Week 2 (Sun Jan 18 thru Sat Jan 24)
- - - and we're off for The Top End! This will be Patty's first trip to Darwin, and my first during the wet! There are a couple of things you need to know about The Northern Territory in general, and Darwin in particular. First, there is a tremendous linkage with Yanks here, since this is the part of Australia that experienced the toughest part of the Japanese bombing attacks during WWII (There were actually more ships sunk in the harbor at Darwin, than at Pearl Harbor!) Second, this spectacularly interesting part of Australia knows only two seasons - The Wet (November to April), and The Dry (May to October).
First, you have to meet our hosts, Eleanor & Joe Fisher
They may be Octogenarians, but we tire just following them around, and if anyone knows more about The Top End of Australia, they haven't yet been found !
Spending time with Joe and Eleanor (and their family and friends) is not only just great fun (!), but if you keep your ears open, you'll learn much about this great territory, and about the history of this great country, as well. So if you'll allow me, I'm going to intersperse a few pictures taken last night at a BBQ at the Fishers with a few Top End facts! (Don't forget that some of the pictures are "thumbnails", so you need to click on them to enlarge them.)
Several years ago Joe was voted one of "The 100 Territorians", which is a bit like "Who's Who in America". Joe would tell you that Eleanor deserved it as well! Joe has written two fascinating books (I have them both for anyone who'd care to get into some great reads!) that pretty well cover the Fisher family's history (going back to 1853) of mining, service to the territory, and politics. So you might expect that I'd have difficulty fitting in with such an impressive guy, but ---
they sure know how to make a couple of Yanks feel comfortable around their family and friends --- the next few days, we get the opportunity to meet several other members of the family, such as Rob & Trix (who I captured on the site in 2001), and Greg & Sue (who I didn't get a shot of either trip!) Both great couples, in the Fisher tradition, but guess I was focused on the food, and not on taking my camera! Another good reason to come back! However, I did get a few more shots at the BBQ Sunday night, so can introduce you to some of the relatives and neighbors who made us feel SO welcome!
Son John is given the cooking assignment, and does great, but we learn Tuesday that this guy does it all, and you'll see a bit of the bush trek he takes us on later. On the right are neighbors Ossie and Siew Chin (who are on your port, but live to starboard!), and Kim Leslie (on your starboard, but who lives on Joe's port side! Get it?). Ossie is a 3rd generation Aussie, and proud to tell you of his grandfather's arrival from China and the subsequent impact that this family has had on the Darwin area. His wife, Siew, is from Malaysia, and they jointly own and manage a fine men's clothing store in Darwin. Kim (a Canadian by birth) is married to Craig, and they have two of the cutest little folks around! Their names are Rachael and Alex, and you'll see that they're fairly fond of their neighbor pal, Joe! Who isn't??!!
OK, that's Kim's husband, Craig, the proud father, along with Ossie (or is it Ozzie? It comes from Oswald!) and that's all we're going to give you of this tough neighborhood crowd. Now, back to the family ---
John, our cook and bushman, is well represented with family tonight! Meet the Fisher-Long gang! If John's wife, Jenny (on far right) looks proud, it's because their two daughters, Karen (2nd from left), and Trina (5th from left) have presented them with the 4 handsome grandchildren pictured here -- L-R, Anthony, Narelle, Samuel, and Stephanie. Karen's husband, Steve, was a bit camera shy, but I did manage to catch him giving counsel to his grandmother-in-law! Next is just kind of love all around, neighbors & family! What a great evening, and what a privilege to be included!
No trip to Darwin is complete without a trip to The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Home to the impressive work of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders artists, perhaps the most moving exhibit to Patty and me was that which brought alive the horror of Cyclone Tracy, which struck Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974.
Walking through the exhibit, viewing the incredible pictures, and hearing, firsthand, the stories of the destruction to Darwin with Joe & Eleanor , who, along with their family and friends had lived it, was incredibly moving! Those of us in Savannah, who have occasionally found it necessary to evacuate due to hurricane warnings, can appreciate the power of mother nature, but this, the greatest natural disaster in Australia's history, virtually destroyed the entire city of Darwin. The destructive winds, some in excess of 250 MPH, meant that with the dawn of Christmas morning, most of the population of 48,000 were homeless. Joe & Eleanor's home was damaged, but spared, thanks to Joe's foresight in building his home "using Queensland specifications". Those who survived and stayed on, worked hard to help each other. Ossie and Siew were among those neighbors, and it's understandable why there is such a strong bond and such love and respect among these proud Darwin people!
Monday night, a treat to have dinner at The Jetty Restaurant, overlooking the Darwin harbour, and the pleasure of having Joe & Eleanor's son Greg, and his wife Sue join Joe, Eleanor, Ossie, Siew, Patty and me for dinner. No pictures -- just great food, and another great evening!
Before I go any further, I feel it necessary to introduce The Northern Territory's version of Dr. Tip Murray. This picture adorns Joe's wall, and clearly depicts Dr. Murray anesthetizing himself prior to a little work on a "saltie". From the condition of the croc, it would appear to be safe to go ahead with the procedure. Cheers, Tip!
Now, enough of that nonsense, -- it's Tuesday AM, and John has agreed to take us south to Litchfield National Park. We are really fortunate to get this opportunity. This is tough country, it's the wet season, and to venture into it without someone who knows the area, can be foolhardy. Our objective is to get to some of the water falls brought about by the torrential rains of the system that has just moved through The Top End. - - - and we're off!
Bush, Bush Break, and "Now At's A Knife!"
Florence Falls, Termite Mounds, Wangi Falls, Tamer Falls, Park Rangers, Buley/Rockhole, etc. Now I ask you, does this Bushman look like a grandfather?
Now - please go to Week 2 Continued