Australia

In March I left the sleet torn skies of Ireland to find myself in Sydney Harbour

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with its striking juxtaposition of colonial buildings and modern architecture

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 I immediately stumbled upon Munn’s Slipway

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which is a stone shoreline designed to reflect a 1820s industrial slipway found during an archeological dig

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made from beautiful pink and orange banded sandstone

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In Melbourne I met up with Realene Marshall of the Dry Stone Wall Association of Australia who very kindly took me on a tour.  A rarity in these parts is Overnewton Castle built by a Scottish colonist

20160317_120125where can be found some restored dry stone walls built from local volcanic rock

20160317_120000In surrounding fields there are vast stretches of low walls with posts and wire

20160317_162734The goal of DSWAA is to survey these walls & legislate for their protection – a massive undertaking but one which they are well placed to see through, given the academic status of core members.

20160317_162749In sharp contrast to Ireland there is a lack of manually skilled stone masons here, to carry out the actual building skills.

I caught a train to Wagga Wagga –  a place which has retained its Aboriginal name meaning ‘lots of crows.’

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I visited stonemason Wayne Fox whom I first met when he turned up in Donegal to take part in our Stone Festival

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We did some stone work together – tough work in the heat!

Below is one of Wayne’s schist walls at his stone yard.

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I didn’t have time to visit these seriously ancient and sacred dry stone fish traps built by the indigenous people of Australia

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In a whole wonderous league of its own is Australian wildlife. Behold the tawny frog mouth owl.

20160320_161129 I did not get to meet, or even see any Aboriginal people during my stay.

But in a wildlife park in the Yarra region I found this little shelter –  a Gunyah – made from the bark of the eucalyptus tree.

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An information plaque states this shocking fact:

” In Victoria by the 1860s only 2000  Aboriginal people remained from a population of 60,000…”

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Meet Barak – leader of the Wunundjeri people – who said:

‘Yarra is my father’s country. Me no leave it, Yarra my fathers country.’

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Puts me in mind of this character – Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill – and of the continual waves of invasion which plague our world

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Australia – a terrain so incredibly vast – impossible for indigenous people to have held more than a very fragile foot hold

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Then back home – just in time for a very special Easter Sunday.

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6 thoughts on “Australia

  1. Thank you Louise for yet another very interesting blog. You must have had an enjoyable time there with family and ‘stoneys’. Lovely photo’s.

  2. Greetings Wayne! We worked side-by-side on the wall at Glencolmcille last year. It is interesting to see from Louise’s pictures how different the Waga Waga stone is from what we used in Donegal and though style and treatment may differ the underlying principles of dry-stone wall work are constant wherever one finds them.

    1. Hi Marie – Wayne shall be returning to Glencolmcille shortly to help instruct on this year’s workshop wall. The schist in Wagga Wagga looks quite different to what you used in Glen! Great guy and fantastic work.
      Hope your cottage renovation is making leaps and bounds!

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