It’s all about the seasons in Darwin. There’s the wet season and the dry season. The wet season is very, very wet, humid and hot. The dry is just hot and that’s when the locals cram as many social activities in as possible. I visited a fantastic produce market at Rapid Creek and could have visited four or five others on that same weekend. I’ve never seen so many markets in one town!
When I asked people what I should see or where I should go in Darwin, Mindil Beach Sunset Market was on everyone’s list. The markets went to the the top of my list and we built our holiday around visiting them. They’re on twice a week on Sunday and Thursday evenings during the dry season, between Anzac Day and the end of October. Located on Mindil Beach, locals and tourists converge just before sunset to watch the sun sink into horizon and then feast on the vast array of food on offer.
We arrived early to stake out a picnic spot for the evening and to take a first pass through the food stalls so we could decide what our menu would be for the night. There is a party atmosphere as you wander around. The event is not licensed so you’re free to bring your own drinks, along with some seats, rugs and picnic paraphernalia and to spend the evening enjoying the free entrainment. It has a real holiday feel where families can come and enjoy themselves without spending a fortune. After marking out some early options, we grabbed our ciders and beers and headed to the beach to watch the sunset. The Sunday we visited happened to coincide with a long weekend so the beach was busy but it was nothing compared with the crowds on the following Thursday, which is the most popular evening.
The Food…. Oh My!
The food on offer at Mindil Beach Sunset Market is heavily influenced by the Darwin community melting pot and you are unlikely to see such a vast array of SE Asian food in one location anywhere else in Australia. Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Khmer, Filipino, Timorese, Nnonya, Taiwanese, Indian, Sri Lankan and so much more. It’s all there to try. There are plenty of other diets catered for including vegetarian, vegan and gluten free. Over the course of two evenings we consumed beef satay and gado gado, deliciously chewy poa pia spring rolls with a sour sauce (so good we had them on both nights), a croc dog, a vege pakora, a fantastic roti roll with beef rendang and salad and, fresh coconut water. That may not sound like a lot but believe me, there is nothing stingy about the portions. Meals average around $10 but you can grab a small snack for as little as $1.
The Sunday market is smaller than the original Thursday market but still has 75% of the stalls. Of course, there’s plenty of other things to look at in other parts of the market – clothing, crystals and candles…. But I came for the food and was so glad I did.