Abundant Genealogy: Week 8: Fanfare and tribute for my genealogy libraries

Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog, in conjunction with Geneabloggers, has a new series of weekly blogging prompts for 2012 and the theme is 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy . The topic for Week 8 is Genealogy Libraries: Genealogy libraries (and dedicated departments in regular libraries) are true treasures in the family history community.  Tell us about your favorite genealogy library. What or who makes it special? 

The more I reflected, the more unfair it seemed to single out just one library, so here’s my tribute, with fanfare, to the family history libraries in my life.  Like choosing between your children, picking your favourites seems unjust but I’d like to give my trio of Genie Awards  to the following: GSQ, LDS Family History Centre(s), and County Clare Library, for their contribution to my family history. Read all about my credits below.

Genealogical Society of Queensland (GSQ)

My family history would probably have languished in the “I wonder where my name originated” basket, had I not happened upon a Colonial Street Fair in William St, Brisbane in 1986. GSQ had a “get ’em interested stall” and over 25 years later, the rest, as they say, is history. Not only did GSQ launch my family history search, but it fed and fuelled it for a very long time until I moved to Darwin. In those pre-digitisation days, I used to visit the library to search their hard copy documents but also their rolls of microfilm and especially their wonderful and vast set of indexes prepared by family history centres around the country. They also had special interest groups and when possible I attended their sessions. The GSQ seminars were goldmines of information to new genies like me, and I made sure I mined them to the full. GSQ also established a Pioneer muster register to celebrate the Bicentenary in 1988 and I submitted my own family trees, such as it was after 12-18 months of research (info was much slower to find in those days). The register was updated for Q150 in 2009. So GSQ Library is my first and biggest trumpet fanfare of thanks!

Darwin’s LDS family history centre 

Darwin's Family History Centre and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

 

If I was pinned down to one library I really couldn’t do without right now in 2012, it would be the Darwin LDS family history centre. Not at all like the flash Salt Lake City facilities, it nevertheless provides me with access to all the diverse records microfilmed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons). The films may take their time venturing across the seas but when those films arrive they provide the gateway into so much of my family story, especially when it takes my stories back across the seas to England, Scotland and Ireland (sadly my German village records are not filmed).  I continue to harp on about how wonderful they are, so I’ll let you read someone else’s story about why they’re genealogical gold. It bemuses me that researchers just don’t seem to “get” how much they can learn through the Mormon library: it’s just not instantaneous and perhaps that’s the problem in our impatient world.

Clare County Library

You could search my blog and find many references to this wonderful library. An innovator over many years I can’t sing their praises highly enough. If you have Irish ancestry, you want them to come from Clare so you, too, can benefit from the riches on their website: this is a virtual library you want to visit, trust me. Even if your Irish family comes from elsewhere have a look on the site to see just what may lie hidden in your family’s county of origin. And if you’re lucky enough to visit Ennis, as I have been, calculate the time you think you’ll need then multiply it: they have riches galore.

My other drum-rolls are for these libraries that have served me so well over the years. Each has wonderful research opportunities that have contributed to my own family histories and can do the same for yours. To each I say “Thank You!”.

State Library of Queensland (SLQ)

In my early research days, SLQ was then housed in William Street (and if my memory serves, staffed with Shauna Hicks among others) and became another home-away-from-home. Here I again used BDM microfiche, microfilmed newspapers, and that wonderfully old-fashioned thing, reference books. In those early days I don’t believe I had ventured into John Oxley Library but when time permits on Brisbane visits there are always things to follow up.

Toowoomba and Darling Downs Family History Society (TDDFHS)

With family in the Darling Downs, as I soon discovered, TDDFHS had an impact on my research long before I joined the society or visited their library. GSQ held their index to BDM events in the Darling Downs Gazette and this was the key to learning more about the lives of my ancestors. TDDFHS have continued to hold a place in my genie heart with their local indexes especially their published books of newspaper extracts (especially great for “my” Germans). Because I live so far away I rarely get into the physical library but through membership emails etc I’m kept up to speed with what they’re doing.

Queensland Family History Society (QFHS)

I must mention QFHS even though I visited them infrequently because they were on the other side of town when I lived in Brisbane. These days my Brisbane visits are so time-constrained that I rarely make it to the actual library but I’ve gained so much from the resources they produce. Their Hamburg shipping indexes, school admission lists, electoral rolls, and so many other indexes and services are fantastic resources. Some of the information you’re finding on Findmypast, for example, comes from their indexing work. Hidden heroes! They also awarded me a prize in 2004 for my family history – a huge buzz for me! QFHS had a great Q150 project, Queensland Founding Families, for 2009 and if you have Qld family it’s a must-read.

Northern Territory Library (NTL)

With the encroachment of Trove and online subscriptions, NTL hasn’t seen me as much as they used to.  Their wide range of newspapers has often been a godsend to me in following up leads and where they don’t have them in house, NTL is efficient in ordering them in on inter-library loans from The National Library of Australia and similarly books that I need or want to suss out, are dispatched from Canberra to far-away Darwin for researchers like me.  Thanks Ken for your wonderful service with these loans! Always very much appreciated. NTL also hosts or co-hosts family history seminars throughout the year and includes family history, and history, journals and magazines for reference. They also have a great facility for people to tell their Territory Stories via online submission so if you have a family member who lived in the Territory in the past, you might want to put your entry there.

Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory (GSNT)

I’ve spent many hours at GSNT scrolling through Board Immigrant Lists searching for east County Clare immigrants. There were some wags who thought I was going to grow cobwebs! Tucked among the bookshelves are a wide variety of reference books to assist with family history and the microfiche and CDs provide further opportunities to round out what’s known about our ancestors. GSNT also holds an extensive pioneer register which hasn’t been of interest to me previously but I’ve now learnt that one of my family connections was in the Territory so I’ll need to see what they may have on them.

Thank you to each and every one of these libraries, without which my family stories would be just a litany of names and dates!

Family history seminar Darwin 25 February 2012

Yesterday I talked about the history seminars that had been held in Darwin over the past 10 days or so. Thanks to Unlock the Past and the War comes to Darwin tour, we were also fortunate to have an all-day family history seminar co-hosted by the Northern Territory Library and the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory. The guest speakers at Saturday’s seminar were Shauna Hicks and Rosemary Kopittke both well-known in family history circles.  Thanks to family links here Shauna has been a regular visitor and speaker in Darwin over the past few years.

Over forty people (my rough head-count) attended and were fortunate to learn from speakers with extensive and diverse experience. Shauna’s first talk was about state and national archives online and with her experience in both types of repositories she’s well qualified to talk on this topic and I imagine people got a lot from these talks. I would have liked to have seen some reference to the Board Immigrant Lists (which aren’t online) when referring to the NSW immigration records which have been digitised as the former provide far more information where they’re available. Shauna emphasised the need to “read the manual” ie check the background detail to see what’s included in the indexes you’re searching –an important tip. Another great tip was to use the Victorian outward migration indexes for your people as Port Philip was often a transit point for ships coming along the south coast or to/from Tasmania. I’ve used these regularly for my Germans and other families to great effect. The three different options cover different date ranges and the information included often differs slightly from what you find on the NSW immigration records so well worth a look. I also use the Victorian unassisted passenger lists as if they were sponsored by NSW they were still unassisted within the Victorian context.  This has been very useful for my German research.

Rosemary then spoke about the different branches of Findmypast (UK, Ireland and Australia) with a passing reference to the recently commenced American branch. Ultimately the plan is that all these will be combined in a layered subscription site but there is no timeline for this as yet. I was excited when Rosemary mentioned that Hertfordshire Archives and Library Services would be coming online this year with Findmypast. Having been behind with my blog reading I hadn’t then seen the references to this. It will be a great boon for my family history even though I’ve already read many of the microfilms I need through the Family History Centre. Still I’m hoping this will bring other records online. Exciting! Rosemary also highlighted other additions to the findmypast suite: the merchant seamen records from the 19th century, the Irish Petty Sessions (but beware, they’re not all there yet), Irish landed estate court rentals, prison records etc. One of my favourites on FMP is the Outward Shipping from the UK. If you don’t use FMP regularly you are missing out on something. I personally find their transcriptions much more accurate than some.

Shauna’s next was “it’s not all online” and I could hear so many echoes of what I’ve already said, and have on my 52 week plan, to say in my Beyond the Internet series. Her first point was that there seemed to be two groups involved with genealogy: the name gatherers who are mostly content to acquire names and dates for an expanding range of ancestors; and the family historians who want to learn as much as possible about their ancestors’ lives and experiences. I fall firmly into the second category so there was no need to convert me on this topic! Shauna’s talk provided many examples of the vast array of sources available beyond the internet through libraries and archives in particular. I smiled when she highlighted the importance of certificates and how at least one researcher had claimed a brick wall when a certificate promptly broke down the wall. You can read what I had to say about certificates here.

Convict ancestry was covered well by Shauna and I found the topic interesting even though I have no direct lines of “Australian royalty” as Jack Thompson called his convict. I do research one Irish exile who arrived in Queensland in 1849 who unfortunately isn’t as well documented as some of the earlier convicts. Quite a lot of people put up their hands when Shauna asked who had convicts in their tree and I notice she was surrounded by enquirers after this talk. I made notes for when my husband pursues his convicts in the future.

Shauna also made mention of the Genealogists for Families group which supports micro-loans to people around the world who are trying to improve their family’s economic security. If you haven’t heard of it, and the good work that is being done, do pop over and have a look. Since the group was established by Judy Webster back in October or so last year, nearly $10,000 worth of loans have been made by the 148 (mostly) genealogists who joined the group.

Rosemary gave two talks which might be broadly discussed together: government and police gazettes, and almanacs and directories. I really enjoyed these talks too and hopefully they convinced people of how much is contained within them…far beyond the mundane matters of business you might expect. I was particularly taken with the education gazettes which I haven’t used previously and will look at to learn more about Murphys Creek in Queensland and its education history.  All the snippets you can learn about your family in these documents where your family may be mentioned in terms of a licence they required, as a victim or witness to a crime, or indeed the perpetrator, etc.  Rosemary highlighted how an ancestor’s business may have an advertisement within the directories (not so far in my family’s case). You can also use the street indexes within the post office directories to pinpoint which side of the street and between which cross streets your family may have lived.  So much grist for the mill.

Both speakers will have their talks online: Shauna through her website and Rosemary through her profile page on Unlock the Past.

All in all an enjoyable and informative day…I’m sure people went home much better informed although a little mentally over-loaded. Rosemary and Shauna also merit our thanks for such interesting presentations at the end of a heavy week or so of touring. I reckon they’d have been pretty pleased to be on the plane home. Thanks!

Never rains but it pours: Historical talks in Darwin

It’s not just the weather in Darwin where it never rains but it pours. Over the past week we’ve had a flurry of diverse historical and genealogical talks. Today I’ll focus on the historical talks.

On Saturday 18th February the Genealogical Society of the Northern Territory, with support from The Northern Territory Archives, hosted a talk by local identity Pearl Ogden on “The impact of the war years on Darwin” though Pearl extended it down to Katherine.  A couple of snippets that particularly caught my attention were that the prisoners were released from the Fannie Bay Gaol so it could be used to house servicemen, the number of army farms growing a wide variety of vegetables, there were Catalinas anchored at Doctor’s Gully (now fish-feeding tourism), the Vic Hotel was favoured by the Americans, and that indigenous women workers were treated and paid the same as men. There were obviously large communities of Army activity around Adelaide River and Katherine. Pearl also talked a little about the the bombings further down the Highway. I’ve now been in Darwin quite a while so as she mentioned innumerable places and streets I mostly knew where she was talking about. A big omission from the talk was any maps or photographs to illustrate the talks. It would have been greatly enhanced if these had been used – and no doubt the interstate visitors would have gained far more from what was a fascinating talk. And I still don’t know where the Victualling Yards are in Stuart Park –need to suss out a Darwin “old timer” and ask.

Monday evening 20th February a large number of people lined up for another session hosted by the Northern Territory Library and attended by many from the combined Unlock the Past and Mat McLachlan BattlefieldWar comes to Australia” Tour. The first speaker was Dr Tom Lewis, former naval officer and Director of the Darwin Military Museum and the wonderful new Defence of Darwin experience. (Previous to last week I hadn’t known there was a anti-submarine boom net across from what we call East Point but technically is Pt Dudley ). Tom’s talk had lots of fascinating detail which addressed some of the misconceptions and myths surrounding the bombing.  In particular he emphasised that some of the statistics bandied around were misleading, for example comparison with Pearl Harbor did not match up because the bomb capacity was lower even though more bombs fell. The torpedo bombs used on Pearl Harbor were far more damaging.  Dr Lewis made a very valid point which was that Nagasaki had only one (atomic) bomb and by a pure comparison of numbers, Pearl Harbor and Darwin would both be more important than that which would indeed be plainly ridiculous. He cited that 2000 civilians died at Pearl Harbour, which did not concur with the 40 listed on the Pearl Harbor website I’d already looked at, and wondered whether some were civilians employed on military bases. Certainly the Bombing of Darwin wasn’t the biggest disaster in Australia’s history and he cited Cyclone Tracy and the sinking of HMAS Sydney. He did not agree that Prime Minister Curtin had covered up the bombing deaths and also denied that we had insufficient  defences with 18 anti-aircraft batteries around town, which were red-hot after the battle. However he did agree that the men had not had much practice prior to the event. My own view was that the talk was fascinating and full of detail and that Tom’s personal experience  of the “fog of war”, as he called it, added to his understanding of the history of the event, but there were times throughout the talk when I wondered if it didn’t blinker him to some of the other views put forward. Shauna Hicks has also posted her views of the talk. What became very clear is that anyone with a serious interest in this historic event would need to read widely and critique what they read before reaching their own conclusions.

The second speaker was Brad Manera who is the Executive Manager of the ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park in Sydney. Brad spoke more widely about the experience of Australians in war right back to our early white settlement. He also gave a good summary of the different Australian Brigades as they entered World War I. His explanation of the Gallipoli battles was clear and concise. It would be fascinating to be on a battlefield tour in situ to really understand more about this Australian-coming-of-age battle.  His discussion of Australians on the Western Front was informative and no matter how many times you hear the numbers, they remain sobering. Again it’s emphasised for me that a Western Front battlefield tour is one I’d really like to take so an expert can fully explain the mechanics of the battles on the ground. We visited Villers-Bretonneux , Amiens and Fleurbaix back in 1992 as these are “family sites” and they were tremendously moving but to learn more from an expert would add a greater dimension. Another item for the bucket list!

A number of my relatives were in the Light Horse so I was interested to learn that it was the Queensland Light Horse who started the tradition of the emu feather in their slouch hats and that it dated from the 1891 shearers’ strike in which they helped to break the strike –not so keen on that bit. The New South Welshmen apparently wore a black cockatoo feather while unsurprisingly the West Australians chose a black swan feather.

Brad also explained that the ubiquitous presence of war memorials around Australia post-WWI was partly because the families of those who died would never have a burial and were unlikely to ever see their relative’s grave because it was so far away (not to mention that some soldiers’ bodies were never found as evidenced by the huge wall at Villers-Bretonneux) .  Almost every family was affected and every community so they needed to have some symbol of their patriotism and tremendous losses.

Shauna Hicks was the last speaker at this seminar and spoke clearly about how to locate information on your military ancestors. Although I don’t have anyone in the Boer War, I was interested to learn that some of those records remain with the state libraries or other repositories. She also highlighted the Mapping Our Anzacs website, reminding me that adding scrapbook notes to my relatives’ entries is another item on my “to do” list that remains outstanding.  The other helpful site is the ADFA site which has had various incarnations over the years. As usual, Shauna will post her talk on her webpage making it easier to revisit the details.

The Bombing of Darwin 19 February 1942: the 70th anniversary

Darwin is in a flurry of activity this week as the city commemorates the 70th anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin on 19 February 1942. Although it’s said that the event was little known in Australia’s history perhaps it’s more accurate to say that it was a good example of war-time “spin”…perhaps understandably in the sense of keeping up morale.

In the beginning the numbers of fatalities and injuries quoted were sadly underestimated and to this date, the figures remain contested by some people. The prevailing view is that “more than 243” were killed and between 300 and 400 injured.

Similarly the number of Japanese planes in the assault was also underestimated at the time: 70+ or so compared with an actual 188. Much appears to have been made of the fact that 4 enemy planes had been brought down during the two raids which occurred an hour apart, although one of the planes actually crash-landed on Bathurst Island.The USS Peary was among the naval casualties in the harbour that day, ironically having only returned the day before to refuel.

The Prime Minister of the day, John Curtin, responded to the attacks with the following comments published in The Sydney Morning Herald on 20 February 1942:

”Damage to property was considerable,” he said, “but reports so far to hand do not give precise particulars about the loss of life. The Government regards the attacks as most grave, and makes it quite clear that a severe blow has been struck on Australian soil”.

Darwin had actually had some warning that the planes were coming when Father John McGrath of Bathurst Island Catholic mission at Nguiu radioed to warn Darwin. This message was transmitted to the RAAF base. Unfortunately the message was largely ignored as they thought it was some returning American aircraft. Since that time the Tiwi people have their own commemoration of the event, with their bombing dance featuring swooping plane movements and shooting. We were lucky to see the dance for ourselves when we visited Nguiu in 1995, as it was our daughter’s first teaching post. A Tiwi Islander, Matthias Ulungura, captured the 1st Japanese prisoner of war on Australian soil, Sergeant Hajimi Toyoshima whose Zero fighter crashed near Snake Bay.

The Bombing of Darwin occurred about 10 weeks after Pearl Harbour and was masterminded by the same Japanese commander, Mitsuo Fuchida with the same squadrons and pilots taking part. It’s interesting to compare the two events, one very well known and one almost unknown. Astonishingly Darwin had 683 bombs dropped on it during that first morning compared with Pearl Harbour’s 271 though without doubt the magnitude of the bombs was smaller. At Pearl Harbour torpedo bombs were used which have a much greater impact. Based on the bombing pattern, it seems the Japanese intent was plainly not just to decimate the shipping and aircraft but to take out the infrastructure so there was no northern base from which Australia, and its Pacific ally America, could mount an offence against Japanese bases in Asia. The indicative number of civilian deaths in Darwin was around 60.

Pearl Harbour

Darwin

Japanese aircraft

353

188

Japanese aircraft carriers

6

4

Aircraft destroyed (US/Aus)

188

20

Killed (US/Aus)

2402

243+

Wounded

1282

300-400

Ships sunk

10

8

Date

7-Dec-41

19-Feb-42

Throughout the battle, the 18 anti-aircraft guns were fired constantly until their barrels were red hot. So hot in fact that when the cleaning cloths were used, they burst into flames. Famously one bloke came running from the showers in his hat and boots -with a towel   wrapped around him, that soon dropped off. Artists’ representations show him naked manning the guns.

Many of the women, children and elderly of Darwin had been evacuated to friends and family around Australia in the preceding month or so, and after the bombing most of those remaining went/were sent south. This left the men, civilian and military, and the indigenous people on the Frontline. The list of evacuees is extensive but can be seen here on the National Archives of Australia webpage (click on view digital copy on the right). Some of the evacuees were to become refugees in their own country a second time in 1974, when 33,000 people had to leave the city after it was nearly destroyed by Cyclone Tracy.

The effect of the war in Darwin is easy to ignore, yet visible everywhere. There are military installations scattered around the cliffs and parks, main streets were runways, and down the Track (the Stuart Highway) there are regular signposts to former airstrips, supply depots and the like.

The new Defence of Darwin Experience at the revamped Military Museum, which will be opened this weekend, will no doubt do much to make this part of Australia’s history far more well-known. (Update: we visited this on Saturday 18 February just after it opened, and it really is an excellent insight into the bombing. I’m pleased we’ll be able to visit it on a regular basis so there’s less risk of information overload).

Over the next few days I’ll be posting some photos that relate to Darwin’s role in World War II and to the Bombing. You can find them on my Tropical Territory blog.

And if you are in Australia and have cable TV, the history channel will be screening “The Bombing of Darwin, an Awkward Truth” on Sunday night. It premiered in Darwin tonight and was extremely interesting.

Happy Christmas to all! Christmas lights celebration Darwin 2011

Happy Christmas to all my readers wherever you are. I wish you health and happiness today and lots of wonderful genealogy discoveries in 2012.

Today I’m sharing with you some photos from our drive around Darwin and Palmerston looking at the Christmas lights.

This display in Leanyer was the first we saw and was gorgeous….kids were enjoying being photographed near Santa. The owner was chatting to the visitors and was disappointed that his train display and accompanying sound were no longer working as they’d been destroyed by the bad weather. The visitors’ enjoyment was not deterred.

Hotham Street Leanyer is apparently Christmas Lights Central for Darwin. We’ve been here all these years and didn’t know that! Apparently this tree is the tallest Xmas tree in Darwin and required two visits from a cherry-picker crane to set it up and decorate it. Their efforts were well worth it for all the visitors’ pleasure.

By the way, the dots in the  sky are raindrops not snow falling – we have a cyclone around the ridges so there was a bit of rain about. Out in the satellite town of Palmerston this house is apparently another of the top houses for the lights and it was truly spectacular!

In a nearby suburb in Palmerston this display highlights the reason for the season. Happy Christmas!

The Navy is in town: The Old and the New: HMB Endeavour and HMAS Darwin

HMAS Darwin in Darwin: the flags might look pretty but that missile launcher is serious business!

The Navy was in full-profile in Darwin town this long weekend. We missed the Keys to the City ceremony on Saturday but went with a daughter and small grandsons to see the HMAS Darwin on open public display yesterday. Although it was hot and at times slow, we had a great time seeing over the Australian Navy’s HMAS Darwin. Small boys, parents and grandparents were pretty impressed when the missile launcher showed its super rapid and automated response. I would certainly not want to be on board or anywhere nearby when it was all done in earnest: with the LNG gas plant and tankers in the background you realise just how much damage could be done! You also have to admire the ability of the able seamen to navigate those rather steep stairs at speed. Small boys have gone away very proud of the HMAS Darwin hat and badge and adult people happy with an interesting outing.

From the bridge of HMAS Darwin with the Canadian Navy's ship on view.

HMB Endeavour contrasts with the gas tanker and sailing boats.

Then today the replica of HMB Endeavour also motored into Darwin harbour. Although we’d been on the lookout for it nearby we didn’t see it under sail at all but it was still exciting to see something so evocative of Australia’s white history. Perhaps less so for our indigenous Australians but an eventful moment nonetheless: I’ll be curious to see what the Tiwi people thought when they saw it off Melville Island. Darwin had anticipated Endeavour would be anchored off Fannie Bay last night and there seemed to be a very large number of “Endeavour picnics” awaiting its arrival. However it still could not be seen when dark fell so it was a pleasure to see it arrive this morning.

As it came into Fort Hill then Stokes Hill wharves, Endeavour was pushed and navigated by tugs and its C18th century design contrasted with the sailing boats, speed boats, tugs, trawlers, barges and gas tankers. It is now berthed securely on the inner harbour of Stokes Hill wharf, which took a bit more kerfuffle than Cook would have required given there were no wharves etc in Oz in his time. We’re really looking forward to seeing over it and taking the taller of the grandchildren to see it (they need to be >90cm).

The rigging of the Endeavour is most impressive.

Echoes of a recent royal wedding; Endeavour has a very pretty stern.

For the non-Australians reading this, HMB Endeavour stands for His Majesty’s Bark (or Barque) Endeavour, a faithful replica of the ship in which Captain James Cook “discovered” Australia in 1770. The replica is currently part-way through a circumnavigation of Australia.

HMB Endeavour (replica) at Stokes Hill Wharf with HMAS Darwin on the far right at Fort Hill wharf.

The glories of Renner Springs: travelling south mid-June

Sunset at Renner SpringsWell those who’ve ever been to Renner Springs will find that description to be rather strange, but having said that, we saw some beautiful things when we overnighted on our way south recently. Where is Renner Springs? Well it’s about 820kms south of Darwin down the Track or Stuart Highway. Not much there except the roadhouse and outlying properties. But have a look at these photos and see whether you agree we saw lovely things from sundown to sunup.  The poor little night heron was not too amused by being pursued by a woman with a long camera lens. The empty cattle road train was evocative given the recent embargo on live cattle export to Indonesia.

A night heron looking for dinner - and trying to avoid me.

Having been on the go with house events were blissfully unaware that we were going to be in prime viewing position for the lunar eclipse so when we woke up early that morning we were a bit befuddled by the disappearing moon. As we couldn’t get on the road until there was some light I took some dawn photos with the partial eclipse. It looks rather pretty.

Sunrise and the lunar eclipse at Renner Springs mid-June 2011

An empty cattle road-train heading north early in the live-cattle embargo.

On the road again: Territory colours

This week we were driving the nearly 4000kms to get back to Darwin from Canberra. Yesterday as we drove through 1000kms of Territory bush I was moved by the many colours and images. I’m no poet but here are my thoughts in vaguely poetry form rather than prose.

Territory Colours

Dawn breaks deep red against the lightening sky

The horizon so vast in an encompassing ocean of green

White-trunked gums with leaves of lime

In a sea of shrubs fringed with red grevillea

And trimmed with a bright blue sky

Buttes of ochre-red dot-painted with grey-green spinifex

A parade of turkey bush fresh-flowered in purple

Laced with yellow from grevillea, kapok and wattle

Cycads waving their new-grown umbrellas and

New grass tufts vivid-green against the fire-burnt ground

Contrast the shimmering purple seed heads of older grass

Lime, shamrock, white, purple, blue, red, green and yellow

Home again to the colours of the Territory bush.