This isn’t going to be a historical timeline, or a tourist brochure of Darwin. It’s 8 things I think are interesting about this tropical, welcoming, vibrant, diverse northerly city in Australia – a virtual melting pot of cuisines and cultures.
1. Darwin was bombed by the Japanese two months after Pearl Harbour, by the same fleet of war planes.
On 19 February, 1942 (72 years ago), 54 Japanese land-based bombers and approximately 188 attack aircraft launched from four Japanese aircraft-carriers in the Timor Sea attacked Darwin in two waves killing 243 people. The Australian military were unprepared. A considerably larger number of bombs were dropped on Darwin than on Pearl Harbour, and more ships were sunk. However, in the attack on Pearl Harbour, 2402 people lost their lives.
By November 1943, the Japanese had bombed Darwin 64 times.
This defining moment in Australian history is only now being taught in schools. Go figure.
2. Mindil Beach Sunset Markets
Darwin has a unique multicultural, relaxed lifestyle, exemplified at the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets. People actually come to Mindil beach to watch the amazing sunsets –
Then browse arts and crafts, listen to live music, and/or eat from food stalls showcasing flavours from the Asia-Pacific. All safe to eat! The only thing I’ve done to equal this food-for-the-soul setting was visiting the Lindt chocolate factory store in Aachen, Germany.
3. Parap markets
Or perhaps the Parap markets, another example of Darwin’s ethnic melting pot of tastes and culture. Flame-grilled chicken satay sticks with peanut sauce, sticky black rice with date palm sugar and fresh pineapple and mango juice for breakfast -yum.
4. Darwin’s waterfront precinct
I’ve just returned from this hotel room view. It was the wet (low) season, the temperature and humidity are best described as ‘womb weather’. Not that I remember, but you get my drift. Imagine 31 ° C (89° F) with approx 72% humidity and 14 inches average rainfall every February. I love monsoon weather!
Darwin’s waterfront has restaurants, bars, shops, a wave lagoon, entertainment, a rich military history, skywalk into the city, and atmospheric, spectacular views.
5. Litchfield National Park
Monsoon rainforest, more waterfalls than you can poke a stick at, crystal-clear swimming holes, camping grounds. This is where nature won me over with its spectacular offerings, and it’s safe to swim in the dry season.
6. Deckchair Cinema
An outdoor cinema that runs in the (still balmy) dry season. On our last trip we ate delicious curries, drank wine and watched a movie under the stars. This was another experience that reminds you to savour the present moment, because it doesn’t get much better.
Okay, you know nowhere is perfect? Even Solla Solew in Dr Seuss (where they had no problems, at least very few) had a Key-slipping Slippard. You have to watch out for crocodiles and box jellyfish. There are always signs warning you when necessary. I don’t want to scare anyone, but it would be remiss of me not to mention these. Be alert but not alarmed. 🙂
Yes, I guess I am putting in a good word for Darwin. I was asked at an author talk there last week why I chose this city for the setting to Arafura. After writing this post I’m even clearer why –
8. Darwin indulges all five senses.
The movie, Australia, is well worth watching if you haven’t. It’s directed by Baz Luhrmann – who also directed Moulin Rouge and Romeo & Juliet, and spans the time of the bombing in Darwin. Oh, and stars Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman……something for everyone.