Sunday, 7 June 2015

Fun Times at Mindil Beach Market - Darwin, Australia

Mindil Beach, deserted at 5pm
All the brochures said this was a "must do" while in Darwin so I was off to see what all the fuss was about. The market is held, as its name suggests, on Mindil Beach, twice a week during the dry season - May to October. As luck would have it I was in Darwin on a Thursday, one of the market nights.

Arriving about 5pm I wandered up to look at the beach before venturing into the market.  It is a beautiful beach but was completely deserted.  You can't swim there because salt water crocodiles lurk unseen in the sea just waiting their chance and lethal box jelly fish are also present during the dry season.  The market stretches out  behind the sand dunes along the beach. There are around 140 stalls selling jewellery, clothing, arts and crafts, many with a Northern Territory flavour such as crocodile skin products and didgeridoos.  Some stalls promote tourism activities and they make for great entertainment.  It was fun to watch a champion whip cracker and to stroke a baby

Baby crocodile, note the black tape on its jaws
crocodile, thankfully its jaws were firmly taped shut.  I enjoyed strolling the stalls but as it neared dinner time started to feel a bit peckish.  Well talk about being spoilt for choice!  There are about 60 food stalls selling street food from many different countries including Thai, Chinese, Sri Lankan, Turkish, Indonesian, French, Japanese and many others.  The food on every stall looked delicious and I wandered up and down trying to make a decision.  In the end hunger got the better of me so I settled on an enormous okonomyaki from the Japanese stall and a  tropical smoothie, crammed with every tropical fruit you can think of, from the fruit juice stall.  I was well satisfied with my choice but would have so loved to try others.

An hour later the beach fills up with sunset viewers
The thing to do at Mindil Beach is to watch the amazing sunsets.  The sun drops right down into the sea opposite the beach, so, after eating my dinner, I walked up to the top of the sand dune and sat waiting.  Bit by bit the previously deserted beach filled with spectators to the point that it was packed with thousands all waiting for nature's spectacle.  It was an amazing transformation.  I enjoyed the relaxed banter with people around me and, yes, the sunset was glorious.

emdee performing at the market
Back at the market I was captivated by a couple of buskers. emdee consists of a

didgeridoo player and a drummer who have a very modern take on the traditional Aboriginal instruments.  They have played their unique music at the market for around 17 years and are tremendous crowd pleasers.   I  studied ethnic music at university, and have always loved it, so I was entranced and watched them for a long time as darkness slowly descended and the lights came on throughout the market.  Some local Aborigines danced to the music adding even more colour to a great performance.
 You can watch emdee perform here:

 I agree that Mindil Beach Market is a "must see".  The atmosphere is happy and relaxed, everyone is friendly, the food is's a heap of fun!

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