Sunday, July 31, 2016

NT Part 2: Things to do in the Territory

There's surprisingly a lot to do in the Aussie outback. Inititally I thought there was only Uluru (which I couldn't fit into this trip), but there are numerous National Parks which feature some pretty amazing landscapes you wouldn't normally think Aus would have.

They do a lot of back burning in the dry season, April-October, since it's the best weather, and no lightning to cause fire. Pretyt much no rain during this time, and blue skies most days in these months. They light fires in patches, and they burn out themselves once they reach any water left over from the wet season, or just not more vegetation to burn. Things can regrow within 2 wks of back burning, so they constantly light fires everywhere. You can see plumes of smoke when you fly into the Territory.

The highways speeds are the best! I love going fast, but didn't have an opportunity to drive. Still feels good going at 150km/h sometimes when you're overtaking those massive road trains.

road train

Took a photo of this one, since it's a rare old-style road train with the tarp coverings. A road train is basically 3 big sized truck loads combined, so you really need to speed up when overtaking, before you see any oncoming cars when you overtake on the other side of the road.

Katherine Gorge

We ended an afternoon early, and were lucky enough to visit Katherine Gorge. It's roughly a 30min drive from Katherine. We did the Nitmiluk 2 gorges. Everything in Aus is expensive, and of course, so are touristy things. $87 for roughly under an huor boat ride, plus getting on/off, walking between gorges, photo taking took about another hour. For me, when I go somewhere, I still spend regardless, since you'll never know when you might have another opportunity to visit these places. The tour guide was super funny, and I love how you learn a bit of Aboriginal culture in between.
main street in Katherine

Litchfield National Park

We also joined a day tour departing from Darwin to go Litchfield National park which I highly recommend if you're short on time. Apparently it's similar to Kakadu National Park, just smaller (needed at least 2 days in Kakadu, since part of the experience is sleeping there overnight). The tour was $149 which took us to a few places. All the parks/natural swimming pools are free. I guess petrol is expensive, but I think the tour was still worthwhile. The tour guide was also hilarious, and loved learning more random fact along the way. The mini bus was relatively comfy as well

Jumping Crocs
Another cruise to see jumping crocodiles! Whilst we were waiting to board, they also had a small python which we could touch and take pics with. It was a bit colder that morning and low tide, so there weren't many crocodiles around, I was expecting more... We did see 4 of them, and the people were considerate in that they turned the boat around each time, so both sides of the boat could see the crocodile eating the meat twice. Sat on the lower deck, so were surprised how close and up front the crocs were. They're actually pretty cool jumping out and chomping on the meat. Learnt extra crocodile facts as well (not that I remembered). 

a rare male croc

one of my fav pics

bird show

skinny croc


massive termite mound

There are heaps of termite mounds when you're driving along the highway. Termites are essential for continued growth and renewal(?) of the land because they transport grass or something (rather than eat wood). There are about 70 species, and the ones in Litchfield have termite mounds around 5-7 high.

Wangi Falls
When we first arrived, my initial reaction was just 'Wow! Looks like those pools in movies!' All the freshwater is from underground, and it was super fresh. Loved swimming under waterfalls, jumping off cliffs and going into rockpools. So beautiful, just like how people swim in natural places in movies.

Buley Rock Pool

This place had more rockpools, connected by a stream of water. The rocks here were super slippery, but ther clidds were around 6, high, so pretty fun to jump off or dive. there were places with water bubbling, kind of like a spa. Tried drinking some of this water, but it doesn't compare to the freshness of New Zealand natural freshwater. Heaps of people come here for picnics then go for a swim after.

Florence Falls

The tour didn't have time to take use to swim here, so we just went to the lookout. Still really lovely to look at (but obviously not as majestic as Niagra Falls in Canada).

About a further hour drive from katherine. A pretty rural town, but there are quite a few caravan parks filled with 'grey nomads' and some families. A lot of people drive around from West Coast Perth to here, or from central Aus or south Aus eg Adelaide. They make a pit stop in Mataranka for this pretty special swimming place. It's pretty tiny town mainly for people passing through, so stuff is pretty pricey at the little supermarket eg avocados for $4 instead of $1.50 in Darwin (come back to Syd and they;re $2 here. Groceries are super expensive in NT, but I guess not avos).

main street in Mataranka

Bitter Springs Pool
So lucky to have a supervisor who also loves to swim, so we had afternoon swims after clinic. The waster is really clear here, with wild turtles and fhises swimming with you. Too bad I didn't bring my goggles, so couldn't see any turtles swimming with me. I did saw a baby turtle when I got out though, and there was a lady once who lent me her goggles for a few secs to see a school of fish.

The water here is super warm, natural thermal pools heated by some underground/under earth thing (not actually sure). It's a bit more sulphorous, and I guess without goggles, my eyes became red more easily (I'm actually pretty bad at swimming without goggles). There are heaps of fallen tree logs, so just have to make sure you don't swim or kick into them, or scratch yourself on a rock. Logs are helpful to stand and 'rest' since the bottom is generally not touchable. When there are no kids here, water is super clear, since they don't kick up the dirt/sand. Just doesn't look as clear since the bottom is brown, but when you're in there, you can see all the way down to your feet! There's a bit of algae/moss around, and some bugs, but I guess that's why it's so natural. They only built some steps/rails to help you get in/out of the bank.

I think I prefer Litchfield with the waterfalls though.

There you have it, some things to do in the Aussie outback if you're short on time but still want to get an experience of the Territory!

Friday, July 29, 2016

this week doesn't feel like sem 2 wk 1. for most of us, we're pretending this week is our last week of holidays, since placement did involve work for 2 weeks (i was just lucky that there was time for me to go exploring and play). finally stayed at home just doing nothing (actually heaps of stuff to taxes...). i actually skipped a day a uni already this week because i thought i wasn't up for it. turns out next day i was actually sick in the middle of the week, and now better.

spent over my weekly income on food this week, and it's not even my birthday month yet :'(
goodbye money, but good food and good company. i guess in this world it's not all about money, and money is earned to be spent, so yolo.

1L of Messina: Bishop of Kent (vanilla anglaise gelato w/ rhubarb puree and oat crumble), yogurt berry, apple pie, pandan and coconut-$22.80

Shouted my optom girls Messina, since I was worried I wouldn't make it to 2nd sem. So thankful for the people around me who are willing to help. Couldn't taste any rhubarb in the bishop of Kent special and not much oat crumble. First time having the yogurt one, and it's like a creamy but gelato-y. Apple pie was sweeter than I remembered. Everyone loved my go to flavour-pandan and coconut.

made a baked cheesecake today as well, finally got round to using my KitchenAid food processor (for those of you who remember i won it at a comp). i should use my stuff more, just like how i should use my bags more.

(if anyone has any tips on removing the tin base, let me know)

Followed the MasterChef receipe, and I have to say it's actually foolproof. Taste just like what you find in cafe's or even better. The biscuit base wasn't as solid as I would've liked, probs didn't 'pack' it down hard enough, but the filling was creamy, smooth, not too sweet, and the right amount of cheesiness you'll find in a cheesecake. Can't have too much at once since it's still pretty dense if you have a massive slice.

not going to do any study this weekend. bet i'm going to regret it next week when clinics start.

Koi Take 2

Back again, this time for cakes only and not cakes+dinner+dessert. Lovely to still see Reynold working in the kitchen, and seeing super pretty and colourful cakes.

White peach and earl grey-$9

cracked choc ):

Love how this cake wasn't really sweet, and the flavour of the white peach came through. Would have liked more tea in it. Whole cake worked so well together with layers of mousse and sponge.

Mango Yuzu: mango mousse with yuzu curd, and salted almond sable-$9


Well, this cake survived home after a whole day of carrying it. When I was here last time, they sold out of this one, and it's no wonder why it's one of their signatures. You get a massive hit of refreshing mango, then balanced with the slightly acidic yuzu flavour inside. The sable wasn't too hard to cut through either. Probably a bit too much chocolate with this cake, but it looks pretty and wrapped around the cake perfectly.

hi Reynold!

KOI Dessert Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, July 28, 2016

NT Part 1: Things to do in Darwin

As I said before, I do not recommend going to Darwin, but if you're in the area, I do recommend doing a day tour and go and explore NT. You can pretty much do everything in Darwin in 2 days, and that's pretty much what we did for our weekend in Darwin during preceptorship. Darwin doesn't have much to do, but there's still a lot of history involved, from WWII to cyclones.

north coast

Mindil Beach Markets

Mindil Beach

made it just in time for the sunset


It felt like the whole of Darwin plus surroundings were there. Usually you don't really see anyone apart from tourist on the main strip, but there were so many cars parked, it felt so weird seeing so many people here. Lots of locally produced market-style stuff, plus quite a large selection of food.

Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

giant paper dresses

real crocodile

It's free, so why not? Although no museums in Aus will be as good as those overseas, it still had a decent collection of Aboriginal arts, and other stuff like Cyclone Tracy history, which was quite interesting.

Parep Markets

Similar vendors to Mindil Beach Markets, just in a smaller area so it feels more crowded. It's kind of situated on/next to a carpark so it's more dangerous, with cars going past you whilst you're waiting in line.

Darwin Military Museum

By the way, super limited number of buses on Saturdays, and most don't run on Sundays. Ended up walking 1.5hrs here (but took a taxi back). It's $18, and there's in indoor section which explains things, and outdoor you get to see all the tanks/guns. I think we preferred the other museum, but this one is still pretty interesting, and learn a bit of Aussie history.

Cullen Bay

Man made marina where rich people live. There are restaurants here, but more pricey. We were here for the view.

Darwin Waterfront

The other tourist section, reminded me of Darling Harbour. They have restaurants kind of along the sea/wharf and a retail section (but not many shops). Other hotels here, wave pool (fake waves because only the East coast has decent waves on the beach), artificial beach and just a nice place to walk around. So many people come to the parks for picnics.

WWII Oil Tunnels


Walked past this and thought yolo, $8 to go inside a tunnel. It's just a tunnel they dug back in WWII to store oil tanks since they kept getting bombed above ground. The war ended before they even used these tunnels. 2 other tunnels are being used by the navy currently. 2 of them are opened, but only visited one of them since the other was apparently flooding on the day.

remains of the town hall after the cyclone

the main street

Feels more like a country town like Bateman's Bay or Port Stephens, rather than a CBD. No/minimal high rises, and 'high' is like 1/3 a Sydney building. You'll also notice almost everyone drives a 4WD. Most people here are tourist travelling through, or stopping in Darwin then travelling out.

Darwin Show

cute wooden carved owl

The week we were in Darwin just so happened to be the Darwin Show, where they also get a public holiday. It's like the Sydney Royal Easter Show but only goes for 3 days. It's also smaller, but has similar stuff. I think it's relatively big for Darwin, and people normally travel 2-3 hours to get here if they live in rural areas. It's a pretty big event for people living in this side of Aus. I used to go to the Easter show every year as a kid, back when show bags were $10, then 15 then 20ish. Now everything is at least $30. Went on a ride for $15, which is quite expensive, but yolo since I'm here, and haven't been on a ride in ages.

Accommodation feels like it's either Hilton or backpacker accommodation and plenty of hostels around. Not much 'in between' hotels. We stayed at a 2.5-3 star hotel, which was average but rooms were tiny, could just fit a small suitcase, other big suitcases you would need to stand it up and can't let it lie on the ground open. Basically there's not much choice in terms of hotels.

Taxis are limited, so make sure you book beforehand. They're just as expensive as Sydney imo (not that I take taxis in Syd). Just buses are so sparse here and most don't run on the weekends. They number them, and they are only 2 digits, where as here bus numbers are 3 digits plus the occasional letter. 

Darwin just mainly has things to see, and some walking around.

Goodbye Darwin