Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Monsoon ride around Darwin Harbour

In Darwin, at some time in December or January the monsoon arrives from the north bringing on the true rainy season.
While we were in Bali, two weeks ago, the monsoon arrived in Northern Australia. It's been raining fairly consistently since then.

Cycling through a monsoonal downpour might not sound like the ideal way to spend your time during the Christmas break but to me it's about the best time of year to get out on my bike. Here in Darwin the sun can really wear you down. It's hot most of the time and if you're on the road for hours dehydration is a serious problem. The other issue, particularly during the dry season is wind. Cycling against the wind can seriously inhibit progress and uses up heaps more energy.

Cycling at night (when the moon is bright) or during monsoonal weather, when the sun is obscured by clouds, the air temperature is several degrees lower than usual and there's plenty of water around, are my favourite times to cycle the Cox Peninsula Rd.

Yesterday I did my solo ride around Darwin Harbour again. The road around Darwin harbour is basically a big jagged circle, lately I've  preferred to travel counter clockwise, this gets the remote part of the ride (about 50km without any services or phone reception) out of the way at the beginning when my water and food supplies are full and I've got enough energy to make it to the half way mark, and civilization.

I had intended to catch the first ferry at 05:45 but arrived at the jetty about 3 minutes after the ferry left! Had to wait till the next boat at 6:30... a slight delay.

It was a beautiful morning, the moon was high and peeking through gaps in the clouds. I love it when the moon is with me on a ride, even at the dawn, once I've seen her in the sky I know she'll be with me, somewhere up there for most of the day. I pray the burning rays of brutal sun are obscured and diffused by this precious monsoonal shield. 

I was surprised to discover that I had fallen desperately out of condition while lulling about in Bali eating food fortified with gula (sugar) and palm oil! A week at home on the couch eating fruit mince pies and watching all three seasons of 'Please Like Me' on iview didn't help much either. I wondered if I would actually make the 140km distance this time.

The ferry ride is always a treat, Darwin shrinks into the distance as the sturdy twin hulled vessel crosses the harbour. A fifteen minute ride delivers passengers to a considerably more remote and wild Cox Peninsular. (It's a whole other culture over there, freedom seekers get the best of both worlds!)

Legs were already a bit heavy and stiff before I'd even reached Belyuen community, just 12 km from the Mandorah jetty! No rain, and the sun was beginning to rise! I was slightly worried about the wisdom of doing this ride.

If you've ridden Cox Peninsula road during the dry season you will be very aware how little shade there is. If you think it's an ugly ride I urge you to try it during the wet season... preferably during monsoonal weather. It's like riding through an ancient forest of cycads and sand palms, all the larger trees are lush with brilliant green foliage, lilies and other wetland flowers spread across saturated lowlands. You would find yourself in a very different environment to what you'd expect, it's like a beautiful tropical garden! I startled a flock of Northern Rosella's and Red-winged parrots, the flew to a tree top not far ahead and waited for me to pass.

As my weak muscles struggled with the distance I shifted my focus from the road ahead to the beauty around me, set my music player to random and lowered the pace so that I continued moving forward, without care for speed. Stopped a couple of times for water but generally pressed on. At the back of my mind was the Blackmore river, about half way round, it's my regular rest stop. 

After about 40km, there had been no rain, I had a pain in my groin which was making it hard to peddle, I was seriously worried I wouldn't even make it half way around! Finally about 7km from the Blackmore River I felt the rush of cold air! Soon I could feel a precious mist of cool gentle rain, before long it was pelting down and the drains and creeks started flowing. Exhausted I sat in the rain and ate a Vegemite roll. Bliss!

Maybe I had overestimated my ability to cycle this kind of distance? My physical condition is pitiful, I've done no riding in about a month! I headed for the refuge of Tumbling Waters holiday park. Fully expecting to leave my bike there and call home for a mercy evacuation! Ride Over! Having made a decision, my spirits lifted considerably. I rolled down toward the camp feeling glad that I wouldn't have to go any further today! When I arrived at the gate there was a sign.


"WOW" What to do? "OK, No problem, I'll just ride a few more k's to Berry Springs and leave the bike somewhere there".

Still committed to quitting I had another sandwich and watched the Blackmore river, swelling and swirling from the heavy rain that had set in, I watched water flow off the land around me and join the river, muddy water mixing with clear, pushing eddies into the bridge and the banks... So much energy! Instead of riding back to the  road, I walked about 300 meters. Stood contentedly beside the bridge in the rain for a while, then tentatively got back on the bike for a few last kilometres. Oddly, the 15 or 20 minutes I spent off the bike and possibly the walking left me feeling much better. The rain now was pelting down, the hair on my arms collecting droplets, my skin felt clean and cool, sweat had been washed away, it was like I was starting the ride fresh! 

The rest of the ride was a breeze! I just took my time, relished the cool air and water on my skin. No dramas along Stuart Highway, The Howard Springs cycle path is glorious in the wet! Easy riding the rest of the way home! I'd made it! Did the whole thing.... didn't quit! Many thanks to the rain and my companion the moon.

(Couple of interesting points to the ride.... Much of this ride is along a remote road with a 110 km speed limit. Although most drivers are quite considerate, there is still a serious likelihood that over the course of 7 hours over 140 km of NT roads you will come across several idiots who enjoy scaring or threatening cyclists. On about 5 occasions I was passed quite closely by speeding drivers, the rain and  dangerous conditions only seem to excite them more. If you do this ride you must find a way to steady your nerves and ignore the idiots. Water splashing up from the wheels of a speeding car is not pleasant but thankfully not lethal. 
The Cox Peninsula Rd and Stuart Highway are strewn with the rotting carcasses of 1,000s of dead cane toads that have been hit by cars repeatedly, they form a slippery pulp on the roadside.... sometimes it stinks.... sometimes when cars pass closely in the rain they flick the pulp up into your face.... Don't eat it!)

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Where Ausies don't oft go

Places I've dreamed:
Monsoonal weather approaches Bali by sea... (Candidasa)

Yes... that's a waterfall (Munduk)

Our secret bungalow in the hills (Munduk)

Subsistence farming... in these conditions it really seems to work (Amed)

A garden of delights and a lot of hard work (Amed)
Kingfisher (Amed)

Carting fodder (Amed)

Fruit trees above the field (Amed)

Padi below Gunung (on the road to Tirtagangga)

I cannot write words for these images or to describe the gradual sense of relief I felt having disconnected from all electronic media for two weeks. I hope you can get a sense of it from the images. The challenge now for me is how to continue to live in that space rather than return to my mental and emotional hedonistic, escape from reality cell.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Hollow Houses

It's a balmy night, for a treat tonight we take the kids out cruising for Christmas lights. As we drove through new suburbs full of hollow mansions I could hear the envy in their voices. “Daaad I wish we had a two story house.... Daaaad why don't we have a pool?” 

I hate these places but took the opportunity to explain, why we are the wealthy ones. We are rich with laughter and fart jokes and gay budgies and our senile dog. We are rich with time for each other and space all around us and freedom to come and go... We are free! We have no half million dollar mortgage, no banker's death-grip sentence, forcing us to put you kids in care while we work six or seven days per week, At night we read you stories and play games while others are agitated attempting to solve their financial concerns. 

We aren't troubled by ambition's din. We have what we need. When the percolator boils in the morning we can afford to sit a while and watch the wild birds in our yard as they silently feed their chicks or laugh at the antics of the horny Gilbert's dragons bobbing their black and white heads. 

Not many lights about this year... The stock market returns are grim, mining boom's over the dollar is down... Departing the suburban mausoleum with it's streets full of empty monolithic money god shrines, I do three laps of the roundabout just for fun, centrifugal force pushing the kids sideways to the left of their seats. 'Wooooooaaaaaaooow” We count, One – Twoooo – Threeeeee as we pass the second exit for the third time... A light flickers on the dash, the remains of our fuel is hugging the side of the tank... Time to straighten up and steer for home looks like we'll be cycling till pay day.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

What the Actual... Racist?

The maintenance of an anglocentric mindset in a so called post-colonial multicultural society. LOL OK this isn’t a thesis just frustrated reflection on the bloody obvious.

 There appears to be a fad now of advertising in shop windows that attempts to capitalize on concepts of ‘community’. Besides finding it particularly creepy to have giant images of people’s faces looming down on me, it is also very obvious that the vast majority of the faces are white. Entering any shopping complex I already experience a kind of shock at the overabundance of posters and manikins depicting white or slightly tanned sexy models, used to promote the myriad of useless products. They are now trying to capitalize on creating an illusion of community.
Dr Seus 'The Sneeches and other stories'.

I think the idea is that by having images of ‘ordinary’ people’s faces thrown up on every wall and window it will make us feel comfortable and included. Personally I find that stuff creepy. I go to the chemist and I’m confronted with an oversized image of some white person in a white coat smiling at me... (Seriously! Is that you Nurse Ratched?) I think the idea is that we can look at the images and think, hey that picture of a person in a natural pose with imperfect features, yet also kind of good looking..., is just like me... (I’m guessing that’s the plan) Only they’re not. Are they? We’re not all white people, in fact I reckon on any day you visit my local mall you would easily find that white people probably make up a less than a quarter of the population. 

The reason I’m drawing attention to this practice at the moment is because of the completely overt nature of the prejudice revealed by these seemingly innocuous images and the effect I am sure it has on our community. I believe it is the continued saturation of media with ‘white faces’ white values, white lives that is responsible for the perpetuation of an inequitable, unbalanced, fearful country bent on turning neighbour against neighbour, making it impossible to build a mature self aware community.We are afraid to build honest trusting relationships with those who fall outside our own ethnic, social profile. Ergo we’ve been sold that same lie Dr Zeus’s tried to warn us about in 'The Star bellied Sneeches'. Why? Well I think it actually serves a commercial purpose…. And just like in the book there is a profit to be made by social inequality. I am sure we are living in a world not guided by any sense of social consciousness but dominated by the politics of fear and the careful manipulation of that fear into marketing leverage as was displayed the character Sylvester McMonkey McBean. The world is full of them and they call the shots. 

Dr Seus: 'The Sneeches and Other Stories'.

Living in a town which is by no means predominantly white I find the contrast between the ‘ideal’ images we are confronted with in the media and the actual demographic makeup of my community so absurdly obvious I wonder why they aren’t dragged down in disgrace as soon as they appear. It is shamefully telling of the attitudes which continue to dominate our society. At the mall recently they installed some very large posters to display what the current refurbishments would look like when work is done. The posters contained images of people plonked in various locations throughout the predicted new environment to simulate how the space will be used… This wasn’t even to sell a particular product, just an image to reassure people that the final product will be worth waiting for… once again the images were full of white faces which bore no resemblance to the people I saw around me. 

Having recently attended my child’s graduation ceremony, and having seen her and her school friends enjoy the celebration of their final year of primary school I wondered what kind of world were they about to step into? In this particular year only about a fifth of the kids were Anglo, the rest were from a variety of ethnic backgrounds a large proportion aboriginal. These were all bright kids, intelligent, capable people with many talents. They should all enjoy the same opportunities in the life that awaits them, yet as I looked around I knew they will not! The dice is already loaded against the majority of my children’s friends and it makes me furious! It’s outrageous and disgusting that our society should be split along racial lines (subliminally or overtly) as it is. After all that we’ve learned about inclusion and equality, we continue to be fooled into perpetuating a lie which will only serve to divide our community and set us against each other!

My children are not aware of how marketing has manipulated their own perception of themselves or their friends. They don’t yet feel the wedge that is being driven between them, deciding who it is acceptable to be or not to be! They don’t get that the images asserting white supremacy and the assumption of black criminality and deviance will sculpt the future for them and their peers. The messages broadcast by contemporary media and silently endorsed by a compliant population are, on the one hand over inflating the confidence of whites while devaluing and undermining their non-Anglo friends. We flood the airwaves and every form of media brainwashing society to believe that dark skinned people are inferior (with 10,000 subtle innuendos) then create special awards designed to encourage indigenous students to perform better in school, to assimilate and attempt to earn acceptability by mimicking their white friends. Forever reminding them that by virtue of being born black ‘we’ (society in general, including their own families and friends) will always have lower expectations of them. I saw one of the cleverest students at that school win an award simply for being an indigenous person who had set a good example and worked hard! What a fucking insult to the girls actual intelligence and to her family!

We have allowed ourselves to slide so far backwards I doubt many people have even stopped to consider how insane our perception the norms of civil society actually are!

Monday, December 07, 2015


Habit, form, shade, meet, stow, shelter

A tree of many virtues...

African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis)

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


The problem with realizing we’re all deluded is that it leaves you with nothing much left to believe in…
After a bizarre morning reflection at work today I found myself having to wait half an hour for a car to be repaired. I’ve been feeling absolutely aimless and lost lately, desperate to escape, or hide or do something completely radical.
Tempted to just wander off into the scrub I compromised and went and sat against a tree on a city street curb. That odd loneliness, a fog. 

So I spotted this tree and I just wandered across the road and plonked myself down on the ground at it’s base. I recognized the foliage it was an Allosyncarpia ternate.
I sat a while, completely submerged in my narcissistic shrine of misery… Then gazing through the mist of reminiscent longing for youth and freedom and the wide open road, outward to the blandness of Daly Street, I noticed a couple of minute black stingless bees clinging to my shirt. Immediately I felt the warmth of being connected to something, a reprieve from the emptiness. Not just bugs… these were Bees! 

Allosyncarpia ternate

What makes Bees so special? Well that’s a long story. I have happy memories of watching a cousin tending his hives when I was a kid. I was fascinated by the way he was able to handle the hives without incurring a major attack. I remember him spinning the racks and the vat of hot melted honey filling large tins with beautiful golden nectar. In those days he could place the hives in woodlands dominated by particular species of trees and each tree species would deliver it’s own unique flavour. From year to year the flavour and consistency of the harvest was slightly different depending on flowering times, rain, and proximity of the hive to flowering crops. There was a kind of symbiosis between the bees, the plant life and the apiarist. To me it seemed a beautiful, magical place where gold was spun.
Since that time I’ve had various encounters with European honey bees, although I’ve never kept them myself, I have visited their hives, ridden my bike (accidentally through a swarm of bees), been stung a few times by accident and have managed to touch them, pat them. I don’t know why but throughout my life I’ve had a fascination bordering on affinity with the bee.
Somehow, possibly by coincidence (As if there is such a thing) I was named after the Yiritja bee (not stingless yet I still haven’t met this family).
As I sit against that tree with my friends the bees humming around me I laughed out loud at the ironic absurdity of feeling alone. 

Friday, November 27, 2015


The poets spoke tonight at Wild Words in Darwin.
The grey was peeled back, hope revived!

The energy from identification is intense. Blood knows blood,
Truth finds truth, life shines through!

I heard the very vow I took decades ago proclaimed back at me
Spoken by an unflinching warrior in the company of warriors

Am I revived? will air fill my lungs?
Colour returns to my eyes. I see, I hear, I feel.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Canisters of coffee tea and flour

There was a time when I had a job and houses were pretty cheap....

I didn't go for that.... Instead I spent my time riding round the country with scooter trash, that was fun.
Now I don't have "...a spare half a million."

But this song'll do! Thanks Courtney Barnett. 

My Grandparents lived in a California Bungalow in Coburg... I still remember those old tubs with tea sugar and flour written on them, I don't think anyone drank coffee back then.

Wet road

I traveled by bike on the wet road,
steam rose, traffic flowed,
Dodged the dodgy, flooded street gutters
broken bottles and mangled toads...

Passed the arse end of Darwin town, 

Shaggy bearded tramp of a bloke
wet trousers drag each stroke,
When you ride in the tropics you know the taste,
Stale sweat mixed with the rain
From my office I can role past St Vinnies lunch time queue
Stale bread, cold tea...
daytime TV
 volume maxed

I was headed for parliament
Wedding cake castle, ten minutes flat
tyre mud splashed on my back
 crotch chafed, humidity 80% 

The road and the towers were too much
I looked to my left to old One Mile camp,
Bereft and forgotten
Bulldozers ready for their final cut

No joy there...  I rode on

I arrived at Parliament
 just in time for the announcement.... 
The minister will not be joining us today.
Seems our leaders are a bunch of big girls blouses
To afraid to face the public, in case of greenies, and those damned rebel rousers!

"Toughen up Princess" 


Monday, November 16, 2015

And the rain came down

First it was hot,
Then there was rumbling,
Clouds gathered,
Wind blew....

We picked the corn

 And then the rain came down....

And it reminded me of a song.

But the rain came down.... and the walls remained, and half our crop was spoiled it got wet the night before and now the creek is clogged with silt and we haven't changed....
Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya Ya....

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Fan (grateful for)

today I'm grateful that I've got a ceiling fan. When it's hot I can have a shower then stand under the fan.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


(disclaimer: the following post is not advocating cold turkey withdrawal from prescribed medication nor is it an informed opinion on the effects of any particular drug/brain affecting chemical)

I don't particularly go for lists... In fact I think quite often, too much importance is put on lists.
Generally I don't write them or hold to them...

Not really into lists...
Chances are my name is on a few... lists..

I always forget to take the shopping list.
I come home with the wrong stuff.
My wife writes lists. She wrote the shopping list... I forgot to get her stuff...
I reckon I coulda done with that list

I'm pondering the idea of starting a list.

My mate Rod kept a list.
They had him locked up but Rod  bailed
Heavy metal psych ward stupor is a fate worse than death he said.
Apparently Lithium is a heavy metal.
He had a heavy metal in his veins and he didn't like it.

They pumped the metal into his blood and it fused with his brain,
He couldn't catch airplanes. He said the stuff set off the security alarms...
I still don't know if that's actually true or if he imagined the alarms. Either way he developed an elaborate series of counter moves to avoid known danger spots...
Rod reckoned he had some very strange ideas in his head which he learned to isolate from what he was sure were his actual thoughts (I don't know how he managed to do that but he prayed a lot.)

Would I recognize the difference between rational thoughts and some hallucination caused by a combination of naturally occurring chemicals in the brain mixed with the highly toxic concoction used de- crazy a mad man?

Anyway Rod decided the stuff was killing him, so, Rod bolted. He travelled by land with the Lithium fog closing on him.
Paranoid withdrawal, fuel stop munchies no grog, no ganja joints or fags... no paracetamol no coffee maybe not even any chocolate! Rod did hard core detox on the road! He alighted (Southern Town) on a wing and a prayer and by the gift of God's grace he arrived in the north of the country alive and unscathed.

Rod was mad! Stone cold sober mad, mad from the cure and mad from the disease. I don't think you can't puke that stuff out and enema's won't help either... I wondered if it actually leaves at all... does it rip out chunks of your mind when it goes?

Rod threw himself to the mercy of the God of drunks and mad men and he survived...
and every day of his troubled survival and the life he salvaged he wrote a list. The list was helping him to get better. It was a special list, not of events or activities or things to do or things to get... It was a Gratitude List!
Rod took the list very seriously. One day when we were both living at the Rainforest retreat he showed me his list. His list was in a thick book and it's pages were full! His list kept him sane. Every day of his recovery he added one new thing to his gratitude list!




It's the buildup every day I get home hot and sweaty. In my home I have a shower. I am grateful for my shower. I let the water run a few moments to get the hot water out of the pipes and soon a lovely coolish stream of water comes flowing out of the shower rose. I stand under it and let it was the sweat and grime from my body. When I step out of the shower I feel human. Having a shower with running water is a blessing. I am grateful.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Alive for a moment on Wanguri earth

Many thanks to my Wanguri friends who shared their homeland at Dhalinybuy for a few short days while celebrating the recent translation of Mark's Gospel.

Wanguri Church leaders, translators and the UCA Northern Synod Moderator

Visiting Dhalinybuy was a much needed interlude, a chance to simply live and experience true fellowship among some treasured Yolngu peace makers.

Gospel of Mark translated into Wanguri Language

The people came down to the river for baptism... by the dozens!

Translators present Wanguri leaders with their work

We all jump in
Holy Communion of Ngathu (cycad nut) bread and Yirritja guku (honey)
Once again I am posting a few random photos from days spent in a special place which my words fail to describe. Long Live the Homeland Movement!

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Stalked by a straw neck

At home we have a resident Ibis. I don't know why he's decided to hang out at our place but he's been there since we arrived.

He sometimes eats from a near by park but lately he's been stalking me!
This morning as I spread some Rosella bush seeds that I've been soaking he swooped down from his vantage point on the TV antenna and proceeded to pick out every seed I had sewn!

Saturday, October 31, 2015


It was October...
I watered the garden and saw a butterfly...
I am grateful for the birds too.

A butterfly in my garden

Magpie Geese in the park

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Home sweet River

Do you feel it? Can you feel it?
The incredible weight and the pull of the land where you were born, the place which raised you... It is calling always for you to return. Can you hear it? It is strong, it's in the blood and the metal of you. It hurts to go back but if you deny it you will be dragged... It will always be within you whether you respond to it's claim or deny...

I am back. For just a short time, in the cool of spring and the cold rain and the wind and the paddocks are wet and my feet are cold and my heart is pounding and the river is flowing and the birds sing and the roos bound and the trees remember.
Ancient trees remain where they were before my birth and I pray will continue when I'm gone

At times like this I remember a few lines from Roger Waters song 'Sunset Strip'. 
"And I sit in the canyon with my back to the sea
There's a blood red dragon on a field of green
Calling me back, back to the Black Hills again"
Billy, a young man from Wales many miles from home, trapped somewhere in the mad rush of Southern California and Sunset Strip... but his roots demand his attention and he cannot deny it!

From my parents house I have made a couple of early morning treks back into my old stomping ground. To those secret places which formed me in some way in the valleys among the trees, on the steep and craggy dry slopes, the cliff side ledges and river flats of the Plenty Gorge. I knew that place before. Does anyone know it now?

The old trails remain

Wombats have appeared, I never knew them here

Where there had been impenetrable blackberry now fields of grassy tussocks.
 This place is burned deeply inside me. I am overjoyed to see it spared from the urban sprawl and possibly even  forgotten or ignored by the mass of humans entrenched on the other side of it's boundary fences. I wish I could stay to care for it, but maybe it's best left forgotten, long live cable TV and the sedentary life of consumers!    

Billy searching for his native land.

Years ago, late one sweltering summer Sunday morning, as we lay on the floor of my mates grandmother's house crunching ice and nursing horrendous hangovers, at the height of a friendship now a fading memory, I was introduced to Roger Waters solo album. Radio KAOS.

We were broke and couldn't afford any more beer, all we had left was a bag of ice, to cradle as the mercury rose beyond what even we desperadoes could handle. Hungover and with only our legs for transport we found ourselves in the intolerable situation of being Housebound!
Then my mate John, after establishing that we were stuck said: 
"I've got a record I want you to listen to."(Yes we still listened to LP records back then) "I think you'll like it, but you've gotta listen to the whole thing. Don't talk, don't do anything just listen to this record"
I was having trouble getting myself up off the floor, on account of the severity of my self-inflicted dipsomania...
"OK" I said wondering if I was going to be left in the prone position on the floor while he played more Heavy Metal at full volume or if I was going to have to endure another round of George Thorogood...

I heard the crackle of the speakers as John placed the needle down on the album... the telltale rhythm as it's diamond tip orbited a slightly uneven vinyl disc... I had no idea what to expect.

There was a distant sound of Morse code growing louder... the voice of a talk back radio presenter announcing that we are listening to K.A.O.S. radio in Las Angeles... then the robotic, mechanized  voice of Billy introducing himself and announcing that he hears radio waves in his head... (I already felt disjointed and divorced from reality, and my body, as I remained virtually paralyzed on the wooden floorboards of an elderly lady's house, the drunken guest of her rebel grandson...) In my feeble state the album penetrated me to the core! Each song followed the central theme, it was a story line and the lead character had entered my brain as though there was no record playing. To me it was like Waters had channeled the Billy's voice directly into my head. (I was in shocking condition, still unable to gather my own thoughts after a hard night of unending alcohol consumption)

We'd played that album about three times in a row when the rest of our crew finally become so completely bored they opted to walk in the 40 degrees Celsius heat, on melting bitumen rather than endure another round... I kept listening... I read the lyrics... I played songs over and back until the ice had melted.

When I left that house my brain had been re-organized. So many of my private feelings validated at last, and all held together in a green Morse album cover. I cherished the heat and my hangover, the ice and the wonky, splintered wooden floor I'd been laying on all day.  I had heard the baffled ramblings of my own mind and spirit beamed back at me via the turntable as if I had been communicating directly with the source via radio waves myself.

Possibly a once in a lifetime experience.       

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Last Tuesday saw a huge contingent from the bush turning up at NT Parliament house to protest against proposed fracking leases across the NT.

If I had time I'd say more but I'm on the road and don't have time to write.
Here's some photos just for the record. Over 300 at an NT rally is a pretty decent turn out!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Kimberley rambling

Last weekend I was finally able to visit the community of Mowunjum, near Derby in the far North West corner of of Western Australia.

The ladies visiting Old Mowunjum
I first met Aunty Janet Oobagooma about seven years ago. She is a true living treasure! I've always been in awe of her resilience when hearing her stories of Mowunjum, Old Mowunjum, her country and the precarious life of people who have been moved from pillar to post over the past 50 or so years.

Although our business was in Mowunjum, it was more convenient to stay in Derby. I'd heard a few stories about Derby, mostly people advising not to bother going there, it's in the middle of a salt pan... no beach etc... etc...

Derby is a much nicer place than I expected. I suppose compared to Cable Beach in Broome, the Derby marsh isn't much competition, but the town itself is quite pleasant, quiet and welcoming. The town is full of Boab trees, which are very picturesque in the sunset and the view of the jetty at dusk is pretty awesome too.

Back at the motel it was hard to sleep past 5:00am. Just before the first rays of dawn butcher birds would practice their elaborate songs, quite loudly outside my window. The song of a butcher bird is beautiful but once I am roused from my sleep I rarely go back.

On the second day there a few of us went down to see the old Prison Tree... So we're pulling out of Derby headed toward Mowunjum, the tree was kind of on the way, when Maratja say's "Hey Johnny sent me this song, you should play it now..."
"It's about that Jandamarra"

Johnny is a friend of Maratja's, a really decent bloke and a great folk musician (songwriter). I met him a couple of times at Elcho. When he and a couple of the other guys got together they just made up songs right then and there! 

NRCC Exec members standing by the tree.
So we figure out the technology and hook up his phone to the stereo and there's Johnny singing this awesome song about the injustice of early settlement (among other things) and it's all about the Prison Tree and I'm in a car full of first nation people from East and West Arnhem and I have to explain what the tree is.... (Here's a brief description)
Not an enviable task for a white boy!

If you click the link below you can listen to a sample of the song. I highly recommend purchasing it or even the whole CD. Great music by Johnny McIntyre.

My Mari and I supporting the cause

About 70km out from Broome we visited a spot where a fella was making a courageous stand against the frackers who were planning to drill on his property. Unfortunately we didn't get to meet him but it was good opportunity to discuss the issue prior to the rally which took place in Darwin the following Tuesday.

Many thanks to Aunty Janet and, special thanks to Kirsty Burgu, who allowed us a special visit and interpretive tour of the Arts and Cultural Centre.

Before jumping on a plane and rushing back to Darwin we did stop at Broome's legendary cable beach and I did have an amazing swim... and I did seriously consider not going home!