Today’s Guest Author is the redoubtable Ian, with another of his timely reflections. Many thanks, Ian.
(Image Credit: David Bristow)
There is much talk about core Labor values.
What are they? Where are they? Who had them? Who lost them?
Perhaps they haven’t been lost, as much as not seen. Perhaps in our rush to condemn, and adapt to, modern politics/politicians we are blinding ourselves to the effective subtleties of simply working together
Once, I camped up in the Yilgarn area, about 30 miles west of a place called Sandstone. Station country: sandy, flat with plenty of jamwood, sandalwood that, after rain, explodes with wildflowers.
A good mate, couple of dogs, tucker box, swags, waterbag, faithful HQ ute loaded with a 44 filled up in Perth, and a couple of not so reliable hired metal detectors – and … only thirty miles from the pub. Didn’t need anything else. Sometimes enough is too much. We set up camp by a rocky outcrop. It afforded a bit of shelter from the sun and wind and there was a natural breezeway at the top. I swear it was cooler than air conditioning when the right zephyr wafted through. All in all … a good camp. Others, long ago, must have thought the same. The number of gnamma holes attested to this, not to mention the old workings, mullock heaps and dry blowing mounds. We settled in for the night.
Come morning time, sipping a cup of black, smoky billy tea – the tannin in it near shrank dentures – I gave thought to the gnamma holes.
As far as I know they were made by fire and digging stick. A small fierce fire was lit, allowed to go out and the now softened or even crumbled rock was dug out. This continued on until arm length was reached. They were dug at precise points ensuring that all rock outcrop water runoff was captured. A rock lid covering the top ensured minimal evaporation. What intrigued me, though, was the effort of all involved to build them.
I am assuming that they were built by men (longer arms = deeper holes), but the whole group contributed to the effort. The builders would have eaten the meat, johnny cakes, bush fruits and such hunted, baked and gathered by others. The younger children would have been set the task of firewood gathering. The older monitoring and teaching them. All would have been told of the Dreaming and how the gnamma hole came about. Those approaching initiations may have seen sacred lore enacted at corroboree.
The holes, as I saw them, were about a lot more than a water supply. They’re a group asset that ensured not only the survivability of the group but reinforced, in such a practical way, the strengths of each and of all.
If I were to be asked what I see as Labor values it would this – they are as gnamma holes.