Thursday, 29 December 2011

Darwin Tourism: Mandorah Beach

Being a little bit quiet over Christmas I have attempted a bit of tourism. It is wet season so a lot of the national parks are washed out. In fact Cyclone Grant cut the road south, and the railway line. The Stuart Highway has now reopened but the railway is going to need a new bridge. That has left the supermarket shelves a bit empty but no one is concerned too much. Well apart from the Supermarkets who have reduced quantities to sell.
This means that tourism needs to be close to home and have options to avoid storms that are common at this time of year.
Mandorah Beach Resort.
Darwin has a huge natural harbour and Mandorah is a short ferry ride across the Harbour. It is on Cox Peninsula and is part of the mainland. Getting there by road is a 190Km drive, around the harbour and estuaries and rivers. A good couple of hours. Getting there by passenger ferry is barely 15 minutes. I and my companion had decided to take the ferry.
I called the day before to check that the resort was open, that they were serving meals and that day trippers could use the pool. A very friendly yes to all three questions. The only unknown was the weather so final decision was deferred until the next day.
The day was typical for this time of the year, mainly overcast, but occasional patches of sunshine. Hot and humid.
Arriving at the ferry terminal early we took a stroll around the marina. Coming to an open bit we could see a storm coming in so returned to the shelter of the terminal. The ferry was now open so we boarded just in time to avoid a drenching.
We were on the ferry run by Sea Cat ferries. This was one of their last days of operation as a new operator takes over from January 1. The staff were friendly and helpful, assisting people with prams and and elderly man with mobility problems and generally making the trip enjoyable. The trip was short and before the trip had ended the rain was gone and we were back to the heat and humidity.
Being almost low tide there was a rather long climb from the boat to the jetty, which is set high above any potential tides and storm waves. Not a difficult climb. From there we walked a few hundred metres to the resort.
The Ferry with Darwin CBD in the background
The term resort had set an expectation in my mind. I was thinking of reclining by a pool on a banana lounge or similar under some shade with a drink by my side, a book in hand and some music on the iPod. The reality was a bit different. There was a pool. A very traditional Australian rectangular shape. Not a skerrick of shade to be seen, a couple of deck chairs for seating or a nicely maintained grassy surround. It was hot and sunny, not at all a pleasant prospect. Forsaking the pool we continued to the shelter of the pub.
The pub wasn't all that bad. It is an open bar consisting of a large outdoor area under shelter. Overhead fans churn the air for a semblance of cooling. Music - aussie pub rock - was playing but at a level not to be intrusive or prevent conversation. Tables and chairs to seat a fair crowd and a nice view of the harbour if you selected your seating carefully.
We settled in and had a drink. Then another. I ordered lunch next to a sign that proudly proclaimed that it was the only place that didn't serve greasy chips with every meal. In fact they didn't seem to serve chips at all. I settled on a "freshly made" hamburger. Dissapointing. A frozen bun that had been grilled to dryness, not burnt, just desiccated. A meat patty that looked like the frozen ones that you get in supermarkets in brightly coloured boxes at premium price. You know from experience that the patty is tasteless and the meat so finely ground that it has no texture. It was all of that. Drowning it in tomato sauce and washing down with beer was the only option to make it palatable.
Overall though I like the pub and could easily kick back there with a few beers and friends and enjoy a quiet session.
View of Mandorah Beach and Resort from the Jetty
I didn't feel  up to a swim so we made our way back to the ferry terminal. On arrival we learnt that the ferry had a small mechanical breakdown and was delayed. We waited on the beach which was probably a silly thing to do as it was murderously hot. By the time the ferry did arrive I was feeling light headed and close to suffering heat stroke (sun stroke), despite drinking water and pouring it over myself to keep cool. A cold shower and lie down ended the day for me.
The Bludger was pleased with the day out and recommends it to visitors.

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