Sunday, April 24, 2005

Treasure Chest of ..... ?

Performance ReadyI've been performing as a storyteller for around 20 years now and this old tin trunk has been my faithful companion and sidekick for most of those years. I've carried it into so many shows I've got a certain fondness for it.

To be honest I don't know what it thinks of me, it's hardly been pampered. Then again, I have kept it out of the rain and off the rubbish heap. I have given it a purpose in life, a good, honest, inspiring job to do. It carries my storytelling props from show to show much like it once carried my grandfather's camp gear from railway surveying camp to railway surveying camp.

Somewhere we have a copy of a letter my grandfather Bob Bellingham sent home as a teenager from, we assume, his first job away from home. He was employed as a surveyor's assistant to chop down the prickly pears in the surveyor's line of sight on the new railway being built out across the Darling Downs in south west Queensland.

What's inside?

It's a good prop itself of course. It's a dead ringer for a treasure chest and it's been the stimulus for many a good pirate story. There's been a couple of tall tales told about my grandfather's involvement with pirates in the past as well. That story usually ends with my confessing that Bob Bellingham spent all the treasure on a new house on Balmoral Heights, a two toned blue Austin A40 car, lots of cigars and wild afternoons spent at the Gaythorne bowls club.

My toy box

I tell the kids that, by the time I got the trunk, the only thing that was left in it was a tattered, old map.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Indigenous Digital Storytelling Project

Riverina TAFE Indigenous Digital Storytelling WorkshopPart of the reason for being in Deniliquin was to run a couple of storytelling workshops at the request of the local Aboriginal community. In cooperation with the Riverina TAFE and Jennifer Edwards, Head Teacher IT, they are running a Digital Storytelling course. There's little point in publishing stories in either hard copy or digital format if they aren't interesting or entertaining so that's where I came in.

It was an interesting time to be in Deniliquin because, in between the two storytelling workshops, an Indigenous Place Names seminar was held. This was start of the process of getting local Wamba Wamba names on maps and road signs along side the current non-indigenous ones.

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of the Digital Storytelling workshops. I suspect they are happening at an important time. Some will be personal 'day in the life' stories. Some will be traditional stories in both Wamba and English text and local illustrations. We had a good time yarning, playing storytelling games and activities and getting people's stories into the computers. We've brought home a dictionary of Wamba Wamba words so, next time we're down there we won't go swimming in the Edward River, we'll be in the Kolety.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Traditional Easter Migration

Well we took part in one of the great Australian Easter traditions over the last week or so and went travelling along one of our great highways - in this case the Newell.

Menduran mural - black cockatoos flying south

It flows south along a river of black asphalt through the wide open plains of southern Queensland and the length of central New South Wales. We carried our orange and blue two person B-line kayak past grazing paddocks, cotton and wheat fields, silos on sidings, dry creek beds, service stations and motels all the way to Deniliquin in the Riverina.

Gurley silo siding

We managed to escape the sticky asphalt a couple of times on the way down so that we could have a paddle first of all on the Macquarie River at Dubbo with its willows and green weed lined gravel banks

Macquarie River at Devils Hole Reserve Dubbo Paddling on Yanco Creek between Narrandera & Jerilderie Yanco Creek River Red Gum

and then on to Yanco Creek near Gilgandra. The Yanco is full of snags and is lined by magnificent old River Red Gums.

Moonrise Good Friday

After a beautiful moonrise on Good Friday and another motel stop we finally made Deniliquin on Easter Saturday.