I am currently on an amazing 2 week adventure in Darwin on a family holiday. I have never been to Darwin before, and I am enjoying this mix we have of tourist activity and relaxing leisure time.
The fact that we can travel at all in these Covid times is not something we take for granted. Darwin is a tropical paradise that has a sleepy pace and beautiful coastal vistas. We are at the cusp of what is known as the ‘wet season’ where the humidity and thunderstorm activity is quite high.
So far this holiday we have enjoyed beautiful balmy nights where we have eaten dinner either on or very near the variety of beaches surrounding this city and watched the sun setting on the horizon. At no point have we been part of a relatively small number of sunset watchers. I have been amazed by just how many people have also joined us in this free activity. The most significant of these was on Mindil Beach.
The locals have worked out that watching the sunset is a huge draw card in this city and have set up a local market that is held twice a week in the dry season at one of the larger destinations, and so every Thursday and Sunday evenings you can attend the phenomenon known as the Mindil Beach Sunset Market.
The market is made up of an amazing variety of food stalls (about 70%) while the remaining stalls offer souvenirs and crafts. There is also a large amount of local produce and delicacies on offer and a huge mix of locals, tourists, backpackers and migrant workers taking the opportunity to indulge in the offerings.
The night we were there we arrived early enough to check out the variety of stall options and made our choices for dinner. We took our food to the beachfront and found a spot, sitting on the sand, to devour our dinner and watch the golden orb reach the end of it’s heavenly arc and paint the sky in beautiful hues.
When we first found our sandy spot there were maybe 50 groups of people doing exactly the same thing. Over the next 30 minutes the numbers swell significantly with a correlating escalation in the general noise of conversation and consumption.
As I sat there observing this phenomenon I wondered at what point the sun could be declared ‘set’. Was it when the sun touched the horizon or when it finally disappeared from view? I also wondered with all the different groups of people enjoying each other’s company in these beautiful surroundings were they even noticing what the sun was actually doing?
As the sky grew darker with the lowering of the daytime light source I noticed more and more that the cacophony of human voice also lowered. Phones and cameras were trained to the western sky and when the sun completely disappeared from view my earlier questions were answered in a surprising way. People started to applaud.
Apparently its a ‘thing’. In offer of appreciation for the sun completing it’s trek across the sky and signalling the end of another day the only proper thing to do is clap as you would at the conclusion of any other performance. Not knowing this, but sitting there observing this amazingly beautiful display before me, it felt the most fitting thing to do.
For me, however, my applause was for the Creator God who made this thing happen. Psalm 19 tells me, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” and on this night they certainly did. It was a truly helpful reminder to take the time to observe the natural beauty provided for us to enjoy and honour the one who gave it to us.