Around Australia in 7 days

It's been a very busy couple of weeks of work travel. Last week a coworker and I made the 4-hour drive to Port Campbell to visit three sites (natural gas plants). It was the first time I've been to a functioning site, so it was quite an experience for me. I'm sure I was a sight to see in my overalls, high-vis vest, hardhat with ear muffs, and steel toed boots. Watching my coworker climb around running turbines was very intimidating to me - I was afraid to get too close and touch anything! It was interesting going through the safety rituals at each plant, one required an hour-long video with a test, and another a 5-minute power point presentation. After work one evening we took the 10-minute drive to see the 12 Apostles (though I think there are only 8 standing now). They are spectacularly beautiful and I can't wait to take Phil on a drive along the Great Ocean road and show him them.
I started off this week with a flight to Alice Springs (right in the middle of the country) on Monday. Alice Springs is the town people fly to if they visit Ayers Rock, and there's not much else going on there. It's also the town of my first aboriginal-woman-with-a-beard sighting. I had never seen anything quite like that before, it was memorable to say the least. We went there to visit the local power plant, home to some equipment that will be moving up North in the near future. I met the people who will be involved in the project, and we all enjoyed a meal including camel, crocodile, emu, and kangaroo together.
Next we flew to Darwin. The flight from Alice Springs to Darwin was pretty boring - there is not much in the red center. But once we started the approach, I saw the beautiful turquoise bays of Darwin and fell in love. Between that and the 30 degree weather, Darwin was very enjoyable. The next morning we drove three hours along a very boring road to the town of Katherine. Katherine has approximately 5000 residents, including another aboriginal woman with a beard. It is also the town recent Tour de France winner Cadel Evans was born in. That and the crocodiles in the river seemed to be the town's claim to fame. It looks like I'll be spending some time in this town, so it will be interesting to see how that goes.
After that site visit we drove back to Darwin for the night. We stopped at Edith Falls along the way - a really pretty waterfall into a small lake. It puzzled me that it was a well-known swimming hole in the area, yet there were signs about crocodiles everywhere. I think I'll pass on that swim. We also stopped for Barra burgers (barramundi - a really good white fish). As sketchy as the town looked, those burgers were absolutely delicious. The bar we got them at is home to Charlie the buffalo from Crocodile Dundee. That was quite exciting to see as well.

It was a good learning experience for sure, and now I have a better idea of just how much work is ahead for me. It will be challenging, but also very rewarding. I am really looking forward to seeing where this job takes me. But for now, it's nice to be back home (if that's what you call it). I just need to get through the next few days until Phil, Maybe, and George arrive on Wednesday. Can't wait to see them!

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