I was in Darwin, competing in my first international boxing tournament at the Arafura Games. Everything I’d been working towards in the past three years was coming together. I was fitter and stronger at 37 than I’d ever felt. I was focused and calm. I felt sharp. I had support behind me (shout-out to WH and TFE Hotels!). There were no belts to take home – I hadn’t wanted to interrupt Johnny’s flow on the phone – but medals. I was certain I’d get to show him mine when I got back to Sydney.
But, as life isn’t a Hollywood movie, the boxing tournament didn’t turn out as I’d hoped. (I'm gonna skip the details here, because I wrote about it in the August issue of Women's Health). On the bright side, though, it meant I had time to explore, which doesn’t usually happen when I travel for boxing comps. Lucky for me, Darwin had plenty of kJ-burning activities to keep me entertained.
My home base was Vibe Hotel Darwin Waterfront with views of the wave lagoon (a protected area where you can swim without any crocs annoying you) and only a short walk to the CBD. Location = perfect. Although as close as I was to the wave lagoon, even more convenient was Vibe’s pool and gym downstairs, which also happened to be in very close proximity to Curve Café and Bar where the buffet breakfast was served. You know how it is: train hard, eat harder. That’s an actual saying, right?
You can’t leave Darwin without heading out of the city and exploring the national parks. My highlight? The Litchfield National Park tour by Offroad Dreaming, where I hiked then swam at Wangi Falls and Florence Falls, and also saw crocs up close on the Victoria River on a private crocodile cruise!
One day while I was exploring the city, I found a set of stairs that began near Darwin’s Deckchair Outdoor Cinema and went up to Bicentennial Park. I noticed the locals were having a great old time (read: they looked like they were dying) running up and down, so I thought I’d join them one morning (if you want to pretend to be a local for real, they go on a weekly 5km parkrun on Saturdays at 7am). Ten laps in and the pain was real but the view at the top was glorious. And so was the buffet breakfast after that, which I should add, I could totally gorge on because I didn't have to make weight for anymore boxing fights! In all honesty, it might not have been the experience I'd set out for, but my trip to Darwin ended up being exactly what I needed.