We stepped off the plane on Boxing Day into what felt like a sauna, turned up to the max. In an instant our clothes were soaking wet, our mouths dry. The short walk to our waiting car took our breath away. ‘The Wet’s late this year,’ said my lovely daughter, a Darwinite for the last twenty years, ‘so it’s still the Buildup. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.’ I silently prayed that our housesit had aircon in every room, and started disrobing in the car.
Thankfully our Rapid Creek house does have aircon, at least in the bedroom. Otherwise it would be impossible to sleep. There are ceiling fans going all day, a wide balcony also equipped with fans, and best of all, a pool, into which I plunge (once fully dressed) whenever I reach boiling point.
Out of pity for my partner we sought refuge in the coldest place in Darwin: the cinema. We’ve seen more movies in three weeks than we’d see in Sydney in three months. Standouts have been ‘Three Billboards’, ‘the Post’ and ‘The Greatest Showman .’ Even sitting through the latest ‘ Starwars’ (I’m not a fan), with my grandsons, was blissful compared to sweating outside in the Buildup.
It’s said there are more homicides and suicides between December and April, when the heat and humidity reach their peak in the Top End, than at any other time. Perfectly understandable when one considers that for some, enduring the Buildup is like having ‘water on the brain’, i.e. being temporarily insane. It’s not called ‘Gone Troppo’ for nothing.
But relief is on the way. We’ve had several spells of heavy rain, during which locals walk around blissfully barefoot, umbrella-less, faces upturned to the longed for Wet, like it’s manna from heaven. The frogs start their deafening nightly cacophony in the fecund wet earth right outside the bedroom windows. But we’re not complaining, rather rejoicing with all of Darwin at this harbinger of the Wet. Monsoons, have a heart! We’re waiting for you.