“Excuse me, Sir, you’ll need to show me some form of I.D.”, the young man at the bottle shop said to me tonight. That he was probably half my age, didn’t help, and so I put it to him that I was 52 years of age and hadn’t been asked for I.D. in about thirty years. It was then he explained the situation: “We have a register of banned drinkers in the Northern Territory, and you can’t buy take away alcohol without some form of I.D.”.
Though I’m still a little surprised by it all, I can probably understand the environment in which the law came into being: the Northern Territory has a reputation of being a place of many people who drink far too much, and alcohol is banned in many communities.
The big drinking culture of Darwin was fairly evident when I first visited here back in the late 1990s, and then with subsequent visits up until about 2010, which was probably the last time I visited. I’m not sure if the legislation has changed the big drinking reputation of Darwin, but it’s surely a sign that Darwin has changed somewhat.
And you can see it in the centre of Darwin. When I first visited here, central Darwin was low-rise, with only a handful of apartment blocks. The centre of Darwin is now made up of lots of apartment blocks and hotels up to about ten stories. And there’s the development down at the wharf, which was once an old pier with a few fish and chip shops and bars, which is now quite an exclusive place to live or visit.
I’m staying on the third floor of an apartment block in what’s described as “City Heights”. It’s about a fifteen minute walk to work, and the team here have provided me with a list of places to grab a coffee on the way.
Thankfully, though, there are some things about Darwin which haven’t changed. Government House is still wonderfully beautiful, an example of older style Darwin architecture. There’s Parliament House, often described by locals as looking like a wedding cake. And there are bits and pieces of pre and post Cyclone Tracey architecture to be found.
And of course, there’s the famous Mindil Beach Markets (now held on a Sunday as well as a Thursday), where you can enjoy music, a terrific atmosphere, and some awesome food from some of the many different cultures you’ll find here.
And of course, there’s the awesome sunset, where people sit on the beach and watch the sun disappear and applaud. Today’s was especially good, as there was a low tide, so I was able to walk out quite some distance.