Blue Tongued Skinks, Green Tree Frogs and Roaches

Trip Start Jul 10, 2008
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Trip End Jul 10, 2011


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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Wednesday, August 20, 2008


A house at last! Well you know the gist of these blog entries by now I have to make a bit of a drama out of things. This time it was the jobsworth real estate people. Everything happened very quickly and I arrange to go down Thursday to sign the lease, Erica was out fishing or something, but more to come on this. The old tenants have left so I ask if we can get the keys Thursday so save me another trip on Saturday, I even promise not to enter the house until Saturday when our lease starts. 'Oh no sir we can't do that, you'll have to come back down again on Saturday! 11am be OK?' I felt like turning around and saying we pay for the house from 12am on Saturday, can you meet me outside the house then to give me the keys, but I didn't J As part of the key handing over ceremony we also got a cyclone package, that tells us what we need to do if a cyclone ever hits Darwin. Mmm that reminds me we better get to reading that soon.


Moving in day, we had a busy day ahead of us. We'd already signed up with Power and Water. Apparently it's more expensive to get the switch over on a Saturday or Sunday, so we'd done it the previous day. Today though it was a day to go and spend some money and fill out house with some of the appliances we couldn't bring to Australia because of electrical power differences. We went to a couple of shops, but ended up buying most of our stuff from Harvey Normans, the local discount department store. We got a stainless steal toaster/kettle combo. We also needed 'whitegoods', these are what the Aussies call the fridge and washing machine and do not typically come with a rental house. We took a fridge with these easy ice cube making trays, this is what had sold me on the fridge after seeing them in our Mantras Pandanas hotel room fridge. We also got a washing machine. We were back in the world of the front loaders! I always seem to remember these working better that the top loaders we always had in the USA. It turns out in general they are smaller but more efficient for their size, I haven't really noticed them working better though. We decided to pass on a tumble drier, we figured there would be not too much need for them given that the temps never get below 30C all year round!

We had actually checked out some yard sales the week earlier, we got there sometime before 9am and all that seemed to be left were the scraps! It turns out if there are good things to be had at the yard sales, such as garden furniture and whitegoods, you need to be queuing up on the doorstep by 6am!

The other place we went that day was Bunnings, this is the DIY store and definitely one of the most economical stores. They also have a good selection of a lot of other things you need around the home. We call Bunnings, "Home Dumpo" after a famous US DIY chain. We had two main things on our list to get from here. A BBQ, we'd seen the tourist advertisement and we knew every Aussie home had a Barbie! We also needed garden furniture; we got a 6 seater table so hopefully when we find some friends we'll be able to fill it up! We toyed with the idea of a nice wooden set, but in the end got the $200 cheapos, for the none wooden ones these seemed to be the most comfortable, but how long these high quality products made all the way over in China would last was any ones guess! The other cool thing we bought was a water filter, similar to one my sister has that she called a billabong! It holds about 8 litres, you fill it from the top and it drips through a charcoal and porcelain filter and the fact that the water holder is ceramic means the water seems to keep relatively cool! It does seem to slow down to a slow drip after about a week though and the filter needs a good clean. The filter does seem to get rather brown and a bit slimey, I think it's a good job we filter!

Most of our other cheap crap comes Kmart and Big W (owned by Wollies). Big W is a total rip from Walmart, I'm not too sure if they really believe in copyright over here J. The name is the same, the lettering is blue and its slogan is 'we sell for less'!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_W
The Kmart is a different entity to the one in the USA, as is the Target store we have in the nearby town of Palmeston, about 20K away. They have the same logos as their USA equivalents, but are owned by Wesfarmers. A quick check on the Internet revealed this company also owns Coles (one of the main two supermarkets) and Bunnings. I'm starting to realise now Australia is a duopoly between WesFarmers and Woolworths and why I keep hearing on the news how the Australia government is 'trying to promote competition'! What a racket, and it's all legal; no wonder things are a bit pricey over here!

No mentions of Australian shops would be complete without mentioning my favourite - Crazy Clarks. This is the super discount store that gets new things in every Thursday, and if you want the real popular bargains, you have to get there early the day the new stock goes on the shelves. Some of the stuff they have is cheap, but some is overstock and you can get a decent bargain here. We bought a microwave/convection oven from here. I'd compare this store to an Ocean State Job Lot in Massachusetts - as Erica will tell you one of my most frequented stores when we moved to our last rental house in Foxboro!


Kmart is where we bought our air mattresses. So by the end of our shopping spree we had the essentials that would last us until our furniture arrived 6 weeks later (fingers crossed). As write this, we have a garden furniture set in our living room that is serving as our office, lounge and dining area! I also got a cheap office chair from Big W, our only bad purchase so far. Together with the air mattress and sitting in this chair all day long my back was in absolute bits! A super duper, ergonomically designed, mesh backed office chair soon replaced this- a very worthwhile investment!

One other point to note is the shop opening times; it's taken a bit of getting use to. We've back to the crazy system when most shops are open when people are at work. 9-5 is the usual hours for shops. The mall will stay open late one day a week and from 10-3 on a Sunday. There are only certain bottle stores that can sell beer on a Sunday, I'm not too sure how this is decided, but this is a throw back to the old 'blue laws' in Massachusetts, when you'd have to do the 35 mile run up to the New Hampshire border. This was apart from the 4 Sundays before Christmas when it was considered ok for liquor stores to be open. You have to love capitalism! Some of the bottle stores force you to become a member before you can buy booze. We've stayed away from these, why would I pay $5 to buy some beers from them when the guy next door doesn't require membership! I did find a homebrew store also, but I think I've become a bit of a home brew snob living in the USA, I was disappointed to find liquid yeast was hard to come by over here and it's looking increasing likely impossible to get hold of in Darwin. Maybe the home brew days are over for awhile!

As our whitegoods weren't to get delivered until Wednesday we stayed in Moil for a few more nights. During this time Erica did a 'work' trip with a bunch or work colleagues - well you have to take a look at this little beauty - it's nearly as big as Erica, I'm not even sure how she pulled it onto the boat! This is one of the Barramundi fish that are popular in the area. She's also seen a number of crocs and interesting wildlife on the trips including a couple of Australian Bustards - a large ground bird. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Bustard
On this trip they found an old croc skull and we are now the proud owners of a couple of croc teeth. They have been nicely cleaned in vinegar and bleach and I'll be looking at making a necklace once we get a few more! Erica also attended one day of a three-day conference on ecology that was in the Darwin conference centre. There was talk about the TRaCK (Tropical Rivers and Costal Knowledge), which she is working on, and it sounded an important local event as I kept hearing mentions about it on the local radio throughout the day.

On our last day in Moil, I arrived at our new place only to get a phone call from Erica sounding distresses, she'd managed to get on the school bus to work and ended up been dropped at a Catholic girls school out in the middle of nowhere. Funny thing was she called for a taxi and they told her they could not pick her up from a bus stop and that she would have to walk 5 minutes down the road. Apparently this is a law, not too sure if it is country wide or just in The Territory! It happened also on a day when she had to be in the office on time for her 4WD course. Now we have to buy a 4WD, especially as in the end the taxi came and she made it on time for her class and is now an expert.

Now all I need to do is tell you a little about the house. It's a 2-bedroom townhouse. We have decks at the front and back. We have a paved garden with vegetation around the fringes that is watered by a reticulation system. What is a reticulation system I hear you none Aussies asking? It's a sprinkler system, but until we got one we didn't really know what it was ourselves, although we are glad we chose a place with one now! It's also in a condo complex with a shared pool - we'll be using that I feel!

We had an inventory sheet listing all the damage to the property, it was a joke, it went into minute detail right down to the hooks on the wall, but you could see it was one of those process things where the real estate people are just following the motions! We scribbled all over it re-writing it and faxed it back to the real estate people, but didn't hear a peep back!

A few days after we moved in Erica was looking at me strangely (nothing new there J) as I wandered into the park behind the house looking up at our roof. I knew it, all the other houses in the condominium had it so why shouldn't we! We had a solar hot water tank perched on the roof. That should save us a little on our electric bill; I would have thought they would have mentioned this as a selling point before we moved in!

I think I'm a big kid at heart, part of what's exciting to me is all the new things in the garden. I'm writing this about 5 weeks after we moved in, but we have water dragons, green tree ants and what must be my favourite, a Common Blue Tongued Skink that has his burrow in our back yard and hangs out at the entrance, soaking up the sun, most of the day. I'd seem him walk across our front garden, but he's so camouflaged we didn't even know he lived in our back garden until Erica spotted him slinking into his hole one evening. We have geckos in the house - good for getting all the ants, but ours likes to crap in the house. The good thing is he always seems to do it in the bathroom! I saw a skink in the house and unfortunately we have found the odd roach - I normally hear a scream from Erica and have to come running. Fortunately we've not been seeing more than one a week. All these creepy crawlies even give me the motivation to make sure the house gets a good clean down on a regular basis! A couple more sighting include possums in the yard and some sort of marsupial with large ears running across our balcony railing one night, right passed my toes that were resting close by! Talking of balcony railing we have also seen green tree frogs perched here! I've seen them stuck to windows also, so they must have good suckers on their feet! How the little guy got up there though I do not know, it's a 20 foot drop on one side a 3 foot drop on the other. One evening he came and sat in the chair next to me for the whole evening, he wasn't much of a conversationalist and he kept looking at my beer in hope, but it must have looked funny, the two of us sat in our chairs looking out across the park!
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