The madness that it Darwin

Darwin is a Whirlpool
Okay, so it’s been 2 months since we last wrote. The reason is because we got stuck, stuck in the whirlpool of Darwin. In our view since cyclone Tracey all those years ago Darwin’s still spinning, spinning so much that only a few travellers manage to leave! A lot of the people that are staying at Harriet’s have been here since we have, some even longer! Before we start with the last 2 months let us explain the different groups in the hostel. First of all we’ve got the pom’s in room 9, consisting of Chris, Paul and us .Chris is from Putney and Paul is from Wallington (small world huh!). Then we have Jill and the Frenchies downstairs. Jill’s a speed talking Irish and her boyfriends French so she normally hangs out with the rest of the French, Ludo, Julie, Giam and the Italian Martino. After that we have Tony, whose a whole group of his own. Tony’s stayed at Harriet’s for 30 years! He comes from East Timor and is pretty difficult to have a proper conversation with, every days groundhog day for Tony, he goes into town, cleans the kitchen then has a few beers, laughs at the birds and calls from the balcony to every girl, Nina and every guy, Theo. Nina meaning beautiful lady and Theo meaning friend. After that we have the disappearers, this group consists of Jenny, Nicola, Phil and Rhys. These guys have been earning mega bucks working out in the bush and return every few weeks for a break. Then we have the leavers (the lucky ones that managed to get out!), Sachin, Helen, Giles, Nathan, Steve and Phil. Lastly we have the newbies, this group changes regularly hence the name. We wont bother naming them, partly because it’ll probably change tomorrow and partly because we don’t know all their names. So that’s the intro over…..

Why we couldn’t leave
We haven’t been writing because we would’ve bored you all to death by now. Our lives have mainly consisted of working, finding work, sleeping and drinking. Work has been unkind to us in Darwin, to start with Emma had the job at Shenannigans but at that point Joe couldn’t get work. Then the whole very rude boss thing happened for Emma so she quit but at the same time Joe started work at Seafood-on-Cullen. We struggled really hard to get by for a couple of weeks, Joe was only earning $300 a week and the rent alone was costing us $260 so we only had $40 to survive. Emma managed to get a job at seafood as well, then we were earning enough to get by but the rent went up. We had to pay for separate beds (whereas before we were sharing a single) so we were then paying $360 a week just about leaving us with enough money for food, petrol and smokes. We did canvas Mitchell street (the main street in Town) several times but nowhere had any jobs, in fact most places were over-employed. Our biggest break came with Emma signing up to an office temp agency, she managed to get a couple of placements with them. This was really difficult with working at the restaurant as well, sometimes Emma finished work at 5 at the office and then started work at 5.30 at seafood. Whilst we are talking about Seafood we might as well talk about the people there. We’ve got Elsa (French), Iris and Zoe (Chinese) Peter (the boss), Clinton (the boss’s nephew) and Jen (the owners daughter). They’re all really nice, Clinton’s a bit of a geek, in fact the biggest geek ever but pretty harmless really. Peter’s very nice when the place is quiet but as soon as the pressure piles on he is a bit of a stress head, throwing little tantrums. Jen’s really nice, she’s only 19 but seems much older. So anyway, we’ve managed to keep the jobs at the restaurant for the last 3 months. In that time Emma (whilst intoxicated during a night out) bragged to Peter that she’d worked the bar loads of times. Which was the perfect thing to do, the next week one of the staff left so Peter decided to get Emma behind the bar, since then she’s been doing Tuesdays at the bar on her own and then Thursday and Friday working with Peter at the bar/till. It’s so much better than walking the floor for hours, partly because she’s always inside so had air-con. We also managed to get ourselves cleaning jobs every other week at the hostel which means that we’re only paying $210 during that week and then the week we’re not cleaning we are paying $280.

Is it play time yet?
So that’s work done, now for the play time! Okay so Joe went on a fishing charter with Spencer, Stacey and Felix which they’d won at the Vic pub. Emma could’ve gone too but, even though she loves boats, the thought of fishing for the day was dire. They probably went on the worst day of the year, or perhaps just the worst spots. They only caught 3 fish, no not Joe, the whole boat! We ended up with all 3 of them which was great, we went over to the barbecue area at Mindil beach and cooked them up there with potato’s and onions. It was a really nice night, we had a beer each (Spencer, Stacey and Felix too)and some decent food.
On the following Monday we went to the Vic for quiz night, it was Spencers last week so we were determined to win. We went very prepared, thongs (English meaning not Aussie), bras, socks, straws etc in handbags ready for the ‘go fetch round’. Amazingly we sent the right person up for each of the bonus rounds so we won all of them. We also done amazingly well on the actual questions. We were convinced we’d won, when the results were called we eagerly waited for our team name. And there it was ‘the first prize tonight goes to ‘blahblahblah’ (we had some dodgy aboriginal team name which we can’t remember (or even pronounce!) that was also probably rude). We were over the moon, $75 bar tab, we thought we’d won the lottery, off we all went to the bar, shots all round and a couple of jugs of beer and it was gone. Still we had an amazing night. We never went back to the Vic for quiz night, we thought we’d leave it on a winning note!
Our only other big night out was when Rhys was leaving, he was going out in the bush to be a Spec (yeah sounds really nice, but true…what it really is, is a guy who walks around with a backpack on which measures radiation levels so that the big boys know where to dig for Uranium. He looked like a ghost buster.) We went to a few bars first and then finished off in Discovery’s (one of Darwin’s 2 nightclubs, think of liquid but with topless dancers). Rhys decided on the way home that he wanted to strip and streak Mitchell street, so off with his clothes (given to Emma) and he runs all the way home (we could see his white bum pretty much the whole way!). When we do eventually catch up with Rhys his standing outside the hostel, covering his most precious bits with his pants. He then decides that it’ll be hilarious to streak the square outside Harriet’s (just a bit of grass where the abbo’s sit drinking goon and hiding it in the bin so the police don’t confiscate it) so off he goes, one loop then on the second loop the police decide to turn up and pull him over at just the right time (one guy out in the street didn’t take too kindly to Rhys’s streaking and was standing there with a bottle ready to glass him). Rhys comes up with a ridiculous excuse of ‘someone stole all my clothes!’. The police let him go and he came back over to us and decided to sit on Bentley whilst watching the drunken antics of our other friend Nathan (an Aussie) who proceeded to jump off the bonnet of Bentley trying to do flips and face-planting himself in the grass. As the police started driving over we decided to head inside. Most of us just walked up the side stairs and went to the balcony, Nathan chose to climb the tree outside and then over onto the balcony. We stayed on the balcony till the sun came up, some drifted off in between. When it started getting warm out we thought it’d be funny to wake Rhys up and tell him he’s in the newspaper for his streaking. He dived up so quick, running around looking for the paper. Obviously he wasn’t in it so once we realised that all excitement was over we went to bed.
Now for big nights in! Only one to mention really, when Phil got back from the bush with fireworks. So we’re all sitting out in the garden, we had a box of goon (cheep wine), everyone was pretty merry and it was around 2am that Phil brings out his fireworks. So his lighting them and holding them in his hand till they blow up. It was pretty fun but the most memorable aspect of it was when the police arrived. Everyone denied any involvement in the fireworks (even though there was an empty box on the table).They left but on the way out they did warn us that if they had to come back we’d all be getting a fine.
During the days we’ve never really done much, mainly because it’s so hot and also because there’s not much you can do in Darwin. There is a free swimming pool 20 minutes away that’s pretty fun to go to. Its got 3 waterslides there so we’ve been a couple of times. Once with Jenny and Paul and the other with Nathan, Chris and Paul. There’s also the lagoon, a netted off area down by the wharf area of Darwin. It’s not very interesting there though it’s good to cool off but there’s no shade so you really have to be careful not to get burnt.
So we are finally leaving Darwin after about 4 months! Emma’s uncles are coming over to the Gold coast on the 3rd of November so we are going to fly over to see them. It does mean that we are selling our Bentley to fund us for the next couple of months. It would’ve cost us over $1200 on petrol alone to drive there and also about 6 days of 10 hours a day driving. We cant wait to get out but we’re also leaving loads of good friends that we have made. Paul’s off to Adelaide, on the train leaving the day before us. Chris is staying on for a while longer to save some money and then he’ll be heading to Melbourne with Rhys. Jill and the Frenchies are staying till December. Jenny and Rhys are staying out in the bush for another month and then Jenny should be flying to Sydney for Christmas and Rhys to Melbourne. It is quite sad leaving, we’ve kind of become a sort of family, Paul and Chris even call us mum and dad! Even though we never planned on staying in Darwin for so long if we hadn’t we would never have much such good friends. So we leave Darwin with some very good memories of the place and also some very bad….
Staying in the worst hostel in Darwin has had it’s ups and downs too. It’s good because it’s the only place in town where they don’t have staff on site the whole night, therefore we could always get away with crazy late night parties. On the downside though we were in the scummiest place, Joe calls it the best legal squat in Darwin. The rooms are infested with ants and cockroaches, the amount of roaches we’ve caught in our room is phenomenal! The kitchens crawling with ants, everything had to be prepared on plates and you have to keep a close eye on it just to make sure the ants don’t get to it. It’s the only place where you’ll regularly hear ;’do you think it’s okay to eat ants?!’. Still its amazing how you can adapt to such conditions, so much so that you have to ignore it or you’ll never be able to live.

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