World Trip, Part 6 - Northern Territory
Trip Start Jul 30, 2008
21Trip End May 02, 2009
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Naturally, I had a funny feeling that I would pay for it (hee hee), and in my lush state, I smacked the wind out of my alarm clock in the early AM, and woke up with 45 minutes to catch my next plane. So, I missed the cheap bus, and settled for an expensive cab ride to the airport. Just as well, I am getting too old to be running for a bus in the rain to save a few bucks.
(Of course, the cab ride led me to my burning question-of-the-universive #45: Why is it that 99.9% of all cab drivers are either Indian or Pakis????? I mean....am I missing something? Geez. It's like Indian/Paki to a cab, like a fly is to shit in this world! And, what is it with them always trying to rip you off!
Welcome to the Northern Territory - Australia!
I could feel in in the air.....the Australia I remember. And, even tho I arrived shaken, stirred, and white-knuckled, I would be right!
Getting off the plane in Darwin in what they call "The Top End" is like basking in the 45C summer in Houston, Texas. Be prepared to go thru about three T-shirts a day!
What an awesome little town this is. Altho, somewhat sleepy. I arrived at my backpackers and was shocked and amazed - disgusting. It seems I met a whole hooplah of backpackers whose mothers forgot to teach them to clean up after themselves. Holy pigstye, batman! (You know I am not a prude, and I know some of you very well also, meaning that you would put up with a little dirt and grime here and there, but even YOU would not tolerate the slop and mess I found here in the kitchen and dorms at my first hostel). Who knows what was growing in the kitchen, etc., but I finally had to pull out my rubber gloves and my 10-foot pole! Yuckers!
(By the way....that pole is a bitch to pack!) :)
Immediately, I set out to check out another backpackers with Alejandro, Peruvian backpacker. The next one we found was gorgeous (on the outside) with a super awesome bar, restaurant and swimming pool. Wait...was this Palm Springs? I immediately paid for the following nite here.
OK, so Darwin is known for its tours to Kakdu (Kackadoodledo) National Park, but I just didn't like the focus of this trip, so I settled for the less touristy and probably more spectacular option: Litchfield National Park. Up again at the butt crack of dawn without barely a coffee in me, I met the bus and some other travellers for a day away from Darwin. Thru the mango droves we sailed, and during the day we spotted wild kangeroos (my first time), and wallabees. Very cool. I opted for the croc add-on, which include an informative and awesome boat ride up the croc river to feed the crocs. It was fan-flippin tastic for me, someone who has never seen one in the wild. Then, we were off for a couple of hikes, and another couple stops at not one but two waterfalls and swimming holes. Then, to see the termite mounds, which really look like giant dinosaur turds. :) After 12 hours on this trip, I was beat! I think they actually rolled me off the bus at the new hostel - like a carpet! :)
OK, so the new hostel looked great from the outside, but the same disgustingness was to be found in the rooms again, as I had to clear my bed from some pig's bigmac meal #1, including used Q-tips, dental picks, and dirty Kleenex, among others. I used the last of my gloves (but still have the pole), and confiscated one of his beers for having to clean the filthy pig's mess up! I relished the beer!
The next morning, I decided to get the heck out of dirty backpacker Darwin (yes, the city was clean), and quickly toured The Esplanade and parts along that I had not seen. Thanks the the airport shuttle and the day tour, I got a couple free city tours by being the first to be picked up and the last to be dropped off, so there wasn't much left in the city for me to see. Off, then, I was for my next destination.
Plane #18 brought me to Alice Springs, right in the middle of Australia. The flight was awesome. Backpacker places greeted arrivals, and I settled for a fun backpackers, and arranged my tour to BIG RED. Even tho I had a ticket to Ayer's Rock, the tour included King's Canyon, which I would not have otherwise seen - and with the exchange rate, it was really worth it! The trip also included meals and two nights swagging it! (A swag is a canvas sleeping bag thingy with a mattress inside.)
The next morning, it was another butt-crack-of-dawn departure with a full bus - 24 others setting off for King's Canyon. The friends I know who have been there put this destination above Uluru and Kata Juta. We stopped there for a hike and it poured rain like a Texas storm. The guides were happy as a clam to see the rain pour down on King's Canyon (I guess an oddity), but it was actually freezing cold, and Steve was not a happy camper. The rain finally went away, but everyone was drenched to the bone. On this hike tho, we did get to swim in the watering hole in the canyon, which the rain did flush out.
The next day and lots of driving later, we arrived at the Olgas (Kata Juta), and had a most awesome hike around them. Very cool indeed. After a dip in the pool back at the campground, we headed to BIG RED for the sunset with tons of others. It looks tons better with my vodka orange! Ha!
Another early morning, and it was up to watch the sunrise with the same tons of others. No vodka this time, just coffee! HA! The sunrise was awesome. And, after a quick breakfast we all did the awesome 2-hour hike right around the rock. Very cool again!
A long drive back to Alice Springs ended a fantastic tour. Most of the people were pretty cool on the tour, but after three days, a few were ready for the Steve beating. I was glad to be off the bus....and shower! The whole affair ended with a great meal and beers at the adjoining backpacker bar and restaurant with the group.
More meat pies!
Notwithstanding the slovenly backpackers in Darwin, this is where you find the Australians I remember: super-friendly, put the "H" in hospitality, bend over backwards, super duper accommodating. Nice refresher from Perth.
Rhetorical Questions/Comments for Australians in the Northern Territory:
* You people rock!
* Note to Qantas employees: You have redeemed yourselves, especially the flight from Darwin to Alice Springs. (Perth Qantas employees, please take copious notes!)
Photos: On blog.
Next Stop: A forgotten-about city in Australia, which is really the best-kept secret! (Oops, I have already been there and gone!)