Visiting the Northern Territory

A key part of my job is to make sure that I gain a thorough education of the unique opportunities and challenges each of my hotels face. There’s really no better way to do this than to visit the hotels in person. Most recently, I flew from New South Wales (NSW) where Sydney is located over to the Northern Territory (NT) to drop in on Alice Springs and Darwin. Education, received! Here are a few things I experienced and learned.

I started my NT journey with a flight from Sydney over to Alice Springs. This town is extremely remote and practically smack dab in the middle of the continent. You can head either 1,500 KMs north to Darwin or 1,500 KMs south to Adelaide. That’s 16 hours of driving to the nearest big city. Craziness. For me, I only had about 5 hours on the ground in Alice before I had to get back to the airport and catch my second flight that day, a continuation on to Darwin. So the clock was ticking!

I was lucky enough to get a quick driving tour of Alice Springs’ CBD and other highlights. One of the best ways to view the city is from Anzac Hill Memorial, which is in honor of those who have fought in wars/conflicts for AU.

View of Alice Springs from Anzac Hill
View of Alice Springs from Anzac Hill

Another must-see spot in Alice was Telegraph Station. This was a station that connected Darwin and Adelaide, literally linking the north and south of Australia. The station is located on a spot of land near the original springs from which the town got its name. Sadly, the springs are long gone.

Telegraph Station in Alice Springs Northern Territory Australia
Telegraph Station in Alice Springs Northern Territory feels like a Western outpost!
Original Alice Spring location
No really, there used to be a spring here! We promise.

After a quick tour of the main sights, I spent some time doing the important business-y stuff with the team at the hotel. I also got to hang out with a baby kangaroo, so that checked off a life goal pretty unexpectedly!

Baby Kangaroo Joey in Alice Springs
Everybody in Alice Springs gets a free baby kangaroo. (Sarcasm comes through on the Internet, right?)

Then it was a return back to the airport I had so recently left to catch the flight straight north to Darwin.

Qantas Flight at Alice Springs
Rushing to get to the plane on the Alice Springs tarmac before the skin cancer set in.

After the dry, fragrant heat of Alice Springs (which I truly loved – it reminded me of the deserts in Southern Utah ), I was soooooooooo ill-prepared for the humidity of Darwin NT. Holy. Gawd.

Now, it’s definitely not to say that Darwin doesn’t have its charms. But they should seriously pass a law there to make t-shirts, shorts and thongs acceptable (and expected) business attire. I actually made the mistake of bringing a blazer which I promptly removed because the main thing blazing after 10 minutes in Darwin was my armpits.

Again, I was lucky enough to get a quick tour of the city and some key areas where visitors like to hang out. There were great views, marinas and a peaceful little area called The Waterfront that seriously made me want to pick it up and drop it in Sydney (but with NT rental prices).

Darwin Northern Territory Cullen Bay
Never trust social media and a good filter. You can’t tell from this photo that I am swimming in my own sweat and nearly dead from dehydration.
Darwin Waterfront
The Darwin Waterfront is a nice little escape to relax. Mind the crocodile net.
Crocodile statue in Darwin marina
Even crocodile statues are dangerous in Darwin. This one came with a warning sign about sharp edges and when I accidentally touched it, it practically burned my finger off.

One of the most surprisingly awesome moments in Darwin was doing a couple WODs at CrossFit Darwin. I was trained two days by Sammy Drescher, this incredibly cool athlete who has already gone to CF Regionals at least twice and she’s ohhhhh about 22 years old. I stood next to her and tried to look as buff as possible, but she still made me look like a tiny little pipsqueak. So that pic is going in the Wilbur vault right now. 😉

Crossfit Darwin
CrossFit Darwin is amazing. I literally will not be saying anything snarky about this place. Go do a WOD there if you’re in town!
Crossfit Darwin sunrise
There’s something really cool about watching the sunrise knowing you’ve already worked out for the day.

After wrapping up a round of hotel visits and some great meetings with our Northern Territory team, I had to bid adieu to Darwin and the NT. I can definitely say I’d like to go back and experience more of Alice Springs (the Larapinta Trail in particular) and also do some journeying around Darwin (in something metal or electric-shock producing in case of crocodile surprises).

Visiting these two remote locations really gave me context for how vast this island-country-continent really is…and how there is real beauty everywhere. Even if you have to wipe the sweat out of your eyes to see it.

XOXO – JW

4 comments

  • Hey there my wife has been offered a nursing position in Alice and I was just keen on your thoughts. We live in cornwall uk. How was it in Alice? Was it beautiful? Was it clean? Modern facilities and infrastructure etc? Did you see lots of the aboriginal people? And how was the cuisine I believe it gets trucked in from around oz?

    Sincerely Bob Bailey UK

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    • Hi Bob – I’ve only been to Alice Springs twice and both times for just 4 hour visits before catching the flight to Darwin. Here are some things I’ve observed:
      -Yes the Alice Springs area is quite beautiful, if you love and appreciate desert environments (which I do). Also, there is the Larapinta Trail which I’ve heard is amazing if you and your wife like to bushwalk.
      -I can’t comment on the food unfortunately as I never had time to go out and about there.
      -There is quite a bit of poverty and some petty crime that is a notable thing. I only know this due to my business dealings there and a local colleague telling me this. Lots of car break-ins and such.
      -Infrastructure-wise I believe it would be average. There are large US government bases there so this would likely provide sound internet and roads, etc.

      I wish I could share more here but unfortunately I’m just not informed enough!

      Cheers,
      JW

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    • Ok Darwin….this place always makes me scratch my head! I’ve been there several times and in multiple seasons. These are probably the main things to keep in mind:
      -it will be cheaper to fly to Bali from Darwin than anywhere else in Australia. My point being: it’s a pretty expensive and remote jumping off point for exploring more of Aus.
      -there’s a wet season (summer) and a dry season (winter). The wet season is extremely humid and very hot. You sweat pretty much consistently. The dry season is gorgeous up there. It’s one of those towns where everyone talks fondly of / waxes poetic about the dry season and suffers through hr wet.
      -There are lots of restaurants and some really pretty waterfront areas in Darwin by you can never, ever go swimming there. It’s a crocodile haven.
      -Cost of living there relative to other major cities in Aus is less.
      -The main city center strip is a bit run down feeling. Honestly, Darwin feels like it needs a massive renovation and revitalization at this point. It feels very dated.
      -No real problems on infrastructure – it would be fine/average for Darwin.
      -I would never personally want to live there unless work circumstances sent me that way. Harsh, but 100% truth.

      Hope this helps a bit!
      -JW

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