My family arrived in Boonah last Friday night, and stayed at the tranquil home of my friend Elizabeth who is a local resident and greatly involved in her local community’s efforts for sustainability. After enjoying a beautiful misty sunrise and breakfast, we headed up the next day to the World Environment Day festival which was being hosted by BOSS (Boonah Organisation for a Sustainable Shire). The most striking thing to attract our attention when we first arrived was the Vomitor, made from recycled materials and warning us what will happen if we don’t stop littering!
At tenish the traditional welcome from the Ugurapul people happened, conducted by Douglas James, his wife Denise and others from their community.
This was full of ceremony and quite moving. It included a reenactment of what should have happened when new people arrived on these shores, and a smoking ceremony.
After the traditional acknowledgement I gave a short official welcome speech and shared a poem especially written for the festival and dedicated to its themes. I spoke about how poetry is in everything, the totems that many of the Indigenous people’s of the world have and shared that my family totem from PNG is the Bird of Paradise.
I remembered my youth growing up in Tasmania and working with others to in my community to make sure the Franklin stayed wild river. I read out some statistics on the state of the environment in Australia and read ‘River Song’ from Magic Fish Dreaming. I focused on the power of unity and collective action from everyone in whatever capacity they can to bring about change in the world, and mentioned the story of Jadev Peyang.
My dear children shared three songs, and it is so good to see them continue to build their confidence performing in public!
There were more things happening throughout the day in the main stage area, but I mostly spent my time in the sheltered area on my book stall, selling books and was treated to some lovely chats with locals, visitors and other stall holders.
We encouraged people to contribute to a group poem, with about 15 people stopping to participate in this. You can read FROM LOVE – HERE.
Participants, all ages particularly liked the magnet play to create parts of the poem. Here are a series of photographs on the poem in progress.
I managed to sneak up the top on a break to see the following dancers, due to having my dear family on hand to help me out.
The highlight of the day was making friends with Rebecca Brain (BOSS Vice President), also from PNG. I was so delighted when she took a copy of the book home to read to her children, which I wanted to gift to her, but she insisted she had to pay me something, and paid me the retailers price and presented me with a bilum as well. Quigley the Quoll loved that bilum!
I met some other lovely stall holders, food van people, performers, and non profits as well as the singers of the day stopping by to say hello and offer encouragement to my kids for their music. That was just lovely. There was also a storyteller, or was it bush poet who came and told me a long joke about Salmon Rushdie and the Atlantic ocean, because my book reminded him of it… (due to being about a fish.)
Pictured (above) are the not for profit Days for Girls making a difference. There was a whole range of workshops, films, face painting, and demonstrations going on, but I didn’t have a chance to capture all that as I was chatting with people at the stall, about poetry, totems, environment and more.
Dear Elizabeth dropped by a few times to see how it was all going.
I just loved meeting so many interesting people in Boonah.
A massive, massive thank you to the people of Boonah as well as my friend Norah who said hello. May your festival go from strength to strength.
It was also a lovely surprise for my hubby to see the father of a friend from his childhood, who now lives in Boonah!
For more photographs of the day head to my FLICKR SET
You can find out more about BOSS on their facebook page. HERE