I remember Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory with great fondness after spending a week here with new found travelling friends back in 2009. I was 18 at the time and backpacking involved spending the day sightseeing, usually hungover, before opening a box of goon whilst playing ring of fire in the hostel. I’m not quite sure how I managed to sustain such a lifestyle but do know that if I was persuaded for one of these evenings again, I wouldn’t be able to resist.
For that very reason I checked myself into Vitina Studio Motel for a couple of nights with the aim to “get my shit together” before heading out into the outback for a few months. Of course, that didn’t happen. Like usual, doing what I want to do took priority over doing what I needed to do.
After a day of wandering aimlessly, brunching and pool side snoozing, I had one day remaining to finish off some blog posts, reply to countless emails, update my LinkedIn ….. the list goes on…. Plus I hadn’t any work clothes for the cattle ranch so a trip to the shops was in order too. That morning I headed out for what was meant to be an hours walk which turned into ten. This is what I do when I travel alone, I walk and I walk, because walking is exploring and there’s so much of the world to see. I made the walk to Darwin’s Mindil beach where the night markets are held during dry season. Unable to go in the sea because of the box jelly fish, I ventured out across the sand to the waters edge in the hope I’d find one of these fascinating creatures washed ashore.
No jelly fish, but I did notice a horrible looking translucent spider-like crab scurry close to my feet. Now aware of the ground beneath me, I noticed that I was stood smack bang in the middle of hundreds and thousands of these damn things migrating across the beach. All I wanted to do was to freak out but that wouldn’t of achieved anything, so I carefully tiptoed my way to shore careful not to step on any of the blighters.
By the time I had got myself out of the crab situation it was too late to go back to my room so I stopped for a delightful lunch at Eva’s Bontanical Gardens Cafe which I had sussed out online. I intended to get the hourly bus to the shopping mall for “outback essentials” so I gobbled down my detox kale salad and rushing out the door. It was then I remembered I only had my cash card and no change for the bus so I went back in to Eva’s to see if they could give me cash back. The very kind man (not the boss, the other one) gave me the bus fare out of his own pocket (thank you whoever you are!) and I just about made the bus – I hope you didn’t doubt me there 😉
Shopping was the last thing I wanted to do but I sucked it up and spent the next four hours in K Mart (I’ve since realised that the security tags have been left in half the items!) Luck wasn’t on my side in finding a fresh feed so my second Subway in 48 hours was to be my last “proper” supper and it wasn’t any better than the last – yelch!
Despite being utterly exhausted, I couldn’t miss out on watching the sunset which has become a daily ritual when travelling. It was stunning and well worth the extra blisters on my feet. I arrived home, showered, ate my Subway in bed whilst watching a British cooking show, booked my bus and passed out.
My alarm went off at 6:30am, just enough time to make it to the Greyhound Bus station for 7am which, I remembered wasn’t too far a walk from my place. I decided to check my ticket just in case and to my horror learnt that the bus stop was over 2k away. Now, 2k is no distance but 2k at 6:30am after 6 hours sleep, carrying 5 bags weighing over 30kg in 30 degree heat is one hell of a struggle. Not only that I was wearing a thin strapped top so the weight of all my bags rubbed my sun-weathered skin, sore from the day before. I was desperately late and ready to pass out but knew I had to make the only bus of the day so powered through and daren’t look at the time.
In true Helen-style, I arrived in the knick of time and boarded the bus to Fitzroy Crossing in WA. Of course, my bus has to be the only one not to have power points or wifi and I was sat next in front of a fat guy who’s knee went into my back every time he moved.
Life could be worse though eh? For the next 20 hours I see miles of untouched outback as I make my way through the Northern Territory. I’m spending the next few months working on a cattle ranch close to Fitzroy Crossing in Western Australia. What will I be doing? Your guess is as good as mine, I’ve never worked on a ranch before but to say I’m excited is an understatement. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be hot but it’s going to be an experience to remember.
Fingers crossed for 3G but it doesn’t look likely you’ll here from me soon folks. However, do check out my Instagram to keep updated on my adventures as I hope to continue my #photoaday that I started in Asia. So long, farewell, until next time……..
Top travel tip: Strict rules apply when it comes to transporting food across borders. I spent a fortune on fresh fruit and veg thinking these would be the things I’ll miss the most whilst in the outback. Unfortunately I had to give it all up mid-journey. Sad times.
Living life, loving travel,
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