Hosted on Larrakia Country over three weeks, heading north for the Darwin Festival 2022 is an idyllic winter getaway that covers all bases: art, food, music, performance, and most importantly rich culture. My stay was filled with things to do and see. During my time at the festival, I was wowed by local and visiting artists – most within walking distance from the city centre. If you leave Darwin city by car, you also have a cosmos of paradise-like wetlands and country to explore, which is why traveling up to the NT for the Darwin Festival in 2023 (the first by incoming curator Kate Fell) should be on your list.
Here, I'm sharing some of my favourite moments from the trip, from connecting with exciting local creatives to early morning swims at Mindil beach. See it all, below.
Yindjibarndi artist Alice Guinness at her stall at the Darwin Aboriginal Fair, and her award-winning work Burndud in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards.
Stopping into Parap’s Laundry Gallery to meet Nina Fitzgerald and Laura Shellie – both inspiring and exciting local creatives who have their hands in many pots.
Entering the Museum and Art Gallery of Darwin, a beautiful space for art and curiosities – just one of my favourites being the butterfly collection.
Sunset on the water and my favourite stall at the Darwin Aboriginal Fair, the Hermannsburg potters from Ntaria. I’ve had my eye on pieces from Andrew Ebatarinja for a long time and was able to take one home with me.
A musical highlight of the festival – Tropical Fuck Storm.
A work by an artist from Far North Queensland who weaves magical creations from plastic netting salvaged from the ocean floor, giving it a second life – this time, as a sting ray.
An early morning swim at Mindil beach with locals (who assured me the crocs were a couple of beaches over), and a beautiful work by Rose Marie Johnson.
Waŋa, a performance by the NT Dance Company – created by Larrakia man Gary Lang, Rirratjŋu lore man Banula Marika and MIKU Performing Arts, together with Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s String Quartet. A highlight of the festival.
Far North Queensland painters and brothers Lee and Lex Namponan, local Larrakia painters and works in the permanent collection of the MAGD.
Welcome to Country at the Festival, and Darwin by morning and night.
Mary’s famous Laksa at Parap markets. Worth the long line on a Saturday morning – the best Laksa I have ever tasted.
Gurumul Yunupiŋu’s family at the National Indigenous Music Awards, where he was honoured and welcomed into the NIMA’s hall of fame.
NIMAs Community Clip of The Year winner Numbulwar. A live performance from Emma Donovan.
Ms D. Yunupiŋu’s NATSIAA winning painting, The Rock, that depicts the three generations of her family swimming like mermaids around their family rock.
Seven Sisters, by Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM. Shells at the MAGD.
A swim in Darwin City on a man-made beach.
The taxidermy body of the famous crocodile named Sweetheart, who in the 1970’s had a penchant for knocking locals out of their dinghies into the sea water, interestingly and luckily, never injuring anyone.
Feature image: On our first night on Larrakia Country – we watched Buŋgul – honouring Gurumul Yunupiŋu’s seminal final album, Djarimirri (Child of the Rainbow). His family were in attendance, and it was one of the most special performances I have ever seen.