Darwin Blog

Glass with Class
Monday, 24 March, 2008, 1:53 am
Filed under: No Longer With Us


Whilst I have put this under “Best Kept Secrets – Darwin”, I was a little unsure.

There are elements of this store that makes me cringe.  You know, borderline tacky.

Although, I have bought lovely glass birds from the Czech Republic for $36 and they are beautiful.  They make some lovely glass handbags in many different sizes, although I could not bring myself to buy one.  What do you do with them, unless you like to collect dust!

I have a girlfriend who loves the miniature shoes that they sell.  They also have glass jewellery and from time to time they have some really beautiful pieces.  I guess the shop is a bit of a mish mash of styles, but then it probably caters for everyone.

Worth a look, but tread with caution.  Some of the colour choices are interesting.


Australiana Quiz Night
Monday, 24 March, 2008, 1:01 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin


It has been sometime since it was Australia Day, but so much happens in Darwin over the Australia Day weekend, that this event is so worthy of a mention.

The Australiana Quiz Night was resurrected this year as part of the Australia Day activities (it had been part of the program for a couple of years before being rested) and going by the full room and happy quiz goers after the event, it was a resounding success.

The night is organised by the Australia Day Board in conjunction with the Australia Day NT Office and is an evening of questions about Australia.  The local cartoonist, Colin Wicking, puts together ten rounds of questions all relating to life, politics, culture, sport, arts etc in Australia.  This year’s quiz master was Tony Pickering and in this venue it was handy having someone who knows how to throw their voice and use a mic.

It can be quite an eye opener about how little we all know about our own country.

It was a good night, despite a small stuff up with seating, tickets and the Casuarina Club overselling.  I think a larger venue is in order for next year’s event.  Darwinians love a good quiz night and what better way to celebrate Australia Day!

Value Travel
Monday, 24 March, 2008, 12:51 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin


These days travel agents seem to be becoming extinct, with everyone doing their travel online.

I still use a travel agent from time to time, mainly because I like the idea of receiving service (and I don’t mind paying for it) and perhaps being old enough to remember a time when your travel agent organised your holiday, it sort of is part of the whole experience.

I went to Value Travel because my agent of many years, since she was with Westpac Travel (when they had a travel arm), was Jean Lee.  She is the best when it comes to travel agents.

Jean now works for Value Travel and she is the first person I go to when I am organising travel.  She is so reliable, always looks for the best possible fares and always has a number of recommendations to be taken into consideration.

The net has taken away some of the luxury and pleasure of dealing with a travel agent, but as long as Jean is doing travel, I will be certainly engaging their services.

Warehouse 73
Monday, 24 March, 2008, 12:44 am
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Darwin


It is a bazaar in here, as well as a little bizarre!

Every couple of months or so, I wander into here and have a good sticky beak around.

They sell good quality lingerie at reasonable prices, this may surprise you looking at the front of the store.  They also sell a reasonable range of women’s clothing and this varies each time I go in.  I have bought some really good linen pieces from here, including DG Sport.  Sometimes you find a bargain and other times it is worth trying somewhere else.  I have never known this store to have a sale.

They also sell some oriental, embroidered bed linen, children’s clothing, mumus for those of us that wear them around the house and haven’t been back to Bali to stock up, teak furniture (although a bit pricey) and knick knacks.  I recently bought some lovely oriental, ceramic pieces.

The shop is a little smelly, as in musty and this is probably because it is a warehouse – but I can look beyond that or perhaps I have got used to it.  A word of advice, if you find something you like in this store, buy it straight away as I can assure you it won’t be there next time you go in.

Monday, 24 March, 2008, 12:32 am
Filed under: An Interesting Read, Best Kept Secrets - Darwin


RESIDENT is a high-end lifestyle magazine about Darwin and Alice Springs that is compiled by Mark Marcelis and Tim Palmer.  It is a bi-annual magazine (wet and dry seasons) targeting residents of and tourists to the Top End of Australia.

The magazine is essentially a big, glossy advertisement for the Territory and one thing I can say for Mark and Tim, is that they can make anything sexy and I mean anything!

The Christmas edition had a Christmas Gift Guide, which was luxe and well presented.  Many great ideas and assisting with Christmas shopping a convenience except, there was no prices listed anywhere in the guide. 

Whilst Mark and Tim might think that their audience do not care about the price of an item, let me tell you how wrong they are.  People are too busy too busy these days to be visiting a number of stores to find out that something is beyond their financial means.  Of course, the guide is essentially a catalogue for shopping so guys, list the price!  Whilst I too am happy to pay any reasonable price for a gift for my loved ones, I do shop to a budget, as I am sure many others do with a high disposable income.  Therefore, it would have been a great help if prices were detailed alongside the name of the shop and item.

Not sure who really reads this magazine, as I am told that the circulation numbers here in the Territory are not that high, but the magazine is distributed to corporate waiting rooms, 3/4/5 star hotels, cafes and salons and is distributed to interstate outlets.  I have also been told that one does not read RESIDENT, they look at the pretty pictures.  A couple of the writers could do with going to a writing course, as their first paragrahps really tell you nothing – you have to read quite a way into the story to get the jist of what they are saying.

It makes living in Darwin, with the gorgeous homes and interesting people seem all so inviting.  What I am interested in is the impression people get when they come to Darwin or Alice Springs after being exposed to the Northern Territory via RESIDENT.

All the same, I look forward to each edition – the 6th is due for release soon – as it does make interesting reading on the lifestyles of Territorians, living, entertaining, style, dining and travel – even if it is all presented to be a little too good to be true. 

The collage of social pages at the back is a bit of a who is seen where, as the same faces pop up at each function – of course it is a social diary of the beautiful people of Darwin!

Flying Home Brand
Sunday, 23 March, 2008, 12:30 pm
Filed under: Travel


I have a policy of not flying home brand, which essentially is flying a low budget carrier/ airline.

I broke this rule last year when we flew from Denpasar to Kuala Lumpur on Air Asia.  I have to say they are cheap and everything is available on line – www.airasia.com

Air Asia is a budget airline and seems to be going great guns.  Owned by Tony Fernandes, who rose to prominence by turning AirAsia, a fledgling government-linked commercial airline, into a highly successful public-listed company. Fernandes was also instrumental in lobbying the then-Malaysian Prime Minister, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in mid-2003, to propose the idea of open skies agreements with neighbouring Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore. As a result, these nations have granted landing rights to AirAsia and other discount carriers (Wikipedia).  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_Fernandes

Air Asia planes apparently have a 20 minute turnaround on the ground and that we did witness.  The planes are new, well maintained and clean.  The staff are great and fun – we laughed a lot on our flight just by their antics and our fellow passengers.  There is no allocated seating, but that didn’t seem to be an issue as everyone appeared to have a favourite place in the plane and no one was disappointed.  We got three seats together with no issue.

Air Asia’s motto, is “Now everyone can fly”, which I don’t really agree with as it became very evident when we landed, both in Denpasar and Kuala Lumpur, that most passengers have no idea about the rules and etiquette of flying.  But, yes, cheaper fares have allowed more of the world to travel and see new places, including us.  Bear in mind that we were travelling during Ramandan and Hari Raya – traditionally very busy times for travel in Muslim countries, especially Indonesia and Malaysia.


We loved the on board magazine, Travel3Sixty, which has many recommendations of things to try and do when visiting a number of locations that Air Asia flies to.  Apparently no recommendation goes into the magazine without Tony personally trying it out himself and agreeing with the promotion of it in the magazine.  We love the “inbox” section which is letters from passengers that have been on Air Asia and the various circumstances that required assistance and saw them to write in, especially the letter about the Indonesian maid who didn’t want to go home, hence became pyscho when boarding the plane and ended up in a mental hospital – way too funny!  They print the letters as received – priceless and great entertainment.  The magazine does a great job of promoting Malaysia and things to do when there.

Tony, seems to be a hands on man, is all over the magazine being photographed with staff, Malaysian dignitaries, launching planes etc etc – he has a good reputation by all counts.  Air Asia X now flies to the Gold Coast and we are seriously thinking of going via the old Coast later this year on route to Malaysia.

Totally recommend flying Air Asia and upon arriving in Malaysia, they have their own Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) with duty free shopping, eatries, shops and a number of transport options into the city and various towns.  The airport, for interests sake, is about a two hour drive from the CBD.

One thing to do as a tourist is to avoid travelling towards the end of Ramandan and during Hari Raya – the waiting in queues can be a bit much to handle – the queues look a lot like how Malaysians/ Indonesians drive – a bit all over the place, but there is definitely some order to it all.  Beware, they do charge for excess luggage, so be very mindful about the weight of your shopping goodies.

J.M Top Optical
Saturday, 8 March, 2008, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Best Kept Secrets - Bali


When in Bali in February, we went to Carrefours to do some shopping.  After going through the check out, I noticed an optical store opposite.  They had a sale on and I started looking at the frames.

Adrian, who works in the store advised that I could get a pair of prescription glasses, which I so seriously wear (I am blind without) for IDR Rp 375 000 (AUS $46).

There were so many frames to choose from and I settled on the first ones I saw – red.  The same ones are about $300 in Australia.  Honestly, they had all the brands and so much choice, more than what we get here in Darwin with the couple of optical stores we have here.

As I had no idea what my script was, he check the glasses I was wearing to see if they had what I needed in stock.  They did and guess what?  My new glasses could be ready in 20 minutes, if we wanted to get something to eat and come back.  That is exactly what we did.

The glasses are fantastic.  They were properly fitted and have caused no grief – the script is spot on.  On top of it, I have had so many compliments about them, that I am so seriously thinking of going back and getting a few other colours!

So tell me, why in Darwin does it cost so much and it takes two weeks for your glasses to be made up and why do they have to hold onto the script.  Yes, this shop wrote down my script for me in case I wanted to have glasses made up somewhere else.

By the way, they can do bi-focals but will need two days.  This is still quicker than the two weeks we have to wait here.