Posted in Art and Healing, Cemetery Explorers, Contemplative Practice, It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Killing Time, Resilience

Stones Record Family Losses

In the first few years of the colony, mortality was very high, but the common childhood infections were absent until the 1830s. From the 1880s, there was a sustained decline in mortality from communicable diseases, and therefore in aggregate mortality, while maternal mortality remained high.

Some details included with photos.

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Akari Write Your Own Adventure, Cemetery Explorers, Central Victoria Goldfields History, Contemplative Practice, Faded Central Victoria, Forgotten Central Victoria, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Resilience

Akari Writes Her Own Adventures

I am sure you remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books, where you’re chased by a tiger.  You can escape it by leaping into the ocean 50 feet below (go to page 48) or face the tiger with your homemade slingshot (go to page 128).

Akari (my Mazda 3) loves driving through roads with avenues of white-trunked eucalypts. Side roads beckon! It is hard for her to resist them. However, while she could be talked into some sophisticated adventuring, Akari is no risk taker. For the moment she finds it is exciting enough to explore hidden valleys and go down unmade roads that are not only reserved for four-wheel drives.

Akari and I were out messing about today and we wandered along out of the way, an unmade bush road called Providence Gully Road. When we turned off the road, along another unmade road, to head towards civilisation, we came upon this rather dramatic entrance to a property. We thought this might be just the setting to write your own adventure.

The gate is open!

You take the time talk to all the bones and heads that are decorating the gate to learn more about what really lies within.

OR

Thinking that Baba Yaga may live here and give you the creative fire you decide to ignore all the DO NOT ENTER signs and step through the portal into this private world.

OR

Because you are so imaginative you think of something else!

Melissa Pilakowski puts forward a fun version of writing your own adventure using Hamlet as a kick starter.

 

 

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Art and Healing, Cemetery Explorers, Djadjawurrung People, Just Killing Time, Killing Time, Resilience, Vaughan Springs Cemetery, Victorian Gold Rush 1850

Honouring The Pioneers

Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife is an Australian classic that depicts life for the early Australian pioneers. McCubbin’s monumental painting The pioneer reflects the self-conscious nationalism of the years immediately following Federation. Each panel is ‘read’ to link the progress of toil on this land across time.

The first panel shows a pioneering couple in their new bush environment: the man is lighting a fire to boil the billy, while the woman contemplates their future life. The second panel shows the couple several years later: the woman holds a baby, land has been cleared and a small house has been built. In the final panel a bushman discovers a grave, and in the background a city begins to emerge. It is uncertain who has died and whether the male figure is the pioneer, his son or a stranger. By presenting his painting across three panels – the triptych format for traditional religious art – McCubbin elevated the status of the pioneer within Australian art history.

The pioneers who came to Central Victoria are honoured in various ways. Less marks the lives of those people who lived on the land that was not actually empty when Europeans first arrived.

This installation, at the Vaughan Cemetery, was gifted by the artist in memory of her pioneering ancestors who, like couple, sacrificed so much and contributed to shaping the township of Vaughan. She also pays respect to the Dja Daj Warring, the first people who lived here.

Posted in Art and Healing, Contemplative Practice, Killing Time, Resilience, Winter Frost in Castlemaine

The Etcher’s Secret

Last night, or maybe it was early this morning, Jack Frost, the master etcher, made an ice etching for me, leaving it, for me to find, in a metal bucket on my deck. “All who see it are astounded and think it must be the work of spirits”. In awe I  asked the master etcher “What is your secret?”

The Woodcarver

Khing, the master carver, made a bell stand
Of precious wood. When it was finished,
All who saw it were astounded. They said it must be
The work of spirits.
The Prince of Lu said to the master carver:
“What is your secret?”

Khing replied: “I am only a workman:
I have no secret. There is only this:
When I began to think about the work you commanded
I guarded my spirit, did not expend it
On trifles, that were not to the point.
I fasted in order to set
My heart at rest.

After three days fasting,
I had forgotten gain and success.
After five days
I had forgotten praise or criticism.
After seven days
I had forgotten my body
With all its limbs.

“By this time all thought of your Highness
And of the court had faded away.
All that might distract me from the work
Had vanished.
I was collected in the single thought
Of the bell stand.

“Then I went to the forest
To see the trees in their own natural state.
When the right tree appeared before my eyes,
The bell stand also appeared in it, clearly, beyond doubt.
All I had to do was to put forth my hand
and begin.

“If I had not met this particular tree
There would have been
No bell stand at all.

“What happened?
My own collected thought
Encountered the hidden potential in the wood;
From this live encounter came the work
Which you ascribe to the spirits.”

– Chuang Tzu
from The Way of Chuang Tzu by Thomas Merton

Posted in Akari Mystery Tours, Archie, Neeks and Me, Art and Healing, Cemetery Explorers, Contemplative Practice, Finnish Lapphunds, It is ALL about US, Just Killing Time, Mount Tarrengower, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Resilience, Sniff Mappers are Us, Time's Killing Me

Akari’s Mystery Tour

Definition: a mystery tour is a short journey that people make for pleasure without knowing where they are going

Akari, my 2008 Mazda 3, specialises in magical mystery tours that feed the soul and the creative spirit. Akari knows all about duende, that raw, tempestuous creative energy that flamenco guitarists, gypsies and dancers are familiar with. Her inclusive tours take in all aspects of Central Victoria including: geology, the environment, culture, flora, fauna and history.

A mystery tour is all about anticipation! Those who come on one of Akari’s tours, especially visitors from other countries, are always surprised when Akari takes them to some out of the way  place that reveals a different perspective of Australia. They are always  inspired !

Today, with the smell of spring in the air, my dogs and I went out on an artistic date with Akari.

 

In Art Heals: How Creativity Heals The Soul, Shane McNiff says that ‘photography can help us become more aware of our environments. When we walk with a camera searching for images… this process helps us look more closely and deeply at our surroundings.” There is no doubt that the camera has the capacity to hold moments of our perception and help us to see the possibilities for perceptual awareness.

I took the time to receive the benefits of aesthetic contemplation and to look attentively.  My perceptions were not all captured by the iPhone! Moliagul is almost a ghost town now yet it proudly boasts being the site where the Welcome Stranger Gold Nugget, found here by John Deason, changed Australian History.  Moliagul also has an amazing monument to John Flynn who pioneered the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service in Cloncurry, Queensland (later to be renamed the Royal Flying Doctor Service). At one time he was the headmaster at the small iconic school I stopped to photograph.

This meditation brings a new energy and creativity into my life. The fruits of Waiting For Godot over the past three months are beginning to ripen. There are so many things I can do with the images I collected on this ‘tour’ with Akari! I look forward to a rich harvest.

Mcniff, S 2004, Art Heals: How Creativity Cures The Soul, Shambala, Boston

Posted in Cemetery Explorers, Central Victoria Goldfields History, Contemplative Practice, Fryerstown Cemetery, It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Resilience, Victorian Gold Rush 1850

Harsh Times on the Goldfields

Life in the 1850’s in Hobart Town was not easy. Like my great grandfather it is  likely that this family were drawn to the Victorian goldfields, from Hobart, lured by the prospect of finding gold and making a fortune.

Disease was rife upon the goldfields, where poor sanitation meant that refuse and excrement were liable to end up in the rivers that supplied drinking water for those on the diggings. Dysentery, typhus and other contagious diseases were all represented. The monotonous diet of mutton and damper did not help the health of diggers, and it is probable that many people, especially during the first years of a rush, were deficient in essential nutrients and vitamins. Common colds could be lethal; because of the combination of lack of sanitation and poor diet, miners lacked the necessary antibodies to fight off disease. With a weak immune system, a cold could quickly develop into pneumonia.

Within a week something of plague proportions wiped out Elizabeth Smart and her children. It is hard to imagine how Elizabeth Smart’s husband managed the grief of the loss of  his wife and children within such a short time . The experience of life on the goldfields was different for all who arrived, but few, as this tombstone reveals, had it easy. This husband and father had it tough.

Sacred To The Memory Of
Elizabeth Smart
Native of Hobart Town
Who Died July 5th 1864
Aged 26 Years
Also
Salena Smart
Who Died July 5th 1864
Aged 5 Years
Also
Henry Smart
Who Died July 8th 1864
Aged 5 Years
Also
Elizabeth Smart
Who Died July 10th 1864
Aged 14 Days

Weep not for me my husband dear 
I am not dead but sleeping here
Weep not for me but pity take
And love my children for my sake

Posted in Djadjawurrung People, Lalgambook (Mount Franklin), Mount Tarrengower, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Resilience

Two Feuding Volcanoes

The land around here is ancient. About 480 million years ago it was all under the sea. Then a couple of tectonic plates collided deep underground, squeezing everything like a vice.

I love the idea of sitting on the top of Tarrengower reading the story, as told by Justice B Nelson, and published by Culture Victoria, of two feuding volcanoes named Tarrengower and Lalgambook (Mount Franklin)

“A long, long time ago, long before anyone but the Traditional People walked our Country, our lands, rivers, mountains and animals alike, all had magical life. They had personalities, purpose, speech and they could think for themselves.

Tarrengower in the Dja Dja Wurrung means to be big and heavy and indeed he was just that; big, bold, wise and a very proud old volcano who had become very tired throwing out rocks and lava and preferred to sit humbly watching over the plains.

Another volcano called Lalgambook was a young, loud and cheeky volcano that started to challenge old Tarrengower’s wisdom and authority, and began grumbling and building up anger towards the old volcano. But Tarrengower, being the wise old volcano that he was, decided he should just try to ignore this cheeky little volcano.

Lalgambook grew even angrier that Tarrengower wasn’t acknowledging his threats and started to put on a display of smoke, ash and brimstone to impress the land and animals who were also watching, but this didn’t intimidate the wise old Tarrengower. Instead he just laughed at Lalgambook.

Lalgambook became so frustrated that he began to throw large rocks at Tarrengower who grumbled with annoyance at this cheeky volcano and Tarrengower now began to taunt young Lalgambook by telling him he wasn’t very strong at all because the rocks couldn’t reach him.

Lalgambook exploded with great fury, spurting out lava and smoke high into the sky and hurled gart gart in Tarrengower’s direction, but still could not reach him. This caused Lalgambook to completely blow his core!

Tarrengower’s anger eased and he just grumbled at this cheeky little volcano who was now just coughing and spluttering with no energy left at all.

All the rocks thrown by Lalgambook at Tarrengower can still be seen today and have formed what is known in the present day as the Guilford Plateau where the Jaara people would perform ceremonies on the Bora grounds also known as Yapene.”

Re-told by Justice B Nelson – Dja Dja Wurrung, Jaara
Content in Culture Victoria is free for educational use.

Copyright of this story
The writers, photographers and the State of Victoria

In Game of Thrones men have maintained a watch on the wall for thousands of years. The fire tower on top of Mount Tarrengower has been consistently manned by firespotters, long term occupants of the tower, since the days of Oliver Ralph in the 1950’s. Most recently Peter Skilbeck has been on the watch!

The Advance Maldon Association brought the tower that stand on the top of Mount Tarrengower from Bendigo to Maldon to attract visitors to the area after the goldmining had almost ceased. The tower was originally the poppet legs of the Comet Mine in Bendigo, and was brought to Maldon by rail in 80′ (24m) lengths. It was carried up the mountain on a timber jinker drawn by a team of horses, along a track cut from Butts Reserve to the summit. A Mr. William Adams put up the money for the project, approx. 600 pounds. During the Maldon Easter Fair, held annually since 1877, the lookout tower is illuminated. Prior to the 1950s, this was done by wiring up over 100 makeshift lanterns, using stone ginger beer bottles, hemp wicks and kerosene. The bottles were hidden in a disused mine shaft until the next Easter.
Source: Fire Lookouts Downunder

The viewing distance from this tower is up to 100 km in all directions, except northwards to Bendigo and Mount Alexander where it is about 30 km.

Take the time to visit Mount Tarrengower and the cheeky younger volcano across the way. Learn about the spirits of volcano’s and draw upon their energy.

Volcano Folklore:

Land of Volcanoes

Merapi Volcano Spirit Keeper

Volcano Eruption Myth

Volcano Folklore

This page is only meant for educational use!

Posted in Cemetery Explorers, Chinese on the Australian Goldfields, Contemplative Practice, Green Gully Memorials, It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Just Killing Time, Mystery Art Making Writing Tours, Nature Fix, Resilience

May They Have Found Peace

And when great souls die,
after a period peace blooms
Maya Angelou

 

On a quiet country back road, near the Newstead General Cemetery, lie two burial markers of interest. One is simply called Chinese Ground.

Chinese gold digger starting for work, circa 1860s. Image courtesy of State Library of Queensland: 60526 .

The Chinese were not welcome on the Australian goldfields. They were thorough workers, often picking meticulously through the discarded tailings or abandoned mines of other diggers. They were viewed with suspicion as few spoke English, and they were regarded as idol-worshippers. Chinese mining methods used more water than European methods, and such practices were not appreciated in a country known for its heat and droughts. Furthermore, few of them traded their gold in the towns, preferring to store it up and return to China with their wealth. The colony of Victoria was the first to introduce Anti-Chinese immigration legislation, imposing a poll tax of £10 per head for each Chinese person arriving in Victorian ports in 1855. Within a few years all other colonial governments had enacted similar laws to restrict the number of people from China entering the colonies. This did not stop the Chinese from arriving in droves and spreading out to goldfields in New South Wales and Victoria.

Tensions came to a head on 30 June 1861 in NSW at Lambing Flat. It is estimated that around 3 000 European diggers banded together in a rowdy gang called a “roll up” and, armed with picks, whips, knives, sticks and anything that could be used as a weapon, converged on the Chinese camp. Chinese tents and equipment were destroyed, gold plundered, and dozens of the men themselves had their pigtails, or ‘queues’, cut off – a matter of great dishonour for them – or worse, they were scalped. An unknown number of Chinese were murdered: although the official death toll for Chinese was given as two, eyewitness accounts suggest between 30 and 40 were killed, and several hundred more injured.

Given that an angry group of European and American miners met in Bendigo in 1854 and declared that a “general and unanimous rising should take place… for the purpose of driving the Chinese off the goldfield” it is not hard to imagine that the Chinese here in this region suffered similarly.

The other stone, not far from the isolated Catholic Ground is inscribed with the words “A tribute to those who lay beneath may they have found peace”. After substantial rainfall this part of the world is truly beautiful. With only the sound of nearby grazing sheep I think it is a good place to lie and rest.

Posted in It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Nature Fix, Resilience, Scar Trees

Mixing with Trees

“A forest is much more than what you see,” says ecologist Suzanne Simard. Her 30 years of research in Canadian forests have led to an astounding discovery — trees talk, often and over vast distances. Learn more about the harmonious yet complicated social lives of trees and prepare to see the natural world with new eyes

Clearly Enid Blyton’s ‘Magic Faraway Tree’ changed me forever. I loved the enchantment of it all. When I was teaching I often used the metaphor of tree roots, particularly with younger students, to convey the notion of drawing from deep within. In writing sessions I have people sit outside with a tree for at least half an hour, amble down amongst the roots and write or draw stream of consciousness thoughts.

There is much to learned about creativity, resilience and self healing from trees! Trees are super co-operators! Gather together the art and writing supplies and get out amid a stand of trees. Check out the Golden Seed Grove for some inspiration. View the Tree of Contemplative practice; meditate by sitting in the arms of a tree! Go out and take the time to listen to what the trees have to tell you.

Resolve to take action to protect these special tree people! Draw attention to the need to save old growth forest and promote regeneration.

In this international bestseller, forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families- tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland. After you have read The Hidden Life of Trees, a walk in the woods will never be the same again.

Learn about the astonishing way trees communicate.

Posted in Contemplative Practice, It is ALL about US and Our Life in Castlemaine, Resilience, Spring in Castlemaine

Spring is Coming

Tolstoy wrote in Anna Karenina that “spring is the time of plans and projects.” With  the passing of equinox, July inspires us to seriously lift our game. Slow, cosy winter days are replaced with big plans for action.  There are many  spots to find little signs that Spring is coming. Here, in July, in the Southern Hemisphere, on a particularly bleak wintery day, it is reassuring to go into my private backyard woodland and note that unlike in Westeros, spring really is coming.