The best time to visit Darwin is in June.
When the rains don’t fall for six months, the sky is blue and cloudless, and the hot dry air has a slight chilly bite to it at night so the skinny might need a jacket but certainly nothing extra for the fat.
* Jo enjoying the dry breeze on Day 1
Darwin, at the top end of Australia, is hot all year round. When the rains fall for the next six months it’s humid and torrential – cars float – and its lightning shows all day.
Domestic tourists stream in from the colder south, but looking at the empty streets you wouldn’t know it.
Nearly every tourist attraction is just us and nobody else. Which we love because this family hates crowds and queues.
(We think the domestic tourists just want to drink beer and sit on the beach soaking in the sun so we don’t see them much)
Landscape: Flat and brown.
Buildings: Uninspiring boxes, very few high-rises of which quite a number of sea-fronting condominiums which are apparently appreciating in value every year.
Beach: Glorious blue.
What really sets Darwin apart - from the little I know – is nature. Not nice green grass pretty flowers Swedish-type nature, but dirty wild blistering hot nature.
Where crocodiles the size of canoes thrive in the muddy billabongs, and which are routinely caught and thrown into the crocodile parks for our gaping pleasure.
We had to go camping.
That’s all I wanted to do in Darwin, really.
Original plans for a two-night 300 km drive down to Katherine Gorge were whittled down to a simple one-nighter at the nearer Litchfield National Park.
I mean, the poor girl is two.
We stopped at Florence Falls for lunch.
It’s a waterfall-forest playground for inebriated locals drinking Coronas while swimming in the water.
* Choon: Drinking and swimming don't mix.
* The happy families
We had a picnic in the forest (Jo loves picnics with a passion).
* Ham, cheese, cucumber and tomato sandwiches! I ate my ham and cheese on cucumber. I hate bread.
I swam to the base of the waterfall (croc-free, we are assured), the kids gaped and Day fell in between two big rocks while trying to climb over them.
Day tried his valiant best but the water was too cold for him. He just managed to duck his head under water to see the big swimming fishes. Which gave me the shudders (I can never scuba dive) but I braved the fish to reach the falls.
Post-Florence, we drove on to the Wangi Falls campsite. We set up camp under a tree. One big tent for three adults and three kids.
* Nutty girls were having a pillow fight (we brought four) in the tent
It’s an incredibly clean and friendly camp ground. Our car was 10 metres away (we could have blasted the radio if we wanted to) and the squeaky-clean toilets, 20 metres. Only cold water, though.
Choon whipped out his portable gas stove and four cans of gas, cooked dinner of vegetable beehoon and pan-fried sausage (KK’s odd request)...
* Grumps KK had just woken up
... magicked up bars of Twix for dessert then boiled Milo for everyone when the stars came out.
The kids enthusiastically helped out with chopping.
Did I say Choon is (still) single?
The stars, like a handful of diamond dust strewn into the night, were magic. The kids, sipping on their Milos, were fascinated. Jo slept looking at the stars through our translucent tent.
Lu had some difficulty. She spent the night, hyper and way past her bedtime, prattling to Jo about stars and nonsense.
Day, slightly sick with a cough and cold, slept straight away.
The next morning, a hungry wallaby eyed our breakfast. Fascination turned to hesitation when we saw its sharp black claws up close and my brother said: Don’t feed it. It can get aggressive.
Camping remains Day’s favourite experience of the entire Darwin trip. Mine too.
KK says: I don’t think Lu was ready for camping.
Well there’s hope yet for Katherine Gorge or the very authentic Kakadu National Park when they are older.