Overhead the poor man sitting on his patio (above) talking on his mobile and saying that the water was starting to drop. He has blue plastic pushed into all the weep holes in the walls of his house.
The frogs were in absolute frog heaven as we passed this area of grassland (below). They were croaking in absolute harmony and delight. There must have been a horde of them but they were all well hidden from our sight.
We lost town water, but were able to switch over to tank water. The power is still on which is amazing and I hope it stays that way, but anything can happen. Rain has been interrupted by periods of sunshine today, so maybe the worst is over for our area. As we passed the local high school which is being used as an evacuation centre Mr FD remarked that “There is a lot of agony in there”. Many of those within would have been flooded in 2011. The main business area is under water so life in general will be disrupted for some time. I fear some won’t make it back again. Cities down stream are yet to peak but expected to be lower than 2011.
Living the moment…
Today we are celebrating Australia Day, though some indigenous people refer to it as Invasion Day, or a Day of Mourning. As I write this there are flooding rains in the north of our country, raging bush fires in the south and pouring rain over The Flamingo Nest on the Hill. It is just over two years since the devastating floods that claimed the lives of so many victims, including my cousin whose body has never been found and many people still carry the scars and traumas of those days. The saying goes that every drought is ended by a flood. Now it seems that every flood is followed by a fire.
A woman, Ita Buttrose who has been a major player in Australian media for many years has been named Australian of the Year. I have to admit I feel that it was a safe and unimaginative choice for an election year. I personally was more excited about Akram Azimi‘s award for Young Australian of the Year, who by coincidence (?) lives by the maxim that I do and that is to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself. It may not always work in your favour, but at least you sleep at night. (Except for the stick list, but that is a whole different matter and not to be discussed today – maybe)
Australia is a large land, a land of contrasts, a land that can be beautiful and at the same time deadly. We are fortunate in that we have the benefit of great abundance of many things, but we are constantly reminded by events naturally and human caused that we need to value and sustain those gifts.
We are a land largely free of civil and political unrest, our diverse cultural mix manages cohesion most of the time, we have managed to separate church and state in recent times, and though we moan and groan about our political leaders they are a fairly benign group as a whole.
Many years ago we gave ourselves the badge of “The Lucky Country” and I think we can still wear that with pride. I am not claiming that we are better than other nations, but we are lucky in that by happen stance many of us were granted the gift of being born here, and many have been gifted the opportunity to live here.
No one has to fear a knock at the door, or going to the market for bread. We care for our less fortunate, though it can be well argued, not well enough. We have the freedom to go where we may, and to share discourses denied many other individuals.
We may not be sizzling the steak and sausages outside quite as much this year, due to rain and fire, but we can still all pause and be grateful for what we do have and why we have those freedoms and gifts.
Happy Australia Day!
A quick trip through the Fremantle Markets didn’t entice us to linger – too hot and too many people, but obviously a popular spot.
Our Doing Tine Tour guide was a retired prison warden, who soon informed us that he was going to speak to us as if we were prisoners, which basically meant he yelled in our faces most of the time. This seemed to be partly due to trying to give us the “real” experience minus the strip searches, and also to keep us on the run so that we completed the 90 minute tour on time.
The prisoners who would be serving the longest sentences were trained as cooks. The reasoning being that it took a long time to train a good cook! This meant that some of the hardest and nastiest prisoners worked in the kitchen. One day they took the carving knives to a fellow prisoner and beheaded him… no one asked for seconds that day, I bet!
Those on remand, not yet sentenced were kept in this area during the day. Up to 250 men would be herded here all day, with little or no supervision, resulting in all sorts of bullying and violence. They were not allowed to work in the first year.
These are the cells in different eras. There was no electricity installed until 1982. Often the temperature in the cells got to 50C in summer.
I couldn’t take more photos of the gallows, it just seemed wrong too. The sound of the drop was horrifying.
Afterwards we drove to the beach for lunch. My first real sight of the Indian Ocean!
For days Daughter2 and I talked of driving out to New Norcia and touring the historical Benedictine settlement that is situated there. The thought of sighting a monk in his natural habit and habitat was exciting in a strange sort of way.
So two hours drive out of Perth, on a 40C day we started our pilgrimage. Now, I thought that the monks would be as excited that I was coming to visit them, as I was to be viewing them. It appears not. In fact it seems that of the 8 monks still in residence, 6 were away on holiday. Monks on holiday. Geeze, what happened to the old days when you forsake/forsoke? all others and kept youself only unto the Big Whatever. Home for Christmas! Isn’t that like their busy season?
So I felt a bit jibbed to be told only 2 monks were in residence and they had the Do Not Disturb sign out.
I was so distressed that I made my first stop the New Norcia Hotel, where I partook of a glass of the monk’s finest Chardonnay, and D2 tried the Abbey’s ale. I even ordered a ploughman’s lunch to harden the resolve to face heat, dust and flies on the 90 minute tour.
The hotel apparently was built in anticipation of Queen Isabella II of Spain coming to visit, but she was rude enough to die before she could make the journey, so the monks turned it over to visitors to use (parents visiting their children at the boarding school) and then to a hotel. I think they were under the impression that Bella would bring some of those Spanish pesetas with her, and so toiled in the heat and dust to make the bricks to make a palace fit for a Queen, and then when she was a no show, and even more so her money, promptly did nothing to maintain the place ever again.
Over lunch I started me repartee of monks and little boy jokes (I am a lapsed Catholic, I have every right to use sarcasm and truth against my own religion). D2 was a little worried about how Mama was going to conduct herself on the tour, but I told her as long as I didn’t have a second glass of wine I would manage to keep my mouth closed and inside words, well inside. I did reserve the right to roll my eyes/eye in disbelief though.
The disbelief came pretty thick and fast, especially when we were told that they converted the Aboriginals over a cup of sweet tea.And apparently it was a mild inconvenience when the Aboriginal Post Mistress and her replacement died in a measles epidemic that killed 85 percent of the indigenous population at New Norcia.
There was both a boarding school and “orphanage” at New Norcia. The joke is that the orphanage wasn’t filled with orphans at all, but “indigenous children whose parents sent them for a better education”. Reading between the lines one can only read STOLEN GENERATION.
Better still, there was this big brick wall, or walls, that separated the “European boys” from the “Aboriginal boys”. At one stage the school went co-ed with nuns running the place, so not only were the walls there to separate race but also gender.
New Norcia is known for the bread it makes, and we toured the old flour meal which was shut down due to those pesky work place health and safety laws and the fact that they didn’t have a ready supply of boys to work there instead of being in school. I think by now you all have a pretty strong grip on how I feel about the subject.
By the end of the tour, we had been through three chapels, all very beautifully crafted by the monks, but were not shown any reality. All I could think of was the utter misery that those children must have experienced there. I felt as though every brick was crying.
On the lighter side, may I mention again that is was 40C and we went on a 90 minute walking tour. I had a water bottle with me, and I tried to be nice and share the dregs with D2 but in the last chapel I barely had the strength nor the will to life my camera. I was ready to cut and run when the guide announced the end of the tour. D2 and I were off like gazelles to our car and down the road to the service station where I bought a lemonade ice block, and orange drink and a bottle of water which I guzzled down while sitting in a cafe that seemed to be filled with the cast off furniture from the monk’s own dining room; except for the pew near the door, which naturally would have come from one of the three churches.
So perhaps it was better that I didn’t come across one of the monk’s because it may have been more than my control could have taken. We also have to face that with only 8 in residence, well 2 and the 6 at the beach, my mere presence may have caused the end of the order, because obviously being monks they aren’t used to a women of my calibre, so by not crossing paths they get to pray another day.
On the drive back to Perth we stopped at a bakery for tea and pastry and my heart jumped for joy, as the deck ceiling sported a water spray system that misted the area every few seconds with a very fine mist that instantly evaporated but managed to cool the area a little. If anyone gets a sainthood it should be the owner of that bakery, bless them. In case you didn’t read my words – it was 40 DEGREES CELCIUS, people. DAMN HOT.
There is a wetlands garden between the two precincts.
And this guy is called the Caller, for the obvious reasons!
Now, regular reading of the fabulous Flamingo Dancer are aware of my stick list – a list of the people who I am going to hit on the last day. That last day may be my last day at work, or anywhere, or life itself, but cross me and emblazoned you will be. GOM made the list this week for saying the dino bride looked like his mother in law (I am the perfect mother in law, naturally. Ask anyone, I will tell you.)
So, can you imagine my joy when I cam across this little guy sitting in his acrylic display box, in a corner? Be still me beating heart.
It was a red letter day for this Flamingo Dancer. Of course this guy doesn’t have the flair and beauty of my stick, but the knowledge that one has created a cultural icon that others aspire to recreate is soul stirring, and ego building, to say the least!
Back to the more mundane art of the common people
Sorry, I didn’t get the details on this pair, as some Asian tourists kept lining their family up in front of the catalogue card and so I just moved on for their safety. (I knew where the stick was by this time and was not adverse to breaking the glass in an emergency).
Flatland is a perfect representation of middle class Australia, where the houses remain all the same to this day. Street after street, suburb after suburb.
Sorry the colour is not accurate, but it was the gallery lighting, a point and shoot camera and no flash.
Just a step to the left outside the gallery is the roof top garden. (I am guessing the rooftop is to the car parking garage!)
Saturday we are hanging out with a bunch of monks, so that should make for some interesting reading…
This morning I breakfasted solo at a cafe called Toast and walked away with a bursting gluttonous stomach! It is very popular, and I was told there would be a 25 minute wait for my order of poached eggs, bacon, spinach and mushrooms, but I wasn’t worried being on holiday time. Speaking of time, I have been walking about the city so much these last few days that I have developed the dreaded watch band tan! Good sign to ditch the watch (a Christmas present from Mr FD hence the need to wear!). I read Bob Tart’s very amusing book, Enslaved by Ducks, drank my Irish Breakfast tea and teased Daughter2 by text who was in her office about where I was as I waited (I never said I was a nice person, let alone a good mother!)
The black swans say hi by the way.
As do these guys I met on the walk over
and this is just a grotesque seagull shot,
So a bit of a lazy day so far, but we may go to the movies this evening if we can summon the energy. In the meantime, here are some photos I prepared earlier…
During my visit to the museum yesterday, it was the actual building that interested me most. The building actually started its existence in 1891 as the old Perth gaol, and parts of it are in the process of being renovated, but they have also maintained original parts of it such as the police courts which opened in 1905..
Then it was over to the renovations.
That wraps up my visit to the Western Australian Museum in Perth, but you will be excited to read that I then visited the Western Australian Art Gallery also. Stay on the edge on your seats awaiting those gems to follow shortly!
Cecilia Levy uses recycled book tp make a series of beautiful cups and bowls and other gorgeous things…
The hut served as the base of operations for the British 1907-1909 Nimrod Expedition, an early attempt in the race to the geographic South Pole led by a young Ernest Shackleton.
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There were two sessions I attended at the conference that I knew as I sat listening to the presenters would have a profound and lasting effect on me.
The first was with the indigenous author and Australian laureate Boori Monty Pryor who spoke of his text Shake a Leg, which he created with the artist Jan Ormerod.
We all love picture books, they are always for colourful and full of energy, but as Boori deconstructed his text for us, I came to realise how many layers crafted his storytelling.
It wasn’t only his text, it was also his oral storytelling, his personality, his charisma and connection to the audience, that turned the moment into something special for me. Here was a man, who rose above all stereotypes of an indigenous person, who used words, pictures, humour and identity to confront the truth. but also to move forward from the past. As an experience it was a true gift.
Many people would be honoured to experience such a moment once in a lifetime, but I was given the gift of it twice, and twice in one day!
The last session of the day was with Willie Brim, also an indigenous person and the subject of connecting with country, culture and history, to uncover the inaccuracies, clichés and tokenism of Australian history and our treatment of indigenous since European settlement.
Willie discussed how indigenous are always portrayed as hunter gatherers when in fact they closely managed their land. He spoke about the indigenous connection to land and how white settlement disrupted and perverted that connection.
The entire time I sat enthralled by the passion of those men, and at the same time I couldn’t help reflecting that there is so much emphasis on introducing multiple intelligences and new literacies, such a oral and visual literacy to the school curriculum, and yet it has been present in the Australian indigenous culture for thousands of years!
Western culture prides itself on superiority and claims of being at the pinnacle of human civilisation, but in many ways, we are really at its lowest ebb, as we have separated ourselves from our environment, privileging the individual over community.
Consider, if the power went off for a month, how would we survive? Superior? I think not.