Everyone deserves music.

My calves really, really hurt today and I have a massive bruise on my right foot. In fact I am limping in such a way that I am worried others may think I have done a little something in my pants. My little injuries were obtained on Friday night. We went to hear a local Latin band (can you believe it Alice Springs has a Latin band?) called “los bandeleros perdidos”. They were playing at the Lane, one of the best venues in town, on the roof of a local restaurant. They were fantastic and we danced lots. In fact everyone did. They played a lot of Samba music, a dance I actually know but it is very intense on the calves. It is a dance I used to do a lot in Peru but obviously not very much now days because my calves are still aching two days later. The bruise on my foot was from another dancer whose high heel came down hard on my foot. All in good fun though so worth it.

There has been lots of live music in my life lately and that makes me very happy. Last weekend we went a fundraiser held on the most beautiful property near our place. Anyone could get up and sing or play music or act. We even had someone do some trapeze stuff. Some of it was great and some of it wasn’t so great but either way I think it is cool that there is a space where people can just come and have a go in a supportive atmosphere. There was also some live music at Olive Pink the week before that. Another spectacular setting, in the Botanic Gardens, especially as the sun came down and everything glowed as it so famously does here in the centre.

Martin’s friend Sy was also around for about ten days. He plays the didj so we heard him a few times a round town. One night he played in a restaurant with the local saw player who is amazing and Martin even played drums for a few songs. He also played one night in the big room at Keith and Mum’s place. Malley and John came with family and a few friends. There wasn’t many of us but in the end we were all playing something (drums, guitar, didj, tapping sticks) and dancing, the sound was great. John was singing traditional way too. It was very cool.

More Protests

I attended another protest on Tueday. Well, the organisers weren’t calling it a protest they were calling it a welcome. You see the NT state government has come to Alice for parliament this week and we were asked to come down to the convention centre to welcome them and remind them that there are many people in Alice Springs who do not want a Uranium mine in our town. Not sure how many of us there were, it wasn’t huge but it wasn’t small either but we seemed to get a fair bit of media time. Local media of course but that’s okay.

In regards to the other protest about the Alice Springs by laws that we were sleeping out against we had a bit of success really. I mean not just us of course lots of people wrote letters and attended meetings as well as our sleep out but the council obviously heard and seriously watered down their by laws. Still not perfect as far as I’m concerned and a lot more needs to be done in this place to improve but they were watered down enough to be fairly insignificant. So that is a bit of boost really and hopefully a nice little reminder to all of you who read this and are involved in many areas of social action that it can make small differences I suppose.

Giles gets a bath.

I really dislike cleaning my car. In fact it may be the chore I like least in the world. I was very happy when we lived in Enmore and would go and pay to get our cars cleaned together around important events (remember that??). And they even gave us free coffee. Anyway I don’t feel like I can do that anymore. When you have as much time as me you can’t really justify it and it wouldn’t be the same on my own I don’t think. So yesterday I gave my car a much, much needed clean. It had become a bit of a “shame job” as they would say here. It wasn’t fun really but it certainly was satisfying getting in my car this morning and it was all lovely and shiny. In fact I have rediscovered that the seats are actually grey and not the red they had become with the dust.

Movie 8: Van Diemen’s Land

Every second Sunday (or something like that) they show a more alternative film at the cultural centre here in Alice. My mum made me go and see with this with her (and you can read her thoughts on her blog too). I assured her after it that I would not be going to see a movie with her again unless she had thoroughly researched it. This was definitely one of the more unpleasant experiences of my life. An hour and half of nothing but a group of men walking through the Tasmanian wilderness getting cold and hungry and then when they got too hungry there was a gruesome killing until there was only one left and then it ended. There was the occasional dialogue which is apparently good quality but that was fairly inaudible. People also say the scenery is amazing and I guess after a week of 40 degree heat I should have enjoyed seeing green, cold and rainy Tasmania but I was so tense with it, knowing what it was causing the men to feel and become that I could not even enjoy that. I guess that was the director’s aim so people say that it is a “good” movie but to be honest I find it hard to agree when all you want to do it get out there. That they didn’t glorify violence was perhaps the only positive thing I could come up with in the discussion after the film and that they let you have a beer in the cinema, something I am enjoying more and more in this heat.

You know you are a Central Australian……

when a weather forecast of 36 degrees brings waves of relief and delight
when you start drinking more iced coffee than normal coffee
when the idea of travelling more than 20 minutes for anything seems absurd
when you read the local news more than the world news and you know people in it (and you’ve even been in it)
when you have at least one conversation a day about indigenous issues
when you start referrring to yourself as a “white fella” or “black fella”
when you say “aw true” as a response to almost anything
when a few drops of rain is a news worthy event
when you get used to showing ID every time you buy alcohol
when you bump into someone you know at almost every event you go to


This is actually word!!

I have been trying to learn Arrernte for the last couple of months. Unfortunately I can not go to classes as I work on the same night they are on so I bought myself “A learner’s guide to Eastern and Central Arrernte” book and CD and have been trying to spend a couple of hours a week. I am usually unsure if this type of learning works but I seem to be proceeding as fast, if not faster than my friend who is attending the class.

Arrernte is a pretty hard language to learn. Words like the word above highlight the difficulty in learning the pronunciation but believe it or not I seem to be getting my head around all that. What is hardest is that it is so hard to translate most things directly. The Arrernte people had/have such a different way of understanding things and therfore communicating to the way we do that trying to put anything into a sentence that makes sense to them is almost impossible I discover each time I translate what I have learned into something I can say to my Arrernte friends.

It is good to be learning Arrernte. I don’t think I’ll ever speak it fluently but it sure teaches me a lot about the culture and language learning. Also, so many other indigenous languages from here and around the world have been lost it is exciting to me that some including Arrernte have survived. And with only 2000 or so speakers left in Central Australia if it is to survive then other people have to start learning it. Funny though the other two languages that I speak are spoken by millions and millions of people whereas this one only 2000.

Warm Home

Last night we had our house warming party. It was such a lovely night I must say. The weather was pretty hot yesterday so I was a little concerned people would be uncomfortable but it cooled down nicely for the guests arrival and we had a good central Australian sunset for them to enjoy as well (not that I can claim that one).

Malley and John also led a smoking ceremony for us which I was really moved by. It was a real honour to be participating in something their people have been doing when they move to an area for 40 000 years. I got all teary.

Apart from that people just talked and ate and drank. We had some singing and dancing under the stars and some people played drums. The kids played games and cooked marshmellows on the fire. Malley had us women doing some aboriginal dancing. It was all lots of fun.

Martin likes having parties and I think I have come around as well. I do get a little stressed before them (and during them I suppose as I try to ensure that everyone is okay for food, drinks, people to talk to etc) but I really enjoy offering hospitality. I really enjoy watching people interact and have fun at my home. Last night was really special for that as we had a bit of a mix of cultures there who all seemed to have some really good interactions. In this town (and in this country too I suppose) I continue to be confronted by the racism that exists within us and so events such as these “normal” and “ordinary” as they are, feel sort of special and important.