Darwin, Australia: Cheeseburger in Paradise (February 1 – 2)

Australia is our fifth continent and thirteenth country in seven months! It has been an amazing adventure so far, and we were both really excited about our month long visit to the land “down under.”

On January 31st, Mike and I traveled from Vietnam to Singapore then onwards, or should I say downwards, to Darwin, Australia. We didn’t get out of Hanoi without an adventure to write about. I am always paranoid about big travel days, so we arrived at the airport four hours prior to our flight. The airport is large, so we started to hunt for our airline’s (JetStar) counter to check-in. It wasn’t anywhere on the first level, but we found a JetStar ticket kiosk where the lady directed us downstairs. So Mike and I lugged our big bags downstairs to stand in line to check-in. Well, turns out this was the domestic counter, and we were directed back upstairs. Well, this continued for a couple rounds, until we finally determined that there was no counter for international JetStar check-in until two hours prior to the flight. So we sat, and I learned the lesson that sometimes you can be too early!

The Singapore airport was nice, but our favorite thing about our layover was eating a Subway sandwich! The bread tasted so good and just having fresh veggies, including olives, was a treat to our taste buds! After our nice dinner, it was time to catch our overnight flight to Darwin. We unfortunately got stuck sitting next to a young lady who continued to flirt loudly with the guy sitting directly behind her. The whole plane learned about their lives while just wishing they would shut up!!

So, we arrived in Darwin with little sleep to pouring down rain. However, our luck changed when we checked into our hostel as we were upgraded from a dorm room to a private double room that was available right away! It was perfect to take a nice morning nap after our exhausting travel day!

When we woke up, we had one thing on our minds… cheeseburgers! It had been four months since Mike and I had eaten a burger, which by the way is one of our favorite foods. So, we walked into town on a mission. At the first pub we were informed by the grumpy waitress that the only place in Darwin to get a burger was McDonalds! I almost panicked, but right next door there was a restaurant that had cheeseburgers! They were amazing, and although I almost fainted of shock at the price ($16 each), I truly enjoyed it!

Since we had some calories to work off, we decided to walk around downtown Darwin. It was fairly small but had a few nice sights to see with very informative signs. Each sign highlighted two major events in Darwin’s history… WWII bombing in 1942 and Cyclone Tracy in 1979; both devastated Darwin. So that would explain why all the architecture was around similar time periods.

The waterfront was pretty and even had a wave pool, as you can’t swim in the ocean due to deadly box jellyfish, better known as stingers, and crocodiles!

Our last sight was the supreme courthouse, which sounds strange, but has a beautiful, glass, floor mural in the main hall. The mural depicts an ancient Aboriginal story of seven sisters who became stars in the milky way to escape an evil, lustful man. It was beautiful and best viewed from above.

After all our sightseeing, we decided it was time to sample the Australian beer. It was excellent, but we again had sticker shock after getting used to Southeast Asia’s prices! But the beer was good, and so was the fresh green salad that I enjoyed for dinner!

We started the next day by exploring the fantastic art museum. The first exhibit was devoted to Aboriginal art, which were mostly paintings but also a few sculptures too. I really liked that the paintings were on large pieces of tree bark and you could still see the curvature of the tree.

The next exhibit was on Australia’s native animals with displays of stuffed animals. This is where I learned that pretty much everything here can kill me!! There was even a five meter long crocodile named Sweetheart on display who weighed 780 kilograms!

The last section was devoted to Cyclone Tracy, and it was amazing to see the before and after pictures. It sure did leave a path of destruction! It hit the city on Christmas and destroyed almost every house in town!

After the museum, we walked to Fanny Bay Nature Reserve which is on a small outlet with good views back towards town. We enjoyed walking on the nature trails but saw no wildlife, just huge ferns!

Our last stop of the day was a beach that hosted their weekly food market. We arrived at the beach, and there was no one there! After further examination of our guidebook, it was only open during their dry months. Oh well, we settled for a nice calzone in town insteadJ

Darwin was a nice re-introduction to the Western world. It took us a day to get used to sidewalks again, to not fear for our lives when crossing the streets, and not hear motorbike’s horns constantly. I enjoyed brushing my teeth with tap water and flushing my TP down the toilet. Sometimes it is the little things you miss! It was also nice to speak the same language as the locals, although we still had trouble understanding them, and they couldn‘t understand us too well, either. Just these simple pleasures began to re-charge us, and we are now ready to start our grand road trip down the East coast of Australia!

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