Aerial view of the beautiful desert on the flight to Darwin
9 July 2015
It was a smooth train ride from Newcastle to Sydney Central then out to the Domestic Terminal at Mascot where we spent the night at the Stamford Plaza, a short walk from the terminal. No need for a rush the next morning, and we were soon boarding for my first flight to Darwin and the Red Centre.
Lucky me – I had a window seat and a great view on the 4.5 hour flight, that was trouble-free and seemed to go quite quickly. It was magical flying over the desert, the colours are spectacular and the ever changing patterns made it difficult for me to concentrate on my book – just had to keep watching for the next changes! The colours of orange, rust and ochre, and pale green with tendrils of slate creeping like fingers made the landscape look like a beautifully patterned carpet stretching as far as the eye could see into the misty horizon, totally fascinating. Later the colours changed to larger splotches of more sombre creams and greys (probably the salt lakes covering 50 kilometres and including Lake Amadeus), and finally the green vegetation as we came closer to our destination. The scenery flying over the Timor Sea and into Darwin is quite spectacular too, I was almost sorry the flight had come to an end!
Approaching Darwin airport from the Timor Sea (left) and the ever-present fires around Darwin (right)
A pleasant taxi ride delivered us to our accommodation at the Darwin Central hotel – right in the centre of Darwin would you believe! After settling in we walked around the area, had a coffee and got ready for our Dinner Cruise on the Charles Darwin. The cruise set off at 6pm, fortunate for us there were not as many on board (the previous evening there were 120 but Thursday night draws the crowds to the Mindil Markets) so we had plenty of room to move around.
A colourful Aboriginal Art Canopy greets us a the airport (left) and arriving at the Charles Darwin for the dinner cruise on Darwin Harbour.
Darwin Harbour is huge, and is becoming a busier port as American, Japanese and New Zealand vessels were arriving for training exercises – our close proximity to the Asian countries is causing us to increase the presence of defence vessels at the top end. We saw harbour and border ships, visiting cruisers and fishing boats. As the sun started to sink into the west, the sun turned into a huge golden globe shedding an almost blinding light. One of the crew advised us to stay on the top deck for at least 5-10 minutes after the sun had set, and the subsequent aura across the western horizon was mind-blowing! The buffet dinner was pretty special too!
The setting sun reflected on the side of the Charles Darwin cruise boat
The aura following the sunset on the western horizon (left) and the twinkling lights of Darwin reflected in the harbour (right)
And so our first day in the Northern Territory has come to an end, an early start tomorrow for our two day tour to Kakadu and the East Alligator River – wonder if we will see any crocodiles?