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Posts from the ‘Northern Territory’ Category

Welcome to the Land of the Rainbow Serpent

Kakadu National Park has always been on the top of the list of places to visit…and it turned out to be as exciting as I had imagined.

First of, I’m still expecting to find myself back at work any day. No doubt Thorsten feels the same as he tells me about potential projects he could undertake at work – only to realise we finished our jobs a week ago…

With this mentality travelling becomes unfortunately a check-list consisting of items you want to tick off before getting back to your desk.

When I listened to the story from Aboriginal Australians living in the region that we now call Kakadu National Park the feeling of urgent ticking off vanished for a while.

The rainbow serpent, in their mind, is the spirit that created the landscape and nature during dreamtime – and still does. With every wet season when rivers flood entire valleys the rainbow serpent once again reshapes the land.

Kakadu is a wonderful place if you enjoy climbing along rocky river beds or up steep valley cliffs. Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls are probably on everyones list. My favourite place is Gunlom where the Rainbow Serpent lives at the bottom of the waterfall. If you don’t believe me, go and visit it yourself!

The Battle of Merle
Apart from the romantic spirit-shaping-thoughts another quite severe experience took my mind off my past Darwin existence: The battle of Merle.

Merle is a camp ground in the north of the national park. If you ever decide to visit this region I can recommend to take a trip to Ubirr and see the ancient rock paintings, which narrate so many stories worth knowing. But stay clear of the Merle camp ground!

I’m rarely overtly critical, but the battle between Thorsten, me and the one billion mosquitoes at Merle was a blood bath (literally) and let me just say that we certainly didn’t win and I’m still scratching my scars.

Goodbye Darwin – Hello Butterfly

When Thorsten and I finally had to say goodbye to work and flatmates in Darwin we had to admit that it certainly is sad to say goodbye to this tranquil place.

Whilst uprooting ourselves was nothing compared to leaving Sydney, we both felt rather shell-shocked once we hit the road again.

Easing ourselves into the vagabond life we felt we really needed a transition period and checked into the Butterfly Farm in Batchelor. This little retreat is a one hour drive south of Darwin and offers pretty cabins and lovely food amongst a beautiful tropical garden.

What’s more relaxing than listening to the soft flapping of butterfly wings or the trickling of a waterfall? After a little while of watching the excited and slightly erratic flight path of a magically blue Ulysses I still feel sad, but can already feel the taste of adventure coming right back…

Finding a Little Gem

Have you ever noticed that there are amazing places to visit
and places that are fantastic to live in? I’ve noticed that mostly a place falls in either of these categories and not both…

What I mean is this, six months ago when we reached
Darwin I was excited about visiting the Top End. The prospect of visiting cafes and shopping centres was thrilling after having travelled through a stretch of remoteness. The city felt like luxury and my modest needs were met pronto (e.g. good coffee, the occasional shopping spree and movies).

If big entertainment like concerts, theatre, museums or
extravagant shopping opportunities is what makes you want to pack your suitcase and visit a place then Darwin probably wouldn’t be the destination on your flight ticket.

This doesn’t deter the curious backpackers or campervan travellers
who frequent the city. Whilst I’m considering myself as part of that category I am wondering how these travellers perceive Darwin. It is after all a long way that we have travelled to finally arrive in Darwin with a modest selection of things mentioned above.

While the city may not be able to compete with Sydney or Melbourne on a metropolitan contest, it is still quite a gem. To me it shines in a very different light when you stay to work.

The last couple of days on my ten minute walk to work I was trying to put my finger on what it is that is so appealing. Maybe, I was thinking, it’s the dry season, which is pretty much what Northern Europeans would call a never ending hot summer. In terms that Sydneysiders are familiar with the dry season compares to an unusually warm day in spring, only that it lasts for 5 months. In other words, it’s damn
perfect!

Here are a few other things I really enjoy that make this place so special:

Sitting on the Esplanade
This stretch of greenery is a two minute walk from my office. Sometimes when Thorsten doesn’t have time to meet me for lunch (which I should add to this list of why I enjoy Darwin) I grab a
sandwich and relax here whilst munching my lunch. Looking out over the sea clears any headache, doesn’t it?

Deckchair cinema
This independent cinema screens all sorts of old, new and slightly uncommercial movies. The deckchairs may not be comfortable for
everyone’s derrière, but there is plenty of cushions available to help out. The hot food on sale is ok and byo picnics are welcomed. http://www.deckchaircinema.com.au/

 

Mornings at the Waterfront
Lot’s of different restaurants offer scrumptious breakfasts
in this little precinct – one of my favourites to go to on a Saturday. The wave pool is great entertainment and the lagoon is a rare croc free place to splash around. http://www.waterfront.nt.gov.au/

Almost too many markets to poke a stick at
Darwinites have a never ending love affair with markets.
Whilst some of the stalls are reoccurring visitors to all of them, each and everyone is definitely worth checking out. All of them sell food and anything from clothes, art, craft and jewellery. Nightcliff, Rapid Creek and Parap Markets on Saturday and Sunday mornings is offering fresh fruit and vegetables. Mindle Market on Sunday arvos is a great place to watch the sunset and enjoy some local life
entertainment to conclude the weekend.

Star Village
This little arcade is tucked away in Smith Street Mall. My
two favourite shops are the coffee place Four Birds and the chocolate shop Pure Indulgence. http://www.tropicaldarwin.com/Star-Village-Darwin-Mall.htm

Hidden Treasure – “The Toyshop”

Today’s story is dedicated to my best friend in Sydney who is going through a very difficult time. I’m thinking of you and hope this will put a smile on your lovely face!

When you’re the new kid in town it’s nice to learn from the locals where the places of interest are. By that I don’t mean the obvious localities usually marked as “places of interest” on tourist maps. Fans of quirky, amazing, or off-the beaten track venues in Darwin may want to peruse this blog. Without wanting to reinvent the wheel I may have a little treasure to add.

Although Thorsten and I had vouched at the beginning of our journey that we wouldn’t seek employment for a while, things have turned out differently. Darwin has greeted us with plenty of interesting opportunities and embracing these has been a very good decision. I came across this hidden treasure exactly here, at work, while I was busily looking after the reception of a bustling local mining company.

Mining, as many know, is one of the major industries in the Northern Territory and the family company I worked for had been around since the 70’s. Its owner had grown his business with a lot of dedication to quite an empire, obviously being a lot more passionate about heavy-duty trucks and hardworking blokes in high visibility vests than I may ever be.

His lesser known fascination is one that I did share. At first though I couldn’t quite work out what his staff were referring to when they were whispering in awe about “The Toyshop”. It turned out that, tucked away on an inconspicuous lot in Darwin’sindustrial area, “The Toyshop” was a privately run garage and display. Inside this magical place semi-retired mechanics infused new life into very, very old cars.

Seeing this incredible collection of restored vintage vehicles is truly breathtaking and took me by absolute surprise. Had I known the level of love and care that was put – not only into the cars, but the entire garage – I would have taken a decent camera with me. Unfortunately I only had my phone, which means these images aren’t the best. I still had to take pics to proof myself that “The Toyshop” wasn’t a heat infused hallucination.

As this place isn’t advertised and only people who know the owner may view this precious collection, many visitors to Darwin probably don’t even know what they’re missing out on. Well, should you be in town anytime in the near future let me know!

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In a state of constant sweat, or, the definition of hot

Yes, yes, yes. It’s been ages since the last update and without further dwelling on this fact, let me tell you about Darwin, where we’ve spent the last couple of months.

What’s really remarkable about Darwin is the weather – and I’m usually not the kind of person that can spend hours on this topic. Yet, I feel I need to dedicate a bit of time to explain…

Describing sensations is quite hard. You could say “stepping into the outside feels like you’re hitting a wall” or “it’s like someone punching your lungs”, but then, really, how often do you run into walls or get punched up so you could relate to this sensation?

 So, let me put it this way, you know you’ve reached the tropics when the local radio station is called “Hot-FM”. It is so hot that the nail polish on your toes easily reverts back to a liquid state so that the sand from the beach can stick to it (makes a fabulous look by the way, but is very hard to get off).

It is perfectly normal that the combination of heat and humidity lets you break into heavy sweating even after the shortest activity. Let me share another story to exemplify this. The other day I got to the officer after the lunch break and a colleague asked me “Oh, is it raining outside?” because THAT’s how much I was sweating. Well, I know, this is quite gross, but now you get the picture… 

 

 

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