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Boogie Down to Bustard Town

There’s something satisfying about saving something from ruin and breathing fresh life into it. We’ve seen water tanks become art galleries, horse floats become bars, so when the opportunity to turn an old Sidney Williams hut into the hottest new live music venue in Darwin popped up, a group of innovative Darwinites jumped at the chance.

By Tierney Seccull

Enter down a side street from Mitchell and Knuckey Streets, Melbourne style, and make your way through the frangipani gates to discover tropical treasure, Bustard Town. Justin Schmidt is one of the passionate shareholders, and says saving buildings from disrepair is his jam.

“It’s sort of a specialty of mine of taking inner urban dilapidation and turning it into venues. I’ve done it three times in Melbourne and twice in Darwin – it’s just what I love to do!”

The site is home to Bustard Town Bakery, which fronts Knuckey Street, open early on weekdays for your coffee and pastry fix. Backing onto Nuttall Place – the main entrance – is the outdoor alfresco area, home to a wood fire oven, an Argentinian style grill and small bar.

But tucked off to the side is the entrance to the Sidney Williams hut – the venue room – which Schmidt says is the main motivation behind the undertaking.

“I’m really passionate about live music, and medium-sized venues in the CBD are limited. We wanted to create one big enough to bring acts to Darwin that could house up to 300 people. We’ve got a great green room, which is really important, so when acts grace the stage they have a proper room in which to prepare.”

The Sheikhs officially christen the reimagined space this month, launching their album 21st Century Mammoth with support from local bands, Fuxache and Lungbuster. Formed in the 90s, the headline act features Darwin’s flamenco virtuoso, Francis Diatschenko, albeit in an incarnation you may not expect.

“We’re used to Francis and his amazing guitar playing, but this is almost driven from the drum kit. It’s a totally different vibe, more punky and rock’n’roll,” Schmidt says.

Other venues may be limited in what they can program, but Bustard Town aims to be adventurous. Supporting culture and creativity in all its forms, they’re up for anything – from yoga and exhibitions to discotheque and cabaret.

“We’re not bound by anything, we’re just keen to facilitate humans expressing themselves,” Schmidt says.

Bustard Town’s new 16-metre bar – with a river! – is sure to keep your thirst quenched. The space is fully air-conditioned for events during the build-up and Wet, the entire precinct offering a relaxed space to unwind, morning to night.

"You can come in at 7am and grab a coffee and saunter out at 2am after a few cocktails. Our cocktail list is sure to pave your way to bliss!”

Head along for a song, cocktail and feed, and get down at Bustard Town – magic awaits through the frangipani gates.

The Sheikhs
COST $35

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