|Darwin's old town hall survived Japanese bombs in World War II, but was destroyed by Cyclone Tracy in 1974.|
DARWIN, Northern Territory (Nov. 10, 2008) — Welcome to the tropics. I’ve made it to the “Top End” of Australia, to Darwin, gateway of the North.
It’s certainly tropical, temperatures in the high 90s F, very humid and a light rain all day. The first taste I had of the weather was the descent down toward the airport, which came in through the remnants of a tropical thunderstorm. I’m generally a good flyer, but I held onto the seat a bit as the wind buffeted back and forth. At least I got breakfast on the 3.5-hour flight, something I wouldn't get on a comparable American flight. (Check out the "Sultana Bran" on the right!)
Compared to the bulk of Australia that I’ve seen, Darwin is lush and verdant. But with all the beauty, Darwin still seems to like to celebrate tragedy. For example, every 100 meters or so is a memorial to some structure destroyed by Cyclone Tracy.
If it's not a memorial to the cyclone, it's a memorial to the bombing that this city saw in World War II. I took a quick self-guided tour of the raided area and buried WWII oil tanks this afternoon.
The main bombing memorial in Darwin.
The bombing is supposedly a key plot point in Baz Luhrman's upcoming overly Oscar-hyped film "Australia," which I had hoped to see while I was Down Under. But thanks to the delay in shooting Harry Potter book seven's movie, the sixth movie, "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," was moved to next summer and "Australia" -- originally scheduled for an early November release -- will now come out around Thanksgiving in Harry Potter's former release slot, after I'm already back in the States. Gee, thanks Warner Brothers.