Monday, June 16, 2008

DAY 234: Day 5 off in Darwin

14th June 2008

36 km @ 14.0 km/hr

Sunny, 31 deg C

Elevation of destination 37 m

Distance to date 14209 km (8881 miles)

The weekend comes around again and I’ll be spending it here in Darwin as I await my parcel. The post office isn't open again until Monday. I would probably have been moving on by now if it wasn’t for this, but it is a very nice place to be stuck - plenty to see and do, and good cycleways to get around on. All this pleasure is hitting my budget hard though, and I’ll no doubt bust it again this month. I could get used to this climate I think - at least now, in the ‘winter’, where it rarely drops below 30 deg C during the day. It has been a bit cooler at night recently thankfully, however if I lived here I’d have a fan going at night which would make it more acceptable.

Today I sought out a few places I haven’t been to yet - first off, the Charles Darwin National Park. This is only 3km from the Leprechaun Caravan Park, and comprises a few hundred Ha of thinnish forest and coastal mangrove swamps. You don’t get to see the latter, unfortunately, as the tracks don’t go that far, and the forested area isn’t very interesting; no wildlife or birds were seen. There is a nice view across the bay to the city, but little else to persuade me to linga longa.

From here I headed towards the city on the southern highway, which runs parallel to the Stuart Highway via Fisherman’s Wharf. There were hundreds of trawlers moored here indicative of the importance of the fishing industry to Darwin, and it’s also a centre for private yachts. I had been told of an excellent fish and chip shop here so as it was lunchtime it seemed a good time to try it out, so I ordered Barramundi and chips. As usual there was enough for at least 3 starving people, and I probably managed to devour around 80% of that so I did pretty well. The fish was straight off the boat, never been frozen, and you could tell that. Reminded me of the superb fish and chips at Kinlochbervie Fisherman’s Mission in N.Scotland, which I’ve been enjoying for the past 12 years when working out there.

I was looking for somewhere to sit / lie down for a while and have a read after the large lunch, and found some shady rocks at the front of the Deckchair Cinema down on the foreshore. However as I got comfy on the big rock-armour boulders the novel, that I just started yesterday (Cloudstreet, Australian classic by Tim Winton) fell from my grip and dropped between the rocks. It was some way down and out of reach, and I was starting to think I would have to abandon it until eventually I managed to lift it up a little with a couple of sticks so I could just get my fingertips on it. Anyone watching me probably wondered what the hell I was doing. I decided to go for an ice cream instead at Baskin-Robbins - I just can’t resist that place!

Whilst down at the shore I noted that there was a decent film on at the Deckchair cinema tonight - Brick Lane - and having read the novel I knew it was a good story (of Bangladeshi woman trapped in a miserable relationship with older man after arranged marriage), so after riding back to camp for shower and change I returned for the 1930 showing. It’s very pleasant watching the film unbder the moon and stars - and cooler and more airy - although I had to put plenty of mozzie repellent on to ward off the usual sporadic evening attacks. I get bitten at least 6 times every night no matter what I do. Occasional white streaks across the screen indicated other, larger, flying insects, as well as the odd bird and bat looking at what was going on. Curry dinner was being served from 1830, and it looked good too, but I was still quite full from the massive lunch so just contented myself with a couple of beers and bags of crisps. The deckchairs are pretty comfortable but most patrons took one of the available cushions to lean back against. The film was pretty good, and I enjoyed the whole experience. It would have been nice with someone to go with, but I got to chat a little to the ladies sat next to me. I have had little social contact since staying with Kingsley actually; the Warmshowers hosts I had planned to stay with here in the city were away at the weekend and I didn't make contact with them until very recently, and it was hardly worth me moving so close to leaving Darwin.

Afterwards I saw very little traffic on the easy ride home, which took only 15 minutes or so. I enjoy riding at night; no wind, just warm air slipping past and the usual night sounds and rustlings from unseen fauna.

I’ve pretty much done Darwin to death now I think, so will spend the next couple of days doing some bike maintenance and just resting and reading.

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