Day 198 | Daily Darwin Drama
I haven’t written for 151 days. 20 weeks. 5 months. I left you with a piece of my heart and soul and it was a hard one to follow up. Day 47 was the first time that I had let my guard down and been vulnerable with all of you. I have been struggling to come up with ideas for my next post, but I can’t blame my mental block completely for the hiatus. I’ve been a little busy…
On the 28th of February, I boarded my flight to Australia and touched down in Sydney on the 2nd of March. If you are wondering, no, I’m not planning on reliving that hellish flight anytime soon. Our first day in Sydney, we got a $250 parking ticket (NEVER RENT A CAR IN SYDNEY), I leaned in to the fact that I had strep throat (read: tonsillitis for my international friends), and we checked into a hostel in Kings Cross, which is a seedy little borough filled with casinos and strip clubs. Not the best first impression Oz could have presented, but we remained optimistic. Our week was eventful, we explored the harbor, took a ferry ride over to Cockatoo Island which is an old penal colony, and let my friend Josh guide us through the Blue Mountains. For being tiny mole hills compared to the Northern Cascades, the Blue Mountains were definitely still impressive, especially our hike to the base of Wentworth Falls. We spent a few days trying to soak up the sun on Bondi Beach, and failed miserably, instead living in our raincoats. Finally, by the end of our “holiday” in Australia, we were ready to move to our forever home.
We touched down in Darwin at 12:43pm on the 9th of March, took a cab to a hostel I had researched called Mela-something on Mitchell St. My friend Garret, who lived in Darwin last year had told me that all the madness is on Mitchell St. Little did I know…
On our first day, after dropping off our stuff into our 6 bed dorm and heading down to the hostel bar, we isolated ourselves in a corner and ordered a pitcher of beer (read: jug of beer). Before long, the Hahn Super Dry (basically Busch Lite) gave us the liquid courage to approach a small group sitting at the table nearest the bar. Turns out they had all gotten to the hostel a few days before us and gladly welcomed us into their little family they were creating. The patriarch, Tom, was a outrageous, English, goofball who could make an islander feel welcome in the Arctic and he became one of our closest friends. The family came from all over Europe – England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Denmark, Ireland, and we added some North American flare, along with a cheeky Canadian girl who joined a few days later.
For the first week, all we did was sit at the library to soak up the free wifi, as the hostel wifi was shit. I think I mentioned on Day 30, that I was aware wifi would be an issue in Oz, but I didn’t expect to have none at all. Each day, after we wore out our welcome at the library, we would meet back up with the fam to drink countless jugs and tan by the pool at MoM (Melaeuca on Mitchell). Soon enough, both Katy and I found jobs and started spending less time drinking and more time focused on finishing our regional work (88 days of slave) which was our reason for choosing Darwin in the first place.
If you know anything about Working Holiday visas, you know that to qualify to stay for a second year, you have to do regional/farm work for 3 months (88 days full-time). As Americans, we can work in hospitality as long as we do it above the Tropic of Capricorn. So Katy found a job at a restaurant on the waterfront called The Oyster Bar and I took a waitressing job at the bar favored by all Darwin backpackers, Monsoons.
Our daily routines started to fall into place, and we became comfortable with our new life in Darwin. Too bad it didn’t feel like we had even gone traveling. It just felt like we had moved from one small town to another. The cool thing about Darwin, that Spokane lacks, is that the town is filled with young travelers, and you can never go anywhere without running into someone you know. I was talking to my dad awhile back about how it actually reminds me a bit of Pullman and college in general, in that sense.
Now that we are four months into our 6 month stint in Darwin, I can officially recommend this place to anyone. Sure, there isn’t much to do in the city other than get pissed (read: drunk), but the weather is phenomenal during the dry season (May-October), the wages are high, and if you are willing to put in the effort, there are some amazing National Parks only a few hours drive away.
The first park we visited was Litchfield NP, where we gathered up the fam into a mini van and drove 1.5 hours to swim in waterfalls. After that, Katy and I decided to spend our Independence Day like every American should, camping in a National Park. We chose Kakadu, which is the largest National Park in Australia and it definitely did not disappoint. More on the parks later.
Now that I have recapped what I’ve been doing over the last 5 months, I suppose I should tell you how I’ve been feeling. In short, happy, stressed, tired, hungry, warm, and loved. Happy because I have met amazing people who I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. I have an amazing apartment that I get to share with my best friends, and a job that pays me more than it should. Stressed because we are getting down to crunch time and I don’t have as much money saved as I would like to. Tired because I’m alternating working 10 hour waitressing shifts in the evening with working 8 hour shifts as a bartender in the mornings. Hungry because the food here is shit and I don’t have enough time to cook for myself. Warm because it’s 10AM and I’m sitting on my balcony, overlooking the sea with a cup of coffee in my hand. And loved because I know my friends and family are supporting me in this amazing adventure that has and will continue to change my life for the better.