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by Des Crowley
Darwin Police Station 1973
I moved from Sydney to Darwin in 1972 and worked with a great bunch of mates in the Commonwealth Dept.of Works in both places. In Darwin our office building overlooked the harbour and Stokes Wharf, you could see the storm clouds come in at 4.15 pm during the Wet season and walk home with the rain working its way along the street behind you!
It looks like it's the site of the water park now. Back then there were no computers it was all manual drafting and drawings were micro-filmed so they could be stored in miniature filing cabinets. I lived at the Esplanade Hostel and used to hang out at the Koala Motor Inn a great place to meet people...learned on my first visit to not turn my beer glass upside down when finished because it meant you'd fight anyone in the bar, how true that was... I'm still not sure!
There were some very tough people in Darwin back then, with the oil riggers coming to town and the locals. There were still a few professional crocodile hunters making a living. Many fishing trips for Barramundi and some deep sea fishing..mainly a beer drinking expedition! Every Friday I picked up a slab of beer at Woolworth's and it was gone by Saturday afternoon or sooner. We ate at the Vic Hotel on occasion but my favourite was the little Capri cafe. More beer could be consumed in Darwin because you sweat it out as you drank it!
I played Squash at the courts in Dashwood Place. There were excellent squash players around in those days..the height of that sport was in the seventies.
I left Darwin for Dublin via Bangkok in September 1973 with a plan to return but never did after I met up with friends at the rugby club and settled back in. It was a shock to see the news about Cyclone Tracy at Christmas 1973 and the reconstruction of Darwin since has made it all but unrecognizable but it still looks inviting.
I later thought of Darwin as a kind of Shangri-La because I was twenty-two years old and my friends were all older, but were having the same fun as myself! Many great memories of Darwin and the people I met while there. I'd love to visit again some time.
Footnote: I needed a wristwatch and bought a motion winded Seiko in 1972 on Mitchell St or Smith St. which still works to this day with only a spring replaced after 46 years!! Like my watch,Darwin is unique and I consider it a blessing that I once lived there and worked with the people I did.
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