Fond Memories of Darwin
Adelaide River Railway Bridge 2012
I was born in 1953 at the old Darwin Hospital and lived there until I finished school at the end of 1970. My parents met in Darwin. My mother was working at the Bagot Hospital as a Nurse and my father chose to live there after the war ended. From memory, he worked for a while for Qantas.
They bought a banana farm at Berrimah which didn't do that well. Our house was an old corrugated iron army hut - can't remember much more than that about it though. Dad eventually worked at the Leprosarium at East Arm until we left Darwin. We lived for many years in Wells Street before moving to a new house in Ludmilla (when Ludmilla was a brand new suburb.) I went to school at St. Mary's in town (Cavanagh Street)and my brother ended up at St Johns at Stuart Park. I did my last year of high school at Darwin high.
We had no TV the whole time we lived there and no phone. We used to go into town occasionally in the evening to ring "down south" from the Post Office. Communication was also via "telegrams".
We rode our bikes everywhere - I can remember going out to Nightcliff to my friends house, the swimming pool at Parap often, and on Friday nights we would ride our bikes to Parap to get fish and chips. A couple of times I rode to school. There were no traffic lights anywhere at the time. The first set of traffic lights I remember were at the intersection of Bagot Road with the Stuart Highway!
We did our weekly shopping in town. Woolworths was a new store not long before we left and I worked there on Friday nights and saturday mornings for a while when I was still at school.
My brother and I became äddicted" to eating salty plums - a chinese dried fruit that could be either sweet or sour. I can still remember the chinese shop we used to buy them from in Cavanagh Street. The shops sold clothing, shoes, haberdashery etc from memory. (We still eat salty plums!)
We occasionally went to the movies - mainly the Parap theatre which was open air and had canvas seats - we could buy salty plums there as well at the shop! I remember going to the drive in at Nightcliff sometimes as well as the Star theatre in town in my younger days. Life was very simple and looking back - we had a fun and carefree existence.
We went "down the track"(Stuart Highway) quite a bit to swim at either Howard or Berry Springs. Access to Berry Springs was via a dirt road. There was a jetty and a diving board at the main pool - apart from that it was a pure natural landscape – no shops, no bbq’s – everyone used to bring their own food and have a picnic on the grass. Across the other side of the main pool, kids constantly scrambled up the slippery slope to the rope swing. There was a big knot in it that you sat on as you swung backwards and forwards from the bank until you decided to let go and jump into the water.
Occasionally we would drive further down the track to the Adelaide River(? the 72 mile) when it was in flood across the highway. Traffic used to have to drive over the railway bridge to get across. We would swim on the road in the river.
The Darwin airport was very basic - a tin shed really and it was adjacent to the RAAF base at the Narrows. You accessed the airport from the Stuart highway then. I still have memories of the old tarmac on Ross Smith Avenue- it was never a runway then but there was still evidence of it being there. Some of the houses still had tarmac as part of their yard!
I remember the general store called Cashmans in town, the newsagent close by, the Don Hotel where we used to get good chinese food, the dentist (I think I was the first person in Darwin to have braces fitted). I remember the botanical gardens, the football field between gardens road and Gilruth Avenue and the old hospital. The Daly Street bridge which was adorned with a huge crown when the Queen visited Darwin in the ?late 50’s early 60’s.
I haven’t visited Darwin now since 1982 and I am hopefully going to go up for a visit this year – if not this year it is certainly on my travelling agenda in the near future. I wonder what I will think of the Darwin of today?