Sunday, January 2, 2011

Darwin City Sights, NT (13 - 29 August, 2010)

The Darwin Museum and Cyclone Tracey Exhibit. A darkened room with the sound of the cyclone playing over a speaker lead us into the exhibit on Cyclone Tracey. The recording was made by a minister of religion when he was hiding under his house as the cyclone raged around him. Leaving the room there is a mock up of a house with pieces of timber, steel etc stuck in the walls, like it was on the day. Eye witness accounts made by folk who had lived through the terror of that day, could be listened to by pressing a button. The city of Darwin looked like an Atomic Bomb had hit it; there was no where to live and no-one could go about their daily life as they did before the cyclone. The government sent in the Army and Police from many of the other States, to help evacuate the city, leaving only these services people and approximately 10,000 others to clean-up and sort out the mess. Around Thirty Thousand plus people were evacuated in a matter of days. After the cleanup and rebuilding, new building regulations were introduced to try and avoid such destruction in the future. An interesting fact from the NT Government site, "Earlier in December 1974 Cyclone Selma had hovered around Darwin before changing course and disappearing." I always thought I was bit of a cyclone - at times!

Parliament House The design of the Darwin Parliament house is unusual and it has been specially designed for the tropical heat, storms and cyclones. The day we went on our tour, there was a test being conducted on the non-use of the air conditioning. Oh, no, was my first thought; however, I need not have been concerned. The building has been so well designed, even when we went into the upstairs public viewing rooms it was not hot, or even uncomfortable.

Government House is the oldest European building in the Northern Territory, surviving both World War 2 bombing raids and Cyclone Tracy in 1974. Used a residence for the NT Administrator and lucky for us, there was an open day while we were in town, these open days are not very frequent, so, Tanya, Paul and myself took ourselves off to see how the other half live; at the taxpayers expense. The house is gorgeous, high ceilings, huge wide stone paved verandas, with shutters to help reduce the heat and shelter from the tropical storms during the wet season. The gardens are crammed full of stunning tropical plants; I went crazy with my camera, so many plants so little time!

Botanic Gardens The day we visited the gardens was VERY hot, (some of you may say that is normal for Darwin), so we did not 'do' the whole grounds. Many gorgeous and colourful tropical plants are everywhere, however, the item that really took my fancy was the Cannonball Tree, which is from South Africa. The seed pods are the size of cannonballs, hence the name of the tree, and the flowers are very pretty, in shades of pale pink and cream.
Link to Darwin Botanic Garden photos:

Burnett House, was an historic building we both wanted to see, it has withstood the bombing of Darwin in the 2nd World War, as well as many cyclones, including the BIG one - Cyclone Tracey. An example of the older style of Darwin house, designed by B.C.G. Burnett for the tropics and to capture the breezes. Burnett House was completed in 1939 and allocated to the NT Director of Works. It is the only surviving example of a Type ‘K’ house - an unusual design which incorporated an entrance lobby and lounge/dining room at ground level, and bedrooms above. Many of the homes destroyed in the cyclone were made of Fibrolite and the wind just tore them to shreds. If I lived in the tropics I would like my bedroom to be like this one.


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