Today is Australia Day which celebrates the founding on 26 January 1788 of the colony of New South Wales at Port Jackson. It also means the first of many public holidays for the year (picnic day anyone!?!) and a long weekend as it falls on a Monday.
Lots of events are held on 26 January every year to celebrate Australia Day, it’s history, diverse society and landscape. It really brings people together with the obligatory BBQ’s and celebrations.
I thought I would celebrate my second Australia Day in Darwin with my own personal A to Z of life in Darwin. Now lets see if I can find a whole alphabet of Darwin and the Top End!
Art – Art is a big deal in Australia and encompasses everything from beuatiful pieces of aboriginal artwork right through to photographs from local photographers. You can truly be immersed in art in Darwin and I love to visit the markets because you get to see all kinds of art work as well as the local galleries Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory where there are set static pieces as well as displays that are here for a short while on their tour.
Bandicoots – I love these little guys. We had one who would come and go when we lived in the rural area/outback who we named Alex (!). He would come round for dinner sometimes as soon as I put the BBQ on but especially if he could smell sausages being cooked. He loved them!
Crocodiles – these creatures really intrigue me and I have loved having several opportunities to see them in the wild. Though it is scary how people don’t respect the danger they pose and do stupid things like swim in the creeks and rivers where they live and they put themselves in completely unnecessary danger.
Darwin – This is a very unique city which is growing in size by the day, full of people literally from all over the world as its a very transient location, has some interesting history and a lot more to offer to its residents and tourists alike. Its not a bad place to spend time (hint hint to potential visitors!!).
Eating – Living in Darwin has meant a lot of exposure to many different types of food especially Asian foods which are so delicious. I’ve tried a lot of foods for the first time here and I’ve also had a go at creating some of the yummy food at home with a pretty good success rate!
Frogs – Specifically Green Tree Frogs. These are pretty cute and possibly one of my fravourite Australian creatures. They are sweet unless of course they fall on your head in the shower, or when it’s mating season and they just won’t shut up!
G’day Mate How You Going? – After this blog post Watch this video and all will become clear.
History – Darwin is a fairly new city and was actually called Palmerston when it was first established by George Goyder in 1869. There has been lots of history in Darwin over the years including becoming the frontier for Australia during World War 2 when Darwin was bombed extensively resulting in regeneration.
Insects – Some insects are lovely too look at (dragonflies), however some are not so cute or pleasant like those pesky spiders or mosquitoes. I am definitely not a fan of those creatures!
Jumping Crocs – (slight cheating as this is the second point about crocodiles but I was running out of ideas for letters) This is a popular trip on every visitor to the Territories itinerary. On the trips you visit the Adelaide River on a boat trip and see crocodiles in their natural habitat. The tour guides feed a few of them so you can see how they jump and also just how high they are. They have a lot of strength in those tails when they want to jump.
Kangaroos – when I first visited Darwin a few years ago I had been told by the Aussie that kangaroos lived in the garden and for almost the whole 2 weeks I was here I didn’t see a single kangaroo. I would sometimes here them running away from me and coughing (apparently the symbol of an enemy nearby) but nope they eluded me! When I moved to Darwin though they must have got used to me because I would see them often around the house. One a few occasions I actually discovered them sleeping just in front of our bedroom window and had to very slowly and quietly try to take some photos!
Litchfield National Park – I’ve only visited Litchfield once which is ridiculous when it is literally on our doorstep and its a stunning location between Wangi Falls, Florence Falls, The Electric Termite Mounds and Buley Rockholes. This is a must see in the Northern Territory.
Markets – Markets are a big deal here. They are held regularly and are an opportunity to get together with friends, eat great freshly cooked food, shop for nick nacks and listen to fantastic live music. I haven’t made it to all of the markets held in and around Darwin yet but also enjoy my visits. My favourite markets are the ones held at Mindil Beach on a Thursday and Sunday night during the dry season. We often go buy our dinner, sit on the beach watching the glorious sunset before icecream and a band before hometime.
Northern Territory – The Northern Territory is 1,420,970 km² in size and borders West Australia, South Australia and Queensland. It’s also home to Darwin, Uluru, Litchfield and Kakadu National Park.
Outdoors – Darwin is a very outdoorsy place and we so close to both the sea and also beautiful local and national parks where you can walk, hike, climb and swim easily (subject to the rain and creeks and rivers flooding though). There’s also heaps of other outdoor activities that are popular such as cycling, sailing and walking just around the city and sea. The lure of the outdoors is always there.
People – I always love it when I hear an accent from the UK in an unexpected place (I work with a lawyer from Ireland who studied at the same university as me in Bristol and a girl who lives literally an hour from where I was brought up too so I often get to hear a bit of home) but I have met some great people in Darwin and do almost daily still as well as having made some fantastic new friends so I have to say the people in Darwin are pretty cool too.
Queen – (!) I couldn’t think of anything else Q related but as Australia is part of the Commonwealth the Queen is the Head of State here which is pretty cool!
Relatives – My family visited me last year for two weeks and I had such a fantastic time with them and showing them around. Hopefully they will come and visit me again when I qualify so they can attend my admissions ceremony and I am really looking forward to that as well.
Seasons – in that in Darwin it feels like there are pretty much three or four (though I believe there are technically about 6!). The dry season lasts from about April/May until August/September which is my favourite time of year with sunshine, breezes, low humidity and beautiful blue skies, though it can be chilly (about 12 degrees c at night ;-)) and the tourists rock into town then so its heaving (yes I get the irony!). Next up is the build up to the wet season from about September/October until end of December/January which is hot, humid and steamy and pretty much makes you want to stay in the air con all day and not leave. There are occasional storms which breaks the humidity for a while and this and the wet season is the only time in my life I’ve ever seen people wearing shorts and vests, flip flops (thongs) and sunglasses in the rain! Then you have the wet season from December/January until about April (or at least we should have the wet season now) when we have frequent rainstorms, occasional cyclones and its overcast most of the time unless the sun manages to break through.
Time – Darwin time is fairly laid back. Why do something today we can probably do tomorrow or maybe the next day! Not the greatest thing for a “slight” control freak lawyer who would like everything done yesterday! I also dislike time zones quite a bit, they are confusing at the best of times and then it would be lovely if everyone I care about could be in the same time zones.
University – where I will be spending time over the next year or so for my studying and qualification.
Views – It’s pretty hard to beat the wonder of a Darwin sunset during the wet or dry season. It’s hard also to decide whether I prefer the wet or dry season sunset best. Either way they never get old or boring and I am always in awe when I get to watch the sunset on another day in the Northern Territory.
World War Two – Darwin was bombed extensively during the war and is still an important location for the armed forces. The Defence Darwin Experience is a must visit location if you are in Darwin. Its really interesting, very nicely laid out and interactive too.
Xcellent – Terrible use of the letter X but Darwin is an excellent and often underrated tourist destination.
Yes – I have no idea what to use for Y!
Zoo – Well not really a zoo but a wildlife park, The Territory Wildlife Park is a really interesting place to visit and is also a rescue centre for injured wildlife too. Its’s about a 30 minute drive south of Darwin but is filled with local wildlife so you can see those elusive nocturnal creatures and do things like feed the stingrays as well. In the dry season they hold overnight camping events which mean you get to explore the park after dark. We did this last year and it was a lot of fun.
Anyway happy Australia Day to all of my Aussie friends and readers in Australia and all around the world.