The Ghan 2.0

Trip Start Sep 08, 2011
Trip End Jan 08, 2012

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Flag of Australia  , Northern Territory,
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

So, back on the Ghan – not quite as long as the first leg, this time it will only take 23 hours – with a 3 hour stop included. As we departed at 6:00pm, the first part of the journey is at night. So, I decided to spend an extra 10 bucks to move up to the lounge car, so that I can use a power point. I have to say the lounge is pretty cool, with wooden walls and comfortable armchairs. It's way better than my proper seat.

The next morning: this trip has been a dream so far. After the sun went down, I watched a couple of episodes of Pretty Little Liars (on Spanna’s recommendation) which pretty much sent me to sleep. I must have fallen asleep at about 10pm and woke up again at 6:00am. Nice! I’ve got the art of travelling down pat.

At Katherine there is a scheduled stop, where the passengers can take 'Whistle Stop Tours’. I decided to go on the Nitmiluk 2 Gorge Cruise, which entailed travelling through (you guessed it) two gorges, including the Katherine Gorge, by river. I’ve seen a lot of wonderful things on this trip, but this was simply stunning. The only real problem was the brevity of the tour – just a couple of hours (it’s not called ‘Whistle Stop’ for nothing). It’s the kind of place I could spend all day in, though I’d never spend the night. Why not? Because the place is full of fresh water crocodiles. OK, I understand that these crocs pose little danger to humans, but why take the risk? Besides, salties (like Terry) have been known to turn up in the river and they are, as I’ve commented elsewhere, mean muthas. You don’t want to encounter one of those in the wild under any circumstances. One of the incredible things about the gorges is that during the wet season, the water level rises by up to 30 metres. So everything I’ve seen today will be underwater in a month or two for 3-4 months! And it will almost certainly be full of salt water crocodiles...

Once we’d returned to the train it was only another five hours to Darwin and once again the time flew by – I really do have this travelling lark down to a T. Curious fact: this is the first time in my journey since leaving Barcelona that I haven’t changed time zones. London-Bangkok-Melbourne-Adelaide-Alice Springs, every trip has required a change in the clock.

Arriving in Darwin was a bit of a culture shock after a week in Alice. Even though the population is only 60,000 it is still like a metropolis in comparison to Alice Springs. There was life on the streets, there was traffic, even a rush hour – though our coach driver took great pains to point out that in fact it was a rush half hour. The other thing that struck me about Darwin was the humidity. Just breathing causes me to sweat here. I’m going to be in for a torrid time. Other than that it’s completely different to Alice Springs, with palm trees everywhere; it really is tropical.

In Darwin I made my way to the hotel where my long lost friend from university, Helen, was waiting for me. She’d been here for a day and had pretty much the essentials of Darwin sorted out. Where the nearest bottle shop (off licence) was. In case you haven’t made the connection yet, Helen is the one who has been posting all the croc/shark stories in the comments. She didn’t stop now, she kept pointing out potential croc spots as well as highlighting the shark attacks in her native Perth. She wasn’t really doing much for my nerves. However, armed with beer, we decided to go down to the beach to have a couple and catch up – that is until we realised that a) we couldn’t actually open the beer because we didn’t have a bottle opener and b) I was scared shitless with the idea of salties creeping through the undergrowth by our feet. Despite the beautiful sunset, maybe it would be more prudent to head back to the hotel.

Later on we took in the nightlife that Darwin has to offer. The most commonly used adjectinve to describe Darwin nocturnal activity is ‘feral’. Maybe it is. We chose a bar at random to have dinner (chicken parma), but then found that this bar had a ‘night club’ attached to it that seemed to start at 9:00pm. There were a couple of girls out front trying to drum up business for the club and at first I was a little mystified by the whole thing as they were dressed as if they’d just come back from the beach. Then I saw there was a sign that said ‘T.O.T. Beach Party’ so that explained that. Or at least it did, until a guy we met at the bar told us that it was ‘Tits Out Tuesday’! Suddenly it looked like a very interesting place to visit. However, despite the reputation for being feral, the whole thing was rather tame, with just a couple of go-go dancers on a stage. So much for the feral nature of Darwin.
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Anonymous on

It DOES get feral, wait for Fanny out Friday !

àngels on

de verdad George que no te imagino asustado de cocodrilos....XDD. Creo que has abusado de Cocodrilo Dundee ;-)

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