Tag Archives: Australian

INXS Is “History”!

Today, while Miss 11 and I were out driving in the car, the great INXS classic: Devil Inside came on the radio and almost immediately my mood accelerated. It was 1988 all over again and I was basking in my first year of freedom at Sydney University. Yet, as much as I can be the penultimate in embarrassing mothers, I wasn’t singing, dancing or worst of all throwing my undies out the car window in honour of the late great Michael Hutchence. No. I had both hands on the wheel, both eyes on the road and not a hair out of place to betray the devil inside me.

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Devon- a manufactured meat product sold in Australia and NZ.

That’s when my daughter started talking about how this song reminded her of a kid who was dead inside (I think this was her interpretation of being boring), and asked me to clarify the words of the song. Was it “dead inside” or “devon inside”? She also added that they could improve their diction. I had to chuckle at the thought of the late, great Michael Hutchence having devon inside. Although, in the land of young kids and school sangers, of course, devon inside makes perfect sense. Indeed, you might even have devon and a splash of tomato sauce inside two buttered slices of bread.

That’s when I asked Miss 11 if she’d heard of Michael Hutchence? Sadly, that just resulted in a blank stare and then she asked me if I’d heard of Josh Hutcherson who played the leading role of Peeta Mellark in  The Hunger GamesSadly, I had not. So, we were even. Nil all.

After that, my husband and I decided that the kids needed to get an education and we conjured “Devil Inside” up onto our TV, bringing 1988 back to life. While we were very excited and really looking forward to sharing something special to us with them, for the kids, it was a lesson in ancient history in the same way my own grandfather used to talk about his father and grandfather making wheels for carts in the old smithy. Moreover, while to us,  the music sounded contemporary enough, showing the kids the film clips put the nail in the coffin. Indeed, even I found them dated.

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I guess I can take comfort in the knowledge that I am at least a step ahead of my parents. They each went to see The Beatles on their 1966 Australian tour. My mother also tells a story about how she had tickets to go and see Peter, Paul and Mary but her parents forced her to go on a family holiday to visit her Great Uncle out in Burke in far Western NSW. Mum, Dad and four “adult children” squeezed into the FJ Holden without air-conditioning or a radio. Mum played the piano in some kind of concert while she was out there. A promising pianist at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music visiting the outback was a big deal back then. Not the Queen perhaps, but perhaps an alternative to the pub.

When I was studying history back at school and university, we didn’t really look at the music people listened to as a way of interpreting the times. Of course, there were newspapers, novels and art. Yet, at least as far as I can recall, not much of an emphasis on music. Yet, for those of us who’ve lived through the times, music is such a part of it. It’s always there in the foreground, the background or stuck inside our heads even when we wish it would stop. Couples have their song and when an old song comes on, it’s like jumping straight into a time machine. I’m there.

In addition to sharing these songs with our kids as a part of us, I also want them to know their own culture, and their own cultural history. I want them to read some of our great books. Listen to our songs. Not only see a kookaburra sitting on a gum tree, but also know the song (even if it’s no longer cool to sing along now they’re teens).

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The family standing in front of the Dog on the Tuckerbox (back right hand side), Gundagai, NSW, Australia.

Last January, when we were driving down to Melbourne to catch the ferry over to Tasmania, we drove through the famous country town of Gundagai. This town is not only famous for its statue: “The dog sits on the Tuckerbox”, but also the song: Along the Road to Gundagai, where the chorus goes:

There’s a track winding back to an o-old fashioned shack
Along the road to Gundagai
Where the blue gums are growin’ and the Murrumbidgee’s flowin’
Beneath the sunny sky
There my mother and daddy are waitin’ for me
And the pals of my childhood once more I shall see
Then no more will I roam when I’m headin’ straight for home
Along the road to Gundagai 

Well, the kids almost murdered me as I kept singing the song as we approached Gundagai. I just wanted them to know their own culture, but there was no respect. None whatsoever, just a combined cringe.

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Paul Hogan as Crocodile Dundee.

Sometimes, I feel that bringing my kids up with an Australian culture and influence, is like migrants trying to bring their kids up with a knowledge of the old country. That my own Australian culture feels just as foreign here due to the omnipresent American influence. Moreover, with the Internet now part of our homes, our kids are becoming Americanized in a much more intimate and personal way. One afternoon, I heard my son chatting over the Internet to a young kid from the American deep South. This was interesting and novel in a way and something I could never have done as a child. However, it wasn’t long and our son was speaking American around the house and I wanted it to stop. The same with our daughter. We have tomato sauce, not “ketchup”. We have cupboards/wardrobes not “closets”. We have biscuits, although we also have cookies but they’re an American style biscuit not your standard tea-dunking thing. We are our own people, our own place.

It’s not always easy to know what it means to be Australian. We are a multi-cultural society and any discussion of being Australian also includes Aboriginal Australia. For me, at least, it’s not just about white Australia or male/female Australia but a diverse mix which, despite all it’s diversity, is still it’s own nation with it’s own culture. Moreover, while our population is small, we don’t need to stop being who we are and become someone else to survive or make a go of it. We are beautiful just the way we are. I might not know what that it is, but I sure know what it isn’t!

Perhaps, I need to go and think of a way of rewriting Waltzing Matilda for the modern day and I’d better not ask INXS to perform it.

How are you conquering the cultural divide with your kids? Do you think its important for countries to maintain their own cultures? Or, should be all just merge into a global monoculture? As individuals, do we have a say? 

xx Rowena

Nullarbor Travellers – Friday Fictioneers.

Nothing summed up where her life was heading, better than this road to nowhere on the Nullarbor Plain.

“Should’ve known when I aimed for the stars, I’d land nose first in the dirt. Freedom’s over-rated. Was much better off locked in my cage.  I’m gunna to die out here.”

Lost in the outback too tired to fly any further, Chirpy Bird flopped beside the road, waiting for heaven.

Meanwhile, Jack had been driving his rig non-stop from Adelaide.

“What the?”he exclaimed, rubbing his eyes. A yellow canary out in the desert? Definitely, time to pull over.

….

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff-Fields. This week’s photo prompt © Danny Bowman.

This is Chirpy Bird’s second appearance. If feel like a good dose of angst, here’s a poem I wrote about Chirpy Bird being dumped in Paris back in 1992: The Yellow House

I have set my take on the prompt in Australia’s Nullarbor Plain. I have crossed the Nullarbor a couple of times by train and driven across once. It’s an intriguing place. It has a sense of raw brutality about it. A road train kills a kangaroo and an eagle goes “Yippee! Dinner!” Then the eagle sees a huge road train approaching and decides to defend it’s meal, almost to the death.

Could say so much more, but’s after midnight.

Here’s a bit more about the Nullarbor Plain:

The Nullarbor Plain (/ˈnʌlərbɔːr/ NUL-ər-borLatinnullus, “no”, and arbor, “tree”[1]) is part of the area of flat, almost treeless, arid or semi-arid country of southern Australia, located on the Great Australian Bight coast with the Great Victoria Desert to its north. It is the world’s largest single exposure of limestone bedrock, and occupies an area of about 200,000 square kilometres (77,000 sq mi).[2] At its widest point, it stretches about 1,100 kilometres (684 mi) from east to west across the border between South Australia and Western Australia.

xx Rowena

 

 

American Diner Down Under.

The Ipswich fish & chips shop was being bulldozed, making way for an American diner. As the bulldozers fired up, Pauline raged: “I’ll show Ronald Glump!”

“You won’t get away with this. Queensland’s not the 51st state of America. Ipswich says No. Not over my dead body.”

“Mr Glump, sir we’re under attack from a red-headed missile,” Robert Campbell IV, Vice-President Asia-Pacific shrieked down the phone. Australians wrestled crocodiles, wielded knives like swords and he’d failed boy scouts.

“Where’s the riot squad? Call my mate, Mr Turnbull. He’ll build a wall. That’ll keep ‘em out.”

“But what about the customers?”

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This is a contribution for Friday Fictioneers. This week’s PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot.

The Pauline alluded to in this story is highly controversial Australian Senator, Pauline Hanson founder and I think leader of the One Nation Party. Before going into politics, she owned a fish & chips shop in Ipswich, Queensland. She’s famous for a lot of things including her flaming red hair, her infamous saying: “Please explain!” which has become part of the Australian lexicon. You can read her bio here. And here’s a link to her alter-ego Pauline Pantsdown. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions about this colourful character and what would ever happen if she and President Elect Trump came to blows. WWIII? Nup! That would be child’s play!

xx Rowena

Winter Weekend Coffee Share.

Welcome to Another Weekend Coffee Share!

Today, I can actually offer you your choice of tea or coffee along with an almost healthy Strawberry & Macadamia Nut Muffin. Although  I really loved them straight out of the oven last night, they were still scrummy cold this morning with juicy chunks of strawberry complimenting crunchy macadamia nuts perfectly.

It’s Winter here in Australia.At least, that’s the official line.As far as winters go, even for us, it’s been pretty mild now that last weekend’s storm’s been and gone.

Winter in Australia

This week, I posted a rather funny cartoon about 20°C  in Brisbane (Winter) versus 20°C in London (Summer) . The funny thing was, that I just compared Sydney and London’s weather reports today and you wouldn’t believe it. They’re the same…16-20°C!

Not that I’m bragging. I don’t control the weather and I didn’t choose to be born here but I’m not complaining.

At least, not this weekend!

That said, we’ve had a few strange things going on in the last week.

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Our beach track was wiped out in the storm and transformed into a cliff.

I’ve already mentioned last weekend’s dreadful storms which hit the Australian East Coast.

On Tuesday, we had a 4.0 magnitude earthquake 100 km of the coast from here. Well, you might ask if I noticed because I didn’t feel a thing. Indeed, I only found out about it while following up the Sydney Storm online.

Tuesday, must have been a busy day for exceptional events around here because a Great White Shark was photographed leaping out of the waves while a guy was filming his mate surf…”Good Morning, Jaws!” This was an hour’s drive up the road from here and we live in a beachside community where we’ve seen local fisherpeople catch juvenile Bronze Whaler Sharks but although we know the Great Whites seemingly swim passed here to attack surfers on the NSW North Coast, we like to think they’re further out to sea and chomping on something else along the way.

It’s funny about us Australians because half the time we’re beefing up the dangers of our wildlife to terrify the tourists, and yet denial also seems to be a national sport. Sharks? What sharks?

Not all of our stories about our dangerous wildlife are made up. On a more serious note, last Sunday tourist Cindy Waldron was taken by a croc while swimming in the Daintree, near Cairns. On the very same day on the other side of the country, diver Doreen Ann Collyer was killed by a giant Great White Shark while diving about 1km off Mindarie beach in Perth.

So, while we might jest about the dangers, they also need to be taken seriously!

However, things have been relatively uneventful here.

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Our daughter drawing a unicorn in the sand when her friend visited.

It’s looking like I didn’t get the job at my daughter’s school. I’m fine about that but am putting more thought into setting some goals and objectives, while getting things more organised at home. I feel like I’ve finally moved forward from the chemo two years ago and that my health is stable and I am okay. That’s a huge leap forward, although it still feels very tentative at times and sometimes, it feels absolutely terrifying and like I’m about to combust or something. Strangely, the big stuff doesn’t worry me too much but things usually related to my poor spatial skills like parking the car somewhere unfamiliar. Chemo? No worries mate.

Just call me “odd”. You won’t be the first and you won’t be the last.

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Anyway, I bought myself a book, which offered great promise this week: Shannah Kennedy’s: The Life Plan. I found it at a stationery and organisation shop called Kikki K, which says:

“Do you want to live with purpose and achieve your life goals? In The Life Plan, leading life coach Shannah Kennedy sets out a step-by-step strategy to help you identify your true purpose and values, declutter and find clarity, improve your time management, and create tools to help you stay focused.”

By the way, all these thoughts about getting organised at home just received another setback. We just visited a local 2nd hand book sale and returned home with two more boxes of books. I wonder if you can store books in the fridge…Then again, I don’t think there’s any room in there either. We’ll just have to read them fast!

So, how has your week been? I hope it’s been good and look forward to catching up!

Thanks for popping by! This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster. You can click  for the linky to read the other posts.

xx Rowena

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Good night…Night Lights, Ettalong Beach, NSW.

Get the Blasted Midges!

As an Australian, there’s seemingly no end to our deadly dangerous, venomous wildlife. I’ve written before about our encounters with venomous snakes, deadly Funnel Web Spiders Funnel Web Spiders and devilish   Drop Bears falling from trees. However, as dangerous as these might be, I’ve never actually been bitten.

The same can’t be said of the “Midge”.Last weekend, it got me. Indeed, I was all but consumed by the Midge and am still suffering terribly. While the Midge might be small, it packs a mighty punch!

“A Midge? What on earth is a Midge?”

Well, you might ask.

“Is it just Aussie slang for a deadly beast you know by a more conventional name? Or, could those wild Australians possibly be harbouring yet another deadly fiend?”

Well, last weekend, I found out exactly what a Midge is.

Of course, knowing my luck, it had to be the hard, way when I was all but consumed by its relentless attack.

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We were having a picnic in the park in Queensland’s Surfers Paradise. After running around chatting and photographing, there I was feasting on a slice of gooey Nutella Chocolate Birthday Cake crowned with luscious fresh raspberries when the sneaky blighters struck.

The first I heard of them, was when I started hearing our family and friends chatting about who has “sweet blood”. Thinking “Midgie” must have been Queensland slang for mosquitos, I relaxed. Mozzies tend to leave me alone. My blood must be so ridiculously sweet, that it’s undesirable. Moreover, I am not allergic to mozzie bites.

However, the Midge is NOT a mosquito. Rather, Biting Midges are very small flies (0.5mm – 4mm long), renowned for their nuisance biting and are associated with coastal habitats. They seemingly live in swarms and so it’s not the case of getting one bite but having bites all over every bit of exposed skin.

Although I was covered in red spots, I wasn’t phased until I heard someone say they get worse the next day. That’s when I began to take note. Start to wonder whether I was in trouble. After all, I’m allergic to bee stings and I’m on immouno-suppressant drugs and can end up on antibiotics for a simple grazed knee. Yet, I still wasn’t in a panic. How could such a  tiny fly cause an insatiable itch, sending you to the brink of madness?

I was about to find out.

Sunday morning, I took an antihistamine thinking trouble was on its way.

Sunday night, I caked my arms and legs in Calamine lotion. My feet felt like they were being eaten alive.

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Midge Feet 3 days after the attack.

Monday, we bought an insect bite gel and coated myself in cortisone cream once we arrived home.

Monday night, I took two phenergan tablets.

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I had bites like this on both arms and legs. The itch could send you crazy…or, crazier!

While the Midge might be small, it packs a mighty punch! Three days later, I’m still itching like crazy and am about to head off to apply more creams, take more antihistamine and am hoping the bites don’t get infected and I’ll be onto antibiotics. Clearly, I am allergic to the Midge.

So, while I used to give the Funnel Web spiders, snakes and sharks, their due, the humble Midge has now been added to my personal Australia’s Most Wanted List.

Or, should I say, the most UNwanted.

Now, where’s that cream? I can’t help wondering if it is cheaper by the dozen.

xx Rowena

M- Dorothea Mackellar:Dead Poet.

Dear Miss Mackellar,

It is such an honour to write to you as part of my ongoing A-Z  Letters to Dead Poets. What started out as a bright spark from the muse, has expanded into an incredible journey covering four continents  from 278 B.C. through to 1998. So, there’s considerable diversity.

The reason I am writing to you is to acknowledge what your poem My Country means to me.

To be perfectly honest, I can’t remember a time where I didn’t know those famous lines from Verse 2:

I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!

Dorothea Mackellar

These words have somehow become a part of me, along with Banjo Paterson’s: The Man From Snowy River. It’s almost like they were sprinkled on my breakfast cereal every day and they’ve unconsciously become an integral part of who I am. I’m sure most Australians feel the same way. That My Country has somehow become part of our national psyche. I even learnt it as a song at school.

 

I gained a much stronger appreciation of the poem while I was backpacking through Europe back in 1992. I was 22 and feeling incredibly homesick. That’s when I truly gained a real appreciation, love and pride in being Australian and my love for the Australian landscape, even if I do prefer it when the grass is green and not scorched brown. There I was in the heart of Paris on Bastille Day revisiting a train trip across the vast space of the Nullarbor Plain on the way from Sydney to Perth. After all, sometimes, you have a leave a place to appreciate it fully and to understand that  Australia was never meant to be Europe!

Mackellar My Country

Indeed, you wrote My Country, under the original title of Core of My Heart while you were in London. Feeling homesick, you had been away from Australia for some time and were thinking about the great Australian landscape which you missed. You were 22 years old when it was first published in the London Spectator Magazine in 1908.

Meanwhile, on Monday 27th July, 1992 as a 22 years old backpacker dressed defiantly in my short navy shorts, a plain blue sleeveless top and pseudo Doc Martins, I walked up a rickety, red, wooden staircase in the Shakespeare Bookshop in Paris to perform my poetry. Being a proud Australian and wanting to set the scene for my work, I opened my reading with My Country. I was an incredibly proud young Australian flying the Aussie flag in Paris.

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Reading my poetry & Dorothea Mackellar’s My Country at the Shakespeare Bookshop in Paris 1992.

As I recited your poem that night, I had no idea that you were also 22 when you wrote the poem. Like me, you were also missing Australia after spending some time away and writing the poem was your way of thinking of home.

In addition to your appreciation of the Australian landscape,  I also found such strength and encouragement. For so many Australians, My Country has come to represent the Australian spirit and the dogged tenacity of the “little Aussie battler”, who loses the lot in the drought and then those lifesaving rains turn out to be a flood. Yet, miraculously, the little Aussie battler triumphs and defiantly rebuilds and goes on.

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While in many ways that’s become a national stereotype but the strong fighting spirit which you encapsulated in the poem, gives us something to live up to. A belief that we can overcome the twists and turns of fate and battle on. That when the chips are down, we can pull together and bail each other out. We see this played out time and time again, particularly when natural disasters strike. Thanks to your poem, there’s that expectation of rugged challenges but also the knowledge that we can get through it. We’re tough.

Knowing that we’re a nation of survivors is a good thing. There’s tenacity, backbone and dogged determination to stare adversity in the face and push on regardless. I’m not sure whether these qualities are quite as prevalent as they used to be. That said, Australia has always been a highly urbanised society. I wouldn’t be surprised that most of us are now living on easy street totally estranged from the Australian bush and the farming experience and forget that milk comes from cows instead of cartons.

However, time and time again through natural disasters we see this spirit return and overcome. Through bushfires, flood and drought we pull together, helping each other out and even though were such a diverse nation, we pull together as one.

I apologise if this letter quite isn’t up to my usual form. Trying to get my way through these letters every day with my kids home on school holidays is challenging. Te edit will have to come back for a return visit!

Yours sincerely,

Rowena

This is the latest installment in my series of Letters To Dead Poets for the A-Z Challenge. Please click  here to catch up on Letters A-H. This list will be updated on Sunday.

The Lean, Mean Herding King

Welcome back to the Royal Sydney Easter Show. The family headed off there yesterday where we were able to see this very smart Border Collie rounding up the sheep, responding to hand signals. Unlike the dog, I didn’t pick up everything the trainer said. However, he clearly spoke up how he is training the dog to “use his brain” and he mentioned something about building up and I guess using the dog’s natural instincts. That makes a lot of sense.

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That’s one clever dog!

When I was at school and we’d be running around the oval, there was a Border Collie, which we nicknamed “Flash” who used to run with us. He was very lean like the dog I’ve photographed here. The coat also doesn’t look as fluffy as Bilbo’s coat and indeed, the show dog we met.

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The Sheep.

I can certainly attest to the Border Collie’s herding instincts. When Bilbo thinks it’s dinner time, he either rounds up Geoff or I to remind Miss to feed him. He doesn’t waste his energy going direct to her. He is a true mirror how how things operate around here…right down to sitting next to my chair when I’m eating toast. He knows I don’t eat my crusts. Smart dog. Or, as Geoff puts it: “You’ve trained him well.”

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Border Collie…the “show” variety.

As anybody who has ever had a Border Collie can attest, when a Border Collie doesn’t have any sheep to chase, they will always find an alternative…their sheep substitute. While their fixation with chasing tennis balls can be as irritating as fingernails scraping down a chalkboard, it’s nothing compared to being herded up yourself.

I made the huge mistake of walking the dogs every morning after dropping the kids at school. When the kids changed schools this year, the routine changed but their expectations haven’t.

Being rounded up by one Border Collie is hard enough but two is torture. Fortunately, Lady is only half Border Collie and she’s a lot more mellow but those big brown eyes of hers are hard to resist.

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Obsessed…Bilbo appropriating another dog’s ball at the beach.

The other query I have about the Border Collie’s rounding up abilities, is why can’t they get the kids tidying up their rooms? Why can’t they get the kids to take them for a walk? Why can’t their herding abilities be put to good use instead of rounding me up, chasing tennis balls and helping themselves to food which is temporarily left unattended.

Perhaps, I’ve just been using the wrong hand signals!

xx Rowena

By the way, the Royal Sydney Easter Show is held out at Olympic Park, the site of the Sydney 2000 Olympics. While these photos look like they were taken in the outback, this is urban Sydney.

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Our ball desperado. Finally some assistance. Miss puts Bilbo out of his misery!