First full day in Darwin, and I decide to hit up the Parap Markets since there’s a shuttle bus that leaves from my hostel free of charge. I know there’s a few markets in Darwin, so I wasn’t entirely sure what this one would be like.
As it turns out, its mostly craft stalls with a huge helping of food stands, mostly selling Laksa, a thai dish that is REALLY popular in Darwin. The first thing everyone told me when I was going was to try to the Laksa. Its not something I’ve tried before, so gave it a shot. Personally find the soup part a little too odd (spicy and sweet at the same time, eep), but the noodles and veg once saturated in the sauce are great.
However, the rest of it was fairly meh. A handful of craft stalls, but nothing particularly interesting. I ended up coming back rather disenchanted, and decided to try and head towards the Museum of History and Art.
I was told there were buses that would take me there, but in my naivety, I figured I could walk along the beach and get there myself. This is a lesson I kind of wish I hadn’t learned – Darwin in November is as humid as it is hot. And even before noon, it was insanely hot. By the time I made it across the beach and botanical gardens, touching air conditioning was like reaching nirvana.
The museum is free entry, and its home to Aboriginal art, information on Cyclone Tracy and the body of Sweetheart, a large saltwater crocodile that was killed by accident when he was being captured.
It’s actually a really great museum – and takes a few hours to get through, and you have to remember to check out the boating area, which is home to dozens of ships that have been used in the area, including ships that were used by immigrants throughout the years.
When I managed to stumble back to the hostel, I decided to try and make it to the harbour area. Most of the beach areas in Darwin aren’t possible to swim in since its teeming with crocs, so they’ve created a wave pool, and cordoned off part of the harbour to make it safe. Fully intend to come back here at some point to swim. For today though, I head back up the cliff and head to the lookout, and get into a conversation with two guys travelling around Australia. They were heading towards Brisbane, so I gave them some ideas on where to go, and they mentioned the Browns Mart Theatre, which was showing some kind of shadow puppet performance tonight. Decided to go myself.
The performance was part shadow puppetry, miming and special effects. The play is called ‘Undertow’ and is based partially on Thai culture. The story is about an old woman and her daughter, and a relic they have in a shrine regarding a crocodile. Although the daughter used to follow the traditions, she’s become less interested and started to join the modern world, until she makes a mistake that could ruin her and her family.
The ending is left pretty open ended and vague, but its still a pretty good performance. All the living actors wear masks, with the exception of one character, who technically plays an artificial being, so they had to focus a lot on physical actions, and letting the shadow puppetry speak for itself. Never seen a performance like it, but really enjoyed it.
Browns Mart Theatre holds independent performances like this regularly, so if you’re ever in Darwin, go see what they’re showing.
As for me, I head back to my hostel and try to figure out my next move. I would love to do the National Parks, but Kakadu has a really high price tag. I figure I’ll have to settle for Litchfield (which is more my style anyway as it’s a swimming tour), and tomorrow, I’ll go to Crocodylus Park outside the city.