There is something spectacularly different about Darwin, the city at the top end of Australia. It feels like a place that is definitely beating it’s own drum – perhaps played to a cruiser audience, with a more tribal rhythm, and under the influence of a sweat inducing sky. But I like it. The cruisy pace, the blend of cultures, the prevalence of Indigenous locals, as well as the tastes of Asia – only a couple of hours away across the ocean.
It feels like there is a burgeoning art scene, a creative vibe and the impression that locals are somehow more connected to the dramatic climate. A climate that demands attention most nights, at least in the lightening rich wet season. If only I could have captured the ground shaking storms, the rapidly changing light and the energy of the thunder that woke me from my sleep, often arresting my attention well in to the morning.
It’s too hot to move fast, people stay up late to enjoy the night time temperatures and not a lot seems to be going on outside during the scorching heat of the midday hours. You quickly discover that walking or cycling any distance between the hours of 10am and 4pm is pure, sweaty madness.
By evening, Darwin folk hit the coastline, savouring the wind, the golden sunsets and the active vibe of the coastal pathways. Spending time swimming in the public pool, cycling, strolling or jogging, as the comfort of darkness hails a little reprieve from the heat. Wet season is not for visitors sensitive to melting makeup, bitey bugs or heat rashes; it’s for those that embrace a lack of attire and a shoes off approach to life.
There is also the thirsty side of the city, the rough and ready element, as well as the visitors from the bush that ferry through the city looking like they just drove in from the desert. All that heat might have something to do with Darwin claiming the title of the world’s undisputed, beer-swilling champions. Northern Territorians consume three times the global average, putting away about 15 litres of pure alcohol each year. So, if you’re down to party you are in good company up North!
For me, it is the stark colours of the landscape that feel the most unique to my East coast roots. The surreal red of the ochre cliffs, the muddy ocean stirred up from the storms and the super rich greens of an area that is rich with heavy tropical rain. All enhanced by the sound of tree frogs at night, the call of the Curlew and the heavy roll of the clouds as the tension from the day finally breaks overhead.
Somehow it feels like the real Australia.