I’m a sucker for farmers markets. They’re like my version of massive shoe sales, and I just can’t resist them. I love the crowds and festive atmosphere, the music, the million things to look at and touch and consider buying. When there’s the chance of finding durian, I’m hopeless. Darwin happens to have no less than six weekly farmers markets.
Was I in heaven or what? Rob sure is a good sport.
We didn’t actually visit all of them. Rob isn’t that patient. That, and most were still closed for the wet season and wouldn’t reopen until a week later. I was a little disappointed, but I think Rob was secretly glad.
A week later, if we’d wanted to (and had a car) we could have hit up the Mindil Beach Market Thursday night, Palmerston Market on Friday Night, then Parap Market on Saturday Morning, and then we’d have had to choose between Rapid Creek Market and Nightcliffe Market on Sunday morning.
There are actually even more markets in the Darwin suburbs which are listed on this website.
But since we were on a durian hunt there was really only one market worth visiting: Rapid Creek Market. It’s the oldest market in Darwin and the only one notorious for selling fruit. It’s also the where the two durian growers we met previously with Hans sell their durians.
Barry has about 20 durian trees
I didn’t have much hope that we would find any fresh durian. It was April, and the season had been over for a couple of months. But I’d heard the market sold packages of frozen mango – might there be frozen local durian as well?
On Easter morning we took bus #10 from downtown Darwin to Rapid Creek. I was actually a little surprised the buses were running, given that the town had basically closed up shop on Good Friday. No one seemed to care that it was Easter.
It was a 30 minute ride to Rapid Creek and cost $3 each. On the way we passed by Nightcliffe Market, and I peered through the window to see what we were missing. It looked relaxed and small, and I decided we weren’t missing too much.
The bus dropped us off across the street from the Rapid Creek Shopping Center, which had a giant sign featuring chile peppers in what looked like sombreros. It was the kind of thing you’d see in America outside of a taco joint or enchilada bar, the kind of places where they serve margaritas in salad bowls and you go mostly to eat the free chips and salsa.
What was it doing in Australia, the land that apparently has not yet been introduced to the glories of guacamole?
We walked across the street and entered Thailand. Or that’s how it felt. The market took place in a closed down outdoor mall, the vendors stacked against the walls creating an authentic feel of too narrow aisles and too many people. There were brightly colored Thai desserts, sticky rice and mango, coconuts, piles of green tangerines and pomelos and so many women pounding green papaya salads that for a moment I felt that we had gone to Thailand a day earlier than planned.
Unless of course, there’s an Asian culture similar to Thai that includes traditional Mexican sombreros.
It was a reminder of how close Darwin is to Asia.
The illusion lasted just a minute. Because the prices were anything but Thai.
I asked one of the vendors selling frozen mango if they had any durian.
“No have,” said the young man.
I asked if anybody else had some, and he mutely pointed us around the corner to one of the closed stores. I realized then that a large percentage of the mall was Asian stores. There were signs for Asian grocers, Thai massage, and Chinese medicine. Since it was Sunday most of the stores were closed. Frozen durian can probably be purchased here any other day of the week all year long.
But you don’t need to go to an Asian store to find frozen durian in Darwin. We saw them in both the Woolworth’s and the Cole’s supermarkets. Half thawed and looking kind of sad, but there. It was like that in Cairns too. I couldn’t get over it. In Australia, durian is apparently a regular installment at regular grocery stores. How is this not happening in America?
If we ever go back to Rapid Creek Market, we’ll go between October and December. That way there will sure to be fresh durian.
That evening, we walked to Mindil Beach Evening Market, which is supposedly the best place in Darwin to see the sunset. If what we’d seen from our hostel was any sign, the sunset at Mindil Beach would
be out of this world.
When we arrived we discovered that the market was still closed for the wet season. But the sunset didn’t disappoint.
So long, Australia! It was fun.