Sunday, June 6, 2010


What a week this has been. On Saturday Kaye drove me some 200 ks into the North Australian bush. We crossed the Adelaide River, muddy and flowing strong, turned off on to a side road and finally arrived at the home of Kaye's friend Viv, another retired teacher/poet who has built a home in the bush, powered by solar energy. The outer walls are strong mesh screens and there are few inner walls, just areas delineated by their furniture. We ate a simple yet sumptuous lunch at the beautiful metal and glass dining table. Viv had made her own unleavened bread for us to wrap our chicken and salad in. As we ate we could look straight out into the bush
On the way home we stopped at the Adelaide Springs War cemetery. Darwin was a real theatre of war and there were many casualties, civilians, servicemen and one servicewoman nurse. The graves are, like the too many war cemeteries I have visited, kept immaculate with green lawns. Further on near the Adelaide springs school we stopped to watch a herd of wallabies grazing.


The Rosella is a type of hibiscus that grows wild along roadsides ib the Northern Territory Its petals are fleshy, red and they make delicious jam. It is unobtainable commercially because the labour involved in picking, stripping and preparing the jam would make the cost prohibitive. When Kaye drives anywhere she always has a pair of snippers in the car. Last Saturday she filled the boot with branched of ripe rosellas gathered along the drive out to Viv;s place. On Sunday morning we began stripping the branched, peeling off the calyx, leaving the tiny green nut on the branch. We sat at the table on the palm shaded terrace stripping the flowers and exchanging secrets about rosellas vs blackberries. Two writer friends were coming for lunch and then I would leave on the 4 o'clock flight to Singapore. But Kaye's brother rang from Adelaide, Their 92 year old mother had taken a turn for the worse and Kay should go down. I carried on stripping the rosellas while Kaye orghanised a flight, arranged for one of her sons to take us both to the airport and look after Kaye's dog. Te rosellas were packed into the freezer to be made into pickle when Kaye returned from Adelaide.
Darwin is the fastest growing city in Australia. It is also multicultural, progressive amd full of intelligent and interesting prople. The aboriginal people are making their mark on the culture, not in the warrior-like posturing and confrontation we see in New Zealand but Aboriginal writers, especially women are recording their views of Australian history, the museum in Darwin has an art gallery full of the most amazing and original work by aboriginal artists. One of the poets I performed with. Dizzy Doolan gave a readig of her own poetry at Wordstorm and then at the party afterwards she stunned us with a performance of hip hop, so polished and with sophisticated lyrics. For the first time I had an inkling of what hip hop is as an art form.

Yes, I would like to go back sometime, Darwin indeed the whole Northern Territory is vibrant and full of interesting people.

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