Darwin. My newest favourite place. And it’s Territory Day.
The boys and Fi, our lighting tech, had a deep sea-fishing day trip organised so Ally, Toni and I instead took a short ferry ride over to Mandorah so we could spend at least a little bit of time on the water on yet another glorious 30 degree day in Darwin – and also to have lunch at the pub over there. With a sausage/barramundi sizzle and salads available to eat, my accompanying soda water with lime at 1:30pm would usually have been the perfect occasion for a gin and tonic or cider.
After looking for crocodiles at the neighbouring beach, and cautiously dipping our feet in the water, we ferried back to the mainland.
On return to my hotel room, I noticed I had a little bit of sunburn on my neck – yep, that’s right Melbourne – I got sunburnt in Australia in July. Soon after, a picture message came through on my phone of Pete holding up a huge fish – their trip had been a success! Turned out Ryan had actually caught the fish, but Pete, to his credit, had reeled in a 5 foot shark which had to be set free. I know I wouldn’t have been able to handle seeing those poor animals hurt and killed on board the boat so I’m glad I didn’t go.
Drunken, hurry up texts from Armando and Jace got me down to the foyer at 5:30 to jump in the car headed to Mindil Beach for their night markets and fireworks display celebrating Territory Day we were told would start after sunset. With an expected 10,000 people rumoured for the celebrations, we squeezed our way through the stalls, buskers, families, circus performers to claim a spot on the sand to eat, drink some more, watch the sunset and wait for the fireworks to start. We discovered it was a BYO only event, so I organised the delivery of a slab of beer with Kim, our tour manager who was marinating the big fish back at the hotel. (not a euphemism). I would usually have joined in the drinking for this part of the day as part of the fun of all hanging out together.
But I had fun anyway. Ate a yummy vegan dinner. Accidentally started a passionate debate between Armando and Kim about the carbon tax and global warming. Took photos. Sang along to the radio being broadcast near us as we hoped for a Chantoozies song to come on.
We were treated to the most glorious sunset and then a thrilling fireworks display. It went for about twenty minutes, with a lot of the action exploding from a barge way out on the sea, complemented by others coming from the sand in front of us. Towards the end of the whole shebang I described that I felt like a disabled child having a seizure (?) due to the extent of my excitement, wonder, joy and the vocalisation and handclapping that went along with it!
It was such a friendly atmosphere too. Real happy, family vibe. No nasty drunks or the yukkiness that can sometimes go along with a free event like this. It did feel like New Year’s Eve – a good New Year’s Eve.
But the laid-back Darwin vibe meant that there was no order or system to the traffic exiting the makeshift carparks on neighbouring ovals and reserves once the night was over. I tried to offer suggestions as to the best way out of the place for our carload, but the drunkies amongst the passengers were quite happy to continue partying which, just as I left to walk home with Pete and Kim, had turned into blaring music from the car and dancing on the grass so I left them all happy in their traffic jam.
The walk home was an adventure in itself. Fireworks are freely available for anyone to purchase and set off on Territory Day and the amount of bangs, and light and colour in the air and streets coming from all directions and proximities made it feel like a party war zone. Pete, Kim and I concluded that we three felt like characters in a Tarantino film, strolling casually and confidently through the dark streets as the world was blown up around us.
Back at the hotel, they cooked up some of the marinated fish on the BBQ, and drank some more – again I usually would’ve been part of this continued celebration but I refused the BBQ invitation and the following downscaled party in Jace’s room once they’d been kicked out of the BBQ zone. In bed by 12, with a plan to get up at 5:30am for a yoga class, the fireworks were still going and my love for Darwin was still giving me butterflies.