Dear readers, it has been some time since we have posted a blog.
Although we have been missing in action online we have still been having some adventures. For example, Tracey was in Norway for three months doing some creative research into her ancestry. Her project Waters of the Past has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and connections. The project was also presented in a number of exhibitions and symposium, such as Balance UnBalance 2017 and RIXC Open Fields 2017.
Tracey’s project was also featured in the Drammen newspaper. Please don’t ask for a translation 🙂
We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Tromsø – more on that later 😉 Here is some teasers:
This year we don’t plan to go too far from home ground. We have lots of short trips planned and we look forward to sharing with you some of the great places we enjoy here in the Australian Alpine region – better known by Aussies as ‘the high country’.
We will publish a new article from us each month as well as feature some guest writers. Contact us if you would like to submit something for publication.
There are a range of outputs intended for this project, they include:
1. The development of a Yorta Yorta language book for children incorporating the use of augmented reality technology
2. The development of an augmented reality walk around Barmah National Park, which builds on the existing GPS/Bluetooth project.
3. Providing workshops for young people in the Yorta Yorta community in digital imaging, bookmaking, video and creating augmented reality works with the Aurasma tool
4. The creation of an interactive map/screen at the Dharnya Centre which would be enhanced by augmented reality
5. To reinvigorate the Dharnya Centre through the above activities.
The Falls Festival is best known for contemporary music performances, dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, as well as other art forms. Because the event runs over three days, people bring a tent and camp out at the event. The festival started in 1993, with a small one day concert called the Rock Above The Falls. This initial event attracted nearly 11,000 people, far exceeding the organisers expectations, and the organisers quickly negotiated the use of neighbouring land to accommodate the crowd. Since this humble start, the Falls Festival is now in three locations – Lorne, Byron Bay NSW and Marion Bay in Tasmania.
Lorne has long been a place that attracts creative people as well as beach lovers. For example, In 1891, the area was visited by Rudyard Kipling who was inspired to write the poem Flowers, which included the line:
Buy my hot-wood clematis,
Buy a frond of fern,
Gathered where the Erskine leaps
Down the road to Lorne.
Mr Wikipedia says about the area prior to European settlement:
Lorne was part of the traditional lands of the Gadubanud or King Parrot people of the Cape Otway coast according to Ian Clark, although many popular websites report that the area was occupied by the Kolakngat Aborigines.
Given that there is some conflicting information about the pre-European occupation, I am interested to find out more on this subject. The text referred to is listed below as a reference.
We loved seeing Lorne and it is a town definitely worth visiting and exploring as part of the Great Ocean Road journey.
Ian D. Clark, pp119-123, Scars on the Landscape. A Register of Massacre sites in Western Victoria 1803-1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995 ISBN 0-85575-281-5
Day 73: Barmah National Park, Yorta Yorta Country, Australia
Today I go back to thinking about interconnecting stories, cultures and worlds. One of the ways I have been influenced to think about the connectedness of place, identity, culture and life has been through my experience with First Nation Peoples. In an earlier post I talked about Yorta Yorta Nation and the work that this community has done with scientists.
For example, one project titled A monitoring program to determine the watering requirements of floodplain populations of the southern pygmy perch, Nannoperca australis, in Barmah-Millewa Forest focuses on the pygmy perch, an endangered species found in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. The summary text on the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre website states that:
The pygmy perch has undergone a dramatic decline in NE Victoria over the last 15 years (now ‘Vulnerable’ (VIC) or ‘Endangered’ (NSW). Despite this species’ attractive appearance, its ecology is poorly understood.
This project is a great example of how scientists have had the good sense to engage the people who have lived in this area for 60,000 years. Like the ecology in which this particular species resides, there is a larger story here, one that connects through the food chain and through time.
When I think about the connectedness of our world and of our part in it, I am drawn to consider more deeply the role of knowledge. In our society, expert opinion is usually assuaged to formal knowledge, the learning and research of institutions: ‘book’ learning. This I believe is a blinkered view, one that removes the other types of knowledge that is embedded in sharing stories, oral histories and lived experience. However, the research I have seen through my connection with the Yorta Yorta Nations, demonstrates how linking in the environmental knowledge of the First Nations peoples brings about a more robust and complete picture of the land.
Other academic researchers do not seem to be so aware. For example, this post, titled Be the protector of my species recently published on the La Trobe website does not acknowledge any of the vast research that has already been done on other fish species in the Murray. What seems to be an even bigger omission is to talk about the surrounding environment as a great ‘supermarket’ without acknowledging the land management practices of the Yorta Yorta and neighbouring nations over thousands of years.
GIS ontologies comprise categorised labels that represent lived contexts, and these ontologies are determined through the shared worldviews of those labelling spatial phenomena for entry into GIS databases. Although Western ontologies and spatial representations reflect Western understandings of human experience, they are often inappropriate in Indigenous contexts. In efforts to be represented in courts and land management, Indigenous groups nevertheless need to engage Western spatial representations to ‘claim space’. This paper examines what GISs are and do and shows that GIS technology comes with strings attached to the myriad social contexts that continue to shape the field of GIScience. We show that Intellectual Property Rights Agreements can sever and control these ‘strings’; the agreement between the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and university researchers reframes GIS from a technology of erasure to a technology of opportunity that enables Indigenous groups to define their own engagement. The visual and narrative outputs will contribute important understandings of the environmental crisis facing the Murray–Darling Basin and connect older and younger generations through knowledge sharing.
This paper covers some very interesting ground (pardon the pun) and looks to how GIScience needs to address the social constructs in which the science operates. By using an example of how researchers have worked with the Yorta Yorta Nation, the article explores some highly relevant topics, such as how community-based and participatory mapping can have positive social benefits and contribute to community empowerment. The conclusion of the paper argues that “GIScience is a fundamentally relational praxis that always expresses particular world views through its immersion in social relationships.”
writing and art depicting the land before Europeans changed it
anthropological and ecological accounts of Aboriginal societies today, especially in the Centre and north
what plants tell of their fire history and habitats.
Bill Gammage also acknowledges that because this text focuses on the whole of the continent, he did not draw many sources directly from Aboriginal people. This was because he was drawing a picture of the land and its history from the European context and did not want to make presumptions. He comments that:
I had neither the time nor the presumption to interrogate people over so great an area on matters they value so centrally.
In Gammage’s case, the fact he is drawing from other forms of knowledge (writing, art, plants plus anthropological and ecological accounts) one step removed from direct consultation with Indigenous Peoples, serves to strengthen his argument that indeed Australia was not a virgin wilderness. His proposition is that the land was managed in a sophisticated and holistic way and that once Aboriginal people were no longer able to tend to their country, it became overgrown and vulnerable to bushfires.
I often reflect on how different Australia would be if Europeans came to this country to learn about the land and not to impose values from another hemisphere; which have wreaked so much damage on the land and its plants and animals. One only has to think of the Cane Toad to realise that lack of foresight and common sense that has been used. No one thought about the bigger impact that Cane Toad would have, thinking only of getting rid of the beetle that was destroying the sugar cane. Now, the Cane Toad has invaded most of Australia’s north and there is no way to stop it. It destroys ecosystems in two ways – by eating everything in it wake and killing everything that tries to eat it, as it has poisonous flesh. Short term solutions without thinking of long-term effects – this seems to be the only answer.
But I am no scientist and it would be foolish of me to try to engage in a scientific discussion about the peculiarities of an introduced species and the vulnerabilities of a threatened species. For me, I think there is an urgent need to think differently about how we still compartmentalise the world; believing that one event is removed from another to start to see the connections between our behaviour and the impact that it has. The Yorta Yorta and other First Nation communities all over the world have managed to care for their environment for thousands of years by acknowledging and respecting the delicate balance of the ecology. Liz Bentley states in her article The Earth is a Sentient Living Organism
The strong Gaia hypothesis states that life creates conditions on Earth to suit itself. Life created the planet Earth, not the other way around.
This quote reminds me that as living beings our impact on our earth doesn’t have to be passive. By opening our eyes and learning about the places where we live from the people whose culture extends back for thousands upon thousands of years, we can actively learn how to repair some of the damage done and improve the environment for all living things.
You never know who you might meet in Canberra, despite the city having a reputation as the most ‘boring’ capital city in Australia. In an earlier post Canberra Doesn’t Suck, I mentioned that this is a very creative city, drawing highly skilled and diverse people from around the world to work and live here. What makes this place even more interesting, is that many people have multiple lives or histories before they come to settle in Canberra. Rev. Petros Kipouros is one such person. I came to know of Rev. Kipouros through his daughter, a student of mine at university. Most people in Canberra would know him as the priest at the Greek Orthadox Church, but he has another fascinating story to tell – of his work as a travel photographer, photographing people from all over the world.
His images have been reproduced in National Geographic and he has published a number of books. There are also a number of articles published online that discuss the fascinating connections between his role as a minister and that of an artist and traveller. For example, Elina Kourempana’s 2013 article titled The Sensitive Eye in NeosCosmos discusses the connections between seeing light as a photographer and seeing the light in a spiritual context. In many ways his photographic work has been influenced by the Impressionists because of his love of light as an element in his work. In the interview for NeosCosmos Rev. Kipourus said “The word photography means ‘writing with light’. It is great to ‘write’, record the light during all the times of the day and the year.” Another article by Richard Carter in the Times Record News titled Globe Trotting Greek comments that:
Kipouros has won prizes for his photography from National Geographic competitions and has had several photographic exhibitions, three in his hometown and one nearby…While he enjoys taking pictures with his Canon EOS camera of nature and landscapes, he tends to focus more on people. “People and their lives are very interesting,” he said.
You can buy his coffee table book Colourful Facebook: Father Petros on Blurb. On the Blurb website you can also see a preview of this beautiful book. Rev. Kipouros has also allowed us to publish some of these wonderful images on Geokult Travel and we very much appreciate being able to share these gorgeous pictures with you. We would also like to thank his daughter Chrysa for all her help.
Now Toowoomba is a place that admittedly I don’t love, perhaps because I don’t know it well enough to have a strong feeling either way about the place. However, there are ancestral connections for me with Toowoomba, mainly through the paternal side of the family.
The Benson family started in Australia in the late 1880s when Norwegian merchant sailor Anton Benson arrived in Australia via the USA. He settled in the Toowoomba area, marrying Carolina Wurst of German heritage in 1888, proceeding to have 13 children. Some say that there was also a Spanish or Catalan connection on the Wurst side of the family, but we do not know for sure. He was employed as a warder at the Willowburn mental asylum which is now called Baillie Henderson Hospital.
One of the things that struck me as odd when I moved to Canberra, was the strange comparisons people made with Toowoomba, saying there were linkages. Yes, both places have flower festivals in September – Toowoomba has the Carnival of Flowers and Canberra has Floriade. Both cities have four seasons (as opposed to hot and really hot), both places are inland cities and both have similar elevation – with Canberra about 600m and Toowoomba about 690m. But for me that is where the similarities end…
Mr Wikipedia says about the colonial history:
Toowoomba’s colonial history traces back to 1816 when English botanist and explorer Allan Cunningham arrived in Australia from Brazil and in June 1827 discovered 4 million acres (16,000 km²) of rich farming and grazing land, which became known as the Darling Downs, bordered on the east by the Great Dividing Range and situated 100 miles (160 km) west of the settlement of Moreton Bay.
The Indigenous tribes of the Jagera, Giabal and Jarowair people inhabited the Darling Downs for at least 40,000 years before European settlement. Estimations place the indigenous population pre-settlement from 1500 to 2500 people. The Jagara people were of the foothills and escarpment, Giabal were of the Toowoomba area and the Jarowair were of the northern areas towards and including the Bunya Mountains.
The conflict between European settlers and Indigenous people was well documented from the 1840s until the 1890s after initial good relationships turned sour because of a lack of understanding and respect for sacred lands by the Europeans. In 1843 about 25 years before Anton arrived in the region, violence escalated:
The most famous and serious of conflicts on the Downs was the Battle of One-Tree Hill which took place on what is now known as Table Top Mountain. In September 1843, an elder of the Jagera tribe called Multuggera (also known as ‘King Moppy’) sent warning to his friend – John Campbell of Westbrook Station – that an uprising was imminent. Campbell ignored the warning and on September 12, 1843, Multuggera led around 100 Aborigines in an ambush of three drays heading up the range crossing. This was an attempt to stop the drays from travelling and so starve the settlers. They were determined to first rid the Downs of the settlers and then blockade the road to prevent more invaders from coming. From Toowoomba Regional Council
My interest is learning more about this region is motivated by my need to learn and understand more about my family history on my Father’s site, which in many ways is a mystery to me except for a couple of little clues.
Today I will talk about a place that is somewhere I visit irregularly, when we travel to Queensland to catch up with family. Maleny, is a great place to visit if you are spending some time on the Sunshine Coast or Brisbane as it is not far from either.
Melany is tucked up in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, on the Blackall Range. Because it is well above sea level and a little bit away from the coast, the weather on the hinterland is milder than that of the coast, which can get very hot and humid, especially in summer.
The unique rural community of Maleny is perched high above the Sunshine Coast beaches on the Blackall Range between Brisbane and Noosa and also overlooks South-East Queensland’s amazing Glasshouse Mountains.
It is an area of spectacular views and stands of lush rain forest. Maleny was initially a timber region with virtually all of the Cedar, Beech & Hoop Pine being felled to provide furniture and construction timber for SE Queensland and the UK. Once clearing had been achieved it quickly became a dairy farming area and supported the surrounding areas for many years with all their milk-based products.
The entire region, including the nearby townships of Montville and Mapleton are teeming with artists and craftspeople, as well as people working with holistic medicine and natural therapies, making the area attractive to tourists, especially eco-tourists.
There is also a rich Indigenous history connected to Maleny. The Hinterland Tourism website says:
Originally populated by the Nalbo and Dallambara peoples of the Gubbi gubbi nation, the area was known for its Bunya feasts which happened every third year when the giant Bunya trees of the area were in fruit. According to legend, Aboriginal peoples from far and wide would gather in the area to feast for several weeks on the nuts before journeying down to Brisbane where they would meet for a big Corroborree.
Maleny is also not far from the Glasshouse Mountains, a place I have already written about for 365 Places.
The last time we visited it was the day of our son’s 21st birthday. As his birthday is on Christmas Eve, we had the official party a couple of weeks earlier, so everyone could come before heading off during the Christmas break. For us it was a perfect way to spend a lovely family day, enjoying a leisurely lunch in one of the many cafes and then strolling around town checking out all the brilliant little shops full of craft, art and vintage wares.
I have only visited Nhulunbuy once, when I was invited to take part in a workshop with the Northern Territory Library, where for two days, a range of skills in technology were shared with some of the local Yolgnu people.
Nhulunbuy is on the Gove Peninsula of the Northern Territory, and located at the far north of Northeast Arnhem Land, also being home to the Yolngu Aboriginal people for at least 40,000 years.
The region has a complicated history, which is worth learning about. One very interesting fact is the Maccassans were trading with the Yolgnu people for many centuries as was discovered by Matthew Flinders when he circumnavigated the Australian mainland in 1803. Another very interesting fact was that in 1963, a government decision excised part of the land for a bauxite mine. The Yolngu people at Yirrkala were strongly opposed, and forwarded a bark petition to the Australian House of Representatives, which attracted national and international attention and which now hangs in Parliament House, Canberra.
Eden is a beautiful place on the far south coast of New South Wales. In many ways it is considered remote, as it is a long way from the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
Located at the edge of Twofold Bay, Eden has the third deepest natural habour in the Southern Hemisphere. In addition, it was once considered as a potential site for the national capital, because of its proximity to Sydney and Melbourne and the deep harbour. Thankfully these plans didn’t go ahead, leaving this region as a treasure for locals and visitors alike.
The ocean here is like a sapphire and the temperate rainforest surrounding this region is stunning, making for great bush walks and explorations of nature.
The Visit Eden website says:
It’s a truly stunning location with a host of unique attractions. The heart and soul of Eden – and its history – is Twofold Bay. It was home to shore-based whaling stations and Old Tom, the legendary killer whale whose story can be learned at the Eden Killer Whale Museum.
It was the centre of operations for entrepreneur and pioneer Benjamin Boyd who built Boyd’s Tower, Boydtown and the Seahorse Inn as part of an extraordinary empire, before the vision crumbled.
A few years ago Marty took me to the Seahorse Inn for my birthday, which was a wonderful gift. We spent a wonderful time checking out Boyd’s Tower, the ruins of the Davison Whaling Station and the lovely little township of Eden.
The Whaling history for me sits uncomfortably, especially as it is the only place in the world where Orcas helped whalers to catch smaller whales. Visit Eden says:
Incredibly, Eden’s Twofold Bay is the only place – worldwide – where there has been documented evidence of orcas working in co-operation with man to hunt smaller whales. The orcas herded the whales into the bay and even into particular whaling stations. They would then alert whalers of their arrival by splashing and flop tailing. The orcas would also herd whales onto the beach, where they were an important food source for the local Indigenous people.
As with all histories there are always gaps and omissions, and I would love to know more about this time from the perspective of the descendants of the local Indigenous people, to yield a fuller understanding.