Mabo Day, World Environment Day, World Oceans Day: Sorry Queen!
|Cape Otway on the wild Southern Ocean|
Don't get me wrong. I never say 'no' to a public holiday and I don't have anything personally against the royal octogenarian billionaire. It just seems weird to me that we Australians, a world away from Britain and hopefully from our colonial past, still take the day off to celebrate the Queen's birthday. Yet in the very same week, 3 most important anniversaries - Mabo Day (3 June), World Environment Day (5 June) and World Oceans Day (8 June), went almost unremarked. Perhaps we're not that discerning - after all ours is the only country in the world where everything shuts down for a horse race, but still...
I'd like to talk about the events I think we should be toasting.
Mabo Day honours the lengthy struggle and eventual triumph of Eddie Koiki Mabo, a Torres Strait Islander, who took on the might of the Federal Government over title to his land. On 3 June 1992 (sadly five months after Eddie's death) the High Court of Australia ruled to overturn the theory of Terra Nullius. This self-seeking idea had legitimised colonial land grabs, and its overthrow was a triumph for Indigenous Australia.
In recognition of this, on the tenth anniversary of the High Court's decision, Eddie's widow, his beloved Bonita, called for a national public holiday. Sadly, this request seems to have fallen on deaf ears. But in 2012 the ABC, in association with Blackfella Films, made a tele-movie about Eddie's epic struggle. Simply entitled Mabo, it features Jimi Bani and the wonderful Deborah Mailman in the title roles, and is well worth viewing.
World Environment Day
|Marian's oh-so-delicious feijoas|
The focus of this year's Environment Day was tackling world waste. I'm rather surprised to be quoting Pope Francis, but he put it very succinctly: 'Throwing food away is like stealing from the table of the poor.'
For weeks now, Marian, a friend from Spanish, has been bringing her delicious surplus feijoas to class. We spend lots of time stuttering over our Spanish, with juice running down our chins. Or sort of. We do eat as many as we can. But there are always others to take home, where they transform easily into luscious crumbles. And I even scored enough last week to take to our neighbourhood food swap. How much better that Marian went to the trouble of harvesting her crop and sharing it with others.
So, if you're not already doing so, next time you have a surfeit of lemons or silverbeet, put them in a box outside your house, as increasing numbers of people in our neighbourhood are doing. You might be sick to death of them, but like Marian's feijoas, they could be a windfall to others.
|Merri Creek Fitzroy|
This was the scene yesterday, (above) after last weekend's heavy rains, at inner-city Melbourne's Merri Creek. How fortunate we are to have a magnificent, well-tended creek within cooee of our front doors.
And I'm particularly lucky because I'm the Creek's therapist. You heard me right; that's what I said. Perhaps I'm the only person in the world who can make that claim. On second thoughts I have to admit - I'm not exactly therapist to the creek itself. The creek and its surrounds are cared for by a terrific not-for-profit organisation called Merri Creek Management Committee, who for a long time have employed me to support its staff. I have spent many an enlightening hour talking to revegetation experts and native grass specialists about their work. I only hope they have found the sessions as enlightening as I have.
World Oceans Day
|Byron Bay along the South Pacific Ocean|
Earlier this year, sitting up on Walgan hill, the sacred place of the Bunjalong nation, I was overwhelmed by the beautiful view below of northern New South Wales' Byron Bay and the South Pacific Ocean. Walgan's huge ancient middens, full of shells and skeletons of birds and fish, were a reminder of how bounteous the ocean has always been and for how long. And watching the hordes of swimmers, surfers and sailors, I was struck with how much fun and joy oceans bring to human lives. It's unthinkable that we should ever take them for granted or destroy the very thing we love. World Oceans Day reminds us to sign those petitions and to go into bat for our oceans wherever we can. We have no time to lose.
In my next post I'll be reporting on the Trains not Tollroads extravaganza to be held at the Fitzroy Town Hall next Thursday night (13 June). Organisers hope the venue will be packed to the rafters with protestors against the government's proposed monstrous extensions to the freeway system. I'll be there with camera in hand and heart in mouth. Please join us if you posssibly can.