Since the last post we have travelled north and then around the north-east tip of Australia and then west to Darwin on the north-west tip. Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and is truly a city of stories.
In February 1942 the Japanese bombed Darwin in two raids. The attack squadrons were the same as those that attacked Pearl Harbour. In the battle, Darwin was destroyed including a hospital ship that was at anchor in the harbour flying the Red Cross.
Following the war Darwin was rebuilt as its strategic importance as a port was essential. Darwin’s port is actually almost twice as large as Sydney Harbour and is very well protected from the sea. Unfortunately on Christmas Even 1974 the city was again destroyed by a typhoon/cyclone.
These two stories and the impact on this city of those events are never far from people’s minds and remnants of the destruction can be seen amongst the rebuilt city.
While in Darwin we visited the home of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This service, based in Darwin is famous for providing medical care across the outback of Australia since the advent of bush flying. Today it still services thousands of square miles of territory where no health care facilities exist. It is quite a story in itself.
Another story, pictured below is about a gunner/soldier during the aerial attack on Darwin. A plaque at the airport tells the story. During the early stages of the raid a gunner was in the shower at the base. In a hurry to get to his post he donned his helmet, his boots and wrapped a towel around his waist Dressed like that he lifted his anti-aircraft gun and started shooting. The inevitable followed with the loss of the towel and the rest is immortalized on the plaque to demonstrate the dedication of the soldiers stationed in Darwin.
Darwin also has a Aviation Museum at the airport which we visited. The highlight of the collection is a B-52 Bomber which literally takes up the whole hanger. All other aircraft are tucked underneath the wings and the body of the monster aircraft. We were fortunate to have on our tour bus two individuals, both former Air Force pilots who flew the B-52.
The Amsterdam is now two days at sea prior to anchoring at Komodo Island in Indonesia. Komodo Island is home to the Komodo dragons which we hope to see when we take a tender ashore. Hopefully some dragon pictures coming up next.