December 2022 Editorial

 

Welcome to Country

This spring Knox Environment Society is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Those who remember the little plant nursery in the 1990s, tucked away behind what is now Eastern Ranges College, will congratulate KES. Its present venue in FTG Reserve notably displays the return to bushland, while the new shed facilitates seed work and sales.

Since KES works to restore this municipality of foothills and flood plain to something of the ‘pre-settlement’ state, the invitation to Aboriginal man Thane Garvey to conduct a Smoking Ceremony is an appropriate gesture. Noel Pearson in his Boyer Lectures suggested we look at Australian history in three stages: the thousands of years of the First Peoples, then two hundred years of European settlement and a recent and continuing period of modern multiculturalism.

Ceremonies connect us to each other and to place and time. The healing and cleansing qualities of perfumed smoke have been used in many cultures (including incense and oils in Christian services).

By now in our area, the mix of cultural ceremonial is rich and made more so by ‘converting’ northern hemisphere seasonal rituals. So Gully News has been reporting ‘Christmas in July’, Diwali Festival of Lights at the Hindu temple, Halloween at Mountain Gate and around the shops. We are now preparing for Christmas lights in Chestnut Avenue and noting times of church services to celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December. By the time the next issue of FTG News appears, we will have seen in the Chinese New Year (not to mention the Boxing Day Test, the Australian Open or the many other family patterns of end of year and holidays).

These rituals can be automatic, even thoughtless, but can also be triggers for awareness of who we are and what we can be. They give us a sense of home. Around here, people say ‘living in the shadow of the mountain has changed me’. We may not know it, but in this we join with First Peoples who see in the mountain range Corhanwarrabul, the mother, outlined as a woman lying on her side. The ways to ‘be at home’ are all around us.

There was a time when I would settle for singing in the choir at Midnight Mass and going to the MCG on Boxing Day. Now, In the face of limited mobility, I can ‘lift up my eyes to the mountain’ whenever I want. And look forward to the first arrival of a yarning circle around here.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this year’s six issues of Gully News. We look forward to hearing about new ventures planned for 2023 and more stories about making a home in the hills.

Anne Boyd

Editor Anne Boyd. Photo: Julian Meehan, Voices Over 55 exhibition 2019.