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Fond Memories of Darwin

by Margaret

Adelaide River Railway Bridge 2012

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?

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Darwin 1962-64
by: Anonymous

I was only 6 years old when my dad who was in the navy was posted to Darwin. At first we lived at Larrakeyah, then Rapid Creek, then in what is now a historical area, a place called the mud hut, a place rebuilt in the 1930s after it burnt down, just down from government house.

It was a strange place, a mixture of old and new. It was surrounded by foliage with lots of snakes. It overlooked the harbour which at that time was a place where the cattle from inland Australia were driven and then onto ships destined overseas.

It was in Darwin, I ate my first chillie, first pomegranate, and first coconut. Where I watched my dad play cricket, and fished with him off Darwin wharf, and saw him catch a sea snake. I watched my first horror movie in Darwin's outdoors movie theatre. That movie was "The Monster that threatened the world". I had nightmares for months afterwards.
In the wet season we would go to Howard Springs every weekend. It was where I learned to swim.

In Darwin, I felt my first earthquake, Mild as it was, went through my first mild cyclone. Saw for the first time a person who was not fair skinned and blue eyed, saw my first ant hill, snake, crocodile and goanna and Reared a joey. And where I learned to dislike humidity.

Lights at Bagot RD
by: Anonymous

The traffic lights were there on the corner of Bagot Rd when my wife and I drove into Darwin at the end of 1972. Ken

I lived up there in about 1960
by: Susan Ruck

Nice to read this. My dad was in the Air Force. We had no TV either. I remember they had the best chinese processions with the dancing dragons. My older sister was hooked on salty plumbs. I remember Adelaide river. We would buy a BBQ chicken over the road from Fanny Bay and sit and watch the sun go down. I remember the dentist having some fossil bones in the front window. Mr Holt had the Scottish band up there.
I got very sick up there and was put into Nightcliffe Hospital, or it may have been the old Darwin Hospital. Quite a few of the nurses were ex WW11 army nurses. I recovered. I was just 3 years old. I have a photographic memory. I also remember that there were 2 churches side by side. One was Brown and the other blue. They both were shaped in an upside down U. We ate in the Chinese restaurant just down from these churches on the side of a hill.

Pub and Theatre Scene
by: Stewart (Gold Coast)

Hi Margaret

Your 'Fond Memories of Darwin' was excellent.

Its great that we experienced similar fond memories of Darwin during the same period; 1950s and 60s were the best years for us kids.

Darwin in 1962
by: Anonymous

I arrived in Darwin in 1962 after hitch hiking round the world..Arrived from Singapore with 6 pounds English money not enough for an hotel so slept in a football ground wooden stand all night . Lived on Smith street and got a job in a small general store warehouse.
Just. returned for a holiday here but cannot remember any part of Darwin it was 54 years ago.I will always remember the good times I had in Darwin But in those days I could not aford a camera so missed out on photos of that time. Anyway got back to Uk over 2 years later with lots of memories of Darwin

Woolworths smith street
by: Karen

Yes there were stairs and one small lift. I worked upstairs in my school holidays in the toy section. Every section had a cash register. We had to count money/change back into the hands of our customers. I loved the cordial stand near the base of the stairs on hot days a welcome cold cup of punch or green cordial in a paper cup was just the thing ....

Stairs versus escalator
by: Anonymous

Can you remember if their were stairs or an escalator leading to the cafeteria in the old Woolies store Darwin my memories are of stairs others say escalator

Trip to Adelaide River
by: Jim

This is a terrific description of life in Darwin before the developments of the last 20 years in particular changed it forever.

We drove to Adelaide River on Anzac Day and spent some time at the Railway Heritage Precinct where local volunteers have preserved a lot of history.

I managed to fight through the grass to get a photo of the old bridge, which is showing it's age. You can see the new concrete rail bridge and the yellow handrails of the new road bridge along the side.

looking for mum
by: kylie mcdermott

im looking for my mother im adopted and stumbled across this page she lived and worked in Darwin
her name is valerie peters she lived at 5 pap rap road parap and worked at nightcliff deli
her best mate worked at the chemist in town

any one remember her? if so please let me know

thank you

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