March 13, 2019
Yesterday, we were invited to a party at 11:15 AM for the ATW guests in the Insignia lounge. It was an Asian theme and wow, did they do it up right. Many types of Asian delicacies, including sushi, tuna, ceviche, egg rolls, chicken wings, rice balls, dumplings and many more. Then there was a whole array of sweet items too. Amazing. We started off with a Bejing bellini, which was champagne and lichee juice and it was delicious. There was a video of some of the highlights of the trip so far. Damien, the general manager, welcomed us and the new entertainment team did some Broadway songs from the show that they will perform tonight. Lovely event and no need for lunch to be sure!
Today we reached the last port in Australia, Darwin. We have a pilot on board as it is tricky to navigate the Great Barrier Reef, and he has made several announcements as we passed Wednesday Island and other islands on our route to Darwin. He also gave a lecture which was standing room only, as have the lectures by our newly arrived guest enrichment lecturer, Adam Tanner.
Yesterday it was about the British Empire, Convict Transports and the Colonization of Australia. I had to stand, there wasn’t an empty seat in the theater! He is that good. Luckily they re-broadcast them on the TV in our room. This was very interesting – he told the history of what Britain decided to do with their convicts – everything from putting them on ships, considering sending them to the Caribbean and Africa, which were rejected for many reasons, finally leading them to Australia. Most of them got a sentence of 7 – 14 years for relatively minor offenses. When they served their sentences, many stayed in Australia. So now a lot of people have convict ancestors – they populated a lot of Australia.
Just before the lecture, I won the blackjack tournament. And I am learning to play Texas hold ‘em too. In the last tournament, I was third to last to be eliminated, the top two get money. The only other time I played in that tournament (on the last cruise), I went out after the first hand as I had a king high flush – pretty darn good hand – and someone else had an ace high flush. #$@W^%^& So guess what happened this time? I had a KING QUEEN high flush, went all in and one of the other two remaining players had an ace high flush. What are the chances!!! But this time I played almost to the end. We will see if I continue with that one.
Here’s our sunrise arrival into Darwin.
We spent a couple of days in Darwin two years ago, so we opted to take a tour of two places that we hadn’t seen before – Crocodylus Park and the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
Chris was our guide and she gave us many facts about Darwin en route to the first stop, Crocodylus Park.
Darwin is Australia’s only tropical capital city and yes, it was tropical today, 91 degrees and very humid. This is the rainy season here but Chris said they have only had less than 1/3 of the amount of rain they usually get and if it doesn’t get better before May when the rainy season ends, this will be the driest rainy season on record, very bad for the farmers. A big crop here is mangoes and they are quite worried about that crop.
Darwin has a big military past, too. Last visit we learned about the Japanese bombing just 6 days after Pearl Harbor which sunk 12 ships. There were a total of 64 raids conducted on Darwin over a two year period and over 300 people were killed.
The Crocodylus Park was a fascinating place. It is a crocodile research facility operated by wildlife research consultants and also a park that has a number of other animals in it.
We were greeted by a guide who took us for the first part of the adventure, crocodile feeding. Basically, you held a large pole with a piece of chicken on the end of it and the crocodile would jump up to get the food. I had the chance to feed Mildred. Norm took a video which, again, I can’t post on the ship. Maybe one day I will try to post all of the videos from shore!
We saw a lot of the crocodiles, all ages, some in breeding pens and others in small enclosures. There is also a lagoon which has many in and around it.
Then we had the chance to see and hold a baby crocodile. Of course we both had to do it.
Here are some of the other animals they have there.
We did learn to back away from the lion as he was spraying to mark his territory.
We do love our creatures – maybe not the snakes and crocs, though.
They had a very nice gift shop and many of the purses cost thousands of dollars. Chris said that the crocodile leather costs $80 per square centimeter so that is why they are so expensive.
We asked about croc attacks and she said there have been only 24 deaths since 1971.
They were selling crocodile meat (which by the way, we had at dinner the other night in the Terrace Cafe – it DOES taste like chicken). I picked up the recipes which I dare say I could use for CHICKEN.
Then we went on to the museum. One of the highlights in this museum is the story of Cyclone Tracy which hit and devastated Darwin on Christmas Eve in 1974. There were many stories and pictures and you could go into a booth to hear the actual sounds from the cyclone. Creepy. More than two thirds of the population were air lifted out. Now they have much more secure building codes and early warning systems but they haven’t had one as bad since.
The museum has many displays of birds, insects, shells, etc. Their butterfly and moth exhibit is beautiful. There was also a student art exhibit and I was really impressed with the work.
There was an exhibit of some of the boats, and also Sweetheart, one of the sort of friendly crocodiles, which suddenly died. I couldn’t even fit the whole thing in one picture!
There was a spider exhibit which we didn’t go to but we took pictures next to the metal web and spider photo! I guess they wear sunglasses in Darwin.
There is usually an aboriginal art exhibit but the student exhibit is there now. This is one of the pieces of the art that is done on the walls of the hills and in caves.
Very nice day. On our way back to the ship, we did a small tour of the town and we remembered visiting many of the places we passed. We decided to get back into the air conditioned ship and not do any shopping here!
Tomorrow we have a sea day before getting to Komodo Island. You cannot visit there without being on an organized tour. We did the combination of the island and snorkeling last time so it will be a relaxing day on the ship for us.