As the smoke clears after the recent referendum, the losers lapse into blame shifting mode similar to what followed the public republic rejection a generation ago. Most people default to the ‘if it aint broke don’t fix it’ approach to constitutional change despite the statistics showing the system is broke for some of us. The marketing of the idea wasn’t helped by some in the left leaning Indigenous elite calling the punters stupid racist dinosaurs & dickheads. No matter how many pollies, sports stars, musos, CEOs & assorted celebrities plugged the YES case, the DFRs and the ‘burbs’ went Yeah … Nah & the “voice” was silenced. For the record I voted YES because my maliyaa (friend) Rhonda asked me to.
I also listen to my heart over my head when it comes to the TinTs. Despite a total lack of encouragement from Indigenous organisations and academia I continue adding to my huge data base of CMTs on this website every month. Without rangeland ecologist Dr Jen Silcock and handful of Gomaroi/ Ularoi – Allo Tighe, Rhonda Ashby & Priscilla Reid loynes, I would given up years ago. But these box tree swamps keep on revealing their secrets regardless of local Aboriginal apathy. Why not spend some of the ‘white guilt’ money out here reconnecting the indigenous communities to their ancient tree changing culture? The old clever people of this area were master manipulators – carving the cambium, inosculating the branches & persuading the hollow trunks to accept long term lodgers…. the world’s first arborists in fact.
What Im calling the Tennis Court Swamp (TCS) was a gathering place for soldier settlers and their families 80 years ago but was used by the Wailwun people for millennia before that. There are 2 ground tanks on the perimeter which now collect much of the storm run-off previously feeding into swamp. On the southern end there’s the red rubble remains of the old “Brewon” out station hut and a shallow billabong (empty) you can see below.
The timeworn cypress pine uprights and sagging chicken wire below show where the soldier settler families met to play tennis. These returned WW1 soldiers, including my grandfather Bill Currey, were known as the 12 apostles and had won the ‘living area’ blocks incised off the old stations like Brewon & Gingie in a ballot. If you were a returned serviceman of Aboriginal descent you were excluded from this peculiarly Australian land lottery. These living areas soon turned into starvation blocks when droughts arrived as they were too small to make a ‘living’ on. You cannot separate Aboriginal disadvantage from general rural disadvantage in Australia. Social engineering was not confined to the Stolen generation, there have been plenty of disastrous government decisions that only applied to white Australians last century too. DFR was the acronym used by the headmaster to describe the boarders from the bush at an expensive private school in Sydney with the acronym TKS (btw)
My 88 yr old mother remembers playing tennis as a child in the TCS before they relocated to the somewhere more accessible. The public road gazetted through the western side was never built but the surveyor’s blazes remain. The box tree blaze has deteriorated more and marks the south west boundary of the original Brewon station so may be about 50 years older? The Cypress pine blaze is exceptional in its clarity and preservation – the difference between the 2 may be age or wood type. Reference trees like these are relatively rare.
As interesting as the whitefella relics are in the TCS, what the Wailwan did there is astonishing. This old Emu bush guest is unique and the dead box stump host is indented with evenly spaced encircling stone axe cuts – they good as signed it!
Google tells me this; ‘..in Aboriginal medical practices, emu bush (Eremophila longifolia) is highly prized for use in smoking, and scientific research has supported its use as an anti-bacterial, antifungal and antioxidant substance3. The leaves of the emu bush are placed on hot embers to produce wet steamy smoke, which kills bacterial or fungal pathogens. This can be of benefit for someone who is sick, to prevent spread of sickness, and for use in childbirth’
Indigenous Knowledge Institute Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander School Curricula Resources “Fire in ceremony”
A circle or a set of concentric circles usually signify places where people come together. They can represent a meeting place, fireplace, campsite, a waterhole or a ceremonial site.
Waterholes are critical to survival in the desert and for that reason they feature frequently in Aboriginal art. They are often sacred places as ceremonies typically take place at sites where there is an abundant source of water. Accordingly, the symbol representing a ceremony and the symbol for a waterhole are often used interchangeably by artists.
Kate Owen gallery – Aboriginal Art Symbols – iconography
This is the first unmistakable Emu bush (Eremophila longifolia) TinT Ive found. The stone axe cut circumferential circles are very very old and continue up the trunk at regular intervals. I have seen these old engraved trunk circles on an Ironwood growing along the Warrambool here west of Walgett on Gomilaroi country – bordering Ulalaroi lands. Both these places contain TinTs that are growing in non eucalypt hosts (which are very rare as it’s almost impossible to grow another tree inside a solid tree)
Here is the rosewood in belah TinT in the TCS – of the 3 solid belah tree hosted combos I know of, this 1 is the most authentic. There are less than a dozen TinTs in the TCS but 3 of them are undeniably anthropogenic. Ive only walked the western part of this swamp so far. Its no fluke that both white & black aussies gathered at the high red sandy ground in box tree swamps. These places were good for camps and tennis courts apparently.
And below is the old wilga in box TinT adjacent to the old tennis courts. The big hollow box host has been cut down with a stone axe as has one of the epicormic shoots
Husband & I travelled over to the Macquarie marshes yesterday for the opening of the “Burrima” boardwalk. If you are ever in the area the local cotton growers bought this block in the marshes to rehabilitate some years ago & with NSW state govt funding have constructed a 2 km walkway thru the wetlands. Access is by a bitumen road from Warren or Carinda & the track into & around the levy bank & facilities is also sealed. Signage isn’t complete yet but here is some info & pics of the last Wailwan bora 1898. Also a feral goat enjoying the wetlands walkway before being forced to leap into the water when trapped between tourists – lol