Monday, July 2, 2012

Neither Here nor There

I am in Dawrin, perhaps the furthest point north in Australia, the opposite side of the continent from Melbourne. It’s like night and day. The city is warm, for one and entirely laid back. If Melbourne is New York then Darwin is…not sure there even is a comparison, part New Mexico, part Florida part Louisiana, yet nothing like nay of them. It’s a strange place. They call it a city but it’s population hovers just above 100,000, which means it’s about the size of Northampton, MA.

When I fist got here I was not impressed, the CBD is mostly filled with open air bars, tourists and destitute Aboriginals. However  in the last few days I have come to see why this place is so special. Whereas the culture in Sydney and Melbourne can be found all around the world Darwin is uniquely Australia, for the good and the bad.

I’ve been seeing a lot of crocodiles. They keep showing up in my press trips. I don’t particularly care about them but I know more about them now than almost any other animal. Perhaps I can learn form them.

Though they seem lazy they are in fact masters of their own energy. They don’t put out more than is necessary, they take it easy and their strategy  is to pick their battles. They’ve survived as a species for way longer than humans have been around and can live a whole year off one meal. Contrary to popular belief they can be outrun by humans and make loving mothers. They can also eat you whole.

The Northern Territory is another world. Flying here I looked out my window to see the sprawling Red Heart of Australia below me. Its colors were vibrant red and orange and you could see bush fires burning form a thousand miles up. Together the smoke and the clouds and the colors produced and amazing effect, like flying over the surface of a white opal. I had wanted to see the red center but after flying over it I’m glad we didn’t drive through it, it goes on forever and the road is nothing but a straight dirt line through the abyss of clay and sand. Truly it looked like I was flying over Mars.

This is the land of Crocodile Dundee, of  towns named things like Humpty Doo and of people driving utes with buffalo horns and gas tanks strapped on the front. All the cars are white to try and reflect some of the burning sunshine. Its like Melbourne was a cold rainy dream, and this is a fever hallucination.

Having left behind friends in the city and having not yet made it home I feel even more displaced than before. I have nothing but my thoughts to entertain me and they aren’t always so very encouraging. Still I’m working through them. Always look on the bright side of life.

I’m headed to Litchfield National Park tomorrow where I will be able to fulfill a nerdy dream of seeing giant magnetically aligned termite mounds! (Too much David Attenborough). I figure it’s a good way to spend my last day in Australia.

Then I will be catching an obscenely early red eye, 2 am, flight to Singapore where I intend to act as though I am in the Amazing Race and see as much as possible in the 7 hours I have before flying to Bangkok. (7 hours in the city, I’ve already deducted check-in time and transport). Luckily Singapore is an Asian city-state and so it’s not like I have to go anywhere to be there, the airport is in the city. I will be reporting my results to you all.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kathleen !

    What a very interesting article, thank you ! Darwin seems so different, we look forward to discover this sensation there.

    Have a nice trip :)

    nel and nico