No - we haven't fallen off the edge of the world, although sometimes we think we're at world's end. Following our arrival in Darwin, and after a boring and tedious trip across the "Top End", we couldn't face continuing on to the Kimberleys, which sound much the same except for the addition of a few gorges, and stunning anchorages, enormous tides and devoid of people.
So a boat
meeting was held and we decided that if we could both find work that we
enjoyed then we would stay a season, top up the cruising kitty and get
ready to leap off the end of the world.
How has this panned out? What we didn't expect was how much fun Darwin is! This is difficult to understand as the climate sucks - three seasons:
My theory is that Darwinians figure that the climate totally sucks - so let's have some fun! More on that later
Darwin is booming economically. It is host to a large number of capital projects mainly driven by a $17billion natural gas project, lots of mining nearby and other government funded projects. Unemployment is around 0.5 % so to satisfy this workforce demand, large numbers of workers are "fly in/fly out" which has led to accommodation and skills shortages.
Now, you may think that Darwin, being a capital city, it is a teeming metropolis - think again! The Northern Territory, which is about the size of Germany or Texas, has a population of just 250,000 and 90% live in Darwin. This translates into lots of facilities and not many people to use them. It also means a small village temperament - you can stand in the supermarket and chat to the mayor, or have a beer with the Chief Minister. It also means you are likely to bump into someone you know when you get out, so have to be on your best behaviour most of the time
So how are we coping in this free and easy society? After passing her accountancy exams, Christine has become financial manager for a large (local) hospitality company. She looks after two pubs, four hotels and is currently building two more. Most of the rooms are already booked out for the next 3 years for the corporations doing the major projects! I'm contracting for a company in the marine logistics business, mainly looking after their subsidiary in East Timor, nothing exciting there. We are still living on Poco, bought a car and commute 5 minutes per day to the office. Traffic jams are unheard of!
So what of Darwin life? Darwinians survive the wet season mostly by partying at the local hostelries, holing up in air conditioned homes and watching the rain fall. Luckily we have joined the local Dinah Beach Yacht Club, which holds wet season races. I have managed to crew in these which brightens up every other Sunday (tides are a problem!).
rain stops Darwin bursts into bloom - concerts, shows, events, every weekend.
Iconic places like the "Deckchair Cinema" set up showing movies
every night on the water front. This is like watching a movie in someone's
back garden, complete with beer and barbeque. You can catch a film, under
the stars, with fireflies twinkling and the odd Possum wandering around.
We are told that sometimes a visit by a wayward snake causes a bit of
a commotion! Sitting out over the beach watching the sunset and picking
up a meal at the asian-style Mindil Beach Market is also a great pastime.
Beaches here are different; yes there are broad, white sandy beaches,
warm water, the odd surf - however the water is often occupied by crocodiles,
jelly fish and other nasties! So, swimming is constrained to the swimming
course our trip to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Penang to celebrate Rob
& Jas' wedding in October! More on that in the next instalment