Thursday, June 26, 2008

The phoenix has landed... Chinese bicycle story

I couldn't resist posting some photos of my new bike!

The Phoenix

About 4 months ago I saw this beautiful classic designed Chinese made bicycle parked gracefully on it's center stand at the Parap pool. I ogled it for a good 10 minutes and had to be dragged away by my wife. I had to look; you just don't see bikes like this in Australia any more.

As I was leaving the owner approached his bike so I ran back to complement him on his stylish ride. It turned out he would be leaving Darwin soon and needed to sell the bike! (WOW... An opportunity for me??? COOL!)

I gave him my number and hoped to hear from him for weeks but the call never came. I often thought about the bike but conceded that the opportunity had probably been lost. Then. Just when I'd pretty much given up on the idea. I got a call from a woman living in town who had the bike and wanted to sell it.

The Phoenix.1

Yesterday afternoon I got a lift into town and exchanged a small amount of money for my beautiful new Phoenix bicycle! Cool! It's not a great bike for commuting 10 km to work every day; It's appeal is more aesthetic. Although it is a Chinese bike it looks very much like the British bikes of the 1940s, I'm thinking I need to get myself a tweed cap, some Knickerbockers, long socks and brown shoes... It is also the kind of bike you might still find in Indonesia so maybe just a sarong will do.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Trevor and the mountains of trash

Most people who live in Darwin would have heard of or seen Trev by now. If they haven't seen him on the street they would certainly have seen signs of his presence. The piles of trash on the curbsides of Darwin streets are examples of his work.

Trev and a bit of urban sculpture. (How many green cans are enough?)

I first met Trev about a year and a half ago on my way home from Palmerston. (about a 20 km ride) It was getting close to dusk when I saw some bloke dragging junk out of the long grass beside the bicycle path. It was the middle of the wet season or maybe the build up and it was really hot! He was black with grime and didn't seem to have any water with him; he looked totally exhausted, so I stopped and offered him a drink. We had a chat and I soon discovered I had accidentally bumped into an amazing character. I got home kind of late that night.

We've had quite a few discussions since then and when I stop to chat I often find myself getting home later than I should. I think I've mentioned in a previous post, that Trev picks up rubbish along our roads and has become well known for his service to the community.

I don't know how so much stuff can accumulate on our streets in such a short time but I'd say it has something to do with the fact that Territorians seem to have no qualms about dropping their rubbish in the street or from their car windows. (A child of the Keep Australia Beautiful campaign in the 70s /80s I find this astounding)

:) :) :) :) :) :) That's what I'm talking about.... (: (: (: (: (: (:

Hmm Vanderlyn Drive on a Sunday afternoon?

Come on guys even ABBA say KEEP Australia Beautiful!

What stood out to me when I happened across him today was the amount of beer cans he had managed to pick up in one place. There was a mountain of them!

Wondering about the connection between empty cans and damaged people

This afternoon I stopped to thank Trev for finding my thong... It's a long story but basically I dropped a thong from my bike while on the way to work last week. It could have been anywhere but as Trev does such a great job picking up all the stuff from the street I actually found it atop a one of his piles on a median strip right outside my car door while I waited for a set of traffic lights to change! I couldn't believe my luck. I'd found the other one on a footpath about a kilometer away just a couple of days before but had given up on ever finding the second one.
So once again I have to say Good on you Trev! You're a champion!

Is it time for Territorians to start to DO THE RIGHT THING?

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Some days I think I already did...

Nothing new happening.. just the circus is in town...

Sam and the kids went... I missed out.

I didn't go to the Circus with the kids. I stayed home and got bombarded with percussive bangs and fireworks and the dog went mad and the sky shimmered and all like that and windows rocked and I thought I'd like to go to the Circus... but... I just didn't.
And then I remembered 'The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle'! Buy it!
I threw on a CD and got a good dose of Bruce Springsteen for the evening. The gritty circus world of 'Wild Billy's circus story'! What a great song!

Here it is on youtube, (My apologies Mr Springsteen)

Wild Billy's circus story by Bruce Springsteen

Friday, June 20, 2008

Who will stand by the people of Borroloola?

Once again the traditional owners of land currently occupied by mining company Xtrata have been forced to give way to the powerful mining company!
According to an ABC report on Wednesday, our own police force stood between indigenous people from four different language groups and a sacred site! On an ABC TV news report I believe I heard a representative from the mine informing the group that the land is private property and they would allow one elder only to enter!

Once again the people have been squashed and their religious beliefs disregarded. Why aren't we fighting for these people's rights! How can they be so easily pushed aside?

In an ABC radio interview last Friday Territory parliamentarian Malarndirri McCarthy, one of few members of our government who is prepared to put the rights of Australian people before the dictates and demands of a mining company, voiced her hope that the federal environment minister would take some action. But Mr Peter Garret has shown his true colours and refused to stand up for the protection of this important river. When the damage to the environment becomes known I hope he is held accountable for what he has allowed to happen.

traditional owner Jacob Lansen gave gravity to the significance of action taken by Xtrata to divert the river.
JACOB LANSEN: "We've got to prove to you mob that we've lost everything, we've got nothing and that it doesn't stop us from fighting. We've still got to fight even though we've lost everything."
Listen to the interview Here

The Northern Land Council say that the lock-out could be illegal and wants the matter investigated. Queensland Aboriginal activist Murrandoo Yanner has joined the fight to protect these peoples rights and the river, he is calling on others to stand up and has vowed that this will be a long fight.

I find it ironic that one of the most popular Australian films is "The Castle". We like it because we can relate to the battle between a regular Australian and powerful forces threatening to displace him and his family from their home. And we all seem to ascribe to the philosophy that a man's home is his castle... Yet who will stand with the people of Borroloola and the McCarthur river when they fight for something that in terms of cultural, spiritual and personal significance absolutely eclipses our notion of a castle? Who will stand with them as they fight to protect what is central to their very existence?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Djambarrpuyngu bible dedication weekend

Bible Dedication Celebration Weekend Galiwin'ku Elcho Island


People waving flags

Welcome signs were hanging from poles along the main street

bible translation center
Translation Center

Thanks to my new job I had the great privilege of Attending the Djambarrpunyngu bible dedication at Galiwin'ku on Elcho Island this weekend. The event marks the completion of thirty years translation work of the New Testament from English into Djambarrpunyngu (a Yolngu Language).

Elcho Island is located in the far North East of Arnhem Land. Arnhem land is an Aboriginal Reserve in the Northern Territory of Australia and the traditional home of Yolngu Clans for 100's of generations.

This was the first time I have visited this part of Australia and it was a rare treat. Due to it's remoteness and the fact that it is in the middle of an Aboriginal reserve (Arnhem Land), most Balanda wouldn't have the opportunity to visit. (Not necessarily a bad thing for Yolngu)

marching with flags
Men dancing with flags (I wasn't sure about the significance of this)

running with flags
Kids running with flags

The community on Elcho went out of their way to make this event an incredibly moving, intense and unforgettable event for all who attended. Their hospitality was outstanding and the weekend was crammed with colours, music, food and a strong feeling of celebration. The community really came together, and visitors were made to feel welcome and included.

Bible translation team
Translation team and contributors

The event was a marathon of services, ceremonies and speeches beginning in the early afternoon on Saturday and running well into the night only to begin again at 9:30 on Sunday continuing until fairly late in the afternoon. There were a lot of people to be acknowledged and each was given an opportunity to share their experience, hopes and dreams. People mingled and chatted as mobs of kids, Yolngu and Balanda played in the sand. Everyone seemed happy and proud of this great achievement.

dancing with flags
Silk flags of all kinds of design

It seemed to me that the important thing about this weekend is that people in this community who have been Christians for many years; and who live in a town that came into existence as a Methodist Mission, now have the opportunity to read the Bible in their own language. I am not an expert on Christianity and have no idea how it has been presented to Yolngu people by Missionaries over the years. However surely it must be a liberating thing to be able to read or listen to the stories of a book that has had so much impact on their lives in a language that they truly understand.

cycle to the beach
Sam's old bike... I sent it over on the Barge and left it on the Island to be of use

shelter for the moment
Temporary shelter

I chose to camp at Elcho rather than be billeted to someones home. The opportunity to camp out in this amazing part of the world was impossible to resist. I wasn't disappointed! The camp site was on high ground with a perfect view overlooking a fantastic beach! The ground was flat and dry and the elevation and breeze meant there were no sand flies or mozzies! On Saturday night I rolled out my mat and slept comfortably on the ground, with the sound of the Arafura Sea lapping at the shore of a rarely visited beach and no city lights to obstruct my view of a perfect starry night.

view from camp
View from camp

For more photos see The Flying Bible Man's Photo gallery

Saturday, June 07, 2008

A story about The People's Grocery

The future for Australia... Which would you choose?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Busy weekend

This weekend was quite busy and full of cool things to do. I thought I'd post a few words and photos before they slip entirely from my memory.
Since last year when I encouraged my wife (who is a Christian) to become involved with a local Uniting Church I have also found myself becoming more open to the idea of Christianity. I have actually engaged in a course of Faith Formation (just to look into the idea a little further). Through our connection with the rather enlightened group of people at this particular Church we have both found a community of people who we can share our time and thoughts with. For the first time in my life, I actually feel that I can accept this religion for myself.

Faith Formation
On Thursday night we had faith formation which, for me, is turning into quite a nice evening of discussion and practical

I've already forgotten what happened on Friday... er... Nope... still can't remember!

Jingli Organic Gardening
On Saturday afternoon I took the kids down to the Jingli organic garden plots for the annual general meeting and met with some of the gardeners there. The Jingli Garden is a cool place and the gardeners are very committed to organic gardening. The plots looked beautifully cared for and there were vegetables of all kinds popping up everywhere. We had some good discussion on the growing desire to create a network of garden plots throughout the Darwin Suburbs and some good connections were made.

garden plots @ Jingli
Jingli Garden plots

garden plots @ Jingli
More Jingli garden plots

Canopy at The Patch
The Patch


Sunday was the World Environment Day Expo but also the day for Kate, the minister at our Church, to hand back her responsibilities before moving on to another community.
I arranged to meet with a neighbor and his sons and we rode our bikes to Church. It was a fantastic morning for a ride but I keep forgetting that I ride 20km a day and some people don't... (I'm sure the pace was more amenable after I moved to the back of the group.) I even loaded up the old trailer I got from the tip shop and brought a 'Loaner' bike, which is now being used by one of the ladies.
The service focussed on our connection with indigenous communities and there was a strong sense of connection to the mission of our particular community in relation to Reconciliation. Words were spoken about Kate leaving and then it was time for communion. As a rule I have never taken communion. Not being a Christian I have always felt it would be wrong for me to do this. However this Sunday for some reason, I did... After Kate announced the communion. I ate the bread and took the cup (grape juice). Thanks to the way it was offered I felt completely natural sharing in this special meal. Quite a moment for me.

Bikes and trailer
Have wheels will haul

Environment Expo
It was such a busy morning at the Church that I didn't get to the Environment Day Expo until about 3:00 pm! It was very quiet down there and there was still 2 hours to go! The turn out was very disappointing! I congratulate all those volunteers for turning up and making the huge effort it takes to keep our environmental organizations running... But where were the People? Surely environmental issues should be at the top of our concerns right now? What is going on in this country? I had some interesting conversations, paid all my memberships and subscriptions some of them quite overdue. Heard just a little of Shellie Morris, then peddled home for the Toad Bust I'd organized.

Toad bust
At 6:30 a small mob from the NUC boys group and some Friends of The Patch came down to the Leanyer Depot for a Toad Bust! We had a fun night but only caught 2 toads. (Good news really). The kids had fun running around with torches and we discovered a few native frogs which was quite a treat. When the hunt was over we all returned to the undercover area and had pancakes. After botching a few up I left the cooking to the experts and the boys had a great time!

Exhausted I returned home happy and fulfilled... That is the way to spend a weekend!