Sunday, 19 June 2016

Half-lap Day 48: Darwin

I’m not really getting used to the heat in terms of being able to sleep, we’re all having quite uncomfortable nights. I got up after it became light, and went for a walk to McMinns Lagoon, which is only 500m from the house where we are staying. I chatted to a guy on the way who was walking out there, he told me what kind of birds to look out for and to be careful of whip snakes. The lagoon was pretty, not a lot of water in it (but way more than Fogg Dam). There were a few birds around – and also a lot of mosquitoes, so I didn’t stay long.

Back at the tent we had breakfast and the kids played, then we got ready to meet another friend for lunch. We went to Howard Springs Nature Park, not too far from here, which had a great playground and a waterplay area (with a waterfall). Our friend bought a heap of fruit, and we took bread and ham for sandwiches, and we had an enjoyable morning/afternoon, chatting and eating and the kids playing in the playground and water on and off. It was hot and humid, although we were sitting in the shade, and I found that my eye flared up again once I started sweating and the sunscreen seemed to run into my eye. I hope I can find a way to avoid that happening again, it was quite unpleasant.

We were at the Nature Park until around 3pm, then said our goodbyes and we heading in to town to AquaScene for the fish feeding. We had debated whether or not to bother – it now costs $43 for a family which seemed quite a lot, but the kids were very keen to get some hands on fish feeding and it is such a Darwin thing to do, so we decided to go. The feeding time varies so that it is always at high tide, today it was from 4-6pm.

We arrived a bit after 4 and wandered in. We stayed until after 5.30 and really got our money’s worth. At the end of the ramp we could stand ankle deep in water and feed lots of fish (sweetlips I think, although I also heard the lady tell someone they were mullet) who loved to be hand fed, they would nibble bits of bread out of our hands, and swam around brushing against our legs or going between them. There were also catfish, which we didn’t get too close to because of their barbs, so we threw bread to them. In deeper water there were flat, white fish with yellow fins, and big flat brown fish the size of dinner plates, they were very cool to watch. Off the side of the ramp were milk fish, large greenish fish that looked kind of like sharks (but had no teeth). We discovered that if we held the bread a bit lower in the water they milkfish would come and suck it out of our hands, and sometimes suck on our fingers or knuckles as well, that was fun. As the afternoon progressed the rays started to come in to shore – at first they were hard to see, then we noticed a whole lot of black lines on the sand and gradually realised they were ray tails – then we started to see the bodies of the rays. There were cow-tail rays and shovel-head rays and maybe some others, I really loved watching them slowly move in closer. There were a couple of barramundi too – one of them lurked around next to the ramp, almost completely hidden in the shadows, and occasionally surfaced trying to catch some bait fish. He looked pretty fearsome. Several of the friendly fish had remora attached to their backs, little sucker fish that clean the scales of the bigger fish, I was excited to see them too. The tide came up higher and then started to go out and we feed lots and lots of bread to the fish and walked around looking in the water at everything for ages. The kids also spent a bit of time talking to a cockatoo in a cage and it was a great afternoon.

Ramora on the back of a larger fish
From there we grabbed a hot chicken and headed back to Mindil Beach so that Tony could finally see a sunset over the water. We got there about 5 minutes before sunset and it was quite beautiful watching it go down. We laughed though when a boat moved directly between us and the sun just as it slipped over the horizon. We sat on the beach and ate hot chicken and avocado rolls, and the kids ran around on the sand, and the sky and water continued to change colour and become even more spectacular for at least half an hour afterwards.

We packed up and drove back to the tent (after Millie did some balancing along the tops of the fences in the carpark) and went to bed as quickly as we could, reading Brisingr for a nice long session.

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