|Previous Post||Next Post|
Darwin and the Crocodile Cruise
Saturday 27th August to Tuesday 30th August 2011 – Darwin, Australia
Having left the golden beaches of Perth, I was now headed north, this time to Darwin, where I imagined it would be a lot hotter, and I wasn’t wrong. Stepping out of the airport was like stepping into another country altogether.
The plane journey was standard, and the views were impressive once again as we climbed into the clouds. Though the journey was relatively short, it still felt longer than it should have been. I guess I am still getting used to just how large Australia actually is. I stepped out into the heat of Darwin and found my shuttle bus to take me to the hostel, my home for the next few days. Though technically the cooler, dryer months in Darwin, it was still very hot, and I can only imagine the intensity of the heat in the humid, wet months.
First impressions of Darwin for me were much like they were in Airlie Beach on the East Coast. Tourists were out in their numbers, whilst bars and clubs populated the main streets, looking to pull in the wandering holiday-makers. Too many of each for my liking, but then I am a bit odd in this respect. I walked to the beautiful Lagoon, and along the Wharf for some great views all around. It was good to be away from the hordes of people, and out by the water, taking in the sights and the welcome cool breeze from the ocean.
Whilst in Darwin, I walked about as I usually do. Here, there and everywhere. I took the coastal walk, and towards the botanical gardens. The heat played its part today and I had a job to keep from melting. The beaches – though large and sandy – were deserted of all people, but for a small group of Aboriginal people. Indeed there seems to be a lot of Aboriginal people wandering the streets, more so than other places I have been in Australia. It can’t be easy dealing with the heat each and every day, but they seem to manage it, which was more than I was able to do. I found the walking hard going and frequented the shadier parts of the pathways and streets to avoid the sun’s gaze. The plants and scenery are also a lot different here. As I mentioned before, it felt like another country, and coming from a Perth that was already cooling down somewhat, I felt ill prepared. I had a trip to look forward to though.
Crocodile Cruise sounded exciting, and the trip was every bit as entertaining as I had hoped. The group of people I was with on tour were a great bunch, and our guide played his part well. We arrived at our first spot for a few snaps with the local celebrity. I had no problem with the snake, especially having held one before in Magnetic Island, but it took an interest in my hand, flicking its tongue close to my skin whilst I looked on nervously. There was no reaction from the guide, so I guessed I was in no danger, and felt at ease again. We each took our turn, and while this was going on, the rest of us admired the surrounding area, in particular the numerous birds gathered around a pool of water in the fields opposite. There was a lot of wildlife around this area.
Next stop was a river cruise in Crocodile Territory, the main part of the days adventure. I could hardly wait, and managed to secure a great spot on the boat. The captain of the boat made a point of explaining to people the importance of keeping to your seat, and it was obvious why. No sooner had he explained the dangers of everyone racing to one side of the boat at once – with risk of tipping the boat into the dangerous water below – when at the sight of the first crocodile, everybody poured to one side of the boat. This angered the captain evidently, and I could see that this happens each time he takes people out on the boat. It did make me laugh to myself, especially as the majority of people were English speaking, and either didn’t listen to the warnings, or chose to ignore them. I joined the rest of the people on the boat in giving the silly people scouring looks, though I was smiling really.
We managed to see the crocs being fed from both sides of the boat, and I was amazed at how high out of the water the crocs could jump. I thought they were overly cautious with how far from the water the seats were, but on this evidence it was absolutely necessary. The size of some of the crocodiles was impressive also, and although we didn’t get to see the largest one, we were lucky enough to see a large number of the rest. The guides also fed the Eagles as they swooped down past the boat in their numbers, grabbing the food with ease as they swooped past at some speed. It was hard to see them to be honest, and I had to rely on good timing with my camera to get a better look at them. They were huge though, I could see that much.
After the fun and games on the boat, we climbed back into our tour bus and headed for a nearby waterfall and a good chance to cool off. The water was lovely, and many people were swimming out to the waterfall itself, so I followed. I could honestly have stayed here all day. Even for all the tourists about, it still felt peaceful as people respected the silence. I think we were all just happy to be in the cool water. There was a small walkway that promised excellent views of the falls, so I made sure I fit this in before we departed. I made the excellent decision to undertake the walk barefooted, as I left my shoes back by the bus. At first, the numerous rocks and stones were manageable, and the heat was bearable, but as the walk went on, my feet became more and more painful as the rocks became sharper and the heat more intense. I must have looked a sight as I hopped from foot to foot, grimacing as I went. Others smiled at me as they walked past in their appropriate footwear. Perseverance got me to the photo point, and the view was excellent, well worth the pain, but the journey back down the path was even worse. Dipping my feet back in the cool water after this was a pleasure unlike any other.
I got talking to a really interesting German girl as we ate dinner by the falls, and was fascinated to learn of all the travelling she has done at such a young age. She was a frequent hitchhiker, and was experienced in couch surfing, which is when people offer their couches for people to stay as they travel through. Even though only in her late teens, she could have taught me a lot about cheaper/alternative methods of travel. I’m not sure I am that brave or trusting though, so I had to commend her on this.
We moved on, this time to more water falls and swimming pools scattered about the rocks. It was a chance to relax in the sun and cool off at the same time. Whilst here, our guide showed us some green ants, and prompted us to try one. This was actually something I wanted to do, and offered my hand for some tasty treats. The green ants were quite large, and tasted like citrus, very nice indeed. I went back for seconds, and thirds, and even picked one or two up from the rocks throughout the rest of the trip. Following the eating theme, we came next to the sight of some enormous termite mounds, years in the making. I was astonished and never imagined them to tower above our heads like they were. The guide plucked a couple of termites from their mound, and shoved them in his mouth. We all followed in turn, these giving a more peppery taste, but still nice. The tour had come to an end at this point as we completed the 400km round trip back in Darwin. We said our goodbyes and went on our ways back to our accommodation.
The rest of my time in Darwin was spent by the lagoon, sweating in the brilliant sunshine, before packing my bags ready for a long train journey to the center of OZ, and to Uluru.
Written by Daniel Stevens,