Two weeks in Darwin – keeping the faith, feeling poorer than we've ever been, and getting extremely lucky...

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April 13th 2013
Published: May 7th 2013
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Hanging aroundHanging aroundHanging around

on site at Hidden Valley caravan park waiting for someone to make us an offer on Bernie
We had set up at Hidden Valley, a caravan park outside of Darwin, with nice grounds and a nice pool, and decided to give it 5 days before lowering the price on the car. Since we were (very) low on money and had no idea of a) when we would sell the car or b) how much we could get for it, our days consisted of devising ways of evading the extremely sticky heat while spending as little money as possible. This included eating through our reserves of canned food, spending time at the library (free though sloooooow wifi, and amazing aircon), visiting the Northern Territory Museum, which was like a glorious refrigerator and is home to the best natural history exhibit outside of New York and a really extensive Aboriginal art & culture exhibit as well, which we welcomed at last.

Mostly we tried to stay positive, but after a few days and no replies, the uncertainty, the extreme heat and the fact that for the most part, even going to a cafe was ruled out as being too pricey, we were feeling pretty down on our luck.

We had considered driving to Cairns to try and sell
On the safe sideOn the safe sideOn the safe side

Sadie is keeping a safe distance
the car there, but on closer inspection the diesel costs would be much more than we had thought, and still we had no guarantees. We decided to stay put, hunker down, and try to make the best out of our situation. We booked one more week at the caravan park (though this was apparently against the rules, as there was a 3-day limit on the cheaper unpowered sites) and decided we could treat ourselves to the occasional iced coffee as long as it was accompanied by free high-speed internet. Java Spice, a cafe with lovely staff, rocket-quick wifi and delicious coffee, proved to be the best for this. It is really swanky so all the people who go there are too fancy to use the wifi. On the 5th day, we got a strange phone call from a girl whose boyfriend had asked her to call about the car. Then we got an email from the man himself, a local who was away at the mines but was very interested and would buy it, cash, as long as it was in good condition. It sounded too good to be true, and as the emails were riddled with spelling mistakes and
Waterfront wharfWaterfront wharfWaterfront wharf

It was supposedly here some of the best and freshest fish in Darwin was to be found, unfortunately we missed out on that
he said he wouldn't be back for at least a week, we never ceased to have our doubts. We put the price down on all notice boards (but not on the ad he had replied to) and again remained positive. We made friends with Kathy and Dede, a Belgian-Irish couple who were also staying at our campsite, and hung out with them some evenings, chatting about life and travel and the world (they were also older than all the other “kids” staying there getting drunk and making everything filthy, and we often found comfort in each other). We even went to the movies one day and saw the Croods, which made us laugh enough to give us a huge lift, and we went to the Territory Wildlife Park, which was well worth the money and the drive. It has all the animal types found in the Northern Territory, in their natural habitats, and run by fantastically friendly, energetic staff. In a nutshell, we did everything we could to have a good time and not think about about the fact that we had no other offers and were soon very very broke. We did, of course, also spend several days in the blistering heat trying to sell the car at a kind of free-air market outside of town, as well as made many rounds continuously putting the price down on our flyers.

The day of Matt the miner's return came, and we checked into a hostel in order to show him the car without all our messy stuff in it. And, after all our hoping and praying, it all paid off. He bought it pretty much on the spot, and before we knew it we were going out for dinner (something we had done only once since Perth) and buying a round of drinks for Kathy and Dede to celebrate. The very next day we booked our trip to Indonesia, and back home.

Everything had just worked out perfectly. Yes, we had had to wait two weeks, but on the whole that was not that long to sell a car. We had gotten the price we wanted for it, were able to get a little vacation before going home, had met some lovely people and managed to enjoy ourselves. And our few last days in Darwin were spent sleeping in air-conditioning, and plotting our Indonesian trip. Perfect!

Find the fishFind the fishFind the fish

Some fish are not as colorful and flashy as others...
Next time we come to Australia: we will come at the right time of year (dryer, cooler) to visit the areas we want to. We will drive the Gibb River Road (with a rental!) and hopefully into the Red Centre. We will see Uluru. And we will have more money. The main reason Australia was so rough on us is basically because we didn't have enough money, which often meant no way of finding refuge from the sun or the heat, which often proved tiring and frustrating, sadly...

- We knew a while back that New Zealand was no longer going to happen, and so, that, too, will have to be part of another trip...

- Favorite time in Australia: Karajini National Park. The nature is beautiful, it is filled with glorious, crocodile-free swimming holes, and there are shady hikes all around.

- Also a favorite: all the bush camping we did. Driving up impossible rocky ridges or down boggy beaches and camping where there was no-one around for miles was a fantastic experience.

- We would like to thank everyone who wished us well, and luck, and helped us stay positive about our car and money woes. It all worked out in the end and we can't help but think it helps to have so many good thoughts on our side 😊

- What they say about Australians is true, they really are a relentlessly friendly lot. We've been taken in, greeted, helped on many occasions. On one visit to the NT Museum a random lady overheard us and just gave us two dollars for the locker, since we had no cash on us. The other thing they say about them is also true, they really have a different approach to what is dangerous or life-threatening. When describing seeing a shark up close while on a lonely swim, the most you will get out of an Ozzie is that they were “a bit” scared. And that could involve being chased by it. They really are used to the world around them simply being a rather hostile place.

- Some things that did get to us after a while: the relentless sticky heat (especially at night), the piercing sun (hello, absent ozone layer) the presence of spiders, snakes, scorpions, lizzards, crocs, sharks and jelly fish (of the latter the deadliest aren't even visible!) in salt and fresh water, the fact that 200 dollars is a “budget” hotel room, and yes, all the sad Aboriginal people who have fallen out of both societies and who drink, heckle, and hang out on the streets...

Additional photos below
Photos: 49, Displayed: 26


At the sunset marketAt the sunset market
At the sunset market

We got to see the first sunset market, and no doubt there was a lot to see

thousands of people came to the first sunset market for food, shows, music, fireworks and everything good that the region had to offer
Green frogGreen frog
Green frog

there are so many frogs in the wildlife par so its hard to keep them all apart, but no matter what - this is a green one
Freshy 1Freshy 1
Freshy 1

we finally got to see some crocs in real life
Clever birdClever bird
Clever bird

If the egg shell is to hard, make sure you bring some tools

7th May 2013

Congratulations on selling the car.
Enjoy Indonesia.
7th May 2013

Finally moving on
Thanks guys, we had a great time with our car, Bernie, and if we could we'd take him home. Hopefully it will get a lot of more time on the road with its new owner
7th May 2013

Australia is one of the most beautiful place on earth!
Finally you guys did a review of Darwin, I've been there myself last year and it was an amazing experience.
8th May 2013

Job Done!
Well, you made it safe and sound AND sold the car...good work, anyone making that trip's got to be pleased with that. Picked up on your blog just as you left Perth and thought, hmmm, that could be an interesting adventure at this time of year!! So it proved but despite the ups and downs it sounds like you've had some magic moments and awesome memories. I've been through Halls Creek twice, both times at night and both times the town has literally been on fire... bit of a rough spot! Have a great trip through Indonesia on your way home, but do keep your promise to come back to Oz some day... the Gibb River Road really is all it's cracked up to be when it's dry!!!
11th May 2013

A great experience
Thanks for your comment, we surely had some challenges on our way, but the experiences that were positive was much bigger and better. We know we didn't choose to travel from Perth to Darwin at the easiest time, but it was a now or never kindda thing and we don't regret it. We are looking forward to getting back to see some more of Australia and do the Gibb and the red center, but all in good time ;-)

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