14th May 2012 - 17th May 2012
Alarm set very early, had a long hot shower then headed all the way to Darwin, it was 969km and took us exactly 12 hours. It was a long drive with more of the same but we passed by hundreds of bush fires which were close to the road, the flames licking up and branches crackling with the heat and the smoke rose high into the clear blue sky.
It was 33 degrees in Darwin when we arrived and it didn't cool down much come bed time. As it took us 12 hours straight driving we didn't do much the first night, it was so hot in the van and the fan only could help a little. Shannon could not handle the temperature, we ended up leaving the door a jar but it was no use, I was fine to sleep in my sweat but Shannon couldn't stop moaning, it was too much. The next day still as hot but with a little breeze, we went sightseeing. Darwin was bombed during world war 2. Infact compared to Pearl Harbour which had been attacked a week before- it had more bombs dropped,it had more planes attacked, it had more ships sunk, and more loss of life. First stop was the Military Museum with vivid videos, real bombs and army vehicles, and weapons as well as letters and uniforms from the vile, horrendous Japs (so many more words I could use but I'm not racist).
Then we went to Survivors Lookout and read more about the devastation on Darwin and the harbour. We then went walking inside the Oil Tunnels which were dug out by hand to store fuel, after the ships which held the fuel had been bombed, however it took them 3 years to make the tunnels and by then the war was over! It was used it the 70s to store aircraft fuel but that wasn't for long. The tunnels were massive, the longest being 170 metres. We walked along the damp underground tunnels looking at photos from the war. The tunnels took us out near the newly renovated wharf, had a walk around and then a nice cold beer awaited us.
Darwin is a really nice place and surprised us at how big and commercial it is. Treated ourselves to a few nights in 'Chilli Backpackers' on the main drag of Mitchell Street, got our own room with air conditioning, it was lush, Shannon could just not handle the heat in the van. We went on a tour to Litchfield Park with a company called Litchfield Dreams. There was 12 of us on a mini bus and we went to lots of different places throughout the day. First we visited Fogg Dam and seen swamps and lots of bird life.
Then we went on 'Spectacular Jumping Croc Cruise', where we sailed down the Adelaide River, we seen so many crocodiles lurking in the water and sunbathing on the muddy banks. We went right up to the crocodiles and our chef dangled bit of boney meat above them, they jumped 2 metres out of the water to snap at their prey. It really was amazing to see! We also watched as huge eagles swooped down and took the meat from the stick too. Also seen some huge, brave water buffaloes treading a near by lake.
Also included in our trip was the opportunity to hold a real, live snake! Shannon said no straight away as snakes are his biggest fear. I decided I had to (when else might I get the chance). So I stood whilst a 3 metre long Olive Python was wrapped round my neck like a scarf. I panicked for the whole 3 minutes whilst the rest of our group watched on, scared for their own turn. I was surprised by how smooth the pythons skin was, but the whole experience freaked me out. Then we got the chance to hug a baby wallaby which was more up Shans street so he tried that.
Then we headed to the Termite Mounds which are scattered all over the NT but these ones were pretty big, over 4 metres tall, they are nests for white ants and other insects and are made using their pee, poo and spit (and some grass). And these tall ones will have taken over 60 years to build. We seen both types, the cathedral mounds which are red in colour and ones which resembled grey tombstones.
Next stop was Wangi Falls, which only opened today after the wet season. It's closed then due to the high water coming from the river and bringing saltwater 'salties' crocodiles swim into the falls. Now it's safe, except for the freshwater 'freshies' crocodiles which only eat fish- supposedly. The falls were pretty spectacular- and that's something coming from me, as I'm bored with waterfalls, walks/treks etc. I've done and seen too many.
After a picnic lunch we set off but the mini bus broke down, until the driver managed to fix it half hour later. But we were all saying how dodgy it was to be broken down in the middle of the outback. We stopped at Florence Falls, a cool 25 metres worth of rushing water plummeting down the cliff.
Last stop of the day was Buley Rock Holes, a string of cascading rock pools which you slid down one to the other or jumped into the deep parts. Our driver showed us and some girls how to rub rocks to make a clay mask as it had some kind of minerals, however upon seeing a group of aboriginal kids he panicked and told us to quickly scrub our faces as it appeared to be racist and he'd got into trouble before.
The next day we checked out from the hostel and went some more sightseeing. The weather is marginally cooler now which is great. We went to the Art Gallery and Museum of NT. It had everything from stuffed lizards, birds, fish to a ginormous croc which was caught and stuffed in the 70s. We seen footage and photos of Cyclone Tracy which devastated Darwin on Christmas Day 1974. It was the biggest thing to happen in Oz. We also visited Fannie Bay Gaol, a prison which also carried out executions, and we went into the room where two had taken place- the gallows still there.
Spent the rest of the afternoon lazing by a big lake and at night went to the famous Mindl Sunset Beach Markets. Where there was hundreds of stalls selling lots of Asian foods, I ended up buying a yummy Chinese. Shan went straight for the one and only Crocodile Burger! It is white meat and tasted a little different but still nice. We watched the huge glowing sun head to bed for the night before buying some treats like a croc bracelet. Stayed in the van at night as it was slightly cooler.