Yesterday we went to watch the barge for Numbulwar being unloaded. Rachel (the other MAF Pilot based here, known to Sam as Ra-ra) had ordered some groceries that needed collecting and we thought it would be educational to see what this process involved. The barge arrives each fortnight from Darwin and brings many necessary items into the town.

We arrived at the barge landing (also Jason’s favorite fishing spot) about 2.30pm as the pallets of food for the store were being unloaded by a front end loader. Pallet after pallet of food came off. Food for the ALPA store, Newtown store (like a big Milk bar) and for the school tuck shop (they provide lunch for all students each day). Rolls of chicken wire, pieces of metal, a coffin (we presumed was empty), barrels containing fuel of various types, and small shipping containers full of personal orders were unloaded.
In these containers were where Rachel’s boxes of groceries were located. Together, all the people there waiting for stuff, all work to unpack the two containers, sorting boxes into piles according to ownership. We located Rachel’s goodies amongst bbqs, Bunnings boxes and stationery supplies for the police station and then sat down to wait for Part 2- Fridge items.

Watching the barge being unloaded was quite interesting. We realised that between the three of us we knew most of the people who were there. Jason chatted with the man responsible for the power and water supply here in Numbulwar. The power for the town comes from three large generators that are diesel powered. The barge also brings the diesel for these generators to town and as we talked 27,000 litres was pumped into tanks for the generators and also for the bowser (to be sold to us at $2.40/litre).
Part 2 of the barge collection occurs as the front end loader brings out all the refrigerated items. Rachel’s stuff ended up in the middle of the supplies for the school so she needed to go claim her goodies. Not really a logical place for them to be.
Part 3 – Frozen goods… took even longer to unload and by this stage we were all starting to get a little sick of waiting in the afternoon sun. But then someone pointed out a croc in the water to Jason and so we were kept busy for the next little while croc spotting. Our first croc sighting from the ground in the NT. Did i mention that it was now 4.30ish?
Bikes, gas bottles, and empty fuel barrels all went back onto the barge. The barge also took away one of the tanks of fuel for the plane that is kept here at the airport. We keep a supply of fuel here at Numbulwar because the closest airport to us with fuel is a 30 minutes flight from here (in good weather).

So at this stage, we’re still undecided whether we will do our next shopping via barge or continue to use the plane as we have done previously… but it was a fun afternoon out for the family.