Anzac Day 2017

Screen Shot 2017-04-25 at 3.29.21 PM.pngAnzac Day is a pretty big deal here in Australia.  I was first introduced to this holiday through the delicious Anzac biscuit.  Click HERE for the recipe I used to make these and let me know if I need to translate some of the ingredients for you:-)  Even Ryan enjoyed this version of these classic cookies and he’s not a coconut fan.  Now that we’re here in Australian, we see that Anzac Day is about more than just a tasty cookie…excuse me, more than just a tasty biscuit.

Anzac Day commemorates the first major military action Australia and New Zealand fought in during WWI.  Today we heard over and over again “Lest we forget.”  Because this military action, along with many others, happened at dawn the first celebrations/remembrances began with a dawn service up at Kings Park and then there was a breakfast in the city.

We did not make it to either of those events but we found ourselves a great spot along the parade route.  And we enjoyed the cool morning while chatting with a women next to us about Anzac Day and the celebrations.  The parade had marching bands, lots of bagpipes and people of all ages marching in remembrance.

We enjoyed hearing the many versions of Waltzing Matilda and other songs too as current service men and women, veterans and family members marched by.  Australia recognizes that they have fought alongside many other countries as well, so some of them (including the USA) were honored in the parade as well.

After the parade we walked over to the park where they held a memorial service.  The Governor of Western Australia spoke as well as a wounded veteran.  It was warm in the sun but we still enjoyed the service and hearing the choir sing about Australia.  Anzac Day is yet another cultural experience for us here in Perth.

Matagarup/Heirisson Island

Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 4.38.18 PMFor the past 3 months, Ryan and I have driven and walked over this island countless times, barely giving it any thought.  We just figured it was an island but had no idea of the historical and cultural significance.  And we also had no idea that it was home to kangaroos.  Our place is located in the top left corner of the above picture which shows just how close the island is to us.  Matagarup was a traditional camp, meeting ground and hunting place for the Noongar people.  Today it retains its spiritual significance while also being a place of political activism as well as sanctuary.  Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 4.30.34 PM.pngOn the southern end of Matagarup is a statue of Yagan, an Aboriginal warrior and Noongar hero.  Yagan was famously decapitated and his head was shipped to England to be exhibited as an “anthropological curiosity“.  This statue has been vandalized at least twice and the head removed but he currently stands, proud, head in tact, looking out over the Swan River.

The island itself is very beautiful with little lakes, paths and places where people have camped and could camp again.  The northern part of the island has a few picnic tables, a play structure and a parking lot for easy access but the southern part of the island is more natural.  Although there are paths crisscrossing the whole island and a fence on the southern part to keep the kangaroos safe.

Kangaroos have been brought to this island a few times when they have lost their parents or for other reasons couldn’t be left out in the wild.  There are currently 5 female kangaroos living here and a ranger gave us some food so we fed one of them and hung out for awhile.  Three others were off somewhere else but a larger one was relaxing in the shade nearby and didn’t really pay much attention to us.  I did however get the little one to pose and smile for the camera.Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 4.31.41 PMWe will definitely return to Matagarup and continue learning about the significance this island has to the Aboriginal, especially the Noongar, people.  One of the ways I’m doing this is by following Clinton’s Walk for Justice.  Clinton is an Aboriginal man who is currently walking across Australia.  Where did his walk begin?  You guessed it.  Matagarup.

Putuparri and the Rainmakers

One of my current units at UWA is called Indigenous People and Social Work.  Indigenous studies is a very important topic in Australia and so it is no surprise that this is one of our first units.  I feel like everything I previously learned and read about the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander communities is now being reinforced, expanded and given a new Social Work perspective.  I hope that by the end of this unit I will begin to see my knowledge deepen beyond a superficial understanding.  Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 4.50.21 PM.pngA documentary that was recommended to us is Putuparri and the Rainmakers.  I’m not sure how you would get ahold of it in the US but in Australia you can stream it through SBS On Demand.  This documentary talks about Aboriginal culture, history, land rights, the law and so much more.  It is yet another perspective and another group of voices to add to my understanding and appreciation for Aboriginal life, history and culture.

The Trees Speak

screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-9-47-04-pmPerth International Arts Festival opened this weekend with an amazing light show through Kings Park.  Boorna Waanginy: The Trees Speak explored the Australian landscape through lights music and story telling.

The pictures from my phone don’t do it any justice.  But it was pretty spectacular even with the crowds of other people surrounding us.  Just listening to the music was mesmerizing.  Another wonderful free Perth event was a great way to end the weekend.screen-shot-2017-02-12-at-9-47-43-pm

Book Review: The Australian Leadership Paradox

Paradox is the right word to use when discussing the relationships to leaders and views of leadership in Australia.  This “lucky country” has an interesting history that has fed into these paradoxes of leadership and authority.  I’m thankful for this book to help navigate some of the unspoken rules and general assumptions that a typical Australian wouldn’t question or think twice about.  But this book isn’t just for outsiders seeking to understand the system.  This book is a great read for Australians who want to unpack what may be obvious in regards to Australian leadership but also what sits, often hidden, beneath the surface.
Screen Shot 2017-02-07 at 8.04.45 PM.pngThe Australian Leadership Paradox: What it Takes to Lead in the Lucky Country by Geoff Aigner and Liz Skelton walks the line between critique and advice very well.  More than just stating the paradoxes themselves, they begin to tease out the why behind them.  And they also give examples of how Australian leadership can and should change for the better.  These examples are in the form of short stories which give context and I believe make them easily relatable as well.  Anyone who has ever struggled in a position of leadership in Australia could potentially find their story here.  And in finding their story, hopefully see how they could be empowered to change their leadership style for the better without losing some of the great things about being Australian.

This book is primarily talking to Australians about Australians and for that it speaks very well.  For me personally I will have to do my best to apply this knowledge appropriately because so far my interactions in Perth have been with very few Australians.  In the past month, I have met more immigrants or children of immigrants than anyone else.   This is maybe my own personal paradox, coming to Australia, seeking to know and understand Australians.  But instead of being surrounded by primarily born and raised, multi-generational Australians, I’m surrounded by an amazingly multinational, multiethnic community.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but my own definitions of what it means to be Australian are definitely being expanded.

Preparing For Australia Day

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-36-pmWe see what’s happening from our balcony, as the grass between us and the Swan River is slowly being transformed for tomorrow’s event.  Our place will be the hub for our team to come and be a part of this Australian tradition because we’ll have a great view of the fireworks and we’re right on top of all the action.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-15-58-pmPerth is preparing for Australia Day.  For all you Americans, think Columbus Day with celebrations like the 4th of July.  But just like Columbus Day is drawing criticism because it tends to ignore the people the land originally belonged to, Australia Day also has critics.  The city of Fremantle no longer has an Australia Day celebration and for my understanding of why, you can read my blog post from 2013: Australia Day also known as Invasion Day.screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-2-18-40-pmObserving and participating in these celebrations are part of us getting to know Australia, history and all.  And so we watch as the lawn below us turns into a carnival and a gathering place.  And tomorrow we’ll take part in the sausage sizzle, maybe some of the games and then a group of us will gather in our apartment and watch the fireworks.  Not a bad way to celebrate us being here in Australia together on our first Australia Day.Screen Shot 2017-01-25 at 2.53.27 PM.png

Getting to Know Perth- A Walking Tour

There are many different ways to learn about a city.  Sometimes you need a local guide to talk about why certain things are the way they are and to point out places or things that you might otherwise overlook.  Ryan and I decided to try out a local tour that seemed interesting and it turned out to be well worth our time and money.  If you come and visit us, we’ll probably send you on this tour too. (Check it out: Oh Hey WA!)  It was a great way to see the heart of the city, hear about local history, art, food and the future of what’s happening as well.

From the oldest building in Perth to the current revitalization of buildings in the city.  We were introduced to all the basics and then some.  This tour answered some of the questions I had about spaces I was seeing in the city as well as asked me to look up, down and around some corners that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed.

The street art in Perth is pretty amazing, especially if you know where to look.  And when the tour guide mentioned two different pizza places in the city, she had Ryan’s attention.  One spot even has half priced pizzas on Wednesdays.  I know where we’re eating soon!

We also were introduced to some of the buildings and art installations that light up in the city.  This has inspired us to take more evening walks.  I’m hoping that those walks will lead us to a couple of the cool bars that our guide also mentioned.  Evidently there use to be no nightlife in the city but recently bars and restaurants have been opening up and making their mark.  After 5 o’clock there is a reason to be downtown now.

One thing I have noticed before was the mix of old and new in the city.  This tour just emphasized that this juxtaposition is the result of a lot of intentional work and planning.  And of course, I loved being introduced to some of the Noongar (aboriginal art) that can also be found around the city.  This was a wonderful way to spend our morning and now we have even more ideas of how to explore and enjoy this great city.