Blog

A selection of our writings from 2009 to the present. If you'd like to keep up to date with our latest posts, please subscribe below.

Where are we now? Our lockdown in Warrnambool

Where are we now? Well that’s a complex question. Let’s begin with the tangible end of the answer. We’re in Gunditjmara People’s Country, living in retrosuburbia between beautiful Moyjil

and Merri Island.

When we first arrived in Warrnambool this man, Mark Dekker, spoke to us in Dhauwurd wurrung. He said, ‘Ngatanwarr wartee pa kakay Gunditjmara mirring-u,’ (Welcome brothers and sisters to Gunditjmara country). Mark’s daughter Violet (pictured) and son Beau are Gunditjmara kids, and they are growing up speaking their First People’s language.

We’ve been staying in a self-contained unit as guests of Rod and Hanna. Back home we are good friends with their son Connor, pictured below (some time ago) with his siblings Stella, Maya and Agina.

Rod and Hanna have been so generous to us, as has Hanna’s mum who lives across the laneway. Meet Mor Mor, a true elder who is heartily embedded in her community and, we were to discover, in service to many. She is currently reading Sand Talk, and like Rod and Hanna, Mor Mor has been leaving food packages on our doorstep.

We really landed in a most caring neighbourhood. Steve and Kathleen live next to Mor Mor. Here they are on a ride to the pier we have spent so much time on.

They too have been dropping off food bundles, and Steve bestowed on us a treasure chest of gifts he had collected over the years including panniers to replace our torn ones, a multitool knife for Blackwood and a tin whistle for Magpie. He made improvements to Merlin the tandem, repaired Blue Wren’s boots, and made a leather pouch for Blackwood’s new pruning saw,

which he received for his 9th birthday from his Nana and Papa.

Gifts also flowed to us from saltwater mother country. Patrick (who shares his birthday with Blackwood) caught a beautiful Australian salmon on his hand line with scrap chicken for bait (apparently rabbit works well too).

With all these gifts we couldn’t help but feel even more grateful for this life than we ordinarily do, and it was in this milieu we recorded and shared two new songs, Roadside fruit and Love real high.

So this is where we’ve been in tangible, relational and creative senses. But all the while our critical faculties have been working too, noticing things around us that don’t speak of love, of being in service, of being cultured in care and connection. On a street level, for instance, shops selling alcohol are deemed essential services and are well open for business while children’s playgrounds are closed and desolate.

Here, what is allowed to be open is lucrative and immunity harming, while what the state has closed ordinarily brings well-being, learning and social warming. Why then is there a refusal to apply cost-benefit analysis to COVID debates? We have so many questions. What if natural immunity is really superior to vaccines (as reported in Science)? How exactly has the Australian government’s ‘culture of secrecy’ threatened democratic journalism, and what does this mean for this time? Why has the Therapeutic Goods Administration taken offline (since August 31) its Database of Adverse Event Notifications (DAEN), including numbers of deaths caused by Covid vaccines?

The below TGA screen grab was sent to us on August 16. It shows 462 deaths reported after taking the two Covid vaccines – Pfizer’s mRNA Comirnaty and AstraZeneca’s viral vector. So are these figures accurate? We’ve been trying to find out for a week but the TGA page is consistently unavailable, “being investigated as a priority” (as above). If these (below) figures are accurate, would this data even be allowed into the corporatised media today? With the Australian government’s growing culture of secrecy, their attack on journalists and whistleblowers, and a general state of compliance or muzzling in a fully corporatised health care industry, how can any of us possibly know what is true?

Furthermore, considering Big Pharma’s track record and a Federal Government bringing in even more extreme anti-democratic bills (signed off by Labor; opposed by the Greens) should we not be seriously suspicious of what is going on? Should we take a novel vaccine produced by known corporate criminals or look for cheap, no longer patented well-studied treatments in times of need? Should we take a novel vaccine just so we can participate in a vaccine economy? What has happened to the Left? Is there a Left left? Do we just continue to cancel comedians while the world burns?

Arggh, so many notional questions. Time to get back to the real stuff.

Whales, rainbows,

rain clouds,

sacred country,

and community. While we couldn’t gather or labour with our neighbours directly in Warrnambool, we could still converse in chanced upon public outings, connect and consult digitally and help plant neighbourhood food for the future. Blackwood made useful mulch from a near silent shredder (something we’d never heard of),

Blue Wren and Magpie planted out deciduous and citrus fruit trees,

on common,

unceded land.

While in Warrnambool we were asked to speak on 3WAY community radio. This is our yarn with presenter Gillian Blair, which centred on child-led learning, fermentation, de-monetisation and going off the (corporate-industrial) grid.

So that’s where we’ve been, Dear Reader. That’s what’s been riling us and what’s been grounding us. Of course we can stay in the sickness of the news – the sadness, fear, grief, division, tears and silencing of alternative narratives – but we can also celebrate the utter gift of life we have been given.

Singing and dancing, gardening and playing, loving and connecting do not counter or cancel the sadness, grief and anger we are feeling, rather these former things bring balance and hope to the latter. Asking questions doesn’t mean we have worthy answers to share, rather it means we’re in a process of adding societal substance to the complexity of now, while refusing to seek out reductive political narratives – them/us; right/wrong; pro/anti.

We hope you too are finding balance, laughter and a little dose of Zappa each day.

28 comments

  1. Senaj says:

    Long time follower, first time commenter. So glad to receive your post. Thank you for sharing your travels and your thoughts. Your prespective provides a refreshing balance to the one-sided thinking that pervades society these days. Keep on being you! Safe travels and good health!

    Senaj

    1. Amanda says:

      Loved this blog about this special country, Gunjitamarra land were I used to live. Beautiful country. Keep on doing the good stuff you do, to inspire us all.

      1. Thanks so much for your warmth Amanda, it certainly is beautiful country.

    2. Thanks for your comment, Senaj. Good health to you too.

  2. Beee says:

    Sighhhh… what a refreshing and grounding read.
    I am so inspired by you and your family !

    I now have my humanre set up, my activated sifted bio char and urine system.
    My nonno would be proud.

    Its a smal simple traditiinal way of being that makes me feel better each day that i am giving a shit literally each day and learning how to deal with my own shit so i can be less of a burdan on my immediate environment.

    It took me from the start oof r march 2020 till now to actually use my cloth sheets for loo paper.
    Thank you for your time and support guidance and transcapancy, may we meet somwhere in nature!

    If you and the family ever vebture to Coldstream healseville area our home is open to you.

    We have acherage so you can nestle away by the river and make home.

    1. Thanks Beee, and thanks for the kind invitation. It’s great to read what you’re up to.

  3. White Witch says:

    Thank you for your blog. I LOVE that last picture of the shit going to the TV. Where did you find that? I want to put that on my walls.
    Yes, society is falling apart. We are becoming divided. I cry with such grief for our fellow man.
    Soon I won’t be able to go anywhere because of my decisions around not being an experiment.
    I rent and try to grow as much as I can, but in the future it might get hard for me if I am “locked” out of services and places needed.
    Blessed be my fellow peasants. May you all be filled with love and abundance.

    1. Hello White Witch, thanks for the love. Our friend Sambodhi sent us the Frank Zappa image of the toilet TV. It certainly is a time to connect with kindred spirits and strengthen our communities. Exciting times in many ways.

  4. petrus says:

    hi wheelers. this is what i send to the local paper. it reminded of you, so i send it in that spirit.
    Scratching in the dirt, thoughts of spring

    The earth spins on its axis. It spins from moment the moment, from dark to light, from warm to cold, from day to day, week to week, month to money, season to reason, year to year, and, in ever longer cycles. Some so long that they last a life time.

    The Earth spins on its axis. And while spinning, forces us to act to the light and the dark to the warm and cold. Most of us do, some don’t.Those who disregard the ancient natural rhythms and feel they can play their own tunes. Play with this and that, play with light and dark, play with genes in the pool. That is, until one day the whole shebang will blow up in their collective faces. Our faces.

    The Earth spins around its axis. Spins from season to season we act accordingly. I am trying to retain my grip on the reality of this spin by responding to the cosmic slow waltz movements in my garden. Like last Sunday. Kneeling in the garden pushing bean after bean into the soft sweet smelling earth. This earth which used to be red, but now is black. Rich with organic materials added over years of gardening activity. This earth which smells so sweet. The late winter sun warming it and, like a bread dough proving. smelling almost like bread, fresh from the oven.

    Is it the warmth of the sun, the lack of being outside, the fleeting feelings of spring or the light which lures me out. And, an activity I had no interest in during the winter, has all of a sudden started to look pretty attractive, the activity of scratching in the dirt.

    Here I am reminded of a short story of the most incredible gardener I have ever met. A writer. Spring arrives, she looks out of the back door at the sky. If she thinks it is going to rain, she goes back in and takes all the seeds she has gathered last autumn and places them in a bowl. She walks out of the backdoor and throws the whole lot into the sky, before they have landed she is back writing her books. She only goes out in her garden to collect her daily food. She eats well. In the autumn she collects seeds. I am listening.

    I garden a little differently. I enjoy the creation of a different composition each year. An edible, colourful, vitamin rich, beautiful painting. Putting various colours and textures next to one another, creating a back ground and a fore ground, using the paths as lines. The painting is never finished, more like a living work, Ever-changing. Bit like life. And just like life, has its active and non active periods.

    While walking in Vincent Street recently….., which reminds me. Also recently, I had a dream. It was set in Vincent Street. Someone, overnight and with great care, had removed the bitumen from exactly one central car parking spot and replaced it with a vegetable an flower plot. A spot of bright fresh greens and many strong flower colours. A life mini painting as it were, sitting in the middle of Daylesford. So much colour in such a monotone area. And making the rest of the car-drab places look like gravestones. People were amusedandannoyed, delightedandangry, excitedandupset. However, in the main most seem to love it. A little investigation discovered that this act of random beauty was perpetrated by a local family. They had lost their garden and, since they had been paying rates in the shire all their lives and did not own a car they figured they also had a right to a parking spot. Not being able to interpret dreams, I am open to suggestions.

    Wonder where that came from. Maybe my dream was inspired by
    the only brightly coloured, and always fresh garden looking spot, in town. Tonna’s fruit and veg shop. Daylesford’s salute to the garden. Thanks for those beautiful and everchanging colours. Or maybe my dream was inspired by the beautiful facade of the frangos building, showing the street how it could be done.

    Back to walking in the street recently, I was asked by some people, who wanted to get into gardening, but knew little about it, if I would write something on the topic. Maybe just how to get started. I promised that, closer to spring, I would. Now, an interesting thing happened. The first thought which came to mind after this request was a bit of gardening I had been part of a long time ago. This was in New Mexico. I was working with a group of Pueblo Indians, learning how to make a specific type of pottery. There were no shops where we could go and buy clay. Therefore, like it had been done for hundreds of years, when clay was needed, we went out to dig it.

    Into the truck, bags, spades and a sunny energy, we set off. Not far from the Pueblo (village) we came across a clay pit, dug the clay, placed it in bags and, just before we took off for the return journey the potter reached into the truck’s cabin, took out a beautifully embroidered leather bag and walked back to the clay pit. After a moment of quiet and with reverence and respect she opened the bag and from it took a few hands of corn which she scattered across the area from which we had taken the clay.

    Knowing that corn is a staple and, at the time, was the most important stuff in the life of the Pueblo Indians, I wonder how they could afford to waste it…… I asked. She reply: “Thanking mother earth for the gift of clay. Not ever taking it for granted. Taking things for granted is the most damaging attitude we can possibly have. When we start to take something for granted it ceases to exist”

    I remember at the time that this small, yet large event in my life, was like a signpost I had come across. It changed the direction of my journey.

    Well, I never got to tell you how to start a veggie garden. Maybe later. In the meantime compost your gardening books and hide your spade in the shed. If you do I will tell you how to turn that useless Australian icon of ‘The Lawn’ into something more useful without the use of any tools.

    I Keep thinking about that veggie plot in Vincent street. Having grave thoughts about it.

    Petrus
    art@petrusspronk.com

    1. Thank you for sharing this Petrus, we especially loved the dream. Do you remember when Patrick and you worked as local (volunteer) consultants for about a year with the council to try to bring veg and flower gardens into the main street? Heartbreaking that the shopkeepers killed the vision, but it seeded many other projects of resistance since then. Sending much love, AaF

  5. Lovely and Detective says:

    Heartfelt, Insightful, and zest-for-life sharings fam! Glad to tune in to you and your journeys once again. Most of all, thank you for making it a priority to document and share your life and learnibgs with us all.