Warning: Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, I gotta write big old honk’n emails
The original plan was to swing up to
I only had 9 days of traveling, though, so I had to make ’em count. And I found myself metamorphosing into a true backpacker. The whole house went off traveling and before we all left I found myself doing terrible things (like handing out unsolicited advice) and saying things like “10 days? You’d be crazy to bring more than two shirts.” I mean, I’ll check into hostels and see these tourists I refuse to call them backpackers check in with an overstuffed backpack and two overflowing duffel bags and man, that’s just irresponsible, you know? But enough of my whinging, though. I had a blast and I was able to fit a lot of living into those 9 days.
Darwin and the NT is the thinnest chapter in the guidebook, and for good reason. The first thing to know about
The second thing to know about
It’s an interesting place, though. Permitted independent government in 1978, Darwin is more an outpost than anything else. A cyclone literally ripped the entire town down in ’74, so it’s all fairly new buildings. There’s no industry really industry or anything. The most efficient way to get products from one part of the NT to another is big old road-trains. Basically they take a super-powered semi, hook three or four trailers to the back of it, and go hauling off into the Bush. I saw a few, and they honestly scare me there are stories of Kangaroos (which are about the size and structure of a human) getting hit by Road Trains and I won’t say more than that ‘cuz it’s not a happy ending.
But the upside to all the heat is that nobody gets uptight because it’s just too hot to really worry about anything. And it’s tiny, the Ozquivalent of Kirksville, I walked across it in a half hour. Of course, you have to pick the right half hour. Josh the idiot tried to do his little “urban walkabout” during the wrong half hour and almost passed out. A litre of water gone, just like that. When I got to the nearest bus stop, I found three other backpackers waiting to pay $2.40 for ride back downtown, having done the exact same thing I did. We’re funny blokes, we are.
But the NT is pretty much unspoiled by human interaction, so day trips are amazing. I took off for
Tour Guide: “yup, no crocs here. It’s safe to swim”
Seasoned Aussie: “famous last words”
Rest of the Group: “what?” (followed by absolute silence)
True story: two tourists were eaten last year when a tour guide made a mistake. Speaking of killer crocodiles, the NT Museum had a pretty sweet exhibit on Sweetheart, a 17foot croc that didn’t like outboard motors. For about two years, any boat going down the
Fat Pizza is the funniest thing to happen to
So, after my horrible Darwin-Sydney-Perth flights, I was picked up for $0 by my pre-booked hostel. Two hilarious middle-aged sisters picked me up (one worked part time at the hostel for grins). They had pretty wicked back-and-forth: “take
My first impression of
There’s something very rugged and manly about realizing that you’ve only rinsed and re-worn (not changed) you shirt in three days and that you’re in Perth, the most isolated city in the world and you’re on a train for Fremantle to the Freo markets for some cheap foods and a tasty drink and that you’re on the far side of the world, thousands of miles away from even the friends you’ve made in your short time in Oz and tens of thousands of miles from anyone you’ve known more than three months. I liked
Freo was pretty rocking. I walked to the Roadhouse, which is the only civilized place in
I shared my hostel with a few frogs, finally. I don’t want to stereotype anyone (lord knows my American accent gets a few groans), but these Frenchies would turn the room light on at 2AM and talk Paris-talk with full voices across the room to each other really early in the morning like. I didn’t want to hate them, but it’s hard not to. Not to mention their English sucked. I mean sure, my French sucks, but I have been able to wow a few Germans by saying things like Fruhstuck.
I’d like to point out that, while I’ve torn up Australia, I know that I haven’t been out of this first world country and never more than a half hour helicopter flight from a major hospital. Having put that in perspective, I really do feel like Oz has broadened my horizons. Both in little things (Oz culture is incredibly more willing to answer stranger’s questions) and big things (the drinking mentality is a totally 180 degree change; we’re waaay too discouraging, they’re waaay too encouraging). More importantly, though, I’ve traveled and hosteled with the Irish, Israeli, German, Japanese, Finnish, South African, Brazilian, you name it. And it’s not just developed-country people, either. I’m in classes with Papa New Guineans and Ethiopians. Just interacting with them has changed my opinions on some things. It’s been a worthwhile experience.
Switching topics completely, I don’t follow the teachings of Joseph Smith. Or Jesus Christ, for that matter. But a lot of my family does, including my grandpa’s grandpa, Thomas Nelson Fenton. My grandparent’s were kind enough to dig out the records and it turns out old Thom served his mission here back in 1906. So I caught a bus to the nearest LDS church and asked around, realizing too late that my Batman shirt might not have been the best choice of apparel. But I was greeted warmly (far more warmly than expected) and I was able to find traces of Elder Fenton, back when he saw roughly the same thing I saw, 99 years ago. I also ran into some missionaries from good old
I also caught a bus to Jutland, the most expensive real estate in
And I ate at Fast Eddy’s, a pure 50’s American burger joint. The hamburger was delicious, as were the fires. The shake gets an A for effort, but it would’ve been poured down the drain in any American American dinner worth the name. In conclusion, it was good, but Fast Eddy’s won’t make my top 10 list.
I went to the Casino, too, another famous landmark. I gambled $20 and won $10 on my last bet, so I basically made the rich $10 richer. And I rejoiced, because capitalism still works.
Saving the best for last, Top Guns (that’s me referring to myself in third person, it’s a nickname my Aussie housemate gave me ‘cuz of all the pictures I take in my birthday sunglasses) also went scuba diving. That was great. I couldn’t take any pictures for obvious reasons, but it was just like all those discovery channel specials and resort advertisements. It wasn’t the Great Barrier Reef, because that’s technically only from
But I had a great time. It was in the Indian Ocean, so I could point to different patches of water and pretend to make out the outlines of the coasts of Africa,
I did wear a wetsuit, though. Not because it was too cold, but because
After the dive (which was awesome), my dive buddy invited us all back to her and her husband’s place. I can never say no to an Aussie Barbie, so I found myself having a great time in the Northern Suburbs, eating fresh Lobster (they caught it on the dive) and just shooting the bull with the locals.
So that was my trip, in a nutshell.
(two pretty much back-to-back 10-day solo trips is enough to make any man seem a little strange; a few of these pics reflect that)
PS – This should be my last massive, way-to-long sendout I’m el finsh’d with traveling, except for a trip to Brissy and one to Alice Springs, and those are just weekend trips. I might go to NZ to ski, but maybe not.