I remember when we first moved here it was a three year plan and I hated that I was leaving my life and friends behind for something completely different.
I guess being seven helps though because it wasn’t long before I fell in love with Darwin and everything it had to offer. Darwin is an acquired taste and most the people who live here aren’t born and in order to become a true local to you have to learn to love every part of it. The drunks, the stifling heat, the cool dry, the humidity, the lack of facilities, the crazy wildlife.
Yep I’m a local.
I was lucky enough that my family embraced Darwin whole-heartedly and I was thrown headfirst into becoming a bogan My father would drive us out to creeks in the middle of the night throwing all kinds of slippery creatures at us.
I would often wake up in the morning to find the bathtub full of snakes, turtles, crabs etc. Once my dad caught an unknown snake in our backyard. We were pretty used to this he would often drape three metre wild pythons around our necks as we grew up. He put the snake in a fish tank in the living room but there was something different about this one every time you walked past it would strike at you hitting the glass hard. After getting it identified we were all shocked to hear it was a King brown – The Third Deadliest Snake in the World. We used to catch lizards in the backyard name them and creating elaborate homes in random plastic tubs.
But it wasn’t all slimy creatures. On Friday nights we would get fish & chips and head down to the cliffs on Nightcliff shoreline. We would watch the sunset over the jetty. Darwin has some of the best sunsets in the world. And if there was a cyclone incoming us girls would play in the huge waves as they crashed against the rocks. On Thursday nights mum would drag us down to the world famous “Mindil Beach Markets” and we would sit on the beach eating lamb yiros watching the sun fall, finishing the night off with peppermint chocolate chip iceream.
In Darwin no one would go to the city everyone would shop at Casuarina Shopping Centre smack bang in the middle of the suburbs and didn’t matter when you went you would always run into someone you knew. In the dry season we would head out to the National Parks back then Darwin was under developed so we could camp right next to the water and had no bathroom facilities but a small drop toilet. We would blow up inflatable beds and ride them all the way to the bottom of the rapids, the bruises we received all part of the adventure. Sometimes we would pack lunch and walk through the drain pipes in Rapid Creek.
In Darwin you never wished for a white Christmas you always dreamed of a monsoonal Christmas, not to mention there wasn’t anything much better than snuggling deep into your bed on a rainy Sunday morning. As kids we would sit up in the high branches of a mango tree and talk into the early AM.
At night we would climb up on top of the Mormon church taking blankets and pillows talking about everything. I had my first kiss on the roof of that church. My friends would come over after school and I would spend hours playing GoldenEye on the N64. Not to mention the glow bug wars that left us feeling destroyed.
In Darwin it doesn’t matter if you forget your shoes when you go out & the singlet is the preferred clothing. You don’t swim in the ocean from September – May and usually not any time after that. Everyone keeps their jackets at work because the air conditioning is freezing, speaking of freezing anything below 25C is considered cold. If you are supposed to be somewhere at 6pm you leave the house at 6 since everything is five-10 minutes away.
They make us tough up here, dealing with frizzy hair and runny makeup on a daily basis you’d have to be. Do you think if I had grown up in Melbourne I would have been an urban city rat more interested in clothes & money than the wild bush person I am today. Who knows really who can say… all I can say is I love Darwin with all my heart & I will always be a Territorian.