Women Writing History and launch of What time is it there?

How lucky everyone was fit and well and able to attend.

Women Writing History and my book launch of What time is it there? was the last event on the Eltham library’s calendar before the coronavirus restrictions and closures were put in place.

I was lucky enough to have my son, Paul and his wife, Marian plus Ron, Robyn and Walker beside me for support. I thought I’d be okay on my own, but I honestly needed them there and they were so supportive.

You can buy a copy of the book at Amazon.com 

What time is it there? was finally launched by Wendy Dunn of Posey Quill Publishing during the Women Writing History Event  at the Eltham Library last Saturday. Even with last minute cancellations we still had nearly fifty people there. The staff at the Eltham Library were fantastic and provided free sandwiches and glasses for the champagne and wine. The nibblies were enjoyed by everyone.

I know that many book launches have been cancelled and we have friends in New Zealand who can’t get home. So sad, but so necessary.

I was just so thankful that I had my moment in the sun.

My workshop on How to Write the Mother  was a huge success. Many writers used their twenty minutes of Free Writing  to tap into their memories of their own mothers although they could have written anything that popped into their head. The stories they read out, written during the Splurge were so good that Kath Hart from the Eltham Library wants us to print them out for an anthology.

Of course all that might have changed due to the impact of the coronavirus.

Who knows where it will end?

Book Launch of ‘What time is it there?’

I can’t believe the book launch of ‘What time is it there?‘ is only a month away
Date: 14th March
Time: 1pm
Where: Eltham Library. Panther Place Eltham
Tel: 9439 9266
During the ‘Women Writing History’ event.

All Welcome

I love the cover that Luke Harris of Working Type did for me

David Major of Distant Mirror did the formatting both for a printed book and an ebook for Amazon.  Dr Wendy Dunn at Posey Quill is my publisher and mentor.

I have never published an Indie book before and it has been quite an experience. I now know the amount of work Ilura Press and Madeglobal did to get my two other books ready to publish.

As the author I knew that I had to get this manuscript as perfect as possible. This meant inserting the overarching voice (in 2nd person narration) of a humorous older Diane writing this novel and making sure the two voices (in third person narration) were the right point of view. Editing was also needed and Dr Nerina Jones and Dr Wendy Dunn came through for me. Nerina’s comments after reading the manuscript delighted me.

I love the way the narrative segues across time and character. The pattern is quickly established and seems to flow as naturally and easily as thought from one setting or p.o.v. to the next. As noted in the attachment , Diane’s Journal in the second person contributes an endearing aspect to her characterization.

I’m also conducting a workshop for writers attending the Women Writing History Event on the Saturday 14th March about Writing  The Mother. I have a power-point demonstration plus will talk for approximately half an hour with at least forty-five minutes for people to write about their own mothers, or someone who has been like a mother to them, or even a fictitious mother.

Who knows what gems we may find for our own writing. They can later share with others or keep what they have written to themselves.

My Memoir Writing class at Godfrey Street Community House in Bentleigh (9557 9037) will learn from my experiences into self publishing. One member has printed her own book for family members and I am so proud of her. It’s a great read.

Happy Christmas and New Year

I wish all my friends and family a very Happy Christmas and may 2020 be kind to you all. I hope you all enjoy peace and happiness in the year ahead.


 

It is already hot in Australia and the bush fires are burning. I feel terrible for the people who have lost everything and it is heartbreaking to see the pictures of the destruction and death on television. Somehow we must remain optimistic and hope that rain will come soon for Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. Here in Victoria the gardens are still green and even though it is summer we are surviving well and looking forward to Christmas Day.

Living in Patterson Lakes on the canal I grab a cup of coffee and sit out on the deck to watch a flotilla of  boats cruise past. They are bringing family and friends, and of course so many children to see the decorated houses Many homes are decorated with a huge variety of Christmas lights. There are blow up large Santas, rope lights twisted around palm trees or hanging down from flag poles, flashing Christmas trees and decorations on pool fences. There are oos and ahs  of delight at the reflections on the water and I love to hear children loudly singing Jingle Bells as they pass. Santa did his usual round of the canals in a big boat, ringing his Christmas bell and handing out sweets to excited children in bathers on jetties.

We have fully participated again this year and the torches along the gutter look spectacular (thanks to Paul and Marian). Of course we needed help to get all the solar lights into place and our family did that for us. Many thanks, the lights you all put up are superb.

I’m looking at Self Publishing next year and already Luke Harris has designed the cover of What Time is it There? At least I will know what is involved for my Life Writing class at Bentleigh Community House next year.

Do you like the new  cover?

Happy Writing over the holidays

Katherine and the Nitniluk Chalets

Okay. So I’ve been busy working through all the facets of self publishing and have neglected my blog. I promise I will finish it and get back on track again in the New year. At least I now have a cover for the next book, but now comes the formatting etc. I guess I was spoilt with my first two publishers doing all that for me, but at least I will know all of the process involved when talking to my memoir writing class next year. We break up for the Christmas holidays on Wednesday 4th December 2019. But for now it’s back to the Darwin blog

Top of my ‘to do’ list was a boat trip to see Katherine Gorge.

When we were last here in 1975 we couldn’t afford to go on this tour. This year, Paul had booked us into the Nitniluck Chalets, The name is indigenous . Nit (the sound cicader’s make) niluck (country) means cicader country in the local language. This time, instead of camping we were in a stand alone chalet with two bedrooms and a large living space with all mod cons. Even a full sized refrigerator. Paul and Marian had their own chalet so we could spread out to our heart’s content. Alan was soon ‘testing the bed’ and gave it a big thumbs up.

The next morning I walked over to the swimming pool while Alan had his shower. In a chair in the open camp kitchen I waited for for the pool to open at 8:am It was so peaceful listening to the birds and watching Rosellas squawk and flit amongst the gum trees. I’m amazed at how different they are in colouring to those at home. Familiar Plovers stately patrolled the grass and tiny birds searched for a breakfast of bugs and worms. Overall was the distinctive call of a black crow. The breeze made the trees, and our washing, dance. The pool didn’t open at the prescribed 8am (the chalet owners obviously hadn’t made the transference from the wet season to the dry season) so I’ll walk back to our chalet in warm tropical sunshine enjoying every moment, especially after a cold Melbourne winter.

  

Over a cup of coffee out on the chalet deck we began reminiscing about our trip in 1975. How different this trip is compared to then when there was no air-conditioning and certainly not in our truck, no mobile phones, little money, a fridge that didn’t cope with the heat and bush camps most nights. But I fondly remember two small boys, cooking over open fires, being warm, stars that beamed rather than twinkled in a huge open sky, of being able to see for miles.

Tues 23/4/2019. We finally make it to the Katheryn Gorge Cruise. Paul wheeled Alan down the long ramp and onto the first boat. We look up at high red cliffs on either side of the first gorge. There are thirteen individual gorges, all connected during the rain fed wet season and separated in the dry, but only two are ever open for public viewing. Today’s trip comprises of those two gorges with a walk from our boat to another in the second gorge. Alan and I decided to wait in the shade for our group to arrive back from their second gorge tour. Our leaders had put chairs under a strategically placed shelter on the natural rock landing . Iced water is nearby in case we get thirsty. It is easy to dehydrate here. We found it such a delight to quietly sit listening to the water and feeling the cool breeze fan our faces.

I saw steps up to my right and decided to have a look. They led to rock paintings on an overhang, drawn many years ago by indigenous people while they waited on this Arnhem Land Plateau  for the wet season to end. Hidden for many years it is just now being set out as a place to visit. I hurry back to tell Alan all about it when we see a line of people heading back to the landing and our barge appearing.

 

Katherine Gorge was named by Scotsman John MacDow Stuart in 1862 after the daughter (Katherine) of his Adelaide sponsor, James chambers. 

Paul had to push Alan’s wheelchair back up the slope and two people offered to help. It is amazing how many kind people offered while we were away. I love it when Paul calls the small tent- like cabins with wire netting for back packing tours ‘Budgie cages’.

 

We relax in our luxurious surroundings. It is so peaceful here but we still need Paul and Marian’s anti mozzie wipes, jell and coils when we sit outside. Washing dries so quickly. I washed out a blouse in the morning, hung it on a hanger and wore it that afternoon. Alan is happy and well as this trip is a great pace for him,

Tomorrow we go to Mataranka and I can’t wait to see what it is like now.

Yellow Waters in Kakadu

I haven’t kept up with this blog. I know, I know. The reasons for writing it are numerous and varied. I know them all, but I have been procrastinating. Putting off writing and delaying with all the excuses under the sun. But…I’m back. This will be the perfect record of a perfect trip…and will get me writing again

The surrounding country of Kakadu (20,000 square kilometers) belongs to indigenous people.

If you respect country, it will look after you

We are the visitors.

Paul picked us up from the Crocodile Hotel at 5.15 am to take us to the Yellow Waters. I am not at my best at that hour of the morning, but I felt excited about the experience ahead and everyone else in our party felt the same. Just the thought of meandering along in our open boat watching the moon fade and sunlight slowly gild the water was enough to keep me going.

We have had glorious sunny days but cyclone Trevor caused the rain to bucket down over Kakadu during the wet season and the usual gangplank for the Yellow Waters trip is underwater. To our delight our flat bottomed barge of a boat is now leaving early from Home billabong  upstream and will snake through a narrow water way to the yellow waters. We will drift past where we would usually board our boat and then continue on to explore this amazing place.

 

I am entranced, in heaven, as we set off and glide along. The moon is low in the sky. We share the experience with other passengers but even the children are quiet as we explore this remarkable place.  That morning we observed so much variety. We experienced unusual birds, crocodiles and wetlands with floating buffalo grass and lily pad fields.

 

This body of water begins at Jim Jim falls. Yellow Waters got the name from the yellow Melaleuca trees.  (/ˌmɛləˈljkə/) is a genus of nearly 300 species of plants in the myrtle familyMyrtaceae, commonly known as paperbarks or honey-myrtles.Here, they stain these waters yellow. (I used to make bark paintings from the many and varied colours of the paperbark. Most are yellow but if I found a red bark it was highly prized and I always remembered that tree and would constantly return.) If you are born or die indigenous you are wrapped in paperbark and belong to country. It is a very spiritual tree. We travel through the Melaluca swamp, listen for whistling kites and look for white bellied sea eagles.

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There is a request not to lean out of the boat to take a picture as crocodiles can launch at least half of their body weight out of the water and may grab a hand…or more. in spite of constant warnings we travel through yellow billabong into the South Alligator River.

Kakadu is owned by the traditional owners but it administered and protected by the Federal government and protected under Parks and Wildlife Australia as a national park. The indigenous people see Kakadu as a supermarket and a clothing shop.  Dilly bags (a carry bag) are made from the pandanas palm which came from south east Asia 500 years ago.

Paul wheeled Alan up the ramp to an eggs, bacon, sausage and mushroom breakfast. Later, Paul went to the Bowali Visitors Centre (named after Bowali Creek) and asked for all wheelchair friendly sites.

My next blog will cover Litchfield Park, Kathryn Gorge and Mataranka

Darwin: Jabiru and Kakadu

Before we left for the Crocodile Hotel at Jabiru Paul took us to Cousins Lookout and Waterhole. It was not what I was expecting. Lookouts for me meant going to the top of a hill (one tree lookout and tower in the Dandenong ranges comes to mind) and seeing vistas of rolling wooded hills and deep valleys. This lookout was a grassy slope overlooking a billabong.

Cousins Lookout was marked ‘closed’ on the roadworks board at the main turnoff but when we reached the actual road there was nothing to be seen.  We decided to take a chance. I’m so glad we did.

       

In the early morning light wallabies were everywhere.  I kept seeing large termite mounds and just had to take a picture. They reminded me of when we first saw them in 1973. They had not changed and were familiar to us.

      

We had a resident geko lizard on our ceiling at Mary River Retreat. At night he actively chased bugs and sometimes he came half way down our walls. We loved watching him. I was reminded of the gekos in Malaya. There we always said,  for the first year we sit and watch them. The second year they watch us and the third year we are up there with them. To Alan the ceiling of the unit reminded him of our truck canopy all those years ago.

 

We arrived back to our unit only to find a family consisting of grandma, grandpa, mum and dad, and four boys had arrived for the Easter holiday. Mum was not happy. she said loudly that the grandparent’s unit was better. “You must have paid more,” was her comment. “Ours smells and has lino on the floor. I’m going to see if I can change.” The children were all scrapping and yelling to go into the pool to escape Mum’s mood and to get away from the heat.

I put on my headphones (a hospital gift from Marian) to drown out the noise and wrote with my apple pencil in my ipad (a gift from Paul last birthday). Fabulous. I could scrawl away in my ipad and not hear a thing. Tomorrow is Good Friday. Tent pegs are hammering, voices calling, the golf buggy hurtles by filled with an adult driving and laughing children and the water spray is tut, tut, tutting. They are happy campers preparing for the Easter holiday but the peace without the headphones has gone. Tomorrow we are happy to move on to Kakadu.

To help me understand more about our destination I searched for information about Kakadu on the internet. This is what I discovered.

Kakadu 2431.jpg

The name Kakadu may come from the mispronunciation of Gaagudju, which is the name of an Aboriginal language spoken in the northern part of the park. This name may derive from the Indonesian word kakatuwah, (via Dutch kaketoe and German Kakadu) subsequently Anglicised as “cockatoo”.

Kakadu National Park is a protected area in the Northern Territory of Australia, 171 km southeast of Darwin. The park is located within the Alligator Rivers Region of the Northern Territory. It covers an area of 19,804 kms (7,646 sq mi), extending nearly 200 kilometres from north to south and over 100 kilometres from east to west. It is the size of Slovenia, about one-third the size of Tasmania, and nearly half the size of Switzerland. The Ranger Uranium Mine, one of the most productive uranium mines in the world, is surrounded by the park.

The Aboriginal traditional owners of the park are descendants of various clan groups from the Kakadu area and have longstanding affiliations with this country. Their lifestyle has changed in recent years, but their traditional customs and beliefs remain very important. About 500 Aboriginal people live in the park, many of them are traditional owners. All of Kakadu is jointly managed by Aboriginal traditional owners and the Director of National Parks with assistance from Parks Australia, a division of Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Energy. Park Management is directed by the Kakadu Board of Management.

Our accommodation at The Crocodile Hotel was superb. Our unit was large, comfortable and right beside their swimming pool. The dining room was close by. We had several meals at the hotel restaurant. On the first occasion I had barramundi fish and it was superb, as were all our meals. The lovely young waitress was a new French backpacker who had just arrived and was learning the language and the craft. Our room was just behind the head of the crocodile hotel in the picture below. You can just see the shade sail over the swimming pool. In the heat it was lovely to go for a swim in cool water before showering and heading off for dinner.

Kakadu is indigenous owned and we were very aware of and respectful of their culture. Paul and Marian took us to view the rock paintings at Ubirr, a group of rock outcrops in the northeast of the park, on the edge of the Nadab floodplain. There are several large rock overhangs that would have provided excellent shelter to Aboriginal people over thousands of years. Ubirr’s proximity to the East Alligator River and Nadab floodplains means that food would have been abundant and this is reflected in much of the rock art there. Animals depicted in the main gallery include barramundicatfishmulletgoannasnake-necked turtlepig-nosed turtlerock-haunting ringtail possum and wallaby,

   

Paul pushed Alan in his wheelchair in 35 Celsius heat and made sure Alan looked at as many paintings as possible. Paul also ensured Alan saw a remarkable variety and concentration of wildlife by stopping at every bird-hide and shelter along the way. He was so professional in the way he unfolded the wheelchair from the back of the four wheel drive car and had it ready for Alan to use.

Burrunguy, formally called Nourlangie Rock, is located in an outlying formation of the Arnhem Land Escarpment. There are a number of shelters in amongst this large outcrop linked by paths and stairways. The shelters contain several impressive paintings that deal with creation ancestors. Some of the stories connected to these artworks are known only to certain Aboriginal people and remain secret. Anbangbang Billabong lies in the shadow of Nourlangie Rock and is inhabited by a wide range of wildlife which would have sustained traditional Aboriginal people well. We had many picnic lunches and loved the peace of this place. I took many photos of information to read at my leisure.

  Photo of Anbangbang Billabong

From the Jabiru airport we took a kakadu Air one hour scenic flight. I wanted to get an idea of the size and shape of the land and you can only do that from a small plane or helicopter.

 

The vast expanse of Kakadu lay spread out before us.  I saw the flood plains below and the high escarpment rising out of the mist. It would have provided shelter for centuries from violent storms, flood plains and billabongs during the wet season. I imagined aboriginal people sheltered by rock cliffs towering above. Imagined them waiting patiently for the monsoon to pass and the dry season to begin. They would huddle around fires, gossiping, story telling and adding to the art work. An abundance of wildlife kept them healthy and alert. The commentary through the headphones was informative and fascinating. There was so much to learn and to see and I was spell bound by the sheer size of the area.

Jim Jim falls were fascinating from the plane and we were given every opportunity to see them. I’d noticed on one of our car trips that the road to them was still closed. We decided not to try to get through this time. However  viewing them from the air was amazing.

     

How generous of the indigenous people, now that they own most of Kakadu to welcome all people to their country. However, certain areas are closed to everyone, indigenous people included, because that area is the resting place of the Rainbow Serpent and she must not be disturbed.

 

Darwin: the Mary River Region

The Mary River region is Jawoyn land and I want to know more about the indigenous culture, but first we settled in to the Mary River Wilderness Retreat.


I was delighted to find that we had our own unit with shared pool (a necessity in this hot climate). The water of the pool was not heated and was gloriously cool. I couldn’t wait to don my bathers and swim under the shade of tall palms. So refreshing. Even Alan had a dip in the pool. We had sunshine everyday with azure blue skies. Amazing for the end of the wet season. Our time in the Top End was on the cusp of the wet and dry seasons when trips and accommodation were beginning to reopen for the dry season ahead.

On the way to Mary River we called in to Howard Springs. 

   

We hardly recognised it after so many years and Paul wheeled Alan everywhere so he could participate in the beauty and history of this place.  Fish were bountiful and the large lizards were amazing to see. We even saw the original spring bubbling out of rocks. 

We also called in to Fogg dam. Alan remembered walking over the dam wall in 1973 and seeing crocodiles. This amazing place also triggered many memories for me. We laughed at how it was believed at that time that rice would be a lucrative crop to grow at Fogg Dam.  Acres were planted until the Magpie geese discovered it was a free banquet and stripped the plants bare.

 

We also viewed wildlife at the Wetland complex and spotted crocodiles in the water’s edge at the South Alligator River. I shuddered when I thought about how little crocodiles figured into our plans so long ago. I now realize how lucky we were to return with two healthy boys able to grow into the caring men they are today.  After my swim we settled in to our unit at the Wilderness Retreat. The next day we went on the experience of a life time:

A Wildlands Wetlands Safari in an air boat over the corroboree billabong.

  

Josh took the four of us on the first trip for the season and was amazing. He revealed to us the indigenous culture of that part of the world. Josh showed us the differences between the native water-lilies and the ancient introduced Asian water-lilies. He demonstrated how the stalks were like celery and the large leaves with their hairy surfaces could be used as water containers or even hats. Alan had to try one and said it was much cooler and protected his head from the sun.

   

I was amazed that something so decorative could have so many indigenous uses. We had to wear headphones to block out the noise of the air bus engines.

       

When josh opened up the motor and whipped over the water-lilies it was a thrill of a lifetime. How reassuring that an air-boat doesn’t do any environmental damage. This made our trip all the more fun.

Josh’s commentary was superb as he pointed out Jabiru birds,  and crocodiles that made the billabong home. I loved learning about the birds, animals and indigenous culture associated with this magical Top End of Australia.

 

Jumping crocodiles trips are constantly advertised. We even saw an advertisement of a boxing crocodile. I did not want to see crocodiles jumping out of the water to grab a chicken. I wanted to see them lazily powering along with only their eyes and spine visible in the water. This environmentally friendly air boat trip was amazing.

We went back to the Wilderness Retreat ready for a swim and to relax in our unit. Later, we sat outside protected by Paul and Marian’s mosquito coils and wipes and listened to cockatoos roosting for the night.

The next day Paul took us around in the hired golf cart. We had a plan in place that if anyone got sick we could easily fly home. However we happily headed off to out accommodation in the Crocodile Hotel at Jabiru/Kakadu

 

 

Darwin Hop on Hop off bus

I found the best way to explore Darwin was to pay for 24 hours on the double-decker Hop on Hop off red bus.

   

I used it three times before my ticket ran out.

 

Just around from the Palm City Resort was the Information Centre where we caught the morning bus. The first time Alan and I stayed on board and enjoyed the unique and informative  Northern Territory style commentary. I made notes of the museums and art Galleries I wanted to visit .

     

Paul picked Alan up in the hired Mitsubishi Sportsman SUV diesel car. I didn’t realize that the bus didn’t run until 1.30 pm in the afternoon but it gave me the opportunity to shop. Once on the bus I hopped off at East Point to explore the Darwin Military Museum, an important location during WWII. The Defense of Darwin Experience provided me with an immersive, interactive experience of the  story of Darwin’s role during the war .

 

However, I lost track of time wandering around the beautiful tropical gardens containing a myriad of artefacts. (walk through the cafe and out into the gardens. I nearly missed it). I climbed up steep steps to see the guns that were considered obsolete by 1943 and remembered when we came in 1973 we had not realized the extent of the bombing of Darwin. We were amazed at our ignorance and applauded what we saw then as the ingenuity of homemade guns created out of logs and large wheels and the non-government funded museum. Little did we know that for generations the country was kept in the dark about the true dimensions of the Japanese attack. At the time Mr Curtin suppressed all news about the bombing of Darwin in case it caused ‘anxiety and distress’.

   

At 9.58am on February 19, 1942, just four days after the supposedly impregnable British garrison in Singapore collapsed, Japanese bombers escorted by Zero fighters appeared in the skies above Darwin. The first wave attacked the CBD and harbour infrastructure, and sank 11 ships either at anchor or berthed. A second wave came for the RAAF base. By noon, 243 people – including 53 civilians – were dead, 400 wounded. The wharf was cut in two, 30 aircraft were destroyed and the post office levelled; postmaster Hurtle Bald, his wife Alice, daughter Iris and six post office workers died when a bomb hit their slit trench.

In 2019 the bombing of Darwin in 1943 is now celebrated. Darwin had survived. Sitting in the Museum reminded me  of the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour, although many more American lives were lost in that conflict. More than 2,400 Americans died in the attack, including civilians, and another 1,000 people were wounded. Darwin was bombed over twenty times and many lives were lost but these facts were hidden from the population at the time. People lived in ignorant bliss unless you lived in Darwin or Adelaide River in the Northern Territory during WWII.

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I spent so long there that I caught the last Hop on Hop off bus to the Flying Doctor Museum at Stokes Hill Wharf. I was determined and excited by the thought of trying virtual reality for the first time and to see the Holographs used to accentuate the visitor experience

 

Racing through the exhibit in the hour before they closed I had to ring Paul to pick me up. Fortunately he was available and knew where to get me. He and Marian had taken us to have a delicious dinner on the wharf the night before. We had a round table between two wharf-side buildings where we got the evening breeze, so cooling after Darwin heat. We ordered our green Thai curry meal from a wharf cafe. Delicious.

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I was up and on the bus early the next morning because I wanted to experience the Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery. Of particular importance to me was to see the Cyclone Tracy exhibit. We had been there the year before Tracy but I remember reading about the devastation and disbelief of Darwin residents that this could happen to them on Christmas Eve 1974. Having two small boys myself at the time I could truly empathise and relate to their problems.  they couldn’t reveal the actual wind speed of the cyclone as all the gauges were destroyed

 

I arrived at stop 7 ready for action only to find the NT Museum didn’t open until 10am. I only had half an hour to dash into the Gallery, take as many photos as possible for later research and dash out again, but at least I had seen it for myself.

8 darwin cyclone tracy 2019-04-15 10.12.46 (2)

For those interested I’ll list some of the stops along the way. stop 1: Information Centre. 2: Crockosauras Park. 3: Fish feeding (10 min walk) 4: the commentary said during the war Catalina amphibious aircraft became fighter bombers. 5: the site of Darwin Hospital. Opened after 17 days then bombed and later damaged beyond repair by Cyclone Tracy. Cullen Bay (protected modern beach front homes). Fannie Bay Goal didn’t open until Wednesday. Old Millyn Heritage Area (old Queenslander homes that survived the bombing and Cyclone Tracy). George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens. Mindil Beach Market. WWII Oil Storage Tunnels are some of the fascinating stops available to anyone interested to hop on and off the bus.

We finished our three days in Darwin with a trip to Coles (just around the corner) for travelling supplies and later a sunset cruise and buffet meal on a catamaran .

 

The next day we left Darwin to head for Mary River Wilderness Retreat. The Mary River region is Jawoyn land and I want to know more about the indigenous culture

 

45 years later

Forty-five years. Turn around three times and those years have gone in the blink of an eye. 

Yet so much has changed. We have changed from the wide eyed uninformed thirty year old Melbournians with two young boys optimistically starting out on what we called The Trip of a Lifetime. Now, our over fifties son and wife are taking two mouldy oldies (by that I mean late seventies and early eighties) back to revisit Darwin. What will have changed? How will life have changed, apart from the wheelchair and extra luggage?

In 1973 we traveled in an old F100 truck with a pick up camper in the tray from Melbourne, via Ayers Rock, to Katherine and Darwin and back. It was the year before Cyclone Tracy wrecked havoc on the top end. However, we saw the devastation on the television and were aghast at the destruction of lives and property. Victorians were not aware of the impact WWII had on Darwin and we knew nothing about the indigenous population. We were amazed to discover so many different tribes, each with their own language and culture who didn’t understand English speaking Southerners from Victoria.

As individuals we, and the Top End have changed. Before every large event in Melbourne is a recognition of indigenous people and a Welcome to country ceremony. We have said Sorry for past transgressions and indigenous people now vote and are counted in the census. Kakadu has been returned to it’s indigenous owners and tourism is tolerated in certain sections of Kakadu . The Crocodile Hotel at Jabiru is indigenous owned.

Forty-five years later we traveled in style, staying first at the Palm City Resort. It was hot, over 30 Celsius hot, and I loved our villa and personal spa hidden amongst tropical vegetation.

 

Relaxing with a glass of champagne I wondered about this new city, seen so briefly. It appeared lush, tropical, multinational and laid back. Darwin city reminded me of a teenager. I felt it was still growing up and finding its way. It seemed to me to be like the Gold Coast used to be before the high rise buildings came to town. Darwin, to me was like a large country town, accepting diversity and welcoming.

Next week: what the Hop on Hop off bus reveals. 

May 2019 Be Kind To You All

Another Christmas and New Year have been and gone. I’m always amazed at how quickly time flies. The lead up to Christmas is hectic, the holiday season is fun and the wind-down enjoyable. But now we have to pick up the threads and get stuck into this brand new year.

I love this old postcard with a traditional Scottish toast wishing everyone well for the coming year. Here it is for friends and family. I wish you all well and every happiness in the year ahead.

It will be a full year of teaching, writing, book launches (others, not mine because I’m still working on my 3rd book ) and attending writing groups, giving workshops on How To Write A Memorable Memoir, and attending conferences etc. The passion is still there.

  

Marketing is always a problem. There are so many books now available on Amazon and Kindle that my two books, Pickle to Pie and Something Missing are now well down the ladder and I simply don’t know how to breathe new life into them. However, I am eternally grateful for all they have given me and my academic journey means I am alumni to Monash, Melbourne and Swinburne Universities. Fantastic.

However, at this brand new start to this new year my horizons are broader. I am optimistic that as the world gets smaller so our hearts will get larger and we will embrace people different to us and wish them peace

Family is very important to us. Our eldest son and wife left for a snowy Christmas in the USA and Canada and sent photos and texted often. We have the grand-dogs for company while they are away. Our youngest son, wife and two grandchildren drove down from Queensland for a great Christmas get -together. He did all the cooking and we had a lovely time. We played Uno and swam in the canal. The memories will keep me warm during our cold winter months but for now I’m simply enjoying life and taking advantage of every moment of sunshine, warmth and Summer living.

Patterson Lakes comes alive during these warm days. People have barbecues, sit on their deck drinking coffee (or something stronger) and watching the kayaks paddle past on the waterway outside our doors.  The birds are a joy to watch as they swoop and play. We see pelicans, sooty terns, swifts, ducks…even the laughing duck and the ever present seagulls squabbling for anything left over. The plover’s call at night lulls us to sleep.

May you all have a wonderful year filled with happiness and joy