I just got back from a Spring Break trip with a few friends. Some friends and I had organised a vacation two months ago, and ended up with a large group of 9 (two from Spain, four from America,two Canadians, and one Dutch).
Many of my friends had paid for an organised spring break through a travel agency to see the East coast of Australia – where all the beaches, surfers, and parties are. However, because I am doing all of that in December with my brother, I thought it would be cool to go to the northern point of Australia to see something new. Darwin was going to be our destination! Yes the place where you can’t swim at the beach because of saltwater crocs, yes the place that is hot as hell and has the highest humidity, and yes the city where many backpacker’s end up living. Looking at a map, Darwin is pretty much the most northern point of the country, which is very close to the equator.
With a total of ten nights and eleven days off of school and work, we decided we were going to stay at two different hostels, and split the time up with some camping. When we first arrived at 1 am, we couldn’t believe the humidity. The temperature at night averaged to be around 24 degrees celsius, and throughout the day the temperature stayed between 34 degrees and 42 degrees. I meant it when I said I wanted heat over spring break (Melbourne’s weather is horrible).
As a young female who has never stayed at a hostel before, I was so excited to be staying in a hostel with 8 friends. The hostel we stayed at was rated one of the worst hostels in Darwin, but we thought we could save a few dollars and take the chance. After waking up in small room, covered in sweat, we were welcomed by backpackers from all over. Some from Sweden, Ireland, England, and Germany. It was great talking with these people, as they have been everywhere and have some of the wildest stories. The majority of them had been staying in the same hostel for months, so they were very much like a family. Their lifestyle was completely different from what I’m used to – they woke up early for free breakfast, and proceeded to sit outside and drink and smoke … all day long. So for the first few days we walked around Darwin, got familiar with the beaches, shops, and the many aboriginals laying around on the streets.
With all the heat, we got away to the beach quite often. Because Darwin is a very small city (I’m surprised it’s considered to be one), and we lacked our own transportation, we were able to walk nearly everywhere. The famous Mindil Beach was approximately 5 kilometres away (yes, we got our exercise). The beach was rather small and the water was very warm. In all of my beach experiences, I have never felt ocean water above 75 degrees but the water in Darwin was “only 28 degrees” (as the lifeguard said). Because of all the stories you hear about crocodiles in Darwin – “you can’t go swimming because of the saltwater crocs”, I thought it was necessary to chat with a lifeguard on Mindil Beach to get the professional and local scoop. He had told me that we timed it perfectly, because if we had of arrived a week later, the water would be around 30 degrees which is when the box head jelly fish surface (they have venom inside them and you have to go to the hospital immediately if stung).
Another great thing that Darwin had to offer was their sunsets. Living in Melbourne, it gets dark super early (even in the spring) and the sunsets aren’t anything special. But in Darwin, there are markets along Mindil beach every Thursday and Sunday afternoon/evening. Here you can find a variety of food, clothing, jewellery, souvenirs, and entertainment. We frequented these markets on Sunday and Thursday, and enjoyed the performances. For the first time since July, I had finally heard/seen someone playing the didgeridoo so that was exciting. As everyone is perusing the markets and venues, the sun is setting quickly so families, tourists, and even locals gather on the beach to watch the sunset (approximately thousands). This was something to see – children playing catch, parents enjoying picnics, elderly couples sipping on wine, and tourists taking photos all at the same time.
We decided we were going to go camping for a few days, to fully experience what Darwin has to offer. We bought groceries for 9 hungry college students, bought three tents, and rented two cars for three days and set off for the Northern Territory’s famous Litchfield National Park. Here we were, immersed in the outback of Australia in 30 degree weather, with limited bottles of (warm) water, and lack of cellphone service.
Litchfield National Park has got to be one of the most popular parks of the country, providing fresh and refreshing natural swimming holes and breathtaking waterfalls – all in a somewhat croc-free zone. The swimming holes were like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Normally when you see waterfalls like these, it is dangerous and not advised that you swim in them. However, we were able to jump into/swim/lounge/relax in these swimming holes as the current passed around and over us.
On our way back, we had planned to go to the Jumping Crocodiles where you take a cruise down the river and they hold raw meat on rods so that the crocs jump up to eat. However, because there was such a large group of us, we weren’t able to do it. So instead, we made a pit stop at a different beach.
For our five remaining days, we decided to relocate to a nicer hostel with air conditioning, clean pools, and a bar. This was great fun, as we didn’t have to leave the hostel and had the chance to meet some great people. We ended up becoming close with the bartender and scored some awesome Corona bucket hats.
Overall, my experience in Darwin was great. It was a very eye-opening experience in its own unique way. I ended up getting used to drinking warm water as there weren’t very many alternatives, got used to sleeping in 26 degree weather, and managed to responsibly apply sunscreen. I couldn’t have asked for a better Spring Break.
Should be keeping ya’ll updated with travelling plans for November/December – as exams are quickly approaching (and two months of holidays!).