Tuesday, June 10, 2008

DAY 229: Humpy Doo to Darwin

9th June 2008

45 km @ 16.3 km/hr

Sunny, 31 deg C

Elevation of destination 37 m

Distance to date 14056 km (8785 miles)

Another nice lie-in until 0830; Kingsley keeps similar hours to me so no need to jump out of bed too early. At around 5 I woke for the loo, but when I opened my eyes felt as if I was in a completely surreal situation - it seemed like I was lying outside rather than inside, the glass door behind me was open so that only the mesh was between me and the outside, so I guess that was partly the reason for this - I just lay there for 2 minutes battling with my impressions versus reality - where was I !? Also, it was, typically, so silent outside with no wind, as always at night. It was a strange, spiritual-like occurrence. The sounds you hear at night are often so weird - unknown birds, bats or animals providing a kaleidoscope of sounds that challenge the imagination. It reminds me, if needed, that Australia is a magical place, and these odd experiences are ones I will always remember..

Once Kingsley was up and making breakfast that was a signal for me to join him in a big bowl of muesli and chopped banana and percolated coffee. We had a great discussion about cycling advocacy and Aboriginals for about 2 hours, which was very stimulating, until around noon, when I finally and reluctantly took my leave. I love this kind of stimulation and could have gobbed on for longer...I think we may meet again though since I’ve been invited to call again on the way back down in a few days time; if I manage to get the proper chainring I could avail myself of his chain whip to AGAIN attempt to renew the transmission, but more than that I would like to spend some more time with him - he’s a bit of a cynic (lol) but very good to talk with.

I had instructions from Kingsley how to find a bike path that takes you 20km into the city of Darwin, but I somehow missed the start of it and only found it 15km from Darwin - it is an old railway track and well suited for cycling. The road bends from heading NW to heading south as you approach the CBD. It’s a strangely-spread city due to the presence of the busy international airport and several large mangrove swamps, which in this relatively narrow peninsular squeeze development drastically - thus was built the ‘city’ of Palmerston 30 km south, which houses many of Darwin’s 120,000 residents - there’s simply no available space for more housing close to the centre.

The outer suburbs look much like any other town / city - several km of square industrial and retail buildings such as tyre fitters and car showrooms - but the traffic wasn’t as frenetic as in most cities, and this probably reflects Darwin’s relative smallness. It feels fairly relaxed cycling around the city centre; mind you it is a bank holiday today (the Queen’s birthday, God bless ‘er).

I grabbed an iced coffee as I toured around trying to find the YHA, and eventually found this anticipated abode for the next few days only to be disappointed - no male beds available at all for 2 days! I had failed to get a reply from my hoped-for Warmshowers hosts who I think may be away for the holiday weekend, so had to find an alternative. I had decided a good alternative would be to get a private room at the YHA as a ‘treat’, even though it cost around $70/nt. Not to be!

I tried another backpacker place but they were full too, so nothing for it but to head back down the Stuart Highway the was I came and find one of the several caravan parks.’ I came across the nearest one to the city after going back 7km - the Leprechaun CP - $15/pppn - and went for it. The camping area was choc-a-bloc - horror!! - so I went back to the office and was offered a nice quiet shady private site away from the mob, and got one, phew!!!

I went out to a little supermarket nearby for some supplies and cooked myself pasta with corned beef and washed down with a bottle of Banrock Station Shiraz Cabarnet (yes, the full bottle), so if I get garrolous please forgive me; I’m usually more temperate than this as you know, but I have been a bit stressed lately he he.....I do miss Lyn very much actually; it seems a long time since we had fun together.....I am enjoying what I’m doing, but also looking forward to coming home and seeing her again. Not sure about going back to work at SEPA, but I expect it’ll be OK once I’m sat behind my desk again putting the environment to rights...

There’s lots of noise here from an RAAF military exercise going on this weekend - jets flying over every few minutes making about 120 dB of noise - better than gabbling backpackers though, God forbid.

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