Sunday, December 31, 2017

INDEX

THAILAND

Ao Sadet from Silver Cliff's restaurant - east coast of Ko Phangan

INTRODUCTION - WHICH ISLAND OR BEACH?
ADANG
BU BU
BULON LAE
CHANG (big Chang eastern Gulf)
Little Ko CHANG, Andaman side
CORAL ISLAND
JUM
KANCHANABURI
KRADAN
KRABI, RAILAY, TON SAI
KHAO LAK
KHAO SOK NATIONAL PARK
KHO KHAO
KUT (KOOD, KUD)
LANTA
LAO LIANG
LIBONG, HAT YAO
LIPE
MAK (MAC, MAAK)
MAYA BAY/THE BEACH/PHI PHI LEY
MUK (MOOK)
NANGYUAN
NGAI (HAI)
KO PANYI/PANYEE
PATTAYA
PHANGAN
PHANGAN PART 2
PHANG NGA BAY
PHAYAM
PHRA THONG
PHUKET
PHI PHI
PHI PHI NEWSPAPER ARTICLE BY TEZZA
RAILAY, TON SAI AND KRABI TOWN
RAYA/RACHA
ROK
SAMET
SAMUI
SIBOYA
SIMILAN ISLANDS
SIMILAN ISLANDS LIVE-ABOARD 
SUKORN
SURIN ISLANDS
TARUTAO
TAO
WAI (WHAI)
YAO NOI
YAO YAI



General Thailand Information

SOME TIPS ON NOT DROWNING
WET WEATHER INFORMATION
SNORKELLING IN THAILAND
THAILAND'S NICER BEACHES


INDONESIA:
Approaching Gili Trawangan, Lombok on Perama's direct boat from Bali

BALI
BALI'S BEST BEACHES - incl THE BUKIT PENINSULA
BALI - AMED
BALI - BEDUGUL AND LAKE BRATAN
BALI - CANGGU
BALI - JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES
BALI - JIMBARAN
BALI - NUSA LEMBONGAN
BALI - NUSA DUA, TANJUNG BENOA AND GEGER BEACH
EAST BALI - PADANGBAI AND CANDIDASA
BALI - LOVINA
BALI - MEDEWI
BALI - MUNDUK
BALI - PEMUTERAN AND MENJANGAN ISLAND
BALI RICE TERRACES EAST - SIDEMAN
BALI RICE TERRACES CENTRAL - TEGALLALANG
BALI RICE TERRACES WEST - KEBUN VILLAS
BALI RICE TERRACES TIRTAGANGGA + WATER PALACE

BINTAN

LOMBOK - THE GILI ISLANDS
LOMBOK - THE KUTA LOMBOK AREA

PERAMA SLOWBOAT - FLORES/KOMODO/LOMBOK

SERAYA & KANAWA ISLANDS + LABUANBAJO - FLORES



MALAYSIA
Taking it easy on Tioman Island, Malaysia

GORGEOUS TIOMAN ISLAND
CHERATING BEACH
KAPAS ISLAND
LANGKAWI
LANG TENGAH
PERHENTIAN ISLANDS
REDANG ISLAND
SIBU ISLAND



AUSTRALIA


Cruising down Whitsunday Island

CRUISING TROPICAL ISLANDS ON A BUDGET
BUDGET RESORTING ON THE WHITSUNDAY ISLANDS NTH QLD
SPENDING TIME AT AIRLIE BEACH - NTH QLD
CAPE TRIBULATION - NTH QLD
DUNK ISLAND - NTH QLD
FITZROY ISLAND - CAIRNS -  NTHE QLD
CRUISING THE SOUTH WEST PACIFIC ON LINERS
BYRON BAY - BEACH PARADISE
NOOSA HEADS - MY ALL TIME FAVOURITE
MAGNETIC ISLAND NTH QLD
TOP END - DARWIN BEACHES
TOP END - MANDORAH and WAGAIT BEACH
TOP END - THE TIWI ISLANDS



GREECE
Cute church - Naxos

GREEK ISLAND HOPPING


TURKEY

Beach, forest-clad medieval ruins and up-valley budget accommodation at Olympos in Turkey
BUDGET CRUISING AND PARAGLIDING THE TURQUOISE COAST
THE NORTH AEGEAN COAST
THE SOUTH AEGEAN COAST



SPAIN
Looking south to Tossa de Mar
INTRODUCTION
BARCELONA
IBIZA
L'HOSPITALET DE L'INFANT
MALLORCA/MAJORCA
MONTSERRAT

PYRENEES
SAN SEBASTIAN
SITGES
TOSSA DE MAR


USA - SOUTH WEST

THE BEACHES

THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY

GRAND CANYON TREKKING

YOSEMITE TREKKING



USA - HAWAII

- OAHU'S BEST BEACHES


READERS' TRIP REPORTS
Trip reporter Rachael and Andy on Ko Muk

Read the trip reports or submit your own


THE FORUM


Yon Cassie has a lean and hungry look (image Deco Dermots)

Questions, comments, shoot the bull.


GENERAL

Sammy BinLiner steps out to the hot-tub seminar in The Worry Collective

JUST FOR LARFS - PART 1
JUST FOR LARFS - PART 2: STONES FROM THE JOKER IN THE GLASS HOUSE (1 thru 11)
JUST FOR LARFS - PART 3: THE WORRY COLLECTIVE

ABOUT THIS SITE


LADY TEZZA'S TRAVELLING JAPAN

Sumo grand champion Hakuho.

The basics - Osaka - Kyoto - Hiroshima & Himeji - Takayama - Tokyo - Kyushu - Daytrip to Mt Fuji National Park - Accessing your money - Other helpful stuff







Friday, January 20, 2017

A CHEAPSKATE'S GUIDE TO DOING THE TIWI ISLANDS


Locals gather at WARRUMIYANGA town's NEW CHURCH for a tribal dance-off.

The way I see it, you can't do THE TOP END properly without seeing the TIWIS. As an older Australian it seems they have come up over the years in the news/travel shows/cultural programs disproportionately to their size and particularly their population.
Problem is the TIWIS are a bit of a closed shop - in order to preserve the unique indigenous culture, local authorities require visitors to get special permits for all areas bar the main town WARRUMIYANGA aka NGUIU. This makes visiting a bit of an administrative hassle unless you do one of the cultural or sight-seeing tours put on by various outfits who arrange permits beforehand. Unfortunately, all of the latter were a bit beyond my GEEZERS' PENSION pay grade.
So I settled on catching the SEALINK ferry to WARRUMIYANGA and confining myself to a wander around town. Truth be, I didn't care too much on what I was missing - I was pretty content to say I'd at least seen the TIWIS.


The TIWI's 2 islands, BATHURST and MELVILLE are situated less than 70km north of DARWIN and separated by the narrow ASPLEY STRAIT. A llittle known fact is that MELVILLE is Australia's 2nd biggest island. 


The ferry starts at SEALINK's CULLEN BAY terminal which is about 4km north-west of DARWIN CBD. Bus 14 runs abt every 40mins - timed to connect with ferry arrivals. There is plenty of parking in the area. If you have spare time, the MARINA adjacent is a good place to have a stroll - perhaps a drink/meal.


The ferry takes care of the big tidal range on arrival by running up against the beach and using its front gangway. I noticed mobility-limited passengers got good assistance here. The beach is hard dark sand/pebbles - not mud: easy underfoot.

The ferry itself is spacious, fast and comfortable. The main cabin has good seating, a small canteen, big screen TV on low volume (pic dropped out mid trip), effective aircon - although I preferred the rear deck for viewing the landscape.
This is not fantastic – both the mainland and the islands are flat and low. They also disappear mid-trip. If you are looking for a scenic cruise this won’t cut it – although ASPLEY STRAIT on the approach to WURRUMIYANGA is interesting: twists a bit, has some nice looking beaches and it’s only a km or so across to BATHURST ISlaND’S KIWI TWIN, the bigger MELVILLE ISLAND.

Return -$105adults $80geezers (yay!!!) $55kids. Th Fr Su only. One trip each day - 2.5hrs each way. Timetable online but tide dependent (can have an 8m range in this area) - changes are notified online.


TEZZA's CUT RATE WALKING TOUR.

Get the useful map from the ferry. I more or less did a clockwise wander around town - from the ferry landing to TIWI DESIGN, then past the TRAD CHURCH, next up a lane to the MUSEUM followed by the pool, the oval, across to the NEW CHURCH, then down the main street to the supermart, then back to the ferry past the NGUIU CLUB.

Um, if you can follow that on the above map, you're good. In and attempt to simplify things I did another map with the route....
....although maybe that BLUE colour for the route wasn't the best selection.


STOP 1 - TIWI DESIGN

TIWI DESIGN is located in the north east sector of NGUIU - less than 10 mins stroll from the ferry landing. The building is pretty hard to miss - has discrete signs.
To tell the truth, I don’t think the people at there get many independent walk-ins and were a bit unsure how to deal with me. Could I take photos? Well no – but maybe if I wait until the tour group arrives…..with the return ferry leaving in 3 hours and TIWI DESIGN likely being the last stop on the cultural tour so people don’t have to lug purchases too long, I decided forego the pics. 

Reviews online talk about practical demonstrations by local artists but no-one was arting when I called by. Not that I expected a practical demo for just me – particularly as the pretty expensive prices of stuff on display had cheap-skate me declining the attention of sales people.
The art itself was pretty okay – colourful, a good variety of traditional aboriginal and more conventional stuff, decorated wood carvings, clothing etc. However I have to say it could not match the quality and variety on display maybe 400m away at the local MUSEUM – fair enough, the museum has probably been collecting the best TIWI art, carvings etc over many years.
Then again, you can't buy the stuff on display at the museum.


2 - THE OLD TRADITIONAL CHURCH

The OLD ST THERESE'S Catholic Church is on the waterfront. It is from here that the first warning of the initial bombing raid on DARWIN was given. The church is still functioning, but there is now a NEW ST THERESE'S towards the inland end of town to handle population growth.
As a tourist attraction I was not whelmed....perhaps if I was a history nerd.....


3 - TIWI MUSEUM

This one is a winner. It's packed with the best of TIWI art and craft, plus a lot of info on the history of the islands (early missionary stuff and WW2 history extensively covered) and plenty on the island passion for AFL football. I spent over an hour - could have easily doubled that. Admission by donation. Most areas had nice aircon on this very hot day.
Location is more or less behind the OLD TRADITIONAL CHURCH - the map I had suggested access by way of a lane off PUTI DRIVE a bit further east and north of the church....but I'm sure you could also access off NGUIU's main street immediately west - the KERINAULA HWY.


4 - NGUIU POOL

This was interesting. There was a bunch of school kids doing some sort of learn/improve thing when I arrived. The teachers asked me not to swim or take photos while they were there. When they left, I asked some maintenance guys if it was okay to do a lap or three - they said I should check with the island administrative people first. I gave it a miss.


5 - NGUIU OVAL


The TIWI ISLANDS have probably contributed more star AFL players to outside clubs than any comparable population area in the nation. Footy is a passion here and the locals rise to the occasion. The local GRAND FINAL often makes the National News - above is where it happens.


6 - THE NEW TRADITIONAL CHURCH

The NEW ST THERESE'S CATHOLIC CHURCH has impressively modern buildings to the left of image. When I called by there was some sort of tribal dance-off occurring in the grounds. I was hesitant to take pix close up - contented myself to shooting from across the main road.


7 - NUA SUPERMARKET

Image - NT News

One of 2 mid-sized supermarts in town (the other is across from the NEW CHURCH), I called in here to grab an iced coffee from the refrig. I was struck by prices which seemed reasonable for such an isolated spot - way less than stores in many similar places. Is there an indigenous area SUBSIDY?
The image BTW is a bit of a hoot - apparently the store was busted selling reheated KFC at $5 a piece recently. Hell, maybe the town needs a KFC franchise.


8 - NGUIU CLUB

Conveniently located at the rear of the AFL OVAL but on the main street, this is the town's footy and social club. Restricted hours saw it closed when I called by at 1430. Pity, I would have killed for a cold beer (did I say it was 40c?)


BACK TO DARWIN
From the club it was a quick 10minute stroll down the main street to the beach where a 30 minute wait saw the ferry come in from mid channel and lower its front gangway.



IF YOU SEE MISTAKES OR HAVE ADDITIONAL INFORMATION, PLEASE POST IT BELOW. BUT IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION, PLEASE ASK IT IN THE FORUM SECTION ACCESSED VIA THE INDEX - I CHECK THE FORUM MOST DAYS BUT SELDOM REVISIT INDIVIDUAL LOCATION PAGES LIKE THIS.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

MANDORAH/WAGAIT BEACH


TEZZA'S CHEAT SHEET ON  CUT RATE DARWIN CRUISING.

I went across the huge bay at DARWIN (most often called DARWIN HARBOUR although I would have thought "harbour' means a more localised area) to MANDORAH PIER  -not to see the western COX PENINSULA, but because I was thinking SEALINK's ferry trip there and back would be a bit of a cut-rate harbour cruise - with the plus of something to check out between trips. Didn't work out quite like that.


SEALINK's ferry at the company terminal CULLEN BAY abt 4km north of DARWIN CBD.
The ferry runs daily on approx a 2 hourly basis - GOOGLE the website for times, prices. 


CULLEN BAY to MANDORAH PIER is only abt 6km (40 mins) - this is way shorter than the 125km drive around the south end of the bay for COX PENINSULA commuters/shoppers. Frequent buses (#14) connect CULLEN BAY with the CBD - timed to connect with ferry arrivals.


Cabin interior pretty comfortable, had big screen TV, reasonable priced snack bar, good aircon - however......


....I spent most time out on the rear deck checking the landscape.

I have to say my "SCENIC CRUISE" idea was a bit of a bummer - the landscape both sides is flat and featureless (apart from the higher buildings of downtown DARWIN). And even if you timed your journey to coincide with sunset, you would not have the cap'n jinking around to offer best perspective - nor the wine and bikkies: let alone the fish dinner with champers.

I got a bit of a shock on arrival at MANDORAH - there is nothing there but the pier: even the tourist pub closed down a few years ago. But a kind local gave me a ride up to the nearest town, WAGAIT BEACH.


Desolate MANDORAH. 
WAGAIT BCH looks more impressive with its close grid of streets but if you look carefully only half the blocks have been built on. The rest covered with bush - this is no bustling place: I saw few people or vehicles.


My kind driver dropped me at WAGAIT's Main Beach which is probably as good as DARWIN's best. Note impact of low tide on beach width. The usual croc and wet season stinger warning signs dissuaded me from a dip, despite the 40C temps. 
Not a sole around - not even dogs: it was too darn hot!

"Few people or vehicles" - for instance, this is the street between the beach and town central - those are suburban blocks at the side. Looks like a country road.


TOWN CENTRAL - this is the municipal library. Had free PCs and delicious aircon. I donated a read paperback for my freeloading. 
Worked a charm....until the power blackout hit.


So I wandered over to the general store (its backup generator was thumping away), bought a beautiful cool beer from the refrig - and then walked the 4km back to the pier.


Pier has multiple landing stages to fit various tide levels.


Ferry arrival delayed an hour and loading on the bottom level on account of lowest tide of year - timetable variations announced on website.



Overall my "harbour cruise" was hardly a success from the aesthetic point of view. However the day was not a waste of time - I did enjoy wandering about MANDORAH/WAGAIT BCH.
DARWIN BEACHES



I didn't go to Darwin for its beaches. You want good beaches on Australia's northern facing coast, go to the BROOME area. Unfortunately I visited BROOME well before this blog and in my TRAVEL-LITE period when I didn't carry a camera - so I can't do a retrospective on that great section of coast.

But naturally, as a beaches fan, when in DARWIN I checked out the silica.

BEST BEACH - CASUARINA
Part of CASUARINA BEACH is DARWIN’s official nude beach. And being a naturists since the ‘60s I naturally (groan!) wanted to check it out.
But don’t scroll away if you are non-nudist. CASUARINA is probably DARWIN’s best ocean beach and only a central, fairly isolated 500m of over 6km is clothing optional. You may find some useful info below.


My official rating: as a nude beach: big on space and privacy (nude section looking north above) Not all that good for swimming on account of croc and stinger warning signs (latter wet season only). Overall – 2 stars (below average).


As a beach in general: great if you like looong, wide (low tide at least) pretty featureless expanses of sand as above. I like to dive into or at least sit in the water every now and then plus I favour small compact beaches book-ended by headlands and backed by more than low scrubland (um, some CASUARINA sections are backed by low dripstone cliffs – which apparently can be a turn-on for geology nerds). 


Dripstone cliffs on south Casuarina Beach (image WILIS'S WALKABOUTS


And I understand the sunsets are pretty good – hell they are pretty good anywhere along DARWIN’s waterfront regardless of the beach quality.

Just after sunset from DARWIN SKI CLUB - south FANNIE BAY BEACH

When I finally reached the nude section there were in fact only a handful of beach-goers  – despite both my visits being on very sunny early wet season days and the second on a weekend, there were probably fewer than a dozen nudists and a couple of textiles in the nude area. My opening comment on “privacy” is ensured by so few people over such a big area.
Probably only a dozen people elsewhere on my 1500m walk up the beach – some native Australian beach-combers, a few sunbathers, fishermen and windsurfers**
It was nearly low tide on one of the month’s lowest tide days – the beach has a very flat profile and was extremely wide (see pic 3 above), maybe 250m in most places. I could see the previous (very) high tide had only left 10-15m of dry sand. Behind the sand was a low foredune – some trees were offering good shade over the back of the beach at least until mid-afternoon.

**WINDSURFERS and CROCS/STINGERS? How does that work?
Well for a start I guess the mantra is DON’T FALL OFF!! 
And as far as crocs are concerned, I gained the idea that locals are not as fazed as visitors re crocs off beaches. Maybe this is because the “salties” proper name is ESTUARINE CROCODILE. Their preferred habitat is river estuaries and of course they have no objection to moving up stream and even across to water holes if there is the chance of mugging some unsuspecting critter come down for a drink.

They are found off beaches less frequently – but some DO take voyages along the coast (I think a lot may be males who have lost a fight for dominance and are looking for a new habitat), and so it pays to keep an eye out for cruising muggers any time you are at the beach. In this respect I think TOP ENDERS’ attitude to crocs is a bit the same as southerners’ to sharks – they can be around but less often than outsiders worry about.

 A nice result of the low tide was that several shallow pools had been stranded. A textile down near the SURF CLUB was sitting in one while she read. A good cool option on this very hot and humid day – but check any pool closely: I understand those stingers are a bit hard to see.
Outgoing tide starts to isolate lower areas (image ENJOY DARWIN)

LOCATION/GETTING THERE – CASUARINA BCH is in the very north of the rather spread out greater Darwin conurbation. Some of the easiest access is via the DARWIN SURF CLUB abt 15km north of DARWIN CITY.
Fair stretch from Darwin Central. DARWIN CBD is actually just above the B of "CBD"


This is a loooong strip of silica – it runs 6.5km from behind the UNIVERSITY in the south to LEE POINT in the north. I think there may be local names for the southern and northern-most sections – I read somewhere that the latter is sometimes called LEE POINT BEACH (IMAGE - MODIFIED GOOGLE EARTH as are all the "satellite maps" on this page).

BY CAR
If you want to access one of the better non-nude sections, head for DRIPSTONE PARK just south of the SURF CLUB. Best access is off TROWER RD which separates the suburban areas of BRINKIN and TIWI. Plenty of parking here – cross the park and access the beach via the metal stairway down the 4m dripstone cliff-face.
The SURF CLUB is about 300m north – take the smaller road leading into the scrub from the near-beach roundabout on TROWER: parking at the club.
For the nude section continue on the small road another 800m north to the parking lot. Take the bush track the short distance across to the beach – the nude section starts about 500m further north: look for the sign on the low foredune back of beach (SEE PIC BELOW).



BY PUBLIC TRANSPORT
I found the quickest access was via bus#4 (runs every 40min or so) to the UNIVERSITY (abt 45min from downtown) – from the roundabout out front I walked 900m north along ELLENGOWAN DR, hung a left at the end onto TROWER and waked another 750m to the beach park. Once on the beach I walked north past the nearby small headland and continued on for another 900-1000m to the curve of the beach to the right - from where the start of the clothing-optional section is another 500-600m.
Total walking time abt 45mins – maybe half on the beach. I preferred to walk the beach for the last section – a nice sea breeze was blowing and I thought the sight of a few nudists on the sand would locate me better than walking around on the bush tracks behind.
Bus #1 from CASUARINA INTERCHANGE will get you to within 600m of the beach on TROWER but it runs less often. You can stay on #4 to the interchange (only a few mins past the university) – bus #10 from downtown is quicker and as frequent. Timing connections with #1 are a matter of luck.


BTW – CASUARINA BUS INTERCHANGE is adjacent the big CASUARINA SQUARE shopping mall, one of DARWIN’s biggest - has many outlets missing downtown – a good post beach excursion.



OTHER OKAY DARWIN BEACHES

CITY BEACH
For people who don’t mind artificial beaches, CITY BEACH at the man-made lagoon in the WHARF PRECINCT immediately south of the CBD is pretty neat (and protected from crocs and stingers). Entry if free, there are plenty of lawn, shade trees and picnic facilities. No shortage of restaurants and fast food places in the retail section of THE WHARF DEVELOPMENT behind camera.
Also part of the WHARF PRECINCT but with an admission charge is the....

WAVE LAGOON
No real beach here, but the family will have a ton of fun. About a dozen different wave types with a 10minute break between. Plenty of shade and some smaller still pools for toddlers.


WHARF PRECINCT: A-CITY BEACH  B-WAVE LAGOON  C-CONVENTION CENTER  D-SHOPS/RESTAURANT-BARS (ground), HOTELS AND CONDOS (upper)  E-UNIVERSITY DEVELOPMENT (CRUISE TERMINAL out of image to south)  F-SKYBRIDGE shortcut to city  G-NT ADMINISTRATIVE QUARTER  H-SOUTHERN CBD  J-STOKES HILL WHARF (restaurants, tourist cruises, small ships).
There is paid parking in the precinct. Bus #14 runs down here from CULLEN BAY via THE CITY.
You can walk from the southern CBD via the SKYBRIDGE (onto level 5 of VIBE HOTEL wing) in abt 10min.


LAKE ALEXANDER
Another artificial beach lines the northern shores of LAKE ALEXANDER, a former marshy swamp which had been dredged, cleared of crocs and stingers (filters and traps ensure no further encroachment) and improved by grassy surrounds, picnic and bbq facilities, a big kids' playground and of course change sheds. Water is constantly circulated from the bay outside (image TripAdvisor)


ALEXANDER is kinda peanut shaped – max length north south abt 400m, Width varying from around 150m each end to 70m in the middle. There’s plenty of sitting/wading depth water at the northern end close to the sand and it gets to about 2m deep 150m off the beach – a sign said it is up to 8m deep in the southern watercraft zone. The water is refreshed and filtered constantly from the adjacent bay.

LOCATION – LAKE ALEXANDER is in the EAST POINT RESERVE (free entry) abt 6km north of downtown DARWIN. Head 5km north along the main coastal road and turn left at the big sweeping right hand corner onto EAST POINT RD. Go another km to the RESERVE ENTRANCE GATE. No entrance fee. The lake begins less than 200m past the gate on the right. Plenty of free parking, particularly at the far end.
Without a car, the best bet is to jump on one of the fairly frequent (abt half hourly) BUS#4s and travel 15-20m to the first stop past FANNIE BAY JAIL (the driver will know where to put you off). Walk back 200m to the sweeping corner across from the jail, walk directly ahead thru one of Darwin’s more upmarket suburbs for about 1km to the Reserve entrance. Bus 6 will get you a bit closer to the entrance gates but runs less frequently.


Once again: I've miss-placed the DARWIN CBD marker - should be abt a cm inland from that waterfront area bottom right of image.


When in the EAST POINT RESERVE area don't miss the DEFENCE OF DARWIN MUSEUM near the north end of the peninsula - probably the best 3 hours I spent in Darwin. 
OTHER RESERVE ATTRACTIONS include a mangrove boardwalk, a mangrove forest nature trail..... and adjacent to LAKE ALEXANDER, the nicer northern section of FANNIE BAY BEACH....

NORTHERN FANNIE BAY BEACH



Northern most 500m of FANNIE BAY BCH was probably the second best ocean beach area I saw in DARWIN. Note width at low tide - check high tide mark back of beach:not too much sand left.


NFBB had the usual croc warning signs. Low tide width and high water mark seen well in this image.


Most other areas of FANNIE BAY BCH are not as attractive - this is abt 2500m south, adjacent DARWIN SKI CLUB: the club has a nice long launching ramp to get their ski boats into the water when the tide is down. 



BEACHES AROUND DARWIN

I didn't go searching for good DARWIN AREA beaches. I saw the following during other sightseeing activities....

WAGAIT BEACH 
Across the other side of the big inlet from DARWIN, I thought this beach was as good as NORTH FANNIE BAY. Once again you can see what different tide levels do to beach width. 
I didn't bother abt a dip despite the 40c temps - the ubiquitous croc and stinger warnings dissuaded me.


I didn't intend to go to WAGAIT BCH - ended up here during my cut-rate "harbour cruise" on SEALINK's Mandorah Ferry.
Ferry at MANDORAH PIER - way down there on account of lowest tide of the YEAR (had to postpone arrival an hour to allow enough water - website has details of normal times (fairly frequent because a lot of "EAST BAYERS" commute to DARWIN: the 6km 40 min voyage is a lot less than the 125km drive around the south of the bay) - and timetable variations due to tide.


SEALINK leaves from the CULLEN BAY terminal about 4km north-west of the CBD (marker in right position here) - bus 14 runs between frequently:timed to meet the ferry.

I got a shock on arrival at MANDORAH - the only thing there is the pier! Even the old tourist pub closed years ago. But a friendly local gave me a lift 4 km to the nearest town - WAGAIT BCH.

I'll do a page on my MANDORAH visit when I get a chance.

TIWI ISLAND BEACHES


This was another SEALINK ferry trip - but a much longer one at 2.5 hours each way. I simply took it to say I'd been to the TIWI ISLANDS, a pretty well-known part of the TOP END. 


I wasn't all that interested in the beaches. Although I noticed some pretty good stretches of silica from the ferry on the way into APSLEY STRAIT which separates TIWI's BATHURST AND MELVILLE ISLANDS.

Thing is I was a fair distance offshore and my elcheapo compact digital couldn't cop any good pix, so I got these off the web:


Both look pretty nice - makes sense:with a very low population over a big area (DID YOU KNOW MELVILLE IS AUSTRARLIA'S SECOND BIGGEST ISLAND?) you can expect much CLEANER beaches. 
But of course the beaches are subject to the usual crocs and wet season stingers.
IMAGES - TRAVELLER


The rest of my TIWI visit was a bit of a hoot. I'll put a link to a separate page when I get a chance to do one.



THE REST OF THE TOP END

As mentioned, I didn't come to DARWIN to check the beaches. So what was I interested in?
Well naturally DARWIN itself was worth checking out IMHO.
Taking it easy by the pool at a DARWIN backpacker joint


And in the area you would naturally want to do:
 KAKADU
Dinner coming up on my overnight tour of KAKADU


LITCHFIELD NP
WANGI FALLS at LITCHFIELD


KATHERINE GORGE
Cruising GORGE TWO 


and MATARANKA HOT SPRINGS. 
This is MATARANKA's second hot springs area, BITTER SPRINGS. Arguably better than MATARANKA HOMESTEAD THERMAL POOL.
I'll do a page on each of the above and link them when I get a chance.


THE BEACH AND THE WEATHER

I visited in the second half of NOV/early DEC. This is EARLY WET SEASON. Already things had slowed down - way fewer visitors, bargain airfares etc. You would think it's not such a good time to visit - either beach wise or for doing those other places. 
How wrong - the weather was great! Over my 3 weeks it rained on 3 days and abt 10 nights, all short sharp stuff. Days were 80% sunshine. Locals told me this is normal for time of year. 
Blue sky day one - off to a good start.

Our trip guides said tell all our friends how good early wet season weather is - because as soon as THE DRY officially ends in October, visitor numbers drop away and they have trouble filling their tours. Point out that there are often walk-in vacancies and discounts, they said. Popular places in KAKADU and LITCHFIELD which suffer serious overcrowding in high season are uncrowded.
Downsides include some places of interest closing (seem to run on the calendar rather than conditions), unfilled tours sometimes having to be rescheduled and some tours just not running.

Note as I write this in early January, the weather has changed - the full wet seems to have hit, with several days of prolonged heavy rain. However guides told me more normal full wet season weather has still plenty of sunshine but with more/heavier rain. But if a monsoon trough moves in (as it did these past few weeks) then prolonged rain can feature.