Home' Destinations : Destinations 25Aug2011 Contents THE HERALD
UP NORTH: From left, dawn on the South Alligator River,
Tolmer Falls in Litchfield Park, Naomi and her one-eyed
barramundi and heading seaward on the South Alligator.
Things are quiet after our first barra, and Orley opts for
something different. Back in the river proper he opens the
throttle and we hightail towards the open sea. It's 85 km from
the boat ramp to the river mouth, 90 km to the Barron Island
reef. The Suzuki motors swallow it up in no time. The other
Barra Safari boat is already there, the father in the group hav-
ing a bent rod and a battle on his hands with what turns out
to be a black jew.
This time its my turn. The first bite on my first bait almost
pulls the rod from my hands, and I'm engaged in my own
tug-of-war. The black jew fights the good fight, but I have a
daughter to put in her place. The 20 kg plus fish comes on
board. Within half an hour I am absolutely knackered but have
two more netted and released back to sea, for the first one is
enough to feed a family of 10. Kenny has also added one to
the total. Daughter: Zilch, although she has caught a variety of
throw backs. Fatherly order has been restored.
It's a great day cruising the Alligator in Arnhem Land. The
fish are biting, the sun is shining, the plant life is in full bloom,
the crocodiles leave us alone and the bird life is plentiful, the
occasional eagle circling overhead and geese, ducks, herons,
ibises and spoonbills in the shrubbery.
As light begins to fade it's back to the Aurora for a wander
past the wallabies on the lawn for a quick dip in the pool and
a hot shower to ease the pleasant pain of aching shoulders.
Hauling in those fish isn't easy.
Donning our recently presented Darren's Barra Safaris shirts
we retire to the bar/restaurant where platters of our catch of
the day are presented, fresh cooked and steaming hot, with
bowls of chips, a cold beer and plenty of fish tales. Never has
fish tasted better.
Next day it's up at six and back on the water, where we add
several other barra of various sizes to our catch list. There is,
however, a dual tragedy: Kenny never gets his barra, although
he gets his photo taken with one of mine he fully plans to lie
to his wife about catching,
and I hook onto a big one,
around a metre, fighting it
as it leaps from the water
and takes the line, getting
it to the side of the boat
where it is netted, only to
roll and slash open the net
with its fin, dropping back
into the water with the
lure embedded in the tat-
tered remnants of netting.
Like any true fisherman,
I claim to have landed it as
I got it into the net, and
if anything its escape was
equipment failure and no
slur on my abilities. As usual, I am ignored.
But, all in all, the two days were so good Naomi and I even
declared the bets null and void. We both felt like winners.
A GOOD BET
A TOUCH OF HOME
Novocastrians can find a link with their hometown with
a Darwin Harbour dinner cruise on the 30-metre spotted
gum schooner Alfred Noble, which was built in Newcastle
in 1951 to haul ammunition around Sydney Harbour.
She went to Tasmania around 1975 to become a float-
ing cabaret but ended up a shark and salmon fishing
boat, before being bought in 2004 by Darwin Harbour
Cruises, and she can now seat 70 for dinner cruises of the
Unfortunately her season started a week after our visit
so our pleasant dinner cruise was on the tri-deck catama-
ran Charles Darwin, the meal accompanied by an infor-
mative soundtrack by the skipper that delivered plenty of
information including ''about 300 crocodiles are trapped
in Darwin Harbour each year'' followed almost immedi-
ately by ''and there's Darwin Water Ski Club''. Yep, appar-
ently the skiers think the sound of the boat engines keep
the crocodiles away. I would take a lot of convincing.
Crocodiles are a part of life in Darwin, from the mon-
sters in Crocosaurus Cove in the main street, where thrill-
seekers can swim with the crocs in ''the cage of death'',
to places like the stylish and trendy Darwin Yacht Club
on the harbour shore, where crocs have been known to
come out of the water and bask in the sun on the club
lawns as diners enjoy their meals - but not too close.
Cruising and crocodile spotting are just two of the
things to do in Darwin, one of the nation's most modern
cities as it has been almost entirely rebuilt twice, once af-
ter Japanese air raids during World War II and again after
the devastation of Cyclone Tracy in 1974.
It's an easy walk around the city centre and down to the
harbourfront, where recent redevelopment is reminiscent
of the renewal of Newcastle Harbour.
Car hire or public transport can get you to the water-
side restaurants of Cullen Bay, where ferries depart for
Mandorah on the other side of the harbour and the Tiwi
Islands, or past the yacht and ski clubs and the casino to
the wartime gun emplacements of East Point.
About 100 km south-west of the city is Litchfield Na-
tional Park, entered through the township of Batchelor
with its butterfly farm, a beautiful area of rainforests, wa-
terfalls, swimming holes and intriguing magnetic termite
The main falls of Wangi were closed to swimmers when
we were there, the end-of-wet-season rains cascading a
little too strongly and -- of course -- a few crocodile con-
cerns, but we took in the sights of Tolmer Falls and Buley
Rockholes and navigated the 160 steps for a refreshing
dip in the plunge pool at the bottom of Florence Falls.
A short hop from Litchfield is Adelaide River township,
where 434 graves lay in the beautiful and peaceful war
cemetery created for those who died in this part of Aus-
tralia in World War II.
For something far less sombre, we stuck our heads in
the Adelaide River Inn's 303 Bar. There, standing over the
bar, is the stuffed remains of Charlie, the water buffalo
from the Crocodile Dundee movies, that passed away in
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