Thursday, 14 February 2013

Street stories

Summer evening, Sturt Street Ballarat

Last Tuesday evening the Ballarat Historical Society and the Ballarat branch of the National Trust had a little walk and quiz, up and down Sturt Street. We had to find the details that would reveal the stories of the buildings along three blocks of Sturt Street. It was fun and tricky and  I still haven't located the Sennitt's icecream advertisement.

Looking closely, up, down and around, revealed some other stories built into the street. 


This building was once home to the Australian Native's Association. These particular natives were not indigenous people, they were locally-born British-Australians. The people who worked for Federation and built the unions that fought for safe and fair working conditions and wages.

And here is the spot where the Australian Workers Union began.

 Unions are deeply unfashionable at the moment. Does anyone remember the musical Reedy River, full of union songs and bush ballads, which I was brought up on? I can still sing every one of those songs! The music for the Ballad of Ninety-One (1891 Queensland shearer's strike) is here if you want a rousing song.

Of course Federation also marked the legal establishment of the White Australia Policy, enthusiastically sought by the unions, and  which caused Yin's family, among many others, a lot of pain and difficulty.

Then at the end of the walk I had a good look again at this.

This recent acknowledgement of the original owners of country is opposite the Ballarat Town Hall. Nowadays the Ballarat Town Hall flies the Australian flag, the Eureka flag and the red, black and gold flag of the first people of this country.
When I look at the list of land of the local Wada Wurrung clans I see the Wada Wurrung bulag of the Barrabool Hills. That's where the farm my family took up in the 1850s was. Along with many other families from the cramped towns of England, they came over to farm in the new colony of Victoria.
It's been five years since the nation apologised to it's first people. We've still got to follow up 'Sorry' with a constitutional acknowledgement, and last week Parliament  began the legal process.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Lunar New Year

It's Chinese or  Lunar New Year this weekend.
Last night Yin cooked  traditional vegetarian New Year's Eve dishes, including my favourite, the monks' vegetarian dish (Lo han jai is one English transliteration).
 It has fermented red bean curd sauce, sweet dry beancurd, dry bean curd sticks, black hair seaweed, gingko niuts, thread-fine rice vermicelli that is transparent when cooked, ear fungus, fat chinese mushrooms, and (not vegetarian because he can't help himself) chicken stock - but it doesn't need this).

Some things are soaked, some are marinated, some are fried until bubbly crisp.

Then all is stirred in together with the red bean curd sauce and simmered.

Then we eat it. 

It takes ages to make and Yin thinks it's a bit messy to look at, but this is the best dish ever!

Today we went in to Melbourne for New Year with the family. We saw the lions dancing through Footscray as we stopped for some red packets (we always forget something!), and a coffee and canoli at the last pasticceria left at the Footscray market.

This picture was taken before all the food brought by the rest of the family was put on the table.
Now the year can begin (again - see the previous post).