Darwin: Cullens Bay to Mandorah
Don’t be fooled! Cullens Bay is walkable from the CBD- I did it in flip flops- BUT I was definitely not keen (must learn Aussieism- KEEN- want to, excited, motivated, also to be sweet on some one) to walk it on the way back. Cullens bay is a fair distance out from the CBD- about 3K. It is a very modern very slick new development of apartment blocks and flash new restraunts. The marina and ferry to Mandorah is located there as well. The ferry wharf is at the very end of the Cullen Bay complex. A nice enough place but it had so much concrete and so many modern buildings that it felt more like being in Sydney near Homebush Bay than in the relaxing city of Darwin.
The Ferry ride over was beautiful. The water is greenish bluish but not clear. (Science factoids: This is due in the Dry season- to the fact that the harbour doesn’t actually flush itself at high and low tides. All sediment that is stirred up with the daily tides that run at 22 knots! and raise and lower nearly 7 meters, just kind of stays suspended in the water. Darwin Harbour is nearly 3 times the size of Sydney Harbour.) Knowing it is infested with crocs and jellyfish most of the year- had me keeping safely inside the boat. Across the harbour, is Mandorah. This is a great little open air pub that most tourists never actually make it across to see. The crowd is predominantly locals and incredibly jovial. After getting off the ferry- just to your left (which from first glance looks like a private house), is the pub. It is a lovely spot for a lazy afternoon session (afternoon drinks) and a bite to eat. There is a beach that was not widely used. Due to the dramatic tides- it is quite rocky and a long way to the water. There were a few palm leaf thatch structures on the nice sand near the bar that needed maintenance but were ok for a bit of shade. A beach volleyball net, a live band, a swimming pool, shower facilities, ice cold drinks and a bistro to boot. What more in life do you need! There is a ferry about every hour that charges 19$ RT. Jimmy Buffet would love it here…locals also grab friends and toss them aboard their personal boats and make their way over for a “Sesh”.
The most shocking thing to me was the ferry wharf itself- with the dramatic tides- they have had to construct a wharf with many levels of stairs and potential boarding decks. The structure is made of rebar- not for the faint of heart. With the sea surging 15 meters below- I had to catch my breath! The structure is safe and structurally sound- just caught me a bit off guard. Doesn’t seem like a good idea to have a few too many and then try to navigate the stairs on your own (though there were certainly plenty of folks doing just that).
Overall- a great alternative to the usual tourist crowded bars on Mitchell with a very relaxed Tropical feel. The Ferry ride gives great alternative views of Darwin