Heat, humidity and decorated fridges
Even as you step off the plane on arrival at Darwin you are aware of a significant change in the environment - at 12.45am local time it is still 28 degrees and humid, humid, HUMID! Given that the clocks went back by 90 minutes during our 4 hour flight my slight fatigue was understandable, so thank goodness the shuttle buses ran all night and the Dingo Moon hostel allowed me to crash in their grounds til dawn!
I was laying prone on a sunlounger beside the pool when Lisa, a scandinavian human dynamo,, turned up to start cleaning at 5 am and shortly afterwards a delivery guy from Pizza pizzas called to deliver 6 full-sized pizzas, that nights closing stock, which he bestowed upon us instead of binning. Pizza for breakfast indeed! As the hostel started to wake up I completed check in formalities with Jess at about 7.15 after which she laid out quite a wide, and much more traditional, breakfast spread, so brekkie number two was scoffed before I would have normally even got out of bed.
What followed was a 4 hour "stroll" around parts of Darwin to get some bearings (a city that may be described as small but that description is relative to one's mode of transport and the prevailing weather conditions) and also to get used to the heat and humidity. Having picked up a couple of completely useless fishing tips from a singularly unsuccessful local fisherman I called in on the local legislature's home at Parliament House (a very large and largely unoccupied building) for a coffee before dragging my tired and sweaty body back to the hostel to freshen up and take of the days 3rd repast, and all of this before 1pm! If this carries on I could either balloon in weight or sweat myself to death before the Bali flight!
As is my wont I decided to continue my investigations of the locale on foot, despite the rediculous heat and humidity (although I had only just arrived and the weather conditions were new and extreme to me the truth is that I never got "used" to them during my time in Darwin) - points of "interest" included Doctor's Creek, the Deckchair Cinema by the beach, Cullen Bay (walking all of it) and Mindil Beach, inclusive of the evening market - a quaint mixture of exotic food options and local arts and crafts that ranged from model aeroplanes make from old beer cans to natural insect repellent and pictures to didgerydoos. Originally the market was a bit of an unofficial hippie style affair but in recent years the market has ome more of a tradition which provides some evening distraction (including musical performances and fire jugglers) after the long hot city days.
The promised thunderstorm never materialised but Max (from the Port Douglas reef trip) did and yep, that fella can effing drink!! After many libations, my first Australian traditional Thai meal, more alcohol and entry refusal at a second bar (cos we were wearing thongs) it was back to the sanctuary of the Dingo Moon Lodge for this unseasoned drinker!
Friday was somewhat unforgettable as for the most part as it was spent dangling food in the water for non-existant or fasting fish. Were it not for the seven lovely Irish girls (and Christophe, the intensely ginger german hitch hiker that they picked up and adopted) brightening up the evening the day could have been a total write-off. Being friday, when all the party animals headed off to theivellry, the Fool ended the day watching a subtitled spanish version of the film of Pans Labyrinth - summed the day up pretty well really.
Saturday was mission day with the task of finding singlets (vests to my traditional UK readers) to replace the tee shirts for day to day wear. The public bus to Casauria is cheap and air conditioned, the best possible combinatior the Fool in this quest. Being cheap means that they are also popular and the bus filled quickly with as wide a cross section of passengers as one could imagine. Amongst these were a number of aboriginals who's somewhat bizarre and drunken antics continued on the bus as they had on the roadside. The shopping centre is pretty damn big and had the usual Target and Big W superstores where I eventually tracked down the required white cotton wifebeaters. Sadly the promised free wifi proved less than effective so it was back on the bus to head home. The relative cool of the evening drew near so the Irish girls enlisted a number of other hostellers to head to the harbour area to play both Gaelic and english association football. Take it from me that these girls are fit, strong and mean when it comes to sport so they murdered us at the gaelic form and held their own in our traditional form of the game!! Great fun followed by evening beers.
Sunday was moving day, somewhat ironic as the continued energy sapping heat and humidity instill a listless torpor in the Fool and many other guests who were checking out or repositilning within the hostel. One highlight later in the day was a wander around the various entries in the somewhat bizarre Darwin Fridge Decorating exhibition which were dotted around the pedestrian area in front of the harbour.
Having sorted out my Litchfield and Kakadu trip (see separate entry for this adventure) and booked the Dingo Moon for the residual days it was just a case of passing time by fishing at the marina (where I hooked rock cod and blackspot as well as sighting thousands of jellyfish and one good sized croc), walking, drinking Aussie micro-brewery beers and doing washing in the ever increasing heat and humidity. On more than one occasion the full weeks washing was left on the line overnight only to be drenched by nighttime downpours - the monsoon season approacheth?
Shortly before my departure the weekend heralded an early Hallowe'en party where the British contingent of long termers went overboard with their costumes and gory makeup (particularly Jason, Matt, Liam etc) and also, as it turned out, with the volume of alcohol they managed to consume before terrorising the local streets and bars.
My final night in Oz coincided with the arrival of two eyecatching frauleins, Sarah and her travel buddy Hilke, the former of whom I was destined to meet on a number of occasions later in my South East Asia swing!