We’re not really city people but Darwin has a lot to attract us, especially at this time of the year when the weather is perfect and the Darwin Festival and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Competition are on. Paul’s appendicitis wasn’t the best of starts to our time here but once he was out of hospital he bounced back very quickly. Life on the road helps keep us pretty fit so recovery times are less … too many places to go and things to do to waste too much time being unwell!
Festivals in the other capitals are no doubt bigger but there was plenty on offer for us to enjoy. We made it to the opening concert in the Botanic Gardens which included the delightful Clare Bowditch but Paul’s appendicitis meant we had to leave early. The Railway Club is a great venue and, once Paul was on the mend, we made it to a session with three bands from Darwin and Melbourne. A night at the Convention Centre was a dressier occasion and we watched a very entertaining performance of Dangerous Liaisons. A lot of the festival performances took place in the city and an area under the fig trees on the edge of the CBD was transformed into “Festival Park” with lighting and food stalls and long tables where you could eat and meet and enjoy the atmosphere.
The standard and variety of art in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards at the Museum and Art Gallery was inspiring and we also loved the entries which didn’t make the awards but were displayed at the Salon de Refuse in an art gallery on Darwin’s Wharf precinct. Several other art galleries around town had exhibitions as part of the festival and we made it to as many as we could as well as to some exhibitions at Darwin University.
The Darwin Festival is a very casual, but well run event and we thoroughly enjoyed the music and performances as well as the festival atmosphere in this tropical city with its balmy August temperatures. We’ll be back at some time in the future!
Away from the festival the coast between Lee Point and Cullen Bay Marina provided some lovely spots to visit, beach walk and take photos with rocks and cliffs of all manner of shapes and a wide spectrum of colours. East Point has lots of places to explore and we enjoyed a barbecue after the sun set at Dripstone Cliffs on Casuarina Beach. Late one afternoon we strolled along the beach under the cliffs at Fannie Bay and watched a wedding on the sand near the boat club. Along with the wedding guests we enjoyed a cool drink in the comfort of the boat club as we watched the sun set over the Arafura Sea, very civilized as well as beautiful.
A favourite past-time in Darwin has to be attending the markets and we managed to visit three of them. Parap market is on Saturday mornings and as well as a number of fresh fruit and vegetables, clothing, jewellery and craft stalls they have a mouth-watering array of choices for delicious snacks. By sharing we managed to sample a very good range as it was just too hard to pick one or two. Mindil Beach market is the best known market and it operates on Thursday and Sunday evenings. We visited on a Thursday and while it has less in the way of fresh produce they have a larger range of craft and souvenir type stalls and a huge number of food stalls to feed the crowds who attend. We joined the hundreds on the beach for the sunset and enjoyed the free music and shows throughout the evening while we grazed on the food.
Both Nightcliff and Rapid Creek have Sunday morning markets and as we ran out of time for both we visited the Rapid Creek market as it reportedly has the best range of fresh produce. This was spot on! There were heaps of stalls with a huge range of freshly picked vegetables, herbs and fruits. Our fridges were loaded up but because it was all so fresh we managed to use it all while it was still in excellent condition. The only problem is having to go back to buying from supermarkets after eating the delicious market food.
Our visit to Darwin this time was longer than we expected and stretched to almost three weeks. Maybe next time we make it here it will be during a wet season and we can see a totally different side of the place.