Our departure from Katherine takes place with mixed feelings as we have truly enjoyed our time there and wish it could just go on and on. No doubt our hosts are happy to have their lives back the way they were before our arrival. Their generosity didn’t end with accommodation and meals; now they have given us a key to their apartment in Darwin where we have been invited to stay for a week after the wedding! Wow, how much better can it get?
On the way to Darwin, our hosts have suggested we might like to take a break and visit the Adelaide River memorial for servicemen and civilians killed during world war two. We did and here is some information about it:
During the Second World War, Adelaide River was the headquarters of a large military base, and the war cemetery was created especially for the burial of servicemen who died in this part of Australia, and after the war, the Army Graves Service moved other graves into it from isolated sites, temporary military burial grounds and various civil cemeteries in the area.
There are a total of 434 war graves marked by bronze plaques in the Adelaide River War Cemetery. The burials are made up of 14 airmen of the RAF, 12 unidentified men of the British Merchant Navy; one soldier of the Canadian Army; 18 sailors, 181 soldiers and 201 airmen of the Australian Forces and seven men of the Australian Merchant Navy. The Northern Territory Memorial to the Missing honours a further 292 Servicemen and women lost to the north of Australia. The adjacent civil section contains the graves of the nine Post Office staff killed on 19 February 1942 during the bombing of Darwin, one of 63 separate occasions from that date. The civilian casualties of WW2 include those of 31 Indigenous Australians.
The youngest person buried in the cemetery was Robert H. Stobo, Deck Cadet, M.V. ‘Neptuna’, killed 19/2/1942. He was with the Merchant Navy and was killed in Darwin Harbour during a Japanese air raid. He was only 16 years old. Wing Commander A.R Tindal is also buried in the cemetery. He was killed in action during a Japanese air raid on Darwin on 19/2/1942. The RAAF Base Tindal in the Northern Territory is named after him. During WW2, there were up to 30,000 Australian Army and United States soldiers based near the town. The 107th Australian General Hospital and 119th Australian General Hospital were set up around Adelaide River.
Adelaide River played a central role in the defense of Australia during the second world war. In 1939, the town was designated as a rest area for personnel serving in Darwin, Northern Territory.
Military activity around the area increased significantly following the first Japanese air-raids on Darwin on 19 February 1942. The immediate aftermath of these attacks led to a mass-exodus of the city’s civilian population toward the south, an event that would become known as the Adelaide River Stakes. The allied response was a significant increase of forces to rebuild and greatly expand defenses in the region. A military airfield was built in the town close to the railway station, along with several others in the surrounding district including Coomalie Creek and Pell. In addition, an artillery and weapons range was established at Tortilla Flats between Coomalie Creek and Adelaide River. The town became an important tactical supply and communications base for all branches of the armed forces. In August 1942, the Adelaide River War Cemetery was established.
While there were numerous bombing raids on the surrounding outstations and facilities throughout 1942-43, Adelaide River itself was bombed only once, in the early hours of 12 November 1943. This was the last Japanese air raid on the Northern Territory. At the height of hostilities, there were up to 30,000 Australian Army and American soldiers based near the town. An ammunition dump, including a spur railway line, was established at Snake Creek, 2 mi (3.2 km) to the north. Whilst the facility became operational towards the end of the war, it was too late to be useful in the war effort. Additional rail sidings were built at the town station to serve ambulance or “hospital” trains that brought wounded personnel to the field hospitals in the area. In addition to many transient units, the 107th Australian General Hospital and 119th Australian General Hospital were set up within Adelaide River. Source: Wikipedia
Back on the bike, we make good time and locate our friends property outside of Darwin. Family members and some close friends are at the house and we are shown to our room – we are truly honored as we are staying at their home until after the wedding.
What a wonderful time we had! We truly were welcomed into the family and made to feel like we had always belonged. The wedding was really nice, outdoors in the garden with a huge tent set up for the dinner, dancing and “grog”. Many invited guests and family members were sleeping over – outdoors in sleeping bags (swag) thrown on the ground! I cannot tell you how very happy I was to be sleeping indoors! There must be all manner of snakes and bugs around!
The day after the wedding we have been invited to join another couple to go for a boat ride on the Adelaide River and see the jumping croc’s. There are only a few of us on this boat and as you can see the river is very muddy looking. How on earth are we ever going to see crocodiles?
This is how we got to see them! One of the crew dangled a piece of meat tied to a rope over the water and within seconds a crocodile literally blasted out of the water to get the meat. How they could see this from the murky depths I do not know. I decided that I would not stand so close to the edge of the boat once I’d seen how lightning fast these animals could move! And….they are huge!
Returning back to our friends house later in the afternoon, we pack up our belongings and are off into town to stay at the apartment we’ve been given use of for a week. After all, a bride and groom need some time alone and we would be seeing them again prior to leaving Darwin.
We decided to eat breakfast in the apartment and because we planned to do some tours, lunch and dinner would be in a restaurant or on the road or through a tour. When you are travelling on a motorcycle, you do not have much room to put groceries!
Here is a photo taken as the sun was setting of the same view as that above. When the sun goes down in the tropics, it seems like one minute it is light, the next it is dark! It is very hot and humid, and we are very glad to have air conditioning in the apartment!
Alas, our time in this beautiful place has come to an end and we must begin our journey southward. It is a teary goodbye but our friends promise to visit us the next year! We have made reservations at Daly Waters for the first night, then Tennant Creek and on to Alice Springs where we will spend 4 nights at the Alice Springs resort. Two tour adventures there have been recommended – one to the Ross River Homestead and another to Hermannsburg and on to the Finke River and Palm Valley where rare cycads grow. Once we leave Alice Springs we want to go to Ayers Rock (Now known as Uluru) and also The Olgas, (Kata Juta). We will travel there and book a caravan overnight before heading southward once again.