Nicole Brown is a proud Larrakia woman. A single mum with an eight-year-old son, she works for Northern Land Council as a contract administrator for the Caring for Country program. Her passion is breaking down Indigenous barriers with her vast knowledge and skills through Indigenous Engagement Consulting. Nicole also volunteers her time to mentor young girls in Years 10, 11 and 12 through the Girls Academy, Juninga Centre and the Smith Family.
What do you love most about living in Darwin?
I love Darwin. I have lived here all my life and I would never live anywhere else in Australia. The people, the sounds, the different colours, the melting pot of different cultures, plus the opportunities and flexibility to go for what you want all contribute to what makes this place so unique. The amount of opportunities that are available to everyone here is incredible. Because we’re so small everyone seems to be involved in helping each other out. That’s what makes Darwin so special. Everyone knows everyone and we all want to work together to make Darwin a better place for all.
Family connections are also huge for me. I’ve got family on both sides here. My great grandmother was one of nine so my extended family is quite large and we make an effort to get together regularly. Going out for lunch is never a simple exercise of going out to buy a sandwich. There’s always someone who knows me and wants to stop for a chat.
What is the best thing about the Wet Season in Darwin?
I actually prefer the wet season over the dry. The lightning, the shades of the sky at sunset, the sound of the rain on your roof at night and the croaking of the frogs. You can go out fishing and visit waterfalls – secret swimming spots and hidden gems that have been passed down through generations of my family. Getting out and exploring Kakadu in the wet is something else. There’s also the smell of greenery and rain, and there’s water everywhere. And you can’t pass the sunsets up – the colours are like something out of a painting - and the beautiful lightning and thunder shows. Darwin is like nowhere else. Nothing beats it. If you’re lucky enough get out on a plane, or a helicopter and get them to take you out over some waterfalls. It’s just magical.
What is something you can only do during the wet season?
Personally, it’s quad bike riding. I’m a single mum with an eight year old and I get out there doing all the boy’s activities with him. We’ve got two quads and we literally pull up on a track in the middle of nowhere and go and explore it. It’s more fun getting out there after it’s rained and getting all muddy. Can’t do that in the dry. I actually cannot wait for the mud. There are lots of things that you can do in both seasons but during the wet I do love to get out and see the footy. It’s great to watch the mighty Darwin Buffaloes who I hope will make a resurgence this year!
What has been your best Darwin experience in the last few months?
We just had the Arafura Games here. As an Indigenous person I was in awe when I attended the opening ceremony and saw the rich display of so many different types of cultures. They had so many traditional owners performing smoking ceremonies at the start. We had music, we had dancing and so many different nationalities participated in the opening and closing ceremonies – it was such a chance for Darwin to shine. It was amazing to have so many people come to Darwin after not having it for a while. It just showed that people wanted to be involved. I went down to the beach volleyball at the Waterfront and saw some basketball out at Marrara. Just seeing everyone from Darwin come out, support it and be out amongst that vibe was awesome.
Recently, I also had the pleasure of organising activities for NAIDOC week in Darwin. The themes this year were voice, treaty, and truth. As an Indigenous woman I feel that the movement for unification amongst Indigenous people has been huge. It’s so important. Equally though my pitch to the public was that NAIDOC week is not just for Indigenous people to celebrate but for all. We wanted to put on events for the greater community to share in Indigenous culture. This year thousands of people from all different cultures marched alongside Aboriginal people. People wanted to come march with us, hear the stories, share the voices and just be Darwin.
What is the most important factor you want potential visitors to know about Darwin?
We are such a welcoming bunch of people; a real melting pot of different cultures, closely intertwined, with a unique history. We are out there, we’re happy, we’re smiling, and we want to share all of what Darwin has to offer. As a born and bred Darwinite, I am so proud of Darwin. I could talk about this city and its people all day, every day. That’s what Darwin is all about - beautiful colours, happy people and smiling faces welcoming newcomers to our beautiful home.
How do you benefit from sharing your experiences of Darwin?
I am so proud of my home town. All the things we are achieving and all the things that we have achieved are worthy of celebration. The history that we have here is so rich, multi-layered and multi-cultural and sharing this with others doesn’t just benefit me it benefits the entire community. I want people to come to Darwin and experience it through my eyes. There’s nothing quite like Mary’s laksa at the Parap markets on a Saturday, watching a game of footy, or heading down to Mindil Beach or East Point to watch a sunset. And of course, there’s my culture. It’s a privilege to share my beautiful Larrakia culture. It has been passed down from generation to generation through song, dance, music and art. This is something that is so special - the arts, the dreaming, the song lines and the stories. When we tell those stories we hope to give visitors goose bumps. We hope to immerse them in our traditions and what a great place to do it right here on our home soil.