Friday, June 13, 2008

DAY 231: Day 2 off in Darwin

11th June 2008

29 km @ 15.0 km/hr

Sunny, 32 deg C

Elevation of destination 37 m

Distance to date 14110 km (8819 miles)

Another peaceful night, although very warm again - night minimum temperature is around 23 at the moment, slightly more than the average winter minimum here. It’s hard for me to get to sleep, feeling so warm, and I usually resort to sleeping naked and rubbing myself down with a wet flannel a few times.

I was on another shopping quest this morning and was fairly successful, actually managing to get an identical replacement for my Topeak bar bag with broken zip - all the more pleasing since it took a lot of shopping around when planning the trip to get a bag that fit between the inboard bar ends I’ve fitted, and few other models would have done. This was bought at K9 Bikes in Coconut Grove, where I also found a pair of Netti baggy shorts with decent-quality insert; this to replace the shredded Assos shorts, and now also the ‘new’ Santini padded shorts I bought in Warnambool only 5 months ago, which are starting to shred too - poor value for the $90 I paid methinks - I wouldn’t but Santini again. Since I would be down to 1 pair of cycling shorts I also bought a pair of padded ‘knicks’ that I can wear under the non-cycling baggy shorts I already have. So that was $200 blown rather quickly, however I did get a discount without asking. I was also eying a pair of Lake touring shoes to replace the Shimano sandals which are looking the worse for wear, and although I was offered 25% discount I am concerned these closed-in shoes won’t have the ventilation that the sandals have, so I’m thinking about it.

Just up the road I finally found a camping shop, where I bought 2 new Sea to Summit 4 litre water bags to replace the leaking ones. Something sharp appears to have stuck in these and punctured them.

That’s my gear requirements more or less met, and I hauled these back to camp before riding out again to Fannie Bay and the Darwin Museum. I needed a coffee and cake and tried the restaurant there but they didn’t seem to have much to choose from and it all looked a bit formal, so I delayed sustenance for a while. The museum is very interesting, with sections on the 1974 cyclone which flattened the town; a large collection of hand-built wooden boats from Australia and surrounding Oceanic countries, indigenous art and artefacts, geological records etc. The latter spelt out how humans first arrived in Australia some 60,000 years ago i.e. from SE Asia at a time when sea levels were much lower and many land bridges were evident. Going even further back, I read that humans in the form of Homo Erectus probably initially left Africa 140,000 years ago and gradually migrated this way. OK, lesson over....

....and to more mundane but nevertheless essential issues, eating. I was spoilt for choice with all the cafes in Darwin, but McDonald’s have a nice terrace to sit and watch the world go by at, so was my choice. I plunged for a chicken cutlet with salsa sauce and went large with fries and coke - and it was very nice for $9 or so. As were the beautiful slim women of this town ambling past (or are they tourists?) - like me, suitably scantily clad on this hot afternoon lol. I deliberately didn’t have pudding at M’s, and after a little more shopping went to the next street where Baskin-Robbin’s served me with the biggest and most luscious Triple-Scoop Sundae smothered with cream and thick chocolate sauce ever! The hard part was choosing which 3 flavours of ice cream to have from the 30 or so available, but typically chocalate, caramel and crunchy honeycomb won the day.

So 3000 calories on I went gently exploring again, spending a little time in and around the modern and airy Lady of the Sea Catholic Cathedral before ambling back to camp along the wonderful tree-lined cycle path that borders the Stuart Highway. After just 2 days I feel I’m getting to know Darwin very well - it’s not that big and I must have been up most principal roads by now.

Unsurprisingly I wasn’t that hungry tonight so just snacked a little and read the Telegraph Weekly. Poor Gordon; what a rough time he’s having! This CP is right next to the Darwin Airport / RAF Base, and there’s been much noise from military aircraft again tonight, however this has been stopping before 10 (to allow crew to catch the last hour in the bar).

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