Knockdown News

Knockdown News-24/05/2017

By Peg Prendeville

Australia, as we all know, was the home of the Aborigines until the western world took over. Darwin has more Abos, as they are called here, than any city in OZ. Sadly they do not have a good reputation here and are known as lazy and dirty and more often drunk. But, I tend to stand up for them. Their land was taken over, their culture of stories and dreams not understood properly and they are expected to embrace a whole new culture to which they are almost aliens. Having said that they are adapting to modern ways and do use iphones and know when and where to look for social welfare so they are no fools either. Some of them do look dirty and unwashed and, I believe, use the streets and doorways for a toilet now and then but others look smart and clean. I would love to have the courage to speak with one of them and find out what goes on in their heads but have not done it yet. To be honest none of them look too happy and they shout a lot to each other, especially to the children. We went to an open air cinema one night and before the film started a notice went up acknowledging the Larakia people as the rightful owners of the land. So a lot is done to make them feel at home in their own home. There are some monuments here and there in memory of those aborigines who had lived and died in that area. Some sites are considered sacred in their eyes and all people are asked to acknowledge that and respect those sites.

We took a trip to Kakadu National Park on day and stayed in Jabiru which is 350k to the east from Darwin and is aborigine country. We walked to Ubirr rock which is one of their sacred sites and many of the rocks have art which they tell us was done thousands of years before. It is like the art work in Newgrange except instead of spiral celtic drawings there are pictures of fish and animals. They are much in tune with nature and hunt and fish for a lot of their food – those that lives as their ancestors did. On Ubirr Rock if you look west it is all flat wetlands and to the east is jagged rocks and gorges but still it seems that trees can grow there. Very different land to the Emerald Isle. On one stretch of roadway, 120k long, there were no dwellings of any kind, just constant trees and scrub some of which was burnt. We met two vehicles in that distance!

Ayers Rock or Uluru – its official name – is the main spiritual home of these people. Situated in the centre of Australia, near Alice Springs, it is our next destination by the time you read this we will be there. After that we are off to Sydney and we might decide to return home after that. It is a most exciting and different holiday. One we could not imagine when we were planning to get married 40 years ago.

By the way we are toasting here. 33 to 36 most days.  Not a drop of rain since we left home!

 

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Knockdown News-17/05/2017

By Peg Prendeville

I said that travel broadens the mind so mine is expanding rapidly every day. Darwin, which is named after the famous Charles Darwin, is a much more modern and green city than I had expected.  It is kept very clean and tidy, with no sign of rubbish on streets or roads. People are paid to recycle their bottles and cans! It is much hotter than cities like Sydney or Brisbane which are further south; therefore many of the houses are rather dark inside to keep out the bright sunlight. At night we sleep with a ceiling fan going non stop and sometimes the aircon turned on also! Mind you we are getting adjusted and do not find it as hot as the first days. 33 seems to be the normal day temperature and it goes down to 23 by midnight.

We have most meals outdoors and watch the beautiful sunsets for which Darwin is well known. I am amazed that the sun sets so rapidly around 6.30pm. I still have not found out why so I must do some more research on that! Many people sit out on the beaches or cliffs to watch it and take many photos. It is beautiful. I am aware that it is just as lovely at home in Glin or Ballybunion but it is guaranteed here every evening. That’s the difference.

As I write, I am listening to a bird which sounds a bit like the cuckoo but is not. His note is cuckooo-cuckuh, cuckooo-cuckuh and he/she loves to sing all day. It is not as melodious as the cuckoo we hear at home.

The people here in shops etc seem very friendly and laid back. No stress here. But it must be very hard to do physical work in the heat. There are positives and negatives to everything I suppose. The greatest negative to me is the distance from home and family but maybe the lifestyle and fine weather makes up for that. Sean’s and Bernie’s friends seem to be happy anyway. Many of their friends are Irish but not all. We met Daniel Hynes who seems quite happy here so far. Talking to those who live here they tell me that the lifestyle is just perfect but that they miss family. Other than that life is good.

Speaking of family all mothers were asked to stand for a special blessing at the Sunday morning Mass as it was Mother’s Day in Australia last Sunday. Each was presented with a little bookmark as a token. Nice touch.

Congratulations to Pa Brouder, Glenbawn and Miriam Langan, Glasha who got engaged in the past week.  Lovely to hear.

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Knockdown News-10/05/2017

By Peg Prendeville

News from down under

Good Day from Darwin, where it is 34 degrees with a fresh breeze. We are 8.5 hours ahead of Irish time. When we landed in Darwin on Sunday afternoon after 24 hours flying it was like putting ones head in an oven! Luckily all houses are air conditioned. On first impressions this seems a lovely city, much more modern than I had expected. The city had been destroyed during WW2 and has been built up since. It was destroyed once again in the 70’s by a huge cyclone so a lot of it was rebuilt again. It is very spacious with wide roads and lots of greenery.

We are holidaying with our son Sean and fiancée Bernie. It is a marvelous experience and we are lucky to be healthy enough to be able to do this trip without any hassle. They say that travel broadens the mind so I am using this as a learning experience in lots of way. We are getting knacky at travelling through airports at quick speed to connect flights, scanning passports, changing monies and getting used to many foreign accents both on the planes and on the ground.

We went to Mass in Darwin Cathedral at 7pm on Sunday. All the doors, and there were many, were left open. Two huge fans hung from the ceiling to keep the air cool but it was still so warm inside. A scattered crowd of various nationalities including many families attended. There was a lot of lay involvement and singing. But the priest went on too long and I feel he lost the attention of the congregation very quickly. He was speaking about vocations to the priesthood but I felt he was a bit too “preachy”. He would not go down well at home anyway.

On waking in the mornings it is strange but lovely to hear the different bird songs outside the window. The house is situated on the outskirts of the city with lots of trees around. As it is winter season here all the leaves have fallen and are like dried crisps around the footpaths. I can’t imagine how hot the summer gets. Sean tells me there are two seasons, one wet and one dry. The wet season is just over and it was the third wettest wet season on record. Even though it is winter we are now in the dry season and do not expect rain for a long time. Not while we are here anyway. It is such a delight to be able to eat outside at 7 pm, having had a dip in the pool beforehand and find it is still nice and warm. I wonder how any of our young people would ever want to leave and go back to Ireland. I am not sure I want to go back myself!

By the way, for those of you at home, please try and go to see Pauline Sharp’s Art exhibition in Newcastlewest library at the moment. It is worth the visit. 

 

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