Alice Springs to Darwin
Trip Start Sep 06, 2007
8Trip End Ongoing
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We had four days to get the van to Darwin which was plenty of time to take it easy. The next day we drove to Daly Waters Pub a strange establishment next to an old aerodrome used as Australia's first international airport (Quantas stopped and refueled between Sydney and Singapore). It also claims to be the Northern Territories oldest pub but so do many others! It is undeniably a place of Australian charm and character with a lot of stuff stuck all over the walls clothing, footwear, money, IDs, hats etc the list is endless. The camp ground attached was really busy with 'Grey nomads' Australians of a certain age with camper vans and four wheel drives who seem to spend their retirement funds driving around Australia for years on end, not bad, better than golf! Some very nice and chatty people who all seamed to be English originally or have relatives who lived in England.
That evening in the pub we were treated to a performance by the 'chook man' a country singer who sang with chickens on his head (i love this country). There were quite a few Johnny Cash covers but also some classic originals such as "when the papers wet with dew" a wonderful ballad about the complications of bush toileting. Don't worry folks I bought his CD for a rather inflated price of $20 but its all his own work so well worth it, although I will say he went a bit overboard on the synthesizers. The next day we drove on and stopped for a dip in some thermal pools in Mataranka, which were warm, crystal clear and beautiful. As we drove North the terrain began to get more tropical and less desertified. There was a lot more forest around and you could see the evidence of bush fires all over the place including a big pall of smoke on the horizon. That night we stayed a short distance out of Darwin and headed in the next day to find a hostel and return the van.
Darwin has two seasons wet and dry. We were arriving in Dry also the busy tourist season and because of that the hostel prices were much higher and everywhere was booked, so we ended up in a huge hostel with a club and rubber mattress,it was horrible. Full of drunk English and Irish people, yay! one night the fire alarm went of at 4 in the morning, no doubt set off by some drunk, so we all had to pile out into the street while the fire brigade cleared the building. Fun Fun. Darwin is actually a nice place I just ended up there with no money so it kind of ruined it for me. But we did go to the sunset markets at Mindil Beach and caught an Indian festival so I could quench my craving for curry and watch some Indian dancing which was great.
We moved into a cheaper hostel halfway through the week and although it wasn't luxury I preferred it to the rubber mattress. We even braved the beach in Darwin and went for a quick swim, suicidal for most of the year but relatively safe in this season. Although we underestimated the danger of salt water crocodiles but manged to get out with all limbs intact. Another highlight of Darwin was the deckchair cinema, an outdoor cinema with possums running around and bats flying overhead. You can sit and watch a movie having a picnic it was really lovely. The weather in Darwin was still in the 30's while the rest of Australia was winter. We also visited the Museum and saw an interesting display on Cyclone Tracy that wiped Darwin out in the 70's and went into a scary room to listen to a recording made of the wind, it was terrifying enhanced by the room being totally pitch black. In the museum we also met 'sweetheart' a 5metre long stuffed crocodile who was accidentally killed whilst being removed from a local river after he had 'played' with some fishing boats. Absolutely terrifying and huge, incomprehensively massive and perfectly designed to kill you, nice! I didn't get to do all the things I wanted to in Darwin as I had run out of money so I dint visit Kakadu national park or Katherine Gorge which is a real shame but maybe I will have a chance to go back one day.
We did go on a trip to Litchfield national Park for the day and visited lots of beautiful waterfalls which where safe to swim in as they had been cleared of crocks! We also went on a Crock jumping tour where a large boat takes you out on the river and dangles bits of meat off the side of the boat to entice the crocodiles to jump.
We saw some spectacular jumps but I'm not sure its an entirely good plan to encourage crocodiles to come up to boats in search of food. And as the guide kept telling us, we are prey and you wont know about it until its to late! In fact he repeated this at least once every five minutes just in case we didn't get it the first time. So after spending a week procrastinating in Darwin we finally made our decisions and went our separate ways, me back to Brisbane and Ben to Perth. There was a lot of work in Darwin but I can make a lot more money nursing and as I am only registered as a nurse in Queensland, it was back to Brisbane for me. Despite it nearly bankrupting me (I am exagerating) I am very glad I did this little desert adventure it was totally not part of the plan but well worth it and its going to be sad being on my own again, but I will have all my friends in Brisbane to keep me entertained. so the plan for the near future is to work agency in Brisbane and apply for jobs that will give me a sponsored visa to stay another year, all before my current visa expires! tick tock tick tock! aaaah.