The Darwin Stubby

Trip Start Mar 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 11, 2011

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Where I stayed
Alice in the Territory Lodge

Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Friday, May 13, 2011

The idea was to sleep in as long as possible this morning in Darwin after the past day, but since we went to bed at that same time as most 5 year olds, we were up at 9am. This gave us time to clean up, pack our bags, and start to walk to town when we checked with the front desk to see when checkout was.  Luckily we did this as we found out that checkout was at 10am (this is a common theme throughout Australia, not sure why they need you out of there so early).  So we quickly went right back upstairs so we could put our bags in storage instead of leave them in the room.  Afterwards, we made the short two block walk to the center of town.  Darwin is a fairly small place with about 6 square blocks of stores and restaurants on the water.  We found a restaurant called 'The Ducks Nuts' to have breakfast.  This was when we realized just how expensive Australia is.  A typical American breakfast of eggs, bacon, and toast costs $13 Australian dollars.  I guess this wouldn’t be too bad in the old days when the exchange rate was 1 USD equaled 1.5 AUD.  But now the Australian dollar is stronger than the US dollar. 

Once we finished breakfast we decided to walk around the rest of the town.  Our first stop was an aboriginal art gallery. The aboriginal paintings are really cool, mostly consisting of dots and lines which depict everyday life of hunting and religious ceremonies.  We found quite a few we liked, but all were outside of our flashpacker budget.  Instead we decided to buy a painted boomerang (because every true Australian has a boomerang and we wanted to fit in) to go on our wall of travel items (will sit next to our African mask).  Next we went to a few other stores, stocking up on toiletries (since we were finally in what is considered a western country) and other souvenirs.  But we eventually ran out of time and had to hustle back to the hostel in order to get picked up by the shuttle driver to the airport for our flight to Alice Springs.  The shuttle driver was a former guide in Uluru, so he told us all about the poisonous animals we were sure to see on our tour in a few days.  He also confirmed that the tour we were taking was the best run (thanks former tour guide who is now driving a shuttle bus in Darwin). 

We were headed to Alice Springs, the unofficial capital city of the Australian Outback.  It’s smack dab in the middle of the Northern Territory and a few hours’ drive from some famous national parks and sights in the outback.  There are several different activities and tours you can take from the Alice (what locals call the town) so we were gearing up for ours.  We had plenty of time to wait at the small airport so we visited the bar for some cold beverages.  Amy's beer came with a scratch off ticket and she won a stubby holder (we call them beer koozies in the US).  She was pretty excited about that.  We also sampled the local fast food chips (french fries) at Red Rooster that has the reputation of being the best around.  We weren't disappointed! 

The flight to Alice Springs was right on time and fairly uneventful.  There was not a cloud in the sky which gave me a great view of the landscape.  The outback is pretty barren with only a road once in a while which goes as far as the eye can see.  Once we landed, we made our way towards baggage claim to collect our bags and noticed a man holding a sign with our name on it.  We booked the hotel through our Uluru tour company.  They recommended two hotels, one backpacker hotel with dorms and another that was an actual hotel.  Being lazy, I didn’t feel like looking up other hotels, so I booked the hotel, Alice in the Territory.  Apparently it came with free airport shuttle service.  Once we got to the hotel, Amy breathed a big sigh of relief.  It was much nicer than our last two hotels in Singapore and Darwin, and will be a nice treat after camping out in the outback for two nights.  The only problem was the hotel was 2km’s from town and the reception area closed at 10pm and reopened at 6am.  We were being picked up for the tour at 5:50am the next day and could only take a small backpack with our stuff, so we had to put our big packs in storage at 10pm the night before. 

After separating our clothes into what we will need to take on our 3 day camping trip and what we can leave behind, we went back to reception to figure out how to go to town.  We asked the receptionist what was the best way to get there, whether by bike rentals (which they had out front) or walking.  She gasped and told us that she highly suggests we take a taxi as it can get dangerous at night.  I kind of laughed at her, thinking how bad could it be, we just came from Asia and I was born and raised in west Philadelphia (or maybe it was just west of Philadelphia).  But we humored her and asked for her to call a taxi.  The company didn’t pick up the phone for thirty minutes, but once they did we had a taxi in no time.  We finally made it to the center of town at 6:10, which was 10 minutes after a majority of the stores closed (wish the receptionist told us this).   

The grocery store was open, so we were able to get bottles of water for the camping tour along with breakfast.  We also went to a few different liquor stores to pick up a Darwin Stubby.  The Darwin Stubby is a 2 liter bottle of beer (the biggest bottle of beer in Australia) that is popular in this part of the country.  Our tour guide in Darwin told us there are annual competitions to see who can drink it the fastest and the current record by a human (the real record is held by a cow) is 90 seconds.  When I heard about this, I immediately wanted to see how I stacked up, but was too tired to get one in Darwin the one night we were there.   I was promised we could find them in Alice Springs, but wasn’t having any luck.  Instead we decided to grab dinner at a noodle place.  We were just 2 days out of Asia and were already craving the food again.  The place had some interesting characters out front, so this must have been what the receptionist was talking about.  After dinner we made our way to Kmart in order to look for a bag to pack in as our day packs were too small and we wanted another bag to hold all the junk we have purchased since Bangkok.  We found that buying a bag is cheaper than shipping home at this point.  Once finished we got in a cab to go back to the hotel, but I decided to give it one last chance and asked the taxi driver where I can get a Darwin Stubby and he pulled up to a bar that was called Bo Jangles Saloon with the old west doors.  It was quite the interesting bar inside, but I was only there for 1 minute and for 1 reason.

We made it back to the hotel and only had a few short hours to repack and use the computer before putting it in storage.  Amy had some blogging to do, which gave me adequate time to drink 2 liters of beer by myself.  In Australia, they measure beers by alcohol.  So one type of beer will be 1.5 standard drinks while another will be .8 standard drinks.  That doesn’t mean that the total volume is higher, it just means it contains more alcohol.  One standard beer is 12 ounces of 4% alcohol.  The Darwin Stubby is 7.7 standard drinks.  I took out my itouch to set on the timer, took the beer out of the box it came in, and popped the top.   I started the clock and off I went.  Typically drinking 2 liters of beer isn’t a major problem for me.  I was able to do it in Shanghai when we were at Hofbrauhaus.  But this beer was very cold (as I just took it out of the fridge), I was drinking it straight out of the bottle (which means I was taking in a lot of air), and I was trying to consume it fast.  So let’s just say that I wasn’t able to break any records by drinking it in 90 seconds, but I was happy with my 37 minute time.  Once finished it was getting close to the 10pm mark, so we took our bags to storage and went to bed as we were being picked up very early the next day.  Let’s just say I had no problem falling asleep. 
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