It's been a few days since I’ve posted to the blog because I had to recover from this trip. The trip itself was great, although the one day I did it in probably doesn’t do the park justice (I couldn’t face another three-day group tour). I did, however, get to go on the Yellow Waters and see some crocodiles and walk around Nourlangie Rock and see some aboriginal cave paintings. But the trip back to Darwin was an ordeal because the air-conditioning on the bus stopped working and it was a five hour drive until we could link up with a different bus. The first hour was the worst. Everyone was dripping with sweat while the driver apologised profusely. Opening the sun roofs on the top of the bus made a bit of a difference but it was still a very steamy ride. The staff were great, handing out wet towels, urging us to drink water and checking up on everyone. Most of the passengers were elderly and there was a real worry that someone might keel over in the heat but thankfully no one did and we all seemed to make it okay. We stopped for a drink partway, compliments of the tour company, and I never drunk a beer so quickly as I did that day!
During the ride, to take our minds off the heat, the staff played a DVD movie on the monitors, ‘Australia’, directed by Baz Luhrman and starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. This was an ordeal in itself. It was packed with nearly every cliche about Australia you could imagine: tough beer-drinking Aussie blokes, mystical Aboriginal dreamtime mumbo-jumbo, prim Englishwomen encountering the outback, greedy capitalist English bad-guy, stolen generations. Everything was exaggerated to the nth degree - the red centre is red but not THAT red. The story was tedious and predictable - small cattle outfit owned by afore-mentioned prim English women takes on big corporation by driving cattle through the desert on a trail that no one’s ever succeeded in covering. And guess what? They make it! We arrived at our replacement bus just before the end of the film and when we were aboard, the disc would not play, so we never got to see the very end of the film. I wasn’t too upset.
Endurance Rating: Five hours on a bus without air-conditioning in the Northern Territory with 40 other people gets a 8 out of 10 (including the two days of feeling lethargic afterwards). The added discomfort of Luhrman’s ‘Australia’ pushes it to 9-and-a-half. Just short of having to walk through the Saharan desert.