Most of the darwin locals, with the exception of stall holders, stay away from the mindil beach markets. Too crowded, too touristy, too expensive and too many cringe worthy trinkets such as such shark teeth necklaces, crocodile skin wallets and kangaroo leather bracelets. I felt pretty much the same when I lived here and after the first few times, I stopped going.
When I told my workmates tonight that I was heading to the night market, their reaction being locals all, was that of bemusement. It’s been almost six years I said a little defensively and besides I had nothing else to do. They looked at me with a degree of pity.
My expectations weren’t very high and my first encounter with a huddle of tourists clustered tightly around the path to the beach so that they could get in the obligatory photo of the setting sun without getting sand on their shoes didn’t bode well. But after I shoved my way rudely through them and walked down to the empty waters edge, the flat warm ocean and the beauty of the sunset reflected in the sea lifted my spirits. I remembered my first time at mindil beach and the joy i’d felt arriving in Darwin and the hopes I had then.
Its crowded and tacky but the people are mostly happy and excited, there’s an indonesian satay man fanning his charcoal grill, somewhere a hippie band starts to warm up and behind the low sand dunes, the vast north coast sea waits.