“What do you like most about Darwin?” My French/ Spanish girlfriend Tara asked me the other day.
I began: “I think the everyday interactions with such laid-back people. And you know, I’m from this land. I love the seasons; the wet and the dry. I love the dense, tropical downpours and the buzz surrounding potential cyclones. I love the dry season and living in paradise for 5 months of the year. I love the challenge of the build-up, working in extreme heat in extreme environments, gasping for breath while shovelling asphalt on a November morning, 34°C, humidity 92%. I love looking at my work-mates, drenched to the bone in my own sweat, winking, and saying: I’m wetter than you mate. I’m working way, way harder than you! To which the response normally begins with a word starting with ‘F’ – followed by the adverb ‘off’. I love the smell of the first rain that drenches a barren, sunburnt country, the sweetness of which returns me to my most ancient of memories. I love the smell of the bush fire in June, that sweeps smoke across the horizon, sending the evening sky into musky colours of pink and violet, replacing the clouds to give us miraculous year-round sunsets of the most astounding beauty.
“I love that we are all a bunch of piss heads. I read somewhere (and the facts are a little distorted by a little rum-induced haziness) that Australia as a nation are the 20th biggest drinkers per head of population in the world. If the Northern Territory was to break away and form its own nation, and clearly we should, we would rank second in the entire world on the piss head index. Then from the mandatory month-long celebrations and fireworks for independence, we would probably gain first.
“I love that the radio tells me that people have begun building boats made entirely of beer cans, that they plan to race annually on Mindil Beach. I love that I can go drink beer, on the beach, and watch crazy people race each other on (sometimes sinking) beer boats. I love that I can then just jump off the beach to the renowned Mindil Beach Markets and enjoy exceptional cuisine from all over the world, while rhythmical sounds of digeridoo-infused drum and bass take hold of the airwaves.
“I love that I can drive two hours to Pine Creek, hook a left, head into Kakadu National Park, tear 30km down a dirt track, climb a huge plateau, and then find my own personal rockpool at Gunlom, crack a beer and watch the sunset over one of the most famous national parks on our planet, that people come from all over the world to see.
“I love practising my kung-fu ninja speed training on blow-flies that foolishly enter my house. I love the croaking of the green tree frogs after heavy rain and I am happy to share my flies with them. I love the first sight of Magpie Geese after the first comings of the rain, their large black and white silhouettes triangularly-shaped across the sky bringing promise of cooler conditions, and the Red Kangaroos that flock to East Point Reserve, only a stone’s throw from the CBD.
I hate the drivers. I think you all need to go back to driving school. The right lane is the fast one people, move out of the bloody way! Why did they spend 42 years building the Tiger Brennan expansion if you’re blocking both lanes?? ‘But I’m turning right in 30km’ is not an excuse!”
I love that we can whinge, but then blame whinging on the English.
Have a great day!