Today, as part of Black History month, we visited the Brisbane Planetarium for a lecture on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander astronomy!
Aboriginal astronomer and proud Wiradjuri womanKirsten Banks walked us through the story of how the Kamilaroi people of New South Wales used the position of the celestial Emu named “Gawarrgay”, to understand when Emu’s were laying eggs and when to hunt for them. Hint; Gawarrgay is found in the negative space seen when viewing the Milky Way, have a look tonight!
Elder, Uncle Alo Tapim of the Meriam Mir Torres Strait Islander people spoke to us about how his people used the stars for navigating the diverse geographic regions and how their culture is linked to the story of “Tagai”. Tagai is important for hunting, planting crops and navigation, as the Southern Cross (his left hand) points in the direction of south. When Tagai’s left hand dips in to the sea the Islanders know the wet season names Kuki is about to begin. This is around mid-November when Usal and Utimal (Pleiades and Orion) are rising, and in anticipation of Kuki the Islanders plant their gardens which is also when Dugongs and Turtles are mating.
It’s highly recommended to visit the planetarium which is also right next to the Botanical Gardens for an extended educational and most importantly fun experience.
A wonderful thank you to the students and teachers of Kelvin Grove State College who I ventured out today to see and celebrate their amazing Indigenous garden project!
Jagummeans “garden”, land or Earth and Barrambinmeans “windy place”, a perfect marriage of native words used to describe the garden.
It was incredibly inspiring to see how the children had studied each plant to bring them to life for the visitors and describe their diverse uses. Presentations from the children where educational and delivered with the usual childlike charm which was a true credit to the college and sincerely respectful to the land and the culture and heritage of Indigenous peoples.
It was amazing to see the uses for the plants, from jams, cakes and beverages, to medicines and ointments. Wouldn’t it be nice if such plants were used in a more mainstream way, on our dinner plates instead of imported goods for example? Embracing a more traditional use of our native plant species will encourage respect of Australia’s Indigenous peoples. Understanding of their land and traditional practices brings about a respect for our environment in a much broader sense that is currently being utilised today. The guidance from Traditional Owners would be a gift in this regard.
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The Northern Territory is a stunning part of Australia, and my visit to NT was long overdue and has been on the bucket list for some time now. My expectation was an arid landscape covered in a great expanse of red soil, which was a naïve assumption because what greeted Kate, Linda and I was an abundance of life, a rich, diverse and deep history; and an ancient landscape showing off incredible land formations and features to explore.
We set off for the West McDonnell Ranges and took the tourist trail outside of Alice Springs along Namatjira Drive. Our first stop was Ellery Creek Big Hole where the sun hadn’t quite crept over the towering ranges but flooded through the gap where the waterhole was present and teeming with aquatic and bird life. The evidence of Aboriginal presence in this place was abundant and I was amazed at the choice of toolstone which had clearly been utilised for tool manufacture. The majority of visitors to the area would probably walk right by and not see what we identified, however there is something to be said for being able to identify something and leaving it be.
Next, we headed to Ormiston Gorge where we took a trek around the cliffs and made our way down to the mostly dry river bed. Small pockets of water exist where birds swim and feed; and where the evidence of snakes and lizards passing through are clearly marked in the sand. The café at Ormiston Gorge was a surprise, because being vegetarian I often find meal time options limited or bland; however, this tiny remote café had an extensive vegetarian and vegan menu, full of flavour and imagination. Topped only by their reasonable prices.
Lastly, we headed to the Ochre Pits where a sweeping wave of colour is evident in the soil stratigraphy. Yellow, white, orange and red ochre weaves across an area of approximately 100 metres and people who visit get to experience another facet of an incredible place. What struck me is that much of the tourist conversions that have been implemented in each of the locations showed little ground disturbance, presumably to assist in protecting the Indigenous heritage present and intangible. The camp sites and car parks are minimal, clean and tidy and each visitor shows respect for the beautiful surroundings. There is something in being in such remote locations that makes you feel interconnected with everything, which brings about a reverence and respect.
In each location we visited throughout the day we were able to locate and identify Aboriginal cultural heritage where the artefacts are masterfully crafted, remnants of quarries and knapping floors were abundant and yet they existed alongside marked tourist tracks, campsites and swimming holes but appear to go unnoticed?
The Arrernte people of this area were so proud to talk to us about their heritage and what was important to them and for the future of their land. There aren’t many words that can describe the privilege of being able to be present in places like this; and all I can hope for is to visit this and other places across Australia like it in the future with my family.
There are moments in life when you’re presented with an opportunity. These opportunities can be growth, community engagement, educational or just plain fun! How we choose to respond to these opportunities can present us with experiences that will remain with us for our lifetime. This opportunity was once such experience…
Over the past four months at Advance Archaeology we’ve been working with businesses in our local community to put together a collection of donations of winter clothing for Waltja Tjutangku Palyapayi Aboriginal Corporation in Alice Springs. Goodstart Early Learning Centres in Petrie, Kwik Kopy Strathpine, My Spirit (Old Petrie Town) and Pack n Send agreed to join us on our journey to play a small part in helping Waltja with the wonderful work they do.
A collection of ten boxes was transported to Alice Springs for distribution to surrounding communities. We received an enormous response to our campaign and were supported by many people within our own community.
Due to the amazing response we received, Kate and Linda from Goodstart Early Learning Centre in Petrie along with myself decided that as part of our journey we would follow our donations some time with the Waltja team and the remote community of Santa Teresa.
Having never been to the Northern Territory before I was amazed by the scenery, landscape and abundance of life that greeted us. It’s truly a place that holds mystery, wonder and adventure, so we wanted to see as much as we could during our stay.
Amanda and the wonderful team we met at Waltja (Veronica, Christine, Charlie, Lenny and Jess) provide such a diverse range of expertise for the communities they care for and they were only too happy to show us what they do and where donations go when they’re received. The community of Santa Teresa is located approximately 85 kilometres outside of Alice Springs and is supported in many ways, allowing people to remain on country and work to support each other. We were first guests of the local primary school where we were privileged to see an assembly where the children spoke about what they were learning and how it impacted their daily lives. The church at Santa Teresa holds great significance to the community as a sacred place and houses stunning works of art by local people and is a place the community can come together.
Women were busy creating works of art in the healing centre where the potential to do damage to the credit card was high! I was privileged to meet the artist who created the bowl I purchased for my daughter.
It’s with great pleasure to announce that our collection for the Waltja Aboriginal Corporation and the communities of Alice Springs has been sorted, boxed and sent, hurray! Our campaign was heavily supported by our daughters nursery, Goodstart Early Learning, who reached out to the parents and children to club together clothes and craft materials which will be greatly received. Two representative from Goodstart, Linda and Kate, will be joining Sherry on a trip over to meet the collection onsite and help distribute throughout the communities, so watch this space for an amazing update!
We were also supported by Kwik Kopy, Brendale, who produced posters and fliers for the campaign which were distributed to the Goodstart nursery’s and the businesses of Petrie Old Town. Together we all managed to collect 20 large boxes of clothes, shoes and craft materials which were then vacuum packed in to 10 boxes to start their 2560km journey which has been facilitated by Pack and Send, Aspley, who gave us a generous discount on the transportation.
It has been inspiring to see how as a small community we have pulled together and unified to make a difference to another community who are not in as fortunate position as ourselves. It’s going to be a particularly cold winter this year, however with your help its been made a little warmer for the children and adults of Alice Springs.
Venturing up to the Kondalilla Fall at the weekend we decided to stop off at Baroon lake to take in some of the wonderful sites there.
The area is located 7km north of Maleny and covers a huge 72 sq km of woodland and of course the beautiful lake itself. Holding back 61,000 megalitres of water is the lakes dam which crosses the Obi Obi creek and primarily is used for the town water supply of Maroochy and Caloundra. Anglers, rods at the ready as bass, Mary River cod, golden perch and silver perch, while eel-tailed catfish and spangled perch are all stocked here.
Definitely worth a detour off the Backall Range tourist trail for a stretch of the legs and a breath of fresh air.
Next, we continued on to the falls which begins with an area perfect for a picnic to build energy before you begin the long decent. It was William Skene who discovered this area on his land while searching for lost cattle. He named it Bon Accord before giving it to the Queensland Government who, during the fifties, renamed it Kondalilla which is an Aboriginal word for running water. Interestingly Kondililla was adapted from the original aboriginal word ‘goongdalilla’. Not many tropical water falls found in the UK back gardens I assure you!
It’s your choice which trail you take as one is shorter than the other however both immerse you deep in to the rainforest, rich with amazing wildlife and the ever-present noise of falling water. The tree canopies from the piccabeen palms, pink ash, hoop pines and casuarinas as well as eucalypts keep you nice and cool whilst you wind down the mountain side. This makes for a very pleasant walk for which at the end you are presented with a beautiful swimming hole and various areas to bathe and relax.
It’s clearly a very popular spot and whilst we were there it was abundantly clear the falls bring huge enjoyment for people of all ages. It’s amazing to see how this area is being respected and best of all enjoyed by all.
As a child I have fond memories of my parents and I heading out for weekend hikes, walks and bike rides around Canberra, ACT. Being pulled along behind my Mum’s bike while on roller skates is my favourite memory of those times and of all the things I’ve experienced, this is the one that really sticks with me.
I’ve always had a love of the outdoors whether that be motorbike/horse riding, walking in the bush or driving somewhere I’ve never been with the intention of getting completely lost and discovering something place new.
This is the first time that as a family we’ve been able to get out into nature and show Maya the new places and teach her about the landscape, the significance of the area and the Dreaming stories and legends that are so important to Indigenous people.
This weekend Chris, Maya and I achieved a family milestone with Maya climbing her first mountain, Ngungun. Being nearly 3 years old her little feet navigated the uneven ground, incline and rocks that blocked her path with help from Uncle Dan, Chris and I. Admittedly, some of the journey up was spent on Dad’s shoulders getting the best view.
Smiling and singing the whole way up and down it was apparent that getting out into nature and starting her on a path of exploration and learning gave Maya confidence and it’s clear that the love of the outdoors has been successfully transferred (much to our relief!).
The Glass House Mountains are located between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast off the Beerburrum exit of the M1 Bruce Highway. Coming face to face with these mountains is spectacular and the area provides many ways in which to see and experience them.
Ngungun Mountain is located approximately 2 kilometres to the west of the township of Glass House Mountains. It’s a relatively easy climb for most and only takes around 15-20 minutes to reach the summit, so it was easier for little feet to manage. A safer route has been installed since my last visit to Ngungun where you no longer need to negotiate the scree slope that passes the cave and a winding path up has been created.
The views from the top are stunning to say the least and you get clear views of all the Glass House Mountains surrounding Ngungun. In the meantime however Maya decided to rewarded herself with an episode of Peppa Pig while reclined against the stones.
After the descent and much congratulations directed at Maya we headed out to the Glass House Mountains Lookout where the views again are beautiful and provide a vista of all the mountains across the landscape.
Part way up to the lookout is the Glass House Mountains Lookout Café where we ca
n highly recommend the coffee and hummingbird cake; and well-earned after a hike.
Recently I flew down to Sydney NSW, leaving Sherry and our Daughter Maya to have some girl time and headed off to see my Brother-in-Law for a much needed catch up.
Being unfamiliar with the area we headed to the Blue Mountains and the Jenolan Caves for some exploring. Never one to miss an opportunity for some caving in new lands we grabbed our boots and back packs and off we went!
The word Jenolan is believed to be an Indigenous word meaning “high place”, derived from the Tharawal word, Genowlan, for a “high place shaped like a foot”.
The caves are about 3 hrs West of Sydney, located within the Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve. The journey there was magnificent and had stunning country views to keep you company along the way. Certainly a biker riders paradise and one to add on the bucket list!
Having reached our destination, we were presented with a huge rock face by a small crystal clear blue river with an entrance which feels like your entering another world. It literally felt like another world too because you go from beautiful Australian countryside and not seeing a soul, to being greeted with what can only be described as a small ‘Alpine’ like village buzzing with activity from roaming tourists and eager to help staff.
The caves themselves (formally known as ‘Fish River Caves’) are limestone based in formation and are the most ancient discovered open caves in the world. They comprise of more than 40km of multi-level passages and have over 300 entrances. They include numerous Silurian marine fossils and calcite formations and believed to be approximately 340 million years old, thereby making the cave complex the world’s oldest known and dated open cave system.
The actual discovery date of the caves is not exactly understood due to records detailing Charles Whalan as the discoverer in the 1840’s. However it has also been suggested that his brother, James Whalan, actually discovered the caves in 1838 after tracking a known criminal named McKeown to the area. It is known that both brothers explored the caves using only candle light, which is extraordinary, and having been on a tour and experienced the ‘Lucas’ cave in pitch black I can say from first hand that must have been extremely daunting.
In 1867 Jeremiah Wilson was appointed the first ‘Keeper of the Caves’ who not only explored the Elder and Lucas caves but also discovered the Imperial, Chifley, Jersey and Jubilee caves which are all available to see with guided tours. We missed out on several caves due to not booking online, so if you’re interested; book ahead.
The Jenolan area has for thousands of years held great significance to the local Indigenous people of Gundungurra and Wiradjuri. They knew it as Binomil or Bin-oo-mur with the Gundungurra people having a Dreamtime creation story which describes how the countryside came in to being. It’s said it involved a struggle between two ancient creator spirits, one a giant eel like creature, Gurangatch, and the other, Mirrigan, a large native cat or quoll. It’s also known the Gundungurra people carried their sick as far as the subterranean waters as they believed it had curative powers.
It’s clearly easy to see why this place is held sacred to the local Indigenous people as it is truly beautiful. Many people come to visit the caves and walk the scenic bush land however I assure you that you will find peace and tranquillity around every corner. A magnificent World Heritage site that you must go see!