Author(s): Tess Lea
Razed to the ground four times in its short history, the city of Darwin, Australia, 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 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 World War II, and guides us to Australia’s militarized future, led by Darwin, sitting as it does under the largest aerial defense training space in the world. Lyrical and visceral, Tess Lea’s ode to her hometown is suffused with the textures, colors, scents and the many gritty realities that beset this tough, fragile, magical, foolhardy, and unique place.