. Being the Dry Season in the Top End the annual manoeuvres are on and Exercise Aces North is in full flight with the fighter jocks enjoying our clear blue skies. Unfortunately when the wind is in the right (or wrong?!) direction it means they do take-offs heading straight for us, then a fast-turn of their F/A18s for the next leg right over our roof, with accompanying explosion of noise: tends to scare cats and small children….and sometimes annoys grumpy women-of-a certain-age. Being a bit of a plane junkie I used to get a thrill out of seeing this burst of military might but right now, I’d choose lamb roast over Tom Cruise too!  (for those unfamiliar with this 1990s advertising, do have a look at the video.. it’s amusing!).

Woohoo -the Dry Season has arrived!

Doesn't Fannie Bay look beautiful?

This may not seem like exciting news to non-Territorians but after six months of heavy rainfall, the Dry Season looks like it’s arrived. It’s a balmy 25C with a lovely breeze and only 51% humidity. This is sooo much nicer than having a waterfall pouring down your face 24/7 from the heat and humidity. The sky is blue and the boats are moving back to Fannie Bay near the Yacht Club. Not only that but the formerly-flooded-in roads are starting to reopen. I’m very excited! Cool weather is so much more motivating.