Tag Archives: Brisbane

Brisbane Climate March

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During the last weekend in November 785,000 people in 175 countries took to the streets to march in support of Climate Justice. Did you hear about it? Did the politicians convening at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris hear about it?

I live – rather happily most of the time – without a TV. This means I saw relatively little of the news coverage.

However… I did one-up on watching. I made sure I was there – walking tall among the 5,000 or so individuals who marched in Brisbane, Australia on the 28th of November, calling for ‘Climate Justice’ and an end to our government’s dirty but lucrative addiction to coal.

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I’m glad I attended the march. It was heartening to be there. I realised there are plenty of us involved in the movement to realise a clean-energy revolution – people who desire a massive re-think of how we interact personally, locally, nationally and globally with Land. Environment. Earth. The future. Continue reading

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Filed under Climate Change, Culture, Earth Care, Permaculture, Social Justice

Luck of the Irish

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I’ll tell you something you might not know about the Australian Outback – it’s peopled by young Irish! The subtle charm of saltbush and red earth does not account for the numbers in which they arrive: behind every counter, every laminate benchtop in every kitchen, pub, petrol station, cafe and caravan park between Darwin and Mt Isa there’s a Galway or Pipe lilt-a-lurking.

Whatever the Outback lacks in emerald green it makes up for in gold: the solid gold of a hard-earned wage – the kind it’s hard to come by in Ireland. Italians and French are drawn here too, for work, but not in the same numbers as the Irish – nowhere near.

At the Mataranka Caravan Park, at the end of a long day of hitchhiking, I inquire at reception about the cost of renting a tent pitch for the night: $36! It’s terrible news but pleasing nonetheless to hear it delivered in a running-stitch of tender Leinster tones! Battling to reconcile myself with parting with $36 for a patch of earth, I inquire whether management might have a spare tent they can throw into the bargain. To which she kindly responds, ‘No’.

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That night, lying under the stars, part-way-under a shared sleeping bag, with the sound of mob politics in the background, I ponder what it might be like, as a youth from an Irish village, to find yourself, suddenly,  in the Australian Outback. I feel baffled by what might draw someone this far across the earth to take up residence in a landscape only marginally less alien than the moon, to a culture as quixotic, contradictory and idiosyncratic as a pink bus called ‘Priscilla’. Surely it’s not just the money?

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On the second night of our hitch-hike across the Outback we’re saved by the kindness of the Irish. Tess, Mike and Lee are on a road trip that will take them from Sydney to Cairns. They’ve drawn up at the Barkly Homestead in their dusty blue station wagon and are happy enough to have their tents up, cans of beer in their hands and a good part of the driving behind them.

It’s cold. As they hug their coats closer about their shoulders their attention is drawn to the two weirdos (us!) who have wandered in off the road, under cover of darkness, and are spreading a layer of cardboard on the ground in order to shield themselves from the rising damp that would otherwise cost them a night of sleep.

‘We ha a tarpaulin if ya waaant it’, one of them offers, shouting over from the comfort of his canvas camping chair. He looks appalled to be witnessing our performance of voluntary impoverishment.

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Filed under Culture, Earth Care, Travel

What’s Cooking?

One of the things I miss most when I’m on the road is spending time in the kitchen with Mum. For me, cooking with Mum is one of the ‘constants’ linking my infancy to adolescence, and my teens to early adulthood. It sustained me when I was low, and relaxed me when I was taut enough to snap. It gave Mum and I the opportunity to talk things over: with hands busily chopping and whipping our mouths could speak our minds, and before we knew it we were pulling freshly baked ideas and perspectives out of the oven.

My first memory of cooking with Mum is being allowed to lick cake batter from the wooden spoon – chocolate cake was my favourite. Mum was never fussy about hygiene. Fingers had as much of a place in the mixing bowl as whisks, forks and spoons. As long as you helped clean up afterwards you could make as much mess as you wanted.

From beating cake batter it progressed to poking cloves into sandy-coloured batches of kourambiethes and collecting fistfuls of mint and parsley from the garden for tabbouleh. Fiddly repetitive jobs were my favourite. Helping to peel and core apples for stewing, and chopping walnuts for Mum’s coveted baclava were two of my favourite jobs.

Later I became adept at more complicated tasks like judging the correct amount of nutmeg to incorporate into the sienna cake, and ascertaining when the bechamel sauce was adequately thickened.

Nothing was ever measured in my mother’s kitchen. We had a set of measuring cups and spoons that lived at the back of the cupboard where they were rarely, if ever, thought about let alone used. Instead, Mum preferred to use a heavy squat ceramic mug to do her measuring. Trust Mum to invent her own standard measure!

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