After leaving the Mary River we headed in towards Darwin. We visited an incredible wetlands centre that was completely designed for children. It was all interactive and hands-on and extremely interesting. We left there to have a quick lunch at Fogg Dam (a man-made wetland) then drove to the nearby Adelaide River Jumping Croc Cruise! Our host/guide and driver was a local man who had been doing the cruises for many years. He was a very friendly, easy-going and calm character and knew and treated all the crocs like they were his pets, which of course, they pretty much were! We were able to see about 6 different crocs jump as well as the terrifying but wonderful Brutus. Brutus was thought to be about 100 and had barely any teeth left! Not that it has stopped him eating some enormous meals such as a bull-shark and more recently a wild pig. We also got to see some baby crocs on the river bank all covered in mud, they were cute! After the cruise we headed in to Howard Springs, an outer suburb of Darwin, to the Big 4 caravan park to set up. We spent the afternoon at the amazing water park, compete with up-turning bucket, and the resort pool they have in the park.
Our first full day in Darwin was to restock food and fuel and get a few things for ourselves and the van that can only be found in a bigger centre. I think we had spent about $1000 before lunchtime! Ouch! We then headed into Darwin city itself for lunch on the waterfront. Its been beautifully done, very much like Newcastle harbour but not as big. After lunch we spent the afternoon at the Wavepool! It was heaps of good, clean, cheap fun! It cost $18 for the whole family for as long as you pleased. You could come and go all day if you liked. Once we'd worn the boys out we drove out to the famous Mindil Markets on the beach. The markets were great, with loads of interesting stalls and tons of different food. I met my old friend and gymnastics coach there for tea on the beach, chatting away while the sun set. After the sun went down all the performers (fire dancers and jugglers etc) came to life and entertained the crowds as we polished off ice-creams for dessert. As we drove home that night we saw an almost full moon rise and it was red! A first for us.
The next day we spent exploring the shores of Darwin, which were stunning and then at the two FREE, yes completely free, waterparks. One had 3 curly covered slides, a huge walk-in pool plus toddler pools. The boys convinced me to have a go at the 'red' slide which they neglected to tell me was pitch black! I screamed all the way down! The entire park heard me I think. Needless to say I didn't go on that one again. We spent about 2 hours there. The second waterpark, a short drive away, had a 6 lane bumpy speed-slide and a water play-pad for younger children, where Lachie spent his time going down the toddler slide over and over again. I got my revenge by beating the boys on the speed slides every time! Another two hours there and we were well and truly wrinkly and tired!
The following day was a little more relaxed, the boys spending the morning fishing and we all spent the afternoon swimming. That evening we were all excited to head to the Speedway! Not having been to one in many years Ben and I couldn't wait to relive the sounds of the engines, the smell of the fuel and dust and the taste of the Pluto Pups!! It was a fantastic night, the boys loving the fast and noisy cars and wild stacks! I am holding my cousin Luke to his promise to build one in Newie again if he wins the lotto!!!!