Next, we were on to Darwin and I was pretty excited about the prospect. We were going to stay for a week, do some eating out, do some shopping, sightsee, relax … loved it.
Darwin is the capital of the Northern Territory and a former frontier outpost. It is the only tropical capital city in Australia and is beautifully located at the top tip of Australia, looking out over the Timor Sea.
It is the gateway to the famous Kakadu National Park. It is closer to other countries and their capitals than to Australia’s. It is actually pretty isolated. On Christmas Day of 1974, the entire population had to be airlifted out of the city. It was wiped out by Cyclone Tracey. So, when they rebuilt it, they put a great deal of thought into how to lay it out and it shows. It is a beautiful city.
We pulled into our campground and it was impressive. It was not that far from the city and it was well set up and heavily protected. We had a really great neighbour and the weather was super. We even had internet!!
So, I set up the computer to FaceTime with my family and I barely started talking to Ana when the first plane flew over. I mean, not a plane plane, but an airforce plane – an FA18. One . . . deafening, right over head, taking off, roaring, could not hear myself screaming into the computer “I can’t hear you, there is a plane overhead right now . . . ” and then there was normal and I got out “Wow, that was loud, what did you s….” and the next one took off. And then another . . . . and another .. . . . and I had to type that I would call her later. So I sat looking at Derek for a nano second until another plane took off and I am pretty sure he could not hear me because I certainly could not hear myself screaming “What the hell have you done?”
I cannot tell you how long it went on for. I can, however, tell you how long it seemed to last. For. EVER!
When it finally settled I asked him how he booked the park and if he had bothered to read any of the reviews. He admitted he hadn’t. My response was drowned in a new sound . . . . an FA18 landing . . . and then another one . . . and another one . . . and . . . .
Derek said, “Exercises. They won’t last too much longer. They just need to practice taking off and landing.” After over an hour of continual noise, we decided to go for a drive. The internet had indicated via reviews that while the park was close to the airport there was very little noise of real concern and none that had kept people awake. They raved about everything else. I allowed that Derek was probably right, just a temporary thing.
An hour later we could still hear the jets off in the distance. I guess we just got lucky and either hit town when the largest class ever was about to practice, OR they had a bunch of pilots who seriously needed remedial work on the whole “what do we do when the plane is not up in the air” situation? Either way, Derek and I were merely grunting at one another.
We went to the wharf and while we sat there enjoying the lovely day and the scenery, we watched the various fish below us and a chatted with a fellow who was trying to convince them to take some interest in his line. While we were chatting, another man came up and was sure there was a whale or something out across from us. It took awhile but we eventually realized it was a huge ocean going crocodile.
Neither of the men, the one having lived there and the other a regular summer visitor, had ever seen one. One had lived there over 14 years and the other, over 30. We were pretty stoked. Even as the boats came in really close and he bobbed around in their wakes, he seemed pretty chill about the whole thing, just swimming across the bay, enjoying the sunshine and keeping cool. It is pretty surreal for me to see that. Until I moved here I really had not taken in that there was such a thing as an ocean going crocodile. Now I had something else to worry about.
As we drove around we learned, that in addition to having chosen the exact time the unqualified pilots were being let loose with FA18s, the V8 Supercars were in for their annual event. A whole weekend of shattered ear drums. Whoot. In the privacy of the truck, with the doors closed, Derek and I had another conversation about while it was awesome that Derek planned the trip to avoid the big crush of the holiday crowds that were only about 2 weeks behind us, he should probably check out what else might be going on during our stay. Extra noise was definitely something I could do without. I took probably the better part of an hour to explain it to him in the truck, continued through our sight seeing, shopping and dinner and Derek just kept saying,”What?” He is “hard of hearing.” He has a “bad ear.” This is just a polite way of saying he is going deaf. Myself, I think it is a convenient safety mechanism men employ as they are getting older. It must be God’s plan to allow them some peace before they die.
I don’t let it bother me. I am confident I will be heard.
That’s what bullhorns were invented for.
Darwin has a real vibe to it. The younger families that live there, comment it is a great place to raise their families. I can understand that. For me, it would be much too hot in the summertime. In the winter it is still plenty warm which makes it a popular destination for tourists and caravanners.
Darwin was where we finally broke out the washing machine and tried it out. After hearing so many people rave about theirs, including people who had Supreme Caravans, although older and not the same model, we thought we would give it a try. WOW!! The more we use our caravan and talk to others, the more we realize what a great choice we made. It really exceeded our expectations.
The highlight of our time in Darwin had to be the evening we went to Mindil Beach to walk along it and enjoy the famous sunset.
The following night we returned for the Mindil Beach Sunset Market with all its fabulous food and entertainment. Twinkle lights were strung everywhere and it was just a warm, lovely night. We thoroughly enjoyed it.
You need some quiet repose to give you strength to deal with the jets which “practiced” for 3 days – morning, noon and night and the V8 Super cars revving their engines and racing around the streets. I am happy to report, although Derek was clearly to blame, he did avoid the beheading and I forgave him. Sometimes he should thank his lucky stars he married a Canadian. We are born polite, able to forgive and being squeamish to bloodshed. He would never have survived an American.