Q: Why did the chicken legs cross the road quickly?

A: So they wouldn’t be late for dinner. My dinner!

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, a local newspaper invited me to nominate my ‘signature dish’, explain my choice and give them the recipe. It was 2003, and I had just become Chairperson of a community organisation that promoted the food and wine industries of the Great Southern, a leading agricultural region of Western Australia.

The dish I nominated was Coq au vin. I chose it because it was my go-to dish when hosting a dinner party and because I could obtain most of the ingredients fresh and directly from local producers, including premium cool-climate red wine and the first brand of free-range chicken produced in sizeable quantities in Western Australia.

I’ve never put that recipe on this blog, but only because, by the time I was writing posts about cooking, I had discovered the joys of making coq au vin with rooster rather than chicken. The story of that dish is here.

Now, jump to late 2016, when I shared the story of how Maggie and I had prepared a ‘deconstructed’ version of coq au vin using a whole spatchcock. We have used that method once or twice each year thereafter. But this winter has brought another change. We are very much in ‘streamlining’ mode, as we count down the months – 15 to 20 of them – before we move from our modest home to an apartment in a low-level complex being constructed not far from where we live now.

In the chicken department, ‘streamlining’ means that all of our cold-weather meals of chicken are being prepared using the ‘Maryland’ cut, ie the leg, or thigh-plus-drumstick. As well as being economical and flavoursome, Marylands are versatile; they can be roasted or they can be jointed into two pieces and braised or pot-roasted.

Our varieties of braised chicken Maryland dishes have include another simplified version of coq au vin. However, unlike our so-called ‘deconstructed’ version, this time we have taken pains to record quantities of ingredients as we go, to establish a recipe which will produce a consistently delicious meal.

Here is how we plate it up, followed by the recipe, which produces enough for two generous dinner servings.

Ingredients

1 tbsp brandy
125ml red wine
125ml chicken stock
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf (small if fresh)
1 sprig parsley
generous grind of black pepper
2 or 3 trimmed chicken Maryland pieces (recipe assumes a total weight of about 600g after obvious fat has been trimmed)
40g trimmed bacon, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
white part of a leek, halved lengthways then finely sliced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
60g button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper

Method

  1. Place brandy, wine, stock, herbs and black pepper in a small saucepan, cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Separate drumsticks and thighs and lightly brown the chicken pieces in the olive oil in a heavy-based oven-proof pan; set aside and season lightly.
  3. Add bacon to the pan, sauté for 5 minutes and drain on some paper towel. Wipe out the pan.
  4. Heat oven to 150C.
  5. Melt butter in the pan, add leek and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté for a further 5 minutes.
  6. Add bacon to the pan. Strain the contents of the small saucepan and add to the pan. Add the chicken pieces, bring dish to the boil, turn chicken pieces, cover with a lid and transfer to the oven.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, turning chicken once or twice and adjusting seasoning after 20 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the oven off and place the chicken on an oven-proof dish.
  8. Place the chicken in the cooling oven. Heat the sauce over heat, allow it to reduce a little. Lightly thicken the sauce to your own taste.
  9. Serve chicken pieces and spoon over with sauce.

   

   

   

Cheers for now!
Rick Grounds

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Cauliflower gives goulash a happy-face lift

I first cooked beef goulash a little over five years ago, inspired by a dish I had eaten at a restaurant in Salzburg, Austria in May 2014. After a couple of attempts, I settled on a recipe and included it in a post about some beef dishes we had sampled during our travels.

Although I liked the goulash, Maggie was not so keen on the flavour of the paprika, an essential ingredient in any dish by that name. However, she tolerated its appearance on our home-dining menu just once each year thereafter, if only for the dumpling which sat on top of each filled ramekin.

Goulash 3

Between last year’s batch and getting ready to prepare a meal of goulash once this year’s winter had set in, I had made some significant changes to my diet, in order to lower my blood sugar level by reducing my consumption of carbohydrates. So, I wanted to reduce the proportion of potato and flour in the mixture for the dumplings but without detracting from what they contribute to the flavour and texture of the finished dish.

My solution was to use some cauliflower in place of some of the potato and, thanks to the relative ‘lightness’ of the cauli, I could probably get away with less flour. Then, as I set about the task, I decided to cater for my dear wife by reducing the volume of red-pepper additives, both paprika and cayenne.

I am pleased to say that the result was so agreeable that Maggie suggested we make a batch again soon. Which we did, using slightly wider ramekins, topped with smaller dollops of dumpling and thus leaving room for the bubbling juices to push up and cook the dumplings evenly.

So, hear is the amended recipe, which has secured the place of beef goulash in our winter menu for many years to come. Happy cook, happy kitchen-hand!

Ingredients

1-2 tbsp olive oil
500g gravy beef (weight after meat is trimmed), cut into 3cm cubes
salt and pepper
1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely diced
¼ cup each of chicken stock and beef stock
1¼ tsp sweet paprika
<¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 cup tomato passata
200g potato suitable for mashing
100g cauliflower florets
15g butter
60ml milk
70ml self-raising flour
60ml grated pecorino or parmesan
20ml chopped parsley

Method

  1. Heat a little oil in a heavy-based, non-stick pan over moderate heat, and brown the beef in two or three batches. Remove beef from pan and season with salt and pepper. Wipe pan clean of any burnt meat juices.
  2. Preheat oven to 150C (less if your oven cooks hot).
  3. Add onion, garlic and sufficient olive oil to the pan and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add carrot and sauté for a further 4 minutes. Add paprika and cayenne and stir for 1 minute. Transfer onion mix to an oven-proof baking dish, over moderate heat.
  4.  Add browned meat, stock and passata and bring to the boil. Transfer to oven and cook for about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is just tender. Adjust seasoning after one hour of cooking. Remove goulash from the oven and uncover the dish so it can cool a little.
  5. When the beef is nearly cooked and tender, peel the potato, cut into chunks and cover with plenty of salted, cold water. Bring to the boil and cook for 9 minutes. Add cauliflower, return to a simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes
  6. Drain the two vegetables well, return to the pan, add the butter then, when it has melted, add milk and mash until smooth. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the flour, cheese and parsley and stir to combine well.
  7. Increase oven temperature to 170C and place an oven rack one level above mid-point.
  8. Divide the beef and its sauce evenly between 3 or 4 ramekins (ours are 12cm in diameter and 6cm high. Use a grapefruit spoon to add four or five small dollops of the dumpling mix to each ramekin, spray with cooking oil and bake for about 20 minutes or until the dumplings are golden.

Cheers for now!
Rick Grounds

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Is cauliflower the most versatile vegetable?

One evening when Maggie was a child, her mother compelled her to eat a serving of cauliflower. It was a mistake her mother only made once! Fast-forward to 10 years ago, when a small, best-of-season cauli caught Maggie’s attention. She just had to have it and she has been happy to eat cauliflower ever since.

Our first shared meal of cauliflower used it as a puree in concert with some seared scallops and one of Maggie’s favourite offal options, black pudding. To consolidate her changed attitude, I soon followed up with cauliflower soufflé, a dish I had been making for more than 25 years. That went down well too!

Since then, we have continued to find new ways to use cauliflower. We have also found that, if we introduce the topic of this deceptively-plain veggie to a conversation with friends or colleagues, we soon hear about yet another cooking-and-serving method. And, when we went on a two-week tour of China last year, only eggplant (aubergine) competed with cauliflower for the status of ‘most celebrated vegetable’ in the meals we were served.

It is all a far cry from the soggy, bland ‘cauliflower cheese’ that was a standard item in hot buffets offered in Australian dining spaces in the 1950s and ’60s! (If you search ‘cauliflower cheese recipe australia’, you’ll discover how popular this dish remains here, albeit with some nods to contemporary tastes and fashions.)

Anyway, to cut to the chase, we recently started buying economical packets of frozen scallop meat, then thawing a handful at a time to use as the main ingredient in a light Saturday-lunch-for-two. In this context, I went off in search of a suitable recipe for a cauliflower puree to serve alongside a batch of seared scallops.

This is the recipe we began with and this was the end result:

We spread a generous spoonful of the puree on the base of a warmed bowl, topped it with some of the seared scallops and then added pieces of just-crisp prosciutto. The flavours and textures worked together brilliantly!

For the puree, we made three slight modifications to the recipe. We reduced the proportion of butter by about 20%; there was still plenty. We added a generous pinch or two of freshly-ground black pepper. And, we also added any residual cooking liquid so as to not overwhelm the cauliflower with too much lemon juice; each to their own taste.

I suspect our next new cauliflower effort will be a soup made with blue cheese, inspired by a lovely dish I had for lunch when we were staying near Uluru-Kata Tjuta recently.

Cheers for now!
Rick Grounds

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Top time in the Top End: Litchfield day tour

As we dragged ourselves out of bed for yet another depart-at-dawn journey, I was grumbling – half to pity myself, half to blame my wife – about having to go out on a third  boat cruise to gaze at an animal whose main quality as a tourist attraction was its capacity to hunt down and kill any tourist foolish enough to trespass on its territory.

Little did I know that I was about to have one of the most remarkable wildlife experiences available in Australia, for our tour operator happened to be one of the few that is invited to take its customers to the Adelaide River for a cruise with the man known as Pat.

Pat is a very different bloke, a ‘true Territorian’ as our driver/guide described him. He has worked with crocodiles for more than 30 years; never wears shoes (a podiatrist would weep to see his feet); has a beard down to his navel; and his hat looks like a moth-plague visited for lunch. But he has an affinity and profound respect for these reptiles and he knows how to wrangle them into putting on a breathtaking display.

The crocs in the stretch of river east of Darwin where tours are allowed to operate – four licenses in all – know the sound of Pat’s boat engine and it wasn’t long before one alpha male made himself visible. If looks could kill …

Pat used fresh chicken carcasses suspended on string from a pole to entice the crocodile to jump out of the water. (Although the boat was encircled in a waist-high, thick metal-pipe mesh, Pat assured us that the croc was quite capable of jumping on board if it so desired.) A crocodile’s teeth are perfect for crushing another animal to death in one bit but not so efficient at biting. So, we had plenty of time to take our photos before it managed to pull the carcass into its mouth.

Once the male had its fill, one of its mates appeared on the scene for its feeding opportunity. However, she was taking great pains to ensure that she didn’t become the male’s main course for lunch. She would look at the carcass, look at the male to check for signs of an attack, look at the carcass, back to the male, and so it continued until she felt safe enough to focus on the meal at hand.

In Maggie’s next two photos, a female’s jaw was about 1.5 metres from her iPhone. Nice dental work!

   

Once we’d all taken our ration of croc shots – we got up close to four or five and saw several others – Pat turned his attention to another prey-seeking species – kites. While preparing the carcasses that morning, he had filled a small bucket with pieces of fatty skin. Now, he called out to the kites in a mixture of English and the local Aboriginal language and 30 or more appeared.

Pat then grabbed handfuls of the chicken skin and threw it across the water for the kites to swoop in and grab some. They would take it one talon and transfer it their mouth in a split-second, on the wing. You can see how it worked in this video:

 

Our next destination was Litchfield National Park, which is located south of Darwin, so we had to back-track a little. As we did, I wondered if the balance of the day’s itinerary was going to struggle for air but, in the expert care of our driver/guide, it worked out pretty well.

Soon after we entered Litchfield, we stopped to view two types of giant termite mounds. (The termites are small but they sure know how to construct an edifice.)


The next photos are of mounds made by termites which are commonly called ‘magnetic termites’. They’re not really but you learn more about them and the termites who build the ‘cathedral’ mounds here.

   

From the termite-mound site, we drove down to Wangi Falls, one of Litchfield’s popular waterfalls. After a refreshing help-yourself picnic lunch of salad, meats, cheese and fruit, we had free time to explore the falls area, which was busy with a mix of tourists and local families on a Saturday outing.

Although it was the dry season, the falls had plenty of flow due to the capacity of the sandstone rock in the adjacent plateau to absorb water during the wet season and then release it steadily afterwards.

Maggie and I are not big on swimming but we found a spot to sit comfortably and dangle our legs knee-deep in the fresh water of the rock pool at the base of the falls. It was a very warm day, so it was very soothing for our feet!

Before we headed back to our tour van, I took one of the paths around the rock pool to an idyllic patch of rainforest, which immediately brought to mind a rainforest Maggie and I had visited on the Frankland River in Tasmania in March 2018.

       

Frankland River rainforest, Tasmania

The Frankland River is more than 3,500 kilometres from Litchfield, in the cool temperate zone. Just goes to show, that the structure of a a rainforest is a factor of rain firstly, and other factors after that.

From Wangi Falls, we stopped briefly to view Florence Falls, which are small and beautiful, with a very popular rock pool. However, being so soon after the winter solstice, we didn’t have time to walk down to see them up close.

Besides, we had a scheduled rendezvous with one last Northern Territory sunset, overlooking Darwin’s Fannie Bay. We were treated to some bubbles and cooked prawns, as we toasted an outstanding day trip.

But, wait! There’s more! On our flight home to Melbourne the next day, we had some wonderful views of the Simpson Desert, to our east, which lies in parts of the Northern Territory, Queensland and South Australia.

 

We had never seen it before because, when we fly to Singapore and beyond, the flight path lies further to the west. It was a spectacular way to finish to one of our most deeply-satisfying travel adventures.

Cheers for now!
Rick Grounds

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Top time in the Top End: Kakadu National Park

The final days of our journey through the centre of Australia were spent in two more of the Northern Territory’s wonderful national parks.

The first of these was Kakadu National Park, which we visited on a two-day coach tour. Kakadu has important facts in common with Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. It is owned by the local Aboriginal people; is leased back to the federal government under a joint-management agreement; and it has a dual-listing as a world heritage site, for both natural and cultural qualities. You can find out more about the park here, including the fact that it is about half the entire size of Switzerland!

After a brief stop at a pub for morning tea – it’s an ‘outback Australia’ thing – we and 19 other members of the tour group squeezed ourselves into three light planes for a one-hour flight over stretches of the park. There we are, smiling for the camera aboard that small aircraft, as captured by one of our tour-buddies!


Kakadu has two two main physical elements: the massive sandstone Arnhem Plateau, which we first met at Nitmiluk NP; and its extensive network of rivers, floodplains and wetlands, fed by the annual monsoonal rains. Here are some of the views we had of these features.

   

           

After our scenic flight and a bite of lunch, we got to see one of the wetland areas at close quarters on a cruise around Yellow Water Billabong. (Btw, if you search Wikipedia for the meaning of ‘billabong’, the entry includes just one photo – Yellow Water!)

The airborne object in this photo from our tour is not another small plane. Maggie captured a dragon-fly in mid-flight!


Of course, where there is water in the Top End, there will be animals lurking. And not just any animals. I’m talking about saltwater crocodile-type animals, as in the centre of the photo on the right. It had been a cold night and our tour guide explained that the crocs were not yet on the move; they needed another hour of warm sunshine to recharge their batteries.

We weren’t about to check the veracity of that statement! (That’s a My cousin Vinny allusion, dear readers.)

        

And here is our tour guide, Dennis, son of a New Zealand man and a significant local Aboriginal woman. His commentary was full of interesting information. He also had a classic Australian sense of humour, ie dry and razor-sharp, and his impersonations of a crocodile putting an end to a human life were worth the admission fee alone!


Here are some more scenes from our extensive journey around the billabong. The birds in the last photo of this group are magpie geese. They are not shielding themselves from the hot tropical sun. They are hiding from birds of prey, of which there is an abundant supply in this rich environment!

   

   

Kakadu’s world heritage listing for cultural reasons derives from two main factors: the fact that the indigenous people of the area have a continuous history of active connection going back many tens of thousands of years; and the park’s vast collection of rock art.

Our tour itinerary included two of the three main rock art sites which are readily accessible to visitors. It was an interesting enough experience but we would have gained a more meaningful appreciation if we’d had the time available to go on one of the in-depth viewings led by one of the park’s expert rangers. You can learn more about the rock art in Kakadu here.

   

 

The last item on our Kakadu itinerary was a boat trip along the East Alligator River, led by Roman, son of a European man and a local Aboriginal woman.

It wasn’t long before we saw why this otherwise peaceful river was given its (erroneous) moniker by a British explore in the 1820s

   

Roman was particularly knowledgeable about the area’s flora and the numerous uses made of it by the traditional occupants. His explanation of how a spear was made was especially interesting; pity I didn’t capture it in a video to share with you!


The East Alligator River marks the boundary between Kakadu and Arnhem Land, a vast area in which traditional indigenous culture and practices continue strongly. For this reason, outsiders cannot visit Arnhem Land without a permit. That said, commercial tour groups are generally welcome and our time with Roman included a brief visit to the river’s eastern shore.

   

We definitely enjoyed our visit to Kakadu but, in two days, we barely scratched the surface of this vast and diverse area. Any person who has a special interest in, say, rock art, birdlife, geology or tropical flora, would be well-advised to allow several days for their explorations.

Next stop, Litchfield National Park!

Cheers for now!
Rick Grounds

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Top time in the Top End: Katherine Gorge and Darwin

At the end of our week in Central Australia, we re-boarded the Ghan late in the afternoon for the overnight journey from Alice Springs to Darwin. Next morning, we pulled in to the town of Katherine, at the southern edge of what Australian’s call ‘the Top End’, being the part of the Northern Territory which has a tropical climate.

Katherine is best known for the nearby Nitmiluk National Park. This is the home of the Katherine Gorge, which comprises thirteen distinct sections that make their way through a series of right-angled splits in the 1600 million-year-old Arnhem Plateau. This massive sandstone plateau is so old that it contains no fossils!

   

At the level of the river that flows through the gorge, the view is attractive enough but the scenery is not especially stunning. From the air, however, it is quite spectacular. I have seen this view in photos and television shows but, as an experience, it remains an unrequited wish on my bucket list. If you click here, you will get an idea of what it’s like.

One way to add value to a visit to the gorge is to take a boat tour with Nitmiluk Tours, the tour company owned by the local Jawoyn people. (Nitmiluk is a Jawoyn word meaning ‘place of cicadas.) Most of the commentary is provided by Jamie, who began working in the park 25 years ago in his late teens. He has a vast knowledge of the park’s geology, ecosystems, flora and fauna, as well as the area’s significance to the Jawoyn.

Cruising through Katherine Gorge with James and Jamie from Nitmiluk Tours

Many of the local animals are nocturnal, in order to avoid the intense heat of the day. However, we did get to see a few crocodiles. Relax! These are freshwater crocs, smaller than the fearsome saltwater ones, and will only attack a human if they feel threatened. I have swum in a river where some lived and I’m here to tell you the tale.

If you click on this photo, you should be able to spot a crocodile lying along the water’s edge on the left-hand side. Great camouflaging!


The park is also renowned for its vast ‘collection’ of rock art, paintings which adorn the exposed faces of the plateau. Some of the works by the Jawoyn’s ancestors were painted more than 5,000 years ago. James, who is an initiated Jawoyn man, showed us a small sample. In this photo, you might see an image of a kangaroo on the right-hand side.

In the next two photos, you can see into the second of the thirteen gorges, and one of the many small, sandy beaches that form as the soft sandstone of the plateau erodes and washes down to the gorge. So, we learned a lot that was valuable but I’m still hankering for a visit by helicopter!

   

After we returned to the Ghan, we began the last leg of our journey by rail through the centre of Australia, arriving in Darwin just as the sun was setting. It had been a great journey, very comfortable, excellent meals and consistently good-quality service.

Two more national park adventures awaited us. Before those, we spent a day exploring the heart of Darwin, beginning with its hop-on, hop-off bus. It wasn’t the most glamorous of vehicles – not recommended for the summer months – but it took us to the popular sights, with a good recorded commentary, supplemented by the informative, good-natured driver.

Our first ‘hop-off’ location was the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT). Our priority here was the permanent exhibition about Cyclone Tracy, a small but intensely powerful cyclone which struck Darwin in the early hours of Christmas Day, 1974. 71 persons were killed and many more injured, 70% of houses were destroyed and all services were severed.

It was a traumatic event, felt keenly by most Australians, and it took many years to rebuild Australia’s northern-most capital city. So, it meant a lot to Maggie and I to learn more about the details of what occurred during and after the cyclone hit.

As were leaving MAGNT, we came across an unusual sculpture display in the building’s forecourt. Here is a sample.

What was this all about? You can read the answer in the next image, followed by another two of the pieces. They’re colourful and quirky, playing to the special place of ‘bush mechanics’ in the communities and culture of outback Australia.

   

We hopped on the next bus that came along and, on the advice of the driver, hopped off at a relatively new waterfront precinct to have a light lunch at an oyster bar. Here we are, glasses of prosecco in hand and about to share a dozen oysters, with trios of the molluscs prepared in four different ways. The oysters had been flown in from the southern coast of the country, more than 2,500 kilometres away, and they were as fresh as if they had just been harvested before we sat down. Thank you Mr Bus Driver!

Later that day, we went on a ‘sunset cruise’, one of the most popular activities with visitors to Darwin. We had dinner on the boat’s bow-end terrace, enjoying the balmy conditions and taking in the view.

   

Our lunch of oysters was one of four excellent meals we enjoyed while we were in Darwin. I mention this, because Darwin is a small, knock-about city, more famous for its beer-can-boat regatta than its food culture. And when it comes to food, expectations would be that most dining options would be either a variation on seafood, chips & salad, or a cuisine that reflects Darwin’s proximity to South East Asia.

Our other meals of note were at two bistros that specialised in tapas, one with a Moroccan bent, the other Spanish. Here is one example, featuring char-grilled kangaroo, served at Moorish, a renowned Darwin establishment. It was very more-ish indeed!

We had booked to travel all the way to Darwin on the Ghan mainly so we could travel out of the city to visit the Top End’s renowned national parks. So, our experiences in Darwin itself came as a bonus and we would recommend to anyone heading that way to spend a couple of days there.

As for the parks, I will share those stories in my next two posts.

Cheers for now!
Rick Grounds

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I’m still thinking about that painting

As foreshadowed in my previous post, I learnt a lot about the Wave Hill walk-off, a major event in modern Australian history, when Maggie and I viewed the Still in my mind exhibition in Alice Springs. In this post, I will tell you more about the painting that added wow factor to my educational experience.

(Note: I am grateful for permission from karungkarni Art & Culture Centre to share the information below, as well as assistance from Artback NT.)

The painting is called Aerial view of Jinparrak (Old Wave Hill Station). It is quite large, about 1.5 metres by 1 metre. You can see an image of the painting in full colour on page 7 of the document that is here.

If you are interested to see this through, I suggest that you keep the image open in one window, so you can hop from here to there, as we go along.

The work was painted in 2015 by two senior Gurindji artists, one female, one male, who lived at Jinparrak at the time of the walk-off in 1966. The woman’s name is Biddy Wavehill Yamawurr Nangala, and the man is Jimmy Wavehill Ngawanyja Nangala.

The exhibition’s catalogue includes a conversation that the two artists had, to explain what they were trying to do and why. Most of what they said was in their own language. Those words are reproduced in their entirety in the catalogue alongside English words that convey their meaning. Here, in English, is what they had to say, including some additional notes [in square brackets] from the catalogue.

Jimmy: This is the history – what I’ve seen with my own eyes – what it looked like at Wave Hill Station. I just improvised. It’s not a Dreamtime story or anything like that. It’s history from old people who used to tell me all kinds of things. I kept it all in my head.

I’d seen it from the old days so I thought, ‘I’ll have to put down [represent] that station.’ I just did it so people can be reminded when they listen to the stories.

[Describing the painting] I put down this bore here, and over here is where the babies were born. And over here is where the women went after they knocked off for the day – under the wanyarri (native bauhinia trees). We [the men]never used to go near there; we’d go round the long way. And from this bore, you see the boy-house. [Aboriginal stock workers were referred to as ‘boys’]. The stock boys used to get water from here. And from the big camp they came too. And on the other side of the boy-house, the river’s somewhere there. This is where people used to sleep in windbreaks [humpies made of branches and leaves] in the cold season.

Biddy: This was the ceremony place for the women. We used to go up there.

Jimmy: This is the boy-house and the big camp, and the yard from where people walked off. They followed the fenceline and came this way [the direction of Kalkaringi].

Biddy: There was only one bore for the whole camp. You had to fetch water with a yoke and bucket. Kartiya (white people) didn’t help us with taps.

Jimmy: One old lady used to go all the time with a bucket and [so did] the men from the boy-house. Kartiya didn’t live like that; they had taps and everything at the station at Wave Hill.

We thought about it and we decided to make the painting of the station so that people can see what it was like in the old days, because when people walked off, the station people went over everything with a bulldozer. They only left their buildings – maybe for history. They must’ve been angry and destroyed our camp. [Note: The camp was, in all likelihood, razed to destroy evidence of the poor conditions.]

I feel happy that I’ve created this piece of history so people can know something about Jinparrak where we’d lived all our lives.

Biddy: It’s nice and big, so you can see it properly.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Looking at the painting, you will see not only that it is quite magnificent but also how much detail it contains. The catalogue provides a key to the painting, identifying 37 different details. Here is that key. (If you click on it, you’ll be able to read it more readily.)

To me, Aerial view of Jinparrak is quite a treasure, for both its historical and cultural values. And, take this in. I am reliably informed that, 53 years after the walk-off, Biddy still recalls the name of every Aboriginal person who lived there – about 200 in all – and in which humpy they lived. Amazing!

Cheers for now!
Rick Grounds

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