Darwin Blog

The Bungalow
Wednesday, 27 June, 2007, 11:34 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin


This is a new store located in the Smith Street Mall in the CBD.

I like this store as it has some really nice things, but it is a mish mash of many styles.  Like all new places in Darwin, there always seems to be some duplication of goods on offer. 

I find it quite deceptive of suppliers to stock so many places with the same product.  Either the supplier does not come to Darwin and realise how small the market is, or at any cost they will sell the same items to all speciality stores in Darwin.  What happened to having something exclusive – then there would be enough business to go around!  Reminds me of all the little shops in Bali, side by side that sell the exact same thing.  Makes no sense to me.  It also annoys me that the owners of these stores do not seem to go around and do their homework.

Now back to The Bungalow – love the large selection of coloured leather handbags, love the large range of small gift ideas, love the green and red ginger jars (although somewhat over priced) – I really want to buy something for myself from there but just haven’t found what I just must have yet.  I have bought a gift for a friend from here and it went down a treat.

I will keep going into this store and checking out what is in stock and I am looking forward to making that purchase which is purely for me.


Monday, 25 June, 2007, 1:06 am
Filed under: No Longer With Us, Overrated

Yesterday, I think we ate at Darwin’s filthiest cafe.

After a morning of looking at various bits of furniture for our new deck, we felt a bit peckish.  We drove into Ben’s Bakehouse for a nice hot pie, but they were closed.  We suspect for the Supercars.  When will people realise that there are some of us who are so not into the Supercars!

Anyway we decided to park at the Mitchell Centre and go to the Coffee Club.  We have eaten here before, but one thing we notice is that the cafe is never clean.  There is also an abundance of flies both inside and out which really turns me off eating.  We chose not to eat at the Coffee Club, but wonder down the street to a cafe called Tonic.

This cafe was originally opened by friends of ours, Anna and Zoli and was called About Coffee.  It was a great place to eat, was always crowded and had a great atmosphere.  They have since left Darwin some time ago and the cafe became Tonic – it may have had another life before this one.

We walked in and took a table, sat down and order a flat white and a mocha.  It was then we noticed how filthy the establishment was.  We had already ordered and felt somewhat obliged to stay.  The tables were grubby, some wiped down, others not.  The chairs had all sorts of goo on them.  One looked as though it had bits of butter on it.  One of the chairs at our table looked like a cup of coffee was dropped near it, splattered all over the back of it, but was never cleaned.

Our breakfast came.  We order just ordinary bacon and eggs and that was overcooked.  It became clear that the staff were very keen to close the kitchen and go home.  Nothing like being rushed through a meal.  Why open at all!

While eating our breakfast we took in some other elements of the cafe such as the windows.  It would be fair to say that the windows hadn’t been cleaned for at least six months and the amount of smudges and hand prints etc on the glass was quite off putting.  In addition, the floor – if it had been swept let alone mopped in recent times, I would be surprised.  I wouldn’t dare order anything from the cake cabinet, as the outside and inside of the cabinet hadn’t seen a spot of hot water or Spray ‘n Wipe!

This cafe had no reason to look the way it did apart from pure laziness.  Located in Mitchell Street, the hub of Darwin city, you would expect some better standards.  It is fair to say that we WILL NOT ever venture into this cafe again.

Garage/ Lawns Sales
Sunday, 17 June, 2007, 12:49 pm
Filed under: Observations

Each year, with the dry season, I do a huge purge of household goods that haven’t been used or are no longer being used.  Once I have done that, I hold a garage/ lawn sale.

A friend and I organised to combined our efforts to make sale bigger and also to share the load.  We were very organised and set everything up the day before, so that in the morning, all we had to do was sell.

I must admit this was the strangest garage sale I have had to date.  Only professionals came by and honestly they want stuff for nothing and have no shame beating you down on the price.  Let me just say in advance, that we were not selling junk.  In fact we had a lot of good quality items that were brand new and never used.  We also knew what they we worth in the shop to buy and our prices were already less than half the value.  We also had furniture pieces, which in my experience are  the first to go. 

We made $400 in sales, exactly half each – not bad for a morning’s work.  The rest is going on a web noticeboard this week and if not sold by the end of the week, will end up going to charity.

I guess you are wondering why it didn’t go to charity in the first place.  Op shops here are now a serious business and I firmly believe that it isn’t disadvantaged people who are benefiting from the goods that are being donated.  So I believe that I should try and make back some of the money I spent.  What is left over from the sale, I am more than pleased to hand over to charity.

It is amazing the amount of people that come around looking for a bargain but spend their time checking out your home and wanting to buy many of your other worldly posessions.

Thank goodness I won’t be doing this for another year and I have made a pledge that I will not be rash in any further purchases I make, it sometimes is good money wasted.

Go Red for Women Cocktail Party
Sunday, 17 June, 2007, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Observations

A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation from a female friend of mine to join her and her partner at this function.

As I had made a decision to support a number of other charities this year, I accepted.  I was quite looking forward to going, until that minute prior to arriving at the venue wondering if I actually dressed appropriately for the event.  The invitation stipulated that you must wear a touch of red.  Well I did that.  I wore red three quarter pants, red jewellery and a red handbag.  Once I arrived and saw that women from all walks of life interpreted a splash of red in 130 different ways, I was no longer worried.

The group of women I was with were most entertaining and we had a great night meeting each other, swapping stories and experiences and before we realised it, it was 11.45pm.

Now before I go on, I need to mention that the event was a fundraiser for and organised by the Heart Foundation.  It was held at the Darwin Sailing Club and they had about 130 women present, with a couple of boys scattered amongst the crowd.

I wasn’t aware of this fact prior to receiving the invitation, but heart disease is the leading cause of death for Australian women.

The night was cool, the organisers did not appear flustered, except for during the drawing of the prizes and we didn’t have to wait long for the drinks.  Each ticket was also a voucher for four cocktails.  The cocktails were pre-mixed and honestly, tasted somewhat plastic.  The mocktail was the best.  The champagne ran out way to early – but these days one can’t drink and drink!  The sushi was great, but simply there just wasn’t enough food – we ended up buying many packets of chips from the bar.

A highlight of the night was a small band called Pia Colanda, who were actually performing for someones 40th.  They rocked and in fact, we asked the birthday girl if she minded if we moved closer to her party and danced to the band.  In true Territory style – it was more than okay.  Everyone had a dance and the night rocked.

I encourage the Heart Foundation to build on this event.  It was great to see such a great age range of women present, all having a great night out.  Small things can be improved, but I can see this becoming a “can’t be missed do!”.  Well done.

Darwin’s Seafood Festival
Sunday, 17 June, 2007, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Observations


Today we went to the Seafood Festival at Fisherman’s Wharf.  I think this event has been running for a couple of years, but it was our first time.

I really wanted to go because Ian “Huey” Hewitson was doing a cooking demonstration.  I love his style of cooking – simple and uncomplicated, but also because I am a firm believer of “never trust a skinny cook!”.  Therefore, I am confident with what Huey cooks and suggests.  I also love his honest and robust personality.

As for food, I am allergic to fish, but tried some calamari and it was good.  But to be honest, I wasn’t real hungry at that point.  I was very focused on getting a good seat for the cooking demonstration.  Unfortunately, there was just simply not enough shade – it is Darwin and the dry season – you think that might have been the most important thing on organisers’ minds.  Hence, we are a little red, but it doesn’t hurt and I can still go to work tomorrow!

Pictured is Huey (on the right) with Sky News’ John Mangos.  My husband and I noticed John wandering down the wharf and I made it my husband’s mission to get a good picture of him for the blog!  An opportunity presented itself when John stood near my husband on a quiet portion of the wharf.  My husband asked his permission to take his photo as “my wife is a huge fan and used to watch you all the time with Graham Kennedy on Coast to Coast“.  Next thing my husband knew was John Mangos saying “is she here and let me meet her“.

I was not expecting to meet John Mangos and when he turned up next to me I was so surprised I didn’t know what to say and we talked about the weather – how pathetic.  He was so lovely and interested in talking to me and looking into my face, probably wondering why I couldn’t string a sentence together!

What I really wanted to say was that I was a great fan of his and Graham Kennedy, especially from watching Coast to Coast.  I wanted to say “magnum“!  Yes, just that word as it was a bit on a “in” joke on the show.  I wanted to say that I enjoyed the piece about him and his family in Good Taste magazine a couple of month’s ago.  I also wanted to say that we watch him daily on Sky News and I really like it when he and Suzanne Latimore co-host – but it was not to be.  I feel quite stupid!

I did want to have a photo with Huey, but couldn’t bring myself to do it, as I felt I might be seen as a bit of a celebrity stalker!  There is another story!  One day I will share – let me say, it involves Jon Sieben!

I was glad I went.  My only suggestions for the day is more shade, heaps more.  Did I mention the shade!  As for the cooking demonstrations, if this will continue for the coming years – it is imperative that a mirror is placed above the chef’s table or it be filmed live and broadcast to large screens.  If I had more time, I would have definitely gone on a harbour cruise and I would have loved to stay and listen to Bombe ala Ska – I love ska music and I have never heard it played in Darwin, so I was curious.

Unfortunately, there are only two days on the weekend and so much to fit in, especially during the Dry.  I had to go and be a domestic goddess for the remainder of the day.

Yum Cha
Thursday, 7 June, 2007, 11:41 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin, Dining

This restaurant is a good lunch staple of many locals working in Cavenagh Street.

My favourite dish here is Beef Ho Fun soup with bak choy and tofu added.  I love the big, fat noodles they use.  I am told that they are not good for you. 

This dish, when not feeling so crash hot, always seems to be the fix.  The food is cooked fresh and served up fast.  Each time I eat there, I notice there are a regular group of Chinese who eat on a regular basis and also a couple of the old Greek guys who are somewhat of an institution in this town.

I also like the fact that if I wish to have a g&t with my meal at lunch, I can.

I have also had dinner here on a couple of occasions and I think the food is quite good.  I haven’t experienced yum cha itself on the weekends, but I understand that it isn’t too bad – although not the full blown yum cha experience.

UPDATE – A couple of weeks ago we were invited by some friends to join them for dim sum at the Yum Cha.  My husband had only just experienced a true Dim Sum experience on our recent travels in South East Asia, that he was keen to try it in Darwin.  There was no big trolleys being wheeled around the restaurant with yummy goodies, but ordering off a form and waiting a really long time for the food to come.  The restaurant was packed, especially with Chinese, which is a good sign.  We had some yummy food, but what my husband was anxiously waiting for, was the char siu roast pork pau.  They almost forgot, but a gentle reminder saw them come to the table finally.  The custard tarts had run out before we sat down and the blender was broken – we were all keen to have lychee daiquiris – was not meant to be.  I’ll definitely go back again.  The cost worked out at $15 per head and I was quite full by the time we left, two hours later.

Party Time!
Thursday, 7 June, 2007, 12:25 am
Filed under: Mind Your Manners Miranda, Observations

You have the right to wear and behave how you want.  Anything you wear, say or do will be used against you.  You have the right to seek advice to ensure you do not make a complete ass of yourself.  If you do not know how or where to get advice from; you shall be Mirandarised!  

Invitations are starting to arrive in mailboxes across the Territory seeking willing participants at gala balls, weddings and even cocktail receptions at Parliament House. 

Often there is a dress standard specified on the invitation and in the Territory this can be interpreted in many different ways.  Of course, how it is interpreted can led to embarrassment, disappointment or a memorable evening of finery.  If the dress code is not stated – ask if there is any doubt.   

Invitations from Parliament House include the dress code on the back to assist.  Other organisations utilise these forms of dress codes for functions and they are:  Territory Formal; Territory Rig and Territory Informal. Although they may be unique to the Territory there is not much difference as to what is expected dress-wise elsewhere in Australia or overseas.  All you need is some common sense – let me provide some tips. 

Territory Formal – for gentleman this involves a dinner suit or dark trousers with a long sleeve shirt, bow tie with vest or cummerbund or a tuxedo.  Ladies should wear appropriate evening wear and certainly nothing cheap and nasty!   

If the invitation stipulates Black Tie, women must wear a ball gown, evening dress or skirt that the length is to the floor.  Also remember in a town this small, it pays to wear something only once to a black tie function and if possible have it made, so another does not appear in the room on the night.  Older ladies should ensure they cover up the lower chest area and upper arms – you don’t want to be flapping! 

Territory Rig – the most common dress code on invitations.  Gentlemen should wear long trousers and a long sleeve shirt and ladies, a day dress or After Five.  Therefore if you wish to wear what you are wearing to work that day and it is respectable, by all means do so.  I would strongly recommend that no singlets (and that includes females) and thongs of any sort should be worn, no denim and definitely no minis no matter how good your legs are! 

Territory Informal – for men this is neat casual trousers such as chinos and an open neck shirt ie. a good quality polo shirt and ladies neat/ smart casual. I would strongly recommend that if you are someone who attends functions on a regular basis, invest in some good quality classic basic pieces that can be mixed and matched with equally good quality separates to give you a new look at each event. 

Whilst dressing appropriately sets the tone of the function for yourself, guests and the host, remember that you do not want to be the one who is talked about for wearing the most inappropriate attire – and believe me they do talk!  As Thomas Fuller once said, “Good clothes open all doors”.