2 January 2019
Although Ian and I were both awake reasonably early, Cornelia, V and Belle slept on, and so we did our best to pack up our suitcases without disturbing them. Cornelia woke up next, followed a few minutes later by our guests. There followed a complicated bag-packing exercise, doing our best to consolidate everything we’d collected over the last few weeks into three cases and three hand luggages. Of course, V needed to pack up too, and we were doing our best to get ourselves sorted in time for the 10:00 checkout time and the 10:30 breakfast cut off.
Ian went off to find a luggage trolley and I watched in dismay as the clock ticked on past 10:00. He returned about twenty minutes later, empty-handed. There were no trollies available and a queue for the few that were in existence. He had enquired at reception only to be told that “lots of our return guests bring their own!”… He was NOT impressed and frankly, neither was I!
Val had already loaded up her car while I kept an eye on Cornelia and Belle, and Emma was eager for V and Belle to join her for breakfast, so they left to meet up with her. Ian said he’d ferry the bags to our car by hand, and suggested that Cornelia and I go for breakfast too, before the 10:30 deadline. (It was 10:20 by now.) I didn’t really want to leave Ian to do it all, but we couldn’t leave Cornelia alone in the room, and in any event, then none of us would be in time for food! Reluctantly, I took Cornelia off while Ian began his workout of the day!
We made it to the restaurant with a few minutes to spare, and the staff seemed much friendlier today, bar the same grumpy older woman who was keeping her beady eye on the clock. I grabbed pancakes for Cornelia and bacon & eggs for Ian, with a bowl of WeetBix, coffee and an OJ. I had scrambled eggs and toast again and had taken a big table, assuming that V etc would be joining us, but she messaged me to say that they were at a different cafe, so Bugsy and I had a very enjoyable and fun breakfast together, waiting for Ian. In the meantime, Laura (our friends from Utrecht that we had met in Christchurch and again in Brisbane) had messaged to ask if we had a plan for today. I suggested Tropical Fruit World (my never-ending quest for Cornelia to try different foods!) and we arranged to meet there at 12:00. But poor old Ian. By the time he arrived, it was nearly 11:00, and he had cold eggs and cold coffee. ☹️ Amazingly, we weren’t the last family in the place – another one had arrived moments after us (I spoke to the mum and they’d only woken at 10:15!!) and were still eating when we left.
Cornelia wanted to go the park, and we did of course want to say goodbye to V and Belle, so arranged to meet them there briefly. Fido reappeared and we played fetch for a bit, before Cornelia asked to be herself again and went off to play. V, Emma and the kids joined us for a bit, before it was time to say our final farewells. Cornelia didn’t cry this time when saying goodbye to Belle, as V promised she’d come to visit us in the next five years! We had a quick photo shoot, said goodbye to Emma and Harry, then walked back to the car park with V and Belle to pass on all the fridge stuff we weren’t taking with us, as well as return the gin she’d given me for Christmas. We simply don’t have the space for it, unfortunately, but V promised she’d send plenty of photos of her enjoying it on our behalf!!
With shouts of love and good wishes, we headed off for Tropical Fruit World (another “World” for Bugsy to add to her list, she pointed out).
We were all very happy to see each other, especially Cornelia and Sofie who greeted each other with hugs before dashing off to the park. We enticed them inside with the promise of an ice cream while the grown ups had coffees, and this gave us a chance to look at the layout of the place and work out what we should do. It was deliberately confusing as they were operating on Queensland time, despite being in New South Wales, so although our tractor tour was booked for 14:00 (NSW/real time), it was marked down as 13:00. Totally pointless, so far as I can tell!
Anyway, we killed time by discussing potential final holiday destinations for us, while the girls played together in the park, getting covered in sand again – their absolute favourite medium of dirt/mess. At least they didn’t shampoo their hair today! We ordered lunch, which was itself a bit unnecessarily painful. We paid separately but asked them to prepare the order together, which they agreed to do, then didn’t. Ian and Howard both had the quiche but the accompanying salad didn’t arrive. Once Howard made enquiries, the waitress came over, dropped the bowl of salad onto the table and walked off! Howard then had to go up and ask where the dressing was (it was supposed to be dressed with papaya dressing) and when THAT arrived, it turned out to be honey and mustard. He was not best pleased! My green papaya and chicken salad was interesting and tasty, and I think I had the best deal. (This almost never happens!!)
Anyway, then it was tractor time, and we all boarded the trailer and bounced around the amazing plantation, with our driver pointing out the hundreds of varieties of fruit, some of which we’d never heard of before). We stopped off to pick our own bananas and crack macadamia nuts, before continuing on to a little farm, where the girls fed the sheep, goat, emu and kangaroos. There was a joey that had tumbled back into its mum’s pouch and was totally adorable with his ear and legs dangling out!
From there, we had a boat ride to another play park and fed the ducks along the way. Howard and Ian helped the girls on the zip wire while Laura and I sat in the shade chatting, until we were invited back onto the tractor and returned to the starting place. We had thought the tour was one and a half hours, but it was nearly two and a half. We had been booked onto the fruit tasting experience at 14:20 (their time), but it was now nearly 15:00 (or 16:00 real time 🙄) as it happened, we just joined the final tasting of the day at 15:20 and once the (slightly unenthusiastic) speaker had run through the fruits on display and introduced each one to us, we were able to test all of them, together with various jars of produce made on site. We had pineapple, mango, papaya, Davidson’s plum, dragonfruit, white sapote, Mamey sapote, chocolate pudding fruit (black sapote) and avocado. It was exciting to try some new tastes – the sour plum, the slightly bland dragonfruit, and the interesting chocolate pudding fruit (which becomes more tasty when combined with dairy, apparently). I also really enjoyed the white sapote – fruits I haven’t come across before.
Cornelia liked the pineapple and papaya, but none of the others, although she tried most of them. However she and Sofie discovered a love of the farm honey and were scooping plenty out onto sticks and guzzling it down. I tried (and loved) the pineapple honey, but we didn’t have any room for any purchases, so I had to walk away empty-handed. Well, almost. I did squeeze in a fridge magnet and a sticker for Cornelia’s scrapbook before we left. Sofie also shares a vivid imagination and is a horse called “Spirit”, so she and Cornelia galloped back to the car park beautifully!
During the course of our discussions, it transpired that the three of them head home to Utrecht on the night of 26th January from Singapore. Exactly the same time and place as us! This made saying goodbye again much easier, and we agreed to have supper together at the airport that day. Hurrah! (Double hurrah as we discussed having some champagne to mark the end of both sets of travels.) We also briefly introduced the idea of having the last five days together, perhaps in a nice villa in Thailand. It’s quite a big thing to do, having only recently met the family, but they are all such good company that we’d be up for it, if they are! We shall see what happens!
Cornelia became a bit upset when I asked her to offer her Paw Patrol bucket and spade to Sofie (via Howard), and then she cried a lot when she saw me hand it over. I explained very quickly that we couldn’t take it with us, and that it was to give to her friend, or we would just leave it in the hire car where it would probably be thrown away. The tears stopped immediately and she wound down her window to shout her final farewells.
It was about an hour and a half to the airport, during which Cornelia cried out “Look, Mummy, I’m old enough to do this!” and showed me how she had wrapped her thumb under her index finger – something she’d apparently been unable to do until today! Love her! Once we’d dropped off the car, we traipsed off to check in and the bag drop off area. We were about half an hour too early to do this, and as there wasn’t a kids’ play area, we found a cafe where Cornelia had a cheese and ham toastie for tea, followed by a white chocolate and macadamia shortbread cookie, which she didn’t like. Lucky Daddy!
We were able to print boarding passes and luggage tags with no problem and bag-dropped them quickly. We were bit worried that our hand baggage was over the limit, but as we’d escaped having it weighed on any other flight, thought we’d take our chances. Hmm, today was NOT our lucky day! We were charged $60 for our overweight bag. Whoops. Still, there was nothing we could do about it, and we knew that there was a strong chance we would have to pay it. At least we were able to keep our bags with us, and not have them checked into the hold. The slight frustration was that the charge was for one of the hand bags to be checked into the hold, but then they said we could keep it with us anyway. 🤔 Anyway, our fault, so we can’t complain!
Cornelia spent some time watching Paw Patrol on her Kindle, before deciding she was tired and falling asleep very quickly on my lap. Bloody hell! She hasn’t fallen asleep that quickly for ages! Typical! And there she stayed for the next two and a half hours, until the flight landed just after midnight, about half an hour ahead of schedule. I had prepared myself for the difficult task of waking her, and explained in her ear everything that I was going to do. Get my rucksack on. Turn her over. Pick her up. Carry her out. And it worked. Apart from a few tears, she buried her head into my neck and wrapped herself obligingly around me. It was a long walk all the way to the baggage carousel and then we endured a painful delay of over half an hour waiting for the luggage to be put on the carousel for collection. Argh! But Cornelia kept it together and was content curled up on one of our hand luggage bags while we waited.
There was a short queue for the taxis (no Uber was available) and we had a perfectly pleasant ride to our hotel – the Argus Hotel – in Darwin. It was difficult to see what Darwin was like as it was so dark, but it made a nice change to be travelling from an airport on empty roads! I asked our driver if he had any kids (he didn’t) and if he had any suggestions as to where we should go with Cornelia tomorrow, bearing in mind we only had one full day here. He recommended the wave pool, so we thought we would check it out tomorrow morning.
Our hotel room was lovely. There was a separate bedroom with a large bed for Cornelia, then our large bed was in the front room, which had a kitchenette too. Cornelia wanted to go straight to bed, and I cuddled her until she fell asleep, before creeping off to bed myself, just after 02:00 Darwin time.