Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food For The Former Foodie

The book I'm reading now is Leaving Jetty Road by Rebecca Burton.  Lovely book so far and I can REALLY relate to it.   One of the characters is a Vegetarian with an eating disorder.

I wonder if there is any correlation between vegetarianism and eating disorders.  I'm not saying one CAUSES the other. I just wonder if the type of person who is likely to have an eating disorder is also the type of person who might become vegetarian.
I had/was both.  The eating disorder came first. It started in February 2004 and was in response to two things.

1. The upcoming wedding of my very beautiful,thin sister--which included a somewhat jovial request for the bridesmaids to keep their weight in check. This is what gave me the desire to be thin.

2. A spiritual crisis. I think it came from having weird dreams and reading about dreams--the idea that they could have a metaphysical basis. On one hand, the idea excited me. On the other hand, it terrified me.  I started reading books about higher selves and how there are parts of our memory we don't easily  have access too. I felt this loss of control--that there were parts of me that I was totally clueless about. I needed to regain that feeling of control so I became obsessed with calorie counting and food weighing. I quickly lost tons of weight and felt not only a sense of control but a great amount of confidence and success.   

I became vegetarian seven months later.  It actually began as a nutrition thing. But then I bought a book about the Vegan lifestyle and became more passionate about the environmental and animal concerns.

I do not in anyway want to say that Vegetarianism is bad and leads to eating disorders.

I am very pro-vegetarian.  I think it's better for the environment, for your health, and for animals. I think it's an excellent way of life. I just think certain people with certain types of personality can take things too far. And by certain people, I mean people like me. 

What is too far?   I don't know.  Maybe obsessively checking ingredients?   Maybe putting obsession of purity over morals. An example might be freaking out over eating one marshmallow because it happens to have gelatin. Eating the one marshmallow might make you feel impure and yucky, but it's not going to have a huge horrible impact on any animal.  Another example would be throwing away all your old leather shoes just so you can appear to be a perfect vegan. Throwing away your shoes isn't going to bring the cow back to life.

The thing is.....I have the type of personality that can go in those crazy directions. That's one of the reasons why I'm sticking to being just Vegetarian and not vegan.    

Anyway, things are better now for me. I won't say I'm free of eating disorders because I think once you have it, you ALWAYS have it.  And you always have the danger of returning to it. When I get very angry and upset, one of the first things I think is I'm going to stop eating.

But for the most part, I'm okay.  No more calorie counting or weighing myself ten times a day. My metabolism was extremely messed up for awhile, but it's better now.   

I'm still a vegetarian. I'm content with that, but try to eat less dairy/eggs, and try to stick to free range type stuff.   I try not to be anal about it, though, and for the most part I'm doing a good job with that.

I'd like to try some Vegetarian restaurants in Australia--mostly because you can't really find them in Fort Worth.  We have one, but I don't really like it.   

I'm looking through the Internet for restaurants now.  If any of you know of some in Sydney and Canberra, please tell me!  Or if you know that one of these restaurants has gone to heaven, please tell!  
We went out looking for the Maurice Sendak inspired restaurant in San Francisco--searched and searched.  Totally lost.  Then we found out it had closed down years ago.

Here are ones I've found so far. 

1. Badde Manors   looks cool. It's in Glebe near the Broadway shopping center. Full vegetarian. I'm not sure if there's anything Jack will eat. We might make it one of those meals where we give him a smoothie and tell ourselves it has enough protein to get him by until dinner. They have a dip platter. That might work. He likes hummus.

2. Iku Wholefood Kitchen looks nice and casual--good for a quick snack of meal. It seems to have a lot of locations: CBD, Glebe, Bondi, etc.

3. Bodi is near Hyde Park so I figure I should record it.  I don't get too excited about Asian vegetarian restaurants--just because it's usually very easy to find Vegetarian dishes in any Asian restaurant.  There's usually a wide choice.   I WOULD like to find a Korean Vegetarian restaurant--something with fake meat. I miss Bulgogi!  

4. Govindas looks unique. It has a Vegetarian Indian buffet.  After you eat, you can watch a movie on weird chairs. I think I'll skip the movie, but the food looks good. It's in Darlinghurst. 

That's it for now.   The funny thing is when I had the eating disorder I was very obsessed with food. My life revolved around it. It's really all I cared about. When we went on a holiday, the thing that made me most excited was where we would eat.  I would spend hours looking at food and restaurant websites.  Once I started to recover, I stopped caring about food so much. I became bored with food websites.

When we went to Sydney last year, I had absolutely no interest in researching restaurants or putting any thought into it.  We pretty much just walked into any restaurant that looked fairly okay--very spur of the moment.  

I'm still lacking interest in restaurant research, but I want to do a little bit of it--just because I want to be a little less blind about the whole thing compared to last year. I SHOULD just make Tim do the research.   He's become a total foodie--works at a cooking school and everything. Actually, I've told him we're going to eat most meals in our hotel/apartment. His favorite hobby is cooking.   I don't like going to restaurants much. So, cooking works out best for all of us.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Requirements for Australian Young Adult Literature

I'm noticing something about the young adult books I'm reading.

They mention Vegemite at least once-- and often multiple times.

I'm thinking this is a requirement in Australian literature.   Thou must mention Vegemite. Either that or I have completely underestimated the importance of Vegemite to Australians.  I mean I know Australians eat Vegemite, and I know it has important cultural significance.   I guess I just didn't grasp how really important it was.

I'm trying to think if we have a food like that in America--something that we'd find mentioned in almost every book.   Maybe coffee?    I mean in most American books, probably at least one character has coffee at one point.   I'm trying to think if the characters, in the novels I wrote, drank coffee?  They definitely didn't eat Vegemite.

Anyway, I finished reading Guitar Highway Rose.   I almost cried at the end; so for me that means the book was good.    I'll try to say something without giving anything away, which might mean I end up sounding incredibly vague and make no sense.

I had feelings that maybe the book might give the wrong message to teens.  I feel it might give kids a sense of false hope--in a Parent Trap kind of way.  And I thought it also might promote a particular kind of behavior that could end up being dangerous.

When reading the book, I thought teens might read this and get some bad ideas.  Then I thought, oh the hell with it.  The book was good. It almost made me cry. Who gives a shit if the message doesn't promote perfect behavior?

I liked the book and I recommend it.

Now I'm reading Leaving Jetty Road.   I'm on page 19 (at the time of writing this) and Vegemite has already been mentioned.   Oh!  Here's something interesting.   I didn't notice this before.  The mom packs a picnic for the characters.  It includes "Squashed Vegemite" sandwiches and it also includes red Popsicles.  I didn't think Australian used the word "Popsicle".  I wonder if the language was changed for American readers. Or maybe I'm wrong and sometimes Australians do use the word "Popsicle".

The book has also already mentioned Vegetarianism. I'm eager to see where that goes. I hope it's positive, and at least not too negative.  

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Good Advice For All Of Us

Jack and I were reminiscing about his past obsessions.

We started talking about Miss Spider. We both loved that show.  Not only did we love the show, but we loved the songs from the show.

These are the lyrics to my favorite one:

Slow down and watch a leaf
Floating to the ground
Slow down and give a listen
To the wind's enchanting sound
From dawn until the day's end
Slow down and see the Earth's wonders
From dawn until the day's end
Slow down and make a friend.

Sometimes the simple lyrics of children's music say so much important stuff.   

When we're in Australia, we need to make sure to slow down and enjoy every moment.  Well, maybe ENJOYING  every moment is asking too much of ourselves.  Maybe it's better to say APPRECIATE every moment.

It's funny.  I don't think I actually appreciated every moment from the last trip there.   But now looking back, I see every single moment as being incredibly precious. I often stop and have this idea of Holy Shit.  I was actually IN Australia!!   I look back at even the mundane things and I'm in total delight over it.   Stupid stuff like going to a chemist to find ear drops for swimming.  Or walking desperately around a grocery store looking for the piece of Jack's Crocs that broke off.   Those things didn't seem that great at the time, but in my memories they're spectacular.  Just cause they happened in Australia.  

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Once Upon An Island


I did most of my research and writing about Indigenous Tasmanians on Wednesday.  Then today (Friday) Tim tried to find Tasmania flights for us, and couldn't find anything at a good time with a good price.  I was a bit sad because I thought I wouldn't be able to visit my friend.    But also now that I've read about Tasmania, I really want to see it. I mean I wanted to go before, but it was mostly just to see my friend.  Now I'm actually very interested in Tasmania. I feel weird saying that because what I read was fairly negative.  Yet, somehow I now feel an attachment to Tasmania.  I guess there's something about learning the history of a place.  When I read about the history, I feel sort of like I'm there. I guess it makes me feel connected?

Anyway, the good news is we did some more searching and found good flights. We are all booked and ready to go!

So.....This is what I've learned so far:

Tasmanian Aborigines are called Palawa. So we have the Koori in NSW/Victoria, and the Palawa in Tasmania.

Some people consider the Tasmanian Aborigines to be extinct because the last full-blooded one died in 1876. This was Truganini.

Does one needed to be full-blooded in order to count as an Aborigine?

Does my son Jack not count as a "true" Jew because his father is not biologically Jewish?

I personally think race and pure-blooded status is less important than the transmission of culture.

I think I have more concern for cultural aspects of a group that are lost.

I think when we worry so much about full-blood and ethnic purity, we become racist and closed-minded. We start telling children who they can and cannot marry--regardless of who they love or who's a better match for them.

I do understand that in some cultures and subgroups, ethnic purity is important. It's just not for me. I guess because I believe in reincarnation and that has a huge effect on how you view people. I have no feelings of the Jews being MY people because I don't know if I was Jewish in a past life. I might have been Arab. I might have been German. I might have been a Koori.

There are many myths about Tasmanian Aborigines--that because they were separated from the mainland they were less advanced.  Isolated and backwards people-unable to start a fire or use stone tools.   Archaeological evidence has shown this to be wrong.

Here's some history stuff:

Between 1808-1823, the white men felt they were lacking in sexual partners so they kidnapped the Aboriginal women.

There was something called a black war between 1828-1832.  Bad bad stuff.

A Christian missionary guy named George Augustus Robinson convinced Aborigines to move to Flinders Island. This was in 1832. I guess he convinced them it would be safer? I do sort of remember reading about this elsewhere.  Three hundred went and two hundred and fifty of them died. I'm not sure if Robinson had the best of intentions and things went wrong. Or if his intentions were not good. I'll have to read more into this.

The survivors were brought back to the mainland. Since there were only about fifty left, they were no longer seemed as a threat. It seems instead they were seen as entertainment--put on display.

Bodies of the dead were not treated with respect and they were passed on to various museums. This is despite the fact that it was important in Palawa culture for the dead to be buried in their homeland.

In 1997, a formal apology was issued to the Tasmanians. This was mostly in regard to the stolen children.   Tasmania is the first state to offer financial compensation for the stolen generations. Good on them!

There are now 150,000 descendants of the Palawa. They may not be full-blooded, but they're still part of the clan.

Some people want to start genetic testing of people to prove whether or not they are really Palawa. Other people say genetics don't matter. It's more about a culture and spiritual connection.

I have torn feelings about that. On one hand, I do find genetics fascinating. On the other hand, should someone be excluded because of blood? If they look Palawa, feel Palawa, and act Palawa....my goodness let them be a Palawa. Or whatever type of Aborigine they claim to be.....It gets a bit confusing.

There is a group called the Lie Pootah people who claim to be Aboriginal, but the Palawa believes they are not. It kind of reminds me of the lost tribes of Israel.

The Palawa language disappeared for the most part, but some folks in the modern community are trying to resurrect language by using the few words they know.

Some words in the language (provided by Lord Wiki)


krakapaka-death (that's an awesome word for death)





Oh. Here we go. There are characters in Star Wars named Followers of Palawa. I wonder if it's a coincidence?  Maybe George Lucas was obsessed with Australia too!!

Some more Tasmanian History:

At one time, Tasmania was connected to the mainland. Then the rising of the sea took away the natural bridge connecting them.  The Tasmanians became a bit stranded.

Tasmania was visited by white dutch man named Abel Janson Tasman. How funny that he ended up on an island with his name! No, I'm joking. Ha ha. He found the country and then named it after himself.

Oh.  No.  Wrong.   Actually he wasn't that vain. He named the place Van Diemen's land after the guy who had sent him on the voyage.  Then later the name was changed to his name.  

The next white people to visit were the French.

Captain Cook did a quick drive by in 1777. This was seven years after he visited the mainland and eleven years before Philip brought the convicts over.

I like putting things in perspective.

Tasmania wasn't established as a colony for convicts until 1803.

White people were horribly cruel to the original Tasmanians. It seems like killing them was almost a hobby.

White people were not punished for murdering the Palawa.    

I'm sure this is a horrific thing to deal with if you are a Tasmanian Aborigine today. Since there are no "full-blooded" ones left, this means they're part white. I think it would be hard having those genes flowing through your body.  I guess anyone, who came about as a result of a rape, has to deal with that.

Martial law was declared in 1825. Whites were allowed to kill Aborigines on site. No questions asked.

Okay.  Here we go......

This website says that Mr. Robinson was HIRED to remove the Aborigines and bring them to Flinders island.

On Flinders Island, Mr. Robinson's goal was to Christianize and civilize the Palawa. They worked and sang hymns.  The children spent time away from their heathen parents. Too bad Mr. Robinson didn't spent less time on these goals and more effort towards their health. The diet fed to them was so bad they became malnourished.

What happened to the Palawa was really horrific.  But that's okay because what we can do is just pretend it never happened.  Why deal with the past when we got denial at our disposal. Come on!  Really!

Keith Windschuttle believes there were no huge atrocities against the Aborigines and it was all made up.

It reminds me of Holocaust denial or Global Warming Denial. Cause we all know that Auschwitz was really a beach resort where people drank Cherry soda and sang Jewish camp songs.


I think often the first argument tried in these situations is that the events happened but were misinterpreted. If that argument fails and enough time has passed, the next argument is that the event never even took place.

I'm not saying that there are people (individuals or groups) falsely accused of crimes. That happens and it's unfortunate.  ( If you don't agree with me, obviously you didn't watch the episodes of Days of our Lives where Sammi almost got executed for a crime she didn't commit!!)

But I think too often people deal with their mistakes by denying them. This makes them feel better--either about themselves or their ancestors. We don't want anyone having a bruised self-esteem. But for the people who were wronged it makes things much worse.

If you make a mistake (or your ancestors made a mistake) admit it, apologize, and try to fix things. Is all of that really too hard to do? I don't think so.   Okay, it is hard.  But think of it this way.  It's not as bad as going to the dentist.  (uh, don't tell Jack I said that)

Deborah Lipstadt the author of a book on Holocaust denial calls this denial bullshit an assault on truth and memory. I agree with her. I think it's also an assault on trust--trust for other people and trust in yourself.

We all have our beliefs and I have mine.

I believe the Holocaust really happened.

I believe horrible things happened to the Tasmanian Aborigines.

I believe in human-induced global warming.

I also believe there's a lot of good in the world and that it helps to balance out the bad.

Anyway, I think this is my last Indigenous Australia post for awhile--at least in terms of history.  A little later, I want to learn more about their spirituality.

So in honor of that, I'm going to post this video.   It's lovely and educational.   Paul Kelly/Kev Carmody meets Schoolhouse Rock.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Koori in the South Coast

I'm moving on to the South Coast where we have Koori who spoke the Dharawal language.   Their land stretched from Botany Bay in South Sydney all the way down to Jervis Bay.

One clan was called Wodi Wodi.   Their land was between Wollongong and Shoalhaven.  

Europeans began to move into the area around 1815.   In 1816, the settlement became official.  What does that mean?   I'm not sure.

Moving to a new country is hard.  If you don't believe me, read an expat blog. People want to cling to their original country. Just as Americans in Australia today seek out grocery stores selling Lucky Charms and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups;  the British who sailed to Australia wanted European stuff that would make them feel like they were at home.    

They introduced animals and plants to Australia that did not belong there. This wreaked havoc on the Australian fauna and flora. And that caused major problems for the Koori.

Their whole way of life was totally messed up.

If that wasn't bad enough, there was the whole Smallpox thing going on.

Kooris died and if they didn't die, they were killed. If they weren't killed, they were forced off the lands.

No, life wasn't sweet for the Kooris of the South Coast in the 19th century. 

Paradise Lost.

Paradise VERY lost.

Governor Macquarie announced that he was going to force the Koori off the lands. Those who stayed would be captured as prisoners of war. An explorer/settler named Charles Throsby in Wollongong wrote a letter defending the Aborigines.

In 1822, Governor Macquarie visited Illawarra for first time.  In this same year, Seth Hawker shot an Aboriginal woman and then watched as his dogs attacked her. He was arrested for murder but released because Aborigines were not allowed to testify.

An 1832 incident was a little more fair.  Joseph Berryman attacked some Koori in retaliation for killing his livestock. He was sent to jail.

In the 1870's, more of the white settlers started to show concern for the Koori.  

In 1889, A total of thirty-three aborigines were reported to be living in Wollogong area.  

In 1909-The Aborigines Protection Board Act is passed in NSW. This gives the state the power to remove Aboriginal children from their parents. You know....the cultural superiority delusion is a complete bitch.

Today's population of Koori in Wollongong is 3100.   That's not bad.  It's good that the numbers are increasing.  

I'm now asking Lord Wiki for some information about Charles Throsby.   He seems like a pretty decent fellow. Wiki says he was lost at some point (near Kangaroo Valley) and some Koori helped him out.  Is that why he was sympathetic towards them?  Or was he sympathetic towards them before that?  If one bad incident can turn someone against a whole race of people, can one good incident make someone become  an advocate for a group of people?

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Cannalgal and Kayimai of Manly

Now we're on to Manly.

Who lived there a long long time ago?

I've been reading about two Eora groups.  Cannalgal and Kayamai.  

Kayamai.  I don't know how to pronounce that, but I think the name looks beautiful.   K is a really pretty letter.   I guess it makes me think of Hawaii.  Or Keanu Reeves.   Wait.  Isn't he FROM Hawaii?  Although I guess if you put three K's together and burn a cross, it's not that beautiful.

Anyway....Kayimai country extended eastward towards Little Manly.  That's East of the Wharf and Oceanworld.  See how I have to relate to all of this to touristy things?  

The Cannalgal country was west.

The Kayimai people made shelters from branches and fronds, or lived in limestone caves.

The Cannalgal lived on Manly beach.  Their main cuisine was Oyster and fish.   I think raw oyster is scary.  Why?   Anytime someone eats raw oyster in a book, they end up with major food poisoning.
As soon as raw oyster is mentioned, you know a few pages down the line there's going to be vomiting.     I have a phobia of vomiting.   Have I told you guys that?  

The Cannalgal folks lived in huts made of bark, branches, bushes, leaves, etc.    They put it all together with super glue.   Okay, I'm joking about the super glue.   They also sometimes lived in rock shelters and hollowed out trees.

I have this picture in my mind of two Eora people rushing to a hollowed out tree.  One gets there first and then turns to the other.  "Ha ha.  You're  going to have to MAKE your shelter."

The Cannalgal and Kayimai believed a powerful (probably divine) being called Baiame gifted Manly to them.   It wasn't called Manly back then though.

The WHITE father of Manly was Henry Gilbert Smith.    He's the one who transformed it from Bushland to the fun and lovely place it is today.    That was around the 1850's.

Wow.  That website I was just looking at has a lot of good info about Manly.   I need to save it and go back to it.    I think it's actually information copied from history plaques around Manly.  Cool.

Australia has "aboriginal sites".  These are archaeological treasures....carvings, middens, ceremonial grounds, etc.  They are now protected by both state and federal legislation.

It is illegal to mess with these Aboriginal Sites.  I believe the people who don't follow these laws should replace the rabbits used for unnecessary cosmetics experiments.   

According to a 1996 census, there were about 1700 Aborigines in the Manly area.   They are not the original custodians of the land, but came elsewhere and settled there.   The originals pretty much all died out or disappeared.

Now I'm reading this website which has interesting information about the Aboriginal land rights.    I have to admit, it's a bit complicated for my little brain.    There was the Mabo case in 1992 (which I HAD heard of).  It involved the Torres Strait Islanders.   Okay, this rejected the claim of Terra Nullius.   Terra Nullius is the term applied to Australia when the British first came over.   It implies that the land belonged to no one.  

In 1996, new legislation said that if land was owned for farm-type reasons, Indigenous people could go on the land for their ceremonial purposes.  They could also do things such as fish and camp  there.    So, let's put this in McLeod's Daughter's terms.    According to these laws, Aborigines had a right to come onto Drovers Run and camp out.   I guess essentially the law says the land belongs to both peoples?   I wonder how Claire would react to that.    Would she be welcoming, or fight to keep them off her land?    Am I worrying to much about fictional characters?

The website said the cases had to be negotiated.   I'm not sure what that means.   I guess it means if you're aboriginal, you can't just pop on to someones property.   I guess you need permission first?  
Where do you go to get to permission?  Maybe you just knock on the door?  

Conservatives (AKA Liberals) were not happy with all of this.   The Howard government made amendments to the policies to favor people who are not Indigenous.

The Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council (MLALC) in Manly works in cooperation with the Brookvale Valley Community Group.  Indigenous people and newbies working together. SHARING.    In 1998, they developed the Tripartite Agreement.   Together they have worked to take care of the land in the suburb of Brookvale.    They have found a way to use the land in a balanced way--using it for recreation, but also preserving bushland and Aboriginal sites.  

Manly got it's name from Captain Philip who was impressed by the Cannalgal and Kayimai men.  

When he was sailing in his little boat, twenty or so local men came out to greet him.   They were unarmed and reacted to the white visitors with curiosity.   Philip thought they were very "manly". 

Although the British reported the land as being owned by nobody, they did take notice of the Eora people.  

They made various reports about what they found, noticing that....

The Cannalgal and Kayimai would burn undergrowth in bush to get to edible roots underneath.  

The Cannalgal and Kayimai  went on small canoes and would surf in the waters....even in rough waters.   The water in Manly IS rough.  I know from experience.   What is the deal with Australian water?

The first couple of years were fairly friendly between the two groups.  But once the originals realized the newbies were there to stay, things became less friendly.

I can relate to that.   It's easier to deal with guests when you know they'll be leaving.  When they start bringing in all their stuff and acting all permanent, it's downright terrifying.   

Anyway, then the Smallpox shit happened and things went very downhill.   In 1790, Philip was stabbed by a Eora man with a spear.   Ouch!

Okay, here's some geography stuff:

First Philip went to Botany Bay where Cook and Banks had gone eighteen years before.  They weren't satisfied and made their way towards Port Jackson.   On the way, they ended up in Manly.
Philips left Botany Bay on January 21.  I'm wondering..... Was it really that bad out in Botany Bay or was Philips just being oppositional?  

If you're a dork like me, you can go to google maps and play with the little hand.  You can pretend it's a boat and pretend you're a white British person sailing around Sydney.


I like this.   In a Catholic School's Annual report, the beginning of the Principal's message says

St John’s Catholic School acknowledges the
Kayimai people, the traditional owners of the
land on which we now work and play

I've seen stuff like that on other websites as well.   I like it.   It's not a huge gesture, but I think it's meaningful and respectful.   

There's is a fig tree in Royal Botanical Gardens where Kayimai used to have an initiation ceremony.  I have a feeling this involved something painful.  

Oh!!!  Holy shit.   Kenneally has a whole book about all of this.   It's called a Commonwealth of Thieves.  I HAVE to get it.  Do I sound greedy and demanding?  

Well, here's some slightly disturbing news.   I just hopped on to our library website to see if they have the book.   They've totally cut down on the hours are library is open.   It used to be open everyday.  Now it's closed twice a week and it's open late only twice during the week.   It used to be open until 9:00 four days a week.    That's sad.   I guess it's an economy thing?   Their online catalog is also not working now.   It works some days, but not others.   

Oh well.

My country is in economic turmoil and I'm most disturbed by diminishing library hours.  What can I say?

Reading the words of Lord Wiki right now.   He has some nice things to say about Philip.

He says Philip told his people not to kill the Eora people and if they did, they'd be hung.  

When he was stabbed with a spear, he ordered his men not to retaliate.

I found a great website about the incident--I think it's taken from Kenneally's work.  

I shall try to summarize it.

Let's see......

Some Eora, including Bennelong are hanging out in Manly.   They're eating a whale that got caught.  Feasting away.   I'm hoping the whale was already dead and they weren't eating him alive.  Yuck.  

Bennelong saw the white people and asked about his old pal Philip.  He gave the white people some whale meat and told them to give it to Philip.   

When Philip got the meat he thought this was a good opportunity for Eora-British bonding.    He took his boat and headed out to Manly to join the party.

He brought wine.

Bennelong introduced Philip to his Eora friends.   There was a man named Willemering.  The website says that there was a big huge barbed spear.   Philip asked if he could have it.  Well, that's kind of rude. A bit demanding.  

The answer was no.  Bennelong took the spear and brought it to Willemering.   Then he gave Philip a throwing stick.   I'm wondering if Philip was embarrassed.   I bet he felt a little rejected.  

It turns out that Willemering was a ritual punishment man.   He was part of the Eora legal system.   He was there for a blood dept and was planning to get it from Philip.

The list of crimes by the white people was quite long.  Moving in without permission, stealing, overstaying their welcome, harming Eora people, etc.

According to the website though, once the spear was thrown, according to Eora custom, the debt was paid.

You know what I find funny.   We spent all this time in Manly.   We played in the sand.  We waded in the wild water.   We took walks.  We ate ice-cream.    We shopped for t-shirts.   We did all this and barely thought about all the fascinating and exciting history.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Another Trip To the Library

Jack and I returned to the library today (well, yesterday really because I won't be posting this until morning).

We can access our neighborhood library's catalog from the Internet so last night I looked up Australian teen books.  It ends up our library has a lot of them.

This is sort of embarrassing, but I'll shame myself and tell it anyway.  In Spring 2007, I rewrote the novel I wrote in high school and tried to get it published. I had absolutely no luck.  When I go through things like that (yes, it has happened before), I get turned off by the whole publishing world. Since my novel was for teens, I especially had bad feelings towards teen fiction.  There was that feeling of WHY did they get published and my novel didn't. 

Jealousy in its worst form. Well, maybe not the worst.  I guess the worst would be if I took a gun and went out to shoot all other young adult authors.


I knew I'd get over it eventually and now here I am...totally over it. I'm ready and excited because it opens up a whole new avenue of Australian books to find.    

Anyway, here is what I got today.

Guitar Highway Rose by Brigid Lowry
Leaving Jetty Road by Rebecca Burton
Thursday's Child  and What the Birds See  by Sonya Hartnett
Kalpana's Dream by Judith Clarke
Does My Head Look Big in This?  by Randa Abdel-Fattah
Magic's Child by Justine Larbalestier

The last one is the third in a series. I'm reading totally out of order. I thought of looking for the first book before reading the third,but figured what the heck.

I'm reading the John Marsden's books out of order.  I read the Night is For Hunting which is I think the 6th in the Tomorrow series. And then I read the first book in the Ellie Chronicles which is a continuation of the Tomorrow series.

I originally thought I'd rush and read the whole Marsden series, but I'm already a little tired of it. I do love the story and the characters.  I guess I might be a little tired of Ellie. The story is told through her eyes. I like the girl, but I'm ready for a change. I kind of think the books might be better if they switched narrators--have each book narrated by a different character. One book could be narrated by Ellie, another book narrated by Fi, another one by Lee, etc.   OR maybe the books ARE like that and I just ended up with the ones narrated by Ellie.

I might still read more books in the series.  I'm just not going to go out of my way to find them.  I don't think our library branch has any more. I might check out Half Price books the next time I go.   

Right now I'm reading Tim Winton's new book.  Breath.  I think I have read more of his books than any other Australian author.  It's not that I love his books the most. I think Fort Worth just happens to have a good supply of Winton books.   

I'm also working on learning about the Eora people of Manly and the South Coast.  

Oh, and I've been listening to my Aussie music playlist.  I think Jimmy Barnes is one of the sexist men out there. I'm also loving "Bridal Train" and "From Little Things Big Things Grow". On the way to the library, I had in my mind that line Vesty man roared and vesty man thundered. I don't know why. It was just stuck there.  

I really wonder how long this Australian obsession will continue.  Sometimes, I think it will end.  It fades at times and then it comes back ten times stronger. I feel less obsessed with moving there though, and more obsessed with learning everything about it. It's like this insatiable hunger.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

kameygal, Gweagal, and Sleep Stuff

Kameygal and Gweagal lived along the shores of Botany Bay.  This is South of the Sydney CBD--near the airport.   From what I read, it seems Kameygal were more to the North and Gweagal were more to the south. I'm assuming they were one of the first to have encounters with Captain Cooks and the gang--well, since the landing occured in Botany Bay.

The Kameygal are known as the spear clan and the Gweagal were known as the fire clan.

Okay, while doing this research, I found a pronunciation for Eora. I'm so grateful!  This website says it is pronounced Yura. I'm glad to know this because in my head I have been saying Eyrore-ah.

The website has a great timeline.

In April 1770, the Eora saw the ships and originally thought it was a big bird.

There's an eighteen year space between Cook's arrival and the arrival of Philip and the rest of the Fleet.  I think in my mind, I always imagine it being right after each other.

Twenty years is a pretty large gap.   It's funny how we squish history together--or maybe I just do that. 

Philips and the others arrived in Botany Bay on January 18 1788.   

Another piece of land occupied by the Kameygal and the Gweagal was Bare Island. This is a tiny little island near Botany Bay. The island was in Mission Impossible II. I'm trying to remember if I saw that movie.  I think maybe I did and then tried to forget it--repress the memory. According to Lord Wiki, the waters surrounding that area are excellent for scuba diving. Tim might enjoy that.

I found a fascinating article about the first words Eora words recorded by the British.

According to the article, in 1770 there were three encounters between white people and the Eora.  

There were 60 words listed in all...taken on three different occasions. One from a surgeon on the ship, one from a crew member and another by a second Lieutenant.

During my research, I also found this website.   It's Not about Kameygal and Gweagal specifically but gives useful facts about the Indigenous Australia population.

In 1914, there were an estimated 20,000 Aborigines in Australia. In 1980, it was up to 150,000. They were given the right to vote in 1967.   

Lord Wiki says that in 2006, the Aboriginal population was at 517,200.  It's not a lot of people.  But there aren't a lot of ANY people in Australia....period.   

Okay....reading more from the website.

Land is sacred to them. They're very eco-friendly.   They have a spiritual connection to the land. Don't worry. I already knew all this. I'm just reminding me.

Oral tradition was very important. Mothers talk to babies in womb--share stories, family history.   Wow and I bet they didn't need Parenting magazine to tell them to do that. 

There were evening campfires where stories were told. The other day I had a vague memory of reading about some tribal culture. It was before I was totally obsessed with Australia. The book or article talked about how this culture doesn't sleep through the night. They'd get up and have chats...talk about their dreams, have impromptu meetings, etc.   It may have been my in spiritual reading--something about dreams. OR it could have been in my reading about co-sleeping/family bed. I'm thinking maybe it was a defense against the idea of sleeping-through-the-night.

I don't sleep through the night. I usually have to pee at least twice.  Then I'm usually up for a few hours thinking about stuff--sometimes stressing about stuff.  

I'm also pretty good at being awakened and snapping to attention.  Within minutes, I can be wide awake and fully functional.   For me, waking up to breastfeed a baby several times through the night wasn't the horror it is for some people.   Some people need seven-eight straight hours of sleep to function, and other people do fine with broken sleep.   

Anyway, I wonder if the people I read about were Australian?  They could have been.  Or they might have been African or American?  I don't know.  

I'm thinking the article COULD have been about dreaming. To increase lucid dreaming, one of the suggestions to wake in the middle of the night, stay awake for awhile and then return to sleep. I think dreams are an important part of Aboriginal culture and if they are the ones who awoke in the middle of the night, this would probably increase likelihood of having cool dreams.   

My gut instinct though is that the article/book was about co-sleeping and our society's obsession with sleeping-through-the-night.   What's one of the first things we ask new parents?  Is he sleeping through the night yet?   I can't say for sure, but I think the article was reassuring parents who did not have children who slept through the night.

I need to read about Aborigines and dreams.   I know the Dreamtime doesn't really refer to the dreams we have at night.   But what role DO dreams play in their culture?   And is there ANY connection between sleeping dreams and The Dreamtime?    I need to read more about Aboriginal spirituality.   I think some of it probably fits with my own beliefs.   Maybe.  

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Cadigal People

Now I'm learning about the Cadigal--the neighbors of the Wangal.

They were both Eora and their language was the Darug language--or a version of it. I'm a bit confused here. Am I always confused? No, not always! Just mostly. Maybe 90% of the time?

The Cadigal territory, according to many websites, lies south of Port Jackson. It's between South Head and Petersham. I had a hell of a time figuring this all out on google maps. I'm not sure what they mean by South Head. Is that South Head Road near Double Bay?   So, that's East. Then Petersham is near Marrickville. This makes sense to me because The Marrickville Council people have that great informative website about the Cadigal and Wangal people.

From what I'm reading, the Cadigals were a bit spread out. Honestly, it all made me very confused and I spent about an hour this afternoon trying to figure it all out. Actually, it wasn't THIS afternoon because by the time I post this it will be a few days later. I rarely post things the day I write them. Is that unethical? I'm not sure if that betrays the etiquette of blogging. Are there rules about that?

Anyway, this afternoon (the one I'm writing in and not the one I'll be posting in) I spent a long time trying to figure out where the Cadigal lived.

I've been a bit slow about Cadigal geography, but I think I have finally figured out the Eora thing. When Philip and his mates met the natives they told the white men that they were "Eora". This meant something like "Here" or "People from here". The white people thought this was there name and I guess it kind of stuck. I think the Cadigal and Wangal people (and others) thought it was probably cute. I don't know. They kept the name. I guess it's like when a toddler mispronounces your name. You find it cute and keep the nickname. That kind of thing.

The Museum of Sydney is located at the place where the Cadigal and British boat people had their first encounter.

I've been to that museum.

You know, some of this research is making me emotional. I don't know. Maybe I'm just getting my period soon. Who knows? But sometimes I read things and I come close to crying. I get this sinking feeling. I don't know. I imagine these people having this relatively peaceful life and then these big ships come.

And I'm not trying to come down hard on white people--well, cause I'm kind of one of them. And Stephen Colbert is white too. He's really cool.

I don't want to get into this white people are cruel, stupid, and evil. The Aborigine people were perfect and peaceful. I know it's not all cut and dry like that.

I do LOVE modern Australia. I really do. I love the modern world. I love all the pretty buildings and museums. I like all the restaurants. I like the great variety of cultures that live in Australia now.

I don't regret that Australia or America was invaded by Europeans. I mean I kind of do.

Oh, I don't know!

I LOVE Australia for what it is now. I guess I just feel so sad for these people having their way of life totally stolen from them.

Today in the car, I started thinking about Bennelong and felt all teary-eyed. Then later I read this:

From the edge of the trees the Cadigal people watched as the strangers of the First Fleet struggled ashore in 1788. We can only imagine what their thoughts would have been.

That made me teary-eyed too.

I don't remember the museum being that close the water. Maybe I'm confused, or maybe the Cadigal had damn good eyesite. Well, maybe I felt far from the water because there are all these streets and buildings now. Without all those buildings, the water might seem much closer.

Level three of the museum has a whole exhibit about the Cadigal people. I don't remember if I saw it or not. I wasn't as interested in Indigenous stuff back then--a little bit, but not as much as now.

There's no definite answer of how long the Cadigal were in the area. Shell Middens, which seems to be their version of trash, suggest they've been around at least 4500 years.

I wonder what part of Australia, the original people first landed then???? I mean the forty or so thousand years ago. I'm guessing it was in the North? I'm just thinking that since it's close to Asia.

Does anyone know this? I'll google it later I suppose.

I found a great Sydney Morning Herald article about an Aboriginal tour you can take.

It talks about the exhibit in the Royal Botanical Gardens. I saw part of this and that almost made me cry too.

I almost-cry a lot. Sometimes, I actually end up crying.

Why do we fight back our tears like that? Is it embarrassment? Shame?

I don't know.

Anyway enough about me and my crying. The article says that Captain Cook was missing a tooth and in Aborigine tradition this meant he was an ancestor. The article says this is why the white people were fairly welcomed at first. Yeah, but then they came back with a lot of ships and the ships carried diseases.

I guess it's like how we'd be if one space ship arrived. We'd all probably be pretty excited. We'd be a little scared, but also friendly and welcoming. But then if a whole fleet of space ships showed up a few years later, and our people started dropping like flies from disease.....Well, I think we wouldn't be so happy about it.

Okay, here are some more scattered facts I found out:

1. The Cadigal called Darling Harbor Tumbalong. This means a place where seafood is found. There's a playground in Darling Harbor called Tumbalong park. We went there. It's where an Ibis pooped on my backpack.

2. Before the Bennelong kidnapping, there was the Araboona kidnapping. He was kidnapped and learned some English. He then went and taught some of what he learned to some of his people. This didn't last long because he soon died from Smallpox.

3. Most of the Cadigal were wiped out from Smallpox. The few who survived lost their beautiful tribal way of life. I think most of them ended up with a pretty shitty life. Despite this though, there are some descendants of Cadigal still living in Sydney today.

There's so much more I want to learn.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Bidjigal from Baulkham Hills


It's on to the Bidjigal--another clan of Eora people. They lived in what is now Baulkham Hills.
Baulkham Hills is known as the Bible Belt of Sydney because it has a lot of churches. I didn't know Australia had Bible Belts. I thought that was an American thing.

Well, we learn something new everyday.

Baulkham Hills is way out west from where us American tourists will be hanging out. Maybe we'll make our way over there. Who knows? There's the lovely Bidjigal Reserve which has animals and historical Bidjigal stuff.

The most well-known Bidjigal man was Pemulwoy. He fought against the British--avenged Aboriginal deaths by killing Governor Philip's gamekeeper.

He led raids against settlers.

He was known as "Rainbow Warrior" because he wore the colors of all Aboriginal tribes.

Pemulwoy became a wanted man in 1801 and was killed in 1802. The body was preserved and sent to Joseph Banks (the Botanist who sailed with Cook) in London. There is a lot of anger and controversy over this. The UK has many Aboriginal bodies and the Aborigines in Australia want them back. Why would someone cling to other people's dead ancestors? It seems a bit cruel. Rude too.

Maybe some Australians should steal the bodies of some famous British people. They can hold them ransom until the Aboriginal remains are returned.

I'm saying all this bad stuff about the British and who knows what we have in our American museums? Well, probably not Aborigines, but I'm sure we have SOMETHING we shouldn't have.

It seems the excuse for keeping these Aboriginal bodies is they're needed for scientific studies. Yeah. I think most of the earlier studies went along with the idea that Aborigines are the least evolved of the human beings. I guess some people still cling to Nazi-like beliefs.

What else can you do to a body that's over two-hundred years old? What more do you want to find out? Why not dig up bodies in England and do the same studies?

Aren't there better things for scientists to do? Like find life on other planets? Or scare people into thinking we're going to be swallowed by a black hole?

In March 2006, the British museum made the decision to return the ashes of Aboriginal Tasmanians to Tasmania.

From what I gather in my reading, Pemolwoy was returned in the 1950's. I give the British kudos for that. Unfortunately, the skull was passed around and then lost. It was later found, but there is debate about whether it is Pemolwoy or somebody else. Can they not to genetic testing? Although how would they know what Pemolwoy's genes look like? I am thinking genes are like fingerprints. You can't just find a finger print and know who it belongs to. You need the matching fingerprints on database. Otherwise, it's bit meaningless.

Back to Pemulwoy.......

Eric Wilmott wrote a novel about him. I may want to read it although I don't usually like fictional books about nonfictional people.

He does sound like an interesting person though--Pemulwoy not Willmot. Although Willmot might be interesting as well. Who knows? He might be fascinating. He might have a blog!

There's a belief that Aborigines were a weak race easily overcome by a more superior and powerful race; that they did not offer much resistance to the invasion. This attitude is also applied to the Jews in Nazi Europe.

Pemulwoy's existence and story argues against this belief.

He fought.

He wasn't weak.

In fact, his eerie ability to recover from wounds gave him the reputation as being invincible.

There's an interesting contrast between his story and Bennelong's. I think all stories of domination of one people over another include characters like Bennelong and Pemulwoy--including the fictional ones. Look at the V miniseries. Danial the young Jewish man was a bit like Bennelong. Although I think he kissed up to the aliens more than Bennelong kissed up to the Europeans. Then Mike Donovan and Julie Parrish were like Pemulwoy. Resistance fighters! They were awesome. Remember when they went on live television and tore off the alien's fake-human mask?

You know.....

It's funny how you start off learning one thing and get led off in some interesting directions.

I began reading about Bidjigal from Baulkham Hills. That led me to Pemulwuy and then for about an hour I read about dead bodies and museums--making me feel like I was a character in a Douglas Preston/Lincoln Child novel.

And now I have Marc Singer on my mind.

Sexy guy. Or at least I thought so back in the 80's.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Learning About the Wangal People

My next topic of study regarding Indigenous Australia are the Wangal from the Sydney area.

If my brain is processing the information correctly, then the Wangal are from the Western part of Sydney.

They're neighbors with the Cadigal people. Both groups are Eora.  I THINK I'm finally understanding this. Maybe?

The Wangal and Cadigal were among the first to encounter the white people. I guess this would make sense since the British landed in Sydney first.

One of the most well-known Wangals was Bennelong.

I found a ton of Wangal/Cadigal dietary info from this website.

They went fishing with spears in canoe like boats called noweys.  They were made with bark, and tied with vines.

They hunted various animals. Fruit bats, kangaroos, wallabies. It seems they used spears for the most part.

They used many different local plants for basket weaving. When the desired material was not found, they ordered what they needed online.

Besides seafood and game, they ate insects and native fruits. Bush Tucker. Well, I guess all of the above is Bush Tucker. Well, except the basket-weaving stuff. That would be Bush Not-Tucker. Oh! Unless maybe they made edible baskets. That would be cool.

They drank nectar from various blossoms--One of the most prized was Bullrush. I guess I can call it Wangal Starbucks. They drank the nectar as they passed by--a grab and go kind of thing. They also collected the flowers to make drinks.

They ate eggs, reptiles, grub, ants, and honey from stingless bees. We saw stingless bees at the Taronga zoo. I thought it was the greatest thing ever. I had never heard of such a thing. Bees that don't sting? BRILLIANT. I'm sure the bees that DO sting don't agree with me. They probably look at the stingless bees and say "Losers!"

I'm thinking I would love to do one of those bush-tucker tours. Have any of you done one? If you have any you can recommend, PLEASE do so!

The Wangal's land area was called Wanne. The eastern boundaries are around Birchgrove and Balmain. The western boundaries are around Silverwater and Auburn. I'm trying to grasp this on a map and am having trouble. I'll keep trying.

Okay, I think I got it. Google maps is fun. All right. Confession. I had my east and west messed up. That's why it took me awhile to figure things out. Oops.

Cadigal lived to the East of Wangal. I'll look for them on another day.

Back to Bennelog. He got along fairly well with the new white people, and even traveled back to Europe with them. He found himself in the situation that many people find themselves in today. Torn between two cultures. I think there's a term for that, but it has slipped my mind.

Bennelong lived in a little brick hut. The little piece of land where his home sat became known as Bennelong point. And that's now where the Opera House sits.

I think there's something a little sad and ironic about that piece of land. First, it holds the story of a man pretty much used and exploited by the newbies. Then there's the story of the Danish man who designed the Opera House and then left before he ever got to see it. It IS a really beautiful building though. I love it despite it's tragic aspects. It's kind of bittersweet.

I think someone should make a movie about Bennelong point. It can be one of those movies where they have two storylines intersecting--one in the past about Bennelong, and then another about the creation/building of the Opera House. It could have the same actors in both storylines. I think it would be awesome.

This article here says Bennelong was kidnapped while fishing by Captain Philip. In traditional Stockholm Syndrome fashion, the two became friends. Bennelong was somewhat entranced by white culture. He enjoyed that lifestyle, but it seems was eventually discarded by the white people. Late in life, he found himself rejected by both cultures.

I'm reading various websites though and in some Bennelong seemed eager to partake in the white man's world, and in others it seems more like he was forced and disliked it. Maybe in reality, it was a mixture of both.

My gut feeling says, that for the most part, his story is a sad and unfortunate one.

Friday, September 19, 2008

A Visit To The Library

Jack and I took a field trip to the library yesterday.

I had wanted to see if they had the Steven Toltz  book--the Aussie Booker prize prize winner.   They didn't have the book.   I was disappointed, but not surprised.   

I had a mid-size list of authors to look for--different from the usual ones I look for and rarely find.

I didn't find much from the list--except two young adult books by John Marsden. They look interesting.  I don't think I've ever read his stuff before--at least not during my Australia obsession.

I did run into Breath--Tim Winton's new book.  I found it in the new books section.   I was excited about that and pleased that our library actually has it.

Jack loved looking up things on the computer and while I was doing my own investigating, he excitedly plugged in Tim Winton for me.   His detective work found me another Winton book--this one a young adult novel.   It's called Lockie Leonard.  Human Torpedo.   I was disappointed at first with the book because the copyright page says "modified for American readers".  I took this to mean that Australia was pretty much pumped out of the book.    I was very wrong.   It has quite a bit of Aussie culture in it.  In fact,  I hate to admit it, but I'm a bit lost on some of the language/slang.   I can figure out most of it from the context though.   I just started the book and we're already getting references to Weetbix and Vegemite.  Oh, actually Winton says Weetabix.   Maybe this is what was changed for American readers.   Maybe they figured we'd have heard of Weetabix, but not Weetbix.  But I kind of thought that Weetabix was only recently introduced into American grocery stores.   

Okay, going to google.....

Ah, here we go!   Weetbix AND Weetabix were both invented in Australia. AND Weetabix has been in America since the 1960's.

Why is this blog entry turning into a whole Weetbix thing?   

Anyway....back to the library.

During my own computer catalog research, I found a nice list of books by plugging "Australia" into the subject line.   I was about to physically search for them, but decided I have enough books for now.   I'll get them next time.   I'm actually not doing a lot of book-reading at the moment.  I'm doing more online research--Indigenous Australia and all that.  

One of the books I might get next time is a biography on Rubert Murdoch. I saw it awhile back and avoided it. How much do I really want to know about that man?    But it might have some stuff about his childhood in Australia.   And plus, I do like biographies. Who knows?   Maybe I'll find things I like about the man.  There's also a book about Nicole Kidman.  I have nothing against her.   I just get tired of her because her presence in the media is a bit saturated.   

In other news....I think I finally understand the Eora thing.   From what I read, it seems this is a name for all Indigenous people in the Sydney area. I probably could benefit from a book called Indigenous Australia for Dummies. Or The Idiots Guide to Indigenous Australia.    I guess eventually it will all be a little less confusing to me. Otherwise, I might need a brain transplant or something.   

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Learning About The Cammeraygal

Yesterday, my education was about the Indigenous group that lived in North Sydney.

The Cammeraygal.

Some websites mention them being part of the Eora and some don't.   I'm very confused about this!!    If anyone knows more about it and would like to explain, PLEASE do so.

I do know that Bennelong was part of the Eora. I'll talk about him on another day. He has an interesting history.

Anyway, back to the Cammeraygal (who may or may not have had connections to the Eora).

The Cammeraygal ate seafood, but I'm guessing it was usually not in the exploitive way we eat seafood today.   I'm pretty sure they didn't have any all-you-can-eat shrimp & lobster buffets.

It seems most of the Cammeraygal disappeared after the arrival of the big ships in 1788.

The suburb Cammeray is named after them.

The places the Cammeraygal hung out way back when is now called Balls Head, Berry Island, Kirribilli, Cammeray and Cremorne.  Gayden Track on Berry island has a Bushwalk where you can learn about stuff.     I guess it has signs that you can read.

The Cammeraygal name for Balls Head is Yerroulbine. There are lots of nice archeological sites-- rock carvings and all that.   In fact, a new one was found this July.   Well, the drawing isn't new. It's quite old actually. But it's new in terms of it just being found recently. How cool is that?

The name Kirribili comes from Aboriginal word Kiarabilli. That means good fishing spot.

Okay. I have no idea how to pronounce half this stuff I'm writing.

The Prime Minister lives in Kirribili.   Why not in Canberra?   You know, that's a pretty long commute. Milson's point is near Kirribili. How close? Walking distance to Luna Park?  I wonder if Kevin Rudd hangs out there when he's not busy doing the Prime Minister thing?

Anyway, if fate has us return to Luna Park, while I'm riding the rides and fearing for my life, I will think about and remember the Cammeraygal people. I will remember that when they were around there was no scary clown face to walk through.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Educating Myself About Indigenous Australia

I have decided our holiday to Australia will be much more meaningful to me if I educate myself. I think I'm doing a fairly good job so far. I know I'll know at least more than I knew the last time we were there.

One thing I want to learn about is the Aboriginal Cultures. My friend and I were talking about learning languages. I said that I'd love to learn an Aboriginal language. This probably shows how asocial I am. Most people want to learn a prevalent language so they can speak to many people around the world. I want to learn a language that no one around me speaks.  Go figure.

Well, when I announced I'd like to do this, I realized how incredibly ignorant I am about Indigenous Australia. There's no language called Aborigine.  It's not like I can go on the Rosetta Stone and order Aborigine.  I AM educated enough to know that as the Native Americans are made up of several different tribes and not one big chunk of unanimous people, the same goes for the Aborigines.

So....I want to learn about the different groups/tribes....whatever you call them....of Australia.  It's not going to be easy.  It seems there are a lot of them.   I can't pronounce their names and I have the hardest time spelling them.

I decided the other night that the best way of going about this is sticking to a small number at first.   It seems the most rational thing to do is just study the ones that live (or lived) in the places we're going to be visiting.  Therefore, I'll be sticking to Canberra, The Sydney area, and Tasmania.

Last night, I worked on Canberra. The main Aboriginal group there seems to be the Ngunnawal.

Evidence of Indigenous occupation of the land goes back at least 20,000 years, but there's no definite proof that these people were related to the Ngunnawal.   I'm guessing they are.   But hey, that's just my hunch.

It seems they lived a fairly happy life.   They roamed about the land and found food without exploiting.    They existed in small groups, but came together for fun events such as the summer Bogong Moth feasts.  

The well-being and happiness of the Ngunnawal went down quite a bit in the 1820's when the Europeans started doing their grazing there.   The European livestock trampled on the Ngunnawal land and that gave the Ngunnawal less to eat.  In 1826, the Ngunnawal went to Lake George and had a protest.    I can't really find any information on whether or not the protest did any good. I'm thinking no, because I DID find out that the Ngunnawal then started working for the Europeans.  It sort of seems along the lines of sighing and saying Well, if we can't beat them.  Join them.  

White people, though....we're very generous.   Not only do we bring jobs and a new way of life for savages; we also bring them wonderful things like Smallpox.  We're nice like that. Okay, but to be fair. As far as I know, we didn't start the whole Ebola thing.

I have to say besides the excitement of the 1820's, I can't yet find much written on the history of Ngunnawal people's.  

 I found a primary school named after them and I found a Aboriginal Center at Canberra University named after them.   I think it's nice that Australia celebrates their culture and name in this way.

If we jump ahead to 1972 something does happen that's recorded and recognized. William McMahon the father of the man who haunts my dreams rejected the idea of returning land to the Aborigines.   What he wanted to do instead is give temporary leases to the Aborigines. They weren't happy with that, so they erected a tent embassy on the lawns of the Parliament House.   

Fast forward three years and we get Whitlam righting McMahon's wrongs by pouring sand through Vincent Lingiari's fingers.   This symbolized the return of land to the Indigenous people.  Lingiari was not part of the Ngunnawal people.   I think he was actually from the Northern Territory. I'm also not quite sure how much of a part the Ngunnawal had in starting the embassy tent.I can't find clear enough answers on that. Maybe SOME of them had SOME part in it. That's what I'm inferring from my reading.  

Here's a funny coincidence.  Well, at least I think it's funny. 1972 is the year I was born. It might not be a big deal.   I just think it's eerie that McMahon is prime minister that year and his policies start this whole tent embassy thing. Then fast forward twenty-two years and I begin having all these dreams about his son that leads me to becoming totally obsessed with Australia. Maybe I heard about it while I was in the womb and forgot about it for all those years.  Who knows?

Okay and then the Whitlam and Lingiari thing happened on August 16.  That MIGHT have been the day in 2007 that we bought the plane tickets to Australia and my Australia obsession jumped up about many notches. There's been other weird coincidences around that date so I've tried to figure out which exact day we bought the plane tickets.    Okay, wait.  I think NOW I got it.   I think it was the 15th for us, but it was the 16th in Australia. I'm looking at old journal entries and emails. I can't get anything 100% definite, but I'm pretty sure that's what it was.

All right.  Enough of my freaky weird stuff.  

There's been a lot of controversy regarding the tent.  Not everyone loves the idea of a makeshift tent in front of a fancy building.  Crap, they sound like our old neighborhood association rules.   No basketball hoops and no playground equipment that we can see over your fence.   Doesn't anyone have fun in this world anymore?  Huh?

All right.   But even some Aboriginal people aren't happy with the tent--including a Ngunnawall leader.

In October 2002, Matilda House came by the tent and tried to fix it up.  This included putting out a symbolic fire that the Aborigines had burning.  She felt it had lost it's true purpose and the Aborigines staying there had lost their way.

The tent is still there, though. In 2007, it was nominated to be on the National Heritage List.That would protect it. I'm not sure what happened to that.  ????

I understand why there might be controversy surrounding the tent.  Is it still needed?  Is it pretty enough to stand in front of a government building? I personally think it sounds lovely, and I hope to see it while in Canberra.  

Whoever put that tent up has a lot of Chutzpah.   I like that.   It makes me smile.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I had a stressful day yesterday.

I wasn't feeling a 100% great.   Then I started to work on making hotel/holiday park reservations.

First, the hotels near Sydney airport were much more expensive than I expected.  I found one hotel with a good price, but it got very mixed reviews.  And when I say "mixed", I mean mostly bad reviews. I hate reading hotel reviews.   If there's a really negative review, I can't tell if the hotel was really bad, or if the person writing the review is snobby/has too high expectations, etc.   It's so hard for me to figure these things out.

I decided maybe we'd just stay at the Darling Harbor hotel that we stayed at last year, and planned to stay again for our upcoming extended time in Sydney. I looked up the hotel prices and they have TOTALLY jumped from last year. I am so bummed out about that.

Now we're stuck looking for a new place to stay. No, I'm not hinting that you Sydney people should let us camp out on your floor.   We HAVE found some promising places that have good locations and good prices.    It's just I'm going to miss staying in Darling Harbor.   Yes, there were annoying aspects.  It's very touristy and we didn't really like the restaurants over there. But I loved being right next door to the Aquarium and Wildlife World.

Some of the new places we found are near Hyde Park. I think that will work for us.  We loved having picnics in Hyde Park, so now it will be a shorter walk.   I think there are buses and train stations nearby.   And it's a fairly okay walk to both Circular Quay and Darling Harbor.

Oh well.

We shall see.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Australia Celebrity Geography

I've decided to map out the famous people.

So, here they are by state of birth.

Sarah Blasko-singer
Peter Garrett-Singer/politician
Adam Hills -Comedian who has made vital improvements on the Australian National Anthem.
Toni Collette-Actress from Muriel's Wedding & The Sixth Sense
Bryan Brown-Actor from Cocktail
Rachel Carpani-Actress from McLeod's Daughters
Doris Younane- Actress from McLeod's Daughters
Hugh Jackman-Wolverine!   
Baz Luhrmann-Film director: Moulin Rouge and the upcoming Australia
John Howard-Liberal Prime Minister
Paul Keating-Prime Minister 1991-1996
Harold Holt-The Prime Minster that drowned
John Curtin-World War II Prime Minister
Paul Hogan-Crocodile actor guy
Henry Lawson-Poet and writer
Dawn Fraser-Swimmer
Donald Bradman-Cricket Player 
Julian McMahon-Actor from Charmedand the one who haunts my dreams
Anthony Field-The Blue Wiggle that my sister and I fight over.
Murray Cook-The Red Wiggle.
Greg Page-The Wiggle who is no longer a Wiggle.  (sniff).
Jeff Fatt-The Purple Wiggle
Sam Moran-The Wiggle I'm struggling to get used to.
Iva Davies-Musician from Icehouse
Miles Franklin-Writer.   My Brilliant Career
Clive James-Writer.  I didn't like his memoirs.  Sorry.  I have limits to how much I want to know about someone's masturbation experiences.  
Nellie Stewart-Singer
Shirley Hazzard-Writer whose book I couldn't get through.  I shall have to try something else that she's written.
Peter Weir-Film director.  Truman Show and Gallipoli
Christian Byers-Child Actor.  Opal Dream and December Boys--the two movies I saw on the airplane for our Australia trip.
Jacqueline McKenzie-Actress from Opal Dream and a lot of other stuff
Banjo Paterson-Poet who wrote Waltzing Matilda 
Evonne Goolagong-Tennis Player
Nancy Bird-Aviator
Frank Hurley-Photographer famous for Antarctica stuff
Graeme Clark-Helped the hearing impaired with his cochlear implant
Fiona Stanley-Works with issues of maternal and youth health
Kerry Packer-Very wealthy man
Neville Bonner-First indigenous Australian to become a member of the parliament
Arthur Stace-Man who wrote "eternity" a lot of times
Thomas Kenneally-Adorable author of Schindler's Ark.  I saw him speak somewhere about Schindler's List.
Bruce Beresford-Film director.  Breaker Morant & Driving Miss Daisy
Paul Scully-Powers-Oceanographer and Astronaut
David Hefgott-Pianist whose life was portrayed in the movie Shine
Adam Hill-Artist.  Descendent of the Daingatti tribe

Missy Higgins-Singer
Rachel Griffiths-Actress from Muriel's Wedding and  Six Feet Under
Emilie de Ravin-Actress from Lost and Roswell
Portia de Rossi-Actress from Ali McBeal and Nip/Tuck
Peter Singer-Ethical guy who helped father the animal rights movement.
Gough Whitlam-Prime Minister 1972-1975.   The one who returned land to Vincent Lingiari & the Gurindji people
Bridie Carter- Actress from McLeod's Daughters
Malcolm Fraser-Prime Minster 1975-1983
Brett Tucker-Actor from McLeod's Daughters
Ben Mendelsohn-Actor in a lot of stuff I've never heard of before
Steve Irwin-Wildlife Warrior
Jason Donavan-Actor/singer who I used to listen to obsessively on the Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat soundtrack.
Kylie Minogue-Singer and a name I get tired of seeing.
Peter Carey-Writer.  The True Story of the Kelly Gang & Oscar and Lucinda
Patricia Shaw-Writer of historical fiction
Mem Fox-Children's book author who says controversial things about daycare.  
Helen Garner-Writer
John Flynn-Father of the Royal Flying Doctor Service
Janette Turner Hospital-Writer.  Author of Oyster.
Barry Humphries-Comedian/Actor.  Dame Edna's alter ego.
Cate Blanchett-Actress and supermom who was able to attend a summit a few weeks after giving birth.  What would Mem Fox say about that???
Norman Lindsay-Artist and author of children's book The Magic Pudding
Eric Bana-Actor.   I think the only thing I've seen him in is Finding Nemo.  
Bill Hunter-Actor.  Another one in which the only work I've seen is Finding Nemo.  I'm way behind here.
Gillian Armstrong.- Film Director.   Little Woman and My Brilliant Career 
Robert Menzies-Actor and grandson of Prime Minister 
Vince Colosimo-Actor in Opal Dream and a bunch of other stuff.
Will Anderson-Comedian  
Edward Dunlop-WWII hero
Mary MacKillop-Almost a saint
Helen Caldicott-Anti-nuclear Activist
Ned Kelly-Bushranger
John Monash-World War I military commander
Fred Schepisi-Film director Roxanne and Six Degrees of Separation
Frank MacFarlane-Known for work in immunology
George Coles-Founder of the Grocery Store
Rupert Murdoch-A very powerful man
Germaine Greer-Writer and Feminist.  Anarchist and not a mate with Steve Irwin
Nellie Melba-Opera singer and on the 100 dollar note
Rhonda Byrne-It's a Secret.   
John Marsden-Writer of young adult fiction
Sonya Harnett-Writer of mostly children and young adult literature
Andy Griffiths-Writer of funny stuff for kids
Fred Walker-inventor of Vegemite
Helen Reddy-Singer/Actress from Pete's Dragon

Bernard Fanning-Singer
Simmone MacKinnon-McLeod's Daughter's actress
Cathy Freeman-Olympic Athlete
Bindi Irwin-Wildlife Warrior
Kevin Rudd-Current Prime Minster who would turn gay for his wife.   
Thea Astley-Writer
Geoffrey Rush-Actor from Shine.   
David Malouf-Writer
Charles Kingford Smith-Aviator
John Bradfield-Designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge
Peter Doherty-Scientist involved with immunology
Jack Mundey-Environmental activist
P.L. Travelers-Author of Mary Poppins

Matilda House-A Ngambri-Ngunnawal elder.  Artist and an active leader in the Aboriginal community

Paul Kelly-Singer 
Sonia Todd-Actress from McLeod's Daughters
Robert Hawke-Prime Minster 1983-1991
Murray Bail-Writer.  Eucalyptus.   Read on IMDb that it was supposed to be turned into a movie
Lowitja O'Donoghue-One of the stolen children who grew up to work in Indigenous affairs
Lawrence Bragg-Youngest recipient of the Nobel Prize
Vivian Bullwinkel-WWII nurse and sole survivor of Banka Island Massacre
Howard Florey-Helped with the whole Penicillin thing
Sidney Kidman-A guy who owned a lot of land
Judith Anderson-Actress.  Star Trek III  and Santa Barbara
Robert Helpmann-Dancer and scary guy in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Cadel Evans-Biking athlete
Albert Namatijra-Aboriginal Painter.  His name sounded so familiar to me and then I realized I recognized it from the I Am Australian song.

Elizabeth Blackburn-Biologist/geneticist
Errol Flynn-Wild and crazy actor
Simon Baker-Actor from show Mentalist and Smith

Heath Ledger-Actor.  RIP
Myles Pollard-Actor from McLeod's Daughters
Tim Winton-Writer.  Cloudstreet, Dirt Music, The Riders
Judy Davis -My Brilliant Career and Husbands and Wives
Edith Cowan-Hero who helped women and children
Rolf Harris-Singer.  I know him as the "Tie Me Kangaroo Down" guy.
Melissa George-Actress from In Treatment and Alias

SOMEWHERE ELSE- These folks are associated with Australia, but were not actually born there.   Some are Australian and some are not.   

Nicole Kidman -Actress.  Was born in Hawaii to Australian parents.  Moved back to Sydney in early childhood.
Lisa Chapell- McLeod's Daughter's actress.  She's a Kiwi.
Aaron Jeffrey-McLeod's Daughter's actor--the only one who lasted all eight seasons.  He's a Kiwi.
Mel Gibson -Born in New York.  Later moved to Australia.  I think maybe one parent was Australian.  I'm confused about this.
Guy Pearce-Actor.   Born in the UK and emigrated at the age of 3.
Michala Banas -Actress/singer.   Kiwi
Jessica Napier-Actress from McLeod's Daughters   Another Kiwi!   The girl I would turn gay for!  And she's into animal rights.  We could be tofu-eating lesbians together!!
Russell Crowe-Born in NZ, but grew up in Australia
Robert Burke-Explorer.  Born in Ireland
Patrick White-Writer.  Born in UK to Australian parents, moved back to Australia as an infant
John Birmingham-Writer and very prolific blogger.  Born in UK and emigrated as a child.
Jimmy Barnes  Singer.  Working Class Man   Born in Scotland.  Family emigrated when he was a young child.
Caroline Chisholm-Humanitarian.   Fought against poverty
Eric Bogle-Singer and writer of The Band Played Waltzing Matilda.  Born in Scotland.
Victor Chang-Heroic Heart surgeon.   Born in China.  Came to Australia when he was 15
Matthew Flinders-Gave Australia it's name.  Born in England
Daisy Bates-Born in Ireland.   Studied Aboriginal culture and fought for their welfare
Naomi Watts-Actress from The Ring and King Kong.   Born in England.  Grew up in Australia
Frances O'Connor-Actress from AI and other stuff.  Born in England
Isla Fisher-Actress from Wedding Crashers.   Born in Oman of Scottish parents
Hugo Weaving-Actor from Lord of The Rings and The Matrix  Born in Nigeria
Olivia Newton John-Actress/singer.   From Grease and Xanadu Born in the UK.  
Peter Finch-Actor from Network and lots of other stuff.  Born in the UK

I know I have probably forgotten some very important people.   Please tell me and I'll add them.   I'll add you too if you want to pretend you're famous!!!