The next thing you notice about Darwin is the sex. It’s everywhere. Leaving the airport you drive past adult shops the size of warehouses and strip joints blaring their neon lights. Then, as you arrive into the thick of it, the bars are boasting “bikini bull-riding” and “ladies drink free nights”.
They are packed with drinkers eyeing each other down like hunters. Darwin lives up to its name because this is modern-day natural selection. Our tour bus of travellers stood out like pale pilgrims. But as we walked down Darwin’s main street, we were bowled over with beer-goggle stares.
Darwin is a small town and we had “fresh meat” written on our foreheads. This animalistic sexual energy in the warm air is kind of thrilling, perhaps this is where the expression “on heat” came from.
Never Never Land
Downing some mid-afternoon beers by the hostel pool (yes, a hostel with a pool is pretty much mandatory in Darwin), I notice everybody around me is tanned, fit and in good spirits. It seems this town in the top end of Australia is a refuge for those who don’t want to take life too seriously.
From the Navy boys off-duty and looking for action to the backpackers who don’t want to go home, that I realise Darwin is the resting place between reality and fantasy. Even the people that live here seem to be out-of-towners, escaping some sort of responsibility. It’s the Never Never Land for those who don’t want to grow up. After a few days here, I didn’t want to leave either.
Darwin’s number one predator is the saltwater crocodile. They often grace the front pages of the local newspapers, as if they were the Northern Territory’s politicians. In Canberra you go to Parliament House, in Darwin you go to Crocosaurus Cove. The crocs are kept at a nice distance, although someone thought it would be a good idea to get even closer by lowering you into the crocodile’s enclosure with just an acrylic box to protect you.
The “Cage of Death” gets you as close and personal to Australia’s largest saltwater crocodiles as you safely can. I watched from the sidelines as two of our group were lowered into the water like human bait, bearing in mind that crocs will feed on anything they can get their jaws on, including water buffalo, monkeys, wild boar, and even sharks.Luckily, they can’t get their teeth around these human spring rolls in Perspex casing.