Amazing adventures

Trip Start Aug 15, 2006
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Trip End May 27, 2008


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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Well my arrival in Darwin was pretty disappointing at first.  I checked into my hostel, an 8 bed dorm at the YHA, and it was a pigsty even though it was all girls!  There was so much stuff everywhere you could hardly move, plus an opened condom wrapper on the floor indicated that it wasn't the best place I could have checked into!  That night was England vs Australia World Cup rugby match and no-one in my dorm was interested so I decided to set off on my own and watch it in a bar.  First I went to Shenanigans and soon got fed up with an agressive Aussie guy shouting comments at the screen about Jonny Wilkinson-like he can hear you mate?  I left and ended up at my hostel bar where I met a friendly English guy called Nick and we had fun winding up the Aussies once they lost the match and chatted till about 1am. 

The next day I decided to see what the city had to offer, not much as it was Sunday and everything is pretty much closed.  It was stinking hot and high humidity so a swim was in order.  I'd been told there was jellyfish in the sea so I asked the hostel staff but was told that swimming was fine so I set off to the beach with Nick - low and behold the woman in the hostel was full of poo as there on the beach were 2 lifeguards with big red flags.  Not to worry as we saw an amazing sunset and that night the local market was happening, Mindil Beach market.  That's definitely worth a visit-lots of local musicians and entertainers and tons of food stalls.  I tried crocodile at the Road Kill Cafe with 'You kill it we grill it' as their slogan.  It tasted fishy and was a bit rubbery for my liking but when in Rome.....  I also had some great Dutch Pofertjes (mini pancakes) with ice-cream, banana and strawberries - yummy!  At the market I met up with Justin, a guy who'd advertised a trip to Litchfield National Park.  He had his own car and seemed normal enough (apart from his taste in Techno and didgeridoo music!) so I decided to join him.  Darwin is a pretty small place as on the way back to the hostel I ran into my friend Alan who I hadn't seen since Port Douglas - I'm sure I'll see more familiar faces on the backpacker circuit of Oz!

Monday I set off with Justin (from Adelaide) and another guy Marko (from Germany) to head to Litchfield.  Our first stop was Buley rockholes - a series of small rockpools which were a refreshing break from the heat.  I ahd my goggles and saw a few fish and we were lucky enough to see a big tame monitor lizard - I have a great pic and some video but again it's on facebook and will be a while before I get them onto here.  We then hiked to Florence Falls and swam in the big pool at the bottom - more big fish and even little ones that were biting our toes!  It was chucking it down with rain which is great for the locals as it's dry season.  We found an abandoned inflatable dinghy and decided it was repairable so it made a great shelter for me from the rain until we got back to the car.  The boys thought they'd done a good job tieing it to the roof rack but when we arrived at the Wangi Falls campsite we discovered it had come loose a long way back, been dragged on the floor and was ripped to shreds.  Still, I didn't have a waterproof tent so now it came in handy as a tent cover in case we had more rain in the night!  Justin cooked us a good camping meal of cous cous mixed with tuna and pasta sauce and I had my first beer in Australia - still not a fan though but decided to get into the Aussie way of things.

That night my tent was like a sauna and it was impossible to sleep even in a sleeping liner.  I must have lost a good litre or 2 of sweat but it's something you have to put up with and get used to out here so no big deal - I had my gatorade!   In the morning we had a nice swim at Wangi Falls - now swimming up here is slightly risky due to the possible presence of Esturine crocodiles - the big guys that will eat you, however the park rangers keep an eye on things and there are signs up that you are swimming at your own risk but typically it's only freshwater crocodiles that inhabit the waters which are quite safe.  Even knowing this, I was somewhat concerned every time I was swimming in deep dark water-imagine coming face to face even with a freshwater crocodile! The last person known to have been eaten was a German girl in Kakadu national park 2 years ago - some tour guide had told her it was OK to swim in a spot where I've been told is full of crocs so I guess it's OK if you listen to the locals' advice.

We then set off for a walk to the top of the falls and I was just about to step forward onto the boardwalk section when something slithered in front of me.  I took a big jump back, froze and said 'snake.....it's my first snake....woohoo!'.  Once I calmed down we decided to follow it and get a photo although it was only a Golden Tree Snake so not deadly although still venomous.  We did back off when it arched it's neck and started to look angry though.....The walk was nice and we saw a cool green ants nest - I introduced the guys to the taste and sensation of licking a green ants bum for the ascorbic acid flavour - they were instantly hooked! 

We drove down a dirt road to Blyth homestead, an old building and it was hard to imagine people once living there.  Then we had a pleasant hike down Sandy Creek to Tjaynara Falls wich was great as it was deserted and we saw more fish and a couple of turtles underwater.  We visited the Lost City, not an actual place but lots of rock formations that look a bit like ruins - one looked like a big man too.  I had some fun climbing up into the cracks of these but then it was time to go and check out the termite mounds.  These were huge things and apparently only a third of it is above ground and it's an amazing structure designed to keep the inside cool.  We also saw magnetic termite mounds which are built with thin sides on the north and south edges to avoid exposure to the sun - clever stuff

That night we camped at the back of the Adelaide River pub (nowhere near Adelaide) which is famous for having the buffalo from Crocodile Dundee, stuffed of course.  It also had a huge glass cabinet filled with a stuffed crocodile, Sweetheart, over 5m long and weighing over 1 tonne!  Imagine swimming and seeing that! That night I was still a bit spooked by the snake and as we were walking in the dark towards the pub something landed on my foot and I screamed - this time it was a cane toad.  I was also pounced upon by a cute little frog while we were having some drinks outside - so much wildlife in one day!

After another sweaty night our priority was jumping in the pool - we found some cane toads trapped in the filters so let them go even though the locals will hate us - cane toads are a pest as they are poisonous so all the local wildlife is dying when they eat them and they multiply rapidly.  Even though they are ugly and they are the reason I've not seen many snakes it's hard to kill them!

Now we were heading off to the Daly River region for some fishing but on our way we checked out a place called Robin Falls.  We'd seen them marked on the road map but couldn't drive the car very far up the track and had to walk, not knowing how far we were going.  Luckily it was a short walk and it was worthwhile as it was a pretty spot.  We stopped off in the Daly town which consisted of a pub and a 'supermarket' on stilts which looked like it hadn't been restocked since 1982.  We checked out the pub, asked about the fishing then found ourselves a campsite at Dick Perry's mango farm (www.dalyriver.com).  The owner was a true character and another example of how un-politically correct australia is.  It was a rustic place, lots of kangaroos around, right on the river banks and he was pleased to tell us all about mango farming, cashew fruit and nuts and most importantly the fishing potential and how cheese is a good bait.  He gave me a rod, some cheese and some froen mango from last year (my god it was sooo good!) and we headed off down to the banks.  I caughted a small Archerfish and Justin caught a small barramundi but nothing for our dinner unfortunately and we didn't see any crocs.  That night we saw a bandicoot and I swear I heard lots of splasing and screaming coming from the river. 

We had planned to head back to Darwin yesterday, but after chatting to Dick and some locals they recommended we drive to the Mary River region and try our luck with the fishing there so we headed off again in the non-airconditioned car, loaded with more frozen mango, stopped at an aborigional art gallery in a small aborigional community town (Narebeen?) and set up camp at the Mary River caravan park.  We wanted to hire a boat and go fishing but could't afford the rate, however we haggled with the guy in charge and he offered to take us out the following morning for a couple of hours - cool! We went for a hike through a bamboo forest and the guys tried their luck at fishing but no joy - I was expressing my concern over how close they were to the bank seeing as crocs can jump pretty quickly out of the water but they didn't seem to care!

Our fishing trip today was awesome!  We had a cool little boat and were fishing with lures; plastic colourful fish that you make jump around in the water so the big fish want to eat them.  I was lucky and caught a 40cm Saratoga that was so beautiful the owner (Ross) took it for his aquarium back home, then I caught a 48cm Barramundi, 7cm under the legal size to keep but still exciting!  The guys only caught catfish and logs so I was the winner!  Ross then took us on a quick cruise up the river to see lots of crocodiles which was amazing.  Even though I saw tonnes of friendly crocs on my river trip in Bolivia it was interesting to see these killers up close! 

Feeling pretty dirty, tired and smelly we headed back to Darwin, but Marko and myself had a nightmare finding somewhere to stay - we even tried the crappy YHA but no joy.  Eventually we ended up in the YouthShack where I ran into Alan again.  He was trying his luck at getting work mango picking which is something I've been looking into on the hostel noticeboard but decided against it as I have enough money to last until I get to Broome and should be able to get work there.  I'm not a fan of my new hostel as it is pretty much drunk/stoned people lazing around and not very friendly but the hostel itself is pretty nice with 24 hour air con. 

My new plan is to see what I can arrange to get to Kakadu and if nothing comes up I'll head to Katherine and try and get fruit picking work - anything to get me out of Darwin really as I'm not enjoying the city. 
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