Winter. Even in Australia its pretty grim and I was starting to think the Melbourne chill would never leave my bones. That coupled with working none stop since the end of April could only signal one thing – it was time for a holiday.
Thinking of where to go and who to spend it with there was only one person who came to mind. Brought together by Oz, a dormant friendship of twelve years, Andy and I had just spent three hilarious weeks together in Melbourne and I was gutted when he left me in search of sun and gin in Darwin.
Loud, proud and as northern as a Greggs Steak Bake, we went waaay back, all the way to college, permanent fixtures round the bike sheds gossiping and puffing on menthols.
So it came as no surprise that within hour of being reunited I was talking talking like Bette Lynch and chain smoking Vogues
After the giddiness of being reunited the following morning we set off to sun ourselves silly by the waterfront. He’d only been here a week but Andy looked as dark and golden as a Hob Nob, whilst I lay next to him like a pasty Rich Tea finger. Chatting and catching rays I asked what was on the agenda for out first night..
“Oh” he gushed, “we’re going to Darwins only gay club…THROB!”
With a name like that how could I resist. And if the name wasn’t hilarious enough we were rewarded with a Batman and Throbin drag show on arrival and the best music i’d heard out in Australia.
I didn’t know who was straight or gay, Andy could have been the only one in the village, but it didn’t matter and we danced our socks off rolling home at 4am.
The next day brought more sun and relaxing by the pool where it became evident that that 80% hostel was tattooed and northern. I swear, take away the crocodiles and this could have been Bolton in a heatwave, and whilst some may not want to meet neighbours after travelling to other side of the world, I found it comforting to hear such familiarity, confirming my view that we are a bloody friendly lot.
“Danny love you better cover up, you look like raw bacon”
Never one to mince his words Andy kept me and our new friends, sisters Becky and Nicole from Blackpool, in stitches all day, singing and giving out to the boys about their lack of sun protection.
Though tempting as the sun was we knew we had to get out and see a bit of the ‘real’ Darwin. After all, this was croc country, and I wasn’t leaving before seeing or at least eating one. So with a tour booked for 6am the next morning we did the only thing grown ups do when they are left to their own devices, went to the local ‘Ibiza’ club night and went to bed at 3am.
We should be in bed….
Dragging myself on to the bus, sunglasses firmly affixed, Andy did not fail (yet again) to astound me with his level of sass (‘It’s hard being so so sassy all the time’), belting out Donna Summer in the back.
Yet despite the onslaught I did manage to fall asleep, and opened my eyes to the Outback! Like proper real Australia! It was beautiful, stretches of orange and red and not a speed sign in sight unlike nanny state Victoria.
After a tour of some very unusual looking termite homes we headed to Lichfield Park to take in the waterfalls, even this ‘this one isn’t that impressive’ one.
Feeling so content near the water I was happy enough not to get in it and enjoyed some quiet time in the sun. Andy meanwhile took full advantage of open water, swimming out and proceeding to make gestures which I innocently mistook for Vougeing when he wanted photographic evidence of how far he’d gone.
Here in the Northern Territory YOU COULD BE NEXT!
Ominous words from our slightly racist boat guide on the Adelaide River. Not even a week before us a local had been gobbled by a croc retrieving his fishing line, and when the buffalo meat started flowing I could see how stupid that was, they were everywhere!
Whilst I was fascinated hovering near the window trying to look them right in their pre historic eyes Andy went rather quiet. At first I thought he may have just been having a little time out but he did appear to be genuinely terrified and gave strong words to the meat swingers above yelling:
“You better get that meat away from me love!!!
Thankfully though they seemed more interested in buffalo than Mancunians and after seeing them up close and personal we retreated back to the safely of the river bank, me promising sunsets a large gin on our return.
that’s more like it
And as we headed back to the city I mused on Australia’s variety and vastness, a world away from posh coffee and breakfasts in Melbourne. There was so much more to see and I couldn’t have been happier with my new home and the prospect of exploring it all.
But alas my last day beckoned as I’d only taken a few days off to make the trip and we spent it laughing and soaking up more of the sun by the wave pool (note not the beach, the crocs like it there too).
As I prepared to take the red eye flight back to Melbourne (straight to work the next morning) I had my final gin with Andy, filled with sadness to be leaving my long lost sassy friend behind.
Who knew when we would be reunited again, or where for that matter, but one thing was certain, I wasn’t going to leave it a whole 12 years until next time…..