Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Genealogy notes 21 Feb 2012 - Day 5 of Darwin battlefield tour

Today was an early start on our War Comes to Australia tour as we were heading down to the Adelaide River area to visit various military sites. I was on the second bus and our driver gave a running commentary on the history of Darwin and the Northern Territory as we made our way south. First stop was the WW2 Strauss airstrip where there is a static display outlining the role of the airstrip and three large kittyhawk aircraft replicas attract passers by as it is not obvious it is an old military airstrip until you stop.

Second stop was the Rail Heritage Precinct at Adelaide River where there was lots to see especially about the railway and the building of the overland telegraph. I wandered around the grounds to see the outside displays as well but it was incredibly humid. We also had morning tea here as well and I think my very nice, but hot cup of tea only made me sweat more.

The third stop was at the Adelaide River war graves cemetery and here Brad Manera performed a short, but moving,  ceremony reciting the very moving "They shall  grow not old, as we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them". Followed by Lest We Forget. Then members of the War Widows' Guild laid a wreath at the memorial. We then had a quick look around but the humidity must have been 100% and most of us tried to stay in the shade.

We then had a short drive out to Mt Bundy Station which is a well known working cattle property for a look and just near the station were some incredible termite mounds and also a herd of buffalo. We didn't get out here and after a few 'termite photos' we went back to the Adelaide River Inn for lunch. I was fortunate to be sitting at the same table as our driver and he pointed out some of the very interesting birds in the nearby trees. Of course I can't remember their name now but they had red eyes and yellow breasts.

After lunch we swapped our bus for the all terrain vehicle which the other group had been on in the morning. I felt sorry for Brad at this point as he had to do the all terrain trip again as he was giving the commentary on the significance of the Snake Creek area. I hadn't even realised this area was there and as we made our way in, you could see all kinds of relics in the bush, from munition storage depots to old research buildings and accommodation places. The old train tracks were also visible in places. A fascinating area and I felt like wanting to go on an archaeological dig there, as it awakened feelings I haven't felt since I did archaeology at university many years ago.

From there we made our way to the old WW2 Coomalie airstrip and a local expert on the area gave us a talk. We were very lucky as it had been teeming rain all the way from Snake Creek to Coomalie and the runoff was flooding the sides of the road. However as we arrived at Coomalie the rain stopped and we were able to get out and look around although the thunder still rumbled overhead. The humidity had dropped substantially which was most welcome.

Then it was the long trip back to Darwin and Brad told various anecdotes and answered questions and we were back at the hotel in time to freshen up for the farewell dinner. This was a buffet with various roasts, potatoes, vegetables, salads, soup, bread and a very tempting dessert section. There was lots of conversation, farewell speeches and people swapping contact details.

Tomorrow those heading home will be taken to the airport, but quite a few are staying on to see more of Darwin. We will be doing some sightseeing ourselves and the arrival of the Queen Mary 2 in Darwin tomorrow is a must see. Till next time.

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