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Published February 1st 2014
Enjoy a walk, watch the sunset and gain a history lesson
When you've lived in the tropics long enough you come to accept that there are things that are guaranteed. No we're not talking about death and taxes, they are guaranteed whether you live in the tropics or not, we're talking about the fact that there are two seasons and not four, that it's hot for at least six months of the year and that the coastline is stunningly beautiful.
Our two seasons are the wet and the dry, yes that's right, there's no summer, autumn, winter and spring for those of us in the tropics, it's either wet or it's dry. Seems pretty cut and dried but alas it is not. It can and has been known to rain in the dry, not the bang, crash thunderstorms which we get during the wet, as pleasant as they are, but just a light sprinkling that comes and goes, leaving you wondering where it came from. During the wet, we can get long periods of very dry weather which just leave you praying for rain.
The dry usually runs from May to October, following which comes a short period preceding the wet, called the build-up. This is a time of oppressive heat and if you're lucky some spurts of rain, which lowers the humidity and cools you off before you heat up again as the rain steams of the road once again raising the humidity.
So I hear you asking, why do we live here? Despite it all, Darwin has some of the most beautiful places to experience. One of my favourite places is the East Point Reserve.
These gates are the beginning of what leads to a wonderful 2.7 km tree lined drive that takes you all the way out to the point. As you enter the reserve, on your right you will encounter Lake Alexander. The lake has a playground for kiddies and some barbecues and picnic facilities, it also provides safe year round swimming and an area for kayaking. There are also barbecue facilities on the coast side of the reserve.
Part way along you will encounter Dudley Point where you can park your car and look out across the water or back towards Darwin city. Pee Wee's on the Point is a fine dining restaurant located in the reserve so the gates are open quite late giving you the opportunity to also view the lights of Darwin city after dark.
If you prefer to walk, there is an amazing walking track which hugs the coast all the way and provides access to some areas which cannot be seen from the road, including some of the World War relics which are all over the reserve and are open for you to wonder around. There is also a mangrove boardwalk for you to enjoy, however access to this is from the roadside and not the walking track.
One of the photo's below shows an anchor point for the boom nets which stretched across the harbour during World War II, while the other shows just a few of the many military buildings from World War II still standing today.
One of the most amazing stories of Darwin during the war is not just that it was attacked by Japan with great loss of life, but that of the anti-aircraft gun emplacements still standing today that are open during daylight hours for you to explore. The emplacements are spectacular in size and were designed to protect Darwin from airborne attack. However, as you can see the emplacements were built with only a 180 degree radius facing out to sea and as such offered little protection as the Japanese were easily able to avoid them. Valiant efforts were made by many to protect Darwin and its citizens and if you truly have a passion for military history you can learn more by visiting the Defence of Darwin Experience Darwin's Military Museum Darwin also located at East Point. Inside the grounds is a second anti-aircraft gun emplacement, however this one still has a gun in place.
My most recent visit to East Point brought home the reality that nothing will get in the way of Mother Nature. Unfortunately some of the military installations are now falling victim to erosion which is plaguing the cliffs as can be seen in the photo below. It is sad but a reality in many places along the coastline of this great nation. To the left in the same photo, the flagpole that can be seen belongs to the Darwin Rocksitters Club; a group of individuals who gather each Saturday evening to sit on the rock and have a drink and a chat.
Darwin has a vast military history and there are many more sites to explore located elsewhere around Darwin, however East Point has by far the greatest proportion and is well worth a serious look around.
At low tide you can wonder for short distances along the beach and at high tide you can see the water rise almost to the top of these amazing ancient cliffs. It is well worth viewing at both low and high tides to view the contrast.