Where the hell is Noonamah? is a bumper sticker you see driving around Darwin. Well I know very well where it is, my sister lives a couple of ks north of Noonamah in Elizabeth Valley and I have passed it every day for the past week. It is also known as the home of the Green Frog Races. Such a salubrious association with my temporary neighbourhood I know.
Some 46 ks out of Darwin on the road, south of course, all roads have to lead south of Darwin since it is located on the north coastline of Australia. I first came to Darwin 38 years ago, not as visitor but as a resident. The cyclone forced me out the first time but I returned for another stint in 1975-76. I return regularly to see family so have noticed the changes. However it is only now that I can see how Darwinites have also become avid rural dwellers. I was on the road one morning at peak hour, that is around 7am to 7.30am here and the traffic travelling into Darwin, from even further south than Elizabeth Valley/Noonamah was as busy as my local Coronation Drive or the hectic road to the airport – Kingsford Smith Drive in Hamilton in Brisbane.
But getting back to Noonamah, which by the way is a very popular hotel and the place where my sister is warmly greeted and where she is allowed to park her four-wheel drive which is mighty handy when her local roads are under too much water to drive her little Mazda. Carol can do a relay with her Mazda to the pub on her way home from work, and then pick up her Toyota Hilux. No I am not paid by car companies to promote cars, it is just easier to describe the make of the cars because everyone seems to know what they are and isn’t having a Hilux just so de riguer in the top end.
The Noonamah Tavern has hosted the Green Frog race charity event for 20 years. Betting on this race raises as much excitement as the Melbourne Cup. The frogs race each other from the centre of a circle to its outer perimeter over three heats. But not all excitement is about frogs, see this story filed by Neena Bhandari.
Buffaloes, horses, frogs and even cane toads have propped up at a dusty outback highway pub in Australia’s Northern Territory, but to find a saltwater crocodile as a drinking buddy came as a shock even for regulars at the Noonamah Tavern. On Sunday night, three regulars at the bar discovered the 60-cm male saltwater crocodile in front of the pub.
“You could say we were a bit surprised. He was pretty complacent, easygoing, but we weren’t going to test him out,” barmaid Sarah Sparre told the Australian Associated Press.
“They brought him in so everyone could have a look. We took a photo of him and then put him in a box with his mouth taped,” Sparre said.The creature was taken to the Darwin Crocodile Farm by the Parks and Wildlife Services.
Carol has her own legend. On our way home between Noonamah and her place, she pointed out a little causeway where she saw a large crocodile that had just come up from the river below. She got quite a shock and if she had been in her little car she would most likely have hit it and the water-logged causeway would have slid her into the river at the very least. Every time I drove past that spot I kept a lookout for a croc and when I saw people standing at the side after a heavy rain with fishing nets I hoped they would not be a headline the next day.
For all my time in living in Darwin in the past I never had an opportunity to see in the wild, the largest flying bird in world, the Black Neck Stork known here as Jabiru (Xenorhynchus asiaticus) and nearly every day we would see a family of them.
I was quite taken with their size, they grow to a height of about 1 metre tall, long thin orange legs, a black and white marked body and a shiny blue-black neck, with a long black beak. I got out of the car to take the photo, walked quietly across the road but they were on to me and would not let me get close. Roz