Posts Tagged ‘Aboriginal’

I shall not hear the Nightingale. Sing on as if in pain.

November 21, 2016

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These words are part of a poem by Christina Rossetti. Last night’s effort in resisting Alzheimer or dementia, was an exercise in trying to remember the last few lines of her beautiful poem. It was harder than I thought. Why try it in the first place? It could well be this looming Christmas whereby I resort to contemplating what might be next in store. Close to another year having dropped its autumn leaves. Another ring around this aging trunk. Of course, here in the Southern world, it is the wilting of spring flowers that heralds the end of the year. A hot Christmas might well be in the offering. The Bogong moths are already trooping, getting ready for their annual migration to the much cooler Snowy mountains.

This photo from Google images.


Our first Christmas celebration in Australia was astonishing. I still remember that smell of beer and ripe prawns. The mid-night Mass with the congregation wearing shorts and rubber thongs. The Bogong moths swirling dangerously above my head, yet most people ignored them. The priest himself pleasantly full of the higher spirit that included pre-mass long necked lagers and brown hearty ale.

The moths were tame and just seeking each other out to form a swarm. When large enough a group would get ready for their long journey of hundreds of kilometres. Nature is so amazingly ordered and logical. In earlier times, the aboriginals, the original owners of this land used to feast themselves to a kingdom as well on these fat moths.

Another memory stuck through all those years, and probably getting richer as time passes, was a particular wedding that we went to. Again it was during summer heat. The venue was a golf course club house. A magnificent affair. The bride looked radiant, the groom suitably flustered and suited. The food all spread out on tables and fine linen. Prawns and salads, mignon steak and spinach sauté, flowing Chardonnay well oaked. As it was during those long gone years.

But then the Bogongs joined the party. Hundreds if not thousands of them. All swirling around. The overhead fans offering so treacherously the cooler air they craved for. The fans also slaughtered them. Those poor Bogongs now falling down in a spray of grey, gently landing on the food below as marital dust. No matter, the party was well on its way. Speeches were made and music flared up in between it all. The beverages had worked its magic. It was a great wedding. She was Croatian and he Australian from English background. They are still together as far as we know. A rare event, nowadays. They even had twin boys.

But here is the poem;  Christina Rossetti.

Those Shadows.

I shall not see the shadows.
I shall not feel the rain
I shall not hear the Nightingale.
Sing on as if in pain
And dreaming through the twilight
that doth not rise nor set.
Hapley I may remember
And hapley may forget.

The Sting is in the Tail.

November 12, 2016


The week was difficult enough without the US election. The only light was that the shivers down my spine proved right. Calamitous is a word that got much used. We decided to do a practise run and booked a cabin all secluded. We are fully expecting the possibilities, that once again, town-hall sirens will blare and warn the people of an impending disaster.
People will be urged to seek shelter and safety from the coming of carnage. Again the running and shouting of people on the streets. The thuds of boots finding home on falling bodies

It wasn’t just the Trump tragedy but also Leonard Cohen passing. To mention both in one breath is a bit of an insult to Cohen. Like comparing acrid acid with the tasting of the finest of first-press olive oil. But Cohen is at peace and we are still here!

The three lily- white blondie livery daughters of Trump are primed to fill important roles and he is backing down from undoing Obamacare. His mascara has come off and paleness replaced brashness and red-necked bully-boy. The markets are going wild and gyrating madly opposite of all expectations. The biggest rally for years. All topsy-turvy. Yet, Hillary Clinton all pale and sad. What has America done? Protests on the streets. Cars are burning. People shouting. Contorted faces. Rage is rising.

Our cabin was just a short down-hill clamber from a rocky yet sandy beach, waiting for the tumult of hordes of Christmas crowds to arrive. I decided to check up on an aboriginal midden that I knew existed when Helvi and I used to visit this same spot with our young children so many memorable years ago. It amazed me already then that this sacred site hadn’t been protected. People walked over it, unaware it was a midden and sacred site

As I was walking along the beach I noticed a dark shape in the water. Getting closer I was amazed to see a large stingray. Steve Irwin, the Australian naturalist was killed by a stingray while swimming above one. The barbed tail whipped up, went through his wet-suit and penetrated his heart. He died almost instantly.

I had boots on and did not want to get into the water to get a closer look. I did not have to. He came to me. It swam in very shallow water and was just a couple of metres away from the sandy beach on this expanse of the Tasman sea. Its bulbous watery eyes was looking at me as if expecting something. Its eyes seemed sad and carried a reproach. I was astounded. What had I done to receive his attention? Apart from a small packet of peanuts I had nothing to give him. I spoke some kind words but wasn’t sure it could hear under the water. Did he expect me to have a herring on me? I never carry fish on me as I never feed fish in oceans. I felt guilty for not ever having fed fish. Instead, I often I eat them. ( I did not tell the stingray that.)

It was a somewhat helpless situation but I took some more pictures with my IPhone. What else would anyone do? But what followed was remarkable. As I continued my walk, the stingray followed me for some twenty metres or so along the edge of the sea. Had I been accepted as his friend? I again took some pictures.
He then had enough and swam away.


The aboriginal midden was still there and in good condition. I suppose all the seashells and cockles are just not worth digging up or scooping away as most people might not even be aware of its significance and aboriginal heritage. For thousands of years this was the site were the original owners of this land would congregate look out over the sea and consume their catch of sea-food.

Sacred aboriginal sites are to be respected and not to be photographed.

Women’s suffrage, suffer the men.

August 19, 2013


I sometimes wonder if it could at all be possible to limit men’s voting rights, just for a few years. Would the world become a better place? I mean women have only gained the rights to vote fairly recently so it would be no big deal if, even for the sake of some historical redress, men would be barred from voting. Perhaps just for five years or so.

What is little known is that it was New Zealand that gave women the right to vote (1893) first in the world, soon followed by all Australian states, excluding Victoria. Finland was first of the block in Europe but at that time was still a Grand duchy of the Russian Empire. Finland is outstanding in that women’s suffrage gained in 1906 also immediately allowed women to stand for elections. This did not happen in New Zealand and Australia till much later. Women to stand for elections in New Zealand did not happen till 1919 for the lower chamber and 1941 for upper chamber. In Australia it also took many years for women to be voted into parliament. (1921 Edit Cowan.) On a federal level it wasn’t till 1962 that aboriginal people were even allowed to vote! It was mainly the temperance movement that gave women their voting rights in NZ and Australia which resulted the US in following suit soon after. (Disclaimer; find out your own facts on this.)

The possibility of Abbott becoming a PM would certainly not happen if men were barred from voting. Perhaps Julia would still be here. I am not sure K.Rudd would be around either. Some of you might well think that events would not be any better or much different even without men and their penile driven peculiarities. They often recall the combatetive and warlike natures of Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher. Yes, quite so but they only got there by imitating the worst of their male counterparts. Joan of Arc or Mother Theresa would never have been Prime Ministers or heads of state with the inclusion of males in the voting world.

When our possible future PM Tony Abbott came out with his pearl of ‘suppositories of Wisdom’, declaration, women voters would have made him a court jester instead, never a PM. They are just too caring to allow a man with such a curious state of mind being wasted on being a mere PM.

The more I think of barring men from voting the more it starts to appeal. It is almost daily when I read about road rage. Yet, all road rage is indulged in by men. I have yet to hear a case of female road rage. Are the troubles in the world an expression of male road rage, a colliding of cultures or differences being just the vehicle for unlimited killings and brutal murder, total mayhem and illogical demented behavior with male minds running amok, thrusting rockets and bullets mercilessly into each other?

Look at the treatment of refugees in Australia. The ‘suppository wisdom’ party now rallying support from even more inhumane treatment by promising the voters that the thirty thousand refugees already in Australia will never gain residency here. What utter contempt for others, what total madness, but… also note that it is mainly the women who front up with compassion and humane treatment, often with genuine tears. They are not at the forefront of retribution and brutality against refugees. What bastardy for the possible future Prime Minister Abbott (Mr Suppository) to try and dive even lower than his party’s Liberal predecessors. Where are the tear stained faces of the men, with hearts of stone with fossilized emotional reactions to anything needing compassion and understanding.

What next? Will the mainly male driven parties keep responding with ever increasing tougher measures; line them up, shoot them, or send them to concentration camps? They’re almost doing that now.

So, ban men for a while from voting. Give it a go.

We have nothing to lose.

Suffer the men. Make that ten years.

Tom R.I.P/ (Amongst the bleached bones of the Inebriates at Orange .NSW)

October 24, 2011

(A story; some fiction, some not. Tom and his mother are still everywhere.)

Tom, who was black and a returned soldier from the Korean War, used to live with his mother in Orange. He never did get into a decent working live and his request for a land grant was knocked back, as were all other requests from aboriginals in those post Korean War days. Tom could not even get a beer in a pub at that time. He fought as good if not better than most in Korea. He was fearless and when shot in the leg he hobbled on regardless for the next couple of days. Someone finally got him into a hospital. It left him with a gammy leg, a permanent limp.

When he applied for the soldier land grant he was told by the clerk,” bugger off,” “not for you Abos, mate.” Some of his white mates were given the VC’s for less fighting than some of those black ones. Even though Tom could not get into the pub, he managed to get into the grog quite well. He could never figure out the one about the land grant refusal, somehow always thought he was part of the land before white men. It did not make much sense, but then again, so much did not make sense. Black fellas got killed in the war more than Australians, yet they were never rewarded for bravery. They weren’t even citizens. That’s why Tom also did not get a pension. He could never understand the problem, no matter how often he asked himself or others.

His mum kept telling him “keep your nose clean, stay away from grog.” He only kept the first part but loved those brooding dark long- necks. Over time they rewarded him more than anything, even though it was of short duration. Each bottle set up the need for the next one. Tom drifted off to Sydney, camping along Salt Pan Creek at Herne Bay. He used to do short spurts of work, became an itinerant rabbito. In the evening he joined his mob on the creek, stewed up the left- over rabbits with pumpkins. The grog was also part of his mob. Many were returned soldiers but never shared in the spirit of Anzac, not a single medal. There was just this wrong kind of spirit; better than nothing at times.

Tom just idled along but somehow never got the thing about the returned soldier’s Land Grant out of his head. He would have liked to have been able to raise horses on the couple of hundred acres that so many white soldiers got after the return from Korea. Not being a citizen was a puzzle that never got solved, especially not when his days became more and more endured in an alcoholic daze. He used to pinch his arm, “yes, I am a person and am alive”, “how come I am not a citizen.” “What’s a citizen?” Apparently, anyone but a black fella.

He went back to Orange and lived with his mother who put up with his now deeply entrenched need for grog. He would be charged over and over again with drunken behaviour, disorderly behaviour, pissing up against the rosemary at the Town’s returned soldier’s memorial with the bronze inscribed names of so many brave but white souls. White souls, the lot of them, and all dead but still regarded true citizens. All their wives and mothers were receiving pensions.

Tom’s mother was just scraping by with the help of uncles and aunties and assorted relatives, all without pensions. “We are from the Wiradjuri people; we lived here well before any white man.” “Your grandmother use to grow seeds around here and we were the first gardeners,” she told Tom.

The coppers got fed up with Tom. It was too much. The Order was read out by the Magistrate; “Pursuant to Section of the Act, I am satisfied that Tom is an Inebriate within the meaning of the 1912 Act and hereby Order the Inebriate to be placed in a licensed institute for the remainder of his life”, or, till he is deemed cured. The chief constable with a grin on his face led Tom downstairs to his fate. Tom mused on the stairs down; am I now a citizen?

Tom was taken to the inebriate section of the mental hospital in Orange where he spent the rest of his life. He wasn’t even told of his mother’s death. In 1968 he finally became an Australian citizen and had his pension regularly paid out to the Institute. Tom did not get better nor did he ever find out why he was not a citizen before 1968. Over thirty percent of the inmates were aboriginals. Tom died in 1974.