Living in a Marsupial World
 
Picture
Devin with his $6 cake
Our first impression of Darwin: absolute magic. After pausing in Katherine and buying some $6 cake and straight-off-the-boat Balinese ground coffee at a great market, we reached the Darwin proper just in time on the 14th to check in to a hostel, (thanks again Mom and Charlie!) clean up, and head down to the Botanic Gardens for the Cat Empire show. We can’t deny that one of our big draws for moving to Australia was the chance we might see this favorite band of ours live in their home country. Let me just say now that they did not disappoint!


Picture
The mystical “wonderland” feeling began as we approached the entrance to the natural amphitheater at the Darwin Botanic Gardens. The month of August was dedicated to an extended Darwin Festival, which included the Cat Empire concert, and the parks and venues all over the city had been decorated with bamboo, lights, and paper lanterns. We arrived early to get up front for the show, but turns out there was really no need to rush. The atmosphere in the amphitheater was so relaxed; people had just picked out spots on the grassy hill and were lounging lazily with their evening beverages. Ben and I nonetheless snagged as front and center as you could get – about 10 feet from the stage! – and then joined in the relaxation time with some enormous gyros from a cart and a couple draughts.

 


Picture
Picture
Mama Kin
Picture
There was only one opening act before the Cat Empire took the stage: another local Aussie artist, Mama Kin from Western Australia. She was fabulous, full of energy and spunk, and had some great, original songs. Her music was a mix of danceable grooves (tambourine included!) and thoughtful, beautifully written, mellow tunes. As soon as her set ended, everyone was standing waiting for the Cat Empire to surface. Ben and I were set at the railing in front of center stage. The energy of the crowd was palpable, and as soon as the band emerged we knew it was going to be a great show. The band members themselves looked happy and springy, and were dressed so casually they could have just left a beachside picnic. Many of the songs they played were new, to promote a recently released album, and sounded great, but they also played many of our favorites. The whole crowd sang along with their songs and danced out on the grass – it was an exhilarating show. The only disappointing part was the short set time, an hour and a half that flew by, because the city had a noise curfew for outdoor shows. Lame. After the concert ended, the band came out to greet people and although we felt like silly teenage groupies (of which there were many), we went up and introduced ourselves, thanking them for the show. Giggles. OMG. We met the Cat Empire!!!


Picture
Picture
Picture
Mar with Harry from Cat Empire!
Picture
Afterwards, we met up with a happily liquored Devin who had managed to stockpile about 9 different mixed drinks for us at the local backpackers bar, that is until a waiter swept them up right before we arrived while he was getting another round. He was quite heartbroken that his proud collection of alcohols for us had been taken before their prime. On our way back to the hostel, he kicked a flip-flop over a barbed-wire fence and managed to retrieve it in his state with all but a small battle scar. 


Picture
The next day we relaxed around town and found ourselves at Mindil Beach where the city holds a weekly sunset market. While the market was still in prep mode, we took some time to relax in hammocks and play with Devin’s newly purchased light-up poi balls. The nearby ocean was unfortunately inaccessible due to high likelihood of becoming crocodile dinner. It’s truly a shame, and quite frustrating, that the beautiful waters of the Top End are constantly brimming with living dinosaurs – and not just the rivers and estuaries, but the ocean itself! Saltwater crocodiles have been known to swim all the way from Indonesia to the northern coast of Australia! I am baffled and annoyed by this. Even if there were no salties, you also would have to contend with the other varieties of deadly sealife: jellies, sharks, octopi, fish. What the hell Australia, what the hell? At least the Top End of Australia doesn’t leave us with any hard decision about whether or not to enter the water.

 


Picture
The Mindil Beach Sunset Market was glorious, however. It satisfied all our hopes about Darwin being the location for cheap, delicious, ample Asian food of all sorts. We sampled food carts from Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Japan, and Malaysia. We also had some of the best oysters any of us have ever tasted! The market was also filled with arts and craft stands as well as musicians. One man sold handmade whips made out of crocodile and kangaroo leather giving whip cracking demonstrations, while another played at least four didgeridoos quite brilliantly. We were also witness to the famous Darwin sunset, though we had to miss out on the end to make it to our campsite before dark.


Picture
Picture

Your comment will be posted after it is approved.


Leave a Reply.