Off the Tourist Trail #5 – Mandorah, via Darwin, Northern Territory

Last Updated on March 3, 2017 by Red Nomad OZ

Mandorah, via Darwin, Northern Territory
Tropical Paradise? YES! Mandorah, via Darwin, Northern Territory

Yes, we’d crossed the portal into a parallel universe. But at least it was Tropical-Paradise-Cliché universe! Balmy breezes wafted through the open walls of the pub where we kicked back, drinks in hand, admiring the endless white sands, tropical palms, blue water and skies. Bob Marley played in the background. ‘Best in the world’ (albeit self-nominated) barra* and chips** on the way.

So what was wrong with this picture? Well, nothing – as a point-in-time snapshot, BUT …

  1. We weren’t staying in the nearby accomodation
    2. We’d miss the evening entertainment
    3. In a couple of hours we’d be on the ferry back to Darwin, SO …
    4. we only had time for one more drink!!

And if that wasn’t enough to throw us into a raging depression, the next morning our June 08 Top End odyssey was over as we began the long drive south.

Yep, it was literally all downhill from here.

Apart from that, OK!! Actually, MORE than OK as the barra & chips arrived and we put our troubles aside to treat this great meal with the respect it deserved. Either that, or the Bob Marley had blissed us into a trance … or maybe it was the drinks 😀

As we cursed the lack of foresight that stopped us staying for at least ONE night at lovely Mandorah across the harbour from Darwin, we vowed to one day stay a little longer in this idyllic spot.

Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory
Darwin Harbour, Northern Territory

It’s a 130km drive from Darwin to Mandorah – at the time apparently on roads the polite would describe as ‘indifferent’. But it was all hearsay to us – we took the easy option! For a modest levy of around $25 per adult return, the 7km, 20 minute SeaLink ferry ride from Cullen Bay Marina Ferry Terminal across the harbour is your portal to paradise! That’s if you can ignore the perils lurking beneath the water’s sparkling blue innocence – signs at various strategic points around the harbour warn of crocodiles, sharks, stingers and stingrays. And you don’t see any of the locals taking a dip …

From the wharf or pub, there’s no sign of the Wagait Beach suburb where a few hundred locals live – while it’s close by, we were too busy with our barra and chips to take the walk.  There IS a sign of what some locals do, however, with jetty fishing and boat launching aplenty visible from our vantage point.

Darwin's cliffs from the Mandorah Ferry
Darwin’s cliffs from the Mandorah Ferry

Back down the Cox peninsula road are World War II sites, creeks, more beaches and wetlands – but taking the easy ferry option, as we did, means they’re out of reach for a day trip with no transport.  BUT … put all the parts of Mandorah together and they make a perfect recipe for an idyllic few days!!

So one day we’ll head off the tourist trail once more to fully explore the delights of Mandorah. But just like famous OZ poet AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson and his vision of Clancy***, the visions of that paradise sustain me through times of trouble and despair, while the promise of travels to come keeps me sane …

* Barra = Barramundi, tropical fish extraordinaire, and ultimate aim of most northern OZ fishing adventures!

** Chips, NOT fries!!

*** Non-Australians may well require a translation to fully appreciate the nuances of this OZ gem!

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  1. Wow–another really interesting post. Darwin is a fascinating place!

    Since you are becoming an aviation nerd, if you are ever in the eastern U.S.A., the Smithsonian Museum has a huge Air & Space museum near Dulles airport (Washington, D.C.) that is spectacular–everything from a Concorde and a space shuttle to the tiniest little stunt planes. I’m no aviation buff, and I was fascinated. The Wright Brothers and Lindbergh planes are in on the Mall in D.C., but there is plenty at this exhibit in the suburbs to keep you going–and it’s free, with just a little price to pay for a shuttle from the airport, or for parking if you drive there.

    1. Sounds like we have a lot in common Christie – like NOT being aviation nutters 😀 This sounds fascinating – will be sure and look it up if I’m up that way sometime! Maybe I’ll look you up too!!

  2. @Monica – thanx so much! Will come over & check it out …
    @Michelle – There’s still time … it’ll be a bit different to Germany though!!

  3. @Devi – hope it’s given you something to look forward to too!
    @ropcorn – welcome, and thanx for following! Keep reading my blog and you’ll be DESPERATE to come back!!
    @The Blog Writer – welcome to you too! Glad you appreciate the sacrifices I make for my blog readers …
    @Liz – welcome! And come back ANYTIME!
    @Betty – yep, still Sunday! One day I’ll actually work out the time difference …
    @Glenda Cates – welcome and thanx for following! Great pix, huh? You ain’t seen nothing yet …
    @Jayne – well, just you wait for my next trick then!!
    @Sonja – yeah, there are tougher jobs in the world, off to find you now!

  4. I love Australia! I was there for 3 months a few years ago but never had the time to visit Darwin. I hope to come back one day though. Thank you for sharing your experinces. 🙂

  5. Great landscapes! I love your adventures and trips. Sound fantastic; I’m jealous though. LOL!

    What a pity you had time only for one drink.

    Beautiful pictures!

    Happy weekend/Monday?

    Big hugs!
    B xx

  6. Thank you for stopping by my blog! Your pics are beautiful. By the way… my grandma was from Sydney. I went over there to meet all my family 10 years ago. I would love to go back!!

  7. Oh, that just sounds blissful. I am more relaxed from having read about your day.
    Shame about having to leave so soon, buuut, it’s good to have a goal to look forward to… *cheeky grin*

  8. @Valerie – welcome! And you shall!! Plenty more adventures where these came from …
    @Mrs Tuna – good pick up. But you’ll perhaps note I didn’t say at what point we could have one more drink…!!
    @Mags118 – Well, wait until cyclone season is over, and do yourself a favour!! You’ll be hard pressed to find the ‘best’ B&C – EVERYONE claims to have ‘the original’ and/or ‘the best’!!
    @Ann O’Dyne – now you just might have solved the problem of the nasties (and not just those who lurk in the deep)!! Nothing is really perfect – even paradise has a dark side!!
    @Monica – welcome! I hope you do to – and also that my blog inspires you to visit soon!!

  9. @Diane – welcome! I look forward to having and writing about them! Happy travels!!
    @Toni – we were Darwin virgins on that trip! So many amazing experiences packed into a fairly short holiday! BUT … can be very hot!
    @River – agree with your fries/chips definition! But who would eat ‘fries’ when ‘chips’ are on offer??
    @Laurie Harrision – welcome! Didn’t know if using the word ‘Yanks’ was politically incorrect!! I guess this means I can??
    @Manazanita – you’re such a tonic for a blogger’s ego … and of course I’m dreaming of travels to come! May there be many more!!
    @Heavenly Savings – ‘Cute’, huh? Doesn’t that mean ‘ugly but interesting’?!?!?! Either way, it probably still fits …

  10. wow Red – 3 new readers in one hit.
    I was envious of every thing you described until you got to ‘crocodiles, sharks, stingers and stingrays’ – do they ever attack each other I wonder.
    I love car ferries too, have blogged on the Queenscliffe-Sorrento one, and can really recommend the Kettering to Bruny Island one in Tasmania.
    Happy Trails to you …

  11. Hi,
    I’ve never been to Darwin, it certainly does look magnificent, Barra and Chips, now what more could you possibly need after a lunch like that. 🙂

  12. When you find a paradise, girl, you GO for it. Stay another day, another week. I love all the “off the tourist roads.” When I travel (well, used to) I’d always take the back roads. This sounds delightful, as you’re dreaming of the travels yet to come. The ferry ride sounds like a way to go. A heart pitter pat. Great post!!!
    Love and peace

  13. I love how you’ve explained the barra and chips for the non-aussies. In my family, fries are those skinny things you get from fast food places, chips are the fatter ones you get from good old fashioned fish’n’chip shops.
    The water in those pictures is the most amazing shades, aqua, blue, teal; how could you bear to leave it?

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