A Taste for Adventure

By Alicia Pettis

Swimming With Crocodiles.

Day 1 of the official trip started with a museum about the history of Darwin, which is the largest city in the Northern Territory of Australia.

There are approximately 100,000 people in Darwin. It has been rebuilt twice, due to horrific events. The first was a bombing during WWII where the Japanese dropped more bombs on Darwin than they dropped on Pearl Harbor. The next was in the 70s, where a powerful cyclone raged through the town on Christmas Day, destroying almost everything in its path. At the museum there was a room where you could listen to a recordering of the sounds from the cyclone, which demonstrated just how devestating the wind was for this town.

There was also a stuffed crocodile in the museum, because, you know, it’s the Northern Territory. The croc’s name was affectionately and irconically called Sweetheart. Sweetheart was a large male croc who would guard his territory in the water by chomping on anything that came through, this included motors of boats. He was accidentally drowned with nets when a group was trying to catch him. A taxidermist stuffed him and while cleaning him out found some sea turtles, the motor of a boat and some pig bones in this stomach. Apparently it was world news when he was killed and the newspapers made wild accustations about how big he was and that he even ate people.

In the museum there was also quite a lot of art, both from aboriginals and Australians. One of my favorite pieces was of the lighthouses in Australia, of which there are many.

From there, we headed off to the downtown to get a quick tour, since the town is quite small. At this point, I had already seen most of it from my exploring the day prior.

The coach then dropped us off at crocosorous cove, a museum on the infamous Northern Territory crocodiles. I had signed up to dive in with a croc and was super excited to see what it would be like.

Crocodiles have extremely powerful jaws, which have the power of a 2-ton truck, compared to a humans power of a sack of potatoes… Over their lifetime, they may crack teeth, but there is always one ready to replenish the broken one. In total, a crocodile can have over 3,000 teeth in their lifetime. When a crocodiles snaps to get food, there is an incredible snapping noise, just reminding everyone how powerful the jaw is and how you might not want to come up against one in the wild.

My diving time was later, so I got some Thai food at a local restaurant and read some more my Australian novel that my uncle gave me for Christmas called “The Rosie Project.”

A few of us headed into the cove again to get ready for our dive. Most of us weren’t too worried, especially after seeing multiple people go in and be okay. Basically, there was a huge acrylic cylinder which was on an electric pulley system which would slowly drop you into the water environment with the croc. The keepers would then tempt the croc with food to get it close to the enclosure. We had googles to see under water and everything.

I took my GoPro with me to get some footage from within. A few new friends agreed to take photos from outside the tank from up above and from below. We got some great shots…
I still haven’t edited the GoPro footage, but I’m excited to finally get some time to edit everything when I’m on the coach for a long drive.

We headed back to the hotel to wash off the crocodile water and get ready for a night out. Since Darwin is the largest town for the first leg of this trip through the outback, this was our one night to stay out and have fun.

We went to a local place called Monsoon, which was fitting since it was the wet season and currently raining off and on all day. I got the house wine (cab sav, Australia!) and the steak. There are a few difference between US food and Australian food. For one, they call ketchup “tomato sauce” and an entree is an “appetizer.” This was the “real” Outback Steakhouse!

We all got to know each other a little better and talked about our flights over and our home countries. There are a lot of aussies on this trip, which is great because we can ask them questions about the country and their culture. But, it reminds me of how I haven’t seen all of the US yet. Just another reminder that I need to do a road trip across the country at some point soon!

Later on, once we had all had a few, there was a call to the dance floor to play a few games and dance. One game involved a carton from a case beer. Basically, everyone had to bend down and pick up the box with their teeth. However, after each round they would rip off a layer and make the top of the box closer to the ground. Basically you were squatting down to get the box. Two girls from our group won!

I was pretty tired, and left with another girl to get some sleep in my room. I’ve got another 25 days ahead of me, so I’m definitely not trying to kill myself early on.

Overall, day 1 was awesome and the group of 18 is great!

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