Last Tuesday, May 7, I took a tour titled "Highlights of Darwin's Historical Past"It was a perfect day: high of 95 F. a mite hot in the direct beating sun and the jail was HOT, but the Museum was AC, and there was a delightful panoramic drive in our bus plus a stop at the Botanical Gardens where I chose a bench in the shade beside an eight-jet fountain, so I was fine, also healthy.
Knowing not much of Australia's history I got confused and thought we were going to an historic jail for the original convict settlers but of course Australia was their jail wasn't it? The Fannie Bay Gaol Museum was Darwin's original jail from 1883 to 1979 and there were several points made. One was that the heat was one of the penalties, being cooped up in a wood frame house in a hot sun-beaten yard. The cells were built with wire mesh between them and wire mesh openings too, and the inmates appreciated that being able to communicate with each other. There was a male buillding and a female building and one for young offenders. The men ate communally in a mess hall and were separated for young males, another good thing. All the same, I should' t like to have been incarcerated then (or ever).
Fannie Bay is the name of one of the many bays comprising Darwin's magnificent harbour, named by a ship's captain after his lady love. When his wife found out he named another bay after her, not nearly as nice.
We were grateful for the air-conditioning of the rebuilt Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (free entrance). Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin on Christmas Eve, 1974, and wiped it out so it had to be restored. One entire gallery is devoted to Tracy and the destruction it wreaked. The art display is eclectic: Aboriginal, Southeast Asian and Oceanic, along with a permanent collection of major Australian fine art. I spent more tie in the gift shop. I love Museum and Gallery gift shops including our own. You often get an essence of the most important pieces in the galleries as they are replicated in magnets, hasti-notes, bookmarks, and various tschotschkes.
The panoramic drive was through the city but out along an esplanade and through a park to the end of a peninsula. Beautiful day, beautiful scenery, ending, as I mentioned in the Botanical Gardens with the fountain. I tried to take a picture of some really old huge trees but I don't know: you've seen one tree in a photograph, you've seen them all.
Someone asked me today (after a very picturesque excursion that I will describe tomorrow, if I took a lot of pictures. No, I said. I'm only trying to take pictures because my kids asked for them. l get so busy looking at something I forget to take a picture and often when I do remember I don't anyway. I just like to look,and lock it in my memory, I hope. When I take a picture it doesn't lock.
Darwin is now a lock.