So I’ve been in Darwin since Wednesday. Until tomorrow morning. Or better: tomorrow early morning. At 7am already, I will be picked up a little further down the road and start my Outback adventure through the Red Centre and on to the South of this beautiful country. The entire route is shown on the map on the right.
I will start here in Darwin and go on to Kakadu National Park, a park of which only good things have been told to me. This will be the start of a nineteen day trip that will lead me through Tennant Creek and the ‘red centre’ to Uluru. After a couple of days in Alice Springs – where I hope to visit the Flying Doctors (as a tourist of cours, not as a patient) – we will move on to Adelaide to eventually arrive in Melbourne on December 5th. There, I will see Leni and Dominik again! More details about this entire trip can be read on the Topdeck Travel website!
Those are the plans for the next couple of weeks, but until tonight I am still in Darwin. All in all, I will have spent four and a half days here and that is more than enough. There are a lot of beautiful things around the city of Darwin (Kakadu, Litchfield, Katherine, ..), but inside the CBD, there is hardly anything to do. Or at least, that’s what I thought until Friday, the day where I had had enough of doing nothing and decided to take a closer look at one of the brochures. There actually ís something to do here! Not much, but still.
Yesterday, I did the ‘heritage walk’, as the Tourism Top End brochure calls it. A walk along some remains of the city that Darwin was until the second World War and until cyclone Tracy destroyed the city on Christmas Eve 1974. Highlights in my opinion where the Anglican church (especially when seen from the outside) and most of all the ‘Tree of Knowledge‘, which is pretty big and used to be a place where people would gather and learn, something you can perfectly imagine when you’re standing next to that tree. Apart from this heritage walk, there is hardly anything to do here in Darwins CBD, but that doesn’t make it a bad idea if you have a day off in the Northern Territory’s capital. It’s a nice walk and today I did an even better one!
After visiting the rather small Chinese temple this morning, I took the bus to Fannie Bay around noon, because there’s a jail there that can be visited and I have never visited one before. I got of the bus in this town called Parap and got lost in one of its streets. So it was completely by accident that I ended up at ‘Smith Park’, a small square of grass where apparently the very first airplane landed that flew from England to Australia. Again, I have learnt something new! After that, I visited Fannie Bay gaol, where the execution chamber left me silent again..
I walked on, following Fannie Bay’s shoreline and arrived at the ‘Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory‘. I can already assure that it’s an absolute must if you’re in/near Darwin! The museum is free to visit and suits both younger and elder people. It tells the history of the Northern Territory, with its aboriginal culture and of course cyclone Tracy. Yet, I particularly liked the temporary exhibition of Rob Brown’s ‘Evolution: a disrespective‘, a pleasant discovery. A painting called “Mom and Dad went to Katherine and…” which shows Jesus wearing an “I love Darwin” t-shirt is something I definitely find funny. The header for this blog is a picture of another painting from this exhibition as well.
After having visited the museum, a little bit of rain meant some welcome refreshment while walking. I passed the botanical gardens (didn’t go in for safety reasons) and the Skycity casino to get to beautiful Mindil Beach. After a brief sanitary stop, I walked the final kilometres along the Esplanade and some more war memorials back to Darwin.
Today was by far my best and most exciting day here in Darwin!
The fact that I didn’t really have a good time during my first days in Darwin, was because of me and the fact that I hadn’t done any research. Though I also think that it’s because I’m alone here.. Darwin is not exactly alive when darkness falls in the evening (‘Shenannigans’ seems to be the only pub that’s open at that time of day), but when your German roommates just talk German and don’t even bother talking to you, you’re even more on your own. Taking the first step to talk to people still is fairly difficult for me. It was easier in my first week down under, with the UltimateOz Sydney arrival package, though that maybe was caused by the fact that everyone in that group was on his/her own and just had to be more open and social as they also knew nobody just yet. I guess it’s a two way street.
By the way, the hostel where I’m staying in Darwin, The Youth Shack, is a nice one. It’s not of the same standards as WakeUp or Bounce, but it’s still very good.
So I have spent most of my time in Darwin walking. Except for the evenings where I didn’t feel safe and around noon because it was too hot. When the sun is at its peak, temperatures easily rise above 35°C but feel even higher as there is hardly any wind. So you prefer getting some rest in your air conditioned room then.. In the evening, temperatures are better, but walking on the streets alone and in the dark means that local drunk aboriginal people living on the streets quite aggressively beg for cash. That combination of the aggressive way they talk to you and the fact that they seem drunk/high doesn’t exactly make you feel safe.
So Darwin itself isn’t exactly a place where you’d want to stay for a longer time in my opinion, but it is definitely a good place to start when you want to visit the Northern Territory or the beautiful national parks nearby. Everyone tells me that the Northern Territory is extremely beautiful so if you want to visit it, you’ll start in Darwin. I don’t know if you’d want to stay here for longer than two or three days, but at least you have to have been here while you’re in Oz. The contrast with Sydney is huge and just that makes it interesting to visit. While you’re here, definitely pay a visit to the ‘Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory’ which still houses Rob Brown’s exhibition until March 29th, 2015.
Now the time has come for me to get some rest in my final hours here in Darwin. Tomorrow, it’s time to move on, in a group of around fifteen people I guess, maximum twenty-four according to the Topdeck-website. It seems like a very nice journey so I am looking forward to this, hoping that the group I’ll be part of will be equally good. First stop: Litchfield National Park and Kakadu National Park. I’ll report as soon as I can…
PS/ On my final night in Sydney, before I went to Darwin, I went to see ‘Interstellar‘ at the Event Cinemas. Why Event Cinemas and not the IMAX you wonder? Because a ticket at Event Cinemas costs 13 AUD and one at IMAX 37, that’s why. The IMAX has the biggest screen in the world and the ticket price clearly reflects that. I’ll do that some other time maybe. But anyway, ‘Interstellar’. Apparently, the way that black holes and other space things are shown has been made as realistic as possible, hiring physicists to make the movie. Yet, that doesn’t make the entire story realistic of course, but still, it’s a pretty good movie! Some people call it ‘the movie of the year’ and I can see why. Good story, good acting, nicely filmed, but what impressed me the most was the music. Once again a job brilliantly done by Hans Zimmer. Especially those moments where there was no music at all. The perfectly chosen moments of pure silence accompanying the images of space. Go watch the movie while you can!