I was on my way to the West Coast. Far, far away from Melbourne, and I wasn’t in a rush. I opted to take the train once again. First stop would be Adelaide, where I’d wait a couple of days before hopping on the train to Perth, the Indian-Pacific. While I was in Adelaide a couple things happened:
Free from my work commitments and feeling like a huge weight had been lifted, I spent the first nice day of unemployment exploring south of the downtown of Melbourne. I was headed towards the beachside destination of St. Kilda. This was a place most people would visit via the tram system. I decided to use my feet instead.
My time in Darwin complete, it was time to leave. But it turns out that leaving Darwin can be quite tricky. Darwin is REMOTE. There is nowhere nearby to go to next. I explored flights, trains and buses, and came to the realization that the cheapest option to go anywhere would be to actually fly there. Perth and Melbourne were to the two cheapest options. As I was familiar with Melbourne and liked the city well enough on first go, I decided I would try to live there and find some work. I’d spent quite a bit of money over the last month travelling through the vast expanses of the Outback.
The flight was uneventful and I arrived in Melbourne without issue. I stayed at a different hostel this time, hoping for a better place than my first go around. It was indeed better. The kitchen was usable and the place was kept moderately clean. The hostels in Australia so far have ranged from downright poor to okay, with Adelaide having the best hostel of the bunch (the lovely Adelaide YHA).
Just because I had two days of National Park adventures didn’t mean I was finished with the region! Our 2 day tour had finished and deposited the group back in Darwin but my turnaround time was to be short. I was up early the next morning once again for another tour, this time taking in Litchfield National Park. Smaller and much closer to Darwin than Kakadu, Litchfield is an enjoyable day tour kind of place. Plus, we make a stop along the way at the Adelaide River for some interesting highlights.
Our second day in Kakadu involved the usual bright and early wakeup, followed by a bit of a drive. But today’s drive would be a bit more challenging.
This is why we have the big fancy 4WD bus this tour, so we can cross rivers and handle dirt roads that aren’t the least bit flat. Everything in Kakadu seems to flood like crazy during the wet season, so most roads take a severe beating during that time. As such, much of Kakadu is still only accessible via dirt roads, often very bumpy ones. Or in this case, ones involving a small river to cross.
Besides it’s interesting history, the city of Darwin held little interest to me. It has now become one of the top winter getaways for Australians, featuring warm weather and bad Australian beer. Nothing too special. But there is a lot to see outside of Darwin, and Kakadu National Park has to be considered the primary focal point for that interest.
Kakadu National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site, not only for it’s natural beauty but also cultural significance. So it was a bright and early morning that a bunch of us packed onto a 4WD tour bus and headed off into the fog of the morning. We had quite a bit of driving to do, Kakadu is about 2 hours of driving away. But even then, Kakadu is *massive*, some 200km North-South and 100km East-West. BIG. And a lot of it is hard to get to, requiring the use of 4WD. I was thankful not to be driving once I saw some of the roads!
Darwin is the furthest north city of Australia and also serves as the capital of the Northern Territories. It is distinctly tropical, being a scant 12.5 degrees South of the equator latitudinally. To give you an idea of where it’s equivalent is in North America…well, there isn’t one. You’d have to go south of Cuba, south of the Dominican Republic, south of Mexico. All the way down to around Nicaragua. So Darwin indeed is very tropical and very hot year round.