Censorship was alive and well in WWII in Darwin…

I’m getting a little behind! We’ve been to Cairns, Hamilton Island, and Darwin—my, how time flies!

Cairns was a good news, bad news city. The weather was wonderful, we still hadn’t gotten to the really hot weather (coming in Darwin and Bali!), so our trip on the gondola to Kuranda was pretty good. We took a Holland America tour rather than doing an independent tour. Should have done an independent tour! The gondolas held six but there were so few visitors that they were putting just two people in each gondola. Except for the Holland tours when they put four in a gondola (we asked and were told that was the “policy.” Still not crowded, but Randy and I ended up riding backwards the whole way. But it was a very beautiful trip of about an hour plus some time to walk in the woods.

The gondola
View of Cairns from the gondola
Beautiful waterfall, look close and you can see the train on the other side
Randy at the train station in Kuranda

Kuranda was a nice artsy village where we had lunch and did a bit of window shopping and then on to the train back to Cairns. An awesomely bad experience. Four to a bench seat facing four people, our knees about an inch apart, extremely hot train car (it had been sitting in the sun for several hours), only the ones next to the window got any airflow, riding backwards for an hour and a half closer to the person facing us than one wants to be with anyone but your spouse. Suffice it to say, we were very glad to get back to the ship.

After two sea days, Hamilton Island was a nice break. Didn’t do much but have a nice lunch and a (free!) shuttle ride around the island. A very pretty island that obviously caters to the extremely wealthy—at least to judge by the boats in the harbor.

Randy and me with Maasdam in the background
Our ship as we take a tender to the island
One of the many huge yachts
Randy getting off the tender
Our view at lunch

Sulphur crested cocatoo who wanted to share our lunch
Another avian freeloader
Just a couple heading to their honeymoon
Panorama of the harbor.
Our home for another month or so
The free shuttle
Airport is VERY close to downtown and some airplanes do double duty.

Two more sea days and we got to one of the many cities we really look forward to: Darwin. We have been to Darwin about four or five times before so I was looking for something a little different. I don’t care if I never see another jumping crocodile (that seems to be the main draw for tourists in Darwin). The Bombing of Darwin tour (www.bombingofdarwin.com.au) really fit the bill. Originally we were going to be the only two, but it became a tour for us and seven more of our cruise friends by the time we got to Darwin, and Garry gave us a wonderful experience.

Even Australians mostly don’t know the story of Darwin during the war (wartime censorship to avoid panicking the general population). It was decimated on February 16, 1942—just ten weeks after Pearl Harbor and the Japanese pilots were led by the same man who lead the bombing of Pearl Harbor! All the Australian newspapers downplayed the bombings of Darwin (they were bombed 66 times) and the utter destruction wreaked on the city. Garry, whose father and uncles fought in WWII, gave a brilliant tour showing us the buildings that remain (very few) and telling stories he knows from hearing from the survivors and, in some cases, their children.

One thing of interest to the group of us (eight Americans and a Canadian) is how much the Americans helped the Australians and how much the Aussies appreciate what the American airmen and sailors did for them. There is a memorial in the city park to the destroyer USS Peary, destroyed by Japanese bombers, whose rear gunner was still firing as it slipped beneath the waves.

We ended with a visit to the Military Museum, a museum that blends the best of old world displays and state of the art technology. All in all, a wonderful day. We even got to experience a full-blown tropical storm which we rode out drinking beer in downtown Darwin!

Garry, of the Bombing of Darwin tour
There was a big celebration on account of a new administrator (governor in American English)

A monument detailing the Darwin harbor and the various war locations
Every city, town, or hamlet has a memorial to their war dead with the words, “Lest we forget.”
Our little group of friends, listening to Garry tell us about the monument
The administrator’s house
Parliament has bomb-shaped tops to the pillars
The gun points to the final resting place of the USS Peary.
Another monument to another American airman
One of the high-tech displays at the Military Museum
More Americans memorialized at the museum

On to Komodo Island tomorrow!

Author: Pam

I am 76 years old, have been married for 55 years (all to the same man!), and we both love to travel. I am also a bit of a photo nut and you’ll usually see me with a camera in hand or hanging from my shoulder. Being an RN was my career (and raising 2 children to be awesome adults) and being a pilot was my husband’s career. Now, it’s travelling! By train, ship, car, RV (or campervan if you are Australian), and occasionally airplane—if we can’t get there any other way.