Saturday, November 28, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
In my last blog I proudly displayed some beautiful shots from the garden. Alas, since then the news has been pretty disastrous. Our glorious old flowering gum - at least 70 years old - decided to drop one of its very large limbs - right on top of my rose garden and across the drive. It took an age for the tree man to come and clean it all up, but I guess we have enough firewood for next year - leaves a very bare patch in the rose garden though.
A week later, down came another, higher branch. It is a very one sided tree now. We are going to have to get a tree doctor in to look at it, as some of the other limbs are looking rather unsafe as well.
More garden disasters tomorrow when I get my camera organised.
Sunday, October 04, 2009
It began when I woke up on the last day of the term with a lousy sore throat, a stuffed up nose and a headache. Any other day I would have turned over and gone back to sleep , but being the last day, I just had to go to school!
I struggled through the day, my voice gradually becoming croakier and croakier. Just my luck!! As soon as the holidays arrive, I get sick! How often does this happen to teachers???
My worst fears were realised over the next few days as my cold developed into a humdinger. All my good intentions about getting so much done duringthe break, went out the window as I sat by the fire and wallowed in misery. The weather did its best to cooperate - it was just too darn cold and miserable to do anything outside - and I was just too cold and miserable to do anything inside.
At the end of the first week it dried up a little and we were able to get a little done in the way of weeding. I also managed to pass my rotten cold on to Don, so we were able to be miserable together. I am hoping that the second week is better than the first as I am off to Sydney on Wednesday to see my girls - cold or no cold.
I did take a few more shots of the garden - please excuse the weeds and uncut lawns. We need some warm, dry weather.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Such a pity the daffodils are finishing just as the bluebells are beginning. They look good together when I can get them flowering together - not this time.
This dainty little miniature violet is one of my favourites
And of course Ollie has to get into the act. He loves gardening with us. He digs enormous holes - usually where I have just pulled up a weed, or planted something. I am amazed that he is still in one piece, so closely does he get involved helping with digging and hoeing.
Liz from the garden
Wednesday, September 09, 2009
What would we do without our furry friends. Our two little Jackies give us so much love and devotion and all they ask in return is our love and the occasional game.
I say the 'occasional' game, but with Ollie it's one long non-stop game. He's the first pup we've actually had inside most of the time. Our earlier dogs were mainly outside dogs (by choice - they loved to hunt and roam all over the paddocks, but the roads are busier these days and we don't let the dogs out without us), but since Don has been retired, they spend a lot of their time inside keeping him company during the day .
At night Ollie claims me as his own and would happily chase a ball or anything I throw for as long as my throwing arm holds out. Have to say I can't resist those eyes and that cute face.
If there is no one around to play with him, he gets in to the most horrific mischief. On the occasions that Don has gone out, he has come home to find that Ollie has found something to amuse himself
balls of wool unwound all over the house
toys with stuffing ripped out of them
library books chewed up - the last one cost me $38 to replace
a bag of flour torn apart and spread all over the lounge floor
potatoes chewed up and spat out
soap packets torn open
a set of school assignments home for marking totally destroyed
bags of fabric strewn around and so on.
Now when we go out we Ollie-proof the house. All chairs and sofas are moved to the middle of the room, doors are locked and he is confined to the living area only. Everything is put away or placed totally out of reach. He is obviously paying us out for going off and leaving him alone with no one to play with except old Jeb. Jeb puts up with Ollie remarkably well and will play with him until he gets tired and then he lets Ollie know in no uncertain terms that he has 'had enough!'
Jeb is 14 now and likes to lie around and watch TV with Don. I guess we will have a life without Jeb soon enaough, but meantime we are enjoying the company of these two little lads.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Perhaps one of my readers (if I have any) will be able to help out.
Another bush tucker offering - sweet but with an unpleasant texture. It left a slimy residue on the tongue.
Bush tucker again. Very small, sweet berry reminiscent of ones we used to collect as kids in the Adelaide Hills - we called them native currants, I think. I wouldn't want to have to rely on these for a feed. It would take all day to pick enough for a meal.
This pretty thing is the flower of a native hopbush - a member of the Dodonaea family, but I am not sure which particular one.
This flower looks familiar - a member of the Malvaceae family, I think - some form of native hibiscus, perhaps?
And finally, my favourite. Obviously a pea flower, but I haven't a clue which species. We only saw one small bush of this and I was captivated by it - the colours so delicate for the harsh environment in which it was growing.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
And then it was time to get the fire ready for the evening activity. Kelvin Johnson, one of the community leaders had been out the previous day and shot a kangaroo for a feast on the Thursday night. He had also [prepared a large fire which had been burning for about 12 hours and on which we were to cook the kangaroo. Most of the kids were OK about the roo, although some of the girls didn't hang around to see it being prepared and cooked.
Kelvin gutted and cleaned to roo, then removed and skun the legs. The main body of the roo was then thrown on the coals to burn off the fur. If left unsinged it gives the meat an unpleasant taste.
After the singeing, the roo was taken off the coals and the tail was removed. This was cooked separately and is considered to be the best part of the roo. Kelvin the dug a trench in the coals and the roo was placed in the trench and covered with rocks and coals. It was then left for about 4 hours.
Meanwhile the kids and I gbegged for one of the legs and we hastened to the kitchen to ransack the larder for ingredients to add to the leg, which we then wrapped in foil and added to the coals.
Garry and some of the local ladies helped make large dampers to cook in the coals and the kids were shown how to coil strips of damper around sticks to cook over the coals. Once cooked the sticks were removed and the holes filled with butter, honey or jam. Delicious!!!
As it grew dark, the excitement grew. The women who had been helping earlier decided that we might as well have a real party and they disappeared and came back with sausages, chops and salads, while we raided our food supplies for anything that we could add to the feast. We set up a screen on the back of a truck and projected all our photos onto the large screen. The roo was removed from the fire and prepared for eating, our leg was uncovered - perfectly cooked and everyone tucked in to a great meal.
We sat around the camp fire and listened to a muso from the community sing a selection of Buck McKenzie songs about Nepabunna. He taught the kids a fun song about their tummies (we heard this song a number of times in the next 24 hours!!)and all the locals joined in the fun.
It was a great night, warm friendly company and lots of fun. We tumbled into bed, tired but happy, not really looking forward to leaving the next morning. We had a wonderful week, we had experienced and learnt so much and none of us wanted to leave this magical place and return to the mundane life of school. Thank you so much to the people of Nepabunna. We will never forget what you taught us.
Time I added another day to this blog. This is becoming quite an epic.
Day 4 was probably the best day ever. First we drove out to Malkiwi Gorge (spellings on this one seem to vary a bit), a very important site in the Yura history. The gorge has beautiful rock paintings many hundreds of years old. It is believed that this gorge was used at the route from the Northern Finders to the Southern Flinders area and the rock paintings were done by Yura passing through who wanted to leave messages about important events and happenings in the area.
Uncle Ron, Aunty Shirley and the two sisters Joelwyn and Julette were our guides through this very important area. The gorge is visually stunning and although we visited on a very overcast, grey day, the colours were beautiful and my photos do not really do them justice.
As we walked through I felt quite overwhelmed by the sense of history in this place - almost like being in a cathedral. I felt the same when I visited Uluru. I couldn't speak, just wanted to look. At one stage I turned around and Joelwyn who was normally a lively, happy, talkative lass was strangely quiet and introspective. I commented that she looked like this place meant a lot to her and she agreed that it was very special to her people and to her.
Makiwi Gorge is a restricted area and you can only visit with an authorised member of the community. We were asked to stick to the track and not to pick up or remaove any articles because there are many artefacts there which are being preserved.
The small rocks here are thin sharp pieces of stone that were shaped and honed to be used as cutting tools
As we approached the gorge we crossed this flat sandy area which was used as a camping ground. It is here that we found the cutting stones.
Scenes in the gorge
The morning in the gorge was the highlight of my week at Nepabunna and the area really touched me emotionally. It is a place I will not forget.
Sunday, August 09, 2009
We were introduced to the oldest member of the Nepabunna Community - Ron Coulthard, or Uncle Ron as he asked to be called. Uncle Ron was born in 1931 and has vivid memories of the early days of Nepabunna. He is a story teller and has an incredible knowledge of the Dreaming stories of his people. Ron, as a lad, worked as a stockman with RM Williams who went on to fame as a producer of leather goods. He is a proud man, worried that the traditional culture of the Yura is slowly disappearing as the young people leave to take up lives away from their traditional lands.
Our group spent several days with Ron and his cousin Aunty Shirley (the old chick) and learnt so much from them about the Adnyamathanha history and beliefs. We came away from out trip enriched by meeting to this wonderful old man and listening to his stories. Mt Serle Station was the property on which most of the local Yura lived and worked until the 1920s when they were forced to move on. Most of them moved to Ram Paddock Gate on the Burr Well Station. They were eventually forced to move from their homes here as the station owners wanted the water for their stock. Mt Serle was leased to an aboriginal group in about 1986. It is currently unoccupied and not being worked and the Nepabunna community is keen to obtain the lease themselves. Uncle Ron told us that he visited the station a while back and met the CEO - an Old Man Kangaroo and then the manager - a large billy goat both of whom seem to have taken over the premises.
The Ram Paddock Gate Yura were moved to Nepabunna in 1931 where a mission was set up for them. There seem to be mixed feelings written about this mission. Ram Paddock Gate is now a heritage site and the ruins and artefacts can still be found on the site, though many would have been taken away before the area was handed back to the Nepabunna community.
Ruins of the cottages at Ram Paddock Gate. We were curious to know where the slate would have come from.
Our next stop was at Damper Hill where we heard a fascinating story from Uncle Ron. This site has been fenced off to protect the area. Several weeks ago there was a handover here and numerous people of importance were flown in for the ceremony. Uncle Ron built a traditional hut for the occasion.
This hut took Uncle Ron about 20 minutes to build - a quick job to show the pollies!
From Damper Hill we drove to a site which is probably one of the most important for the Nepabunna people as it is the site for the Dreaming story about the magpie (urrakurli), crow (wakarla) and eagle (wildu). This story teaches about respecting your elders and has been passed on among the Adnyamathanha for many generations. The story tells how the magpie and the crow who were originally white were very disrespectful to the old eagle and he paid them back by inviting them to a party in the cave, then building a huge fire in front of the cave so that the magpie and crow were trapped and had to fly out through the fire. Consequently the magpie who left first was partly burnt, but the crow was singed so badly that he was black all over except for his eyes which are still white. The rocks at the cave site are very black from this fire many years ago.
Looking at Eagle hill from the cave
The cave in the story
Looking out from the cave
We finished the day with a quick visit to Iga Wata just down the road. Iga Wata is a tourist area, run by a local Yura family. It includes accommodation and an interpretive museum and they conduct tours of the local area.
That night most of the kids slept out under the stars and I actually had the dormitory to myself - no rowdy kids and midnight giggles and whispers!!!