Our final night was spent in the capital of the Northern Territory: Darwin. Largest city by far in the whole territory, it lies on the Timor Sea and is the hub of the ‘Top End’ of Australia. The city is based around the harbour and the climate is tropical. Thankfully, it was still the dry season in January.
Having left Kakadu, we then drove through Litchfield National Park, stopping for approximately twenty minutes to gape at an absolutely enormous termite mound. This beast was literally more than twice my height – I could not believe such tiny little creatures could create such architectural wonders, complete with tunnels, arches and mini chambers. I’m currently picturing a small but perfectly formed termite version of Kevin McCloud in a rather bizarre spin-off series of Grand Designs. You heard it here first.
Even more fascinating were the so-called ‘magnetic’ termite mounds in the field adjacent to the first. These reminded me of gravestones and are aligned so rigidly north and south in order to minimise exposure to the heat of the sun. You’ll see termite mounds of varying sizes all over the place in the Northern Territory but Litchfield is a good place to spot both types in a small area.
Not long after, we arrived at the Holiday Inn, Darwin. This was a welcome treat for all of us; the familiar hotel rooms were a little slice of home. After some nibbles and drinks purchased from the local supermarket, we spent our final night in Monsoon’s, a lively bar that provided us with free pizza on arrival and also JUGS of Kopparberg for 10 AUD. (Cheap, in other words.) The second half of my Australian adventure had really cemented my friendships with some of the girls, and a great last night was had by all. One to remember, for sure.
Or so we thought. It turned out that those unnervingly cheap jugs of cider ensured that the night was actually a night we appeared to have forgotten; one of those that comes back to you in sweat-inducing flashes of hilarity and embarrassment in equal measure.
The tour officially ‘ended’ after a subdued breakfast the following morning. A few people spent their day at Crocosaurus Cove being used as bait for crocodiles in underwater cages. This not being something I would opt for whilst in optimum health, I was certainly not going to volunteer whilst severely dehydrated and a little delirious. Those remaining enjoyed the welcome luxury of a sushi lunch instead. People began leaving for the airport in dribs and drabs, but luckily, five of us were actually booked onto the same flight to Singapore and so, we rented out a communal hotel room before our 4am start.
Goodbyes were really hard, but a testament to the shits and giggles had out there in the face of hideous humidity and countless mosquitoes.
Australia, you were a jaw-dropping, exhausting, sweaty pleasure and in the painfully over-quoted words of Arnie Schwarzenegger: I’ll be back.