The about two hour flight from Cairns to Darwin passed very quickly. We landed in 34ºC Northern Territory heat and firstly had to set our watches half an hour back. The airport was tiny and within 15min I was out in the sun. Again without showing my passport or my bags.
Over the past few days I had been in contact with Andrew, I guy I met while I was diving in Koh Tao. I hadn’t actually expected him to have any time for me, since he works for the Navy and basically is always working. Therefore, I was even happier when he had offered to pick me up from the airport.
So already 5min later, he arrived in his cool jeep and in uniform. How could anyone wear long clothes in this weather?!
He drove us to a beautiful café in the botanical gardens and with a delicious chai latte it slowly really sank in that I was in a completely different place of Australia now.
Then Andrew had to go back to work. He dropped me off in the center of town but kindly held on to my suitcase for the day, until I found a hostel. Online, there only were few places left and they were very expensive, so I wanted to try my luck up front and even ask whether I could work for my accommodation. I asked place after place on Mitchel St. They were all 34$(for a simple dorm bed!) and no work anywhere. Luckily, the woman in what I thought was the last hostel on this street then told me there was another one 10min further down, which was probably cheaper. And so I landed at the Gecko Lodge. The very friendly Thai owner gave me the last bed in a male dorm for 25$ and told me I could switch into a 4 bed dorm for the rest of the nights. The people at the hostel were all very friendly and told me that this here was more like a family. Everybody was either working or looking for work. Then I went to have some lunch and stopped off in air-conditioned shops once in a while, as I was having another look at the town. There also is an Esplanade with inviting shady trees and green grass. I finally felt that the alarm clock rung before 5am and so I lie down in the shade for a while amongst all the other people that were already hiding from the heat 🙂
When Andrew got off from work, he brought me my bags and said that we’d meet again later to watch the sunset.
I tried to have a cold shower but the water just wouldn’t get completely cold. Anyways, I’m not complaining. I LOVE the heat and how I could wear short clothes all night long. Plus, doing laundry was so much fun too because everything dried so quickly, that I easily could wash all my things.
Later, Andrew brought us to the Ski Club. I thought they just tried to be funny with the name until I realized that they meant waterski.
It was an outdoor bar at the ocean on green grass under palm trees and there was live music too. So, the place on its own is pretty cool but then I also got to see my first incredibly beautiful and kitsch Darwin sunset. The colors in the sky were so pretty, it looked like a painting was being painted. And to make it really kitsch, there were black silhouettes of sailboats in front of it.
Then, we went to have dinner in a small Vietnamese place next to McDonalds and the beef rice noodles I had were really good! So already my first day in Darwin gad been a success. And even though I then already went to bed at 9.30pm, I had a great sleep because everybody in my room was really quiet when they came in. I like working hostels 🙂
The next day, I wanted to go to the fish feeding but then decided against it since it cost 15$ and I already saw two fish feedings off the boats I was on. Therefore, I strolled to the marina and went for a swim in the lagoon. It’s a controlled area in the port. So, the water was salty but rather murky. But I guess you have to swim here when the ocean is too dangerous because of crocodiles.
I went back to the hostel to cook a late lunch. That was a bit a pain again, since the flies were back.
In the late afternoon, I wanted to walk down to a different beach, to watch the sunset again. I didn’t end up exactly where I wanted to but it was also a very nice spot at the ocean and there were some couples or families having picnics. What a nice way to end the day!
When the sun was down, I had to hurry back into town to make it to the Peterpans night here (I also spent some time with them today, since they had forgotten to book my last night in Alice Springs). We all walked to Monsoon’s where a few were selected to play games and win prizes. Then, they started to bring free pizza and here they brought so many that in the end I felt really full. Luckily, they then put on good music, so that I could go dancing. They also handed out vouchers for free drinks and the men kept buying jugs, so that I think none of the girls had to pay anything all night 🙂
Then, there also was a table with body glow paint, where everybody tried to be creative. Just as I thought I should leave soon, a really good live band came on stage and so we kept dancing. And that in my backpack-sneaker outfit (in other towns, they wouldn’t let me enter like that. I like Darwin!
At midnight, there was a bikini contest. Since I had never seen one before, I stayed for that too. Hopefully, I won’t have to see a second one! One of the girls could win 200$ but in the end it was just who showed their boobs longer…
After that, I thought it would be good have some fresh air. However, the temperature felt pretty much the same outside. The 20min walk back to the hostel was quite nice in the now about 29ºC though.
Thursday, was a lazy day at the lagoon and in town. In the afternoon I was lucky to run into some French guys from my hostel who were just finished with work, so I could ride back with them.
I went for a walk in the botanical gardens. They are pretty small but with local plants and as I mentioned, the café is nice plus there is an air-conditioned info house with free wifi.
Afterwards, it was time to head to Mindil Beach for the famous sunset markets. There were a lot of booths with handmade things to buy. It was really crowded with people, there was live music and the smell of good food. And all this in the soft light of the setting sun. The atmosphere really reminded me of the Seenachtfest in Switzerland. When the sun really started to set, I bought a delicious smoothie and joined the hundreds of other people on the beach to watch the spectacle. Of course it was another stunning sunset but not as romantic in between this huge crowed.
Afterwards, there were people playing didgeridoo and others who had a show with fire.
I wished I could go to the markets again on Sunday but then I d already be on a tour.
Friday was pretty relaxed again. I checked out of the hostel and brought my suitcase to the storage room of the Youth Shack, where we’d be staying when we come back from the national parks. We were only allowed to bring a small backpack for the first few days.
Tonight, I’d be able to stay with Andrew. As he lived on the army base, I wouldn’t have been able to walk anywhere without him and therefore that wouldn’t have been very practical during the week. But now it was Friday and so I met him at the Esplanade at 5pm, where an interview, that he organized, with someone who won an award, was taking place. I watched that and also happened to be at the right spot to see the cancer rally cars arrive. They drove from Perth to Darwin and wanted to raise money against cancer.
Andrew and I then drove to the base, where I had to be signed in properly and show my passport. I received a visitor card, which I had to carry with me all the time.
The apartment was one room with a nice bathroom and view of the ocean.
I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to watch the sunset on my last night here and therefore we this time drove to East Point. Again, an extremely pretty setting! Actually reminded me a bit of the rocky beach behind the Romantica Hotel in Mallorca we used to go to when I was a child.
After the sunset, we picked up a woman that had just started working for the army in Darwin. Together, we went to a bar to meet some other friends of Andrew. I was expecting all military people but actually it was the crew from the interview in the afternoon and their other colleagues. So suddenly I was sitting at a table with people from ABC, having a great time, since part of me still wants to work for a radio or tv:)
Before I came to Darwin, I knew nothing about it. But then I was so openly welcomed and had such a great time and I think anybody who went to that city would experience the same.