Resting in Darwin
So I’m sitting on an Air Asia flight bound for Denpasar, Indonesia. We are somewhere over the Timor Sea and I’m not sure when we will see Australia again (if Abbott wins, it will be even longer!). It certainly feels very different to leaving on a month’s leave block. Both of us have been bouncing between excitement and tears over the last few hours. It was really sad saying goodbye to Karl and Claire, who we have lived with over the last few weeks. Then phoning family and friends from the airport added to the sense that we were truly leaving for a long time.
Our time in Darwin has been wonderful. We were filled with relief and excitement on achieving the first BIG milestone of our journey. We even got a brilliant ‘congratulations you made it’ package from Kev, filled with both practical and amusing gifts. It felt so good to have arrived. Both of us were tired from the hard days of crossing the outback and relentless cycling with not much rest. That first beer tasted incredible. Not to mention the bed and the knowledge that we didn’t have to cycle the following day. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved the journey so far and wouldn’t change the route we took, but we were both tired. That real weary to the bone kind of generalised fatigue that takes a few weeks to completely disappear.
After an initial rest period (which did involve All You Can Eat!) our first week or two in Darwin was spent with visiting family. Astrid’s dad, then my parents and then Astrid’s mum all came to visit. We spent day’s sight seeing, going to markets, the Darwin festival, trips to Corroboree Billabong (lots of Crocodylus Porosus were sighted) and BBQing (an obscene amount of prawns may have been consumed on more than one occasion).
We watched insanely beautiful sunsets over the water while sipping cold beer at the Ski Club on numerous occasions. Swam at Nightcliff beach and ate Laksa at Parap Market. We explored Darwin by bicycle and found that the city is actually very cycle friendly in an understated kind of way. We could cycle all the way into town from where we were living along a scenic bike path. And it’s legal to cycle on the footpath and not wear a helmet. Time was spent throwing Frisbee (Astrid eventually became less unco), swimming in the pool and sharing after work drinks with Karl and Claire. Life was slow and deliciously relaxing.
Soon friends from the road arrived in town and we caught up numerous times, especially with the wonderful Chaffey’s with whom we spent many an afternoon relaxing at Nightcliff foreshore. Thanks to Brad, THE Darwin warmshowers guru, we met up with several touring cyclists who were on their way through from Europe. It was amazing talking to folk who had come through the countries we were planning to traverse and hear their stories and adventures. It really inspired us and filled us with anticipation about the road ahead.
In amongst the socialising we had begun looking for a yacht to take us to Indonesia or East Timor, as well as slowly doing some maintenance on our bikes. Thanks to ‘Bikes to Fit’ in Coconut Grove and Commuter Cycles in Melbourne we changed our Rohloff Oil, replaced our chains and tightened our brakes. As novices we are still learning a lot and Bikes to Fit have been more than generous with their time. I can now say we have only had one flat since Melbourne and our Marathon Mondial tyres are still holding up well. As Astrid and I have both managed to snap our Terry’s Liberator X saddles (arses of steel:) we decided to switch to Brooks. We cheated and bought these off Wiggle and they thankfully arrived in time. Unfortunately Astrid’s dynamo light alluded fixing. We established the dynamo is fine and after much testing it seems that shockingly German engineering has failed us and that there is something wrong with the actual light.
As for yachting it out of Darwin we have not been so fortunate. There are a few reasons for this, the biggest one being timing. We probably needed to have arrived in Darwin at the beginning of June to suss out crewing for the two Regatta’s that leave in July and August. The Indonesian Visa situation is not straight forward and crew need to be named on the application 4 weeks prior to departure. There was still a chance we could have gotten to East Timor as the regulations are less strict. However as days passed we realised we were running out of time to make it to East Timor and then cycle across several islands (with questionable ferry timetables) to make it to Bali to meet our friend Brooke. Although it had been our dream to sail out of Australia, travel is all about adapting and we soon came up with an excellent alternative; fly to Bali, cycle around Lombok, climb Gunung Rinjani, cycle around Sumbawa, cycle back to Lombok, catch a ferry to one of the Gili Islands to dive and hang with Brooke, Misch and Key, then catch a boat back to Bali to continue on to Java, Sumatra and then to Malaysia. So that is our current working plan, with room of course change.
Once we had a plan, the purpose we had been lacking returned. We applied for a 60 day Indonesian visa (needed to book a $20 dummy flight out of Jakarta), finished the last of our bike maintenance and had another BBQ (more Prawns just needed to be consumed). Then all of a sudden, before really feeling ready it was time to go. Our weeks in Darwin have been really special and again it has been the people that have made it so. So thank you everyone we feel very loved and know that in the future more fun times will be shared again.