365 Places: Parap Markets

Day 50: Parap Markets, Northern Territory, Australia

Today and for the next few posts, I will be writing about a place I love dearly, Darwin. Our family moved to Darwin in 1977, as my Dad worked in the building industry and was employed to work in the rebuilding efforts after Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin on Christmas day 1974. Many of my school friends lived through this catastrophic event, which literally wiped Darwin out. I will write in detail about Cyclone Tracy later.

For today though, my focus will be the fabulous Parap Markets, which has been a Saturday morning tradition for many years. The markets started in 1982, with some humble offering of some Asian foods (fantastic Laksa), juices and some fresh fruit and vegetables from some of the market gardens. Of course the market was extremely popular with locals at the time, because good quality fresh food was hard to come by. Anyone who lived here in those days will speak of the horrible, old fruit and veg from the larger supermarkets, shipped from down south which cost a bomb. In contrast, the fruit and veg from the markets is locally grown, fresh and mostly organic.

Over the years, and with the expansion of tourism in the dry season, the markets has grown enormously, now with many jewellery and craft stalls, boutique sauces and condiments and lots more great spicy food to enjoy from Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

After grabbing delicious (and huge) icy fruit drinks we wandered around and checked out all the stalls. Along the way we met Photographer Louise Denton, who creates some beautiful images of the Top End. I couldn’t resist buying her book – mainly as I couldn’t choose a photograph for the wall at home.

Louise Denton @ Parap Markets, © Tracey Benson 2014

Louise Denton @ Parap Markets, © Tracey Benson 2014

It was great to spend some time wandering around the markets with some friends, enjoying the offerings and doing some people watching. It was also quite nostalgic for me as well, as going to the Parap Market was one of my favourite things to do on the weekend when I lived in Darwin. The Asian food, tropical fruit and seeing people wandering around with big sun hats remind me of how much I treasure Darwin and how it seems so different from any other Australian city, more like South-East Asia because of the climate and relaxed lifestyle.