Busking in Darwin Chapter 1
Its been a crazy ride for me over the year as you have seen with my best friend dying and me breaking my leg just as I hit number one with a few of my songs. Since then it’s been a whole lot more crazy with press (this week I did an interview with The New York Times), gigs and radio ect. So a little while ago Mikey and I decided the family had to get away to one of our favourite bush hiding places about 3 hours south of Darwin to help us rejuvenate and recover from some of the things us and the kids have been through. Now….how does this relate to busking.
Well…..Darwin is a great place to go to do a bit of street performance in the Australian winter as its warm and dry and has some amazing cultural history and natural environments. As we are heading towards that time of the year again it’s a good time for you to be planning to go to Darwin now. From a busking perspective Darwin also has heaps of tourists and tourism drawcards that create great potential for the everyday street performer. Of great interest to my wife in the Northern Territory is its many hot springs. Coincidently, these are what my broken leg desired to help it heal.
My tip for you today comes in response to the many buskers who have made a comment to me recently about some of my Aussie busking video tips. I have heard regular remarks such as “hey it’s so easy for you in Australia, nice climate, friendly people, quiet country towns etc, but over here in the real world we’ve got beggars, bobbies, pimps and muggers and people who hate us with a passion, busking ain’t that easy”. Well I know that’s a common occurrence, I’ve also experienced that all over the world. However I’ve chosen to raise my kids in a country that has a great standard of living so it’s been easy for me to live and perform in Australia most of my life. However, when I am overseas I now head for the areas in amongst the cities and towns that aren’t such a struggle. But this wasn’t always the case for me. I performed in some weird and way out places when I first began performing both on the street and on stage (Outer Mongolia, The Gobi Dessert, Siberia, Moscow and Eastern Europe at a time when Perestroika had only just begun its period of influence. Due to my experiences I now ask the questions “why make it hard for yourself”? and surely, if you are wanting to make a living from Busking, then why go to areas where people don’t appear to have that much money to give?.
It can be a huge mindset hurdle to lift yourself out of a difficult environment particularly if it’s where you were born or where you have made a home with your kids and family, However, if you can make the break and get out of your difficult environment then go for it. I did have to leave my home town and family to find my way when I was starting out and I now live away from my home city of Sydney because of lifestyle choice. And I have had to shift home and move across country with my kids to follow my rock n roll dream. It’s hard to make that decision to break free but once you do its fantastic to finally find yourself where you want to be.
Now where am I ….OH .most importantly Darwin….it has by chance some impressive busking spots and a great system that rewards the genuine and/or dedicated busker. Add to this the great weather in the middle seasons of the year which makes it ideal all day for street performance. You can busk early in the morning and late into the evening in total comfort. The early bird is rewarded through the local tourist information service where you can pick up one of only 3 busking licences that are available each day. Once 3 have been issued then that’s it for that day, so you have to be one of the first 3 to apply on any given day or you miss out on the licence. It costs you a paltry $2.50 for the licence, which is only valid for that day of issue, so you’d better make sure you get out of bed before all the other buskers. This sets you up to busk all day if you want in Smith St Mall in the heart of town, which is very small and hard to get lost in. You can also busk outside the tourist drawcard Crocosaurus after it closes at around 7pm. It’s a great main street locality with restaurants, pubs, shops and bars up and down this strip. It has a big enclave off the street with plenty of room for you to belt it out well out of the way of the passers by. I found that after 9pm was a good time here when everyone going past was a bit tipsy and had a full belly so the mood was Party time.
Another great locality in Darwin is the Mindle Markets. The markets run from the last week in April until the end of October. The market is open on Thursday from 5pm-10 pm and Sunday 4pm – 9pm and is a real mecca for the locals and the tourists alike with many interesting indigenous performers as well as other busking acts from all over the world. The markets are located within a 15-20min walk from the city, Shuttle buses pick up at a regular basis from major hotels, A taxi from the city will cost approx $10.00. Public buses connect the markets to the City and Northern Suburbs. Bus number 4 goes directly to Mindil Market. Call 08 89813454 to enquire about how you can get a busking spot. Stay tuned now folks as next blog will be Darwin part two and a wonderful story of some more great things that can happen when you take on life as a street performer.