Saturday, 31 May 2014

Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia.

Chapter 1. Give it some vegemite!

Mike of Mike's Whips must have gone to the David Beckham school of speaking. Amusing and strange were his soft tones. Volunteers lined up to crack whips. With one hand on their hips the other hand twirling a whip above their heads and Mike whispering instructions. "That's it mate, nah win the whip is behind ya hid pull it down towards the graand and behind ya. That's it mate. Nearly, nah give it some vegemite!

Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are held every Thursday and Sunday. Set just behind the beach the market has food vendors selling international grub at fair prices. They also host Mike and his whips along with local musicians and a fire breathing juggler guy. After grabbing a papaya salad and some chicken we headed to the beach. Not before watching some beach volleyball and some live aboriginal music. By the time the sun set the beach was full. We were sat next to the group of aboriginals who had also moved onto the beach. They continued to play music and chant. 

Sipping Australian red wine with our picnic while the sun was setting. I was asking myself, why did I ever not want to visit Australia? 

Chapter 2. A Possum stole my apple!

Morning was well spent at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. Its an eclectic mixture of aboriginal art, a general history of Darwin (including an eerie account of Cyclone Tracey) and a stuffed croc named Sweetheart. Its also completely free.

The cyclone destroyed the city of Darwin on 24th/25th December 1974.

There is a sound booth where you can hear actual recordings of the cyclone. Sounds like something from a Sci Fi movie.

Sweetheart was a 5.1 metre saltwater crocodile responsible for a series of attacks on boats in Australia between 1974 and 1979. Sweetheart attacked outboard motors, dinghies, and fishing boats. In July 1979, Sweetheart was finally caught alive by a team from the Territory Parks and Wildlife Commission, but drowned while being transported when it became tangled with a log. The crocodile's mounted body is now on permanent display at the Museum.

A Possum stole my apple and nibbled my mandarins at the Deckchair Cinema. The Wind Rises is a good film, but the wildlife really made this a memorable cinema experience. Huge bats overhead, giant frogs and cute possums by your feet. A Possum startled Catherine when it leaped onto her lap trying to get our popcorn. She shrieked "Ruusssselll!!" The only help I offered was picking up and eating the popcorn. 

We sipped more Australian wine and enjoyed another picnic under the stars. Deckchair cinema is so cool! When I finally realised what that strange noise was, it was too late. A Possum was routing through my bag. I was really looking forward to eating that apple. It was a Pink Lady. 

Chapter 3. Thrown out of a hostel over three beers!?

I am a little amazed by the number of working Brits here in Australia. Walking around the city of Darwin there is an army of young British people all sporting high visual clothing. And, far too many of them are miserable! They talk as if they are in prison. In our eight bed dorm room we met a couple of guys who worked on the docks. They were not the miserable type. We were unfortunate enough to witness them being asked to leave the hostel. They had lived in this dorm room for three months. They had paid for the forthcoming week in advance. Thrown out of a hostel over three beers!? Generally, hostels encourage drinking. Meeting people and socialising over a few drinks is what hostels are good for. Not here in Darwin. Alcohol is not permitted inside the premises. The beers were found under their bunk bed by the cleaner. As I said, they had already paid for the following week. Well, one of them had. The other, had not paid in a month. Most nights there was a spare bed. Only a couple of times it was a full house and he would share his mates bed. The hostel staff were completely unaware. Watching these guys pack up their stuff was pretty funny also. They had an Irish hurling stick, full cutlery set and some see through electronic scales. 

The sea is a little dangerous here. If the croc's don't get you, the box jelly fish will. A great alternative is to pay the small fee of seven dollars and grab one of the many rubber rings floating at the Wave Lagoon. I forgot how fun wave machines were.

After fun in the sun we finished off Darwin with fish and chips at Stokes Hill Wharf. It was perfect.

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