My Jetstar flight was delayed, so I landed in Darwin at 1am. I had arranged a pickup with my Couchsurfing host Chris, but only if I arrived on time as he had work the next day. So I slept on the darwin airport floor among my bags. It wasn't comfortable, but at least I wasn't the only one. Chris picked me up at 7am. He'd planned a trip to a cultural aboriginal festival somewhere in the outback and had space in the car, so I joined.
We drove for several hours through the outback and arrived at this small aboriginal town. I imagined it would normally be quiet, but now it was abustle with visitors and events. Chris knew someone organising it and had pledged our help in exchange for entry and a meal. A stage had been set up on a large field and we initially helped setting up a fence perimeter (to keep the non-paying folk out) and again later to tear the whole shebang down and pack it up. The concert featured a lot of regional artists, including the village's own aboriginal band 'The Emu Sisters' (which was, sadly, awful yet still entertaining in its own way).
The night was bitterly cold, especially since the bedroll had been left behind in the chaos, and I spent my second night in a row sleeping on hard ground. On the way home we stopped for a swim at a waterfall in the middle of nowhere. Back in Darwin we headed out to explore the town, watched the sun set from the coast, checked out the market and went for a beer. I was appreciating being back in western civilisation where I was merely another insignificant face amongst the crowd.
I spent my final luxurious night on an actual mattress and Chris dropped me off at the airport early the next morning. Next stop: Melbourne to hang with Grandma for a few days. The main thing which struck me was the temperature; Melbourne was cold. They were having a cold snap it seemed, and after my summer travels I was feeling the chill. Grandma's feijoa tree was fruiting so we made feijoa wähe. I caught up with cousins, went for dinner with Grandma, Marissa and Sagar and chilled out a bit.
Eventually it was time to board yet another plane. On to kiwiland, and to the grand sailing adventure which awaited me there. As we crossed the southern alps I noticed to my horror that the entire country was blanketed in white. Damn.