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Wed - September 16, 2009

Darwin, 2009

It was more of a loaf in Darwin this trip, with no trip to Croker Island, though I did catch up with some people from there, and I mostly stayed within the city itself, although I managed to venture south in the last week or so. I did make some good contacts, and was frustrated by an inability to make some others. Darwin temperatures, as usual for this time of the year, reached a daily maximum of 32 degrees and a minimum of 22.

Posted at 02:12 PM     Read More  

Thu - November 29, 2007

Collet Barker

The Mount Barker township, region and mountain, on the south eastern outskirts of the Mount Lofty ranges, was named by Captain Charles Sturt, after Captain Collet Barker, of the 39th Regiment (Barker's compatriot and friend Captain Charles Sturt was a fellow officer). Barker was speared to death by three Ngarrindjerri men near the mouth of the Murray River on 30th April, 1831.

Posted at 02:34 PM     Read More  

Sun - July 1, 2007

Darwin Again

Saturday morning I flew out of Croker, via Goulburn Island again, and back to Darwin. Another week in the sun, then back to the 'now when it's freezing, here in these cold, cold, hills.' The trip has been successful and enjoyable, perhaps falling a little short of my goals in some respects, but exceeding expectations in others. The booklet which doubled as a field guide to Fort Wellington, and showing the locations of of the remains of the fort proved invaluable. Last night, Tuesday 3rd July, Brother Max, Sharon and myself had a great meal (Indian) at the Nirvana restaurant, and night spot, after which I did a few songs at the 'jam' session, which I had participated in on other occasions. The Adelaide Hills winter will be difficult.

Posted at 11:22 PM     Read More  

Thu - June 28, 2007

The View From Croker Island

It has now been ten days since I arrived on Croker Island. During that time, John Howard has demonstrated his new found concern for Aboriginal welfare. I have long held a cynical view of anything Howard does, and nothing has disturbed me more than his ill disguised contempt for the Aboriginal people of Australia over the past eleven years. His dismissal of ill treatment, dispossession, and murder of the past as a "black arm band view of history," his refusal to acknowledge or to express genuine regret for the stolen generation, the disbandment of ATSIC leaving Aboriginal people with no substantial representative body to speak for their rights, are just a few of the glaring demonstrations of his indifference, if not malice. He has also, of course, undermined what progress has been gained in cases like Wik, by passing legislation to undermine those gains. What is the view, in light of Howard's sudden 'concern' for Aboriginal welfare, from Croker Island?

Posted at 12:48 PM     Read More  

Tue - June 26, 2007

Fort Wellington, Raffles Bay

At last, two months into my visit north, today I made it to the Raffles bay settlement, begun in 1827, and abandoned in 1829. Here Collet Barker oversaw roughly eighty people, made up of convicts and soldiers in almost equal numbers, and grew gardens, ran stock, erected buildings and befriended Aboriginals. My story of his life will be greatly enriched having tread this sacred ground.

Posted at 11:49 PM     Read More  

Mon - June 25, 2007

On Croker Island

I had a bit of a whinge on this entry a few days ago. Have now edited that out. Tomorrow comes the boat trip to Raffles Bay. Here are some pics of a beach walk on Mission Bay.

Posted at 11:28 AM     Read More  

Sat - June 23, 2007

Progress, Sort Of

Nancy, who I met at the airport, before flying out to Croker, has become my most useful contact so far, and today we spent time together having a good look at the photographs taken by Paul Foelsche , the first police inspector at Darwin (then known as Palmerston) which I had copied into my lap-top from the 'net. I have about fifty odd pics of Iwaidja people taken in the late 1870's and early 1880's by Foelsche, whose important collection also documented many of the early buildings of Palmerston. They will prove to be a great ice-breaker with the Iwaidja people of Croker Island during my stay, I am sure.

Posted at 01:12 AM     Read More  

Wed - June 20, 2007

Island in the Shade

The rain has stopped, though an extensive cloud cover blocked the sun all day. The radio reported Darwinites shivering in minimums as low as eighteen degrees, and the maximum as a paltry twenty six. I managed for the first time in days to get online in the community office, and to launch my recent blog. I was told that a couple of burly major crime investigators would be bedding down alongside me in my one room premises, but fortunately they finished their investigations and flew off.

Posted at 09:15 PM     Read More  

Croker Island Blues

On the 18th June, after a totally sleepless night, when I gave up, read a book, and rose to prepare my final packing, I found myself winging it to Croker Island, via Goulburn Island. For much of the flight I dozed, but from my seat just behind the pilot of the twin engined Cessna Titan 404, my blurry gaze focussed on the vast northern wetlands of Kakadu and Arnhemland, the isolated northern coast, and a smattering of islands below. The plane seemed to fly itself, with the pilot flicking an occasional switch, and making entries in his log book. Three Aboriginal women, one an elder with a pierced nasal septum, a middle aged woman, and a mother with two small boys, and a public servant with a lap-top on his way to Goulburn shared the flight. I gave the Croker ladies a brief explanation of my purpose in visiting their island, and they were very interested and encouraging.

Posted at 01:32 AM     Read More  

Sun - June 17, 2007

Darwin Dawdle

It is six days short of two months since I lobbed in Darwin, but finally, tomorrow, the eighteenth of June, I shall be flying to Croker Island. Here I will meet the residents, learn what I can of their culture, and share what I can of their history which my research has revealed, hopefully a productive and mutually satisfying experience all around.

Posted at 08:55 PM     Read More  

Wed - May 23, 2007

The Waiting

Three weeks into my top end odyssey, and things are going slowly. I have done some useful research, but am itching to do my field trip to Croker Island, and from there, a boat trip to Fort Wellington, Raffles Bay. I can't do that until I get a permit, which is in train, but meanwhile, I have come across an extremely important booklet, which will be invaluable for my quest.

Posted at 12:24 AM     Read More  

Fri - May 4, 2007

The Darwin Connection

Early days in Darwin, and my research about Collet Barker and the remote early settlement at Raffles Bay has not really begun yet, apart from a brief chat with some librarians and some notes, and some explorations into how to get to Croker Island, putting me in the proximity to Raffles Bay. One possibility? Barges, which leave from Darwin to deliver goods to these remote islands. Brother Max and Sharyn leave for South Africa on Monday, and that's when my job really begins. Here's what I have been up to so far.

Posted at 11:14 AM     Read More  

Sun - March 18, 2007

'Carla' and Collet Barker

All of the Aboriginal groups who populated the vastness of Australia used fire; for warmth, for cooking, and for the hardening of wooden weapons such as clubs and spears. In the desert regions, with the tinder dry spinifex and the dry climate, the people could get a fire going in virtually seconds, and even today fire is used by them to stimulate growth, or to harvest animals for food. In the cooler and damper climes, some form of portable fire stick was carried. In the south west coastal region of Western Australia, the smouldering bark carried under their kangaroo cloaks, was called the carla, or fire bark. I have been carrying my carla for Collet Barker since 1956.

Posted at 12:58 PM     Read More  

Tue - November 28, 2006

Rounding Off

The trip to Albany, and the material I was able to access, as well as the wonderfully helpful people I was fortunate enough to meet, was all I could possibly have hoped for. There are a few minor regrets - some photographs missed, some recordings which didn't work, but it is all lessons to be applied for the next excursion; namely Darwin/Raffles Bay in 2007, wherein Barker's period (before being transferred to Albany) there will be researched. Anyway, here are some final thoughts and observations on my trip.

Posted at 03:36 PM     Read More  

Mon - November 13, 2006

Fleshing Out

It has been mainly getting the feel of the Albany region over the past few days. From the original settlement days, the farm (not quite the original buildings) -- the convict museum - the oldest wattle-and-daub house in Albany - the Oyster Harbour Aboriginal fish traps. Today, Sunday 12th November, I met with Caroline and Lynette, direct descendants of the Noongah people of the Albany region. They took me along a sandy track through the bush. We sat on great slabs of granite overlooking King Georges Sound, and as we gazed on a panorama as near as it could possibly be to the view of 200 years ago, they told me of the great stories of creation of the region, as far as the eye could see, and further.

Posted at 02:10 AM     Read More  

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