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MEETING AN OLDIE IS NOT SO PAINFUL. LINGER AND GIVE IT A GO
I invite you to visit also my literary blog: Journeys in Creative Writing where I post original fiction including short stories, poetry and 'Paternity', a full length mystery novel.
We've visited Fingal a lot on 70 Plus, and chatted about the flora of the place and admired the deep torquoise sea, the creamy beaches and the unusual rocks that dot the shores. But so far I haven't said a lot about the original inhabitants of this magical place - the Minjungbul people of the Bunjalung nation of Australian Aborigines.
The Minjungbal tribe roamed the entire Tweed Valley in northern New South Wales for thousands of years. Their existence must have been idyllic. That is, until the white man expanded north from the original colony which was established in the Sydney basin in 1788. Since then it's been a long dramatic story. I have been told stories by oldtimer white people that Fingal Aborigines were given poisoned flour in an effort to wipe them out.
The wonder is that there is still a very strong Minjungbal presence at Fingal and in Tweed Heads South where they live in communities and learn of their culture. Also, of course, you can see signs of past generations of the tribe, if you keep your eyes open.
I took the photograph above when I saw unusual little indentations in the rocks on the headland which I suspect may have been made by Aborigines, perhaps making fire by twirling sticks in the stone. However, I am prepared to be proven wrong on this.
Regardless, the community's history in the area is well documented. Historian Andrew Chalk says Aborigines have been associated with the area stretching back into the Dreamtime with anthropologists claiming that it supported one of the most dense nomadic populations to be found anywhere in the world.
He says that skeletal remains of Aborigines seven feet tall have been found on the Fingal Peninsular, attesting to the superb nutrition which must have been available to the locals in the past.
Today there is an Aboriginal cemetery in Fingal, not far from a bora ring which has also been preserved by the local community. This notice announces that Aborigines and Islanders of the Tweed area are buried there, among them the elder Caomoi and his son Churaki. A nearby plaque installed in memory of community members of the period 1864 to 1964 named Caomoi as 'The King'. We won't intrude any further here ...
This beautiful peninsular was almost lost to all but the very well heeled when a development company announced in the late 1980s that it would build a gigantic luxury resort and golf course there. In 1989 the Aboriginal community, conservationists and many white friends established a small tent settlement at the entrance to the peninsular, in demonstration against the plans.
That settlement remained in place for almost a year while legal and political moves were made elsewhere to halt the development. This eventually led to an inquiry by the Independent Commission Against Corruption into the legal validity of actions surrounding the development.
The plans were scrapped and people were prosecuted as a result.
As Andrew Chalk says in his document: 'As always there is a good deal more to the story. The best parts - the intrigue and manoeuvring, the anguish and joy, and above all the people - are most wisely kept for late nights around a fire on Dreamtime Beach, where, well out of earshot of the defamation lawyers, a group will be sitting waiting for the snapper to bite. They will be remembering and they will be laughing, because in 1989 they all did something which they didn't really think was possible. In Fingal is the great Australian novel waiting to be written.'
Is the good fight being fought to save precious parts of the environment near your place? Or are sad things happening without comment?
Currumbin Waters, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
I'm past my 70th birthday and undaunted.
So far I can look back on probably a dozen different phases in my life, all producing deeply felt experience:
- A barefoot carefree childhood in an Australian seaside town
- Work as a young journalist in the days of hot metal and male chauvinism
- Dipping my toe into real life in Sydney the big city
- Marriage and precious motherhood
- A second career in corporate public relations management
- Another marriage and disillusion
- Battles for financial justice in the law courts
- Re-jigging a career
- At 60 my first university degree (Creative Writing and Australian History majors)
- Fighting sometimes lost causes
- Sneaky aches and pains of the approach of age
- Living on a pension.
All fodder for writing and a valuable background for the development of what could become one day an incisive point of view.
My blogs may become a way of answering the question: 'What's next?'