Waldo and I met up in Darwin, Australia. Waldo wanted to see Australia's “top end” because this is where we would be able to see some of the stereotypical Australia that we were looking for. Some of Crocodile Dundee
was filmed in this area and we were on the hunt to see some some of it. Darwin is at the very northern end of Australia and the weather was in the wet-season, similar to where I just came from (Bali, Indonesia). So the weather was hot and humid with periods of heavy rain. Australia was the first place on my trip where I started to “hostel-hop” in a similar style to the way I traveled Europe a few years ago. That means dorm rooms, shared bathrooms / kitchens, common rooms, and the opportunity to meet other travelers from all over the world. It was actually a lot of fun getting in this type of travel mode again.
Up in Darwin, Waldo and I joined a 3 day tour of the Kakadu National Park. We met with some local Aboriginal people who explained some of there ways and their land. We took a boat cruise through some billabongs and wetlands. We did an all-day hike through the bush to 3 separate waterfalls where we could rock climb and cliff dive (I didn't hit my head!). The next day we did another hike that took us to the top of a hill our guide called “Castle Rock.” He showed us the lay of the land and explained everything we came across the entire hike. We even got to eat some ants that tasted like lemons. The views at the top of the rock were fantastic. We saw plenty of wildlife, even though there is much less viewable wildlife in the top-end's wet-season. Everything is flooded and the animals spread out, where in the dry season the animals are confined to tighter locations. Being the wet-season, though, we did get to see see plenty of green plant life. The weather actually behaved while we hiked and we only got a little of rain.
After Darwin, Waldo and I hit up Sydney. Sydney is a gorgeous city and we did a whole bunch of walking around. We took a free 3 hour walking tour of the city and had the history and sights explained to us. We also hit up the close by famous beaches of Manly and Bondi. We did a coastal walk near Manly and took the ferry back after dark so we could see Sydney Harbor lit up at night. At Bondi there was a surf competition with some pros making the best of some poor conditions. We also walked from Bondi a couple of hours down to another beautiful beach named Coogee Beach. I didn't surf during my stay mostly because the waves weren't good enough at the time for me to justify the price of renting a board and getting to a good surf break.
I originally planned on staying in Oz for at least a month, however, money is getting tighter and with Australia's currency getting so strong, Oz was a very expensive place to travel. Especially compared to where I've been and where I plan on going. I would have loved to rent/buy a car and travel the whole country with a surfboard, but time and money weren't on my side this time. I actually met a handful of people that were doing exactly that... they bought a plane ticket to Oz with nothing in their bank, found small jobs in different cities they would visit (not hard to do), and travel the whole country over the period of a year or so. After their travels, they would go home with more money than when they showed up and they got to travel all of Oz for a year!
Oz was short, but sweet. I plan on returning decently soon, maybe even within a couple of years, but right now I am stoked to follow in Frodo's footsteps in New Zealand!