Brisbane Airport BNE Issue 4 - page 20

20
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BNE August/September 2014
ESCAPE
It’s easy to spend whole days exploring Darwin and its neighbouring natural
beauty without setting foot indoors, writes
Jennifer Pinkerton
Dawn to dusk in Darwin
I
’ve lost her already. It’s Saturday morning
at the Darwin suburb of Parap and my
sister’s somewhere in this maze. Amid
market corridors, fruit and ice grind in
blenders, mustard-coloured laksa is ladled into
lunchboxes and ribbons of steam lift from
giant woks.
“Have I seen you somewhere before?” A man
selling bird of paradise flowers leans towards
me. He looks like a Greek version of George
Clooney. “As in, recently?” I ask, hoping
he’s caught sight of my body double. “Very
recently.” He sweeps his fringe from his eyes
and points towards the Thai sweet stall.
“Just getting some car snacks,” my sister
chirps guiltily when she sees me. She opens the
arms of a cotton carry bag, revealing a knot of
candied nuts, brown rice sushi and a twig of
tiny bananas. “I’m like a kid in a candy store.
This feels just like Asia,” she beams.
Closer to Bali than it is to Broome, this
northern capital is indeed exotic – from the
tropical weather to the faces in its streets. The
Asian food markets (and there are many) serve
as a microcosm of the city’s diversity: 30 per
cent of Darwinians were born overseas, and at
least a third of those have Greek heritage, while
11 per cent are Aboriginal. In all it is estimated
that there are 60 nationalities represented in
Darwin, a mix that brings depth, buzz and a
slew of sensory experiences for visitors.
Parap
is unbeatable for Saturday breakfast,
brunch or lunch (Parap Place, Parap). This is
Darwin’s longest-running food bazaar and, like
Nightcliff Markets
(Progress Drive, Nightcliff)
10 minutes north, they are open all year round.
At Parap, the Cambodian pancake stall is a
savoury breakfast winner; as is the Lebanese
food stall, the Cedar Tree, tucked inside the
main square. We try the latter’s sambousik
(savoury lamb puffs) and riz bi halib, (slow-
cooked rice pudding with rose water and
orange blossom) before hitting the Stuart
Highway to begin a road trip south.
After all, there’s a lot to see beyond Darwin’s
city lights. The famous Kakadu National Park
is less than four hours’ drive away – better left
for more than a day trip – but just two hours
beyond the city limits we can be at the foot
of Litchfield National Park’s waterfalls … and
just 45-minutes away is Berry Springs Nature
Reserve, where it’s cool to duck dive through
a chain of waterholes and surface underneath
surprised black cockatoos.
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