Town Camp Christmas Party

It’s 35 degrees, the kids are on the waterslides and Palmerston Indigenous Village resident Vanessa Cooper is 39 weeks pregnant.

She is due any day now — and is hoping for a baby boy before Christmas.

“I hope it doesn’t go over, because I want him to hurry up,” she laughs.

“I want to hold my baby and give him a hug and a kiss, that’s my Christmas present.”

Vanessa is sitting by a patch of grass in the middle of the community covered with kids, camp dogs and blow-up waterslides brought in for a free Christmas party.

A little boy sitting on a mat on the grass shovels some roast chicken dinner into his mouth.

Her daughter Latifa is on the slides, and her friend Aida Goodman, 7, has spent the afternoon perfecting her bubble-blowing skills.

“We get to play jumping castles and we get to swim and listen to some music, and at night we get to have pizza,” she predicts.

Actually dinner ends up being Red Rooster, and someone remarks that it is unusual for the fast-food chain to deliver to the town camp.

Organiser Judy Brown from the Palmerston YMCA bustles around making sure everybody gets a good feed, pointing out that she insisted on vegetables instead of chips.

A little girl gets a sparkly Aboriginal flag painted on her face by a woman in a colourful fairy costume.

The party is one of the first events in a packed program of school holiday activities planned for Palmerston by a mixed bag of people and organisations, with funding from the Northern Territory Government.

The Skinnyfish music label supplied a DJ for the afternoon and were running a hip-hop and basketball night for older kids later in the evening.

Earlier, creative director Michael Hohnen told ABC Radio Darwin that Palmerston deserved to share in more of the energy and creativity being directed into livening up the Darwin CBD.

“Last year basically nothing happened in Palmerston, in terms of entertainment,” he said.

“There’s about 20 to 25 organisations all jumping in together [this year] to go ‘we actually need to change what’s happening in Palmerston’.”

The Palmerston and Regional Basketball Association is running a free sports night almost every night of the holidays, and the YMCA is putting on health and wellbeing sessions for 10-18 year olds.

Tracey McNee, the YMCA’s youth and community services manager, told ABC Radio Darwin the idea was to help Palmerston avoid “the ‘I’m bored’ scenario” over the long break.

“It’s about keeping young people engaged, doing something focussed and positive,” she said.

“Keeping them active and healthy and doing things so they don’t get up to mischief.”

Aida says her plan for the holidays is to play with her Christmas presents, and share them with her younger cousins.

For now she has more bubbles to blow, much to the camp dogs’ amusement.

A little girl makes bubbles with a rope on a lawn, and a small dog snaps at them behind her.