22 May—25 May 2002

From Litchfield National Park we drove back to Bachelor and then on to Darwin.  When we arrived, we set up camp at Carnarvon Caravan Park at Lee Point and headed into town.  On the way, Susie managed to contact our old friend Tony Collins who worked at the ABC. We met up with him at work, and he gave us an impromptu tour of the the local ABC office. Later in the day we picked up a couple of six-packs and headed over to his place where we dined on some delicious local Thai takeaway and sat up late into the night yarning with Tony and another journalist/friend of his called Andrew.  We were also able to check our email, and download some letters of introduction that my mother sent to try and get us into Curtin Detention Centre in Western Australia.

We returned the next morning to reply to emails.  In the afternoon, we went shopping to replenish supplies. For dinner, we headed to Mindil Beach markets and we arrived just in time to see the sunset over the ocean. (This is something of a novelty for denizens of the east coast of Australia.) We ate takeaway from an Indian food store, and then watched a performance on the beach in which a young man danced with flaming sticks.

After the performance, we wandered through the market stalls looking for a 40th birthday present for Susie.  She found another painting she liked but it sold while she went away to think about it.  We found the famous green pawpaw salad that she had enjoyed on a previous trip to Darwin, and we devoured a lovely dessert of frozen mango and banana forced through a mincer into a plastic cup.  Unfortunately, I suffered from bowel cramps at the end of the night, and had to make use of some unspeakably filthy amenities.

The next day we got off to a slow start, no thanks to my crook guts.  We went to the museum and the art gallery. Later in the day we went shopping and then returned to Tony’s place to cook dinner.  We made Summer Pasta and stayed up late watching a documentary film that Tony had made about the Gidja people of the Northern Territory.

On our last day in Darwin, Tony took us to Parap Markets where we ate more delicious Asian food. Susie and the kids had some tropical fruit juices and Clare got her face painted in feline fashion. We visited a gallery that exhibited the work of Aboriginal artists, where Susie and I got talking to the staff. They suggested that we visit Karajini National Park when we get to Western Australia. Afterwards we went back to Tony’s place where Ruby did some video editing using iMovie software.

After taking leave of Tony, we spent the rest of the afternoon doing practical stuff. We filled a gas bottle, bought an inverter for the car, and replaced a fuse in a DC adaptor for the Discman. Susie made a nice soup for dinner, and everyone went for an evening swim to cool down.

Tomorrow we drive back to Katherine via the Northern Territory Wildlife Park.

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