A long and strange first day, starting at 4am in a dark and wet Auckland, and ending in a sunny, 34C and humid Darwin. On route via Brisbane I witnessed near riots involving the domestic terminal transfer bus. Caused by a combination of poor queuing etiquette, non-existent bus stop design, and an irate lady of Welsh origin but seemingly now a Brisbane native.

My experience of Australian hostels continues to differ from any I’ve stayed at in New Zealand. Their prime function here appears to be purely as party venues, with associated levels of hygiene and noise. The kitchen was fully equipped with cooking equipment but completely lacking in any utensils or crockery to eat your cooked food with. Turns out that they’re carefully guarded behind reception, where a request for a bowl and spoon to eat my breakfast with was greeted with a deep reluctance and seeming skepticism, despite the bowl of muesli under my arm. Clearly cutlery theft is a major issue here, though given the near absence of baskets in the nearby Coles, this may be plausible.

Darwin was the expected non event, full of mostly hideous buildings, surprisingly average coastal scenery, and without a car it’s not very easy to escape the CBD. Clearly there has been a recent and large investment in the Darwin Waterfront, which is pleasant enough, but a distinctly poor relative of Brisbane’s South Bank. I did however like the modern Christ Church Cathedral (most of the original was destroyed by Cyclone Tracey in 1974) and the impressive Northern Territory Parliament building, the politicians clearly taking priority. Lameroo Beach made for a nice spot to watch the sunset, though I kept well clear of the water’s edge for fear of death from a croc or jellyfish, there’s a reason they built the wave pool above when they’re surrounded by the sea…

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