Onto A New Territory…Oz!

We’ve been having an amazing time since our last post but no time to update you all until now, so here we go!

Our final night in Bali was spent around the table for our last group meal in Asia. We were ready to change continents with a flight to Darwin that evening, so our minibuses picked us up at around 7.30pm and took us to the airport for our 11pm flight. We landed in the Northern Territory at around 3am and 20 minutes later arrived at our hostel – the ‘Youth Shack’ on Darwin’s Mitchell Street.

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At 11am the next morning we got up and had breakfast – cheese on toast with real cheese and thick fluffy bread! I was most excited about being able to have some Sultana Bran cereal with fresh milk – something we hadn’t had for over four months. Australia was making a good impression already!

We spent the rest of the day exploring the local vicinity. The first observation we made about Darwin was that it was so spacious and clean! We walked around Bicentennial Park – a lush green public space by the coast.

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There were hardly any people around and it was really peaceful – just a few joggers and people reading books. The views of the sea were absolutely gorgeous – it was so blue and stretched for miles.

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We got a bit peckish whilst walking around so took a diversion to the main street and found a bar/restaurant called Monsoons. They had a 241 offer on pizzas so Rich went in to order and came out with a jug of beer! Apparently the ‘hot girl’ behind the bar offered him two pizzas and a jug of beer for just $25 so he couldn’t say no!

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After we’d eaten we went back to the park to continue our walk and had a look at the World War I & II plaques and memorial monument. Darwin was of major importance during the Second World War during Australia’s efforts to hold off the Japanese so there are lots of sites dotted around the park and the city itself, dedicated to the people who fought against them.

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The park leads down to Lameroo beach – a small, natural beach with no tacky deck chairs or sun loungers to be found – just rocky sand and clear waters. We couldn’t go in for a dip unfortunately as December is the season for the deadly Box Jellyfish!

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Instead we went back to the hostel to have a swim in their swimming pool before heading to ‘Coles’ supermarket – a slightly more expensive version of Tesco – to stock up on supplies for Kakadu National Park the next day!

The next morning we feasted on bacon sarnies and met our Aussie guide Mark – a stereotypical Aussie bloke in shorts, boots and a wide brimmed hat! We set off for Kakadu in the bus, stopping off near the Adelaide River for a ‘Jumping Crocodile Cruise’, which Richard took part in. It was brilliant – the guide on the boat explained all about Crocodiles, how their numbers are increasing and their way of life, before dunking in bits of fresh(ish) meat for them to devour!!

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I, in the meantime stayed behind and played with Oliver… the Python!!

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We then visited the Windows on the Wetlands centre – which featured lots of information about the area and the wildlife that thrives there. From there we went to a lookout point where we watched the wetlands to see if we could spy any of the indigenous birds that live in the ponds and trees.

After the lookout point, Mark drove us to Ubirr – a site full of ancient aboriginal rock art. We trekked to several ‘galleries’ showing drawings that were hundreds to thousands of years old. The drawings were a fascinating insight into the past lives of the aboriginals and their way of life.

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Part of the trek at Ubirr involved walking up to the rock cliffs where scenes from the movie Crocodile Dundee were filmed! The view across the National Park was awesome!

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Once our day of sightseeing was over, we headed to our campsite for the night, near the town of Jabiru. We all had two-man tents for the night which were already put up for us and tucked into our first Aussie group meal of steak, potato salad, bread rolls etc etc… it was so scrummy and for once there was plenty to go around!!!  That night we hardly got any sleep – it was so hot and sticky in the Outback! Plus we were keeping alert for any dangerous spiders and snakes that may have come wandering into our tent!

The next morning we headed off to another part of Kakadu and visited the Park’s visitor centre. Here we watched a film about the different seasons that Kakadu enjoys and the effect this has on its wildlife and landscape.

It was then time to visit another of the region’s famous art sites, Nourlangie, where we saw the first examples of ‘contact art’ – the aboriginal’s first encounter with white men – before walking to the Gunwarddehwardde Lookout for fantastic views of the escarpment.

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Once we left there we headed to Bowali Visitor Centre where we learnt a bit more about the Aboriginal beliefs behind the drawings, including the Dreamtime Legends that have been passed down through the generations.

We were soon on our way to Katherine, stopping at a small town called Pine Creek on the way – it was exactly how you would imagine a typical ‘outback’ town to look like – completely empty!

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Mark, our guide, also pulled over en route for us to photograph a giant termite mound!

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Our camping ground for the night was just outside Katherine and once again we all had twin tents. One of the most exciting things for us about that night was the fact that we used our camping stove for the first time and cooked chicken and pasta soup for dinner!

The rest of the evening was spent chatting to some of the others before we turned in for the night. We’ve had an absolutely amazing introduction to Australia – Darwin and Kakadu have more than exceeded our expectations and we are really excited about what’s coming next as we continue our journey ‘down under’..!

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