from Anne in Adelaide, South Australia: Worse things happen at Sea.

April 1, 2021

One way people once got to Australia

‘Easter is good to go’ says Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk on the news from Queensland. Did anyone tell her that it will come and pass, whatever, without her being able to stop it? What she really announced is that the 3-day sharp lockdown in Greater Brisbane is not being extended and Easter gatherings and celebrations can continue with many conditions. After an amazing 35,000 tests only one new community case was recorded in Queensland yesterday (and 9 new cases in hotel quarantine).

However, as with many Covid-19 outbreaks this will not have been in time for thousands. Many people have already cancelled their Queensland holidays: their hotels, their restaurant bookings and other entertainment. And because the outbreak, which was connected to staff members of Brisbane’s Princess Alexander Hospital, spread, there have been flow-ons into northern NSW. In all, there are 100 ‘exposure’ sites. These infected people certainly get around.

One of the 18 infected people travelled from Brisbane 165 kms south over the border into NSW, to Byron Bay, and attended a hen’s party and infected at least one person there. Byron Bay only has a population of around 10,000 people but it is a major holiday destination with, perhaps, the best all-year weather in Australia (Sorry – only when there aren’t floods).

And so, the famous Byron Bay Bluesfest Festival has had to be cancelled. Scheduled for April 1-4 they had expected 15,000 people to attend each day – and 100,000 over the whole show. Byron Bay would have welcomed a few days of musical celebration after the floods that devastated the area only 2 weeks ago – and the internet remains full of heartbreaking images of destroyed cars and homes, drowned and drowning animals from northern NSW.

This is the second year in a row Bluesfest has had to cancel at short notice. However, they are to reschedule and have asked ticket holders to hang on to their tickets. Bluesfest has been going since 1990 and has had outstanding performers. They have an excellent Spotify playlist called ‘Bluesfest 2021 playlist‘. Enjoy the sound of the Aussie Blues!

There are prices to pay for these years of Covid-19 and losing a holiday or being unable to go to a blues festival is nothing in the light of the suffering across the world. Australia is stumbling forward: half open, mostly safe, but still complaining. Australians love to complain and our ABC radio is full of complaints. It’s a reason not to listen to the news. When you are of an age, you don’t want to hear people complaining all the time. A long time ago, my father, born in 1911, would to say to us when we complained, ‘Worse things happen at sea’. I am not sure what that was about but I think he meant that the world is full of unexpected disasters beyond our control. Accept that and deal with it. He came from a generation of stalwart and resourceful people.

We, on the other hand, had a festival last weekend and it was not disrupted by rain nor by Covid-19. Indofest is an annual Adelaide festival. ‘Indofest-Adelaide is a vibrant community festival celebrating all things Indonesian.’ Covid-19 rules called for many adaptations: only 2,000 people were allowed to attend – registering was required – entry and exit areas were separated – many Covid Marshalls stood around in yellow jackets and sanitizer bottles were displayed on every table.

Indofest 2021 was a joyous occasion: families camped, shared meals and listened to music on the grass of Pinky Flat, also called Tarntanya Wama, beside our Torrens Lake in the centre of Adelaide. Once upon a time this was where the local Aboriginal people camped.

https://adelaidecityexplorer.com.au/items/show/226

Adelaide, a tribe of natives on the banks of the river Torrens by Alexander Schramm1850 (National Gallery of Australia. Canberra).

I was very aware of this as I listened to the gamelan percussion ensemble playing: all of us new immigrants enjoying this land together. A ‘welcome to country’ had been performed during the opening ceremony by local Kaurna people.

Looking back and forward – this country desperately needs immigrants as our population ages and declines in number. (2020 growth1.18%. average age 37.9yrs).

For sure, the Lucky Country needs more people. I listened to a representative of our Dept. of Home Affairs make a speech to Indofest attendees about how Australia welcomes immigrants. She went on to discuss the importance of social cohesion, our shared history, Australian values and the English test for citizenship.

For this article I had a look at Australia’s immigration website for applicants for permanent visa – not refugees. It is not for the fainthearted nor for those whose English is not their primary language. Apparently 70% give up on attempts at immigration. The wait is long and BTW you cannot get married while you are waiting. Oh – you must be under 45 years of age.

So, if you want to come to the lucky country, the way is long and the entry gates are narrow …

from Anne in Adelaide, South Australia: my Name is Gulpilil …

March 20, 2021

The Adelaide Festival finished a week ago and our Fringe Festival finishes tomorrow, after 31 days of events.

Tickets to the main festival are not cheap often AU $40-150 a show. This year the main Festival shows have been more modest, with fewer international performers – for obvious reasons. However, in spite of this, the Fringe Festival has been nothing short of amazing. They had over 300 venues and 1,200 shows and the prices are very modest, around $20-30 a show. The shows are often short and the audience, with appropriate social distancing, very small. The Fringe Festival is not-for-profit and the performers are often young and suitably enthusiastic. These are not major productions but robust and entertaining and, because they do not require a big setup, they are often set in interesting venues such as the Botanic Gardens, small restaurants, the Museum and in the dedicated venue called the Garden of Unearthly Delights. The East End of Adelaide is the centre of the Fringe Festival and the streets and cafes located in that area are overflowing every night. The Fringe is very much a young person’s festival: risqué, experimental and challenging.

I’m embarrassed to say we did not attend any Fringe events. I am resolved that next year I will make an effort. I did attend another main Festival event: a single show at Festival Hall: My Name is Gulpilil. David Gulpilil, only 67 years old, is very frail with lung cancer. This was a retrospective of his life and his extraordinary film career.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Gulpilil

The show was a sell-out. David himself was helped on stage for a few minutes and was able to say a few words: that this was the story about his life. I have seen many of his films. David has a remarkable acting ability. Quite exceptional: the merest movement of his eyes or body is captivating. Charismatic.

But it is a sad story as well. In 1969, aged 15, he was plucked from his tribal family in Northern Australia as the filmakers wanted an Aboriginal boy who could dance, sing and hunt. The film was Walkabout and it became a sensation. This catapulted David out of his childhood home into the heady world of international stardom. The rest is history. He is perhaps the best-known Australian actor. His career has spanned 47 years and in every role he has been impressive. Sadly, his life has been blighted by alcohol and drugs. A lifetime struggle.

After David had left the stage, he spoke to us through the film and commented on his current situation. He can barely walk to his postbox from his front door.

During the opening credits we saw the old man walking away from us down a dirt road, flanked by empty fields. Beyond him, also walking away from us, on the other side of the road, was a single emu – a strange bird, stepping slowly and carefully with its huge feet, in no hurry. (BTW David can do a traditional emu dance – it’s on YouTube). Then David stopped, paused, turned around and walked back towards the camera: just like the emu, slowly without concern, content. David did not look back, but beyond him, the emu stopped, turned round and walked towards us. It was uncanny.

I believe we go to festivals for moments like that: unexpected, unexplainable and memorable.

‘A man who loved his land and his culture and took it to the world.’ – this is how he wants to be remembered.

David Gulpili  “We are all one blood. No matter where we are from, we are all one blood, the same“.