Friday, 26 September 2014

From Gordon to Clare and Ivanhoe with Love.

While Phill was touring down South along the Murray, Julie was headed out West to Ivanhoe and Clare with a group of 4 from Gordon Uniting Church. As part of the Church Links program, arrangements have been made for a relationship to be formed between the large city church of Gordon Uniting and the tiny town of Clare.

Janet and Paul, Bruce and Rosemary.

The idea of the Church Links program is for a city church to lend expertise and resources to a small isolated town and school and share, in return, the joys and adventure of living "out West." In a small isolated place there are often plenty of good ideas but not enough people to do them or to pay for them.

 Gordon Church hopes to fill that gap and join in the fun of helping to make things happen.This visit was a preliminary one to see and discuss, what input there could be.

The group with Megan Baker at Clare School

The group comprising Paul and Janet Swaddling and Rosemary and Bruce Watson arrived in Hillston  in time to join the Tuesday night bible study group.The next day they travelled, with Julie, to Clare, the most isolated school in NSW. Headed by Teaching - Principal, Megan Baker, the 8 student school is impressive -well equipped, with a lot of learning going on and a P & C who make a big effort to keep the school looking great.

Children at Ivanhoe central enjoy a visit.

Next stop was Ivanhoe for afternoon tea with the Mayor, School Principal and other community members, and then dinner with the Lion's Club, to find out more about the area. There is a possibility of 8involvement with the Youth Centre run by the very capable, John Walker, and at the school. Ivanhoe Central School Principal, Mark Denismore, gave the group a great tour.

Discussions with John Walker about the Youth Club.

Impromptu visits over coffee with the small the faith community in Ivanhoe, the only congregation in town, now pastored by a young Aboriginal couple from Brisbane and the Salvation Army Rural Chaplains, Maree and Trevor Strong, who were visiting pastoral properties in the area were enjoyed by all, before the return to Hillston and then home.

The Uniting Church places a great emphasis on being in Mission in the community and these partnerships are ideal opportunities for churches to be at mission in places where there is very minimal or no formal congregations.They aim to build long term relationships between the church and the community with both sides benefiting from the skills and strengths of the other.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Murray Darling Tour 2 - "Seeking to Hear All Voices Involved in the Life of the Rivers " -

A good view of the Barmah Lake from the The Kingfisher Cruise plus the speed of the Murray as it rushes down  

We were now running late as the stop at Savernake Station was a last minute add-in but worth it!
Finley is a farming community. The Church Fellowship had done a lunch that was wonderful- the choices! Yum O! The format of our time there was same as before with a forum of 3 speakers - Tim Strong, a rice Farmer and Malcom  Holm, a dairy farmer and Perin  Davey, a water policy officer with Murray Irrigation. We were also treated to some great songs from Kathryn Creek, Paul and Dorothy’s daughter, great songs! Dorothy was joining the group from this point, as was Myra Cowell, a leader here at Finley.

Uniting Church Finley NSW

After great insight from the speakers it was off, out and open the bus, check all aboard, out to the Dairy Farm for a visit. City to the country big time - 750+ cows lined up to meet us   as well as being milked. Round and round they went. The size of the cows surprised some. After some input from Malcom, history from Myra, as she also lived and used to farm here, it was down to see the calves.

Myung Wha, the Moderator Elect, get's in touch with the locals.

Visit to the Dairy 

Then, well – “Head ‘em up, move ‘em out” heading to dinner and sleep at Maidens Inn Caravan Park Moama NSW. We had by now crossed in and out of NSW and Victoria more than 18 times. I lost count after 18 but we were to cross that river many more times in the days to come. As we pulled up Paul met us with the usual “Where you been!?” We unpacked and it was back out for dinner at the club down the road.

Next morning- round to Barmah for a River Cruise. This was the cruise Lyn and I did (see photos in the blog (May 9th 2014) and Insights. Today was a bit fresh so the water bird life was not coming out for a photo but the commentary and answers to many questions where good. We learned a lot before heading back to the Barmah Hotel for a pre- ordered lunch. (Lucky Paul kept the list as many forgot what they had asked for!)

Under the this River Gum is a lot of  signs of early meetings 

Over to the Yenbeena Indigenous Training Cultural Centre where Shaun spoke to us on his people and culture “we ground ourselves in our dance to the land“   he said, taking the stance and stamping his feet as we see in many dance moves and“ we have to sit on our bottom on the land.” The “Yorta Yorta” people have lived along the river from the time of the earth’s plate moving. He told of his grandmother’s stories of the people seeing the water change and them climbing up the hill to escape it.  He also spelt out much of the “Lore .“ (See photo of white board questions) His people ask,” Where you from, where you going?”, their trading paths and song lines took them far and wide. I found this all very interesting.

We then went to Echuca, through the Cadell Fault made 25000 years ago, to the Historic Port Interactive centre.   Here we got a guide’s eye view of the history of the Port. Very interesting! No time to look at all the “old” boys toys unfortunately but we did see a very modern sight on the river. A boat went passed with a man standing up with strange thing strapped to his back, a Google earth camera. Must check to see if our group made Google earth!

Emma Ivan and Myra at Echuca Forum 
 We met later for next the  Forum.I was chairperson this time. Our guest was, Emma, who works for the Murray Darling Water Authority and is on local council. She was very excited that we took this issue so seriously as to take this time to tour the area and that the Uniting Church was seeking to hear all voices involved in the life of the rivers, that she drove up from Melbourne. One of the people at Albury had rung and told her about us and she decided she needed to meet with us, so glad she did!  We also had 2 more members join our group for the day and night, Rev Hawea Jackson and his wife Janice, who sang some songs to open the event. It was good conversation from the panel and Emma. The night ended and home to bed. 

The old way of using the Murray 
I found this re visit to the Barmah area still opened new things to me as we came with an agenda to hear how it affected lives of those on the river. Not all felt this was enough and more answers were needed but we came to listen to the role of all stake holders which is vital to the life of the river if it is to stay healthy.

 There is still more listening and looking to do, questions now flow easy for this “Community” that is forming in the bus as it travels along. 

Phill Matthews 

Friday, 12 September 2014

Murray Darling Tour 1- “What's this Got to Do with the Church ?”

What time do we go? How long do we have and where do I sit? Some of the questions asked daily on our trip. We were also asked to reflect on what we saw, what did we learn and how has it changed us? 

Where do you start when your head is so full of great memories and you just travelled 5000 km over 17 days? The last 8 days are the main story of the next few blogs; there so much to share.

"Sunrise over Lake Hume. What a sight!  Worth getting up so early!" 
We picked up our group in Albury. The first night was worship and a forum, plus yummy soup of all kinds!  Well done Albury!
 But this was not just a holiday tour. We went to hear “the voice of the people of the river land”. We travelled 2296Km -from Albury to Wentworth and back to Albury. We covered many places but you have to follow the blog to find out which ones. Up to 22 people journeyed the river lands, some for the full time, others a part. Enough facts. Time for the view from the front seat.

Miriam Pepper at the Albury forum
  At the stops we had, one of the main questions to us was “What's this got to do with the church?" This came from churched and non- churched people. I hope by the end of these blogs you will see "what it’s got to do with the church.”

The forums where made up of a speaker section of one or more people, followed by a panel made up of the speakers and some of the members of the tours.

In Albury tour member, John Goss, joined Max Finlayson as the speakers and  Paul Creek and I were on a panel with the speakers. This set up a good start with a number of people in attendance, a wonderful service by Christine Moi Moi  and our daily reflection by Geraldine Leonard,  which were a great help. 

Hume Dam 

Next day we were on the road to see sunrise over Lake Hume. What a sight!  Worth getting up so early! 
(Travel tip- Don’t share cabins with farmers.) 
We travelled round the area for the day, visiting the weir wall, then - heart break!  The shop was not making coffee for another hour so we travelled to Corryong, a river town with museum and coffee shops. Yes!! Safety at last!

Pipeline at Murray water transfer station
We then travelled out to “Murray 1 “power station and visitor centre," the giant pipe, bringing water to the complex, followed the slope of the hill down. We spoke of it as a power station but it is a water transfer station. The power was a by- product.  One of our group, Charles, had worked on the scheme many years ago. His joy was to return. Sadly, he could not do the tour as the 45 stairs were seen as too much for him, as he had mobility issues.

After that we were off to see a tree plantation that had been burnt out in a bush fire a few years ago, followed by dinner at the pub -Jingellic Hotel- worth the trip!

 Rain showers made the trip back to camp a little more challenging dodging wombats and roos .(Aarrgh! -flash backs!) Charles kept watch too! 

The next day we moved on from Albury to Finley, stopping for a break at Corowa Chocolate Factory for coffee and chocolate. We dropped off the cars of those who had driven to Albury, then  everyone joined the bus for the rest of the tour.

Rare lichen on Savernake Station
We also called into “Savernake Station” on our way to Finley. The house was built in 1862.We were met by Ann Sloane, the owner of this wonderful place. She and her husband, Alex, have a passion for the land, history and environment.

I could do a whole blog just on the 3/4  hour or so we had there but on we went, leaving the old buildings ,the rediscovered lichen and rare plants in our dust; on to meet, eat with and talk to, the Finley Church.

Next time - Finley forum, the Rice Farmer and dairy farm plus calves, the forest , the Yorta Yorta people run a great Yenbeena Indigenous Training Cultural Centre, river cruises and lots more!

Including .......  

Phill Matthews

Friday, 5 September 2014

English Classes get the Thumbs Up in Hillston

Tommy (Jihoon Kim), Jenny Moran, Roma Cashmere and Andrew (also Jihoon Kim)
 enjoy English lessons together each week with Sue Chapman.

Every Monday before the night shift starts at the cotton gin, Andrew,who is a musician in Korea and Tommy,who is a trained mechanic, join fellow class mate,Yoko,who works at the local motel and Roma, Jenny and Sue, for Conversation Group to practise their English. We have met for several months and are now friends, despite the age differences, such is the graciousness of the Koreans and Japanese, and the generosity of the Australians.

Conversation Group aims to give an opportunity for those in town wanting to improve their English to practise speaking with native speakers. And speak we do!
(Our Korean and Japanese is improving slowly and their English is improving rapidly.)

We have a lot of fun together in the hour we share - playing word games such as "Scattegories", "Animal,Vegetable, Mineral", finding out about each others countries, language and culture during conversation time and doing more brain work during vocab extension time.

                 Yoko tells Jenny and Roma about Japan.

The Innovations grant from Unitingcare Aging, which you have heard about before on the blog,
has provided us with the funds to hire an experienced ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher to run a workshop in town  for all our volunteer Conversation Group native speakers.

We aim to increase our knowledge and resources to so we can better provide this great service to our visitors from other countries and to non-native speaking locals in our own community..

The gin contracts only last a few more weeks and once all the cotton is ginned our friends will have to move on to other parts of Australia or back home.  It will be .....
" Farewell. We hope to see ya later,." 
 and "An nyung ha say yo" for all of us.
They will be missed!

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