Australia - Darwin, Kakadu National Park, Devil's Marbles,
Darwin, Northern Territory
It has been ages, and although the Australia leg of our trip seems very far away, I thought I'd try and make up for some lost time! So I'll backtrack to the beginning of May when we left balmy Kota Kinabalu and headed to the Northern Australian city of Darwin...
We arrived in Darwin at the ungodly hour of 4am after revelling in the delights of Singapore airport (free internet!). We were both pretty excited just to be in Australia to be honest! Darwin has quite a pretty harbourside complete with a crocodile-free area which you could swim in, but other than that, we were both looking forward to heading out into some of the national parks and into the outback. We got a room in a hostel with a pool, and did a whole lot of nothing for most of the day. This being a party hostel on the infamous Mitchell Street, we had a few beers(!) with some Irish guys that we met. Darwin was full of people working in Perth for some reason. I went out dancing in a bar which played live (Australian) music, and despite the jetlag, had a fantastic time. In Darwin itself there really wasn't very much to do, the city is very built up and sky-scrapery, and I didn't think that it had very much character. In fact, I can pretty much say that about a lot of cities I've seen in Australia now.
We'd also been told that a lot of aboriginals hang around with not very much to do, and that much was true, and quite depressing. I guess its hard to understand the entirety of the issue when you are just visiting... but all over Australia lots of aboriginals wander around the cities seemingly aimlessly or drunk. Its a real problem here. They've been stripped of their land and everything they know, and they have no incitement to work, as they receive "high" benefits from the government, which has started giving land back to the tribes, who are the official owners of many of the national parks. Culture centres are being set up around the country to raise awareness about the aboriginal traditions as well, but these seem like very small steps in comparison to what these people have lost. I suppose here is not really the place to launch into a political debate though.
So, after a couple of days lounging about in the sunshine, we headed out to Kakadu National Park. It is amazing how Australia is just full of nothingness. The roads just stretch out forever. It is the end of the wet season, so everything is pretty green. We went on a hike up to a lookout, which turned out to be a pretty epic climb. Of course on that day I decided to wear my converse trainers which nearly leads to my plumeting off a cliff - me being me I trip dangerously close to the edge of the lookout and only just catch myself! One day I should really learn how to walk properly. The view itself was actually breathtaking, just miles and miles of clear blue skies and plains. Just picture that rock in the Lion King and that's the kind of view we were looking at.
We spend a last evening in Darwin with some English girls that we met, Laura and Becca. Becca and I wash up on Mitchell Street again, on ladies night at a local bar, which was pretty eventfull...we have an obscenely early start the next morning though, as I think we were heading down South at about 5am. Slightly worse for wear in the bus the next day.
We arrived at the Katherine Gorges later on that day. They are some really stunning canyons which I'm told are a bit like the Grand Canyon in the States. I opted to go for a hike intead of going on a river trip into the Gorges. The weather was so unbelievably hot, but it was great to be outside and hiking (never thought I'd say that). At the end of our hike, we arrived at a beautiful pool with a little waterfall. It was great to dive in after such a long walk. Although, once we'd swam to the other side of the pool, someone yelled that there was a snake in the water. Who knew snakes could swim? I certainly didn't but I can say I've never swam so fast in my life to get out of there! Not that I really needed an excuse to just lounge about on the rocks in the sunshine.
That night I was nominated to cook for our camp and I'm happy to say that no-one got food poisoning. That I know of, anyway. Learning to cook should really figure on my to-do list at this point.
Our trip down south then took us to the Devils Marbles. These are a cluster of red rocks shaped like.... marbles. They look like they've just been dropped in the middle of nowhere. We arrive there at sunrise, and the light is just stunning - really bright oranges and reds. I have so many beautiful photos which I will put up soon. Marianne and I climb to the top of one of these clusters of rocks (and I don't trip over this time).