Monday, December 15

Australian Christmas Carols

At the time I grew up as a child Australia was more “English” than the English. We sang traditional English Christmas carols and songs about a winter wonderland each Christmas despite it being in the height of our hot summer. Our parents slaved over a hot stove to serve up our piping hot Christmas family dinner with plum pudding appropriate to any English household blanketed in snow.
At this time the landscape in Australia fades to brown, and is fanned by hot Northerly winds, which herald the beginning of the ever present threat of raging bush fires. Australia is a fragile land and one of the driest on planet earth.
The summer heat brings with it an increased chorus from our birds who loudly proclaim the new seasons bush flowers. At that time we would head for the beach or plan family picnics alongside cool streams by shaded trees.
Australian Composer John Wheeler captures that reality with these evocative words as Christmas carols, which we I like to sing each year. “Orana” is an aboriginal word meaning “Welcome”. Here are 3 of his carols

Carol of the Birds

Out on the planes the Brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like war horses prancing
Up to the sun the wood larks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing
Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas day

Down where the tree ferns grow by the river
There where the waters sparked and quiver
Deep in the gullies Bell birds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyrics notes rhyming
‘Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day

Friar birds sip the nectar of flowers
Currawongs chant in wattle tree boxes
In the blue ranges, Lorikeets calling
Carols of bush birds rising and falling
‘Orana! Orana! to Christmas Day

Christmas Day

The North Wind is tossing the leaves
The red dust is over the town
The sparrows are under the Eaves
And the grass in the paddock is brown

As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ child the heavenly King

The tree ferns in green gullies sway
The cool stream’s flow silently by
The joy bells are greeting the day
And the chimes are adrift in the sky

As we lift up our voices and sing
To the Christ Child the heavenly king
and the following added in by us to make up another verse
The south wind is blowing a gale
The white foam caresses the sand
The  grey gulls are greeting the whale
And the cool change refreshes the land

How about 3 wise drovers!!

Across the plains one Christmas night, 3 drovers riding by ….and gay
Looked up and saw a starry light, more radiant than the Milky Way
And on their hearts such wonder fell, they sang with joy “Noell Noell”

The air was dry with summer heat and smoke was on the yellow moon
But from the heavens faint and sweet came floating down a wondrous tune
And as they heard the sang full well, those Drovers 3 “Noell Noell”

The black swans flew across the sky, the wild dog called across the plain
The starry lustre blazed on high, still echoed on the heavenly strain
And still they sang “Noell Noell ” those drovers 3 “Noell Noell”
Tomorrow we entertain the oldies at Southern Cross Aged care with carols, which reminds me Christmas is upon us. This year marks our 30th year.

Monday, December 1

Phillip Island

We recently joined a group of friends who had organized a birthday party at Phillip Island, which is located 140 kilometers south-east of Melbourne. The island formed part of those lands inhabitated by the coastal aborigines called the Bunurong people and was discovered by George Bass in 1798 in his whaleboat measuring only 28 feet in length.

It now has a permanent population of 7500 residents and a large variety of migratory birds and native animals.

The most famous of which is the Cape Barron geese which are pictured below. Included below is the cottage where we stayed which was located on a few acres with a small orchard and many colourful flowers.

The Island has abundant wild life including Wombats, Kangaroos, Koalas and many migrating birds such as the Shearwater. These reamakable birds fly north along the western part of the Pacific Ocean to the Arctic region and return southwards through the centre of the ocean, travelling 15 000 kilometres in each direction annually. They have been known to fly this distance in just six weeks.