Stores and stalls at the top

From authen­tic Abo­rig­i­nal art to fun mar­ket buys, Dar­win has the lot

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - LAR­INE STATHAM

Tiwi Art Net­work, Parap: Ex­ploita­tion has been an un­for­tu­nate re­al­ity for Abo­rig­i­nal artists for years. But there are plenty of eth­i­cal gal­leries in the North­ern Ter­ri­tory com­mit­ted to end­ing car­pet­bag­ging.

The not- for- profit Tiwi Art Net­work is a great place for the con­sumer with a con­science to start. There’s not a made-in-China sticker or a mass-pro­duced item in sight in its Parap gallery, only cer­ti­fied Abo­rig­i­nal works.

And you don’t need the knowhow or the bud­get of an ex­pe­ri­enced col­lec­tor to find the right one- of- a- kind can­vas to hang on your wall.

Gallery staff can point you to works by emerg­ing or in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed artists.

You can also buy di­rect from the creators with day tours of the net­work’s three com­mu­ni­ty­owned art cen­tres on Melville and Bathurst is­lands, dur­ing which you will learn about the jil­a­mara (cer­e­mo­nial body paint de­signs) that in­spire their unique style.

Those seek­ing some­thing brighter than the ochre-painted can­vases, wooden puku­mani (burial) poles and tun­gas (bark bas­kets) can buy vi­brant fab­rics, silk scarves and jew­ellery in the same dis­tinc­tive pat­terns.

More: ti­wiart.com. The Pearl Gal­le­ria, Dar­win CBD: Shop­ping for pearls can be just as dif­fi­cult as choos­ing the per­fect di­a­mond. In ad­di­tion to ex­am­in­ing the com­plex­ion, shape, size and lus­tre of a pearl, one must con­sider its true colour — as with wed­ding gowns, there are lit­er­ally hun­dreds of shades of white.

The staff at Pearl Gal­le­ria will find the per­fect hand­crafted bracelet, ring or neck­lace to suit your skin tone and style, what­ever your bud­get, and if they don’t have what you’re look­ing for, they’ll make it.

Jew­eller Gaynor Beck se­lects each Dar­win-har­vested South Sea pearl be­fore trans­form­ing it into a one-off piece, from a cute set of peacock-coloured pearl ear­rings to a clas­sic pink pen­dant.

The gal­le­ria also lends its jew­ellery and hair­pieces at a frac­tion of Parap Fine Foods, Parap: This Ter­ri­tory in­sti­tu­tion has been the go-to place for gourmet gro­ceries, rare wines and un­usual kitchen ac­ces­sories since 1968. You can eas­ily be­come lost for hours in this food and wine emporium, which sells ev­ery­thing from cook­books and stocks and sauces to de­signer kitchen­ware.

Jars of lo­cal bush honey or rosella jam make ideal gifts, and don’t for­get to check out the huge se­lec­tion of deli goods, breads and sweets. The Pan­tazis fam­ily, who own the gourmet repos­i­tory, will hap­pily pre­pare you a ham­per — sim­ply col­lect it and find a spot to tuck in while watch­ing the sun set over the Ti­mor Sea. Ac­com­pa­ny­ing tip­ples can be sourced from the wine room, which stocks award­win­ning and quirky la­bels such as Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch and Good Catholic Girl.

On the top shelf are the likes of ac­tor Dan Aykroyd’s Crys­tal Head Vodka, a rather spooky­look­ing of­fer­ing in a skull-shaped bot­tle con­tain­ing vodka said to have been pro­duced with Cana­dian glacier wa­ter fil­tered through di­a­monds.

More: parap fine­foods.com. the price for spe­cial oc­ca­sions such as wed­dings.

More: pearl gal­le­ria.com. Vin­tage Twist, Dar­win CBD: Down a quaint ar­cade off the Smith Street Mall, Vin­tage Twist stocks a gor­geous range of fem­i­nine fash­ions. Tired of see­ing oth­ers wear­ing the same dress at ev­ery dry-sea­son event in Dar­win, Gill Re­bec­chi opened the store two years ago with the aim of of­fer­ing her clien­tele a more eclec­tic range of cloth­ing.

Vin­tage Twist stocks one-of-akind retro and indie dresses and there’s al­ways some­thing new in store, from daz­zling ac­ces­sories and ta­pes­try hand­bags to one-off fas­ci­na­tors.

Much of the vin­tage ap­parel — in­clud­ing a stun­ning fuch­sia, strap­less ball gown made by Saks on Fifth Av­enue in 1950 — is sourced from the US. Pieces from pop­u­lar vin­tage-in­spired la­bels such as Stop Star­ing, Win­some De­signs and Jools Cou­ture also make reg­u­lar ap­pear­ances. More: Shop 5, Star Vil­lage, The Mall, Dar­win. Hu­mid­ity Gifts and Home­wares: Don’t let the name fool you — this trendy lit­tle shop is an air­con­di­tioned oa­sis. Owned by lo­cal mother-and-daugh­ter team Gill and Mel, Hu­mid­ity’s range of charm­ing gifts and gad­gets could ri­val the col­lec­tions at some of the best home­wares stores on Aus­tralia’s east coast.

From in­ex­pen­sive wall­hang­ings and an eclec­tic range of clocks to cute Gummi Bear night lights, it’s easy to fer­ret out a great gift or item for the home.

Wannabe chefs can choose from a range of cook­books or pick up a set of ninja-bread men cookie cut­ters.

Hu­mid­ity also has a huge se­lec­tion of ed­u­ca­tional toys and chil­dren’s cloth­ing; Jelly­Stone teething j ewellery and Ergo Co­coon, a sleep­ing pouch made from or­ganic ma­te­rial, make ideal baby- shower gifts. More: hu­mid­ity.com.au. Cro­cosaurus Cove, Dar­win: More than just a place for up-close croc en­coun­ters, at Cro­cosaurus Cove, which houses the world’s largest col­lec­tion of Aus­tralian rep­tiles, you’ll find an ar­ray of stylish croc­o­dile-skin clutches, hand­bags, wal­lets and belts, each piece as unique as the locally farmed rep­tile it came from.

Skins from Aus­tralian saltwater crocodiles are con­sid­ered more valu­able than other species be­cause of their small scale pat­tern and pli­a­bil­ity.

While a visit to any of the Terri- tory’s leather shops is likely to give your credit card a good work­out, the price tags are typ­i­cally com­men­su­rate to the work­man­ship.

Those want­ing to make a grand state­ment might find one of Cro­cosaurus’s hot pink or elec­tric orange clutch bags just the ticket; more de­mure types could set­tle for quirky ban­gles, coin purses and key- rings, or manly belt­buck­les and hat bands, com­plete with teeth. More: croc­cove.com. Sun­set Mar­kets, Mindil Beach: Buskers, snake han­dlers, siz­zling woks and tarot read­ers cre­ate an ex­otic at­mos­phere at this evening mar­ket. While not the cheap­est of its kind, there are still plenty of bar­gains to be found at Mindil Beach and the work­man­ship is of high qual­ity.

Open Thurs­day and Sun­day nights from April to Oc­to­ber, here is the per­fect place to buy that beau­ti­ful land­scape pho­to­graph at a rea­son­able price or pick up a sou­venir wal­let or purse crafted from the skin of a cane toad or par­rot fish.

More than 200 stalls sell­ing hand-made jew­ellery, bric-a-brac, Abo­rig­i­nal art, bush foods, cloth­ing and sou­venirs are based here. Be sure to check out Afroblonde, which sells one-of-a-kind bags, hats, belts and san­dals made from re­cy­cled truck can­vases and tyres.

Once you’ve ex­hausted the credit card (and your­self) do what the lo­cals do and un­fold a camp­ing chair on the sand and en­joy a mango and lime juice un­der the stars. More: mindil.com.au.

trav­elnt.com

in our Se­cret Shop­per se­ries: Canberra.

DANIEL HART­LEY-ALLEN

Mel Brautigam, co-owner of the trendy Hu­mid­ity Gifts and Home­wares; the store has an ex­ten­sive and charm­ing col­lec­tion of toys, jew­ellery and gad­gets

From left: There’s al­ways some­thing new at Vin­tage Twist; Cro­cosaurus Cove stocks a va­ri­ety of croc­o­dile-skin prod­ucts; Mindil Beach mar­kets at sun­set

PIC­TURES: ELISE DER­WIN (LEFT), TOURISM NT (RIGHT)

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