Notes from which I spoke, or read. I did not say all these words, nor did I say everything I said in the order outlined in these notes. I did read large sections of the BUNGAREE story, but most of the first half of the speech was off-the-top-of-the-head words although they were strongly rooted in the text here which I had written several times and read several times in the preceding days – Dr Vanlyn J Davy JP
Good morning … good morning …. Australia Day, 2015!!
What a great day.
I notice, looking around this crowd, that we have a disproportionate number of young people so I want to try something that will interest them. This is something never before tried in Pearl Beach on Australia Day. I’m about to use the word “coo-ee”. Not much to that. A boring little word “coo” and “ee”. But this word, used properly in the Australian bush, can save lives …
You see, if you lengthen the “coo” to be “cooooooooooooo”….and you lengthen the “ee” to be “eeeeeeeeeeee” and you put a little whiplash on the end of “ee” …. Then you get a long, drawn out sound like this “ cooooooooooooooooooooooo/eeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!”
Now, if you make this call in a valley where the sides are cliff faces, like we have here along Green Point over there … and over there near Lobster Beach …. And if you make the “cooooo….eeeee” a very focussed sound and you ‘throw’ the sound a long way, then the “coo-ee” will bounce back off the cliff-faces and we will get an echo! Yes, an echo!!!
So, today I will try and get an echo from the cliff-faces down there along Green Point. Are you all ready? I’ll try it now. Now, you must listen carefully for the echo. By my calculations, the echo should bounce back in 4 seconds … watch my fingers count 1-2-3-4.
Ok…here I go: COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO ………………………… EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
That was a bit of fun, eh?
Being here in Pearl Beach puts us in a good position to consider some of the important things that comprise our Australian –NESS. We all live in our private places, lead our private lives, and give effect to our individuality. These are our freedoms … but Pearl Beach, and Australia in general, has some features, very PUBLIC features, which ooze Australian-ness.
First, our beaches. Our beautiful beaches … all around Australia … and they are public…. Not owned privately … not privatised … no fences…. No entry charges … no lock-outs. These are public beaches … we own them. If you think that is commonplace, or will be forever true, try walking onto the beaches which ribbon down the Californian coast. The public-ness of the Australian beach is very Australian. Pearl Beach has a beautiful beach.
Second, “Pearlie” is surrounded by National Parks and waterways. Public bushlands. Public waterways. We all own these treasures. Not privatised. We own and we have responsibility for the care of the bush, the flora and fauna, the waterways and sea-life. These are sources of great pleasure we can all share. Australians care for their extensive national parks…. We even fund organisations to care for these precious places … National Parks & Wildlife … and the volunteer bushfire brigades of the Rural Fire Service. It is the Australian way.
The safe swimming pool at Pearlie is open to all. A public pool, supported and funded in the most public ways: Council and community donations.
This children’s playground and associated facilities … the same … publicly owned … Council/community maintained and funded.
Now these public treasures need care … and people DO care. These wonderful public assets need attention, care, maintenance, even protection. So, it is not surprising that:
* the dunes along our beach here, are cared for by a volunteer group called “Dune-care” …. every month they have a working-bee to expel the weeds, protect the area, plant natives, make the place look wonderful … for you and me …Us.
* exactly the same … the bush, in and around Pearlie, needs similar attention … to keep out invading exotics, protect the habitat of our birds, flowers and furry creatures
* the fire-trails are regularly patrolled & maintained by volunteers from the Firies
* the Arboretum, at the end of Crystal, comprises many different types of tree and bush … a real eye-opening beauty … you should visit it while you are here … again, maintained, developed and protected by a group of volunteers
* and other people make other contributions in different ways: to the aged, for example….why, we even have one fellow who takes it upon himself to keep the road clean between here and the hairpin turn on Mt Ettalong Rd … he regularly slings an empty sack across his shoulders only to return many hours later with it full of cast-off mess and muck left by the ignorant who cannot take their rubbish with them.
Not only PLACES need care … but PEOPLE also need care … so, you guessed it, Pearlie has lots of groups run by volunteers, designed to look after people’s needs, such as: craft, singing, walking, tennis club, bowls …
These are people doing public good in public places. Places made for the Common Good attract the care of people concerned for the Common Good.
Funny … how, ON THE ONE HAND, Australia has a history of unions struggle to get a fair days wage for a fair days work, a bit extra on Saturdays and Sundays when workers do the Boss a favour and keep his/her business open … BUT ON THE OTHER HAND we have a strong history of volunteer-ism … working for zero pay … zero perks … zero tax breaks … zero subsidies … why? Because we ALSO have a deep and abiding commitment to help people where they need help. Yes, we need decent wages and working conditions … BUT we also need to help where help is needed.
The idea of mateship runs strongly through the idea of volunteerism. If we didn’t have this feeling of care and responsibility for each other, we wouldn’t volunteer. Volunteering is doing something for others.
“MATESHIP” is often mentioned as a defining characteristic of being Australian [Prime Ministers Hawke/Howard/Gillard/Abbott]. And it is often defined with reference to men in battle, men in sport, men in drinking and hanging out together. Now, I believe that the idea of mateship IS central to the Australian character … BUT that to exemplify it with reference ONLY to MALE experience dilutes what is true. It is well-accepted, for example, that women and girls spend more time than men discussing matters PERSONAL, SOCIAL, RELATIONAL, CARING/SHARING … all the things that might define close personal relationships.
Another important ingredient to Mateship, in my opinion, is the characteristic of “empathy”. Empathy, as the adults here would know, is different and more complete than “sympathy”. SYMPATHY is something we can extend to a person who is experiencing a physical or mental hurt, a bereavement, financial difficulty … and so on. With sympathy we can genuinely feel for the person … and extend [GIVE] our sympathetic thoughts. With sympathy, that can be the extent, OR BOUNDARY, of our behaviour. EMPATHY goes further. When we feel EMPATHY we have … ourselves … MENTALLY entered into the feeling that the other person is experiencing. Rather than feeling OUR response to their plight [or joy] we are able to comprehend THEIR fear, or terror, or desperation … and, this closer feeling puts us in a better position to know what the right thing to DO is. Empathy is feeling the difficulty FROM THE POINT-OF-VIEW of the person in difficulty.
So, in my view, not only does Mateship extend powerfully across gender boundaries, but, in Australia I reckon we show empathy … and mateship … better than most nations on Earth.
What is my evidence?
Let’s take 3 areas, each of which has been voted on, repeatedly, by the entire Australian electorate, not a bad data base, huh? Oh, yes … and with all sides of politics swearing allegiance to these 3 areas. These are not 50% + 1 party-political positions:
FIRST … we, as a nation, like few other nations, feel enough empathy for, and mateship with, other Australians, to ensure that no-one is ruined financially when they are sick and hospitalised. Better than that, we provide a level of health care that is quite extraordinary. The USA does not have such a health system and many of its citizens either suffer with NO CARE … or they get the care but have to sell the house & go into massive debt to pay for it. We do not tolerate this misery. The Australian way is to provide good care. Empathy. Mateship. Something to be proud of.
SECOND … again, supported across the political spectrum, and like few other nations, Australians look at those who have brought up their families, got them through school, maybe through University/TAFE as well, into productive work paying their taxes, bringing up their own families, and living worthwhile lives … we look at these people who now have grandchildren … and we say, if you have plenty to look after yourself, well done. But, if you are now done with work, the body is aging and you need to slow down … and you have little means of support, then we will look after you. We won’t make you rich people, but we will make sure you get the basics of life so you are not homeless, hungry, clothed in rags, and disrespected. We, all of us, in an every-day act of EMPATHY and respectful mateship, provide an aged pension. Again, this is the Australian way. Care. Something to celebrate and be proud of.
THIRD … as a nation, and like few other nations, if we cannot create an economy that provides enough work for all Australians … we then give a commitment to our genuinely unemployed: WE WILL HELP YOU … the fair dinkum we-want-to-work workers … we will help you and your family: stave off hunger, poverty, no housing, and provide the basics of Life … this too is an expression of EMPATHY and mateship towards those in genuine need.
Just to conclude this item:
Certain it is that MATESHIP can be depicted with the Australian Digger assisting his wounded mate from the battle ground … true, and to be respected … and just as true is our women and their daily social intercourse … and our proud nation AS A WHOLE as it expresses solidarity with its aging, its sick, and its unemployed….
We care for each other … we do this with public resources and public policy [legislation]. Pearl Beach is surrounded by these public resources, and they are maintained and protected by public effort …. as is many of the most important elements of Australian society … our common commitment to the sick, the aged, the unemployed. This is Australian.
TURN TOWARDS THE FIRIES: AUSSIE! Oi ….. AUSSIE! Oi ……
AUSSIE! AUSSIE! AUSSIE! Oi….. Oi …… Oi ……..
ON THIS AUSTRALIA DAY, IN THIS VILLAGE NAMED PEARL BEACH, I WANT TO TELL YOU A STORY … ABOUT THE FIRST AUSSIE TO SAIL AROUND AUSTRALIA.
NOT THE FIRST ENGLISHMAN TO CIRCUMNAVIGATE, BUT THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN.
AND, WHAT’S MORE THIS BLOKE DID IT TWICE!!!!
WHO WAS HE? WELL, HE WASN’T ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S MOST FAMOUS MEN:
* NOT CAPTAIN COOK WHO WAS PROBABLY THE WORLD’S BEST NAVIGATOR-MATH-DISCOVERER-CARTOGRAPHER OF HIS TIME AND WHO MAPPED THE EAST COAST OF AUSTRALIA FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 1770
* NOT CAPTAIN PHILLIP WHO ESTABLISHED THE FIRST BRITISH PENAL COLONY AT PORT JACKSON, NSW, IN 1788
* NOT EVEN MATHEW FLINDERS WHO WAS A MAGNIFICENT MARINER-CARTOGRAPHER-EXPLORER.
NO … EACH OF THESE 3 MEN WAS EDUCATED IN THE MATHS/SCIENCES OF THE ERA, BUT THE MAN I TELL THE STORY OF WOULD BE, NOWADAYS, A GRADUATE & CONTINUING STUDENT OF LINGUISTICS, PSYCHOLOGY, INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS. That is: he would be a student of the SOCIAL SCIENCES … BECAUSE HE WAS AN INTERPRETER, NEGOTIATOR, AND AMBASSADOR WITHOUT WHICH SEVERAL OF THE VOYAGES OF OUR EXPLORERS WOULD HAVE PERISHED. He was, in the words of
Mathew Flinders “ A worthy and brave fellow who on more than one occasion SAVED the expeditions”.
So, who was the first Australian to sail around Australia? And, do it twice?
His name was BUNGAREE.
Was Bungaree English, like Cook, Phillip and Flinders were English? No. Was Bungaree Australian? You betcha!!!! Bungaree was Aboriginal. He became MUCH ADMIRED BY NSW GOVERNORS … he was declared to be, erroneously, by Governor Macquarie, the “King of the Broken Bay Tribes”.
So, this is the story of Bungaree from the Guringai People … who live and lived in Guringai Country.
You might ask, “Where on Earth is Guringai country?” and that would not be a startling question to me because only 5 weeks ago I was asking the same question. Why? Well, I just didn’t know … there are no plaques, or street names, or names of creeks, bays, lookouts, trig stations, National Parks, waterways … nothing … nothing that would trigger my questioning, or give me, or anyone else … a clue.
Well, fellow lovers of Pearl Beach … We are NOW, at this VERY MOMENT, standing in Guringai Country and this is the story of a Guringai hero …
SO…AT THIS POINT IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT I pay my respects to the Guringai People in general, and elders past and present, recognising the custodial history of this land, and the many wrongs done to Guringai and other Aboriginal Peoples as declared and apologised for by the Australian Government in the Australian Parliament … and supported by the Opposition … and I note that with a different Government-different Opposition both sides of politics remain supportive of the processes of Reconciliation.
BUNGAREE WAS BORN AT PATON … GA.
PATON = OYSTERS GA = PLACE OF
He was born around the time Captain Cook was sailing up the East Coast of Australia in 1770 … and by the time Captain Phillip and the First Fleet arrived in Sydney in 1788 he had reached the INITIATION AGE … and been named STAND TALL AND STRONG …. BUNGAREE.
AT THIS TIME THE GURINGAI COUNTRY EXTENDED FROM MONA VALE TO NORTH OF WYONG … ALL ALONG THE COAST TO WHERE THE AWABA PEOPLE LIVE NEAR LAKE MACQUARIE.
GURINGAI COUNTRY EXTENDED INLAND TO LANE COVE, AND NORTH THROUGH MANGROVE MOUNTAIN …
The GURINGAI People comprised tribes based on family groups of up to 30-50 people , there were dozens of family tribes living along the coast at: Patonga – Pearl Beach , Brisbane Waters, Somersby Falls , Erina – Terrigal, Morriset , Mangrove Mountain, and so on. Depending who you talk to, there may have been more than 5000 Guringai people living here until the first 2-3 years of British settlement when small pox and measles killed 80% of the Guringai population. A catastrophe for the Guringai.
Pearl Beach-Patonga area is not placed where you would expect a trade route to go…but it IS likely that Pearl Beach would have been a very special ceremonial centre in which the various clans came together to discuss matters of import, and to celebrate events of cultural importance. As you can see, just looking around you, up to Mt Ettalong there, behind me up to the Warrah Trig heights, and across there on the end of Green Point, “Pearlie” is surrounded with high points from which movement of unwelcome people could be easily spotted and at which sentries could be placed …
Pearlie is also well serviced with many rock overhangs and caves which lend themselves to be the “hotels” of the time.
BUNGAREE MANAGED TO SURVIVE the small pox … he was interested in the British activity in Sydney. Governor Phillip liked him, TRUSTED HIM and thought him to be very CLEVER so Bungaree went with Mathew Flinders when he sailed around [circumnavigated] Australia in 1803.
THEY SAILED ALL ROUND AUSTRALIA with Bungaree making contact with the locals at each landing point, interpreting and negotiating food and water … and helping to keep the peace.
During this voyage, as told to me by a Guringai elder, Bungaree repeatedly said to Flinders something like:
* WAHROON … GA ……. Which meant that he was missing the place [“ga”] of his home [ “wahroon”] … probably meaning he was feeling some home-sickness. Bungareee mentioned this often and had Flinders considering naming this continent of ours, not “Australia” but “Wahroonga”.
But Flinders tired of “Wahroonga” after several weeks of it and, as you would know, recommended “Australia” instead.
* DURING HIS CIRCUMNAVIGATION, WHEN IN NORTH-WESTERN AUSTRALIAN WATERS, FLINDERS WAS FORCED TO OUTRUN A CYCLONE … TO TIMOR … AS A CONSEQUENCE, FLINDERS’ FINAL MAP OF AUSTRALIA, BRILLIANT AS IT WAS, HAD A LARGE GAP IN IT … IN NORTH-WEST AUSTRALIA. THE MAP HAD TO BE FIXED.
* 14 YEARS LATER … TO FILL IN THE BIG GAP, CAPTAIN PHILLIP PARKER KING DID THE CIRCUMNAVIGATION AGAIN … AND, still with trust and admiration, BUNGAREE was asked to go AGAIN … which he did.
THERE IS A LOT MORE TO BUNGAREE’S STORY … too much to tell in an 8 minute speech.
When I first heard this story I thought to myself,”Gee, I’d like to live near a creek or lagoon, or something which carried the name of Bungaree and his Guringai people…. And then I started thinking about Reconciliation … and whether I should be doing something about that … and I now think so. And, so I will …. But that is for another time.
AUSSIE! Oi…. AUSSIE! Oi….
AUSSIE, AUSSIE, AUSSIE!!! Oi!!! Oi!!! Oi!!!