Located about 80 km north of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands hold an annual Grand Final and art day, when visitors can partake in the culture of the indigenous people as well as take in a football game of a reasonable standard. The event is held on Bathurst Island, the second-largest of the group.

Several galleries across the Tiwi Islands show their wares and give some insights into the production of the various carvings, paintings and textiles on sale. While the openings have the feeling of warehouse sales, they are definitely not places to find bargains. I suspect a dedicated collector would be better served doing their research and negotiating with artists separately.

With only 2,600 people, a huge proportion (35% according to Wikipedia) of the islands’ population play in the local Tiwi Islands Football League, a competition with a distinctive free-flowing playing style, spawning numerous AFL players. The rest of the population are fanatical supporters of their chosen team, little old ladies and young children screaming encouragement and abuse from behind (and sometimes on) the goal line, brandishing empty two litre Coke bottles and flags bearing team colours.

On this day the Imalu Tigers took on the Tapalinga Super Stars, with the Stars opening up a wide margin by the beginning of the final quarter, showing silky skills and more discipline than their opponents. At that point the Imalu players appeared to decide that if they weren’t going to win, at least they would put a few Super Stars in hospital, with some bone-crunching illegal tackles and shirtfronts setting off brawls seemingly every minute. While it was a disappointing end to the action on the field, the crowd was whipped to fever pitch, creating a manic atmosphere of fun for the spectators.

Advertisements