At 3am I woke up. At 4am I gave up. For the last few hours, I’ve watched the steady lights of Darwin Harbour flicker across the water while nothing else moves. Now it’s six and the sun’s still tucked up in bed.
I’m here in Australia’s Northern Territory for a week long (or short, given the size of the place) walkabout.
I arrived yesterday and took my first jet-lagged steps around the city of Darwin. At least, I think it was yesterday, given that today is still yesterday for my family back home.
Darwin’s a clean, ship-shape place on Australia’s northern coast. It overlooks the Timor Sea and residents find it easier to reach Bali than to head down south to Sydney. The weather here, I’m told is hot and sticky or just plain hot. While Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth feel the chill of winter, here it’s a balmy, sunscreen-grabbing 30 or so degrees by day. And now I know, first hand, that it’s also sticky and warm by night.
Outside, the lights still flicker, although the water moves even less than before.
Earlier, Robbie Mills, whose real name is Padj Padj Janama Penanke Ngamatuawia for short, showed as around the red-rocked cove of Lamaroo Beach. He describes himself as Larrakia – an Aboriginal word that means people. There are more than fifty tribes or clans in the Northern Territory, each with their own language, culture and customs.
Robbie shows us milkwood, chews green-backed ants and walks barefoot across the stones of the beach and then the tarmac of the road. He shows us Aboriginal art at Lyons Cottage and the restless daubs of paint still swirl around my sleepless mind.
Tomorrow, I’ll swim with crocodiles. Or perhaps by now that’s today. You can follow along on Twitter by tracking the hashtag #ozlab or track my images live at @insidetravellab on instagram. You can even, if you so wish, check out the new page of reviews, tips and suggestions I’m playing with on foursquare.
Or, you can just sit back and relax and wait for my blog posts to arrive in your inboxin your own sweet time.
My clock tells me it’s 6.30 but the sky is as dark as ever.
“You have to get used to a different sense of time,” a Darwinsider told me yesterday. “The Northern Territory, NT, stands for the following: not today, not tomorrow. Maybe next Tuesday.”
Eventually, then, sleep will come. And so will the crocodiles…
Disclosure: I’m going walkabout with support from the Northern Territory Tourist Board
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com