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by peter john brophy
My eldest sister was in Darwin, 1964, living in the "Sisters" quarters at the old Darwin hospital. My dad had died in '62, mum had lost the plot a bit, went to Darwin to see said sister, left me with younger sister in Perth.Not such a wise move, sister being 17, working at the RPH pharmacy. I was shipped off to Darwin, 1964, had to live in the back of the only liquor storage shed in Darwin. My room was a large aviary in the back of the shed, the bloke who owned? managed? the shed was also the president of the Darwin gun club so the shed was full of booze, clay pidgeons etc.
Mum was a barmaid at the Darwin Hotel, mostly in the Green Room, or so she said. Met her next husband there, eventually got married and so I stayed, somehow managing to miss grade 5, no complaints from me, roamed the beaches of Darwin, fished off the Fort hill and Stokes hill wharves.
The step father was a great guy, a Scottsman, very involved with sport, St Marys, soccer at the RAAF. I can still recall some of the after game parties, the great Billy Rowe holding court. Eventually went to school, St Johns, hillarious, slave labour to build the footy ground, picking up rocks after somebody's dad had literally blew them up while we were at lunch. Walking through snake infested gully to get to Gardens oval for sports.
Had a paper round at the Arafura Mens Hostel,made a fortune, never got hit on once. Had some great mates, used to go shooting, fishing hunting around the Daly, Black Jungle, East Alligator. Was like living in the wild west. If you were tall enough and didn't carry on, the late nights at the pubs were a blast, I can remember being at the Dolphin with Charlie Lew Fatt and being asked by a cop to move the car, I'm about 15, couldn't get the Imapala shift into reverse, drove it into the flower bed. Cop seemed happy enough.
We were body surfing once at East Point in a cyclone, I hit the cliff and broke my ankle, Desi McLeod and John Lewis dragged me up the cliff, I rode my fixed wheel pushie to the St Johns station on Ross Smith Ave, they taped me up with elastoplast and chicken wire, job done.
Darwin Part 2.
Left for the middle east January 1971, big brother, drilling for oil in Kuwait decided that the next big thing was going to be underwater so lets start a diving company ?
I could swim, I had watched Sea Hunt, how hard could it be. I'm 16, from Darwin, I have $600. Two days in Singapore, I'm from Darwin, I don't have $600.Enough said.
The middle east and Europe consumes the next 3 years, returned to Darwin, girlfriend in tow. Showing her the delights of the top end, she gets bitten by mystery something down the Daly, swells up like you wouldn't believe, skin falls off the effected leg.
We recover from that, then December 24, 1974 happens. We are at the Narrows in Mum and Bobs place, very trying night, got the back neighbours in as their house went, sounds like a jet plane in the living room for hours, no injuries. Take Bob in to the Stokes Hill power station on my motor bike, most noticable thing, no leaves on the trees and spring head nails eveywhere. We spent the next two weeks helping out as best we could, moved the vehicles from a car yard to Adelaide by road, whole story right there.
Eventually returned to Darwin 1976, now married to said girlfriend, had first son there. Lived down at the 21 mile, used to go to the Noonamah pub, race in the Annabarroo 2 day, get on it at the Bark Hut. Eventually, after dredging out the small ship facility on the "Dutchmans Dredge" (another whole story here) left to do off shore work on the Rankin project in WA.
For those that may remember the dredge, I was on board the morning it exploded, only time I've ever had the need to scream "Abandon Ship" as I vaulted over the bridge handrail.
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