What can I say about January? Other than here on the Sunshine Coast it is a month focussed on summer holidays – the scent of sun-screen permeates the air as tanned bikini-clad bodies populate our beaches (regardless of warnings from the Cancer Council) and children splash and play in the surf watched over by parents making the most of their special family time.
The highlight of course is the celebration of Australia Day. While we don’t have the far reaching history and culture of European countries to be proud of, we can clearly chart what progress we have made in the 228 years since our beginnings. And what fantastic progress it has been when you consider that the entire project could quite easily have collapsed had our convict settlers been of different stock. And make no mistake it was their hard work that developed the country to the stage where it was attractive to the free settlers who began migrating some 27 years later.
So, what do you do to celebrate this day? The accepted tradition is to have a barbie with family and friends, maybe a few too many grogs, a game of backyard cricket, perhaps a swim at the beach. Here in Buderim we celebrate in a big way – as an entire community. We close off the main street for a few hours and we have a parade! With marching bands and pipe bands, floats and flowers, colourful costumes and smiling faces - it is a day that inspires patriotism wherever you were born. As the Australian flag flies high and proud, one has to ask why would we want to change it? As the poem says: ‘The stars tell us where we are going, and the old flag where we have been’.
January has been a surprisingly busy month for me. I usually hibernate well away from the heat and holiday crowds, but this year the desire to progress with my new book prompted me to get out and about to take photographs and discover places on the Sunshine Coast I haven’t been to for some years. Our first excursion was to the Glasshouse Mountains. I am in awe of these majestic landforms and love the way the Aborigines bring them alive in stories from their Dreamtime. I’ll share with you the story of my favourite mountain - Coonowrin - or as it is sometimes called ‘Crookneck.
The largest of the mountains, the father, was named Tibrogargan, and the second largest was Beerwah, the mother. They had many children. Coonowrin was the eldest.
One day, Tibrogargan was gazing out to sea and he noticed a great rising of the waters. He called to Coonowrin to assist his mother who was again with child. Tibrogargan gathered up his other children and made for the safety of the mountains in the west. Glancing back to see how Coonowrin was assisting Beerwah, he noticed that Coonowrin had run off to play, leaving his mother to make her way alone. He was so angry he struck him a blow with his club, dislocating his neck. Coonowrin has never been able to straighten it since.
I also met with a couple of long time residents of Buderim whom I have know for some time but until now, never had cause to ask about their early years of growing up on Buderim. What an interesting afternoon it was and I came away slightly envious of the way of life they had as children. Post war Buderim was still mainly a farming community and with no sealed roads to the coast it remained a rather isolated and protected place to live. Life was tough and regular chores before and after school were an accepted way of life, but once chores were finished it was a free and easy place to get together with friends for a game of soccer or tennis. It was an outdoor and healthy way of life which encouraged a sense of responsibility from a young age. Thank you to Evelyn and David for sharing your memories with me.
A further outing to the Ginger Flower and Food Festival reminded me of the amount of support Grans and Grandads give to families these days. The place was packed with visitors and many were obviously elderly couples with grandchildren. It’s a case of ‘been there done that’ for us as our youngest is now quite self sufficient. We had many happy days when she was younger and we all enjoyed them – as I’m sure those we saw today enjoyed their day. With so many working parents now, the world must surely owe a vote of thanks to grandparents.
Due to all these outings, I didn’t quite manage to read the three books I had set aside for summer reading, but did enjoy Belly Dancing for Beginners by Liz Byrski. She manages to make the most unlikely characters come together in an unusual situation and creates a jolly good story. I do admire writers who write contemporary fiction well without the inclusion of unwarranted and sordid sex – it is something I would like to try one day. Perhaps when I finish the Sunshine Coast book? But then .... there are another two projects waiting in the wings. There are just not enough hours in the day!
My reading at the moment is Harp in the South that classic Sydney story by Ruth Park. I’m ashamed to say I have not previously read it but it is the choice for a new book group that is being organised by our local book store, Books of Buderim. Set during the depression years it is obviously not going to be all sweetness and light, but two chapters in and I am already hooked.
Talking of Books of Buderim, I was honoured to be chosen as their Local Author of the Month. Check it out on www.booksofbuderim.com.au
What does February hold? Certainly a few challenges for me – but more of those in my next blog.