Monthly Archives: March 2014

My work is so often invisible to me. What was I expecting to see?

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March 7, 2014 · 3:20 am

I thought I was there, but I’m still going deeper as I write.

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March 7, 2014 · 2:15 am

Poor Descartes

I give him such a verbal and written lashing, so it’s nice to find these words from Descartes which inspire me!

It might seem strange that opinions of weight are found in the works of poets rather than philosophers. The reason is that poets wrote through enthusiasm and imagination; there are in us seeds of knowledge, as of fire in a flint; philosophers extract them by way of reason, but poets strike them out of imagination, and then they shine more bright. 

—Descartes (in Applebaum 1995).

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Wecome back

Welcome back my dear friend, metaphor. I thought you were lost from my research, but you were just waiting patiently to the side, perhaps under the shade of a tree, for the right moment to reappear and help me to make sense of the big picture. You are the one who helps me to make things visible. A bridge to understanding, helping me to cross from places that are dimly lit and incomprehensible to places that are illuminated with new meaning. Woohoo!

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Convergence of trails

At some point we had all walked the Trail,

over many years, decades.

Some only once, others many times.


A community of people grows out of this walk,

connections made


time and place.

If not on the Trail, somehow,

we find each other.

A convergence of trails,

a convergence of stories.

Connecting, meeting, resonating.


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March 6, 2014 · 2:59 am

Drawings in the sand

There were endless cups of billy tea, guitar, card games and laughs under the corrugated iron roofed outdoor kitchen outside JR and Margie’s place at Milibinyarri. Perched at the top of the hill, you could sit in the shade with a hot cup of tea in hand and look out at the crystal blue ocean from that outdoor kitchen.

I first came to sit atop that hill with JR on my first visit to Broome in 2000. I was walking the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail as part of an RMIT University group and met him and his young family on my arrival at Milibinyari, the Goolarabooloo community’s block out at Coconut Wells.

After walking the Lurujarri Trail with JR and his family that year I stayed on at Milibinyarri and worked on a report about cultural perspectives of burning country with the Goolarabooloo community. I recall my keenness to speak with JR about his perspectives; not a day went by when I wouldn’t ask him if we could sit down and ‘have a chat’ about burning country. His response, ‘Later better maybe,’ became familiar to me and fueled my anxiety about getting the report ‘done’. Little did I realise that every conversation, every story needs to be told in the right place, at the right time.

I was sitting in the shade of the outdoor kitchen on my last day at Milibinyarriwhen JR came up and said that now was a good time to talk. Silly me, I pulled out my notebook and pen, poised and ready to learn (I was young and green and had no idea about just sitting, listening and being with). JR just looked at the contents of my hands and said, ‘You don’t need that stuff.’ Sitting on the edge of his verandah, he bent over and drew in the red pindan, teaching me about fire, about burning country. JR’s storytelling that day was brief and laden with distilled wisdom. Not a word was wasted.

Since then I’ve returned to Broome to spend time visiting JR and his family and their country; sometimes walking and volunteering on the Trail, other times just to visit and spend time fishing, camping and laughing under the corrugated iron roof. As the years have passed the door has always been open and the friendship unconditional. I never felt like a tourist or visitor to Milibinyarri, I was welcomed as a friend. The outdoor kitchen with its corrugated roof no longer stands in that place and much has changed on that country, as have the relationships that bound us together.

JR had a big job, to look after his country and people, but he always had time for a cup of tea and a chat and to teach me a little bit more about being with country and myself.

Gratitude and love.


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James Price Point Aboriginal cultural leader passes away

27 February, 2014 8:17AM AWST
By ABC Kimberley

He was best known as the face of Aboriginal opposition to gas processing at James Price Point north of Broome, and for being a grandson of celebrated Broome cultural leader, Paddy Roe.

The Goolarabooloo Law Boss, who cannot be named for cultural reasons, passed away in a Perth hospital after he suffered what is believed to be a massive heart attack while in Broome. His death comes as a shock to many who knew him as a vigorous opponent to the State Government and Woodside Petroleum’s plans to build a gas processing facility at James Price Point north of Broome.

He first lodged a native title claim over the James Price Point area in 1994. He described his connection to this country as the Keeper of the Northern Tradition, which had been passed to him from his Grandfather, Paddy Roe, who was given cultural custodianship by the Jabirr Jabirr traditional owners in the 1930s.

He, and his grandfather before him, were regarded by many in Broome as cultural leaders who maintained active Aboriginal religious beliefs which coexisted with modern society. But he was a controversial figure and his opposition to the planned James Price Point gas facility lead to a division between his Goolarabooloo family group, and the Jabirr Jabirr traditional owners.

He led many appeals and challenges to the gas processing facility planned for James Price Point. Eventually Woodside decided not to proceed with the project as it was determined to not be economically feasible.

Since that decision, the State Government has proceeded with the compulsory acquisition of James Price Point in spite of there being no known industry interest in developing the area. The Goolarabooloo Law Boss was unmoving in his opposition to efforts to industrialise the area.

Tributes have flowed today for the man from the Australian Greens with Senator Rachel Siewert expressing deep sadness at the man’s passing.

“His courage in fighting the James Price Point Gas hub proposal was inspiring and his leadership was a key to the success of the campaign,” she said today.

“His work will long be remembered and respected across Australia. It is a great shame to lose a leader at such an early age. He will be greatly missed.”

“I offer sincere condolences to his family, friends and community.”

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March 4, 2014 · 6:06 am