Whilst in Darwin our photos will capture the thrills and spills of our slovenly existence so our log will be short on travel and long on friends and family. Stay tuned..
When Greg was working he used to lunch with a bunch of blokes every 3 months or so. These lunches have been going on for almost 20 years and they very proudly boast that they’ve never been to the same restaurant twice. In reality, no restaurant would have them back, as while it’s a very profitable table and lunch invariably goes on through to the evening, it’s also quite verbose. As we’ve been away from Sydney for 18 months, obviously Greg has been unable to attend, so it was decided at the last lunch that they would fly to Darwin, with partners, for the next lunch, which happened to coincide with Greg’s birthday weekend. This event was organised as The Darwin Convention, and as conventions do, they had a Welcome Function and Main Plenary Session. It started on the Wednesday afternoon when Ted and Alanna rang in the afternoon having flown up from Sydney a day or so early to have a bit of a look at Darwin. They came over to our place for a pre dinner drink and we dined at the local Tasty Chinese restaurant, very noice too.
We caught up with Ted and Alanna again for dinner, this time at the cheap and cheerful Rendezvous Cafe, French name, Malaysian cuisine. We went back to Ted and Alanna’s room after, for a few night caps before heading home at about 11.30pm to welcome more “Convention” attendees, Dickie, Simon and Camille who’d caught the late afternoon flight from Sydney and were staying at our place. They, of course, wanted a few night caps as well and we were only too happy to oblige. At 3.30am we called it quits and went to bed.
A slow start to the day, but Greg and I had jobs to do. With the “Main Plenary Session” at our place tomorrow starting at lunch time we had to prepare for the onslaught of all 11 attendees to be fed and watered. Prawns to be peeled, meat to be marinated, salads to be sought and, of course, fridges to be stuffed with suitable refreshments. We managed to achieve this by lunchtime and we spent the afternoon in the pool. We had booked a table for 12 at the Sky City Darwin Casino’s Il Piatto restaurant a month earlier where the Conventions Welcome Function was going to be held. We dressed and Ginned (the verb of having a Gin and tonic, silly) and got into the taxi to take us to the Casino where we had arranged to meet at the Sand Bar for a pre dinner Convention Registration, before moving into the restaurant. A fine feed was had by all and clearly Greg was in his element as he pored aver the wine list for the table. Post function drinks were held amongst the flashing lights and sirens of the Pokie area until the wee small hour of 3.30am, again...
Another slow start to the day, but with the Main Plenary Session attendees due to arrive there’s no time to lose. After a coffee in town and a quick spin around the Darwin city highlights we made our way back to Convention Central to have a quick swim before the festivities commenced in earnest. By 1.30pm all attendees had arrived and it was obvious that the late night/early morning combined with the heat and humidity of Darwin was beginning to take it’s toll on some of the less practiced attendees. By late afternoon and early evening the temperature had cooled to a more bearable 30 odd degrees and their second wind was beginning to kick in. Much discussion and laughter and quite frankly a whole lot of absolute rubbish was spoken over the ensuing hours. The BBQ was cranking out food, there was a constant stream of traffic between the balcony and the laundry tub, which was where the drinks were being kept cool in an ice bath, and heaven help anyone in our apartment that wanted a quite nights sleep. Those that know Greg know he’s not got a sweet tooth so I made his birthday cake out of a camembert cheese with some candles stuck on top. Speeches were made, happy birthday was sung and I’m sure Greg couldn’t have enjoyed seeing his friends more. I’ve said it before, but those that say “age shall not weary them” have got it wrong. By 3.30am Greg was a horizontal crucifix on our bed, while I sat up with Fat Cat and Chris until about 4.30am then and I too hit the hay.
The Convention now over, most of the attendees were flying out back to Sydney sometime today. After a quick debrief at the Ducks Nuts Cafe we said our farewells. Simon and Camille were staying an extra night and we decided a quiet lunch by the sea would be appropriate. We had arranged to meet Camille’s cousin, who currently lives in Darwin, at the Darwin Sailing Club. As usual, we went for lunch and enjoyed another cool breeze and stunning sunset, and finally at 10.30pm when we were the last guests, we caught a cab home and managed to get to bed, for the first time in four nights, on the same day we’d woken up.
The morning was spent in stunned silence. Greg and I, in a somewhat moronic state, managed to return some order to our home by thrashing both the clothes and the dishwasher while trudging box after box of empty bottles into the welcoming jaws of the recycling bins downstairs. Simon and Camille had a good sleep in and we finally ventured out at about 11.30am for coffee at The Office Cafe. They were flying back to Sydney on an afternoon flight so we spent the remaining hours bobbing around in the pool. Again we said our farewells and watched them disappear down the road in a cab. To say we were zombie like, would be kind. Dinner was scraps, alcohol was verboten, for a day or two at least, and we finally got 8 hours sleep. It was a frantic pace, but the fact that our friends had flown, at not inconsiderable expense, to spend a weekend with us here in Darwin was great and we both felt quite chuffed. For the next few days it’s fair to say that we both felt pretty flat as the excitement of the “Convention” days passed and we couldn’t guess when we’d next catch up for a lunch.
For the remainder of October
We slipped back into our routine with early morning exercise, endless cups of coffee, Library exhibitions, reading, bike rides, swimming.
This was interrupted with a Sunday lunch trip to Mandorah Beach Hotel with Tricia and Jeff to listen to a swing jazz band called Hot & Cold. The day was one of Darwin’s hottest on record with a temperature of 38.0o Celsius, however this did not interfere with either the lunching or dancing, followed by a very pleasant ferry trip back to Cullen Bay.
We also caught up with Peter and Barbara Guppy for a pretty good Yum Cha lunch. Peter and Babs are from Moruya in NSW and have, like us, cycled here and are taking the summer off in Darwin. We are frequent visitors to the Darwin or Northern Territory Library for not only books, but book launches and an interesting discussion one evening about the Future of Journalism, put on by the ABC. The NT library also has a pretty good Cafe and we’ve joined Tricia and Jeff there for lunch, sitting out on the grassed balcony overlooking the harbour sipping New Zealand sauvignon blanc. Jeff and Tricia had generously invited us to join them and their ex-neighbours, Keith and Terina, for an evening picnic by the sea at Nightcliff followed by port and coffee under Keith & Terina’s house. A very Darwin thing to do is sitting under ones house, as it’s usually pretty cool. Most of the older houses of Darwin are up on stilts, and this creates a living area downstairs where people virtually put their lounge room. It was while we were sitting under Keith and Terina’s house that Darwin started to shake during what was, I’m told, the not all that uncommon occurrence of an earth quake. Seven on the Richter Scale. It was our first experience of an earth quake and we really felt a bit silly sitting, as we were, in the wee small hours of the morning under someone's house while it shook around us. The locals however seemed unperturbed and passed the port for another round.
We’ve cycled further up north to the northern outskirts of Darwin to Darwin’s one and only “nudie” beach, until we came across a sandy track. We both decided that we’d had enough sandy tracks to ride on for a while and turned home, some 18 kilometres away.
We’ve met Alex and Leanne Brown through another ex-colleague of Greg’s, Craig Ball. Alex and Craig used to work together many years ago and now Alex runs, coincidentally, a Financial Planning practice in Darwin city. We met Alex initially for coffee and within days he had invited us over to his home for a BBQ to meet the rest of the Brown clan. One of Alex’s work colleagues Vic and his wife Lyn were also there and we had a great night with Leanne putting on a magnificent feed washed down with Alex’s very generous wine selection. Finally when Greg stopped talking Vic kindly drove us home. Ol’ Greg likes a bit of a chat so it was quite late/early when we finally staggered in through the door.
The last of the Mindil Markets for this year was on and we went as did most of Darwin. The Army Band belted it out whilst Darwin locals and tourists alike wandered back and forth in front of a variety of food stalls for the last time, at Mindil Beach, before the wet season. They’ll kick off again next year, but I suspect we’ll be on our bikes by then.
The shipping reports continue, as do dire predictions that clouds on the horizon are about to dump a deluge on us. The reality is, of course, that while we’re in the wet season and next month is the official beginning of the cyclone season, the weather is the same. Warmish, about 34o-36o C, cooling down to 25o-26o C overnight, some cloud and afternoon breezes. Occasionally we get lightening and thunder in the very early morning, and the odd spot of rain. However since we’ve been here, we’ve not had to close our balcony doors once.
Four weeks after sending my Resume off for a part time job I heard that the job had been filled. Greg and I have decided that we’re too bloody busy to go to work, and a good thing too. The end of the Global Financial Crisis has meant that our savings are now earning the princely sum of 4%p.a instead of the previous 3.5%p.a. Our Financial Planner, Fat Cat, assures us that we can survive another year. Phew....