Monday, December 31, 2012


We took our guests to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. It is thought the name Tidbinbilla derives from the Aboriginal word 'Jedbinbilla' meaning 'place where boys become men'. There are many sites of significance in the park where boys were educated and underwent initiation ceremonies.

Their education involved three stages: gatherer; hunter and warrior (roughly equating to primary, secondary and tertiary school).

Mothers and grandmothers brought their young boys here to teach them the values and properties of plants. When ready, their education was handed over to the men who taught them to hunt. Finally, after going through Aboriginal Law, the boys became men.

This education was based upon engendering a respect for the elders, and a view that all living things are connected and interdependent. This concept was embraced throughout the reserve with plaques and nature trails to follow, combined with activities for the children. The environment is pretty scenic too.

Trees are naturally an important part of the eco-system.
The Bogong moths in the Canberra region were important to Aboriginal people, who noted their growth, life-cycle and movement as seasonal indicators. Collecting the moths was an important step in the first stage of manhood where boys went on to hunt and catch larger game, such as ducks, swans, emus, kangaroos, and wallabies.

At a certain times of the year various tribes would gather at the foot of the ranges.An advance party would hold a ceremony involving much noise-making, shouting and swinging bull-roarers. After the ceremony, the collected tribes would break up into smaller groups, and ascend the mountain to hunt and eat the moths, and to continue ceremonies, and to hold initiations.

A large rock like this sits nearby at Uriarra where, in the past, moths were regularly cooked for large numbers of people to feast on.

Rock carving of Bogong Moth
Incidentally, these moths arrive in Canberra in almost plague-like proportions in Spring as they migrate to the Snowy Mountains. They aim for the highest, brightest building en route, which happens to be 'The House on the Hill', otherwise known as Parliament House, where the lights are dimmed as a deterrent.

Back to Tidbinbilla, where there is a small (70-seater) theatre, at which I presume meetings are held and presentations and demonstrations are given. It is a purpose-built outdoor theatre with panels featuring Aboriginal artwork by Ngunnawal artist Jim Williams and other local community artists.

Artwork representing a Bogong Moth ceremony in the Ribbon Gum Theatre

A brolga
The brolga is a large grey crane (sometimes called the Australian crane) with a red head and elaborate mating dance. It is common to wetlands in tropical and Eastern Australia and is the official bird emblem of Queensland. The movements of the brolga dance are imitated in certain Aboriginal ceremonies.

And here's some more wildlife.

These little cuties are long-necked turtles and, don't worry; they're totally harmless. Unless you happen to be a fly, I suppose.

I'm not so sure about these wee beasties, however...

Due to his father's aptitude with a camera, long-suffering Nephew Aidan is very good at standing still for photos.
Huckleberry Niamh

Aidy's Picture

I'm sure Nephew Aidan won't mind me sharing his picture that he drew with chalk on my menu board. I am being a proud aunt, of course, but I love it. I said that it was very much in the spirit of L.S. Lowry of whom I am a big fan. He replied with a grin, "I know; that's why I did it".

I have to wonder, however, with his life in Borneo in Perth, just how many factories and smikestacks he has witnessed. Perhaps the little bent-over-with-stick figure was spotted in Aberdeen? Anyway, as I mentioned previously, I love it and have recorded it here beneath the Christmas dishes.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fun with Toulouse-Lautrec

At the fabulous Toulouse-Lautrec exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, there is an activity zone. Not having children, I would normally just ignore such things, but I went in to play with Niece Niamh and Nephew Aidan. It was excellent - do gallery exhibits usually have activity centres and are they usually this entertaining?

You could slot yourself into drawings, draw your own masterpieces to display in the mock-up Metro, play shadow-theatre with the cut-out poodles, Moulins Rouge and Eiffel Towers, or dress up in the cotumes provided. Such fun!

The super-in-law fits in perfectly at Le Divan Japonaise with Yvette Guilbert and Edouard Dujardin
The spitting image of Jane Avril
Aidy and Hoggy with a wonky moustache
Hoggy's sketch of Him Outdoors

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It's Christmas!

Apparently when my super-in-law asked if I could get some crackers to have at Christmas she didn't mean (as I thought) the ones that go with wine and cheese. She meant the ones that go bang when you pull them and contain bad jokes and paper hats.

So Him Outddors and I made some. Beside the little gifts (miniatures for the men; lipgloss for the ladies; bubble-bath animals for the children) I wrote out bad jokes on pieces of paper, on the back of which was a number. I then piled up our hats and whatever order they were in corresponded to a number.

Okay, so maybe it wasn't ideal, but it provided a solution and some entertaining Christmas dinner photos.

Ice-cream terrine: Aussie-style Christmas pudding
'There's something wrong with this glass'
And of course we had to play charades.

It's a film
First word
See, Him Outdoors, I told you charades was fun.
Losing count of syllables
Serious stuff - is it Spock or Scouts?