Author(s): Tess Lea
Darwin is a survivor, you have to give it that. Razed to the ground four times in its short history, it has picked itself up out of the debris to not only rebuild but grow. Darwin has known catastrophes and resurrections; it has endured misconceived projects and birthed visionaries. To know Darwin, to know its soul, you have to listen to it, soak in it, taste it.
To write about her home town, Tess Lea waded knee-deep in memories of the city, including those of her family and her own. The story begins in 1974, when Cyclone Tracy shattered Darwin, and Lea was a little girl. Then it takes us back to the wild times of early settlement, explores the backstory of the White Australia policy, paints a vivid picture of the bombing of Darwin during WWII - the only Australian city to experience direct attack from a foreign power - and leads us to Australia's militarised future. Lyrical and visceral, Tess Lea's ode to her hometown is suffused with the textures, colours and scents of this tough, fragile, magical, foolhardy and unique place. Here is a city that exists against all odds, a city with much to teach Australians about their past and, as the world warms, about what lies ahead.
Tess Lea was a Darwin schoolgirl, swimmer, artist, public servant, ministerial advisor, academic and inaugural director of the School for Social and Policy Research at Charles Darwin University. She remains a dog lover, anthropologist, mother and member of an extended Darwin family. Though she now works at the University of Sydney, as a born-and-bred Darwinite, she stills calls Darwin home.