After moving into our furnished apartment (we finally got the one we wanted, phew!) we’re enjoying sleeping in a proper bed & having access to a fridge stuffed with an eclectic mix of fruit & vegs. There are great walking/cycling tracks all around taking us to the Botanic Gardens, Bicentennial Park, Casuarina Foreshore & Coastal Reserve, Darwin Wharf Precinct, East Point Reserve & Fannie Bay Foreshore & Lake Alexander. We’ve joined the library, giggled at the tabloids 2008 “Behind the Lines/Best Cartoons” exhibition at Parliament House, watched a classic, recently rediscovered Australian movie, Wake in Fright at The Outdoor Deckchair Cinema & sat with big smiles on our faces watching the Darwin Symphony Orchestra perform a Big Band Gala on the lawns at The Casino. Mindil & Parap Markets keep us coming back for Asian food & our favourite cafe, The Office Espresso, greets us most mornings for our coffee fix & a read of the exciting, local newspaper the NT News. Our favourite restaurant? Hasn’t been found yet, it must be out there somewhere, we’ll keep searching. From our balcony we watch dolphins break the water, I get regular shipping updates from Greg, which he assure me is Very important & those SUNSETS....our photos are a tiny selection of what we see most nights. An enormous amount of wine has been delivered, thank goodness we have 10 friends arriving early October to empty a few boxes. We think we’re acclimatising to the humidity, it doesn’t feel that hot & sticky but with only a level of only 55% we could be in for a shock. There is so much history to discover—the 1942 bombing of Darwin by the Japanese when more bombs landed than at Pearl Harbour & of course Cyclone Tracy that devastated Darwin Christmas Eve 1974, we’ll look forward to discovering this city over the next 7 months.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth as well as 150 years since the publication of his work “On the Origin of Species’. We strolled over to the NT Library, based in Parliament House & 5 mins walk away & listened to Paul Brunton, Senior Curator of the NSW State Library, talk about Charles Darwin as seen through is correspondence to his friends & sisters. What could have been a dry topic turned out to be great entertainment, thanks to Paul. We’ve obviously been starved of culture this year as the following night we attended a National Trust function on the lawns at Myilly Point, to remember Hotel Darwin, a distinctive building steeped in history, evoking a huge outcry when demolished. A throng of people gathered for nibbles & drinks listening to an awesome jazz band, who the heck were they? It turned out to be local gypsy & jazz guitar virtuoso, Francis Diatschenko, no need to see him at The Darwin Entertainment Centre now which we were going to the following night! The culture blitz continues—a cycle ride to The Museum of Contemporary Art to view the Telstra National Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Art Awards & see the Cyclone Tracy exhibition, it’s hard to believe only 50 people died in a city that was 90% destroyed, apparently the figure is debateable as it probably doesn’t account for many aboriginals who perished. That night we sat on Jeff & Tricia’s balcony, overlooking the water, until the wee hours of the morning consuming fresh fish they’d caught the day before & imbibing more than a few bottles of wine. Remarkably we were up bright & early for a long cycle ride around the airport then another trip to the NT Library for a book launch—’Every Secret Thing’ by local, indigenous writer Marie Mankara, sharing her stories on mission life. We’re enjoying Darwin and all it has to offer. There are idiosyncrasies that make this a city with a difference, like getting the national broadsheet newspaper a day after it’s been printed, not being able to buy take away booze from supermarkets on Sundays but you can get it from the pub no worries, or being able to ride your bike on the footpath and not having to wear cycle helmets. Darwin is rightly proud of it differences and long may it stay so. There are differences that really are quite strange though, like having to show your drivers licence if you buy more than $100 worth of booze. It works like this, you fill your trolley, you take it to the check out, they ask you for your drivers licence and they write down the details on a piece of paper. They then ask you where you are going to consume this alcohol? You then tell them that you’re going to drink it at home, they give you back your licence and go on your way. All this pularver is supposed to control problem drinking by ensuring multiple visits to the liquor shop are noted. I can’t really imagine that anyone actually looks at the piece of paper with all the licence details on it and even if they do it would be well after the event, and judging by the number of bodies lying around in the morning, both black and white, you’d have to say it’s not working. Another difference is the number of vehicle accidents involving rollovers. The road we came into Darwin on, the Cox’s Peninsular road, seems to be the favoured place to fill yourself up with piss and then get behind the wheel of an un-road worthy car, usually a 4 wheel drive, then drive it as fast as it will go before leaving the road and rolling over half a dozen times. Mostly with fatal consequences. There seems to be a never ending supply of participants practicing all over the NT. Note to self: Stay on the cycle path....Our pace has slowed and our midriff’s thickened so we try to walk, jog or cycle a few times a week but we’re not all that concerned as we’re pretty sure that once back on the saddle it will fall off. And so we come to the end of our first entertaining month in Darwin & Greg’s balcony shipping reports continue to roll in every few hours eg. “Shipping Report - No Ships” or “Shipping Report - Tug” or “Shipping Report—”Large Ship”. Tomorrow is officially the start of the Wet Season (the Build Up) & dare I say it, I’m sure I’ll then get the “Up Build” weather reports too.....