(written by Dave)
On our first night here (Friday), by the time we went to bed we were surrounded by tents and cars – laying in bed, we could almost touch several of each. The Northern Territory is a nice place to visit in the dry season when it is cold down south but we’d highly recommend doing it at least outside NT school holidays. You’ll still have the caravanners, but there will be less pressure from local families added in. The park owners have some very lean months during the wet season so you can’t blame them for taking in anyone who calls – if you have a choice, pick your time…
The next morning was actually quite funny when a few groups left. This meant that everyone else was scoping out the area to move their tents to a “better” spot. Some of these tents are massive and moving them is not easy but that’s what folks did. Un-stake all the poles and corners, get the whole gang round and drag… Not wanting to be left out, we got in on the game. It was clear that while our neighbours were going to move their tent a bit farther from ours, their cars would still be right on top of us – there was nowhere else to park them. So we moved to the far side of the park where the owners pushed in a few of the stragglers on Friday night. Our tent is not that hard to move, even with the tarp up. So far our new site is quiet but time will tell [editor’s note – the tent is a bit slopey though – we had a bit of a border dispute over night as Dave was sliding down to my side of the tent all night].
It also looks like we will be here for longer than we first thought. We called ahead to get something in Mandorah but learned that their first opening is in August! I’m glad we called. They were quite pleasant and even offered that we could sleep in our swags on the beach and use the hotel facilities. Tempting as this may sound their beach is still part of the ocean, there will be salties about – they don’t trap them in the ocean! We spoke to some folks while we were in Litchfield that had been at Mandorah and watched a large saltie come in on the beach while they ate their lunch. You’d either want to avoid the beach or at a minimum not be the person sleeping closest to the water line.
We actually rode our bikes yesterday notwithstanding the blog title. There is no food here so we peddled about 5k over to the Litchfield Pub in search of a big lunchtime feed. They were not open for 45 mins and the menu looked a bit too much like bar food so instead we hit the general store and bought food for a few days. Egg and bacon roles for lunch on Saturday – yumm…
Saturday night was a big night here at the park. There was a crocodile feeding at 5:00, didgeridoo demonstrations at 5:30, fire juggling at 7:00 and finally a deckchair cinema at 7:30.
The croc feeding was entertaining for the lack of eating done by the crocs. The deal was to throw bits of chicken into the croc pen and they would catch/chase/eat. Trouble is that this time of year (winter in NT) the temperatures are too low during the day and the crocs have no energy. Even when hit on the head, they were not interested in eating the chicken. One expert marksman threw a piece of chicken that landed with a big thump on the side of the croc and stuck. The croc couldn’t be bothered moving let alone eating the chicken.
The didgeridoo was much more interesting. A father and son team who have been making and playing didgeridoos for many years. Both of them played well, but only just learned to “circular breath”. The father only learning after the son picked it up. Not only could they play well, but they also made didgeridoos so they knew the whole process starting with cutting the wood. I always thought it would be hard to find a hollowed tree but now having seen all the termite mounds up here in the NT, I was not overly surprised to learn that 80% of the trees here have some level of termite activity.
We fought off the crowds in the kitchen and got some dinner before the juggling and movie. The juggling was pretty cool – set to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”. And the movie, Robin Hood, was pretty good as well. Sitting under the stars made of a nice atmosphere. Not too many mossies.
Today we’ll probably work on bikes and do some general cleaning. Monday we’ll go to the nearby wildlife park. It won’t be until Wednesday that we head for Darwin. We’ll still ride to Mandorah but we’ll only stop at the hotel for lunch, then we’ll head over to Darwin via the ferry. We have contacted our WarmShowers hosts and they are still happy to have us starting on Wednesday. We are looking forward to meeting them and trading bike stories.
And to the discussion on photos – if we use a “slide show” then readers who get the email updates would receive all the photos at the bottom of the email (a little smaller I think). If you go to the website, you’ll see the photos cycling in slide show format, also at the bottom of the post. In both cases, you can click on a photo and see a larger image. The one downside of this method it that you don’t get the photos mixed in with the narrative. We agree with Donaleen, and others, that intermixed is better. The issue is that this takes quite a bit more time and usually means we insert fewer pictures than we otherwise would. We certainly like having the blog and very much enjoy that friends and family round the world are interested in reading. But… we are also concerned that we are spending too much time looking at our laptop when we should be talking to locals and actually collecting more things worth writing about. We will try the slideshow option for a bit and see how it works.
Now, off to do our chores…