Category Archives: goals

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.

 

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

  

28: A Memorable Book By Christopher Lappas

A good book entertains. A great book makes you thinks about life and all its complexities. 28 by Christopher Lappas is a great book.

I took this book into hospital and read it after my knee replacement. I found myself totally involved with the characters.

It’s not an easy book to read, however, you become totally involved with the different relationships between 28, Scribe, his son, Andre and Scribe’s ex wife. However, I became so involved that time past quickly. Reading 28 meant that I wasn’t worrying about anything. I had lost myself in the story. As the story progressed, very little was as it first seemed and I found myself asking challenging questions as Scribe and 28  both struggle with demons in their past. I questioning again and again all the uncertainty of life and living, of destiny, motivation, and consequence.

The principle setting for the novel is in a hospital. The narrator is given the name Scribe by 28. She is a woman with a number for a name and their first meeting leaves him in confusion and disillusioned.

28 is the central character and Scribe is drawn into her stories (are they about herself or someone else)? She is an enigma to herself, to Scribe and to the reader. We want to know more about her. Why is she in a room on the lowest level of the hospital and Andre is lying in a coma in a higher room. Why is Scribe so fascinated by her stories? This book is definitely a multilayered work of art.

I was fascinated by the reoccurring theme of 28. It is everywhere in and around the book. The title, the number of chapters, the floors of the building, beads, almonds and 28 herself. Is it a coincidence that Ilura Press have the paperback selling for $28?

On the publishers website www.ilurapress.com, Christopher Lappas talks about the process of writing this book. I found his comments relevant and insightful.

This courageous, and memorable novel entertains with  a story of relationships and allows us to experience the characters personal growth and their final belief in themselves. I was left with a sense that 28’s life goes on past the last chapter . I found the end both surprising and elegantly clever.

I can’t wait to read Christopher Lappas’ next book and hopefully I will not be in hospital but home to enjoy it to the full.

2017: 28 by Christopher Lappas ilura Press

ISBN: 9781 9213 25304 

Aus$28.00

 

And the Winner is…

Helen Luxton has won a copy of Something Missing and Pickle to Pie. Her name was drawn after my workshop last week on Life/Memoir Writing at the Hastings Library.

Over twenty writers attended, all with fascinating projects. On a table, near the books for sale, was a list. It stated that if you subscribe to my website http://www.glenicewhitting.com you had a chance of winning a copy of my latest novel, Something Missing. I felt that a copy of Pickle to Pie would also be helpful to Helen.

Life Writing

Life writing is considered an all-encompassing term. This genre involves the recording of personal memories and experiences. Life writing includes not just biography and autobiography but also Memoir

Autobiography is ‘I’ writing (writing the self)_It is ‘mystory

Memoir (from the Latin, meaning memory) is a subclass of autobiography. It is an autobiographical account of someone’s life. However, the focus is on the events a person remembers rather than the self. (The writer remembers passages of dialogue from the past)_it is ‘ourstory’

Biography is writing her/his story_it is ‘theirstory‘.

Below is an outline about what we managed to cover in a brief time. 

Life Writing/Memoir Workshop 31/7/2018

Hastings library

Every family has fascinating stories and even secrets. The stories of ordinary family life must be told. Finding the best way to tell these stories can be a fascinating journey and the chance to create a valuable resource for your descendants. However we all want to write an account that is memorable, engaging and not boring.

What about the family’s murky secrets? Don’t shy away from these stories. They can be healing to you  and helpful to the reader as they provide the opportunity of insights: such as a marriage taking its last breaths, the death of a child etc

How can we do justice to intriguing ancestors?

Should my story turn into fiction? How much dramatising is acceptable?

Who is my reader? What kind of publication is appropriate?

 Self publishing where I pay for everything myself?

Self publishing: using Busybird or Lou Lou.  (you still pay)

 Small press publisher. They pay, but what about Marketing?

 Traditional Big Publisher: such a Pan McMillan etc. Pitch it to them on Fridays and Mondays.

Do I need a professional editor? —Yes, Yes, Yes:

I had an American editor to check for any mistakes for the American section of Something Missing. She said a campervan was called a pullalong camper. An English editor provided by MadeGlobal Publishing asked What is a Doona? I changed it to continental quilt.

Structure: Make a W.A.I.N  (Where Am I Now?  —

Write the first draft without any thought. Knock that writing citic off your shoulder: lose control. Forget about grammar, spelling and being nice and polite.

Take Risks 

 Free writing:  Don’t stop writing for at least 15 mins. Write anything that comes into your head. Get messy, and leave it for the adult writer to clean up later when revising your book.

Join a Writer’s Group & the Victorian Writers in the Wheelers Centre in Melbourne

Read everything you can lay your hands on. Hazel Edward’s has written a very good book titled ‘Non Boring’ Family History’. This is a practical guide for those wanting to shape their family research into a readable family history.

Happy Writing and have FUN

A Knee Replacement and Procrastination

So you book yourself in for a total knee replacement. How wonderful to be able to say. ‘I’ll have a 70,000 k service and a new shock absorber, thanks.’

Because I’ve already had a 50,000 k service and a new front suspension (two hips) with a new knee I guess I’ve earnt the title of Robo Mum. At least I won’t limp and have that dreadful nagging pain once the offending knee joint has been replaced. Nothing could go wrong. Right?

I love the quote by Robbie Burns,
The best laid plans of mice and men oft times goes astray

All went well. The surgeon and anesthetist did a fabulous job, I was sent to rehabilitation as planned, staples were removed and after intensive physio I was discharged. My son took the day off to bring me home.

One week later I went to my local GP to take off the last plastic cover. To my shock he said he couldn’t do it because the knee was obviously infected. It had been hot and tight but I’d put it down to the knitting, healing process.

I hurriedly saw my surgeon who found that a staple had been left in. He removed it. But…I am a very allergy prone person who is allergic to sulfur, penicillin and, as we now know, most antibiotics.    From then on it was weeks of nausea and vomiting, trying one antibiotic after the other. I couldn’t keep any food down and was living on oranges and lemonade. At least it is one way to lose weight…although I wouldn’t recommend it as a way to lose six kilos

Carol-Anne Croker kept me supplied with a freezer full of nourishing soups and yummy treats until the last antibiotic, plus a daily dose of youcault and yogurt is actually working. How wonderful to feel you are finally on the way up instead of down. I can’t wait to resume my life again. Many thanks must go to so many wonderful friends who supported, encouraged and sustained me during this difficult time

But what about writing that third book? It ground to a halt with all this going on and I just don’t seem to be able to pick up the threads again. It will happen. The passion is still there but I am definitely  procrastinating. And it’s not the first time.

2018 on the Canals

It is January 2018 and life is slowly coming back to a more normal pace after the excitement of a hectic 2017 Christmas and the New Year

   

Christmas on the canals can be chaotic. Most houses decorate with laser showers, flashing trees, reindeer and motifs, plus inflatable giant Father Christmases. The reflections in the water add to the display.

Every year, before Christmas, after dark we have a steady stream of boats of all shapes and sizes, all crowded, some decorated with lights, others unlit, filing past to view the reflected lights. We refer to it as the evacuation of Dunkirk.   This year, to add to the confusion, we had unlit jet-skis darting in and out amongst the pleasure craft.  I had my fingers crossed that all the children were wearing life jackets.

I love sitting in the dark on the deck, coffee cup in hand, watching luxurious pleasure craft complete with gorgeous girls sipping champagne and older nautical men juggle for position with overloaded wooden runabouts packed with Mums, kids and beer drinking Dads. I hope for the best as I watch in disbelief at the risks people take in the name of ‘entertainment’.

I decided to wait until now to go take my kayak to see the lights reflected in the water. I added flashing port and starboard lights, an LED back light and donned my bright yellow reflective jacket before paddling out onto the canal. There was not a boat in sight and I reveled in the peace of being out on the water, listening to the gentle breeze rustling the palms. A cormorant watched me quietly coast past before diving for his supper. Circles appeared on the water’s surface. At first I thought they were made by bugs but when I floated gently past I realized they were made by fish coming to the surface to feed.

I had the canals to myself and delighted in drifting , paddling and admiring the fabulous decorations. I know how long it takes us, with Paul and Marian’s help, to decorate our home.  Paddling past many unlit jetties, especially when the moon hid behind the clouds I realized why Paul had insisted on taping four canes to the end of our jetty . The unlit jetties were difficult to see in the shadows and loomed  dark and menacing.

The grand-dogs Ambar & Tashi, on holidays with us, greeted me on my arrival, but it was with regret that I dragged my kayak up the beach and onto the lawn.

Over the summer months I will definitely go again. I know there won’t be any decorations and the house will have returned to normal but…Oh! …the serenity.

And next time I’ll put my port and starboard lights further up so I won’t keep hitting them with my paddle.

Happy 2018

I love starting a fresh, clean New Year. I always have a brand new completely empty notebook ready to add my hopes, dreams and New Year resolutions.

This year I’m going to exercise more, eat less, watch my weight doesn’t get out of control and finish that third book. Fingers crossed etc etc.

Looking back at last year’s journal I find that what I’ve written is a more realistic jotting down of what actually happens. It can be nothing like what I’d hoped and dreamed but on the first day of this amazing brand new year I am totally optimistic and everything seems possible.

I’m teaching Memoir Writing again this year and will thoroughly enjoy being with a group focused on writing their stories.

I’d like to thank everyone that has touched my life in a positive way last year for all your kindness and support. You mean the world to me.

May 2018 be filled with happiness, good health, good will and love for you and your loved ones

Magical Moments: Part Two

Another Magical moment was our last meeting of the Memoir Writing Group at Godfrey Street Community House. Most of us are writing life stories but some are using the Memoir genre to tell their tales. I’m delighted to say that we have bonded into a group that welcomes others and give excellent feedback on the writing in progress. Most of us continue our stories during our 15 mins splurge (or stream of consciousness writing). I can’t wait to start 2018 but we all have a list of inspirational quotes and exercises to keep us writing over the holidays.

Last but not least was the Swinburne University Alumni Christmas afternoon tea. Beautifully presented with a Charleston Theme glitz and glitter. I had a great time catching up with Wendy and Peter Dunn, Breda and Alfred. We sat around a small table decorated with tall feathers and were waited on hand and foot. The afternoon tea was superb consisting of ribbon sandwiches, beautiful cheeses and tiny fancy cakes plus an unlimited supply of wine, soft drink, tea and coffee.

Christmas is a magical time of catching up with family and friends.                   May your Christmas be filled with happiness, peace and love.