Darwin Blog

blend & grind
Thursday, 22 November, 2007, 12:00 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin, Dining


Today I was craving an apple turnover and one with a lot of cream.  I think it was brought on by working on an intense document that was going to have me feel like Dilbert by the end of the day.

I could have gone to Ben’s around the corner, but it was hot and required a short walk in the sun – not today.  But across the road from where I work and a shot walk through a dingy arcade, I come to blend & grind.  In fact, these guys are in the shop front that Ben’s Bakehouse used to occupy.

As I said, I was craving an apple turnover, there was none.  So I thought I would go for my old favourite, a vanilla slice – there was none.  A bit like “the computer says no“!  I wasn’t really keen on anything else until I sighted the creamy, delicious looking matchstick.

$3 and a quick walk back to the office and I devoured the matchstick.  Needed a spoon to eat the cream that oozed out onto the packet.  It was truly delicious and one of the best matchsticks I have had in a very long time and it cured my craving.

What I am worried about, is making my way back tomorrow for another!  If you are in the Anthony Plaza, try one.  They also have pies and sausage rolls, as well as, fresh juices.  Reasonable prices.


Christmas Craft Fair
Wednesday, 21 November, 2007, 4:17 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin, Observations


Marketed as “Your last chance to pick up that extra special gift“, we went along to the Christmas Craft Fair on Sunday to pick up a couple of NT Made gifts for family overseas.

The Christmas Craft Fair is held annually at Territory Craft in the grounds of the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery in Darwin.

With the Crafts Council having recently lost some of its funding and its capabilities in delivering to the crafts community being questioned, I did have some reservations if they would deliver a good Christmas Craft fair this year.

Pictured is Ingrid Germanis (at a previous craft fair), a local artist and sculptor.  Ingrid does amazing mosaics, sculptural ceramics pieces and makes unusual, yet engaging faces from driftwood and secondhand pieces.  I have to admit that I am a proud owner of a number of Ingrid’s pieces.

The Fair was much better than I expected with a good range of goods.  The Tiwi Islander ladies were there with their gorgeous tea towels and Nungalinya College had their usual stand of printed fabrics outside of the main Gallery doors.

Each of the studio spaces were brimming with activity and the volunteer ladies were busy selling homemade cakes and tea and coffee.  The traditional sausage sizzle was set up, but we had to avoid it because we were due to meet friends for lunch at cornucopia.

What was a lack of foresight by the organisers was the many beading stalls.  Really guys, how many beads can you buy and everything starts to look the same once you see the third stall.

Also missed were the Rural Potters who have been noticeably absent from the last few fairs, leaving a huge gap.  But as mentioned before on this blog, Cecily Wills had work there and if you want to buy a fine piece of ceramic, buy from this lady.

There was also plenty of average stuff, but as I discovered, what I don’t like, others raved about and really beauty is in the eye of the beholder!

24th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Award
Tuesday, 20 November, 2007, 1:29 am
Filed under: Observations


Recently I went and viewed the 24th Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

I know what I like and don’t like when it comes to Aboriginal art and I think this exhibition confirmed it for me.  I don’t think the overall exhibition was as strong as it had been in previous years and it is so easy to identify the winner, without having to look at the catalogue.

The winner was Dennis Nona for Ubirikubiri, a bronze cast of a crocodile and man on its back.  The work is exquisite and is based on a legend that took place on the Western Coast of Papua New Guinea.  Nona is from the Torres Strait region and the influences of PNG art is evident in the piece.  In viewing the whole exhibition, it is so clear to see why this piece is the outright winner.

Another outright favourite for me in the exhibition was the Alick Tipoti piece, Gubau Aimai Mabaigal – linocut on paper.  The intricacies of this piece is amazing.  Again, Tipoti is from the Torres Strait region and this piece is a show stopper, which is probably why it won the Telstra Work on Paper Award this year.

There are so many elements to this piece.  Gubau Aimai Mabaigal means wind makers in the Maluigal Zenadh Kes language.  Illustrated are the Zugubai who create and control the four winds that clear the airways of the islands.  This print shows the yearly seasonal calendar of the Maluilgal people.

My other favourite in the exhibition was the collection of five pieces by the Darnley Island Art Gang, Darnley Island Story of the Coming of the Light, Linocut on paper (pictured).  The four pieces remind me of the influence of the missionaries especially during the time I lived in Papua New Guinea and more recently with visits to Daly River and the Tiwi Islands.  The five pieces for me had a great spiritual presence and this alone was not because of the presence of a cross in each of the pieces.

What I found lacking in the exhibition was minimal ceramic work and no glass.  This was disappointing as Aboriginal artists do amazing works in both these mediums.  What I also missed were the brightly coloured pieces from central Australia.  I am not a traditionalist when it comes to Aboriginal art – I am not fond of the ochres and browns that are often featured.

The quirky piece for me was Darwin Boy by Gary Lee.   Photographed in Alfred’s, at the knife corner, Gary photographs a local Darwin Aboriginal boy from a prominent Darwin family in bright blue speedos, showing off a well maintained and groomed body.  I like the fact the Gary always challenges the norms with his art and entering a digital image, which to some may be confronting brings another element to what could be considered a relatively safe and conservative art award.

To view entrants and winners go to:  http://www.nt.gov.au/nreta/museums/exhibitions/natsiaa/index.html

Monday, 5 November, 2007, 12:36 am
Filed under: Observations

As I do on Sundays, I went to get my groceries for the week.  I do a big shop, so I eliminate the need to go to the supermarket during the week.

What annoys me is that the local Woolworths store, that I have been shopping at for years just seems to not get the big picture and so much so, I am starting to get the urge to ring the Managing Director, Richard Corbett, myself.

I have been purchasing Devondale skim milk in 1 litre cartoons for many years.  What astounds me that no matter what time of the day or day of the week, Woolworths at Nightcliff never seem to have any stock and particularly so yesterday.  The milk was not even on special!

Not only does this annoy me, it now means I am forced to buy a substitute product that I do not want, go to another store or return to the store later in the week in the vain hope I will be able to buy the milk.  All of these are not options for me. 

Really, if a product is selling out that quickly – why not get more of it in – quite simple really.

Sometimes I think this is a ploy by the larger supermarkets to have you return to the store to get the item you want, plus more therefore meaning you spend more, they make more!

What I also noticed whilst doing the shopping, is how products come and go off the shelves with such ease, that just as you are familiar and buying a product on a regular basis it is no longer available.  Everything comes in American “super size” quantities or packaging.  What happened to being able to buy small quantities – I am happy to pay a little more if it means less wastage in our world.

Take for example washing powder.  I have a front loading machine and part of the reason is that it uses less water, less detergent and is more energy efficient.  Therefore I only need a small box of washing powder which lasts me about three weeks.  Woolworths used to sell this, but now only sells the larger boxes.  This is forcing me to buy more than what I need and perhaps use more than I need to.  It did not worry me that the larger box is cheaper, I just want to have the choice to buy just what I need.

Other things that came to my attention included the poor quality of meat being offered for sale at premium prices – the meat looked so awful we decided not to buy any.  Can Woolworths be serious about what they are putting on the market?  Does the Northern Territory receive the crap meat that they wouldn’t dare sell to a southern, more savvy market?

To some degree, I am not surprised that Australians are becoming fatter.  The price of fruit, vegetables and meat, not to add the poor quality we get in the Top End, families are being forced to eat more wheat based, preservative laden products that can be bought much more cheaply.

And my final gripe is the fact that the check out operators have no idea how to pack.  When I worked at Woolworths (for five years) part of our initial training was learning how to pack.  These guys just have absolutely no idea and show as much as they can into a green bag, despite the weight and type of contents.  I always pack my bags – it takes a bit longer but I want to know that what I have paid for I can still use when I get home.