Dear friends of Drop the Tension,
We are is delighted to announce two upcoming events we’ve been planning for the short time we will spend in Melbourne! We would like to ask you a big favour? Can you please share these events in your networks, inviting friends who might be interested in attending them?
The first one will touch on a place which has captured our attention the most during our overland trip from Melbourne to Poland — Palm Island. During the second event we will try to share what we found to be one of the most important social phenomenons we encountered while travelling — the impact people make while visiting distant places.
Feel free to come to both events and please help us spread the word by sharing our facebook events and inviting your friends over! See you there
Details below: Continue Reading →
The following text is the ‘past student’ speech Wendy gave at the Maffra Secondary College end of year Presentation Night 15th December 2016.
I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land Maffra stand on: the Brayakooloong people of the Gunaikurnai nation and pay respect to the elders past and present.
I’m back in Maffra tonight to celebrate the milestone of my youngest sister Louise completing her year 12. To her and her classmates, congratulations! Tonight marks both the close of one chapter of your life and the opening of a new one which holds more possibilities for you than any of us can imagine. Whether you sit there knowing what you’re going to do next year, or are still making up your mind – to you all, I’d say, take your time and know there are no ‘wrong ways’.
Usually, before coming to a country or region I like to learn as much as I can about the place. This time was different, we got immersed in a place completely different from almost anything we’d seen before and just then we could start learning about it. The reality of Dili, followed by the history of this youngest capital and country in Asia appeared to be really complex – fascinating, shocking and welcoming at the same time.
Woorabinda is an aboriginal community in Central Queensland that no one has heard of. Traditionally Woorabinda was part of the land of the Wadja Wadja people. Between 1927-1970 the Queensland Government forcefully removed 1473 Aboriginal people from their traditional lands across the huge state to the Woorabinda reserve, 170km south-west of Rockhampton where the summers are hot, the winters are icy and drought common. These people represented at least 47 different tribes, with different languages and customs.
The first 298 people of Woorabinda were made to walk 200kms from the Taroom reserve, further south. Many of the people walked in chains, though they were not criminals. The relocation occurred due to the proposed construction of the Taroom dam, that would flood the Taroom reserve. The dam remains unbuilt to this day.
“Woorabinda was never a mission” A local councilor told us. “What’s a mission? Either a community run by the church or a vision. Woorabinda was neither of these things.”
This morning I woke up to the sounds of coconuts hitting the ground from the tall palms in the backyard and children gleefully playing in a language I don’t understand. For the first time in many weeks I woke with a sense of being refreshed and allowed myself to emerge from beneath the mosquito net when I wanted to. Entering the kitchen, I found Emily pouring a freshly macheted coconut into a pot with ice for the group of chattering siblings from next-door. The smallest girl looks up at me and eagerly begins telling me something excitedly in Tetum. My “la kompriende” must be confusing to a 5-year-old who is speaking so clearly and confidently. I’m stoked to be in Timor.
More than anything else, Aussies (as Australians call themselves) are an incredibly nice and relaxed nation. In Aussie English the one and only popular answer to sorry, thank you, please, and practically anything else is, the ultimate Australian expression – no worries. And they indeed do not have much to worry about.
Thriving economy, reasonable social welfare, pleasant weather (in most inhabited areas) and a relatively peaceful multiculturality ensure that most Australians can just focus on enjoying their lives.
To save up dollars for future adventures, we found ourselves cashing up in an outback roadhouse. A ‘roadhouse’ (apparently the concept is not universal) is a glorified truck-stop: a large petrol station, stocking a few, overpriced supermarket lines & housing a kitchen, turning out steaks as big as your face & fast-food fast, to get those travellers back on the highway asap. A place where the whole family can ‘break the journey’, get out of the car, stretch those legs, use the facilities and hopefully (at least for the establishment) part with some money. In Australia, where that journey could be a 12 hour drive, a place to break the journey is pretty necessary. Even an overpriced roadhouse that hasn’t changed since 1982, with only a patch of grass kept green by daily watering, can seem like an oasis. Or so we were told…
Australia’s really upside-down. The sun shines from the north, the stars are upside-down, mammals carry bags on their bellies, trees loose bark in the winter which takes place during the summer and wine is cheaper than beer. But is it really such a different place?
Before coming here, I had a vague image of Australia as of a major modern country with big cities, skyscrapers, happy people, fascinating nature, Aborigines, kangaroos, surfers… I knew it occupies a whole continent, so I was automatically assuming it’s a kind of empire of its own – like a less expansive version of America. I was expecting a really big nation, strong, proud of their achievements; I was expecting a country with dense infrastructure, with big, modern cities comparable to Paris, Berlin, New York, Singapore. Cities with extensive public transport, modern museums, state of the art infrastructure, clubbing, parks, all the things you expect from big, vibrant contemporary cities. Also, I was expecting a network of smaller cities like Leeds, Lyon, Dresden, Helsinki, with their less vibrant yet still lively faces.
I was expecting a strong national psyche, I was expecting many people being ignorantly closed (as citizens of empires tend to be), welcoming me to their great continent-state. I was expecting a nation too big, strong and busy to pay attention to some guy from Eastern Europe.
Well, I was quite wrong.
Continue Reading →
In this series of posts, I am going to show you Australia from my personal perspective. It’s meant for Europeans who have no idea about Australia and for Australians to see how they country looks through the eyes of an outsider.
Continue Reading →