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Darwin : Secret Life of Your City - Tess Lea


Secret Life of Your City

By: Tess Lea


Published: 1st May 2014
Ships: 5 to 9 business days
5 to 9 business days
RRP $29.99

Darwin is a survivor, you have to give it that. Razed to the ground four times in its short history, it has picked itself up out of the debris to not only rebuild but grow. Darwin has known catastrophes and resurrections; it has endured misconceived projects and birthed visionaries. To know Darwin, to know its soul, you have to listen to it, soak in it, taste it. To write about her home town, Tess Lea waded knee-deep in memories of the city, including those of her family and her own. The story begins in 1974, when Cyclone Tracy shattered Darwin, and Lea was a little girl. Then it takes us back to the wild times of early settlement, explores the backstory of the White Australia policy, paints a vivid picture of the bombing of Darwin during World War II - the first Australian city to experience direct attack from a foreign power - and guides us to Australia's militarised future, led by Darwin, sitting as it does under the largest aerial defence training space in the world. Lyrical and visceral, Tess Lea's ode to her hometown is suffused with the textures, colours, scents and the many gritty realities that beset this tough, fragile, magical, foolhardy and unique place.

About the Author

Tess Leawas a Darwin schoolgirl, swimmer, artist, public servant, ministerial advisor, academic and inaugural director of the School for Social and Policy Research at Charles Darwin University. She remains a dog lover, anthropologist, mother and member of an extended Darwin family. Though she now works at the University of Sydney, as a born-and-bred Darwinite, she stills calls Darwin home.



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(1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


Beautiful insights into an oft overlooked city


from Melbourne, AU

About Me Casual Reader


  • Easy To Read
  • Informative
  • Insightful
  • Interesting
  • Well Written


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    As an ex-Darwinite now living in the big smoke, it's often hard to adequately describe the spirit, beauty and frustrations of the place to Southerners. Darwin is a conundrum, a place where you never quite feel comfortable and yet can't bear to leave. A place that is both infuriating in its containment and isolation, yet connected to the rest of Australia and the world in complex and important ways. Lea's book goes to the heart of these contradictions, weaving together threads from history, including her own, science, economics and politics to paint a portrait of a place struggling with its imperfections. And yet these imperfections go to the heart and soul of Darwin, making it all the more beautiful and intoxicating. The final chapters are particularly gripping; Darwin as a military outpost and lilypad for more insidious global forces that are strikingly similar to the postcolonial foundations of the city. An essential read for anyone interested in Australia's northern-most city.

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    ISBN: 9781742233864
    ISBN-10: 1742233864
    Series: Cities Series
    Audience: General
    Format: Hardcover
    Language: English
    Number Of Pages: 288
    Published: 1st May 2014
    Publisher: UNSW Press
    Country of Publication: AU
    Dimensions (cm): 17.8 x 11.0  x 2.8
    Weight (kg): 0.23