For some reason I had imagined Darwin as a dry and dusty place – a sort of ‘Alice by the Sea’. This notion was dispelled before I’d even set foot on Darwin soil, for my plane flew over the city when landing, curving around over the sea and allowing for views of the lush green gardens adorning houses along the foreshore and nearby suburbs. Soon enough I was rattling through these same streets in a dusty ute, my good friend, Frosh Baby, at the wheel.
I was in Darwin primarily to spend some time with FB, whose recent past had included a week in hospital with a nasty bout of pancreatitis, and a horrific crash on an outback highway, which ‘wrote off’ his nearly-new Suzuki 4WD and sent him back to hospital. We planned on eating out, listening to music, watching movies and maybe a little sightseeing. After a short tour of the surrounding suburbs we returned to FB’s temporary home in Ludmilla.
The house was situated in its own little slice of Top End forest, complete with towering palms, screeching bats and squawking ‘bush chooks’. We sat on the patio until well into the night, talking about music and other nonsense while listening to possums fight in the undergrowth. It was hard to believe that only twelve hours ago I’d been in the middle of a South Australian winter.
The following day, FB took me on a guided tour of Darwin and surrounds, his commentary peppered with observations on the culinary curiosities of the area – ‘That’s where I bought some fabulous spring rolls’ or ‘They make the most delicious noodle soups’. Given FB’s obsession with tasty food my stay in Darwin was likely to include more than a few great meals.
We visited Cullen Bay, Mindil Beach and East Point, then headed north through Nightcliff and the suburbs of Casuarina, before returning to the city via Palmerston and Berrimah. Predictably, the tour ended in food. We stopped briefly at Stokes Hill Wharf, but were not tempted by ‘Schnitzel Magic’ or any of the other harbourside eateries. Instead, we stopped at a place imaginatively called ‘Chinese Restaurant’ for some satays, fried wontons and beef ho fun.
On Day Three, we visited the Darwin’s Art Gallery and Museum, and then returned to Cullen Bay for a wonderful meal at ‘The Sicilian’. The afternoon was spent at the Aviation Museum, where we marveled at assorted instruments of destruction, before heading to the Casuarina Shopping Centre for a last minute cd and dvd splurge at JB Hifi.
That evening we lazed about at home watching trashy movies (’The Doll Squad’) and large chunks of David Lynch’s cult tv series ‘Twin Peaks’. I hadn’t seen the show since it aired on tv back in 1991, and enjoyed getting reacquainted with Dale Cooper and friends. The show still seemed very fresh and funny. In fact, it was a lot funnier than I remembered it.
I went to bed at about 1.00am, but didn’t fall asleep quickly. I lay there for an hour or so, listening to the sounds of wildlife in the garden below, the ‘Twin Peaks’ theme music tumbling around in my brain.