Deep Throat lives


The idea of a blog is that you write something, chuck it out there and the world either ignores it or responds. The best responses are ones like this one:

Lads can wander the drains, chaps with dogs can wander the drains.
I had to walk home from Georgetown to Tighes Hill, from an appointment, recently and I gave a moment’s thought to walking beside the drains. “I might meet Mark”, I thought, “and say hello”.
But then I realised: an eighty-year-old female, her broken hand in plaster, walking beside the drains, someone would surely ring welfare agencies and interfere.
Not fair.
At least I was able to take a short cut through the TAFE.

And this:

Do you have a location that a 71-year-old, with a bad knee, might be able to access the system? We briefly walk beside it, and have a look into it, every time we walk from our parking spot to the Hunter Stadium for soccer and league games. I’d love to have a walk along it.

I’m seriously going to have to get onto Hunter Water and re-discuss the issue of access to the creek, not just for me but for all my older drain-loving buddies.


At other times the messages are less light-hearted. They are, in fact, intriguing to the point of being unnerving. I’m neither Woodward nor Bernstein, and this blog is hardly the Washington Post, but I did get an email recently after the Goo story post about the state of the gasworks. In it were contained detailed instructions on how to access information from various websites: “enter this URL …. scroll down to X … scroll back up to Y … enter [search term] …” and so on. I felt rather like Kevin Costner meeting Donald Sutherland’s Mr X in JFK.


So much secrecy over a silly gasworks!

By the way, yes, I am still waiting to hear from Jemena’s PR people about clearance of the photos that I took in there on my walking tour.

Nyuntu Anangu Maruku Ngurangka Ngarinyi


Which means “You are on Aboriginal land” in Pitjantjatjara, a language of northern South Australia. It’s a phrase that appears on T-shirts and posters and postcards sold at the cultural centre at Uluru, or  Ayers Rock.

I was reminded of it recently following a conversation with an archaeologist friend. “You know those shells in the concrete of the creek?” he asked. Of course I did: the place is littered with them.


I even claimed to know where they came from: they were gathered by the ton from Stockton beach in the interwar period when the drain beds and banks were concreted.

But those shells weren’t just lying around on Stockton beach. They were conveniently piled in immense middens that had grown over countless generations. The placement of these middens is no accident as my friend had learnt whilst in the Top End of the Northern Territory; the placement of middens has huge cultural and spiritual significance to the people who call that country home.

It was quite a bolt of lightning moment. I simply hadn’t thought of it like that. Every time I’ve walked down the creek I’ve been walking on tiny parts of Worimi land transported here, to Awabakal country. But the end is still the same: even down the drain I’m on Aboriginal land.



Yeah! Yeah! Naaaaaaaaaa


I had a part-time job at the uni for a little while some years ago. It was a very instructive experience as I learnt a lot about how Big Organisations work. Or don’t.

I had a project that I needed to make happen but it depended upon lots of other people in different departments allowing me to carry out small but necessary tasks. Each person I discussed the project with was immensely helpful, understood what I was trying to do and promised to do their utmost to make it happen. And yet, on every single occasion, nothing did happen. Each time it turned out that they were just waiting for the new Blah to roll out or the integration of Blob and Blab or waiting for the approval of Grand Pooh Bah, who was on indefinite stress leave.

After a while I realised that each of these people was deeply sincere in their belief that they were helping me, and yet no one was actually helping me. A friend who came from an English university likened them to the crows that hang around the campus, with their endless calls of “Yeah! Yeah! Naaaaaaaaaa”.

I was recently invited on tour of the gasworks site by a rep of Jemena. I took photos and the rep and I chatted and it was, I thought, a really productive moment. All that was needed before I could post any blog comments was for PR to approve the photos I took.


Still waiting, Jemena.

The Devil Rides Out


Now that schools are back for Term 4, students will be filling in their sports selection forms and hoping to get ice-skating rather than the dreaded “school sports” (i.e. dodgeball in the gym).

I was pleased to see that Islington Public School is going the extra mile with its extra-curricula activities and offering Satanism 101.


They should offer this more widely; I’m sure kids would rather do this than boring old Scripture or newfangled “ethics”. Go Izzo!


Today, they arrived


There are things that appear in the creek that signal that turn of the season. The other day I watched as a team of men dragged a stolen motorbike out of the muddy pond by the TAFE. Stolen motorbikes and summer just go hand in hand, don’t they?


I’m not kidding, it was a full-size genuine motorbike, not a little jobby like this one!


They were still at it next day with their nets and various bits of tackle. How many stolen or dumped vehicle parts can they fit in that wee pond?


Of course the real changes I’ve been looking for take place in the skies. I’ve been hearing koels and figbirds for a few weeks, but where oh where have the channel-billed cuckoos been? Today I finally heard the telltale squawk of a flock of angry myna birds as they mobbed some big and unwelcome guest, then I saw the familiar dipping, swooping flight pattern, and then the unmistakeable croaking rasp. They’re here!

Just in time to get the second clutch of eggs for birds like this white-faced heron, which I spotted down the night-soil lane. He was such a gangly teenager, covered in bum-fluff and dwarfing his poor mother.


Report to come soon a site visit to the gasworks; just waiting for photo clearance from Jemena.