Doing research in Darwin

I am always the first to put up my hand to fly into the Northern Territory to immerse with the locals. What amazing people and an incredible place!

The people are gems with many a rough diamond still to be found amongst them. Like many tropical townships (well, it feels like a town even thought it is a city), there is a small sub-set of established wealthy business owners and professionals. They are largely employed in agri-business, mining, transport, tourism and public service. I have observed that there is an emerging group of more polished sparklers – the younger aspirational set. I have vivid memories of a young male professional attending a group discussion resplendent in business shirt, tie and cufflinks. It was close to 40 degrees that day. His message was clear – “I am on the up”.

Darwin appears to have its fair share of S.K.I. (Spend the Kids Inheritance) travelers passing through. However, it is young. In 2009, the 25 to 29 year age group accounted for the largest proportion of the population of any age group, both for males and females (4.7% and 4.4% respectively). Some of these young people are neo-hippies (alternative lifestylers) and a burgeoning backpacking market who land in Darwin fresh from their Indonesian travels. Yet, many are Indigenous Territorians. I personally, find the people interesting and refreshing. What an assortment!

From a research point of view, the multi-cultural population mix demands cultural awareness and sensitivity. Understanding the context is also important when researching in Darwin. As people are so connected to the land and waters beyond the outskirts, some experience of life in the outback and along the coastline and inland waterways assists with a greater understanding of context.

If you would like to get a flavour of what some the people from Darwin are like, check out the Q&A episode held in Darwin a few weeks ago …