Darwin & Kakadu Photos

Trip Start Apr 06, 2007
Trip End Nov 18, 2007

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Friday, October 12, 2007

The truck's shipping had been delayed: a week in Darwin lay ahead. Time to settle back into western life again you may think. Darwin is not the place to be doing this. Its a bit of a backwater as cities go. The Northern Territory's capital city isn't really a city. It has one commercial street and a small pedestrian precinct. Strangely it has a few skyscrapers but walk 50m away and you'll find suburbs.

Being our first stop in Australia Darwin began to make us think the Australians were a rough lot. Being so isolated from the rest of Oz the Darwinians are a lot more blunt than Aussies elsewhere to the point where you would sometimes laugh because of their directness. Walking down the street on a Saturday night we witnessed an arguement, a woman shouting at the man "Well you can shove your fingers up your arse!". Further down a girl was being sick. A man asleep on the curb, a girl crying - they drink a lot here. Talking to our hostel receptionist she gave the rationale that everyone is "going tropo", anticipating the wet season so behaviour might be a little feverish. She also said in Darwin people drink more per head of population than any country in the world! The c word was used liberally by a lot of people, as were most swear words, and a disturbing amount of opinions were a little racist towards Aboriginals.

"Watch out for the Abos" one man said when we were making our way to a pub. "The what?" Rach replied. "The blacks, keep an eye out for them!" Yep, they are all raging madmen wanting grog (drink) money. The Northern Territory has the biggest problem with Aboriginal people, dont get me wrong. Alcohol being the main perpetrator, turning what some Australians describe as the nicest people you could ever meet, into animals. Its stressful to see that the only beggars in Darwin were Aboriginal, driven to it by an acute dependancy on alcohol. Alcohol did not exist here until the European settlers introduced it and has had an adverse effect on the Aboriginal societies not to mention themselves individually. Most of their communal societies have been ripped apart by European society with terrible social outcomes. The problems between European Australians and Aboriginal Australians are huge and complex so I wont attempt to go any further. Throughout Oz it was upsetting never seeing more than a handful of Aboriginals in work. Most were drunk at the side of the road under gum trees. Worst of all was knowing that if us Europeans had never turned up or if the first dealings with the Aboriginals had been done with perfect foresight, they would still all be happily in their tribal societies. An ideal world ay? A fimiliar dream I've had in most countries.

If you cant beat the locals, join em'. Not in racial slur of course, but in drinking! Our week in Darwin was spent mainly in pubs and bed. My birthday did nothing to put the drinking at bay. 'Spooner's 22nd!' it will be forever be remembered as, a nicknamed picked up in Langkawi, Malaysia. Let me explain. After a few drinks down the Irish pub (in Langkawi) we hit the sack. 'We' because being the kind of budget travel this is we occasionally have to share double beds. In my drunken sleep I spooned Will, and was pushed away. I spooned again and was pushed away again. The third time Will had to shout at me. An entertaining story for me to find out about in the morning, with slight embaressment of course. So a spoon orientated night out was had, one of the funniest birthdays I've had. Woke up with plastic spoons everywhere and streamers. Thanks for the effort Rach and Polly, if not for the fillingless sponge cake!

The great thing about Australians out with the big cities is that they are a very forward and friendly lot. We got to know hostel staff well in the week we were in Darwin and got chatting to a good few people on nights out. Many were great characters, humorously cliche Australian at times. So its not just alcohol consumption they put us to shame at, its friendliness also. Its like the ice was never there to be broken in conversation, they pride themselves on their culture of no worries.

Good to escape but sad to leave. We had deferred westernising until the otherside of the outback it seemed. We were heading East to Kakadu National Park. This area of Australia is in the tropics so its not actually the outback as that name is left for the arid parts (I think). Miles and miles we drove through identicle forest, stopping every 2 hours for scenic spots where Crocodile Dundee was surely filmed, looking out across the amazingly vast and flat land. The tropical forests of Kakadu weren't at all like those in SE Asia. You could run through these forests; trees were much more spread out and with less surrounding vegetation. The scale of Australia was already showing with a days drive behind us and so much of the same. It was almost claustrophobic. I had a huge desire to see out and over all the trees as they kept our views to within a few metres of the truck and along the infinite tarmac in the other two directions.

Over the next few days we went on a boat trip at Yellow waters and saw Esturine Crocodiles (the ones that kill man), we swam in lagoons and Katherine Gorge, saw thousands of years old aboriginal rock art and saw the more wildlife than in any other county on the trip. Katherin Gorge was particularly special, jumping off high rocks into deep, black, cool water with sheer cliffs surrounding. There were freshwater crocs in the gorge, but they are harmless. Saltwater crocs weren't due to arrive until the wet season where much of Kakadu becomes submerged.

Leaving the tropics we entered the outback. Burnt woodland lined the tarmac and termite mounds spread in all directions in incredible numbers and all pointing North as they inexplainably do. We arrived at the little oasis of Mataranka - a surreal natural thermal pool surrounded by palms of which were home to an estimated hundred thousand flying foxes (bats). At night they all took off and filled the dusk. Will try and get a video up.

Here I left the truck and headed back to Darwin on my own.
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grantrough on

OZ at last
LOL, so your finally there, and you get your first look at the potentially lethal creatures, man, id be shitting myself taking that picture of the spider!!

grantrough on

Lol, is it bad that i can totally picture you spooning with a guy in your sleep? :) funny story though man! although I might think twice about ever sharing your bed again :)

Whats the deal with the amount of drinking? I thought pubs wernt allowed to sell drink to drunk people over there?

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