Saturday, November 1, 2008

Cruising Around the Harbor and Not Stalking Australian Heroes

I'm very grateful that I've had a chance to watch the First Australians series on SBS.  I'm thankful to the people in comments who told me about the series, and I'm thankful to my husband for showing me that I could download it. Thanks to all of you!

When we're in Australia, I'd like to further my knowledge of Indigenous Australia.  One thing I was thinking of doing is the Aboriginal Culture Cruise on the Sydney Harbor.  

It looks pretty cool.

I'm not very good with tours.  Well, it depends on the type of tour. I'm horrible at tours where you walk around with a guide and they frequently stop to talk about something.  I'm not good at listening. I daydream a lot.   I don't like standing. We did a tour in Rome and I started to feel sick. I think I had some kind of blood sugar issue. Maybe. That and combined with the heat--it wasn't good for me.

Jack's museum school class had a field trip to the Botanical Gardens recently. It was the type I don't like. Walk and stand. Walk and Stand. Listen. And I feel often you can't even hear the guide talking.   This lasted for about an hour and I was so ready for the whole thing to be over. I don't know how the kids had the attention span to deal with it.  I couldn't deal with it.

Maybe I'm just defective that way.

Anyway, I think I do fairly well on tours where you get to sit.  We did a bus tour to the Blue Mountains.   All the learning pretty much occurred on the bus, and I actually found it fascinating.  When we got off the bus, we were on our own.  We could go at our own pace. That worked for me.

I did the Bridge Climb which includes the whole walk/stand thing that I hate.  But that was different because my fear and adrenalin kept me alert.

I think I should do well on a boat tour.  I can sit, relax, and listen. Hopefully, the rocking of the boat won't put me to sleep. I don't think it will.  Buses put me to sleep, but I managed to stay awake most of the time in The Blue Mountains. If it's interesting enough, I'll usually stay awake.  And I am definitely interested in Indigenous Australia.

I think it will work well for Jack too. I'm not sure how much he'll like the information...if it will interest him or not.  But he can bring a book or something to occupy him.  

Anyway, enough rambling about my family.

Back to the cruise.

It's run by the Tribal Warrior Association.    This organization sounds really amazing to me.   They help the Aboriginal community by providing maritime training.  I guess it promotes maritime vocations and then trains those who are interested in that career. 

They do other great things besides that including

1. Promote a connection between the various Aboriginal groups.   

2. Help provide food and other basic stuff for people who have low income. And they don't ignore those in need who are not indigenous.  They'll help them too.

3.  Provide drug counseling and rehabilitation

4. Provide cultural learning activities for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people.

Their website has a beautiful short story about reconciliation.

They say that in 1999 and 2000, they sponsored an alcohol-free harbor cruise on New Years Eve for people who would ordinarily be unable to afford it.  That's really nice. I wonder why they haven't done any more of them.   

The Tribal Warrior Association owns two boats and the website provide interesting information about both.

Their first ship was the Tribal Warrior.    It's an OLD boat--more than a hundred years of history.  It started off as a pearling lugger, and since the pearling industry was abusive to Aborigines, we might say the boat had some negative connotations.   So, in 1999, the Tribal Warrior association performed a ceremony to cleanse the boat of it's bad memories.

For the first few years, they used the boat to train Aborigines in boating stuff. Then in August 2001 (the same month Jack was born!) the ship left for a journey around Australia. They visited the aboriginal communities around the coast.

The journey took 648 days.

That is SO awesome.

Their other boat is called the Deerrubbun and it has quite a history as well.  

It started out as a navy boat and was called TRV3.  It was then sold to the Snowy Mountain Authority in the 1960's.  It was given an Aboriginal name Wandella and was used for the Snowy Mountain Scheme.

She was renamed Deerubbum in 1984 and did charter work on the Hawkesbury River.   Then the Tribal Warrior Association bought her.  I guess?

I'm going to google and see what other information I can find about the cruise and the Tribal Warrior Association.

According to this news article, it looks like the Tribal Warrior Association  just recently started providing cultural cruises for the general public/tourists. Well, not JUST started...but it seems they began providing the cruises in 2007.  I thought they had been going on longer than that.

This inspiring article has an interview with people involved with the first training course the association provided.   I think it's all about empowerment and pride--the good kind of pride, not the annoying one-of-the-seven-sins kind.

The Chairman and CEO of the Tribal Warrior Association is Shane Phillips.   Unless I'm confused and there happens to be two Eora men named Shane Phillips in Sydney, this guy is quite a hero. He's a resident of Redfern and actively involved in the community.   Here's a video of him working with children back in 1987.

Phillips participated in part of the 648 day cruise. So, he's a hands on type of CEO.

Here's an interview with him.   I think he's very empowering and positive. Reading what he says gives me hope that things can get better.  

He's young too.   Forty-four.   It's kind of weird that the article states his age. Isn't that kind of like ageism?   Although I like knowing his age, so maybe I shouldn't complain.

Anyway, he seems pretty important and significant.   I'm going to remember his name and look out for him.   I mean like in the news--see if he becomes the first black Prime Minister of Australia or something. I'm not planning to stalk him or anything. 

I like him.

I would totally vote for him.

If I was Australian

And he was actually on the ballot and all that. 

For now, though.....I'll go on his lovely cruise.   


  1. Yes Shane Philips is definitely a local hero. Check out more at Redfern Oral History

  2. buyaringalaya,

    Thanks. I think I've run into that website a few times during my research. I definitely need to give it a closer look though!!!

  3. I've missed the series..I meant to respond earlier to you on that one. But it is going to be released on dvd so I will see it then I imagine. ABC showed Intervention the other night and it's worth a watch if you can download it..a good perspective on the current situation in the Northern Territory with the governments intervention on remote communities.

    I love that you are passionate about our indigenous culture and history :-)

  4. Tracey,

    I'll see if I can download it from ABC.

    You can download The First Australians off of the SBS website. Or do you prefer watching on DVD?