Loving Darwin!

In Darwin we park our caravan in the driveway of Budge’s best mate Doov, who - together with wife Annie and sons Jarrah and Arlo - makes us so welcome that we never want to leave. We. Simply. LOVE. Darwin!
… LOVE!! the markets, with their mouth watering foods (Mmmm... mango smoothies), local crafts, street entertainers and fresh produce. We do Nightcliff - once. Rapid Creek and Mindil – twice each. Parap – three times, including a last morning dash on the bike by Sam to stock up before hitting the road. We could move to Darwin for the markets alone.
… LOVE!! the exotic fruits and vegetables. Jackfruit – a clear winner for Sam. Papaya – a close second, especially raw in the legendary Paw Paw Salad. Star fruit. Snake beans. Mango. And all the rest in their speckled, freckled, shiny glory, whose names we can't remember or pronounce.
… LOVE!! the museum, where we meet the enormous croc “Sweetheart”, experience the intense interactive Cyclone Tracey exhibition and hang out with stuffed reptiles, puppets, easels and books in the kids discovery centre.
… LOVE!! the outdoor entertainment, from deckchair movies (we notch up one), to performances in the Botantical Gardens (we notch up two), to meals out on the deck back at home (we notch up too many to count).
… LOVE!! the walk and bike paths which snake through the streets and parks, linking one great activity to the next, and more than justifying the sweat involved in unhooking, cleaning and pumping up our bikes.
… LOVE!! the beaches, where we gobble fish and chips, cast our lines (and kite), plunder rock pools, lick salt stained trees, and wade the shallows at sun set.
… LOVE!! the public pools, whose incredible views (Nightcliff), mammoth waves (Waterfront), and full-size, full-speed waterslides (Leaner) totally compensate for the fact that swimming at the beach is off limits because of stingers and crocs.
... LOVE!! the balmy weather, where singlets and sandals are the go and long sleeves or trouser legs ne'er get a look in.
… LOVE!! our mates; their friendship; their driveway; their chooks; their home-baked bread; their hammock swing; their swimming pool; their great collection of novels, movies and music (much of which has been entrusted into our care); their sense of fun; their enviable Darwin lifestyle! Thank you guys, for letting us call your home our own and giving us a most excellent tour of your fine city, which shall henceforth be given the honorary title of "Doov-win".

After sixteen days we finally drag ourselves away - but not before making a secret pact to ourselves to return... sometime... somehow... to experience "The Build-Up" and "The Wet" for ourselves (November through January) and hence complete our initiation as Darwin locals.

Jumping for joy at the awesome Leaner Water Park. Our first visit is fraught with drama as we discover that the bag with bathers and towels has been left behind ("Me? I thought you put the bag in the car!") and can't convince the kids to swim in their undies once Benji discovers that (after getting dressed in the dark that morning) he is infact wearing a pair of Rikki's pink knickers. So it's shorts for swimming that time - but we bring our bathers when we come back again... not once, but twice more - and even then it's barely enough! 
Fish 'n Chips at the Wharf  Precint - where Annie points out something obvious that we have all failed to notice: Benji eats standing up. On his chair. Always. 
Silhouettes at Sunset.
We go on three  bike rides together - and twice Benji manages to score himself a return ride home in Arlo's bike buggy - rider Doov getting to eavesdrop on the intimate conversation of the three year olds - not always understandable, but endlessly entertaining.  
Picnic dinner at the opening night of Darwin Festival in the Botanical Gardens. 
Fishing with friends in Fannie Bay.
The whole happy gang!