Thursday, May 24, 2012

Darwin and the HMS Beagle

Timor Sea 5/22/12
 11° 17’ S
122° 56’ E
Darwin. All I think of when I think of Darwin is, well, Darwin; Charles Darwin that is. And the HMS Beagle. What on earth may have reminded me of the HMS Beagle, you might wonder—or not. The ship told us (which brings up another whole topic that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with our cruise: that phrase, “the ship told us” is patently impossible and yet I’m sure you know exactly what I mean. But I digress, which is of course, nothing new to any of you who have been reading this! I digress A LOT!)

Back to the HMS Beagle. The ship told us that, under pain of some horrendous but unspecifed penalty, we were NOT to bring any foodstuffs of any kind off the ship. There would be, we were told, beagles (see, I really did have a connection) to sniff our bags for the dreaded contraband foodstuff. Never did see any dogs, beagles or otherwise, but the 70+somethings like us were probably sufficiently scared by the mere thought to not try to bring anything off the ship.

My pedometer at the end of the day in Darwin read 20,001 or 11.04 miles. Let me tell you, I was pooped!

It’s a very pretty walk out from the ship to the city of Darwin and Darwin itself is a beautiful and very “green” city. Lots of solar power, lots of green (as in, plants), and artistic shade structures everywhere downtown to make wonderful shade. We have started into the warm—to put it mildly—climates and Darwin was just a taste of what is to come. I heard that Tucson has had 105 (41C) already so Darwin’s 89 (32) isn’t even close, but temperatures will only rise, culminating in Dubai and Petra at about 113 (45). So the greens and shade structures in Darwin were welcome respites to the afternoon heat.

Even Flat Stanley was sweating! But he’s a trooper and went with us around Darwin. We showed him the war memorials and the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy on December 24/25, 1974. In the museum they play a recording of Cyclone Tracy made by someone who survived that night. It is truly frightening, especially because it is a recording actually made during the cyclone and you are walking through a pitch black room while listening to it. Tracy almost literally flattened Darwin, more almost than the Japanese raids during WWII. Arguably more if only because Darwin was so much bigger in 1974 than in 1942.

One of the wonderful things about being an American in Darwin is the respect paid to our naval personnel who, in the case of the USS Peary, died going down with the ship “with all guns blazing” (to quote the memorial in the Darwin park) defending Darwin from the Japanese. Many years ago we had the privilege of attneding the dawn memorial service in Darwin on ANZAC Day (April 25) with an Australian family. And on this trip we will remember ANZAC Day cruising at Gallipoli, the site of catastrophic losses of Australian life in WWI and the impetus, I think, for the Australian saying inscribed on every war memorial in every town that we have visited: “Lest we forget.”

But Darwin has some other wonderful characteristics: Beer. And more beer. Unfortunately we were unable to secure a “Darwin Stubby,” a bottle that has been described to us as being about two feet tall and about basketball-size around! I did have a Melbourne Bitter that was quite good—after searching in vain for a pub that served a Darwin Stubby.

Randy carried a slab (new Aussie term, means a “case”) about a kilometer and a half back to the ship. Princess doesn’t want you to bring “spirits” on board but they couldn’t care less if we brought a slab of beer. Go figure. We’ve managed to smuggle a bit of gin on board anyway. Don’t tell anyone.
Flat Stanley having a beer in Darwin
Randy and breakfast on our deck.

Sun Princess from the walkway into Darwin
Wouldn't want to walk on this in a high wind!

Another view of the Sun Princess docked in Darwin

Randy is looking at the Moquys, see the picture below,
This used to be city hall before  Cyclone Tracy blew in on Christmas Eve

This is Woolies (Woolworths---remember, Aussies shorten everything!) the local grocery store

Part of the Smith Street Mall
Some of the "green" parts of  the Mall

The front part was retained after Tracy devastated Darwin and incorporated into the modern church

Randy on part of our 11 mile day

This gave Randy something to look at!

Just in case you didn't believe we actually made it to Darwin

View towards Darwin on that really really low bridge

Pam, contemplating the LONG walk back to the ship

Flat Stanley enjoying the memorial to Town Hall

Flat Stanley, proving he, too, was in Darwin

Yet another view of the Sun Princess

Pam with several of the friends we have made, courtesy of Cruise Critic


  1. Fabulous photos Pam, bet ya dogs were barkin after 11 miles of walking, Darwin is a wonderful place to visit, and you seemed to cover so much. I work for Woolies and have been to that store several times !
    7 wweks today till we leave Aus, that time will pass very quickly and we will be having a good old cheers with you.
    Say g'day to Janet if you catch up, I have missed hearing from her.
    Enjoy your wonderful sea days !
    Cheers Kris

  2. Man I want breakfast on your balcony!! you would never go to the dining room again LOL

  3. Just incase you were wondering what the BAM BAM was on Flat Stanley's collar, it is Bethanie's initials. =-)