My dream of leaving winter behind and heading north to Darwin to beat the cold this year has certainly worked, even better than I expected. Australia is presently experiencing the two extremes with cold, wet and miserable weather in the south and extreme heat in the north. This pattern has been the way of it now for the past 6 to 8 weeks.
We have been surprised at the heat in the top-end considering it is the middle of winter. 2010 has turned out to be the hottest July in Darwin for over thirty something years and the southern tourist have all been caught by this weather change. Even the locals are expressing concern at the heat and are expecting the summer thunder storms to start rolling in any day now.
Temperature have been sitting between 25C night time minimum to 37C maximum temperature but many nights it does not get that low. We are feeling the extreme heat during the day and I guess the humidity is also playing a major role in this. Men are walking around at 10.00pm of an evening in shorts with no shirt on and cold showers are the order of the day. Several people who spend the winter up here are turning around and heading south again. I have never been a beer drinker unless I have been extremely hot but since coming to Darwin it has been buy it by the case and always have them in the fridge. Beer is now my daily drink.
We are having trouble getting the caravan fridge cold enough to keep anything frozen. We rang the fridge man who told me that everyone is having the same problem especially with caravans. His only advice was to install a fan to cool the back of the fridge and get rid of the build up of heat.
Coba is really feeling the heat and yesterday we drove around Darwin in the air conditioned car for some relief. Of a morning I have been going out doing my bird photography and by lunchtime I am back at the caravan. By then all the birds (Except the swamp birds) have moved under shelter from the heat and they do not come out again until around 5.00pm. It is really noticeable in the caravan park. The brown honeyeaters are around in the morning and then disappear until late afternoon seeking shelter in the shade and saving energy.
The National Parks of Kakadu and Litchfield are also experiencing these conditions. The return of the crocodile to the north since they have become protected has stopped swimming in several places where people once swam. These man-eaters have returned with vengeance and are taking over all the waterholes. The beautiful swimming hole at Wangi Falls is just one of the swimming holes closed due to crocodiles.
Our plan was to spend four weeks in Darwin and then slowly return south via Queensland. We are now leaving Darwin on Sunday and going to Katherine and on to Kununurra where hopefully it might be a bit cooler. We will have to return to Darwin two weeks later to fly home for a week but we will leave the van in Katherine and drive up to catch the plane. On our return we will pick up the caravan and head for Townsville to visit family.