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The Top End with Jess Mauboy

After her Eurovision debut, we chat to Darwin-born Jess Mauboy about growing up in the Northern Territory and what it means to be Australian.


Jessica Mauboy’s list of accomplishments is getting almost too long to count. From her Best Supporting Actress AACTA award to touring with Beyoncé and performing for Barack Obama, it’s easy to forget that Mauboy was, as she puts it, a “bush kid” from Darwin.

Jess has never forgotten her roots, despite touring the world time over and it’s her reverence for Australia that inspired her Eurovision entry and new single, We Got Love.

We talk to Jess about Eurovision and her love of the Northern Territory – the thunderstorms, the red dirt, the tropical air and the rich cultural tapestry that is home.

Jess Mauboy on Instagram

Q&A with Jess Mauboy

Why is Darwin so special to you?

"I was born and bred in Darwin and took so much of its beauty for granted until I travelled. Darwin may be one of the world’s most remote cities but it is so worth the journey. I can honestly say it is unique in the world – it is uniquely Australian but has Asian influences and the feel of an ancient past. Darwin is also surrounded by some of the most breath-taking scenery you will ever see."

Tell us some of your favourite memories in Darwin

"My favourite memory is my first trip to the Katherine Gorge as a little bush kid. You will be stopped in your tracks by its beauty. I used to go fishing with my dad for wild barramundi and dad would cook them on coals – yum! I also loved learning about Darwin’s amazing history. It is the only Australian city to be attacked during World War II and then decimated by a huge cyclone in 1974, but it came back stronger and richer. Darwin may feel like the end of the world as it’s so remote, but you fall under its tropical spell and for those that like knowledge, Darwin is steeped in history and has amazing indigenous artworks and artists."

Describe what life is like there for locals

"Life in Darwin is heaven. It’s a mix of cultures – deep traditional culture, modern Aussie and a splash of Southeast Asia. The food is amazing. It’s fresh, tropical and exotic. It’s also a very friendly outdoor community."

How can visitors experience the best of Darwin?

"I recommend you do one thing when you come to my home. You must visit Kakadu National Park, which is a huge nature reserve with wetlands, rivers, waterfalls and over 2000 indigenous plant species. You can see saltwater crocodiles, flatback turtles and rock paintings dating back to the earliest people here. You will find your soul here."

How do you know when you are back home in Darwin?

"When I can kick off my shoes and go running on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches, Mindil Beach. Running along the beach, which is always quiet, and seeing the sun set is my way of knowing I am home."

When you are on the road, what do you miss most about Australia and Darwin?

"When I travel I miss Australia’s weather – the glorious blue skies, the hot beach days, the tropic rain. I miss the smells and sounds of this big land. I also miss the laidback casual friendliness. Whenever I board my Qantas plane home, that Aussie accent always says 'welcome home.'"

When is the best time of year to visit Darwin?

"Darwin has two, not four, seasons. The dry season is the best time for travel to Darwin. Dry season lasts from April/May until September/October and brings beautiful weather in Darwin. It’s perfect with very clear blue skies, balmy clear nights and warm to hot days. As a local though, I love the wet season. Every day at 4pm the heavens open with powerful rain. It cleanses all and explains the lush fruit we grow. I can remember hand picking mangoes as a little girl."

What does it mean to you to be a Friend of Australia and help promote Australia as a travel destination to the rest of the world?

"You can only promote what you really believe in. As an artist, I have had the privilege to travel across all over world and it’s made me realise that Australia is a very unique country (and continent) with so much to offer. It’s full of amazing diverse geography, it is rich in culture, has brilliant weather and a fun relaxed pace. It’s a brilliant mix of outdoor lifestyle and then very sophisticated inner city lifestyles."  

What are some of your passion points about Australia that you would like to share with the rest of the world?

"Australia has some of the greatest scenery and natural experiences, I love how friendly the people are, and it’s an easy, user-friendly country. It has so much diversity so you can customise your holiday to suit your lifestyle from the sophistication of Melbourne to the glamour of Sydney to the jaw-dropping beauty of the West Australian coastline."

How does it feel to have represented Australia in Eurovision 2018?

"I feel proud and very humbled."

Your single is called ‘We Got Love’. Which places and experiences in Australia give you that feeling?  

"A country’s very best resource is its people. Australians are a fair, open-minded, relaxed and fun bunch. You will never be bored or alone when you have Aussies present. ‘We Got Love’ is about the spirit in a sense of what it is to be Aussie – to put love and lifestyle as first priorities."

What do you hope you've achieved as a result of your performance?

"Eurovision is important because it does bring countries and cultures together. As much as we think we are all different we are united by things that transcend borders like music, like love. I hope I've lived up to the amazing Aussie representatives that went before me - Guy (Sebastian), Dami (Im), Isaiah (Firebrace). I want to do my country proud!"

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