Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 closing

Watching Elton John singing in Las Vegas on the TV.
It's the end of the 2007. I've got another whole week off work the weather has cooled and monsoonal showers have begun... Darwin is beautiful at this time of year.

It's been a busy year, new bicycle new camera, all new federal Government and to cap it off we now have a new addition to our family!

I've taken a break from blogging for a while as I can't afford too many distractions from my domestic and work commitments but I'll stick in a few photos just so the folks at Blogger don't close my account...


quilt
(A very special quilt, complete with magical incantation)

Red-tailed Black cockatoo
(Red-tailed Black Cockatoos visiting a favorite tree after rain)

Pair of Red-tailed Black Cockatoos
(Pair of Red-tailed black cockatoos)

Friday, December 21, 2007

MERRY CHRISTMAS

Yes it's Christmas.


No I haven't posted for ages......

Yes we are now a family of four.

No I don't have time for the blogosphere right now because I'm changing nappies!

MERRY CHRISTMAS
HAPPY NEW YEAR

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Today is ELECTION DAY

Not much to say on the subject really...
Here's a Youtube video of a Choir in Melbourne called Flash Mob with their revolutionary recital of a song they call:


Vote the Bastards Out!



Vote the Bastards Out ~ by Flash Mob

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Impact Man 365 days!

The experiment called 'No Impact Man' is now officially over.
One year ago an guy in New York City by the name of Colin beavan set out to try and live for a whole year making a minimal impact on the environment and to reduce his families carbon emissions by as much as they possibly could.

For the duration of one year they vowed to refrain from some of the simplest modern conveniences in order to see if they could reduce their impact on the planet and therefore possible for ordinary people to prevent the catastrophe that awaits us if we continue to consume resources and pollute the planet as we have been.

Colin and his family found that although there were some inconveniences, their lives actually improved in many ways due to the opportunities they discovered as a result of the experiment. Because thy had no TV, they actually engaged in more family and social time. By using bicycles, and a three wheeled man powered family vehicle (Pedicab) they were able to interact more with their community and the environment. By eating local, fresh foods their diets became more wholesome.... The list of benefits goes on. By sacrificing some conveniences they appear to have gained a real sense of belonging and connectedness to the place where they live and the people around them.

Congratulations Colin and your family. I hope you are able to find a reasonable balance now that the experiment is over. I am particularly impressed with your partner for supporting this experiment! Personal choice is one thing but when you cohabit with others it is not easy to achieve all these lifestyle changes if the other/s don't share your view. At home we (my wife) recently installed air conditioning. We live in the sub-tropics and it gets pretty hot but having done so I feel like we're only going to be making things hotter in the long run! Now I'm looking for ways to reduce our consumption in order to off-set the air-con!

You have given us a fantastic example of what can be done if we really commit to change. Good on you all.


Here is a link to his summary of the experiment ~ Time to live in the gray

Monday, November 19, 2007

International day of action

Saturday 17th November was declared International day of action on the Federal Intervention into Indigenous communities.
At Raintree Park on Saturday a rather small group of citizens gathered to hear testimony of how the intervention is already affecting Indigenous Australians and interfering with their day to day living. The speakers were some of the best I've heard and the message was quite clear and personal to the speakers themselves. Speculation about the possible impacts of this intervention is no longer an academic pursuit. People are having to deal with the real problems of having their welfare payments quarantined and having to report exactly where they will spend their money! (Oh when I say people I mean Aboriginal people. Apparently Non-indigenous recipients of welfare will not be affected!) The double standards are amazing! While Indigenous people are being virtually banned from drinking alcohol or possessing adult movies with an X rating a glance at the front page of our Sunday Territorian would suggest that Beer is better for your health than water! (So long as your not a Blackfella!)

"Beam me up Scottie," this place is LOCO! If all these mixed messages are sending me off the beam I wonder how Indigenous people living in the NT are feeling. Their lives are constantly affected by arbitrary discrimination!

I'm out of blogging time now but thought I'd add a link to further commentary on this subject. See link below.

http://castironbalcony.media2.org/?p=443

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tropical heat and Coward's song

After recovering from our insane ride on Saturday a familiar tune came to mind and I just had to look it up on Youtube!


So here it is. Posted for your entertainment and to our dismay!

~ Mad dogs and Englishmen by Noel Coward ~



(Maybe we're just a bunch of mad cyclists?)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Walk against warming 2007

There are two weeks until the Australian Federal election. On Sunday 1,000's of citizen voters united around the country to send a clear message to our potential leaders.
Not all voters will be satisfied with gifts of lap top computers or tax rebates. People are demanding leadership and direct action on the urgent issue of climate change!








video

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mandorah ride in a nutshell

On Saturday 10th November in temperatures exceeding 36 degrees Celsius our group of 5 determined cyclists succeeded in an ambitious plan to cycle around Darwin Harbor.
We were hoping for cloud cover and more showers as were prevalent earlier in the week but a clear sky and lack of shade provided far from favorable conditions.

The early morning start made our first leg quite comfortable and we arrived at Berry Springs in pretty good shape. A lovely swim at Berry Springs reserve had the group in high spirits and ready to complete our journey on the Cox Peninsular Rd.

Unfortunately when we returned to the road heat and fatigue begun to take their toll. The temperature began to soar and our gear became hot to the touch. My panniers were close to melting! Thirsty and tired we tried to keep a reasonable pace.

We peddled on regardless of our discomfort but the pace slowed and many rest stops were required. We clocked up far more road hours than we ever intended but eventually reached our destination! Mandorah Hotel! Exhausted but relieved our celebration was subdued to a grateful swilling of multiple jugs of iced water and heads bowed in exhaustion!

I hope all the participants are rested and re-hydrated by now. Risk of dehydration was a real problem on the ride and we found ourselves needing more water than we/I'd prepared for.

Congratulations to you all! Completing this trip was an exceptional and heroic feet of endurance!

Congratulation:


Patricia

Patricia ~ You stuck with what must have felt like an impossible journey!
You managed to persist regardless of your physical exhaustion and the
unfortunate encounter with some rather unpleasant wildlife. You could have
quit but you persisted despite the pain

Chris
Chris on a road bike slightly smaller than required

Chris ~
What can I say. Chris you are a mad man! Taking that mountain bike
on such a long journey with a bunch of road bikes. Well done mate! I doubt
I could have managed to push that thing so far! And you said you'd do it
again!

Sue ~ On an oversized bike that you'd never ridden before was quite a feat!
But as I later found out you did it all in one gear! you are amazing! You
are the toughest grittiest rider I have met! Then to top it off after more
than 12 hours on the road Martin tells me you had a blow-out on the way
home from Cullen Bay! You could have got a lift home but you were
determined to make it under your own steam and pushed your bike the
remainder of the way! You are a bicycling legend!

Martin ~ Well done! This ride took it's toll on us all. Your energy is
astounding! Volunteering to ride the mountain bike probably allowed Chris
just enough energy to get over the line. Thanks for keeping the pace and
sticking with us all the way.

Mandorah Ferry
Grateful view of Mandorah from the Seacat voyage home!

Me somewhere hot!
Thanks to you all for coming!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A ride around Darwin Harbor

Finally it's time to get out on the road for a big ride. The Darwin Harbor Cruise!

This Saturday a small group of local cyclists, well actually me and a couple of others will ride from the Northern Suburbs of Darwin around Darwin Harbor, hopefully all the way to Mandorah. Then, if all goes well we'll chuck the bikes on the ferry and enjoy a ride back across the harbor to Cullen Bay and the final leg home.




View Larger Map
This rough map shows our planned rout.

Below is a link to the Google Map pedometer showing the distance of this trip
http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=1439378

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tracking 'The Intervention'

The Federal Government's intervention into Aboriginal communities is well under way now and people have begun to experience life under the new conditions in their communities.
Last night on the ABC program 4 Corners aired a special report by journalist Matthew Carney which looked into what effects these changes have brought about. What progress has 'The Intervention' made towards improving conditions and ensuring protection for children against abuse in their communities?

The ABC 4 Corners website has a full web page devoted to the program including podcasts, supporting documents and previous stories related to this topic.
See the link below to download and watch any of these programs.

**Tracking the Intervention**
(Mathew Carney ABC 4 Corners 5.11.07)


The report was very well put together and addressed many of the issues that have come about as a result of The Intervention. After showing various communities and seeing how aspects of The Intervention had affected them, the reporter raised an important question. Which was essentially this: In such a large country with a broad spectrum of established communities each with their own issues, how will a one size fits all approach be able to address the needs of all?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Viva la velorution (No need to excuse the French)

Did you know that in France they have begun a huge revolution in public transportation that will see 1,000's of bicycles on the streets and available for hire from just about any point in the city?
It's an amazing story. Living in Australia I sometimes wonder if the whole world is as ignorant and apathetic of environmental issues as we have become.
I am so glad to learn that No they are not. All around the world people and governments are taking action to remedy the harm we have done to our planet. Just because in my own country we are more concerned with interest rates and the value of our stock than in what we can do to improve the future for our children or prevent further degradation of our natural systems, doesn't mean the whole planet is dominated by greed and selfishness. (Is this a harsh exaggeration? Naaa!)

So anyway check the article:

Viva la velorution

(It's a bicycle revolution!)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Pedal power.... The natural way to move forward

My folks down in Melbourne just put me on to a great story about a guy down there who has devoted himself and his yard to the promoting cycling in his community.
Exactly what I'd be doing if I had a yard... the slightest amount of mechanical knowhow... a lot more spare time... and so on...

The guy's name is Bill Bretherton. Check the story in the Age:
http://www.theage.com.au/news/

Good on you Bill!


"Hybrid cars still hurt"
(Bill is the guy under the car)


This is bigger than one man!
Check the web site: HUMAN POWERED~Cycles


This is a brilliant idea! Actually it is something that is constantly on my mind! It's so Great to see someone contributing in this way. I have come across the same problems with giving/loaning bikes to people. They rarely appreciate or take care of something that given them for free. As mentioned in the article this approach only seems to turn bicycles into a devalued commodity (Not the desired effect). But sharing knowledge and providing help to those who are prepared to make an effort must be a more effective way of reaching out to ones community. This approach could actually help to create a situation where cooperative social networks are forged, materials renewed, resources appreciated and active, conscious, communities are grown!
All I can say now is That's so COOL!! GOOD ON YOU!

The beginnings of an artist

drawing on walls
A certain budding artist draws on the wall while wearing her Dad's sunglasses.


(No she is not smoking!)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Portrait of an Australian Photographer!

On Sunday night, after watching The Abby, unable to sleep, I stayed tuned to the ABC for a great documentary film called 'Girl in a mirror: a portrait of Carol Jerrems' (Kathy Drayton, 2005, Australia)


(Image removed)



Vale street by Carol Jerrems (1949-1980)
(Image courtesy of National Gallery of Australian)

Once again I found myself awakened to a new understanding of my world. I had been totally ignorant of this Iconic artist until I happened across a copy of Art and Australia Magazine at the library a year or so ago! I know I'd seen several of Jerrem's images before but had never known anything about them or where the photographer was from.

After watching Girl in a mirror I realized why the images seemed slightly familiar to me. The subjects were from West Heidelberg not far from where I grew up in the 70s and 80s! The young guys in the documentary seemed so familiar to me. Memories came flooding back of a less refined, less sympathetic and slightly rougher lifestyle that greeted me as a young person at the very end of the 1970s. Transition from primary school to Tech was an abrupt upheaval into a world of toughness and occasional violence. Welcome to the real world! Some kids didn't get through that stuff in one piece, some were spat out in pieces! Somehow I survived relatively unscathed... Dumb luck I reckon!

Now after about 20 years it's fascinating to look back on that time, but not to stare. Although I was only a small kid when Carol Jerrems was photographing the gritty core of Urban Australian life the characters are very familiar to me! Somehow she manages to combine tenderness, vulnerability and strength with a very strong undercurrent of harshness!
Vale street is a totally mesmerizing and personal image!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The most terrifying video

In 'The most terrifying video' the presenter is trying to put the whole question of what can be done about global warming into a realistic and sane context. What amazes me (if you read the many thousands of comments on Youtube) is that people are so resilient to the simple proposition that they refuse to consider the question honestly.

As the Federal election looms closer and our politicians are constantly trying to score points against each other on every other front. Which of them has what it takes to commit to a strong environmental policy? It seems this game of denial will go on until the opportunity to make a difference has passed! I often wonder how the real question can be so easily avoided by diversionary tactics about technicalities or degrees of probability and responsibility and minor points in fact etc...
If you're unsure of what I'm talking about give some thought to what the guy is saying in his videos.
It's a simple matter to consider really.

Are you prepared to consider the real question? It is not a hypothetical... it is our future!


Terrifying video 1


How it all ends
(This is the video he had to make in order to counter arguments made against his original statement. The fact that people would argue against his proposition illustrates just how difficult it is to initiate any real response to the environmental problems we face)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rapid Creek Revival

Rapid Creek Revival

So much fun! Heaps of people turned up to the Rapid Creek shops on Saturday to enjoy a full day of entertainment and community involvement. I imagine that this event was called a revival because about two or three years ago the center was in a state of decline. There was a fair bit of vandalism around the area, very few people came to shop here because there is a much bigger shopping mall not far down the road. Sometime along the way the place was re-painted and started to be re-populated with community organizations and service bodies. Now it seems the whole center is being used again. The New Environment Hub is located in the shopping center and brings together various lobby groups, there is 'Greenies' the organic food store, Napcan, Down's Syndrome association, Mat Bonson MP's office, Asian food stores, Art space and framing shop, and heaps of other community based services that I can't remember now.
At the Revival there was heaps of stuff for kids to do and most of it free. Kids were running around all over the place, painting, drawing playing games and generally having a ball! The breezeway was full of stalls and people were deeply engaged in the community building event. For me this was the first opportunity I've had to check out some of the organizations whose stores are always closed by the time I knock off work. The day was a huge success thanks to a very determined and civic minded organizer and of course all the people who came together to create a very special atmosphere.


At 4:30 I peddled off to the Casuarina coastal reserve Landcare anniversary! We all met down on the Cnr of Tiwi Gardens Rd and Rocklands. Met some very nice people and saw how effective their land management and rehabilitation program has been. These landcare groups are essential to our open spaces being maintained and kept free of weeds! The local park ranger payed tribute to their work and confessed that Parks and Wildlife would struggle to manage these spaces without their help. We wandered down to a rehab area at the Freebeach which was growing very successfully. Too bad I had to leave before the BBQ... Thanks Guys!


Protest at Mindil


where da love?
The question of the Millennium

After racing home I stripped out of my sweat drenched shirt (It's getting pretty humid these days), chucked on my black T-shirt and we all headed to Mindil beach to protest against the Federal Government's obviously racist intervention into Indigenous communities.

It may seem a bit naive and presumptuous that a bunch of mostly non-indigenous city folk should be protesting against actions that are supposed to improve the lives of aboriginal people in communities most of us have never been to. How could we possibly understand what these people need? How dare we stand against an intervention that could protect the lives and welfare of innocent children from the most deplorable treatment? Well these may be valid arguments. But as far as I can see the Governments attitude toward aboriginal people has been heavy handed and insensitive.
As an Australian citizen I am particularly concerned when I see legislation created that, with the stroke of a pen, negates rights that took so long to establish. After such a long time of neglect and dysfunction I am suspicious of this military style invasion into indigenous communities. As if they will be able to drive the problem out by force. Considering the violent history between Indigenous and Balanda people in this country I can only imagine this will further feelings of alienation and lack of respect for Indigenous peoples rights. The distinct lack of community consultation only proves the governments lack of good will towards the people they are supposed to be helping.
What has astounded me even more than the Federal Government's dubious approach to save the children, was the response within the NT! Here is where I have truly noticed racist remarks and attitudes amongst our so called leaders! Immediately after the federal Government attempted to reduce the flow of alcohol into indigenous communities the minister responsible for alcohol in the NT Mr Chris Burns took up the cause of demanding exemptions for non indigenous people entering aboriginal land! Rather than recognizing and addressing the issue of excessive alcohol consumption he chose to demand what could only be described as racially discriminatory amendments to the legislation! Surely non-indigenous Territorians and visitors are capable of refraining from drinking while they are visiting these areas! Instead of supporting indigenous communities and creating laws that apply to all people on Aboriginal land our leaders demainded exemptions that would divide Territorians along racial lines! The only premise being that the non indigenous people should not be inconvenienced in any way for the sake of indigenous communities! To add insult to injury a group of prominent CLP members even took a cruise out to the Tiwi Islands where they anchored somewhere off the coast and had a little party which included the consumption of alcohol in very close proximity to a prohibited area! Why would they do this? If this was not a deliberate act of malice against the indigenous people of the area then it was a perfect example of the complete contempt and insensitivity these people have FOR their fellow citizens!

So! I must ask the question, and with the greatest sincerity and urgency! WHERE IS THE LOVE?

When we arrived a pretty large group had already assembled and ready to take the march to the shores of Mindil beach, traditional meeting and business place of Larakia People and their neighbors. A fitting site to make a stand against an out of touch government's racist policies!

Protesters gather at the market
The crowd gathers

A banner at the beach
Can we say we've really tried to help if so many recommendations are ignored?

Friday, October 19, 2007

Socialized and happy

Lately I've pulled out all the stops and have made a conscious decision to try and expose myself to all the cool stuff going on around Darwin through the buildup and the wet.

On the weekend the family spent Sunday arvo down at the Botanic gardens for a peace/non violence day in the park! There weren't many there but we had a great time! Music, Art and a great atmosphere. What a great way to spend the afternoon!

drummers
Local Drumming group ~ They got the beat


On Monday morning a friend and I ventured down to a water hole in the Mary River area to look for Gouldian Finches. We saw a couple but the photos are quite mottled also saw an array of other birds and counted five finch species! Cool! Oh and a few wallabies and a frog!
The Agile Wallabies where all around... they were quite social, most likely just thirsty.

wallaby
Agile Wallaby (Macropus agilis)

On Wednesday we had our National Ride to Work Breakfast, about 30 people turned up at CDU and I think the total for all of Darwin was about 200! Great effort. Here's to the next one.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Sleep...sleep baby

Sleep? Sleep.... Sleeeeeep... One day I'll get some sleep!
Heavy bags under my eyes and manic restless thoughts flying this way and that across my easily confused and restless mind. SLEEEEP

Well I hope to get some; some time I will! The problem is... I don't want to miss a thing! But without sleep I'm kind of drifting through it all. Like a ghost, or a caffeinated zombie.

So what's been happening? There has been some encouraging developments with The Patch. There could be a future in that place yet! The weeds grow inches in days and fill every scrap of space from the ground to the sky. Heaps of work to do there.

I bought a new CD for the first time in possibly years! Yay! A group from Melbourne called Tinpan Orange, I happened to be at the Parap market last week and was blown away by their style. You can hear samples of the music if you check out their Myspace site.

Discovered some murdered magpie geese on the roadside, wondered why? Maybe there's no good reason.

Met up with Trev who I've infected with my obsession with becak/rickshaw/pedicab action. He spent some of his time looking up suppliers to help me get one and even discussed making them with some welders! Thanks Trev!
So I'm walking along the roadside with Trev, his hands bleeding, cut by the glass he'd picked up from the verge, no shoes on his feet and he tells me about the dinner he had with the Chief Minister the other night. Apparently he was one of a few Territorians wh0 had earned a special Pride of Australia medal for their service to the community! Ha! He really deserves it too!
I wondered if any of the people behind those glaring disapproving faces at Hibiscus shops had ever done a single thing for their community? I noticed a distinct hostility projecting from people when Trev and I passed by. Maybe it was because of how he was dressed or maybe it was me they didn't like.

So today is ride to work day! And I've really gotta go! I'm helping to set it up and I'm running late! Too many things so little time and not enough sleep! When can I sleep? There's so much to do, my time is finite my eyes are stinging waiting for the lids to close!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Circus kids

One of the most popular events at this years Darwin festival was the Circus tent down in the Gardens precinct. We didn't manage to get there this year but heard plenty about it!
Apparently the Corrugated Iron Youth theatre include circus training in their wide array of skills and this has been a great hit with the kids.

Every couple of weeks we have a picnic down at a local park by the sea with a loosely formed group of friends. It's a great way to relax! There are often heaps of kids and they have a great time playing, climbing, kicking a ball, or searching the rock pools etc... all the usual stuff that kids like to do. At our last picnic One enterprising young man turned up on a unicycle! It was so cool! The kid was very young and already capable of riding the thing around like it was a two wheeled bike!
What a cool thing to do! I saw a window of opportunity open for my own child who is prone to climbing to great heights then launching herself at me without warning! I have often threatened to send her off to the circus, but now it is a distinct possibility!

Kid on a uni-cycle

Friday, October 05, 2007

Who walked today?

Did anyone else walk to work today?
I didn't see any of you. On my more than 2 km walk to work today I didn't notice one other person waling to work. Why do I ask? Well it was National Walk to work day today. I am sure others did, but on a two km walk which brought me past one of the largest employment hubs of Darwin I expected to see at least a few walkers. My neighbor walks every day but must have gone earlier.

I'm glad I walked! It was such a pleasant experience all but walking past Casuarina Shopping centre where I discovered that drivers don't only try to knock over cyclists! Pedestrians are on the menu as well!
It's been more than a year since I last walked to work and actually I can't even remember the last time I walked that distance. How slack!
Thanks to whoever came up with the idea. I thoroughly enjoyed my walk. Hopefully it won't be so long until the next time.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Patch

Have you ever wondered what life would be like if your community had some shared space where you could all come together to learn new skills or share your experience and skills, maybe grow a few vegetables or engage in some kind of urban agricultural activities? I often imagine a more productive and engaged community where people are able to maintain a connection to the earth and the production of their own food.
I wonder if shopping mall convenience and an abundance of goods has produced a happier more fulfilled society, or if we have just become more demanding consumers. I often wonder if we have lost our connection to the life force that sustains us. Human beings are organic and spiritual beings; we need more than the material abundance that our inflated economy has provided us. I know I do anyway. Of course there are ways to fulfill this inner need for a connection with the place we live in, other living things and our own spirituality, but wouldn't it be great if that connection was intrinsically linked to our daily life rather than a diversion from it?

paving
An inviting entrance

Recently I came in contact with a small group of teachers and students who have created a wonderful garden and creative space where they are able to learn and develop important skills while improving their relationships with the local community and creating a place of beauty. This group has created a small piece of paradise on the edge of the Northern Suburbs of Darwin. They call it 'The Patch.'

About a month ago when I first visited The Patch I felt overcome with the sense of inclusion and the warm welcome my family and I received. The Patch currently occupies a small amount of space but with the great vibes this place has already created it has potential to grow into something grand.

I have since discovered that the (Council owned) land may be sold off to a real estate developer for subdivision. Given the potential good The Patch has to offer my neighborhood and the Darwin community generally I believe it must be fought for. Seriously! This place could become a critical component in the health and welfare of our town! It has so much to offer. I do not want to harp on about the evils of our capitalist democracy but I must say that the balance between the good of the community and the greed of the individual are grossly skewed. It seems to me that the imperative to amass great amounts of personal wealth while our commons dwindle and are neglected. We have an opportunity to do something great for our community and the generations who will inherit the spaces we leave for them. Let's give them something special!


Snake bean seedlings
Snake beans just planted

Some frieky beans
Some other kind of bean? I have no idea what!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A short walk for a Stronger Community


This afternoon a bunch of People continued the march for equality in our society, demanding real solutions rather than the dramatic, divisive, and ultimately unjust intervention / legislation our Federal Government have imposed on indigenous communities.


The complexity of issues that mar Aboriginal communities may be beyond our comprehension, right and wrong could be blurred or clouded beneath veils of ignorance, misunderstanding and cultural differences however the fact that there are problems is not denied.
The existence of an emergency may also be quite real and may demand immediate action, particularly if the lives of innocents are in peril.
I can't help wondering though if the Australian Government is now so concerned with the welfare of children in indigenous communities, why do they look to further erode the rights of the people. Surely the solution must lie in the creation and support of healthy communities.

This afternoon as a rather unseasonal tropical shower released it's burden over the city what appeared to me to be a couple of hundred people, many dressed in black, marched along Mitchel Street and headed to Mindil Beach.
Although our audience of tourist hoards had fled the beach for fear of a few fat drops of tropical moisture, the march was hugely successful! The procession had the desired affect when it stole the attention of those tourists frequenting the bars along Mitchel Street. For a brief moment the traffic was halted and the Mitchel Street crowd were diverted from their own indulgences of frivolity and alcoholic beverages. Stalled for just a moment as the compulsion grabbed them to observe a community in action. I didn't notice one person leave the march to take cover from the rain. On the contrary! The water fell like a blessing and an omen of hope! It seemed spirits were raised in the bouncy atmosphere of the seasons first rain.



Posted on YouTube by pleides07

Monday, September 17, 2007

Furthur note on ram raid legislation

This matter of Federal government legislation and the unquestioned support it seems to have from the federal opposition and Territory Government has really been bugging me! I guess the reason I am so disturbed by the whole situation is that the laws are totally discriminatory!
On one hand we have the Government saying that alcohol and pornography must be
regulated / prohibited in Aboriginal communities because of the immense harm they cause... (I do not doubt this whatsoever!) But on the other hand these very same things are harming the broader society in the Northern Territory yet they are openly celebrated as a way of life!

Since consumerism has become the moral imperative for our society and we now live under the direction and care of national anti competition laws I have noticed a marked growth in the availability of both porn and grog in my town. It seems that according to the values of a free market society it would be immoral to regulate the growth of these legitimate industries. The resulting lack of regulation in the areas of aclcohol and porn seems to have led to the Adult shops (where pornographic videos are sold) promoting themselves extensively and even sponsoring public events; takeaway liquor licenses being granted without due regard for their location, i.e. just 50 meters from a primary school; and supermarket chains offering 20 cents per litre off petrol purchases for every $60 spent on alcoholic beverages.

In our society generally, binge drinking and sexual abuse appear to be increasing among young people. Yet under the ideology of market freedom and rampant consumerism it is deemed unfair to regulate the industries that supply the goods at the core of these social ills. They appear to be supported by our governments and treated as responsible citizens seemingly for the sole reason that they are successful businesses and generate wealth! Yet the suffering brought about by their wares is incalculable.

Since outback communities are by nature quite isolated, I wonder if anyone has visited all them all to inform, and explain to people the implications of the new legislation? Will the people actually be aware of the various changes in the law? How will their lives be affected? Without a permit system in place how will they be able to limit the movement of opportunistic visitors in their communities?

As the discriminatory alcohol and pornography laws are now in force many people, will find themselves liable to prosecution for conducting themselves in a way that is obviously condoned in non indigenous societies throughout Australia. When they come to Darwin they will see this hypocrisy clearly, how will this be explained?

Last week a government add on a Darwin radio station warned that from a particular date (only a week away from when I first heard the add) X rated videos would be illegal in my community and should be destroyed and disposed of. Legal action could be taken against people found in the possession of such videos! Theoretically Territorians could have assumed that this add was meant for us all and should therefore have rushed home and destroyed all their porn! However many would have also assumed that this law is not meant to affect people living in town. Surely we are impervious to the moral corruption that occurs in indigenous communities?

When I first heard the add I thought they must be serious about cracking down on porn. But then it seems that this is not the case. As a citizen of the NT I have the right to indulge in the watching of X rated pornographic material. It turns out that the average person in Darwin will not be affectedly these laws at all. Apparently the add is aimed at people on indigenous communities only. But this was not specifically mentioned. Maybe this is because it is assumed that listeners would know that these rules will only apply to a particular segment of our society! If this is the case then the discrimination is so entrenched that it no longer even has to be stated, we have been affectively apartheid in a matter of months!

In the words of Michael Long I would ask also, "Where is the love?"


If our government think the negative affects from these things are confined to Indigenous communities I suggest watching a great documentary series on SBS called Decadence

Decadence - Sex - 9:30 pm Sunday

'Pria reflects on how sex-saturated our modern culture is, with hard core pornography available on-line 24/7, and 70% of the net having pornographic content. He interviews NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney about how gruesome the cases of rape and sexual assault in this state have become, while Clive Hamilton laments the obvious link between porn and the commission of sex crimes.... (Commissioned by SBSi, in English) (Documentary Series) (Part 2) ...'

How will our government ever be able to address the needs of it's citizens
(Image above is a scan of a postcard. The origin of which I am currently unable to verify)

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rally against Federal Intervention

This morning at 10:00 am in Raintree Park there was a fantastic turn out for a protest rally against the Federal Government's intervention into Aboriginal communities.

A crowd gathers in the shade of the Banyan tree in Smith St Mall


Powerful message great singing!

As the Federal Government has imposed it's will on indigenous people, dissolving their rights as citizens and legislating against whole communities collectively across the Northern Territory many of us are asking:

"What's this legislation got to do with saving the children?"

Amazingly as if the legislation isn't discriminatory enough, many non indigenous people, Including the minister responsible for alcohol in the NT, are lobbying for 'non-indigenous' visitors to Aboriginal communities to be exempt from these laws!
It is astounding that in the midst of this crisis people are asking "Why should these rules apply to me? I'm not an Aboriginal! This law is for 'them' not us!" The scariest thing about this attitude is that it is being taken seriously and exemptions have already been made along clearly discriminatory lines.

If it's still available check out what Chris Burns said in the NT News article Grog bans watered down. It's a great laugh in a tragic kind of way.

In the article Mr Burns is quoted as having said:
"people who are not from Aboriginal communities should be able to camp and fish in these areas with alcohol."
He qualified this with the following statement
"This isn't about discrimination"
Either the minister has no comprehension of the meaning of the word 'discrimination' or he is a brilliant comedian and master of irony. With statements like this he leaves political satirists with no where to go! The punchline has been taken! All they could possibly do is repeat his words verbatim.

But enough about our jokes and jesters there was serious business at todays rally. Many great speeches were made, songs sung and injustices exposed. There was a great sense of unity throughout the crowd. However the discontent was visible and shared by Indigenous and Balanda Australians alike. The demands were simple; justice and equality for all Australians, safety for our children. The Government are asked simply to "Say Sorry and Listen.

This group could be called the coalition of the caring


There is a strong feeling that the decision makers and voters east of the Great Dividing Range have little understanding of how their decisions will affect real people living in Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory. As there will soon be a federal election, more action has been planned to bring this to the attention of interstate voters.
On Thursday 27th September there will be another rally. People from all walks of life will unite and walk from Raintree park in Darwin's CBD and proceed to march all the way to Mindil Beach Market. A demonstration will be made to the Federal Government and all interstate onlookers that this new legislation is seen as an abuse of the rights of Aboriginal people and offers little in substance for improving the lives of Children.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The local scene

Last night the Environment Centre hosted a fantastic Film Night at the Deckchair cinema! A reasonable group of supporters came along to watch a wonderful film called 'Cave of the yellow dog'. This must have been my first night at the cinema for over a year! It was kind of overwhelming! Seriously! I am so unused to being able to sit through a whole movie...
With nothing to do but enjoy the atmosphere I was in wonder and awe of the whole experience! It was such a lovely film and the night was perfect!
Thanks ECNT!


Get on yer bike mate!

Wednesday 17th October will be National Ride to Work Day ... in Australia that is...
A small but growing mob of us have decided to host a ride to work breakfast at Charles Darwin University!

If you live in the area and would like to join the fun, just get that bike out of the shed / garage or wherever, pump the tires up and check the brakes then ride on down and join us!

Our breakfast will be held at the Student Square BBQ area at Charles Darwin University, Casuarina NT. 7:00 to 9:00am

I know it's still a few weeks away... Think on this as fair warning. You have time to organize your bike and resolve all those petty excuses you may have come up with in the past for not cycling to work!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The Longrassers series

My mate Geoff is an artist.
A couple of years ago Geoff entered two paintings to the Royal Darwin Show, they formed a series called the Longrassers. The theme of the competition he entered was Darwin Topical.

I like these paintings very much; occasionally I drop in to look at them.
What astounded me at the time and disheartens me now is that the officials rejected them both and would not show them. The reason given was that they were not in theme with the topic.

Longrasser 1. (Artist Geoff - Darwin)
Longrasser 1. by Geoff ~ Darwin

An Aboriginal man slumped over a wine cask in the long grass on the outskirts of town at night.
The curlew (a bird related to death) in the background is significant.
At the time this was painted a person had been nailing wine casks in the shape of a crucifix trees in scrub land and roadsides all over Darwin. + Thong


longrasser 2 (Artist Geof - Darwin)
Longrasser 2. by Geoff ~ Darwin

White (Balanda) man sitting in the long grass on the outskirts of town. Bloodshot eyes, tattoos can in hand. Wine bladder crucifix nailed to tree thong on the ground, full moon behind him.



The term 'Longrasser' has become widely politicized. The word describes a lifestyle adopted by vagrants, swaggies and town campers in Darwin regardless of their ethnicity. However a couple of years ago it became a popular label for used to stereotype drunk or undesirable Aboriginal people. It is also accepted among indigenous town campers to describe themselves as a minority group. (When asked for an address by government bodies a common reply might be "In the Long Grass")
For a while back then, when the Territory government decided to clean up Darwin's streets by flying troublesome people back to their communities, the bourgeoisie of Darwin took hold of the label and applied it ruthlessly to Aboriginal people in general. To begin with the term 'longrasser' came into common use for any drunken or unruly indigenous people seen about town. Then slowly through various forms of media and amongst the chatter and gossip of family BBQ's the word took root and seemed to be a politically correct way of slagging off at Aboriginal people generally.

O
ften when people said Longrasser what they were really talking about was undesirables. In peoples minds and in the media references to Indigenous people became inseperably linked with the word Longrasser. Therefor the familiar concept of Aboriginal people being by default undesirable has managed to become a popular and common conclusion among much of the non-indigenous community in Darwin.

I am certain that amongst elements of the Darwin community there was a great sigh of relief. People could go back to slagging off at aborigines without being labeled as racist! finally a loophole had been created that allowed for the vilification of an ethnic group whilst remaining politically correct! Wide acceptance of the word Longrasser as code for Aboriginal people brought forth all kinds of public discussion about what to do with them and and how to get them off our streets... Aboriginal people that is. By now the fact that there were scores of non indigenous people living in the longrass appeared to have been completely ignored.

Somewhere along the line someone came up with the brilliant idea of showing recognition of the Larrakia people, the traditional owners of Darwin and its immediate surrounds. A campaign then began to remind visitors from other communities (most of the indigenous longrassers come from other communities) that they should respect the Larrakia people and act appropriately on their land. Signs were erected as reminders, seemingly for indigenous people, but how were the broader community educated about respecting Larrakia places? I don't recall seeing any education campaign that was directed at non indigenous people. Maybe because the campaign wasn't to to educate us or to encourage respect for country. It was designed to evict aboriginal people from the beaches and parks of Darwin! That is all! What a farce! My apologies to the Larrakia people but from my limited knowledge of the situation, as a non-indigenous person living in Darwin it seems that our government and community are not really interested in recognizing Larrakia people. The whole thing looked to me like an elaborate way of shaming indigenous people away from Darwin. Non indigenous people are not asked to show the same respect for Larrakia protocol or traditions, we are not shown how or expected to abide by any traditional forms of respect for the land we are on, or it's people.
I think that was about the time when the Federal Government cottoned on to the idea of labeling asylum seekers as 'Cue-jumpers'!

In Darwin there are some people who live and sleep out-doors. Some of them are Indigenous and some of them are not. They do this for all kinds of reasons, sometimes by preference, sometimes out of necessity. Although a lot of people in the longrass are male there are also women, they are young and old and there are family groups. Sometimes with children.
Grog affects the lives of many who are out there. People often seek comfort, and friendship through the grog but are led to despair insanity and death. Grog can be both comforter and destroyer. Life in the longrass can be a dangerous place the conditions are harsh and there is sometimes no escape from opportunists or violent and abusive people.

My feelings about the two paintings: The images above are both of men. One an Aboriginal man lost and close to death, the other a white man living on the fringes of society soulless and hard. When I look at the aboriginal man I feel compassion, I can sympathize with him, he is lost but a totem of his people is standing by, watching over him waiting to sing for him. When I look at the other man unfortunately I do not feel the same sympathy, but he is equally damaged. The crucifix may be a symbol of hope or a lost opportunity. I am inclined to think that both are lacking any hope. Geoff says it is a symbolizes the struggle of living a life trapped between two worlds.
Maybe the crosses bear witness to their persistence and ultimately their passing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Blood Moon ~ A lunar eclipse

A different moon looked down upon me as I cycled home last night. The radio had been buzzing with speculation about how it would look, there were suggestions we would be bathed in crimson moonlight a sight not to be missed.
When my class was over it was quite late and the moon had already begun its arc across the night sky but something was definitely different. Dark and and weighty with deep hues of orange, a dense and dark moon tonight. It was like looking at the face of a friend through the hazy, tumultuous shroud of bushfire smoke.
The street lights obscured my view and whether I was bathed in crimson moonlight or the mottled glow of electric street lamps, regretfully I have to say; the moon was present but did not dominate the light that shone my way!
I peddled on and eventually I found a dark and quiet spot, I turned naturally and instinctively toward the blushing moon. It did look different! It was clear in the sky but obscured by something foreign! Strange to see it like that. Shrouded... Painted? ... Smothered by Gaia it's veil.
What I could see was the reflection of us. Imposed on our small and faithful celestial brother! The shadow of the earth fully cloaking the lesser orb and imposing it's dominance over the helpless globe. Bathed in the deflected light of Sun, the bloody hues a reflection of a crowded and busy planet. Hidden too long from a precious golden star.
The quiet moon bulges in a crimson shade and reveals it's true endeering strength. Somehow shadow does not extinguish the connection between earth and moon but for a few moments they are linked and inseparable.
They travel together, connected but apart... each on it's own orbit but inseparable by nature. The fate of one is that of the other and on the night of the blood moon they may come together and share their secrets hidden from the sun.

Well if not this then something must be going on around here! When I got home I whipped out the binoculars and had a closer look at the moon. The angle of the light on its surface gave it far more depth than I remember seeing! It somehow seemed more dense or three dimensional. Like the lack of glare from the reflected light actually allowed me to see it more fully. I know it's a dumb thing to say but I felt like it was really out there! Close and touchable and big.



When I woke this morning it dawned on me that watching this event is a really special thing. I was actually watching the shadow of the very earth I was standing on cast on the only surface possible of carrying our shadow! That is really special! In that sense it must be more significant than a total eclipse of the sun!

Cool!


Friday, August 17, 2007

Disability Awareness Week

Although I haven't been posting much lately, there has been plenty happening! I just haven't felt much inspiration to bang away on the keyboard about it. (Sometimes this whole blogging thing gets a bit tedious! What is the good in it? Who will even read it? etc... etc...) Oh well what else am I to do? It's 4:30 am, I have only had about 4 hours sleep and for some reason since we returned from Broome my skin has become so itchy that it keeps me up at night! I can't see any cause of the irritation but it gets worse at night and it's driving me crazy today!

Enough about my woes!

It's a big week in Darwin. The Darwin Festival is in full swing with a plethora of entertainment centered in the gardens precinct and branching out to various locations right across town. It also happens to be disability awareness week.
As part of the disability awareness week festivities Geoffrey Yunupingu performed to a select audience at a local university on Monday afternoon. I'd read about the performance in the Darwin festival events calender and decided to get down there to see him. It turned out that the concert was by invitation only! Buy the organizers were very understanding and permitted me to come along, so I gratefully accepted their invitation...
This guy has such a great musical style! His songs are full of emotion and a deep love for his people, his family. Although the lyrics are mostly in Yolngu no interpretation is needed to convey the beauty he expresses. This was the second time I've seen him in a month and I can't wait for the next performance.

Yesterday also as part of disability awareness week we went down to an open day at a special little garden in Leanyer called The Plot. It is an amazing gardening and craft space that has been set up in a disused council works depot. In a shady nook of the property a group of students, teachers and support workers have created an oasis of calm and purposeful toil. I was really impressed by what I saw there and hope to be able to give some of my time to their activities in creating what may turn out to be a much needed community space on the edge of town.
This could be exactly what our community needs! A people's space run by the people, for the people! The opportunities this project has already provided it's participants are proof of its future potential! After spending just an hour there I felt empowered and energized enough to see out the rest of the day with a smile on my face!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Broome

I haven't really had the time or the inclination to write about our time in Broome.
As the finer details of the trip are fading and my work/family/study etc... etc... are growing I doubt I will get around to writing the full description of our greatest holiday in, (can't remember how many) years!

Here's a very brief overview...

Left Darwin, I forget what date but it was a day or so later than we expected, so many little things to do before we go!

Easy does it as we roll out of town. Barely made it past the shire limits before we stopped for lunch at Coomali.
Stayed at the Katherine lowlevel caravan park on the first night and struggled with the dramas of having to unpack the entire car in order to get to all the stuff we needed. Night one.

The next day we headed west from Katherine. Everything from here was new to us, neither Sam nor myself had ever traveled any further west than Katherine. The country west of Katherine changed little by little until we reached the VRD and Timber creek where the Kimberly trademark Boab trees began to appear on the landscape... awesome!

Gregory national park looked like it was well worth some more time but maybe on the way back.
We did an average of about 300 - 400 km per day and had plenty of stops. The hidden valley caravan park in Kunnanurra was a pleasant stop with plenty of camping space. The red rocky escarpment all around was a great contrast to the monotonous flat land around Darwin. In Kunnanurra we ran into some friends who'd had car trouble and were stuck there waiting for a new diff!

Onwards we roll. Stayed a night in Halls Creek, I think it was pension day and there was lots of grog around... Not a healthy place to live.. so much drinking and fighting!

The lodge at Fitzroy Crossing was so detached from the township! Heading west you enter Fitzroy by crossing a couple of bridges over the Fitzroy River, but the lodge is on the opposite side of the river separating the wealthy, orderly tourists from the gritty town of Fitzroy and limiting any interaction between the immaculate mostly retired travelers and the reality of the places and people they/we pass.

Did a boat tour on the gorge scoured through an corral reef millions of years gone. Getting closer now to our destination can't remember our next stop but we were soon in Broome!
So many cars on the road as we arrived. We found our caravan park besides the speedway but more quiet and shady than most! Not that there was a choice anyway everything had been booked out for months!

Caught up with an Uncle and Aunty who were traveling the country counter clockwise and headed for Darwin. It was the night of stairway to the moon so we set up camp just in time to join them and their friends at some kind of surreal luxury hotel on a bluff overlooking the mangroves! Our heads were spinning as we mingled in thongs and shorts amongst people from all walks of life. There were more than a few rich and famous at this particular venue the best place to view a fairly irregular event!

The Pigram Brothers were playing too. What an awesome welcome to Broome. Spent a few days down at Cable beach, there was an unusual swell and I got so into body surfing and jumping around in the cool ocean that I wound up snapping a calf muscle and was semi crippled for the rest of the week!

As we had been warned Broome would have been cool about 20 years ago! I still enjoyed the place though! It was NAIDOC week and we spent a fair bit of time attending 'free' cultural events! What a stroke of luck! Thanks to all the people who contributed to such an awesome week especially the ladies who read to the kids at the Library and the folks down at the fish farm who shared their culture and history with us!

Went on a great camel ride with Ships of the Desert. I can highly recommend. They were over booked and gave us an incredible discount for altering our booking! It was a fantastic ride and the personalities of the camels were delightful.

So much happened I can't even begin to tell so I'll end on the note that it was a most excelent holiday! We discussed going back every year, but time will tell.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Conditioning for violence

The Royal Darwin Agricultural Show

As I entered the gates to the Darwin agricultural show last weekend I was standing in line and couldn't help feeling a little uncomfortable... vulnerable. Maybe it was the close gap between the turnstile and the ticket office I don't know but I was uncomfortable enough to glance around defensively and notice the barrel of a large machine gun pointing straight at me!

The military had a promotional display right by the gate where some kind of armored personnel carrier had been parked with its rooftop mounted machine gun left pointed in the direction of the admission gate! I felt quite threatened by this and wondered if it was standard procedure for the army to just leave these things pointed wherever they fall. Even with my limited knowledge of firearms I am aware that all weapons should be treated as loaded and potentially dangerous!

As we continued through to the show I glanced into the military display to see a new Abram Tank on display complete with the various rounds it is capable of dispensing. I felt slightly dismayed by the way people ogle these things knowing that the purpose of all this hardware is to kill people. When I was a kid I would have been all over this stuff too... Maybe age and fatherhood have changed my awareness of these things?

We had a great time at the show but the fun was tarnished by the amount of toy guns we saw in the hands of small children! I couldn't believe it! Nearly every young boy I saw had some kind of plastic replica of either a small hand held (fully automatic) machine gun or a military style assault rifle complete with bayonet attached to the end of the barrel! Oh and the other kind was like a shot with out a stock! All replicas of weapons whose sole purpose is to kill or disable human beings! I was dismayed by the availability of these toys as I felt sure there was some kind of ethics group who are responsible for assessing the appropriateness of children's toys! But maybe in the age of terror it is OK to condition our children with symbols of violence?

I know when I was a kid my parents would never allow me to have these kinds of toys, not that I recall ever seeing replicas of such offensive weapons anyway. Unperturbed by their efforts to shelter me from this kind of violence; I made guns out of sticks and even managed to make some that fired elastic bands... However regardless of how little boys will want to play such games the fact remains that the availability of these so called toys makes me feel quite uneasy!

There exists a worldwide trade in small arms and weapons that look just like the toys our kids are playing with are responsible for 1,000's of people! Children are killed by them and even kill with them! These are in fact weapons of mass destruction! The toy guns that had been distributed amongst our children are effigies of violence and terror.... What kinds of games do we think kids will play with them?

Combined with the presence of the military (I even saw a soldier walking around with an assault rifle slung across his shoulder) I wonder if our kids are being conditioned for violence in their future or if it was some kind of elaborate military recruitment conspiracy! The whole scene made me feel quite ill at ease and kind of angry! Peace should be treasured yet here we are mindlessly providing our children with the kind of conditioning that will only encourage them to take the road to violence and hatred! Where is the Love?




The stenciled image now transformed into a message of non violence

There is hope! On my way in to work the other day I rode past the stenciled graffiti of a soldier whose meaning I have often pondered. Someone had added their own interpretation of what the image should represent. Although aesthetically less enthralling or thought provoking I found the message of more pleasing. I am reassured that the way of violence and hate will not go unopposed.

Monday, July 23, 2007

ABC TV party in Darwin

The ABC had their 75th birthday celebrations in Darwin yesterday and put on a fantastic show! Of course I didn't take my camera so you won't get to see any shots of the following:

Bananas in Pajamas,Dorothy the dinosaur, Fireman (something or other), Jay (from Play school & and Star Wars), Aunty Jack and Thin Arthur, Scared Weird Little Guys, a couple of Chasers, Kerry O'Brian and a host of other ABC personalities... and Mental as Anything! Oh and an absolutely awesome local performer Leah Flanagan and her band.

The kids loved the afternoon show and as the daylight dwindled a slightly older crowd of devoted ABC viewers stayed on for the more (or less) mature half of the show. It is such a great relief to know that our national broadcaster is still able to provide a platform for sincere discussion and artistic expressions without being stifled by corporate marketing and other trashy guff!
There was a team debate on 'What is more important? Music or interviews?' and Kerry O'brian won the argument for music hands down with his opening speech! What a powerful speaker he is!

The highlight for me though was yet another public performance by our much loved Administrator Mr Ted Egan. He sang two awesome songs about a couple of Australian Characters, that I am sure left a lump in the throat of everyone present! (Sadly I can't remember the names of the songs)
When Mr Egan sang about 'Granny' (an elderly Chinese lady, well known and much loved around Darwin) I was physically affected! I can't describe the way that song made me feel but I had tears welling up in my eyes. How rare it is to hear a white Australian lamenting anyone that doesn't fit the countries Eurocentric view of itself.
Mr Egans use of language, particularly languages other than English is a great leveler! When he sang the names of all those Chinese people so naturally and so fluently it was startlingly obvious how deliberately these foreign sounds have been omitted from our vocabulary and from the pages of our history!
I don't know if our Administrator has been classified as a living treasure. But he must be! How fortunate we are to have someone so connected to his humanity and the heart of our land and people. What a great example! What a clever man! He has obviously learned what makes a man rich and has filled his life with the best stuff of all! I think the Maori people of New Zealand have a word for what Mr Egan possesses and for what many of us have no idea we are lacking... I think the word is Mana.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Our Trip to Broome

If I get some time I'll tell about it....


Until then... Here's some images

stairway moon
Stairway to the moon


beach play
beach scene


Ultralight & bird
Ultra light

The timing of this shot amazed me! Out of the clear blue sky came a bird just as I took this shot of an ultralight over Cable Beach!


Town beach
Town Beach


head stones
Graves


sunset
Sunset at Cable Beach

Crock on the bank at Geekie

Geekie Gorge


Spinafex by the Chinawall
China Wall - Halls Creek

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Monday, June 11, 2007

Barunga 2007

We had nothing planned for this long weekend but the weather was so fine and there was so much neither Sam nor I wanted to spend the time at home.
What should we do? The list of options at this time of year seems limitless! Two major events were the Greek Glenti and Barunga festival. The Glenti is held in Darwin on the esplanade and we've both been there several times, actually when I first arrived in Darwin back in 1997 it was Glenti weekend and the 'everything Greek' event was my first impression of Darwin's festive style!
So on Friday I started working on getting Sam interested in Barunga! Fortunately she was keen to go also and after a very late start we headed out there at about 12:30 pm on Saturday afternoon.
Although a fairly long drive for such a short stay it was great to be out on the road. We arrived at Barunga at about 5:00 pm payed our $10 entry fees and set up camp. I couldn't believe it!
Just $10 for (if we had more time) a whole weekend of entertainment, sports, cultural performances and a rock concert packed full of great outback bands that we never get to hear in Darwin!

The Road Safety Song competition was really cool and the bands' ability to communicate with their audience, combining socially responsible messages with good solid rock and a deadly stage presence was an absolute blast! Just when we thought the concert was over everyone was directed to the 'Main' stage where the concert began in earnest!

The main stage was awesome! There were illuminated sculptures of various traditional rock art images surrounding the fully lit stage. We stayed for a while but were so tired decided to head back to camp, about half a km away, where we could easily hear the bands playing on through the night.



On Sunday we wandered around the various stalls, watched some sport and then went over to see Yamba the honey ant (from Imparja TV) performing for the kids.

Yamba the Honey Ant


Before we left we stopped at a spot where a drumming group from Darwin had set up camp and were encouraging people to choose an instrument and join right in... so... we did! The drumming was really cool and heaps of people gathered around then in a break the guy who was playing on a proper drum kit hopped off for a rest and encouraged some local kids to give it a whirl. One kid, about 10 years old, jumped on and gave a couple of taps with the sticks, his mates were all laughing and egging him on. The boy looked like he was about to bolt or walk away embarrased but then instead of leaving, and with a crowd gathering he picked up both sticks gave a few more taps... Then... He launched into a full on riff building momentum and leaving most of the rest of us behind! He exploded into a full blown solo for about two minutes then came back to a point where the rest of us could join in, this went on for about 10 minutes and a great crowd had gathered standing and staring in wonder at this kid who was giving what at the time seemed like the greatest drum solo of all time!When he stopped playing he just got of the kit and went off with his mates to try the next fun thing at the fair!

Drumming for joy

This we thought was the perfect time to leave, nothing was going to top that performance. On the other hand chances were that little spot fires of awesomeness would break out unpredictably for the rest of the weekend; if we didn't make a move now we might find ourselves staying another night and returning home on Monday afternoon to a starving dog. So we left.

The whole event was alcohol free and I have to say I didn't notice a single drunk person the whole time I was there! There was a breatholizer on the way in and out of the community, which would have deterred drink drivers but I think what made it a real success was the respect people have for abiding by the alcohol ban. It made such a difference to be amongst a sober crowd and is so much more pleasurable for those of us who do not drink! Barunga rates No. ! in the 'No Humbug' stakes! I remember driving past Bass in the Grass, another so called 'alcohol free' event a few weeks ago. It seemed just about everyone we saw walking from the car park to the gate was madly knocking back as much booze as they could get into themselves before entering the concert! I have no regrets about missing that particular concert and am sure I saw the cream of Northern Territory talent at Barunga.

Cheeky Cocky

Thanks to the Barunga community for their hospitality and for hosting this festival. It was the first time I have been after 10 years of living in the N.T. I hope I can return next year.


hooded parrot
Male hooded parrot on crane



On the way home we stopped at the Pine Creek railway and were lucky to see a family of five Hooded Parrots!

Cycling against Cystic FIbrosis

I forwarded myself the link to this story about a week or so back, but haven't had the time or energy to do any blogging. So here's the story.
A bike around Australia
Another great adventurer cycling around Australia for a noble cause. A fella by the name of David Nelson has recently left Darwin on his journey around Australia riding a bike styled from a 19th century design. He is replicating an amazing journey apparently made between 1893 and 1905 when roads and services would have been scant and rather crude too. The purpose of his ride is to raise awareness and money for for the Cystic Fibrosis Australia.

More about Cystic Fibrosis.

David started out from Brooklyn, Sydney on the first of March and is currently on his way across the Kimberly, too bad I only found out about this trip a few days after he'd left Darwin. We will be headed to Broome in a couple of weeks so it may be possible that I'll see the guy on the road, but not likely.
Anyway I thought it would be good to give him a plug and to add a couple of links. I particularly like the fact that he is doing the trip using such old technology,right down to his panniers which look like they were hand sewn out of canvas and leather. You can follow his progress HERE

Donations can be made to Cystic Fibrosis Australia.