So I haven’t written anything since…… well, since a long time ago. Once again, I’m not sure where to begin but I think Bali is a pretty good place start. So we made a spontaneous decision to travel to Bali and it was nothing short of spectacular. The diving was out of this world, I saw so many amazing fish, corals, manta rays and my first white tip reef sharks! Living on a boat for 7 days was also a new experience for me and, other than a few minor shitty things, it was beautiful. Waking up everyday surrounded by magical scenery, eating all our meals on deck in the open air and diving in incredible underwater gardens – what more could you ask for?
Well actually I would ask for one more thing and that is that the smaller tender boat, wait a little bit longer…. Here’s why, on one of the dives we all hopped in the small tender boat and drove out to a channel where we were doing our next dive. The water was quite choppy and visibility wasn’t very good so I was already a bit more nervous than usual but we hopped in. Unfortunately, shortly after descending my ears hurt and I was unable to clear them, so Tom and I resurfaced after 1 minute. To my absolute shock and horror the small tender boat was nowhere to be seen!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There we were in the middle of the ocean, in choppy, dark green water and I went from being totally calm to complete panic in less than half a second. I will say this now, I have never, ever in my whole life felt more panicked than what I did out there. All at once I had scenes of the film ‘Open Water’ running through my head, with Tom and I starring as the Lonergans, I was picturing sharks swimming round my legs and I could hear the jaws music playing in the background. It was at this point when I was deep in panic mode that Tom turned and said to me, “Megan, this is not a movie!” thank god Tom knows me so well and knew how to give me a well needed reality check. I mean, we knew the boat was coming back for us, we just had to wait –in between whistling loudly and waving my arms frantically to gain someone’s attention I tried my best to wait calmly and patiently.
So after what felt like hours but was actually only 35mins, the tender boat returned – I think when the 2 Indonesian crew on board saw the look on my face they knew there was a problem. Unfortunately they didn’t speak a word of English so I couldn’t ask them where they’d gone but we later found out, that they had been asked by the dive guide to find a buoy that had been blown away. It was the best feeling in the world hopping back on that little boat, I will never forget it and for every dive after that, I made sure that they learnt the meaning of the word “wait”. Thank god, Tom stayed Mr Cool, Calm and Collected the whole time we were out in the water, he handled the situation without showing any stress at all and even managed to keep me somewhat calm throughout the ordeal –which I didn’t think would even possible. Thanks Tom, you’re the best!
Thankfully the rest of the trip was smooth sailing. Once we left Bali we flew back to Darwin. It was so nice to stay with my Auntie Liz and Uncle Chris and to catch up with my cousins Daniel and Amy! They have a beautiful home in Darwin and we had the luxury of a pool and air-conditioning, which were absolutely fabulous and also imperative to our survival in Darwin. I cannot believe how hot it gets up there, I mean I knew it got hot, but the humidity is insane! It’s amazing that anyone living in Darwin manages to get anything done, unless of course it’s done in air con. I couldn’t ever live up there not just because it’s so hot but because of the frizz – my hair was out of control!
My cuzzy Daniel took us on an amazing day trip out to Litchfield National Park. We went from one freshwater swimming hole to the next – it was wicked! We stopped at one place where Dan and his mate Chris put on a great bbq and where we enjoyed drinking some cold beers while sitting in a freshwater creek – it was awesome – except for the flies!
After a few more relaxing days in Darwin, that we spent chilling by the pool and getting our beautiful van beauty repaired, we hit the road again and headed for Kakadu. This is where things really start to heat up, literally. On the drive to Kakadu it was ridiculously hot in the van, the hottest that we’d ever been and I can tell you there wasn’t much conversation along the way just a lot of sweating.
Once we arrived in Jabiru we made the executive decision to find an air conditioned cabin to stay in – unfortunately everyone else beat us to it, so the next best thing was to buy a pedestal fan for the van. It saved our lives!!!! I think the lowest temperature overnight was about 29C and sleeping in a van well you can imagine, in that sort of heat is unbearable and probably only comparable to sleeping in a sauna. Thank god for our fan!
On our first afternoon we drove to Ubirr rock to check out some of the aboriginal rock art and to watch sunset over the floodplains. The artwork was incredibly special to see and the sunset was breathtaking. I think both Tom and I not only thoroughly enjoyed the breathtaking beauty of the sunset we were also seriously happy just being able to see the sun go down and take some of the day’s heat with it.
The next day we drove to Bowali Information Centre. It had lots of beautiful displays and information about Aboriginal Culture. It also had a 1 ½ hour documentary about Kakadu that was showing in an air conditioned cinema – that was my favourite part. From there we drove onto Cooinda to find our campsite for the next few nights, we got a great spot and in the afternoon we went on a Yellow Water river cruise. If you ever go to Kakadu, a cruise on Yellow Water is an absolute must. We saw so many birds, Jacanas, Brolgas, Sea Eagles, Kingfishers and the beautiful Jabiru birds. We also saw A LOT of crocodiles, a 4metre crocodile swam right up beside the boat it was seriously freaky.
The following day Tom and I went on an ‘Animal Tracks Safari’ in the bush. We went with an aboriginal lady by the name of Patsy who showed us how to look for food in the bush including mussels, long necked turtles and water chestnuts. We also learnt about different plants and also had the pleasure of eating green ants – surprisingly they were actually quite good. They tasted like lime citrus and the aboriginals have numerous medicinal uses for them, including using them to relive headaches and also cold and flu systems.
On our safari we also saw wild buffalo, brumbies (wild horses), wild cattle and lots of beautiful birds. Towards the end of the day we drove out to the floodplains for our bbq. For dinner we had magpie geese, buffalo, barramundi and mussels. It was all delicious, especially as it was prepared over a traditional fire of hot rocks. Tom also tried freshly made damper which he said was the best bread he’s had since he’s been in Australia.
After we left Kakadu we made our way towards Katherine. We met a great Irish couple Sarah and Paul in Kakadu who were also heading to Alice Springs so we decided to travel together. The drive to Katherine was long and hot (how unusual) and by the time we made it to Katherine we were all buggered.
The next day we headed off on our tour of Katherine Gorge – WOW! You have the option of taking a self tour of the gorge by canoe but after seeing the saltwater crocodile traps they have in place there I wasn’t even putting a foot in. The boat tour was worth every cent and I think everyone on board left feeling mesmerized by the beauty of the gorge and also a little sunburned.
Next stop – Daly Waters! Another long and hot drive – until you drive in the outback of Australia it’s hard to understand what it’s like. The road is so long and straight that sometimes you get excited by a slight curve in the road or what’s funnier, you drive along a stretch of road that’s so long and straight when you get to a crest in the hill, you think Ooh what’s over the hill?…. Exactly the same as before, another long stretch of road that goes on as far as the eye can see! Sometimes the road looks like it goes straight into the sky it stretches on that far.
So after a long drive we rewarded ourselves with an ice cold beer in the Daly Waters Pub – now that a must do experience for anyone travelling out this way in the outback. It’s the oldest pub in the Northern Territory and almost everyone leaves something hanging in the pub before they leave, including undies, g-strings, photos, jerseys, hats, you name it, it’s there!
That night I think we shared our dinner with 50 million bugs and flies which wasn’t much fun and on top of that we were sharing our toilets with a few gorgeous green tree frogs who’d taken up residence in the cisterns of the toilets and also inside the toilet bowls. When you flush, green frogs legs and arms appear from the underside of the toilet rim desperately trying to fight the flush and cling on for dear life – what a life that must be! But it seems to work for them and it was so nice to see green tree frogs rather than the hideous cane toad that’s taking over the Northern Territory.
From Daly Waters onto Tennant Creek – what a mission! The journey stretched on forever but we made it into Tennant creek late afternoon and thank goodness it wasn’t as hot as Katherine or Kakadu. The next day it was off to Alice Springs – our biggest day of driving for the week 504kms. Thankfully this drive didn’t seem as long as the others, maybe it was because it wasn’t so hot and we were able to feel half human again, I’m not sure. Anyway, this drive was really stunning country side became a lot greener and there were so many yellow and purple wild flowers along the sides of the road.
Once we arrived in Alice we found our caravan park and set up camp. The best thing was getting our doonas and jumpers out again because it was only 10C that night – how absolutely wonderful! Tom and I had both noticed a funny noise coming from our car during the day so we decided to get it looked at the following day. Unfortunately after the mechanic looked at Beauty he discovered that the bushers (excuse spelling - don’t ask me to explain what they are or what they do) were loose and that it would take a full day to repair the problem and to top it off he wouldn’t be able to do it until the following Wednesday. So for us it meant spending 5 more nights and a lot more money in Alice than we had originally planned – but that’s life. On the positive side, I could think of worse places to be stuck – Alice is really a nice place and I’d much rather be stuck here than on the side of the road in the middle of the outback.
So we first arrived in Alice last Wednesday and now it’s Tuesday. What have we been doing the last 6 days? Enjoying the cooler weather, sightseeing, relaxing, reading and more relaxing, just the usual holiday kinda stuff. We also met an aboriginal artist and didgeridoo player by the name of Tommy Crow who lives in the caravan park where we’re staying. He put on a great didgeridoo show on at the park and also let me watch him do some of his paintings which are just amazing. You can check out his work at www.sunsetdreamingaustralia.com.au
Tomorrow it’s off the get the car repaired so fingers and toes crossed it all goes well. Well the mechanic just called me a second ago to say that the parts aren’t in yet, so it we’re not able to get it fixed until Thursday – what’s another night in Alice??
Hope everyone's happy and well. Lots of love Megan & Tom