You might think based on my photos that all I did in Australia was swim. You would not be totally wrong there. Darwin was a small exception. Considering every piece of this beautiful green blue water is likely to house infinite crocodiles I starting looking for alternative ways to entertain myself.
The entertainment in Darwin is clubs, DJs, raves, doofs. On the main street where my hostel sat you could basically find a club every 300m. That is often, for my imperial system friends. There was even a regular DJ set up at my hostel. I was not really interested in going to a club and dancing to techno though. What I really wanted to a bush doof. This is Aussie slang for a party lost somewhere in the forest or ocean or desert really anywhere removed. In a country of only 25m it is easy to find places to hide. I had almost gone to some in Sydney that were by the water, the ocean waves crashing hid the bass so really no one ever knows you are there.
When I booked to stay a week in Darwin at MOMs, a notorious party hostel right in town, I moved into a room with 5 other girls. Throughout the week we became friends. Most of them were literally 10 years younger than me but age does not really matter when you are a backpacker. It is more about your vibe. I have a young vibe.
As the weekend approached the girls were saying there was going to be a bush doof Saturday. Basically the entire hostel was going. I was casually like oh yeah? I’d be into that, desperate to get the invite but trying to play it chill so they weren’t like this old lady needs to stop. The day came, I learned the theme was futuristic. I went to the thrift store, my favorite place to shop and started looking for something that would work. I found a silk dress that tied in the middle but barely covered anything. Considering Darwin’s humidity is 99% on any given day I knew this would be perfect. No fear of the desert cold like in Broome.
I returned home and chilled with Sara, a Welsh girl, from my room. We were waiting for Chloe, an Aussie, who was working. Holly, a British girl, was working until late but she was planning to come after work at around 4 or 5am. These girls had lived in this hostel for 2-3 months at this point. They literally knew everyone in the building. I felt like I had joined the cool girl room like when Lindsey Lohan starts running with Rachel McAdams.
We needed to prep supplies as this thing started around midnight and went until midday. I grabbed my 2L water bottle and my metallic fanny pack which included chap stick, cash, and a battery pack. The other girls brought alcohol and sweaters. If you stop dancing they said you immediately freeze but I didn’t plan on stopping. Being up all night didn’t worry me, I’ve done it a million times for parties, concerts, festivals, even for work. Plus we got some assistance from some supplements if you catch my drift. The real struggle was getting there. The back of the woods location was a 30 minute drive from the hostel. Immediately I worried I’d be left behind in the cab shuffle. Luckily I had made my own friends in this time and had a couple people who I could go with. Georgina, an Irish girl, got the DM message with the address and details. Sara, me, and this other kid ended up riding together.
The uber drops us off in total darkness but there were cars everywhere so we knew we were in the right place. As we follow the crowd two girls greet us wearing fairy lights and collecting the entrance fee of $10. They even had square cards to take credit card payments. We paid, got our stamp, and followed the sound of the bass. Through the trees we were lead by neon lanterns hanging from tress. There was a sort of pathway and eventually we exit into a massive clearing where dirt changed to sand.
At the back corner of the clearing sat a crazy light set up, surrounded by bass speakers stacked high. We headed straight there like moths to a flame. There was a schedule of DJs apparently but I never saw it. Someone apparently organized this but I didn’t know who. We joined the mass group of people bouncing to the music. I have no idea the different genres of this music but I heard there is bass and drum, which most guys are into, and then a bunch of other types. I was at the tip of the iceberg of this thing.
For literally the next 4 hours we dance. I had not been in a group this big in almost 2 years. Probably since Sydney’s Mardi Gras party Feb of 2020. It felt weird and strangely amazing to be surrounded by people vibin. Sara would find a friend every couple minutes and we would all dance. I felt so thankful I was with a friend who didn’t dip immediately. Occasionally we’d find Chloe and all bounce together. People are popping anything you can imagine, I hear reports of K (ketamine, the freaking horse tranquilizer) to E (ecstasy). No thank you, my supplements were doing their job and the hours slipped away into the darkness of the night.
Eventually we peeled off to get some water, take a pee break, Sara and I doing the classic girls go together so we are not alone in the bush. The moon shone brightly above us illuminating the fact that we were in sand. This felt odd considering we were land locked but this moment was not about understanding it was about experiencing. The bass drifted through the trees as the moon gave us a view of what was around. There was a fire going in one corner completely removed, people’s tents set up for camping for the weekend, cars scattered around parked in the sand. Different groups of people sat talking, making out, or just feeling whatever or wherever their journey was taking them. Someone started twirling a torch on fire and we sat around to watch.
I start talking to this one guy who cannot stop complimenting me. He tries to kindly ask me how old I am. I laugh and say 32. He is shocked “OMG I AM 30! No one here is our age!” We have now become best friends because we are old and everyone around us is 22 max. He says he has become wary because some of the girls he talks to are so young. Smart man, do your research, girls especially Australians in my opinion dress and do their make up like they are 30. I am constantly shocked to learn who is 18 or 20 when I was about to guess at least 25. We chat, share some supplements, and when I can tell he is potentially interested in more I politely excuse myself back to the dance floor. Sorry nice man, but my goal tonight was to dance.
In most festivals you end up standing in one place throughout the whole night. It becomes your space. Anytime you leave for the bathroom, water, etc, you normally oddly end up in the same location. Luckily that is how I found Sara and my new crew of friends. Holly joins us at some time in the night and we celebrate with new energy. We continue to move until the sun starts to rise. Since we are tucked so into this forest and sandy place fog hides the sun. It feels fitting that the sun never really joins except by providing some light and the moon never leaves us.
With the night over I can finally start to see around me. It is a train wreck. People are all over the place passed out or leaning on friends for support. I am thankful none of my crew is that destroyed. There is a shade placed over us so that the blistering sun does not kill the party. Bottles and cans are thrown everywhere but once the sun rises people actually go around putting them in nice piles.
I notice a guy blowing up balloons with helium. He is selling them to people. This is a high I never expected. Props to this guy for the 6am drug delivery. I become over it right there at 6am. We did the damn thing and my ass was tired. I felt dirty, exhausted, and ready to shower and be in bed. A new friend Amy and I commiserate. Ok, let’s give it another hour. 15 minutes later which felt like an hour I was like yeah no I am done. Luckily I convinced the crew and we all started saying goodbye.
As we start walking towards the road we join a very sad train of people leaving. Everyone is in various states of being. One girl still loving it splashing in a large puddle making snow angel arms. Babe, we are about to get in a cab, why. Eventually we make it to the road, pop a squat, and call an uber. Now it is Sunday morning at 7am, there is a shooting range located down the road. Imagine your classic white Australian going to shoot guns. They are not the most accepting of people so most cars slow down to tell us we can’t be there. I am sure we look like disasters but we just wave them on no one really feeling like fighting.
Ubers start to arrive and people are desperate to leave. I watch one crew get in a car that isn’t theirs on the hopes that whoever called it wasn’t paying attention. Like I said everyone is going to basically the same hostel or if not the same main road. I am focused and when mine approaches I grab my girls and get in quickly. Home girl comes up to my car brazenly asking if this is mine. Yes babe, check the license plate. We have the windows open appreciating the breeze and thanking our driver for working so early.
Finally we make it home. I stand in the shower for a full 5 minutes just letting the water run down me. Sand and dirt drip down off of me. Feeling fantastic I climb into my top bunk put on my eye mask and say goodbye to the world. My next activity was the night markets at 6pm. Just enough time to sleep all day and go eat some laksa.