A Travellerspoint blog

Australia

Northern Territory

sunny 89 °F

Photos added 06 Oct 2013

11 September 2013 – continued

We’re off again!! The five minute complimentary transport to the airport got us there in plenty of time. Check in with Air Asia was easy,$15 departure fee, immigration and then a quick stop at Duty Free- we’re headed to Australia.

We were told that alcohol in AU is very expensive. Ok, we’ve been told that EVERYTHING in AU is expensive but there were great deals at the Duty Free in Bali. From our experience this trip, the best DF in Bali airport is the first shop, on the left, after you leave immigration. The prices were really good to begin with and there was a sale of 40% off if you bought two of selected items.

Off to our gate… At the Bali airport, your bags are scanned once, going in and then a 2nd time going into the waiting area which means once you’re inside and you want to buy a bottle of water for the plane, you cannot. Duty Free is different- they deliver it to you once you’re inside the gate.

Note: Bali’s Denpasar Airport is under construction – it should be stunning once it’s completed.

Our plane was about 30 minutes late coming in and then again leaving but the flight was a smooth 2 ½ hour ride.

Darwin has a fairly small airport and Immigration had a long line but the process was a breeze. I had applied on line for our E-Visas and we got in…so I guess it worked.

As usual, pick up bags and then customs: AU is very strict about what you can and cannot bring into the country. Jim was afraid that some of the tea he had been carrying since China and Thailand was going to be confiscated but luck was with us and those items passed. The only thing that was confiscated was some Kaffir lime leaves. The customs agent apologized up and down for having to take them. No Worries!!

Out to get a cab…not so easy in Darwin. Any other country we’ve been in, people are fighting (figuratively, maybe) for your business. Outside the airport in Darwin, there is a cab stand and about every 5 minutes or so, a cab pulls up. We had to wait about 20 minutes for our turn and fortunately the driver knew right where to go. Another 15 minutes and $30 later (Dorothy – we’re not in Kansas or Asia any more) we arrived at Discovery Travel Caravan Park. It was after hours, but thanks to the direct phone line outside the registration office, we were directed to the locked box with our keys and directions to our Studio Cabin – our accommodations for our first night. I had no idea what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised. The building was a beige metal box with a small outside patio. Inside there are two single beds, a small couch, small table for two and a basic kitchen. Just off the kitchen is a good sized bathroom and a shower with great water pressure. The cabin is very clean and compact with all the basic essential tools.

Our first night in OZ - little cabin at Discovery Caravan Park

Our first night in OZ - little cabin at Discovery Caravan Park

Another photo of cabin

Another photo of cabin


12 September 2013

The campervan rental site was a few miles away from Discovery and our plan was to grab a bus. Kim (a guy Jim met in the camp office) offered to drive us over to pick up our van and Vicki (one of the owners) – let us leave our bags at the registration desk. Since we really weren’t checking out – just moving – we didn’t have to wait until 2pm to check back in.

For the campervan, we had done the on line check in, so picking up the van was easy peasy. As I finished up the paper work, Jim foraged through left over items from other campers, for our kitchen and picked up a fair amount of goodies, I.e.: olive oil, olives, anchovies, clothes detergent, spices, etc.

This van is a little different from the one we had in NZ. First of all, it’s much newer and it has a pop-up top. The jury is out as to how that is going to work for us. There is not as much storage space and the frig is smaller but this model has a microwave and much more counter space. I think, maybe, we got an upgrade. Mentally, I had prepared myself to drive on the left side with a manual transmission and much to my surprise our van is an automatic – I hope you can see the HUGE smile on my face.

Off to the grocery store (there are two major grocery stores in Darwin: Woolworths and Coles). In many ways, Australia is definitely more expensive than the US but most grocery items were similar in price. We actually found some really good specials, picked up a SIM for our cell (we were told that Telstra has the best coverage for this area) and by 11ish we were back to the campground to find our spot and get the van sorted out, which left us with a free afternoon to explore Darwin.

Our campground is in Winnellie, which is a small suburb not far from Darwin proper. A ten minute drive brought us to the Esplanade where we parted and walked along the beautiful water front park area. Darwin’s Info center is right downtown and a lovely Aussie lady gave up heaps of info about things to do, not only in Darwin, but also for our whole trip. From there, we walked to the Waterfront and enjoyed a cold beer at Finnegan’s Green before heading to Mindil Beach for their Thursday Night Market. The market, which is held every Thursday and Sunday, had been recommended for its vast variety of different foods and its splendid sunsets.

Mindil Beach Market ....before the crowds

Mindil Beach Market ....before the crowds

The Market opens at 5pm and runs to 10pm. We arrived a bit early: some food stands were already set up and we watched as others brought out their luscious delicacies. One man was making the largest paella I’d ever seen. It wasn’t ready when we walked by and I totally forgot to go back …..booo!

Paella King

Paella King

Jim couldn’t resist the fresh oysters and there was some salt and pepper squid that I couldn’t walk by twice. We had our choice of just about any food you could wish for: Indonesian, Chinese, Italian, paella, Vietnamese, fresh fruit smoothies, seafood (raw and cooked), Sri Lankan, to name those that I can remember. Also, there are merchants selling their wares: clothing, croc stuff, soaps, jewelry, art work, massage and my favorite, Slappas – aka flip flops, which I currently own a new coral red pair.

Salt and Pepper Squid...yummmm

Salt and Pepper Squid...yummmm

Jim's Favorites

Jim's Favorites

Jim Slurpin' Oysters

Jim Slurpin' Oysters


The splendid sunset was just perfect for our first full day in Darwin.

Sunset at Mindil Beach

Sunset at Mindil Beach

13 September 2013

We spent the day touring cultural highlights of Darwin. Prior to arriving here, I had no idea about Darwin’s history but their War Museum enlightened me. During WWII, Darwin became a positioning point for some of US Troops, specifically the USS Peary. On Feb 19th, 1942, Japanese planes bombed Darwin, destroying a good portion of it and also sinking many ships that were positioned just off land, including the USS Peary. Approximately 250 died that day, with 91 being Americans. That day was essentially Australia’s version of our Pearl Harbor and was the only place to be bombed during WWII. Australian troops were deployed in the Korean War and Vietnam and there was information regarding both.

Our next stop would be the Darwin Art Museum but not before lunch at Darwin Ski Club which is right across the street.

The Ski (waterski) Club is a private club but is very welcoming to visitors. Lunch, a Beef Pie for me and Fish and Chips for Jim were tasty as we stay waterfront and enjoyed the view of Fannie Bay. We were confused though how they ski with salt water crocs and box jelly fish in the water..we were told...just don't fall!!! (Thinking of the Maitlands while we were there)

Darwin Ski Club

Darwin Ski Club

The Darwin Museum is fairly new and gave a compact view of the NT (Northern Territory). There are art exhibitions, some wild life/sea life displays and one of the largest displays is information regarding Cyclone Tracy, which in 1974, tried to do what the bombings in WWII had started. After WWII, Darwin rebuilt but on Christmas Eve 1974, Tracy blew into town and by the time she was done over 70% of the buildings in Darwin were damaged…..300 people died.

Being the ever resilient Aussies, Darwin rebuilt.again. Yes, like many places in the world, when natural disasters strike, new guidelines for building are then put into place. Today, Darwin is a “new” city. It’s very modern but with that “Aussie” twist. Frankly, we quite like Darwin!!

Darwin Waterfront

Darwin Waterfront


14 September 2013

Up early and it’s off to Parap Market. Similar in some aspects to Mindil Beach Market (some of the same food venders and merchants) but more fresh produce. Yes, if I lived here, Parap would be on my list of “to dos” every Saturday am.

Back to the campground to sort out our purchases and get ready to take off on Sunday.

A sunset cruise on Darwin harbor would complete our time here but with evenings being pretty warm (and humid) we decided to stop by the Might/Britz Campervan office to see if they might have a fan. Yes, they did and we also picked up a small eskie (cooler) from the left over table.
This day had been one of mishaps for me: I pour ice cold water all down the front of me – being the highlight...until we got to the boat. I grabbed a bag that I thought had water and wine in it….no, it had the vegetables from the am market. We got on the boat, Jim went to get the wine out to put it in the eskie (new word for us) and all he came up with was eggplant. No questions, I picked up the bag and walked back to the van to retrieve the wine – my thoughts being, maybe a boat was not where I was supposed to be that evening.

We did have a lovely time on the cruise though. We chatted with Vanessa and Owen from Darwin and Anna and Robb from Perth. The weather was lovely and the sunset beautiful.

Sunset cruise off Darwin

Sunset cruise off Darwin

15 September 2013

Good bye Darwin and we headed to Litchfield National Park, about a 115km drive from Darwin. It was easy to find our campground (Litchfield Tourist Park), decided which site we wanted and made our way to the Termite Mounds site. I can’t say that I was too excited about termite mounds but they are a bit interesting, in a weird sort of way. There are two types of termites: magnetic and cathedral and they build their mounds – which can reach about 12 feet tall. Viewing them in their environment, they look like headstones and the one area where there are many – looks like a cemetery.

Termite Mount in Litchfield National Park

Termite Mount in Litchfield National Park

After that exciting outing…it was back for a swim, where we talked with a couple from Darwin for a bit. You never know when a short conversation might just alter your course.

Our original plans didn’t include a trip to Uluru (Ayers Rock) but I guess (again) our plans have changed. When we leave Litchfield that is where we’re headed. The woman we spoke to in the pool told us if we didn’t go it would be like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower. Her boyfriend just rolled his eyes but… Makes sense to us!!! Time to get the maps out again.

16 September 2013

Today is a touring day. We’re out early and make our way to Walker Creek for a hike (about 4k).There are swimming areas along the trail but we opted to wait a bit. Our next stop was going to be at Cascades but it was approaching mid-day and seemed a little too hot so we went to Wangi Falls for a swim . All the brochures put Wangi as a highlight for swimming and they were right. Two waterfalls there flow (in varying degrees) all year round. The water is very refreshing and a swim to the waterfalls was our “little” workout for the am. On nice thing about the campervan is having everything with you. We opted to stay for a picnic lunch and then a quick stop at Tolmer Falls (no swimming there).
It was then back to LTP where we had the pool to ourselves.

On Sunday, we pretty much had the whole campground to ourselves but today cars and campers arrive at a steady rate but still nowhere near full. September seems to be a nice time to travel in the NT.

Over dinner, we again readjust our plans for the next two weeks. As it stands right now, which is always subject to change, we’ll do “housework” tomorrow (internet which is not free, laundry) and see what the lovely town of Batchelor has to offer and then on Wednesday take off for Tennant Creek which is a little more than half way to Alice Springs.

Posted by pjburke 18:45 Archived in Australia

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

So fun reading all your posts, but reading about Darwin makes me so homesick. I love that place. And yes, you have to go to,Uluru. You will not regret it.

Love you two. Judy

by Judy

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Login