Blue Tongued Skinks, Green Tree Frogs and Roaches
Trip Start Jul 10, 2008
83Trip End Jul 10, 2011
Map your own trip!
Show trip route
A house at last! Well you know the gist of these blog entries by now I have to make a bit of a drama out of things. This time it was the jobsworth real estate people. Everything happened very quickly and I arrange to go down Thursday to sign the lease, Erica was out fishing or something, but more to come on this. The old tenants have left so I ask if we can get the keys Thursday so save me another trip on Saturday, I even promise not to enter the house until Saturday when our lease starts. 'Oh no sir we can't do that, you'll have to come back down again on Saturday! 11am be OK?' I felt like turning around and saying we pay for the house from 12am on Saturday, can you meet me outside the house then to give me the keys, but I didn't J As part of the key handing over ceremony we also got a cyclone package, that tells us what we need to do if a cyclone ever hits Darwin. Mmm that reminds me we better get to reading that soon.
Moving in day, we had a busy day ahead of us. We'd already signed up with Power and Water. Apparently it's more expensive to get the switch over on a Saturday or Sunday, so we'd done it the previous day. Today though it was a day to go and spend some money and fill out house with some of the appliances we couldn't bring to Australia because of electrical power differences. We went to a couple of shops, but ended up buying most of our stuff from Harvey Normans, the local discount department store. We got a stainless steal toaster/kettle combo. We also needed 'whitegoods', these are what the Aussies call the fridge and washing machine and do not typically come with a rental house. We took a fridge with these easy ice cube making trays, this is what had sold me on the fridge after seeing them in our Mantras Pandanas hotel room fridge. We also got a washing machine. We were back in the world of the front loaders! I always seem to remember these working better that the top loaders we always had in the USA. It turns out in general they are smaller but more efficient for their size, I haven't really noticed them working better though. We decided to pass on a tumble drier, we figured there would be not too much need for them given that the temps never get below 30C all year round!
We had actually checked out some yard sales the week earlier, we got there sometime before 9am and all that seemed to be left were the scraps! It turns out if there are good things to be had at the yard sales, such as garden furniture and whitegoods, you need to be queuing up on the doorstep by 6am!
Most of our other cheap crap comes Kmart and Big W (owned by Wollies). Big W is a total rip from Walmart, I'm not too sure if they really believe in copyright over here J. The name is the same, the lettering is blue and its slogan is 'we sell for less'!
The Kmart is a different entity to the one in the USA, as is the Target store we have in the nearby town of Palmeston, about 20K away. They have the same logos as their USA equivalents, but are owned by Wesfarmers. A quick check on the Internet revealed this company also owns Coles (one of the main two supermarkets) and Bunnings. I'm starting to realise now Australia is a duopoly between WesFarmers and Woolworths and why I keep hearing on the news how the Australia government is 'trying to promote competition'! What a racket, and it's all legal; no wonder things are a bit pricey over here!
No mentions of Australian shops would be complete without mentioning my favourite - Crazy Clarks. This is the super discount store that gets new things in every Thursday, and if you want the real popular bargains, you have to get there early the day the new stock goes on the shelves. Some of the stuff they have is cheap, but some is overstock and you can get a decent bargain here. We bought a microwave/convection oven from here. I'd compare this store to an Ocean State Job Lot in Massachusetts - as Erica will tell you one of my most frequented stores when we moved to our last rental house in Foxboro!
Kmart is where we bought our air mattresses. So by the end of our shopping spree we had the essentials that would last us until our furniture arrived 6 weeks later (fingers crossed). As write this, we have a garden furniture set in our living room that is serving as our office, lounge and dining area! I also got a cheap office chair from Big W, our only bad purchase so far. Together with the air mattress and sitting in this chair all day long my back was in absolute bits! A super duper, ergonomically designed, mesh backed office chair soon replaced this- a very worthwhile investment!
One other point to note is the shop opening times; it's taken a bit of getting use to. We've back to the crazy system when most shops are open when people are at work. 9-5 is the usual hours for shops. The mall will stay open late one day a week and from 10-3 on a Sunday. There are only certain bottle stores that can sell beer on a Sunday, I'm not too sure how this is decided, but this is a throw back to the old 'blue laws' in Massachusetts, when you'd have to do the 35 mile run up to the New Hampshire border. This was apart from the 4 Sundays before Christmas when it was considered ok for liquor stores to be open. You have to love capitalism! Some of the bottle stores force you to become a member before you can buy booze. We've stayed away from these, why would I pay $5 to buy some beers from them when the guy next door doesn't require membership! I did find a homebrew store also, but I think I've become a bit of a home brew snob living in the USA, I was disappointed to find liquid yeast was hard to come by over here and it's looking increasing likely impossible to get hold of in Darwin. Maybe the home brew days are over for awhile!
On this trip they found an old croc skull and we are now the proud owners of a couple of croc teeth. They have been nicely cleaned in vinegar and bleach and I'll be looking at making a necklace once we get a few more! Erica also attended one day of a three-day conference on ecology that was in the Darwin conference centre. There was talk about the TRaCK (Tropical Rivers and Costal Knowledge), which she is working on, and it sounded an important local event as I kept hearing mentions about it on the local radio throughout the day.
Now all I need to do is tell you a little about the house. It's a 2-bedroom townhouse. We have decks at the front and back. We have a paved garden with vegetation around the fringes that is watered by a reticulation system. What is a reticulation system I hear you none Aussies asking? It's a sprinkler system, but until we got one we didn't really know what it was ourselves, although we are glad we chose a place with one now! It's also in a condo complex with a shared pool - we'll be using that I feel!
We had an inventory sheet listing all the damage to the property, it was a joke, it went into minute detail right down to the hooks on the wall, but you could see it was one of those process things where the real estate people are just following the motions! We scribbled all over it re-writing it and faxed it back to the real estate people, but didn't hear a peep back!
A few days after we moved in Erica was looking at me strangely (nothing new there J) as I wandered into the park behind the house looking up at our roof. I knew it, all the other houses in the condominium had it so why shouldn't we! We had a solar hot water tank perched on the roof. That should save us a little on our electric bill; I would have thought they would have mentioned this as a selling point before we moved in!