Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 12: Darwin

Sadly, Eric had to jump ship at this point and return to work. At least he was on a domestic flight to Sydney, which allowed him to carry on the numerous bottled goodies we had purchased at the distillery. Unfortunately for the rest of us, we were on a flight terminating in Singapore after dropping us in Darwin, requiring some quick baggage shuffling as we were suddenly travelling on an international flight. The only thing we couldn’t squeeze into the pack was the four litre bladder of wine we’d taken out of its box. I decided to try to sneak it through the x-ray scanner – at least the lady seemed to find my attempt amusing.

I was more concerned when my name was called over the loudspeaker several minutes later, and I was escorted back through security to the ticketing desk to explain why I had explosives in my checked baggage. Why is it that we immediately feel a mixture of guilt and fear that we’re about to be in a bad movie when these things happen? Apparently, tent poles look much like fireworks through an x-ray machine. Despite the fact that when shown the photo I immediately identified them as tent poles, which seemed reasonable given that they were in a giant hiking backpack, I was asked to unpack the whole thing in front of a crowd.

We had thought Cairns was uncomfortably warm, but it had nothing on Darwin. The public swimming area is open and at capacity year-round, because you start to sweat the moment you exit the front door. That night, Angela and I had to take a dip in the hotel pool just to stop sweating before we went to bed. The sea surrounding the Northern Territory, which houses Darwin, is off-limits to smart swimmers due to the presence of man-eating crocodiles. With many Queensland beaches off-limits during parts of the year due to box jellyfish, I was beginning to realise how lucky I was to live in New South Wales where the water is merely cold instead of deadly.

Aside from the heat, the other noticeable characteristic of Darwin and the Northern Territory is the presence of aborigines. Most months in Sydney, I won’t see a single aborigine unless I go down to Circular Quay outside the Opera House and see the man who is always playing the didgeridoo. Sadly, most of them do not seem to be very prosperous, mostly hanging out in public parks or outside supermarkets.

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