Its really hard to believe almost two years have gone by since sailing into Cairns, Australia from the Solomons. Apart from a 4 month break where each of us went to our respective corners of the world, we have lived, worked and traveled this amazing country the entire time. We have experienced the big cold city life, sailed the remote islands, walked the rugged land and dove the great barrier reef. Whether by car or sailboat we have been lucky enough to see the entire coast from Melbourne to Darwin….And now the time has come to sail away.
After leaving Bundaberg we covered 2200 miles in about 4 weeks. Our adventure had definitely started when we left Bundy but in the back of our minds Darwin always twinkled as the destination from which the real adventure would start. Don’t get me wrong, the coast from Bundy to here was filled with amazing downwind sailing and endless reefs and islands but unfortunately, we were in a bit of a rush to get up here as the Indonesian sailing season starts in August.
Darwin has truly been a ‘rippa of a town. The city is not glamorous, but it doesn’t need to be. The public transport is shit, but there is always someone willing to give you a ride. There are no large skyscrapers or amazing architecture. Things move a bit slower due to the heat and there is red dust everywhere. The thing that really makes this place amazing, though, is the people. And because of that Darwin has become one of my favorite places in Australia.
Our first experience with Darwin’s “northern hospitality” started when we met our new army mates Capt. Dusty and Brett out at the Wessel Islands (Going Over The Top – By Brian). We didn’t know it at the time but Capt. Dusty had contacted a bloke by the name of Capt. Hook. (Seriously, that’s his real name. Capt. James Hook. I know, he’s pretty lucky) Dusty sent old mate an e-mail about our chance meeting and forwarded on our contact info. So, out of the blue after being in Darwin for a day we got an e-mail from some random person named Capt. Hook asking if we would like to come to his house for dinner. Delos never turns down a free meal so we gladly accepted and found ourselves the next night sitting on Capt. Hooks large out door deck. Him and his wife cooked up some amazing tucker; slow roasted lamb, roasted veggies and potatoes. It was delicious. Because we had just caught a beautiful Pacific Bluefin Tuna we showed up with fresh Poison cru (Ceviche with coconut milk). Capt. Hook and his wife kept offering us more beer and more wine (it was out of a bottle too! A real treat for us!) and all the food we could eat. We drank, partied and told stories well into the night with our new mates with them continuously asking if we needed anything and offering the use of the car and showers. Not only did Capt. Hook give me a ride to stock up on our boxed wine but he was able to track down 11 empty rum bottles that we can now fill with our moonshine!
We also had a great time with a mate from Hamilton Island (Hamilton Island Daze – By Brian). Old mate Adam Kelly. He’s a true GC. Adam and his wife, Erika, moved from the resort island up to Darwin not too long ago. His job is pretty full on. For a month straight he captains a 15 meter boat currently taking surveyors out for a gas pipeline project. Because he works for a month straight he then gets a month off! Fair dinkum. It worked out perfect and he had just finished his month on when we arrived. Just like the other Darwinians he right away offered to drive us around and help us any way possible. Thanks to Adam the task of filling propane tanks went from 8 hours and heaps of public transport to a nice ride in an air conditioned SUV. Nevertheless, going forward, whenever we need propane tanks filled, we can choose services such as Kelly Propane and other propane providers that can fill and deliver the tanks at the residence much faster. Coming back to adam, he turned the young ripe age of 39 while we were here so he invited us out for beers and authentic pizza.
Darwin reminds me a bit of a laidback southern town in the US. Everyone just goes at there own pace and doesn’t pay much attention to the rules. Only recently were the speed limits dropped from unlimited to130 KPH.
Our 2 weeks here were pretty busy. We got to experience the culture at the Darwin Show, basically a County Fair in American talk. Hang out with some old friends we hadn’t seen in years on S/V Jackster and S/V Solace. We even completed the last bits of projects!
And to top it off we took a trip inland and did some Camping amongst the waterfalls at Litchfield national Park. I was even able to finally feel like a true ozy when I sent a text message last night that said “bring over what ever you want to chuck on the barbie”. Later that night I was able to chuck some shrimp on the barbie!
And now its time! Time to say goodbye to the cool people we have met and the beautiful country that we have called home for so long. In a few hours we will leave for Banda in the Spice Island group of Indonesia. The breeze looks perfect with 15-20 knots out of the ESE. We have about a 600 mile sail ahead of us and we are all ready for it! Indonesia here we come!
Its fair to say we have met more cool people here in 2 weeks then our whole time in Australia. Thanks to those sweet as people that helped us here in Darwin! See you next time!
Capt. Hook and his family, Adam and Erika Kelly, Rob (thanks for letting us help you empty the 2 liter jim beam bottle and then give it to us once empty and for letting us use your Land Rover)
Sheila from Northlakes Medical Center that picked us up hitchhiking, Dr. Lyngaranathan Selvatatnam that gave us our typhoid injections, Old mate that bought a six pack and talked to us while we repaired our spinnaker, Capt. Dusty and Brett from the Army Defense Force, Phil (the german who picked us up and gave us a ride after seeing that we were waiting for the bus for a while FOLLOW HIM AT 07PHIL.COM), Backpacker Israeli Dude that gave us some smokes, Yvette (the Yoga instructor that gave us some sweet spots to check out in the Philippines), All the other drunk mates we met that night including Zach and the Irish dude, Anthony who picked us up and gave us a ride through the bottle shop and to the movies, Random Irish group by the water front, Marie and Aaron from S/V Sea Fox II (thanks for the berries prawns and music), Old mate from S/V Anyway, Leah the Swiss backpacker, and Fredrico the Brazilian cruiser who sold me a sweet hat!