Howard Springs, Australia
Goodbye Kakadu. This morning we pack up and head into civilization for a few days. Today is only a drive to Darwin but not before visiting Adelaide River WW2 cemetery and paying our respects. The drive out of Gunlom was slow going, dusty and very corrugated. It is always a good feeling when you get back onto bitumen and run your tongue across your teeth to check if any fillings have fallen out. So down the black top we travelled into Pine Creek for a toilet break and some ice creams for the kids. The drive to Adelaide River was interesting however we had already travelled this part of the road on the way to Litchfield NP. The were some fires burning very close to the road to the extent the flames were easily seen. We arrived in Adelaide River for lunch which we had in the park land opposite the memorial. We all walked around the cemetery reading the names, ages and inscriptions on the grave sites. This was the first time that death and war sunk into Emily and Sam as they read the ages of 18 and 19 etc.. So young to have sacrificed their lives so we can live in a democratic society. We have been doing the WW2 historical sites on the way up so this piece of the puzzle gave true reflection. This is the second time I have visited the cemetery and I truly believe it is the most beautiful war cemetery cared for and managed. Back in the car and to the Big 4 Howard Springs on the outskirts of Darwin we go. We arrived at about 2.30 p.m. which gave us plenty of time to set up and head off to the pool for a swim. I had noticed that a friend of 18 years was in town so arranged to catch up after dinner. The rest of the afternoon was nice and relaxed with plenty of swimming. Phil Brake came over to our site and we sat around and talked about life, travels and the good ole days. It is always great to catch people you know when you are a long way from home. Day 2 in Darwin saw us spend the morning frolicking around the pool and camp before we headed out into the city centre. First stop was the wharf to check if any warships were in town. The NZ navy were docked and there was a frigate moored just offshore. We drove up to Fanny Bay of the east point of town to the big WW2 gun installations and home of the museum. We explored the old war infrastructure and discussed what it would have been like in the days before and after the bombing of Darwin in 1942. It was really hot in the sun so down the road to a park where the kids had a play and a quick check of the watch showed 4 pm which meant that it was okay for a beer. A short drive on and we were at Mindil Market on the foreshore where we spent the rest of the night until 8.30 pm. Kathy caught up with her girlfriend Nicole Hayman who is a police officer on Melville Island 20 minutes north of Darwin. Market food for dinner with ice cream dessert at the end. Day 3 in Darwin was designated nothing day. It was the last day that Emily and Sam were to have on this holiday so instead of spending time in the car driving around I decided a morning, lunch and afternoon by the pool was in order. I potted around camp preparing the camper and vehicle for the next part of the journey. We headed out at 3.30 p.m., and went and bought a replacement jockey wheel bearing for the camper trailer as the fitted one had collapsed. A quick reccy was done on Darwin Airport so we would know where we’re going tomorrow and we’re the check is before heading to the Darwin Motor Trailer Club for sunset dinner with the kids. The sunset was spot on for the night as we feasted on Fish n chips, Nachos and Pizzas all cooked by the sports club. The last night with the kids sleeping with us for a few weeks. Day 4 in Darwin and it is a bit of a sad morning for me knowing that soon we will be at the airport waving goodbye. We had a swim in the morning before showers and getting ready to go at 10.40 a.m. We arrived at the airport on time, checked in for the flights and then went upstairs and watched other planes and aircraft taking off and landing. The dining room was directly next to the gate for the kids flights so when the Qantas plane pulled in front Emily and Sam watched as it was prepared and made ready. 12.25 p.m., came before we knew it and with a very heavy heart and holding back a tear or two we hugged and said, “see you soon” as they walked off with the flight attendant into the plane. We watched and waited until the plane took off before resuming the day. The afternoon was spent packing up Emily and Sam’s belongings and storing them into the gear sack on the roof and general pack up and preparing for our departure from civilization again.