I arrived in Darwin's tiny airport in high spirits, meeting up with my friend Dan who is currently working there for ABC Radio. It was my first time in Darwin, and so my expectations was a dusty red earth stained small town with lots of corrugated iron and beer swilling men with large beer guts and singlet tops. Stupid Media, how wrong was I?
The first thing I did notice was the weather. Darwin has two seasons - Wet and Dry. You would think Dry = Summer and Wet = Winter, but it is actually the opposite. Summer (which I arrived in) is extremely hot, humid and sticky - A perpetual sauna. Fortunately there is always an air conditioned building or car around.
A surprising thing about Darwin is the high cost of accomodation. Apparently it's more expensive than Melbourne! The town itself though is a decent size, but not big enough to have a main entertainment district larger than one street. This actually makes things more exciting, since at night everyone comes to the same place to party. It feels like a festive street party, and safe too. This is probably due to the small population meeting in one spot guarantees you'll always see someone you know somewhere. Small town mentality in a capital city. Nice.
JUMPING CROC SAFARI
We thought it would be fun to go see some crocodiles, so we booked a trip to Jumping Croc Safari, an hour or so drive south (which in Darwin terms isn't far at all).
So after driving into the middle of no where, where road turned to gravel which turned to hard dirt, we find a small corrugated shed in the distance along a small river. Jumping Croc Safari headquarters.
The reason we chose this particular tour was because of the fact you can get up close and personal with our reptilian friends. We boarded a small low rimmed flimsy boat that looked too easy to capsize, with some iron bars dividing us from certain death. The driver then drove us through the river, on the lookout for any crocodiles.
It didn't take long before we found some. The driver thought it would be a good idea to park the boat right close to a known crocodile nest - right next to a river bank full of gigantic spider webs and menacing looking spiders on them. I wasn't sure if i was more scared of the spiders or the crocodiles at that point.
To which the driver calmly started banging the water and the boat with a stick "to attract the crocodiles". Yikes!
And if that wasn't enough, when a crocodile did appear, the driver took a piece of meat out of the esky and hooked in on a stick. He then held it over the edge of the boat a foot away from our faces. Was that supposed to be an appetiser and us the main course? I sat thinking at this point whether I actually told people I was coming here, for surely you hear tales of people disappearing here, right?
And it was while i was deep in my thoughts that the sudden snap of a crocodiles jaws closed tight over the piece of meat, followed by the thump of his body as he collided with the side of the boat!
It was then the driver noted "it's only a baby one, the mother must be somewhere close".
It was like that for most of the tour. We found several crocodiles, each seemingly larger than the one before. The driver was quite happy to tease the crocodiles by holding the meat up high so they had to "jump" out of the water to reach it.
Not sure how the crocs felt about it though.
We left the tour feeling more closer to our own mortality and grateful for being alive.
To celebrate staying alive, we drove back to Darwin via the town of Humpty Doo - mainly because of the name, but also because there was a world famous hotel there. Though i'm not sure what made it so famous.
I was quite interested in the roadkill jerky they had for sale there, until i realised it wasn't really roadkill, just a name. Disappointed, but nice idea though.
I was however, happy to try my first crocodile burger. The hunter has become the hunted, muhahaha? It wasn't too bad, but I think i'm happy to stick with a regular beef burger.
Anyway, we spend the night enjoying the Darwin nightlife, starting with local boat club, where we could enjoy a nice beer by the ocean and watch the sun set. We followed this by drinking in the main nightlife street and visiting some cool bars
The next day, we quickly visited the war museum before my flight home. The war museum was interesting, learning about the bombing of darwin during world war 2 and seeing the old gun turrets and weapons and vehicles lying around.
In short, Darwin is a nice place to base yourself, with so much to see and do around. It's a nice place to come back to after a long trip to the national parks by relaxing or partying in the vibrant nightlife. I also really want to go back so I can try the emu parmagiana I heard they have up there but missed out on. ;)