Tag: darwin

Darwin Harbour Cruise

News Values

Although the big news of the day was the Victorian election, the headline which caught my attention today was the banner headline of the “NT News”: “Woman falls out of paddy wagon”. Isn’t it a story you just WANT to read. Don’t you just know … Continue reading News Values

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Hello from Darwin

“Is it hot enough for you?”, my niece asked me as we embraced on my arrival at her place in Darwin tonight. “Surprisingly, it’s not as bad as I expected”, I told her.

I’ve been to Darwin twice before: in 1998, Damien and I came for a week-long holiday, and then in 2002, I worked here for a while. On both occasions, it was during the dry season (though when I arrived in 2002, I experienced the “build down” from wet to dry, characterised by hot, humid conditions with little rain relief”).

“You should be here during the build up”, a lot of people had previously told me, describing the unbearable agony of this time of the year with similar conditions, though in a reverse. It’s said to drive people a little crazy, and I’d previously met a woman who worked in a “women’s refuge” who’d told me domestic violence increases significantly during this period. “How’s the build up going”, I asked my taxi driver as we came in from the airport in the early hours of the morning. “No one’s driven their car off the wharf yet”, he told me with a laugh.

After waiting for several hours for the delayed flight yesterday, the worst case scenario was going to be a tightly packed aircraft. And so, as I made my way on the aircraft at ten o’clock last night, I asked one of the flight attendants if it was a “full flight”. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine”, he told me with a smile. I quickly discovered why: on a flight that might have held a few hundred people there was just twelve of us. Yes, just twelve. Which meant no lengthy delays for the meals, complimentary drinks to compensate for the delay, and plenty of room to stretch out. The flight crew were fabulous.

Having left Sydney at about 1.30pm (Sydney time), I finally arrived in Darwin at 12.15am (Darwin time) which – accounting for the time zone difference – amounted to over twelve hours travelling time. “You could have been in LA”, a couple of work-mates commented when I told them my news.

Since I had passed some of the time by a combination of reading, blogging and sleeping, I was quite mentally alert into the early hours of the morning. So, having checked into my hotel closer to 1.00am local time, I read for a while and finally completed my book.

The book was called, “Power Crisis” by former NSW politician, Rodney Cavalier. As I looked at the range of non-fiction books at the airport yesterday it seemed the most interesting, least self-serving and substantial of the “political biographies” on offer. While there were lots of books about the recent federal election, this one was more concerned with the Labor Party in NSW, and how they’ve managed to go fairly quickly from being a party of political dominance to one which, perhaps, faces a degree of political annihilation in March next year.

Cavalier’s central thesis is that: the Labor Party has become increasingly disengaged from the grass-roots through a “take-over” by a “political class” of trade union officials, people with a family connection to previous officials, and an all-too-similar approach to selecting candidates. His thesis seems to be the debate about electricity privatisation was the issue which brought these long-term “worrying” trends to a head.

Mostly it was a pretty good read, though I did skip a few pages when it got into almost unbearable detail about the history of Labor governments in NSW. And as I read the book, in the back of my mind, I was reminded of a group conversation I’d had recently with a senior Liberal Party figure in NSW who confided: “Look, we should win, but the Liberal Party has a history of fucking things up at the last minute, so you can’t take it for granted”. The next NSW election could be over in 60 minutes, or perhaps it could drag on for weeks, as it did back in 1995.

Anyway, after a few hours sleep, I woke this morning, and almost immediately went to work. It was a fairly intense day, and by the end I was pretty exhausted, and so I came home and sat down for a little while.

And that’s when I went to Julie’s place. Over several hours we sat around, chatted, drank a few beers, and enjoyed a meal in their undercover outside area. Great stuff.

Lazy Saturday

Pizza for dinner

“Do I put some underwear on under my trackpants?” I wondered to myself as I left the house tonight to pick up a pizza. That one thought gives you an insight into my Saturday, doesn’t it?

As I was talking on the phone tonight to a family member – who lives in Darwin – I told her that despite my recent holiday, I could still do with another break. I’m a bit exhausted today. Reasonably active holiday. New job. Late night last night. Busy times etc.

It’s been a day of doing nothing. Sometimes you’ve just got to do that, right?

In the end, I didn’t put any underwear on. I figured it was only 100 metres to the supermarket, and most of that was in the dark, so even if there was some unintended tracksuit bulge, it wouldn’t offend too many people.

Balibo Movie

East Timor Indepedance celebrations in Darwin
I was in Darwin during the East Timor Indepedence celebrations in 2002. Darwin at the time had an estimated East Timorese population of about 4,000

I went to a sneak preview today of the new movie, Balibo.

Although much of the film’s narrative focuses on the death of five Australian journalists at Balibo, I thought the film balanced this narrative well with the broader story of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in 1975.

In this film, Anthony La Paglia plays Roger East, the Australian journalist who was approached by Jose Ramos Horta to tell the story of what was happening in East Timor to the world stage, and to run the country’s media organisation. In the film he’s portrayed as a rough and ready character who probably drank too much, and who, despite an impressive early career as a journalist, was past his prime and living in Darwin. By the film’s end, he becomes somewhat of a hero in his efforts to tell the world the story it didn’t want to hear.

There’s a terrific exchange in the film where East and Horta talk about how to get the story out, and how, tragically, the death of five Australian journalists meant more on the world stage than that of an estimated 183,000 East Timorese. It was the difference between a mention on the back page and a front page story, East explained.

So even though the film focuses on the Australians who were shot, the film also shows the broader stories of the East Timorese people. In particular, the story of a young girl, one of the many thousands of people who gave evidence about her memories of the Indonesian invasion, in the years after East Timorese independence.

It’s a sad and distressing movie. There’s one scene where you see a whole field of people who’ve been shot dead. In other scenes, I had to turn my eyes from the violence. That said, there are some warm and tender moments too.

And it’s political without being dogmatic. I don’t know enough about the politics, though, to say if it was an accurate and fully rounded intepretation of the events. All I know is that I thought it was a really well made film that moved me deeply.

I don’t think they’re going to like it in Djakarta though…