A Top End evening tale

Ya know what the time is, mate?” asks an Aboriginal “long grasser” sitting under the trees as we walk along the beach towards Rapid Creek footbridge on our evening constitutional. “Five past six,” I reply, ploughing onward to forestall any possibility of the usual follow-up question: “Ya got five dollars, mate?”

I’d noticed the same group earlier in the day as I cycled to uni. They were being filmed by an ABC TV crew, presumably for a story on Clare Martin’s repugnant but electorally successful ‘lock up the serial drunken itinerants’ policy. It’s a sure-fire (not to mention photogenic) place to find itinerants, a shady grove of trees and a grassy bank overlooking the bright blue ocean and the long sweep of Casuarina beach, with a pub conveniently located right across the road. Paradise for pisspots.

We saunter on across the footbridge and along the beach. Dash the blue heeler puppy frolics madly with every single one of the hundreds of other dogs, but resists the temptation to round up a horse being walked in the shallows by its young rider.

Jess chatters happily and incessantly, gradually returning to earth after her just-completed smash hit starring role as Dash the Puppy in one of many productions in Corrugated Iron Youth Theatre’s strangely titled “full moon” performance season. It finished on Sunday evening with highly entertaining teenage performances of latter day abbreviated adaptations of The Flies and Antigone at the Old Town Hall ruins. But the full moon isn’t for a couple of days yet. Poetic licence, I suppose. Anyway, Darwin is extraordinarily fortunate to have such a dynamically creative and broad-ranging youth theatre structure. I hope it doesn’t all crumble when Jeremy and Kate move to America next year. It could so easily fall into the hands of talentless wannabes, like the hairy armpit lesbians who ran Corrugated Iron into the ground before Jeremy and Kate took over and rebuilt. That’s what turned my daughter Rebecca off the place, and I haven’t yet managed to persuade her to give it another go.

We turn around at the beginning of Casuarina cliffs, just as the scarlet sun plummets into the sea. Must get back in time to see my 15 seconds of fame on the 7.30 Report. Back at the footbridge I walk ahead as Jen and Jessica try to get Dash back on her leash. A bloke is muttering something about crocodiles to a group of girls on pushbikes. As I get closer I hear him say casually “That dog is going to get taken by a saltwater croc“. I look down from the bridge and see Dash swimming at the edge of the creek, with Jess jumping down the sandy bank trying to pull her out. Across near the other bank in the gathering darkness I see a large back silhouette. A log? Rocks exposed by the falling tide? A biggish croc? Dash is out of the water now, scrambling up the bank and submitting to jen’s attaching of the leash. I look back but the silhouette is no longer visible.

The girls tell jen about the “croc” sighting. I tell her I thought I saw it too. She gives me a disbelieving look, and maybe she’s right.

The 7.30 Report appearance really is 15 seconds of fame, a long interview full of priceless pearls of Parish political wisdom edited down to bugger all. At least on a blog you can witter away to your heart’s content and no-one’s going to edit you. Mind you, they probably won’t read you either.

I wonder who you phone to report a possible croc sighting. An awful lot of kids and dogs use that beach, and the next few evenings are full tides.

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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Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2022 years ago

I walked in to hear ….. “former Labor member for the Territory Parliament and now a web site blogger, worries for democracy.” I realised it was you before I saw the screen. I wondered at the awful fall from grace, kind of implied in “from Territory parliamentarian to blogging” not to mention the failure to mention that you do other life-affirming stuff as well – apart from croc-watching. Have you put on a little bit of weight or are you just deeply contented with life?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

“Have you put on a little bit of weight or are you just deeply contented with life?”

Both, but I’m working on the former, especially since Jen has started calling me a fat bastard. She has a way with words.

Rafe
2022 years ago

“I wonder who you phone to report a possible croc sighting. An awful lot of kids and dogs use that beach, and the next few evenings are full tides.”

Parks and Wildlife, Local Council, local life savers, police. Last resort, handmade signs on the bridge and other prominent locations.

Warbo
Warbo
2022 years ago

Southern ignorance on display: What difference do the full tides make to (a) the crocs or (b) the kids and dogs using the beach? This information may be vital if I ever (again) visit the tropics.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

The crocs (if any) could get much closer to the kids and dogs without being seen, because there’s only a narrow strip of sand to walk on. A full moon high tide occurs on sunset, exactly the time when hundreds of families are using the beach.

boynton
2022 years ago

Good luck with the Blue Heeler puppy. There’s a resident mad/bad one here, who suffered from missing out on training in the vital “peak learning curve”.
(She makes for good dogblogging though)

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

A great advert for Darwin Ken. The thought of crocs though is chilling. Do people forget them and become complacent, or are they always wary?

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Rex

They try to keep the harbour and coastal area adjacent to urban Darwin free from crocs as far as possible (by trapping and removal). But crocs still stray into the harbour and suburban estuaries (e.g. Rapid Creek) fairly frequently after being ejected from nearby river systems by dominant males, so it’s advisable to keep a lookout. This sort of migration is less common in the dry season (winter) than the wet (which is breeding season), but it still happens occasionally. Luckily, the ejected crocs are usually younger ones (around 2-2.5 metres), with larger ones being quite unusual. But even a 2 metre croc could potentially have a go at a child or a dog (though probably not an adult). I suspect lots of Darwin people don’t give even a passing thought to crocs. I’ve always got the possibility at the back of my mind, though. Still, there’s no point in being paranoid, any more than there is about sharks in Sydney or Melbourne (or Adelaide or Perth, where recent shark attacks suggest the risk may be higher due to lack of meshing of beaches). I go body surfing in Darwin in the wet, though never by myself.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

“”I wonder who you phone to report a possible croc sighting.”

“possible croc”? Is that like a mock turtle?

Saw you on the 7.30 Report too. Found it hard to resolve the rather avuncular TV persona with your late night woolfing around here.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Is this the same Kate who’s now a first year law student?

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

Oh, and I’m sorry I missed the snippeted interview. I don’t seem to be set for any of your classes next semester so I’m missing the Parish Magic.

All that said, thank goodness the exams are over again.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

The croc is a croc probably the rangers usually spot them but…..
And the ample Parish gut may well be obscuring his line of vision.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Ken and jen, if you guys (and guyesses), are firing up for another woolfish interchange, this flick also has some good quotable and martially maritably one-liners.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110955/

Not to mention Judy Davis and Kevin Spacey in a full-on drama queen shootout.

Do yerself a favour, etc, etc.

jen
jen
2022 years ago

Nabs I’m not quite conscious, much less able to read right now, but I feel the bubbles just bursting to oblige. Hefty abuse is such fun. I’ve just done some major correcting to a comment on another thread. This morning, I managed in all earnestness and sobriety to say exactly the opposite to what I meant. Takes talent.

John Morhall
John Morhall
2022 years ago

Shit Ken – I didn’t realise that Darwin was such a dangerous place! Crocodiles indeed – you’ll be telling me that you have snakes and mosquito borne diseases next. Having said that I enjoyed my visit last week, and managed to escape with a carton full of barra fillets – the closest I got to catching them was removing them from the baggage conveyor.