Once again we had no real plans for the day. We headed into the centre of town, thinking we would have a look at the waterfront area. We drove kind of aimlessly, and ended up driving along The Esplanade and past Parliament House. We found a parking spot and had a wander around.
We were parked quite near the remains of the old Palmerston Town Hall that was destroyed in Cyclone Tracy. It had various uses over the years, being the Commonwealth Bank, then offices of the Navy, then a motor registry and then a museum. One section of the exhibition on the cyclone we saw at the Art Gallery explained how the art gallery had just before the cyclone moved into the building and discussed how the staff tried to save what they could after the building was destroyed, but much of the collection was beyond saving. The remains of the building have been stabilised and are often used for community activities.
We then wandered back over to the Parliament House. It is such a beautiful building and looks so tropical. This building was opened in 1994.
We noticed some people coming out and then it dawned on us that we would be able to go in and have a look. Parliament Houses are for the people. You had to go through a security screening process and then you could just have a wander around.
The main hall was beautiful and so quiet. We were the only ones there for quite a while.
The history of the Northern Territory government is quite interesting. Initially, it was part of South Australia. In the lead up to Federation in 1901, South Australia wanted to give it back to Britain. The first prime minister didn’t want that and in 1907 South Australia agreed to hand it over to the Commonwealth and in 1911 it became the Northern Territory of Australia, rather than a state, like all the other areas of the country.
It wasn’t until 1978 that the Territory finally had self government. Having said that, initially there wasn’t a great representative and the Federal Government still has the power to vary or revoke the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act, which it did in 1997 when it overrode Territory laws permitting euthanasia.
The flag was first raised on 1 July 1978 and this particular flag was presented to the designer of the flag. it depicts a stylised version of the Sturt Desert Rose, the Territory’s floral emblem, creating a seven pointed star in the centre, representing the states and territory’s of Australia and the southern cross on the black section.
It turns out that this is the site of the original Darwin Post Office and Overland Telegraph Office, which suffered a direct hit in the Darwin Bombing in 1942, killing 9 people outright and fatally wounding another. From 1872, when the overland telegraph met the submarine cable to England here, this was the most important communications complex in Australia for many years.
In 1955 a new Legislative Council Building was erected on the site and a remnant of a wall from the post office was featured in the building. This remnant was relocated to its present position during the construction of the new Parliament House.
There is a small museum in the building. A feature is a small theatrette, which is like sitting in a bus, complete with bus seats. Three short films are shown, all made by the government. The first was shot in the 1930s, showing travelling to Alice Springs by train and then by motor car towards Palm Valley, the final part of the journey being completed by camel of horse.
The second shows a very similar journey in the early 1950s. The difference being that they travel to Palm Valley by “Bonds Tours” bus. The final section being carried out by 4WD bus, much as we did, although I think our ride was probably a bit more comfortable.
The final film was from 1963 showcasing the free and easy lifestyle of the modern city of Darwin, population 12,500. It showed the houses, elevated to help keep cool, the shops, schools, churches, sporting events and was stating how multicultural it is. I think some of it was looking through rose coloured glasses, when you realise what things were really like back then for some in our society. Even so, it was a really interesting look at Darwin of the past, prior to Cyclone Tracy.
It made me think about Darwin’s population. In 1940 about three quarters of the city’s 43,000 population were evacuated. In 1974, when Cyclone Tracy hit, the population was about 46,000 and dropped to about 26,000 afterwards. It is now nearly 165,000.
You could go up onto a balcony area of Parliament House, but we didn’t bother. I think you could see down into the parliamentary chamber from there, but we missed that bit. Anyway, what we did see was very impressive.
By then it was nearly lunchtime, we went looking for the waterfront. The area is behind where we had lunch the other day and you can see it rather well - Stokes Hill Wharf. The Ferris wheel is only there until October.
We had a nice pub lunch before wandering around. There is a sea wall creating a protected area. Inside there is an aqua park and at the far end, nearest the shops and restaurants there is an area where you can swim and laze on the grass.
Further around there is a wave pool. Lots of people were enjoying it. It isn’t very deep and there are sun lounges under umbrellas. There is no surf up here, so I suppose that is as close as you get.
We enjoyed our wander around before heading back to the van.
In the late afternoon, we headed out again, this time back to revisit the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. We watched the sun set again. It was different this time, as the tide was in, so no interesting reflections on the wet sand.
We enjoyed another ice cream and some fruit salad for a light tea. Maybe another tub of mango came home with us.
The highlight of the day was Parliament House, as it was totally unexpected.