Sunday, 22 March 2015

Operation Slipper parade

This was the action at the corner outside my home yesterday morning.

Men with machine guns, helmets, body armour, sniffer dogs, and mine sweeping equipment. Helicopters roared low overhead.

There was a reason.

This was at the beginning of the welcome home parade to mark the end of Operation Slipper.
Thousands of soldiers, sailors, and airmen marched through the city streets. Various dogs who work in war zones. Massive trucks. A band. Fat, thin, young, old, and medals galore on their chests. The entire parade sent shivers through my body. Just incredible.

Great crowd. There was an official ceremony in the middle of the CBD with the commanding officers taking the salute.
At the end an enormous celebration was held at the cenotaph. Lots and lots of families celebrating the brave efforts of mums, dads and others who fought in Afghanistan on behalf of our country. More speeches. Bugles. Flags. Very respectful, but still family-friendly.

The following photos are from Nine News Darwin, one of the local television news services.

School children displayed banners. This was just one school, there were more.

A small section of the Army contingent.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015


Am I conservative? You know I am.
Am I a stickler for good grammar? Mostly in other people, and I miss my own mistakes.
Lately I have been teaching one of my students about apostrophes. Here are some good examples you might enjoy too.

I wonder how people feel after ten years of living with a tattoo mistake.

These are all from the Grammarly blog.
The internet is a wonderful source of extra examples for my students.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Thought provoking pictures

A friend sent me these pictures on Facebook and I traced them back a little bit. They are intended to invite discussion and to make us question our attitudes. And it works for me. Very well.

These pictures are by Pawel Kuczynski, a Polish illustrator. I encourage you to do a search for more of his pictures. If you do not like what he is saying, then consider why he might think his way.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Opening of Parliament 2015

My choir, the Darwin Chorale, was asked to sing at the opening of Parliament for this year. This is a formal occasion and is attended by many dignitaries. It also coincides with the Chinese New Year. The Choir was in the gallery to lead in the singing of the national anthem.
The main entrance to  Parliament House.
We have only one House for our Parliament, the Legislative Assembly. This is the view of the empty chamber. The Speaker sits at an elevated desk seen in the lower right corner. The Speaker is an elected member of Parliament and it is a great honour to be selected for this role. Her job is control debate and ensure all proceedings are conducted lawfully and with respect.
The members' desks are on two different levels and a third level behind is for guests.There is a magnificent crocodile skin on the central desk just near the despatch boxes where documents are held. The croc hide is a local product from an industry that is vital to our economy and our identity. All the timber is from the Northern Territory. You can just make out the mace on the table near the books of laws and the chairs of the Presiding Officers.

You can see the guests in their finery in the next photo. Several classes of school children had come to watch as part of their studies. The Air Force Cadets formed a guard of honour. The Lord Mayor or Darwin and the Lord Mayor of Palmerston wore their official robes. The most senior officers of the Army, Navy, and Air Force were present and wore their formal uniforms and medals. If you are important, you attended this.

During the ceremony there was a blessing from the Anglican Archbishop as a representative of the Christian community and a blessing by the dragons of the Chung Wah Society representing the Asian community, specifically the Chinese. At times there have been more Chinese residents in our city than people of any other heritage. Christianity has provided a philosophical basis for our laws and legal system. There were no representatives of other religions as official guests that day.

The Chung Wah Society performed brilliantly. We were all allowed to take photos.There were two dragons and the dancers were very energetic and clever. They went to each sitting member and danced before him or her. That person then demonstrated goodwill and a desire for prosperity by feeding the dragon the traditional red envelope. It should have contained a gift of money. After each member of Parliament had been honoured by a dragon there was a dance before the bunch of leaves. The dancer had to jump up and grab the leaves and pretend to devour them.

After the dragons left the chamber all members and guests were invited to have morning tea in the Great Hall. A really splendid morning tea was provided with a separate menu for the students too. Hundreds of us all milling about.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

2015 Bombing of Darwin ceremony

Old soldiers
Such a lot has been happening that I have not made time to post here.

A few weeks ago we had the Bombing of Darwin ceremonies. This is a National Day of Significance and marks the first time, on 19 February 1942, that Australian soil was ever bombed by an enemy. The ceremony is a major event in Darwin and visitors come from far away to attend. It is extremely moving.

This is the Peary memorial. The gun points to the wreck.
I am sure you know that the enemy was the same squadron that had earlier bombed Pearl Harbour. The difference was that in the instance of Pearl Harbour the US Government had been warned by New Zealand that the attack was imminent, but there was no intelligence to indicate that northern Australia was the next target. When a warning was sent to Darwin from the Tiwi Islands early on the day it was not believed. This is the way of war.

Soloists entertaining the crowd.
Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
The band played wonderfully well.
The choir is at the back of the tent.
Before our ceremony at the cenotaph there was another ceremony at the Peary memorial in honour of the 88 US servicemen who lost their lives in the first raid. The USS Peary remains at the bottom of the harbour and is clearly marked by a yellow buoy. This is a registered War Grave. I see this buoy every day from my home.

Few of us are able to take time off work for this ceremony.
It is not a public holiday.
The music for the ceremony was played by the Australian Army Band supplemented by the Arafura Wind Ensemble. My choir sang. A trio of singers entertained the crowd prior to the commencement of the ceremony.

Another ceremony was held down at the wharf where many workers and sailors lost their lives. One of the casualties was the hospital ship Manunda; no survivors. Captain William Michie, a relative of my husband, died on the MV Neptuna that day. It was carrying munitions.

The vintage plane
that flew over
We had a huge crowd. Soldiers old and new wore their medals proudly. Solemn speeches brought tears to the eye. Many wreaths were laid. School children took part. A vintage plane flew over followed by fighter jets from the Australian Air Force. The Army provided a re-enactment of a scene from that dreadful day.

The photos above are not mine. The big ones are from Eleanor Wilks a local professional photographer. The small photos are from the NT News our local newspaper. (I was at the back of the tent during the ceremony of course.)
This was taken before the ceremony.
It just shows part of the preparation for the re-enactment.
The cenotaph is on the left where you see flags.
Beyond the fence is a cliff and the harbour.

There were two huge pavilions like this and some smaller tents.
After they were filled the crowd stood under the trees.
It had been raining quite a lot and the ground was boggy.
These two photos are mine and were taken while we waited for everything to be ready. It was extremely hot and humid. Perspiration dripped from our chins. But the officers and military personnel in uniform and guests in suits never indicated they were uncomfortable.