Spring in Darwin?

Carita Kazakoff asks about spring in Darwin in a comment to Geoff Honnor’s slightly sardonic Sydney spring soliloquy Christopher Sheil’s poem of earlier today. As an habitue of East Timor I thought she’d realise there’s no such thing in the monsoonal tropics, at least if you judge it by flowering jasmine, wisteria and so forth.

The Aborigines recognise seven distinct seasons, but to my way of thinking there’s only four: wet, dry, build-up and build-down. About this time of year the humidity begins to return, and nights become almost as hot and sweaty as the days. By October it’s suicide season, the sauna-like atmosphere topped by mountainous thunderheads that yield spectacular lightning shows but seldom bring rain. Fruit-bats keep you awake all night with endless noisy squabbles over the choicest mangoes, before strategically dropping the largest ones from a great height onto a nearby tin roof just as the sleeping tablets had begun to kick in.

Around this time last year Paul decided to commit suicide by bicycle. A reclusive and troubled gay man, Paul was one of the longest-standing tenants at a house Suzy and I once owned together until a short-lived but bitter falling out that’s best not discussed. Paul’s plan might have worked if he’d headed south towards the desert without food or water. Instead he turned his trusty Malvern Star northwards and only reached Lee Point where the road runs into the sea near Royal Darwin Hospital. There he got a puncture and lay down under a palm tree for 10 days or so until police found him, nut-brown and skinny, and took him to the Cowdy psych ward. Suzy found him there and bailed him out, bringing him home to all the other broken-winged inmates to sleep on the verandah until a bedroom came vacant.

Paul is now one of the longer-standing tenants at Buddha’s Hideaway, where there’s been a heavy turnover of late. The latest recruit is Laurent, a surprisingly useless young man with angelic black curls, who’s trying to relive the Age of Aquarius thirty years late. He’s given to long monologues on the genius of Carlos Castaneda, though conceding that his hero might have exaggerated the religious benefits of hallucinogenic cactus.

Laurent spent ages yesterday trying to convince us that the Church of Scientology was worthy of deep respect because it was founded by the eminent scientist who built the Hubble space telescope. He was mightily unimpressed when Suzy and I ignored him and began hatching plans to exploit Australia’s last remaining major tax loophole by founding a Church of Tantra with Suzy as the guru/earth goddess preaching achievement of nirvana through surrendering to unbridled lust. A sure-fire money spinner, we thought, and offered the post of finance director to Barry the used car salesman who also just moved in the other day. Barry bears an uncanny resemblance to Michael Caton, and is on the run from his wife and girlfriend, both of whom would cheerfully strangle him if only they could find him.

When I was proof-reading Suzy’s autobiography the other day, I came over all nostalgic for the eccentric Darwinians of yesteryear, until it occurred to me that they’re still here and mostly living at Suzy’s place. Fortunately I’ve remained completely sane and perfectly well-adjusted.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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James Russell
2022 years ago

the Church of Scientology … was founded by the eminent scientist who built the Hubble space telescope

Oogh. Is it a case of the young man being useless or simply that his brain goes unused?

2022 years ago

Hmm, Ken, Darwin’s both closer to and further away from King’s Cross than I had imagined.

2022 years ago

Ken, Carita’s comment was to Chris’s post.

What are the seven periods recognised by the Indigenes?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago


This page from the Kakadu National Park site shows six seasons, and that seems to be the most common formulation, but the exact numbers and descriptions of the seasons vary between clans and regions.

2022 years ago

Ahh Ken that takes me back to my PNG days. A day under 23 degrees was cold. becasue there were so many that rotted on the roads in Moresby, I still have a deep and unabiding dislike for mangoes (except eaten green with salt – yum).

2022 years ago

Yeah, Ken, I did refer to the wet, because I know the seasons are different there, I was just wondering if there is some sort of in between phase, before the monsoons hit. It seemed to me that it might get a bit warmer but stay dry for a while before the season kicks in properly.