Friday, August 31, 2012

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 28/8/201

I grew up just over the hill from the bush up the back of our place in Bridgetown.

The bush was a place I visited whenever I came home after boarding school, travel, or life in the Big Swirl, Perth.

My grandfather, Roy Doust, grew up in the bush, played with the local Googliup  mob, hunted, fished, camped, observed.

He remembered well the Googliup people laughing at his ignorance, but by the time I was born he knew more than most.

It was him who taught us the evil ways of the kookaburra, the bird introduced from Victoria to clean up the much feared snake population. Roy claimed the kookaburra was the greatest destroyer of native fauna, second only to humans.

We hunted a range of animals, rabbits, kangaroos, fish, but nothing got our blood boiling like a kookaburra.
In 1972, while sitting on his veranda, Roy said: “We’ve gone too far, Jon. They have to stop clearing the bush now.”

If anyone knew when the time had come to stop, it was Roy, his bush loving mates and the Googliup people.
Yet here we are, 41 years later, still clearing as though leaving tiny pockets of bush will satisfy the birds and the bees and the rest of us will soon forget we ever had a fight on our hands.

Roy loved Albany and once swam for his life when he was washed into the ocean by a king wave. It is my firm belief that the plan for Bayonet Head would look like another nail in another coffin to Roy and on his behalf I hang my head in shame, for too many of us know not what we do.

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 14/8/201

I’m exhausted. No idea why, because nothing ever happens in this town. 

I grew up in Bridgetown in the 50s and 60s and nothing happened then either.

Sure, there was the golf club and the goings-on after the 18th. Then there was the repertory club with its great pantos, plays and all sorts back stage and the annual apple harvest along with the Apple Festival that went with it.

The annual show was amazing too; and the Soap Box Derby at Easter was always spectacular, particularly the year Big Johnny Jones knocked that old lady for six.

As for us, we rolled down hills in 44-gallon drums, played cowboys and Indians, swam in the Blackwood River, made dams during floods, caught trout all over the place, shot rabbits and other edibles, but, to be honest, nothing much happened.

Sport was big too, with the Nelson Football Association bringing the region’s towns together once a week to bash each other senseless.

But apart from all that, nothing, not a thing.

In the 70’s I wandered around the planet, tried a number of other places where nothing went on, Israel, South Africa, Europe, then I moved to Perth. What a dump, not a thing happened in the entire 28 years I lived there.

Finally we settled into Albany. Why? We heard it was called “God’s waiting room”, but it has turned into some kind of hell because the last couple of weeks we’ve been out every night, having dinner with friends, at the Entertainment Centre, diving into the Great Southern Ocean, or catching live music.

Sunday night we fell into lounge chairs, looked at each other and said: What is it with us, everywhere we go, nothing ever happens?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 31/7/201

Most nights as she reads the paper over the evening meal, my partner says: The world’s gone mad.

I remind her that it has not “gone” mad, because it has always been mad. It only seems madder now because we live in it and every paper is full of a new kind of madness.

A new kind of madness on the increase is a personal favourite of mine. It has to do with insurance.
Insurance is why you don’t see children up trees anymore, or running in the street with a footy and why there are no bull fights in Albany run by expatriate Spaniards.

Public indemnity insurance is killing us, not us, as such, but our willingness to take responsibility for ourselves and to take simple risks.

It is a problem in all countries heavily influenced by that most litigious of counties, the United State of America. It is not an issue in Spain, Italy, or Uzbekistan, but it is a major concern in Australia, New Zealand, Israel and growing rapidly in the UK.

Here is a recent example we should note.

A women employed by a Commonwealth Government department was sent to a country town for work, there she met a man and took him back to her room for sex. During the action a glass light fitting was broken and the woman sustained injuries.

She sued the government’s workplace safety body and won. The judge ruled the woman had sustained her injuries in the course of her employment.

My advice to baby boomers without enough super is don’t retire just yet, wait until the bedroom action gets real risky, because there could be money in it for you.

The Doust Files - Albany Advertiser 17/7/201

During NAIDOC week my old mate, Pete, and I went out to the airport to pick up that great old dame, Mary G, Black Queen of the Kimberley.

We didn’t find her, but we did find the bloke who morphs into her, Mark Bin Barkar, a Kitja man from the deep north.

Mark was down here to talk to parents and students at Spencer Park Primary School and what a time they had.

He spoke first to the parents wearing pants and a shirt, then he slipped into something more comfortable, a long dress and heavy makeup, and gave the youngsters plenty to think and laugh about.

If you aren’t too sure who Mark is, let me help: West Australian of the Year 2007; Amnesty International Medallion Recipient 2005; Chairperson Kimberley Stolen Generation Committee; comedian with a regular radio show broadcast to over 100 radio stations around Australia every Wednesday night; talented musician and compatriot of that great Broome mob, the Pigram Brothers.

In other words, Mark doesn’t get thumb twiddling.

I first met him in Perth, around 1986, after he had setup AbMusic to help Aboriginal people on their musical journeys.  He had come down from Broome to complete his boilermaker-welder apprenticeship.
He made me laugh as soon as I set eyes on him and we’ve been welded ever since.

Pete and I had a great two days with Mark and his champion wife, Tania, telling tall tales and laughing our heads off, but what really made Pete sit up was when Mark said: “The Noongar is rising.”

“You Noongars bore the brunt of the Wadjela invasion, but I reckon your time has come.”
Pete smiled. I think he knows something.