Category Archives: Holidays

“Not all those who wander are lost.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Two Flags

26th January is Australia Day.

My Husband & our kids are Indigenous Australians but most of MY family immigrated just prior to WWI from Germany, Ireland & Scotland. Yep, I’m white. In high school we were called ‘skips’. In honour of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, I guess.

The 26th of January marks the raising of the Union Jack in Sydney Cove. This is when the British officially declared sovereignty over Australia & took control of the land – by any means necessary.

To me Australia Day has been about celebrating freedom & enjoying family & friends. It has been about looking towards a future where everyone is given equal opportunities. Where feelings about ‘Invasion’ are healed by positive relationships between all Australians. I believe this can be accomplished by raising our kids to be respectful, educated & caring people not hampered by the guilt, hurt & damage of past wrong doings for which they cannot & should not be held accountable.

What happened to the Australian Indigenous population during the 1700’s & onward is a disgrace. Considered inhuman they experienced atrocities that continued for over 200 years. We all, Australians, know this. We learnt about it at school, we were told about it by the community, by our Indigenous friends & by the media. Indigenous Australians are no longer considered inhuman. They have the same rights as anyone else. The government has issued an official & formal apology to the Indigenous Australians of this great land.

The government & it’s citizens have all said ‘Sorry’. Even those of us that weren’t living here. Those of us who joined Australia, after those times, have said (& whole heartedly felt) Sorry. Perhaps the anniversary of that day would be a better choice for Australia Day?

I do not mind what date Australia Day falls on. The date has no meaning to me. The date does not form part of my ethos surrounding the wonder & excitement that is & has always been Australia Day. It has simply meant a day to spend together. Together as a family, as a country; united. But for some it has great meaning. It’s the day their whole future was changed & their worlds turned upside down.

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Under the Morton Bay Figs My son & my Dad ©Violet Ashes 2016

Almost every town in Australia has some sort of Australia Day tradition. Where I grew up you got up at 6am & threw the deck chairs, blanket & Esky in the car & made your way to the park by the river under the Morton Bay Fig Trees (yep, they’re native & they’re beautiful) for a gold-coin-donation breakfast provided by the local Rotary & Apex clubs. There were games like ‘dunny races’ & performances by children’s choirs & Indigenous Australian dancers. They gave out citizen awards & the Mayor talked about the future of the town. We stood up for the National Anthem under two flags: the Australian & the Indigenous Australian. I never could understand why there were two flags instead of one, but I just accepted it.

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Australia Day 2016 – Mayor of Gawler    ©Violet Ashes 2016

Just accepting it as the ‘way it is’ does not work for me anymore. I often state (tongue in cheek) “as the mother of Indigenous children…” However, in this instance I am not joking. I believe it is well overdue time to unite. To let go. Not to forget but to heal the past by moving toward a future united. To teach our children about a world where we can live without the guilt of our ancestors but of the love & compassion they had for this land, all land. For the desire for freedom that we all have. Even those of us who are white love this land & feel a deep connection to it. It’s where I was born, raised & gave birth to my own children. It is home.

So, if you must, change the date. It does not affect the feeling, the ‘vibe’ of the day for me. But it will for some. And if moving the date helps ALL Australians, Indigenous or otherwise, enjoy their day of unity, harmony & freedom then do it, I say. Do it.

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My son, Jack    ©Violet Ashes 2016

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My son & I    ©Violet Ashes 2018

 

 

 

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ANZAC John Arthur Slattery

J. A. Slattery IMG_9114a

Every year I take out my Great Grandfather Slattery’s badge, colours & dog tags to take with me to the ANZAC day dawn service.

John Arthur Slattery
Service Number: 2256
Rank: Private
Roll Title: 43 A.I.F.
Date of Embarkation: 12 Aug 1916
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918

John’s Battalion, the 43rd, consisted of 30 officers & 991 other ranks. He stayed with his Battalion through every battle & was one of only a handful to return at the end of WWI.

John, along with his battalion, landed briefly in Egypt in 1916 then went on to Britain for further training. They arrived on the Western Front in late Dec 1916.

The 43rd Battalion spent 1917 bogged in bloody trench warfare in Flanders, Belgium. In June the battalion took part in the battle of Messines & in October the Third Battle of Ypres (also named the Battle of Passchendaele) where they were in the front wave of 16 waves of men.

The battalion spent much of 1918 fighting in the Somme valley, France. In April they helped stop the German Spring offensive at Villers-Bretonneux. In July the battalion was part of General Monash’s attack at Hamel. In August & September the battalion helped drive the Germans back to the Hindenburg Line.

The 43rd joined the advance that followed the 2nd Division’s victory at Mont St Quentin & it was during this operation that Temporary Corporal Lawrence Weathers earned the battalion’s only Victoria Cross. Weathers was mortally wounded in the battalion’s next battle. The battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel John Farrell wrote “..he died at the Regimental Aid Post, & lies buried on the battlefield.”

John was discharged on 25 Sept 1919 & returned home safely to Australia to his wife & children.

LEST WE FORGET

GeoCaching Adventures

Corsmor & I have had some wonderful adventures in our time together. Every where we would go we would find something interesting to do & something neither of us had seen before. Almost a year ago we discovered something that facilitated these adventures & has taken us to places we would never have otherwise visited.

Geocaching.

My Dad (Sparky) mentioned it in conversation over coffee one morning & I was a bit miffed that I had not heard of it before. So we looked into it & we have been hooked ever since.

So I headed to the internet. I found www.geocaching.com & read the FAQ’s. I signed up & made up a team name for Corsmor & I. I bought a handheld GPS. I looked up, tracked & found my first Geocache. I was hooked.

So for those of you who have not heard of Geocaching – here is my run-down. It is an orienteering treasure hunt. It runs world-wide & is constantly changing. There are multiple treasures & maps to that treasure. It is fun, exhilarating & at times exhausting.

Participants use a hand-held GPS (or if you don’t have one, there is ‘an app for that’ available from Geocaching.com) to search for, hide & locate containers called ‘Caches’ that contain all manner of things from information, toys, swaps, & trackable items.

The search for these containers can take you to a quick roadside stop, tourist attractions or places of interest you may not have known existed. For us, this was the best part. Heading off into the bush or down dirt roads we had never travelled before has landed us in some quirky, beautiful & wonderful places – often with breathtaking views, something to have a bit of a giggle at; we have even watched whales in the ocean.

Usually a Cache will be a small water-proof container. In this you will find a log where you must sign your team name & date. Usually the container will have trinkets as mentioned before & you can make swaps for a bit of fun. Our emblem is a sparrow so we always put in a silver sparrow charm for someone to swap & we try to pick up something interesting we can trade somewhere else.

There are many nuances to Geocaching. Much too many to count or relay here. What I can say is that it is highly enjoyable & highly addictive. Corsmor & I have been known to spend entire weekends geocaching. The great thing about is that it gets you out in the world. You see new things, meet new people & you learn to communicate in an even better way.

At times, I will admit, I can grow quite frustrated. Corsmor is our driver & I am the navigator. This can cause friction – but it usually ends in laughter. Especially when I have turned the map around so many times I might as well be looking at a blank sheet of paper. What it has helped me with is my sense of direction. My instincts have improved as far as direction & what looks like a certain ‘cache location’. It’s also great exercise.

We have also met some great people in our travels. Fellow Geocachers who are doing the same thing we are doing while pretending not to do it at all. It is a lot of fun.

So if you like adventure or find yourself with a boring day ahead check out Geocaching.com (I promise, they’re not paying me to write this!) & get started. You won’t regret it.

Here are some of the amazing & weird things we’ve seen along our travels we never would have known were there otherwise:

‘Astro La Vista, Baby!’ – GCM4N8

Cache Owner – TeamAstro.
Hidden: 24th November 2004 / Found: 16th September 2013
Pump Station in the Gilbert Valley, South Australia

This was a ‘multicache’ where you head to a certain set of GPS coordinates provided on Geocaching.com & from there you find & receive new coordinates. You keep doing this until you get to the final location where you will locate the final cache. In this case it was a disused heritage pump station & Corsmor had to attach a guide line to his belt & disappear down a long tunnel counting the steps until he found the cache.

GeoHubby at Astro

GeoHubby at Astro

 

Astro La Vista Baby

Astro La Vista Baby

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Ghostly Gum’ GC27GD9
Cache Owner – OrangeAngels
Hidden 26th April 2010 / Found: 30th September 2013

Back roads of Coffin Bay, South Australia
It was a quick ‘drive-by’ cache with a funny looking tree. It gave us a bit of a laugh.

Ghostly Gum

Ghostly Gum

‘Top of the World’ GC16TQA
Cache Owner – TheMundsters
Hidden 20th October 2007 / Found: 31st March 2013
Beautiful view from a hill at Mount Crawford, South Australia

Top of The World

Top of The World

Top of The World

Top of The World

Poppa

Poppa's OrnamentThis ornament hangs on our tree every year in memory of my Poppa, Maurice John McInnis. I miss him every day, but at Xmas most of all.
 
When I think of Poppa I think of golf, whiskers & trousers. I think about the way he always kept his glasses in his top pocket in a soft leather holder I used to stroke when he’d cuddle me. I think about the way he would tease me as a little girl, carrying a handbag – how he joked that he wished he had a handbag too.
 
I remember his laugh, how it would crack, half pitched & high in the middle. How his eyes would water when the laughter really took him – the same way my Mum’s eyes do when she laughs.
 
I think about Poppa’s finely manicured lawn that he tended daily & trimmed with scissors if ever there was a blade out-of-place. The feel of that lawn under my bare feet when we would visit in the summer – no matter where he & Gran lived a beautiful lush, green lawn adorned each home.
 
I think about the way Gran called him ‘Johnny’ & he called her ‘Love’. How they had matching recliners with lace doilies Gran hand-made for each one. I remember him in that recliner watching Port Adelaide Football club play on TV – a-top the TV was a model ship – filled with his gold coin change that he put there to save for something he might put in his shed.
 
In Poppa’s shed was homemade Draught beer with a light box he built himself to keep the temperature steady as it brewed. That shed, always neat & tidy & filled with gardening tools. Poppa’s tomatoes were the pride of the family – sweet, juicy, ripe & red. Every year we were treated to fresh ham & tomato sandwiches, homemade sauce & Gran’s tomato relish. I think about how much I miss those tomatoes & watching him in his hat tending to the plants.
 
Poppa loved to fish. He loved to laugh. He loved to garden & he loved his family. He was a proud man – he was gentle & he was the kind of man you met & his soft voice lingered. I think people liked Poppa – he was a gentleman & a hero to my brother. He had a temper – but it was rare & purposeful. I never saw it.
 
I don’t think Poppa ever knew how much we all loved him & how much his impression would linger. But it has & it does.
 
That ornament was given to me by Gran the year Poppa died. Every year I put that ornament on my tree & I think of him. I miss him & I smile – I hear his laughter in the house & I think, I hope, that maybe he knows how much he is missed, how much he is loved, so many years later. My Poppa.

Boundaries

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy & vague. Who shall say where the one ends & the other begins?” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

I have thought a lot about boundaries lately. Boundaries between friends, lovers, Man & Wife, the living & the dead; the best situations, & those in which I thrive, are where the boundaries are clearly defined so that one can push them whenever one needs. There is no point scratching at a door that disappears but if you can climb in through the window it is all the more exciting don’t you think?

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Hot Air Horizon

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Looks like an amazing way to escape. I would love to see this.
 
More than 350,000 people flocked to fields not far from the city of Metz, France to witness 408 balloons take to the skies for the annual Lorraine Mondial Air Balloons festival 2013.

Just 6…

We spent the long weekend for Australia day camping in Victoria. We decided that since we had just had a positive pregnancy test it would be good to get away, just the three of us, & relax. I felt fine. Healthy, full of energy.
 
I am certain I cannot be more than 6 weeks pregnant but the started bleeding started the minute we got home from our weekend away. I am terrified. I have read so many websites & books that all say bleeding may be  normal this early but many that say it is not okay. I have taken another test, it indicates still pregnant. I do not know what to do & I am not sure there is anything I can do. My immediate reaction seems to be sit here & stress. I cannot get  my mind off the possibility that maybe I have done something wrong, that I should not have told Corsmor & I should have just left it alone – waited a little longer. Maybe we should have not gone away? Stayed home? Maybe I pushed myself too hard? Perhaps this is just a warning & tomorrow all will be forgiven.
 
On our trip away ‘Pip’ was been mentioned so many times & become part of our lives. Preparations already being made in our minds.
 
I do not know what to do.
 
I am fearful it is all too late.

Us on holiday – our favourite beach – Bells Beach, Victoria.

Bell's Beach, Australia

Bell’s Beach, Australia