We spend an exciting short
vacation after Deepavali in Northern Territory, Australia. We have
a four-hour night flight on JetStar to Darwin. The cabin is
freezing and seating not too spacious, but service and food are
unexpectedly good. At 5am. we land at Darwin International
airport, about an hour late. A chatty German taxi driver takes us
to our hotel Darwin Central in no time. We get a spacious room
with a narrow double bed. The hotel room is also freezing.
After a five-hour sleep we
get up and start exploring our neighborhood. First we head to the
Bicentennial park that faces the Timor Sea. We question the
artistic vision of whoever designed the park benches, but then
realize they must have some recreational value since most of them
are occupied even at the hottest time of the day. And yes, it is
starting to get really hot in NT's Spring, close to +40 degrees
Celsius in the afternoon.
Cyclone Tracy destroyed over
70% of Darwin's buildings in December 1974. One of them was
Palmerston Town Hall whose stone structure could not stand the
strong winds. Darwin is not a new town but it looks like one since
it has been thoroughly destroyed so many times recently, first by
WWII and then by the cyclone. Lacking historic neighborhoods, it
is not particularly attractive city. However, it is very laid
back, which we like.
Thursday morning (Oct 27)
opens with clear skies and we start it with a run in the
Bicentennial park. The park has several drink fountains and one
spot for refilling water bottles. Way to go, Darwin. We use all of
them since it is very hot even it is early morning.
As if the 45-minute run is
not enough exercise, we decide to walk to Botanic Gardens. It is a
long walk and we do not carry any water. Luckily the garden's
visitor center has a vending machine that sells water bottles, and
another one that serves hot cups of coffee.
We have never been keen on
being able to name the animals we see in our travels. Of course
after encountering the same animals over and over again we are
more proficient in recognizing them. But still we can't name them.
But we don't care. This is one of the bird species we see a lot in
We return to the hotel
briefly to do some laundry, and then head to Mindil Beach Market
on its last night this Fall. The place is already full, and all
the best spectator spots to admire the sunset are taken. We
concentrate in finding some food. First we have a kangaroo sausage
and a crocodile skewer --- both chewy and tasteless.
Many world cuisines are
represented, among them are the most common ones like Japanese,
Chinese, and Thai, and then there are stalls for chips, fruits,
kebabs etc. We end up having some spicy potatoes and beef vindaloo
with vegetables from a Sri Lankan stall. Delicious.
The town is really quiet
even if it is not 8pm. yet. We walk back and forth Smith St.
looking for Manoli's Greek Taverna. Once we find it we are seated
by the window, but the blinking outdoor lights are really
disturbing, so we find another table. We order just little
something, pita with dip, salad, meatballs and marinated octopus.
We feel full even before starting. We enjoy Greek beers and some
Barossa Valley wine with the dinner. We are not allowed to take
the unfinished wine with us, so we finish it. We are back in the
hotel before 10pm. Tomorrow we'll go for safari in Kakadu National
Next morning (Friday, Oct
28) the alarm goes off at 5am. We pack, shower and have a quick
breakfast at the hotel restaurant's buffet. At 6:30am. Emma, our
guide and driver, picks us up. After picking up a few more people
-- two Iranian women and a New Zealander, an American - Cayman
Islands couple, and an American/Aussi(?) couple --- we head to our
safari in Kakadu National Park.
We see a lot of birds, and
both estuarine (salt-water) and fresh water crocodiles. The whole
safari is pretty much defined by crocodiles; we are told that
Australia's Northern Territory has the highest crocodile
concentration in the world. This is the place where you just can't
t jump into any pond to swim.
For the BBQ we have
kangaroo, buffalo sausages, potatoes and onions, with cole slaw.
After cleaning the dishes we are ready for a good night's sleep at
A major storm sweeps over
during the night and makes us slightly wet in our mesh-walled,
canvas roofed cabin/tent (Aussies certainly have a name for these,
but it escaped us).
Next morning (Saturday, Oct
29) we are up before 6am., fresh from the shower we enjoy a quick
and light breakfast --- coffee, juice and cereal, and and
experimental Vegemite on toast (that's never going to turn into
habit for us). Then we hit the road. After about 45 minutes on a
paved road we have a 9-kilometer section on 4WD: it is a very
bumpy and wobbly ride. Emma does a good job in keeping us on trail
At the Jim Jim, there is not
much of a fall, but a turquoise bowl of luke warm water, filled
with a number of tour groups we have seen earlier. In general our
tour has been quite nice, and have not suffered of too much
crowding at the sites we have visited so far.
After Ubirr we visit a
crocodile feeding site; this where the estuarine crocodiles come
to prey fish. Note, this is not a river flowing into the sea, but
a tide water gushing from the sea to the river.
We spot this fellow who is
very persistent, and patiently searches for an optimal spot to
catch his meal. Emma tells us that at best she has spotted a dozen
or even more crocodiles at the same time. This time we only see
two other besides this large one.
See how cool he looks.
Before returning to Darwin
we have a hot dog lunch at a fancy BBQ site. Emma drops us at
Adventure tours office on Mitchell, but the office is closed. We
use the nearby hostel's internet to find our way to our last
night's accommodation at Darwin city B&B, also
known as Steeles at Larrakeyah B&B. There we finally meet our
lovely hostess Janette who organized all accommodations and the
safari for us.
For the dinner
we choose Yots Greek Tavern in Cullen Bay. We have excellent
service by a German server who does not know Riesling (we don't
blame her, she is from Bavaria). We have barramundi and snapper
with Jaenerette Riesling from SA.
Our last morning in Darwin
starts late and lazy. First we have a nice and light breakfast in
the patio of our lovely B&B: some cold cereal. home made
yogurth, toast, coffee and tea. Then we head out to stroll the
quiet streets of Darwin once more. We visit an art gallery, an
outdoor store, and have coffee at a nice coffee shop, name of
which we forgot, and then take the bus #10 to Casuarina Square
The mall is boring and full
of dull (and unknown to us) fashion boutiques with trashy clothes.
And then there are the Christmas decorations. We are done pretty
fast and take the next bus #10 back to town. (the reason we got
there was an outdoor store, which turned out to be pathetic)
Our last pit stop before
returning to the B&B to shower and pick up our luggage is at
Fox Ale House on Mitchell for an afternoon beer (this is just
something that many Darwin bars and cafes advertize)
At Darwin city
B&B waiting for the taxi to the airport. We end up having a
very hippie driver in a huge van that is some 20 minutes late. Way
to go. We have really enjoyed this laid back town and the Kakadu