Reflecting, Resting & Out n about in Darwin Town
It has s been over 2 months since we arrived in Darwin River and so much has happened that we can’t believe that, that amount of time has lapsed so rapidly. We will endeavour to give a pretty broad outline of the crazy world we have found ourself in. First order of the day was to adjust to sitting in a car for 5 hours for the drive to Dukey”s place. I was more sore after that than any day on the ride, it was also like being in a rapid time travelling machine and was a little sensory overloading for us both. We stopped off in Katherine, Adelaide River and Pine Creek along the way home. It was surreal to think that days before I was plotting how many days it would take to get to these locations and then here we were in a couple of hours standing in them. Lastly on that day was to lay down in a bed inside a house with a ceiling fan and air-con. After 5 months of sleeping on the ground and being more than happy with that arrangement it has taken some getting used to, although now that the build up has set in we really do appreciate that air-con. Although we both do miss waking up to the birds and laying on mother earth, it is a very raw and connecting feeling sleeping on the ground and being so close to nature that four walls and a roof keep us so separated from it.
Its hard to believe that we have just ridden 3457kms in 137 days what’s more amazing is that Jazz ran approximately 1000 of those kilometres. As we didn’t have a pedometer on her we tried to roughly guesstimate (word of the day folks) every day what she ran and by all accounts its a pretty fair effort for a 10 year old dog. She has certainly enjoyed the break. Although the moment the bikes are rolled out she’s up and ready to go, we haven’t run her much since we’ve been here. A couple of short runs up to the dam and a few laps of Dukey’s block for a swim in the dam and she’s done. The heat and humidity is certainly getting to her and most nights she gets to enjoy the air-con as well.
One of our aims of this first little step into a life of constant travel by bicycle was to actually see what life really costs when we strip it all back to the bare essentials. So we kept a fairly constant account of what we spent our money on along the way and apart from a few blowouts early in the piece when it felt more like a holiday than a new way to live it returned some interesting results. It wound up costing us $65 per day that’s $34 each person. That included everything from our storage fees, mobile phone, food, accomodation and eating out and anything else we could categorise. A brief run down looks like this:
Accomodation = $10.50 per day
Food = $23.00 per day
Phone = $4.00 per day
Repairs and spares = $1.50 per day
Storage fees = $4.50 per day
Snacks, Coffee and Eating out = $15.00 per day
Miscellaneous and odd cold Beer = $6.50 per day
Obviously food makes up a massive part of this budget and due in fact to the remote locations we travelled we noticed food was indeed much more expensive than we anticipated. We could also have got our accomodation expenses lower if we didn’t stay in as many van parks as we did and free camped more. Even with the fact that we actually free/bush camped 71 days in total which is over 50% of our trip there is still room to get that even lower. When you strip away electricity, fuel, car rego and insurances, rent or house payments and any of the other myriad of distractions this does show that life really can be cheap and joyful if you choose an alternate way of living. Who else can say they left Cairns on a 6 month sabbatical and wound up in Darwin on $450/wk budget? Beyond the expenses and the adjustments we now know what it is we need to continue on our next cycling adventure and this time in Darwin (however long it may be) will be used to fund the next step and fine-tune the bikes and equipment. With that employment of some variety is required. Before that begins lets explore Darwin.
After spending 4 days resting, our cycling buddy Will called in and camped with us for a couple of weeks before he set off on his next adventure. From where we last seen him in Borroloola he’d had quite and adventure to get to us, so we spent plenty of time catching up and sharing travel tales, and what a story teller he is. We managed to fit a ride around Darwin River along the old Ghan railway line between Darwin River and Batchelor toward Litchfield National Park and then we completed our journey into Darwin Town together by riding from Darwin River to Mandorah. From there we caught the ferry into Darwin and we dipped our toes in the Beagle Gulf to cap off a memorable 6 months for us all. Unfortunately Shell didn’t ride the 7o kms to Mandorah, she did however drive in and meet us at the ferry terminal with her bike for a bit of city cruising which turned out to be another 3o kms and a cracker of a day.The brief 15 minute ferry ride from Mandorah was relaxing and over way too quickly. We rode through town to the waterfront for a swim in the saltwater lagoon and then back out toward East point.
Along the way to East Point we stopped up at the Ski club for a beer as the view over the water invited us all in, however we soon forgot about the view as we bumped into a legend of cycle touring. Catz from Ratbag Nomads was sitting at the bar with a friend enjoying a cold beer after recently completing a ride from Alice Springs to Darwin on a handmade bicycle that looked like a camel he’d nicknamed Alice. Check him out on Youtube RatbagNomads Catz is a legend and a bloody top notch fella who has a beautiful insight into life and living. He was one of the many inspirations for our journey and after watching a load of his Youtube videos we were hooked. It was so awesome to bump into Catz at the end of our first foray into this style of living. It was great to share a beer and half his lunch while comparing notes and experiences as well as hearing of his next adventure which involves getting a boat ride to Timor and cycling to Europe from there. Which might I add is an idea that has been sitting quietly in the back of our minds for some time. Inspiration there!
After that we peddled out to East Point and checked out the sights, smells and people of Darwin. Stopping to chat with people along the way and many cold beers at the various watering holes finally finishing at the Mindil Beach markets. Now this is an icon of Darwin and something that I had been thinking about since leaving Cairns. Oh how I love food! This market is a foodie heaven and we grazed our way through as many food stalls as possible. Do yourself a favour when in Darwin during the dry season and check out this iconic market your stomach will not forget it. We lost Will for a while as he passed out due to a food coma on the beach and quite frankly I laid down beside the bikes and was ready to do the same. We slowly rode back to Cullen Bay in the dark and loaded the bikes on the car and cruised home in comfort. A sweet 99 km ride for the day, heaps of food, cold beers and awesome chance encounters made this an absolute highlight of our time with Will.
With our list of requirements for our next cycling adventure and all the learnings that we collected along the way, it was time to make some decisions on getting the resources to make this all happen. That involved employment. Shell picked up some casual work with a local lady who I reckon pretty much epitomises the people of the NT, rough around the edges always up for a coldy and swearing like a trooper. It didn’t last long though apparently Shell didn’t have her heart in it. Which if you know Shell you should be laughing hysterically by now. I wound up stopping in to see my favourite cousin at her gym Life Style Studio. Which turned out to be perfect timing for us both as her barista had quit that morning so I wound up as a barista, in an aptly named space called The Hideout Cafe. Perfect spot to hide away and work out where to next and to meet some genuine nutcases that make life fun and light. Everyday is full of laughter and that’s how life should be lived, through laughter, joy and by being true to yourself. After laughing all morning it was nice to go back and relax in the serenity of The Duke of Litchfield’s oasis. Contributing to his space he so gracefully allowed us to stay at for as long as we needed. For which we are both truly grateful for and to all the people that have made our time in Darwin special and so much bloody fun. Seriously we wake up everyday pinching ourselves on how we are here living this life and super grateful for taking a chance and attempting something different that lead us to this point in time and space.
Just before Will left us for his next adventure in Nhulunbuy I applied for a job on the Tiwi Islands. This was something that both of us discussed on the road. If ever the opportunity arose to live and work on a remote island or indigenous community we would give it a shot. It felt like the perfect fit for our next stage of this adventure called life. Well, after getting an initial informal Territory style interview I decided to hop on the ferry for the 2 hour ride and spend a day at Bathurst Island, to check out Wurrumiyanga. It was well worth the trip and a bloody awesome day out. Im glad I followed my gut instinct and went over on the ferry to check out the island and the people. I got to meet all the right people and this action landed me the job. Which then set in motion a crazy 3 weeks.
Shell flew back to Cairns loaded our stuff onto a truck. Caught up with our much loved cosmic family whilst enjoying several glasses of the finest Kombucha in Australia at Lafew Teahouse. This was also an interesting time for us both as it was the first time in 6 months that we’d been apart. Which shone a light on areas of our relationship and life that are still works in progress. Reminding us that we should never stop learning and growing. We then put all our stuff onto a barge and moved ourselves off to the Tiwi Islands for an indeterminate amount of time. So as we sit here and write this post we are in the first week of island life. Shell returned to Darwin sorting out the last remnants of our life on mainland Australia and I’ve left the country. Alright not completely left the country however there is 80kms of water separating me from the mainland. The Tiwi people actually own and control everything on the island, culturally and linguistically its very different so it definitely feels like we have left Australia. Things work at a very different pace and style here so it really does feel like another world.
So here we sit at the beginning of December on the Tiwi Islands having left Cairns at the end of April with one goal, get to Darwin for the wet season. We made that and then rode a little further north by boat to set ourselves up on an island at the edge of the Timor sea. Who’d of bloody guessed that’s where the road from Cairns would lead us to? So if ever you’re sitting there wondering what the bloody hell is going on and what it is you want to do with your life ask yourself a question, “what else is possible? Because you never know where that one simple question may lead you. We didn’t know, however we were brave enough to ask it and witness what unfolds.
So definitely keep an eye on our website as it is constantly evolving as we are, You never know what might unfold in this space. Also check out our instagram @arealityfewsea if you like our photos as we regularly post there. Make sure you check out our gallery in the banner as we post new photos each time we put up a post. We have some interesting projects and ideas sitting in the wings that will at some point in the future bear some sweet juicy fruit that we will share with you all. Until then we will continue to ask ourselves and we would like to think that you are asking the same question of yourself, “What else is possible here that Is greater than anything I can possibly imagine?
Go on, what have you got to lose?