*I wrote this simultaneously with ‘In A Decision Making Dilemna’. It was published just before this one. You might want to read it first if you haven’t yet.*
You are about to learn a phrase that is truly Australian.
Norm and I were having a yarn this morning over coffee while watching the first sunrise in nearly two weeks, maybe more. It’s been overcast, rainy & dreary for ages.
Anyway, we were discussing how kids at school often think being intelligent isn’t cool. It’s common, and has been since I was first in school. Norm is a teacher at the local school and remarked that it is still the same. I said that it is the seed for that ‘Tall Poppy Syndrome’ that we Australians seem to suffer. He said, “A Crab in a Bucket. When you put a few mudcrabs in a bucket, one will try to climb out of the bucket. But the other crabs will pull it back down. That’s the bama way to explain the same thing.” Consider yourselves learned.
Norm teaches language and culture at the local primary school. I’m slowly learning bits and pieces of language, and proper culture from him. But only when I ask. Not the textbook or newspaper version of culture. Real stuff. This may sound strange, but our English is a harsh sounding language once you hear conversations in the local language. For example, you’re driving down the road and your mate says, “I need a piss stop!”
Up here you need a ‘goombu’ stop. If you are asking if everything or someone is OK, you say “Yallada?” Your reply if all is OK is the same obviously, “Yallada.” I’ve also learnt among others, crocodile/bilgamul, house/bayan, land/bubu. Waybala (white fellas) call the flightless rainforest birds with the lethal talons and the horny ‘hammer’ on their heads ‘Cassowary’. Here they are called gurrunji (gu as in good roll the rr & ji as in a short gee…goo rrrun gee). I’ll continue to learn more words. I’m like a child, learning nouns and a few select verbs. I’ll post as I learn.
For my overseas family, did you know that up Cooktown way just 70km away, the language is different? Bama language has many dialects, Australia wide they could be counted in the thousands. (Sidetrack: I have a murri friend in Rockhampton who can speak seven separate dialects that belong to people in a trail between Broome in Western Australia, through to Innamincka is Sth Australia & up through Western Queensland. In worldly terms, that’s Seven different languages. I don’t know anyone else who has that knowledge. I know an Estonian lady who speaks (I think) three or four languages, but no-one other than Shippy who is fluent in seven. However, up here 99% of bama know at least their clan or country language as well as English. Many people know three languages or more. Anyway, you all know that we have ‘Kangaroo’ in the English language, courtesy of Capt. Cook & Banks and them who had that mishap on the reef South-East of here and made their repairs on the banks of the river they named after their bark (an ex coal haulier ship), the ‘Endeavour” in 1770. Well, kangaroo actually comes from ‘guungurru’ (I hope the spelling is correct), in gugu yimmithir language. Willie Gordon is an elder, a storykeeper from that area. Check out his his blog here. It has a lot of bama cultural stuff, dreaming stories, stories of where Willies father and grandfather were born etc. Ell worth a look. He has recently begun a monthly contribution to the Cooktown Local News. In his first article, ‘Reflections on a 6000-year Journey’ he explained in such simple yet eloquent words where Aboriginal Australians have come from.
I’m sure Willy won’t mind if I quote him:
“In the developed world, people slowly stopped being hunter-gatherers when farming was first introduced, around 6000 years ago. This means they have had 6000 years of gradual adaptation and change to reach where they are today.
Aboriginal people in Australia started making this journey 220 years ago.”
He also adds:
“Here on Cape York we’ve had less time: my grandfather was born in the bush at the Birth Site where I take people on tour; my father’s home as a child was a bark shelter.” I will ask permission to transcribe the full reflection. My friend has such a beautiful way of cutting through to the heart of things, gently.
Anyway, I’m learning the language down here 🙂
The Sun shone all day. We washed all our clothes. We aired our mattresses and bedding, and finished our big house clean. We had five native pigeons, a wagtail, a brown honey-eater & the Sunbirds visit us in a one hour space between about 9:30 and 10:30. Right when my phone was flat and the charger was in the other bus. No pics. 😦
I headed down to Ayton and spent three hours washing both buses inside and out while my phone charged. The two buses and Georges Toyota look good now. Just like bought ones. 🙂
Monday night is the full moon, with a 3 metre tide (big up here) expected to peak on sunset, which is also moonrise (full moon). Might check out the fishing at the wharf if the tide doesn’t flood it.