Here I was Darwin, the home of the crocodile. I got dropped off in Darwin CBD at around 3.30pm. Luckily I was dropped off right outside two hostels. The YHA and another, unfortunately though these were both fully booked. Alice at the YHA though told me to head down the road and there would be many more hostels. So I traipsed my stuff down the street but every hostel I came too was fully booked. I was in a bit of a pickle, but instead of panicking I decided to go for a pint and assess my options. I settled down with my pint of Bullmers and started to search for hostels on my phone, eventually I found one with some dorm space - Melaleuca on Mitchell. So I finished my pint, and then went to find the hostel, I couldn't. I couldn't fathom it, it should have been easy to find but I had no idea. I decided to ask in this place that looked like they sold backpacker tours, turns out that was the hostel I needed. I felt a right div, defo not my finest hour but at least I was there and I checked in.
My first job was to do some washing and have a shower, as on the road trip Daniel and Alice semt to think that one dip in the gorge was enough for a wash for six days! So it's fair to say I stank. After this I explored the main street in Darwin, it reminded me a lot of Spain, or Greece, a very holidayee place, party time, very hot and gorgeous women walking around in bikini's, it looked great fun! I instantly warmed to the place. I had a chilli steak pie, gravy and mushy peas and then went back the hostel for a jug of beer and sort my washing out. Time was getting on and I was pretty knackered so I decided to chill out and watch a movie or two and go bed.
The next day I woke up and booked myself and extra couple of nights in the hostel. I initially only booked one as Daniel and Alice were leaving to go to Melbourne the next day via Alice Springs which I wanted to do to, but after seeing a bit of Darwin I decided I would stay here a few more days as I also wanted to go into the cage of death. This was basically what I did with sharks but with crocodiles instead. So I booked to do this the next day had a Red Rooster and then explored town for a while. On my travels around Darwin I got to see The Old Ruins, The Tree of Knowledge, The Old Courthouse & Police Station, Survivor's Lookout, A Chinese Temple, Government House and Darwin's waterfront. It was a good day.
The next day it was time for Crocosaurus Cove. This was home of the Cage of Death. The Cage of Death is where you go swimming with a crocodile, and I was booked to do this at 1pm. I got there a bit early so I could peruse around. I watched the people before me go in the cage and also watched a snaked being fed. But now it was time for me to go eye to eye with Chopper. It cost $128 extra on top of the $28 entry fee and then if you wanted photos which I was keen for it cost $99. So they know how to charge you for the experience. But in my opinion it was well worth it, Chopper was pretty active, even head butting the cage at one point catching me off guard, and I got 187 great photos from the package and a slightly dodgy video which was my own fault really. But I'd deffo recommend it to anyone. After this I wondered round looking at the other crocs including Burt, who stared in Crocodile Dundee, William and Kate named after Prince William and Kate and they even had a baby croc they named after George. I watched the live Croc feeding, it was a great time and I realised I was now fascinated with crocodiles!
After searching or lifts on gumtree I came up blank, and as much as I loved Darwin I didn't want to waste time and money and crack on with my trip. So that morning I went to Peter Pan's to see what they could offer me in terms of getting to Alice Springs or my final destination Melbourne. I knew I was in trouble when I was getting served by an attractive girl called Sam, I'm pretty sure an attractive girl could sell me anything. So $1400+ later I walked out of the shop with a tour to Lichfield and Kakadoo National Parks. A tour to Alice Springs followed by a trip around Ayr's Rock and King's Canyon and then a bus to Adelaide, followed by a flight to Melbourne. Taing around two weeks in total. I was pretty happy with the trip but it meant I had a few more days extra in Darwin. Sam had raved about the Mindli Beach Markets so I decided to go and check them out, but first I would go and see Fanni Bay Goal Prison, it was free entry, but I'd only recommend it if you had some spare time, especially if you have already seen Freemantle Prison, Fanni Bay Goal has nothing. I then made my way to the markets, I was a bit early as they didn't open until sunset so decided to go in the Casino next door for a coke and get some much needed Air Conditioning. Eventually the markets opened and I made my way across to them. The market was ok, but after Sam had ranted and raved about it I expected a lot more.
As much as I was loving Darwin, I had just about seen and done everything I wanted to see and was struggling to initiate myself in any social groups. This mainly was because in my six bedroom dorm, I was with 5 German's who didn't give me the time of day and constantly spoke German. From my trip from the west coast and Northern Territory I was beginning to have a strong dislike for Germans. The ones I had met of late with the exception of Daniel and Alice were rude, obnoxious and just hard work. Luckily though Friday night I was sat on the computer and was joined by a couple from Stoke, Ashley (Who looked rather like a young Eidur Gudjohnsen) and Cheris (Who disappointed me with her lack of praise for Arctic Moneys front man Alex Turner). Soon an Aussie bird from Perth joined us called Lisa and we had a few beers together, which ended up with us four having an impromptu pool party. It was a good night.
The next day followed a similar pattern. I got up feeling a little worse for wear, chilled out and then had a few beers with Ash and his missus. They were a nice couple who had been working in Perth for 6-7 months and were now heading down the east coast to spend their savings. Again we had another good night playing card games and having a few drinks.
Sunday was fairly quiet again chilling out and catching the rays of the 37 degree heat. Then I had to pack for my 3 day, 2 night tour to Lichfield and Kakadoo National Parks which I had to get up at 5.45am for. In better news though the fiver Germans had all moved out and I was joined by some new people, two of whom a couple Chris (had a great beard) and Alice (Had great boobs) I shared a few Coronas with that night.
After a restless night sleep it was tour time, I was eager to see who I'd be joined with on tour. I was hoping for the Swedish Women's Volleyball who like to walk around naked. Or just a bunch of other fun-loving backpackers, hopefully none of them German. But when I got on the mini-bus I was greeted by a bunch of old people, out of the 11 in our group I was probably fourth youngest at 29! I feared the worse, but there was no need they were all quality. So let me introduce you to my fellow group firstly there was a Scottish couple 70+ Bernard (Talked like an old Ewan McGregor) and Helen both lovely, then there was Sheryl, another old lady was on the trip while her fella was doing business was really nice and offered people places to stay in Melbourne if they were passing through. Then there was an Austrian couple Chritina and Dietmar, they spoke little English but were nice. Then there were German's, three of them in total. Two 41-year old friends from school Helga and Ina. I came to the conclusion these were Lesbians, I had no proof and purely based my decision on that one was butch. The other German perhaps became my closest friend throughout the trip Simone. She had been working on a cattle station and had popped to Darwin to do the tour, before meeting her brother in Cairns and travelling the East Coast. And last but by no means least was a Danish couple Christian and Signe. Signe looked really familiar, I immediately thought it was because she looked like my good friend Adam Frith's girlfriend Amanda, but by the end of the trip I was saying more toward Kimberley Nixon the Welsh actress who plays Josie in Fresh Meat. But by the end of the trip I wasn't fully satisfied who I think she looked like. But these pair were a very nice couple. And we were led by a top tour guy called Jarred, who had the kinda smile Jack Turner gives when he is up to mischief.
Day 1 on the tour we visited Litchfield National Park and first visited the Magnetic Termite Mounds, these weren't named this because they were actually magnetic but because they all face North! We then visited Wangi Falls and Florence Falls which were both beautiful. We then had a bbq dinner stop where we got to know each other a bit more and got to hold a small children python. That afternoon we got a flat tyre and 23 year old German backpacker Simone shocked everyone by helping Jarred change his back tyre. It didn't half make you feel less of her man watching her help. That afternoon we did cruise of the Mary River spotting crocodiles, fresh water and saltwater, birds and other wildlife. At two hours I thought it went on perhaps too long, plus I didn't really care for the bird talk I just wanted more information on crocodiles to satisfy my fascination. Camp that night was also much better than I expected a tent with two single beds, fan, wooden floor, and power, it was just like a hotel room. So after a steak dinner we retreated to bed as we had another early start the next day.
The second day of the tour after a breakfast of cereals and toast took us to Kakadoo National Park. We first went to Ubirr where we viewed a wide range of Aboriginal art and climbed the Nadab lookout where we saw some awesome views of the floodplain and beyond into Arnhem Land. After lunch we went to Maguk (Barramundi Gorge) where we did a short hike through a monsoon forest and rocky creek to view the amazing waterfall and cooled off with a swim. Jarred and the Danes, were doing jumps of a rock about 5m high, I really wanted to join and wish I did but truth be told I was too lazy to get out and climb out, I was enjoying the water too much. That night the camp wasn't as good as the previous as it had no fan or power plus I accidently created an Ant's nest on my bed. How you ask? Well I had some bread in my bag, which ants had decided to invade, in the dark emptying my bag on to my bed I didn't realise this leading to th ant invasion on my bed giving me a very itchy night.
We had to be up at 4.30am the next day as were were to make our way to Twin Falls and Jim Jim Falls before the long drive back to Darwin. We experienced some real 4wd driving over rocks, through rivers and up and down steep banks and then made twin falls we had to pay an extra $12.50 for a boat trip there where the guide basically said things we had already learnt but unfortunately there was no other way to see twin falls than too get this boat. After a while relaxing and enjoying the tranquillity we made our way to jim jim falls where we walked through a monsoon forest and a tricky boulder path to the plunge pool surrounded by 150 meter cliffs. It was amazing and well worth the walk. I followed the Danes recapturing my youth breezing over the boulders, understanbly the older members of our group took a while to catch up and by then we were already enjoying what has become known as the jewel of Kakadu National Park. After a swim and some jumps off a 2 meter rock we made our way back and headed back to Darwin. I was staying in the same hostel as Simone and The Danes (Who I was pretty sure I was heading on the same tour with to Alice Springs on Saturday) When we got back I arranged to go out for dinner with The Austrians and Simone and we went to an Italian which was very nice. Simone and I then headed to Monsoons to meet up with two of her gigantic friends Rachel and I can't remember the others name but they were both about 6 foot 4. I felt like I was in Jack and the Beanstalk. We had a few beers and then I said farewell to Simone as she was off to catch a flight to Cairns to meet her bro.
The next two days back in Darwin I did nothing much but chill, have beers with Ashley and Cherise where we shared stories of our past few days, and I went to Outback Jacks for a steak, which was rather disappointing. I also visited three pubs I always wanted to visit, The Tap, Shenanigans and The Deck. I also hoped to meet up with the Danes, but only managed brief meetings coming or going. Like I said I had taken a shine to this couple, they had only just got to Australia and I wanted to offer them advice on their travels and to keep in touch. I did though think that they would be on my tour to Alice so all was good. My last night in Darwin was an eventful after a solitary jug of beer, farewell drinks with Ash and Cherise I got an early night because I was leaving early the next day. I was pretty restless all night, and then a drunk guy I think starts taking a piss at the end of my bed then trys getting in bed with me, after my refusal he gets in bed with the girl across the other side, it was really random and a reminder to funny things that can happen in hostel life.
I woke up after a poor night's sleep, and made my way to my bus, to my horror the Danes were not on my tour. It was 6.30am I didn't really know what to do, I was sat on a bus, an there were to Danes outside I wanted to stay in touch with but never swapped contact details. I scrambled around for a pen and managed to quickly jot down my details to pass on to them. Hopefully we ould see each other again sometime.
But now it was time to head to central Australia on a 22 hour bus with no ipod or book!
So until next time stay safe and take care