National parks, volunteering and German friends in Darwin

Darwin, Ibiza, Bali – Kuta… They all have a few things in common. Alcohol, sun, sunburned tourists with the average IQ of a goldfish and a couple of clubs spread out on one street. No judgements or first impressions. I’m just joking 😉 (still true…)
At least I’m getting my tan from Cambodia back. 

Darwin

Darwin is rather a new and small coast city with pleasant temperatures around 30ºC in the dry season. (June – August)
During dry season/”winter”, you can visit the lovely nightmarket on Tuesday and Sunday evenings to discover some asian dishes, local souvenirs and even a concert.
Having a couple of beaches and parks next to the ocean, I wouldn’t recommend to go swimming in the sea. It’s filled with salt-water crocodiles who will see your swimming fun as a walking dinner.
Near the waterfront in Darwin, you can go for a swim in a protected lagoon.

I called the Dingo Moon hostel my home for my stay in Darwin. A smaller hostel 10 minutes walk from the CBD, but really welcoming to backpackers. The first night it was fully booked, so we had to stay in one of the party hostels in town…
Also the last time I’ll be staying in one of those…
Back to Dingo: For some reason it’s really easy to connect and talk with people! Probably thanks to the lovely weather and the way how the terrace was “designed”. Two receptionists from the hostel, were the charming Kim and Elien from Belgium. When Arthur’s (travelmate from AS-Darwin) sister arrived, we had our own little Belgian community at the hostel.

At Dingo Moon I had the honor of meeting Cam and Jerry, two outgoing American backpackers from North-Carolina. After a good amount of jokes, movie references, and some beers together we decided to visit the Kakadu National park together. We hired a 4WD for three days and together with Marlen from Germany, we left for another short road trip.

Kakadu National Park

With our brand new rented Mitsubishi Pajero Sport, we explored Kakadu. Known for it’s variety in wildlife, aboriginal secrets and beautiful waterfalls, this is definitely a must see in the Northern Territory!
The first night we staid at a place called Ubir. Every mosquito on the globe must have been on that spot. Not even 5 seconds had gone by and you would hear the sound of a hand smacking one the bastards. Mosquito’s make the nastiest sound in the world, which was permanent present around our ears. This concert went on until we closed the door of our van and drove off the next morning.

A couple of highlights from our trip:

  • Mirral Lookout
  • Yellow Waters
    Plains, Crocodiles 😉
  • Warradjan Cultural Centre
    Interesting small museum about Aboriginal culture
  • Jim Jim Falls
    Majestic waterfall
  • Gunlom
    A sequence of small pools and waterfalls ending on a cliff. A natural infinite pool

Jim Jim falls had an interesting vibe, as we arrived in the late afternoon and we had the gorge for ourself. Crocodile signs, the waterfall in the shadows ending in a big natural pool, made me tiptoed. I made it first across the big pool under the waterfall. Jerry however had a big cramp halfway the pool, and got into trouble.
We will never know if I really saved his life. At the moment I didn’t want to know and swam back (front crawl technique still on point) to assist him back to shallow water.


Old friends

By big coincidence we ran into Arthur and Clementine (A’s Sister) on our second day in the park. Our new convey was created and we decided to camp together for the next two nights.

Back at the hostel, I ran into Tim, a German friend I met back in Melbourne. We managed to create a nice (mostly German speaking) group at the hostel. Like a little family, we cooked, played games and went to the lagoon together. Dunya was so friendly to borrow us her car to explore Kakadu’s little brother, Litchfield National Park.

Litchfield National Park

As I mentioned before, Litchfield is kind of Kakadu for beginners. A lot smaller, similar camping spots but not as many crocodiles or mosquitos. Hereby a couple of interesting stops we visite at Litchfield:

  • Walker Creek
    A nice short walk next to a small river with interesting remote camping sites
  • Wangi Falls
    The most popular waterfall of Litchfield with lots of space to swim around
  • Greenant Creek
    Natural infinity pool where you’ll probably be alone
  • Termite Mounds
    Massive Termite hills at the entrance of the park

1-Day volunteering

If you’re in Darwin and have some spare time between tanning or swimming, go check out the Conservation Volunteers.
They often have one-day volunteer projects. Toad busting, bird counting and beach cleaning were the projects in the time I was there. Together with Tim, we participated in the beach cleaning. A different but fun activity that I highly recommend to get some positive karma 😉

Roadtrip to Brisbane

Flights and busses were expensive, hitchhiking would take too long and my time in Australia is getting short. In the end I decided to join Tim to head to Brisbane. The Swiss/Italian Alessandra also joined us for our road trip towards Brisbane. We managed to arrange a relocation in a campervan. We baptized our driving house to “Villa Muai”. 3.500km in seven days was our goal! I kind of missed the simplicity of the Sarcophagus from Arthur, but this was also a new experience. Road kills, skies full of stars, road trains and road trip singalongs became part of our daily routine again.

By the way, I’ve mentioned road trains a couple of times. In this video you could see one overtaking Villa Muai:

Relocation: one way car rental offered by rental companies, to get their cars to the original shop.
This was our offer: 62$ rental fee for 7 days with two drivers and $400 budget for fuel in exchange for receipts.
Divided by three persons, road trip and accommodation, this was a fair deal! 

Our villa was equipped with:

  • Toilet/shower (which we didn’t use)
  • Cooking stove
  • 3x double beds
  • Microwave
  • Sink
  • Camping chairs + table
  • Gps with a fair amount of camping sites

Not my definition of camping, but definitely worth the experience
Eleven days left in Australia before flying to New Zealand! 

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