We returned to Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory. I had been here once before, but only for a few days. We didn’t spend much more time this time around either, but we did see the newly created Waterfront. Aside from apartments and restaurants, it has a tiny beach (patrolled for crocs) and a much bigger wave pool.
Most of the jobs in Darwin these days is in the resources sector, particularly gas. You can see the gas refinery across Darwin Harbour (the box-shaped structure on the horizon) from the city.
But Darwin’s history is very much tied up with two big events. The first was the bombing of Darwin in 1942, which was the climax of the film Australia. Above the shore was a modest war memorial dedicated to those from the region who died in service.
Pretty soon it was our final evening at the camp (and a spectacular evening it was with our convivial camp hosts and guests).
And the following morning it was a fond goodbye to everyone before heading off to the airstrip in the troop carrier.
And then up in the Cesna, over the now familiar landscape.
We flew once again over the massive river delta that edges Kakadu National Park and Arnhemland.
And over the fantastic colours in Van Diemens Gulf.
Pretty soon we were back in Darwin, and civilisation. Don’t think we’d forget Mount Borradaile anytime soon, though.
One of the most interesting walls of art were ones that depicted contact with outsiders.
Among the hand prints and animal drawings was a sailing ship. The groups in this region would have known about white men very early on, first perhaps from the Makassan fishermen from Sulawesi, Indonesia, and then perhaps from seeing passing Dutch and Portuguese ships.
By the time the English came, they were very familiar with ships, as seen from the wall below.
Here, the artist has painted a steam ship in great detail.
The artist has even tried to copy writing (and almost got it).
They didn’t know that the outsiders would end up changing their way of life forever. Now we only have these remnants to admire and wonder.
It wasn’t just ceremonial sites that we visited — many were places where families had lived. Some shelters were vast and could have fit dozens of people.
Others were more cosy. The overhang below had comfortable sleeping ledges and a ‘kitchen’ area with grinding holes.
Here were grinding and cutting tools, and a bit of metal salvaged.
At another site, a message stick (a major communication tool between clans) had been left. I wonder what it said?
Unlike in Kakadu National Park, where the rock art is easily accessible with signs, paths, hand-rails etc, the rock art at Mount Borradaile has been left in its original setting (bar some light weeding for easy access).
It meant that getting to some of the art works was a mini adventure which involved perching on boulders…
Squeezing into crevices…
Or scrambling up cliffs into high overhangs.
But the effort was worth the while…
When you see generations of art on one wall.