This is a difficult letter to write.
Darwin, we’ve been friends – more than friends – for a long time now. Literally since I was born. You’ve been there for me, been a part of me, right from the beginning, and even when I left to study down south, I always knew I would come back. You can take the man out of Darwin, as they say, but you can’t take Darwin out of the man.
I love your laid-back culture, your warm dry seasons, your epic wet season storms. I love your crazy, small-town community life and your eccentric diet. I love your scenery.
But things have changed lately. It used to be that a hard-working local could get by here. Sure, the cost of living is out of control, the weather is obnoxious and the wildlife is literally trying to kill us, but once upon a time if you were willing to put up with that and work hard, Darwin was a place that looked after its own.
This is no longer the case.
I’ve been struggling for work now for over three years. Bit by bit, I’ve come to accept that my experience is uninteresting, my tertiary qualifications useless and my intelligence irrelevant. In just three years I’ve been squeezed of jobs in the public and private sector, based purely on a lack of funding. I’ve gone from an enjoyable full-time government position, to a part-time communications desk and finally to a 10 hr per week casual position. I’ve applied for jobs with the Territory Government, local government, the church, the private sector, the schools and… yep even the media. None of them could manage so much as temporary contract.
I’ve given a lot since I’ve come back. Between Darwin Theatre Company, the Australian Sepak Takraw Association, Top End Comedy, The Darwin Chorale, One Body, The Uniting Church, The Baptist Church, The Apostolic Church and Happy Yess you would think I’d built up a big enough network to see me through the tough times. Not so much.
I love you Darwin, but at some point you needed to start loving me back. And that’s without even starting on how you’ve treated my wife.
Enough is enough. We’re out of here. I’ve taken a job with the Church in Brisbane. Kim’s found herself another university job in Brisbane to go with it. By the end of September, the build-up will be nothing but an unpleasant memory. Maybe we’ll be back some day. Maybe not. For a city that has managed to kill off the enthusiasm of someone who was once her most ardent advocate, I wish you all the humidity, rental crises and governmental incompetence your heart desires.
Darwin really does look after its own. It just turns out I’m not one of them.
Make of that what you will.
Garry with 2 Rs