Friday, June 17, 2011
I’m grateful for the peace of Thursday Island:
It had been fifteen years since I was last on Thursday Island (TI) and above all else, I was looking forward the turquoise waters and balmy weather when I flew there last Monday. But as I arrived on Horn Island all my mind’s eye could see was Deadly Award winning muso Uncle Seaman Dan who wrote ‘TI Blues’ later made popular by the Mills Sisters. From the moment I boarded my ferry from Horn Island to TI, the gentle rhythm of water forced me to relax, something this chaotic city chick desperately needs!
I had less than 48 hours on the island, and yet have much to be grateful for, including:
1. ISLAND HOSPITALITY: I am extremely grateful and humbled by the extraordinary hospitality shown to me from the minute I arrived in the Torres Strait. My hostess and coordinator of my visit was the beautiful Chi Chi Fuji, a dynamic woman with a big smile and bigger heart. Alongside Chi Chi stood all the teachers at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart school lead by Principal Helen Kett. I’m also grateful to the local ladies for a cultural feast that still makes me smile just remembering it. Have you ever tried fried scones? You must! Thank you finally to Gabriel Bani and his family for sharing stories and culture through a formal presentation and through dance, via the Zuguwthiyam performers.
2. CREATIVE KIDS: The whole point and joy of my visit to TI was working with students from OLSH alongside students who came to join us from Hammond Island. What stunningly bright and creative kids they turned out to be. In very short periods of time they workshopped, wrote and performed raps, poems and the introduction to - and I quote one student - ‘the greatest novel ever!’ As you’ll see in the pics above and below, the students were filled with enthusiasm as well as ideas, and threw their hands in the air when I asked: who loves reading? who loves writing? And of course, who loves chocolate? I’m grateful for such gorgeous young people, many of whom I’m sure will be our future authors.
3. AILAN TAIM: I’ve mastered western time being a slave to the clock and anally scheduling everything. Of course I’m aware of but try not to abuse ‘Koori Time’ but I got a taste of ailan taim (island time) on TI. Unfortunately I did’t have enough time to appreciate it fully. I’m grateful though that I did feel myself moving a little slower on my final morning there. Perhaps it had something to do with eating breakfast with one of the most stunning views on the planet as my companion.
4. THE WATERFRONT: Different people call the space where the land meets the sea different things. Some call it the waterfront, others the promenade, me, I’d probably call it an esplanade. Regardless of what you term it, I found that land-meets-sea area to be the most soothing and inspiring place during my short stay. With public art including turtles and shells, seats facing the glassy sea and plenty of trees to lie under, it was hard not to feel at peace. For a fleeting moment of utopia, I am grateful.
5. GAB TITUI CULTURAL CENTRE: I was grateful for a quick visit to Gabi Titui where I met Operations Manager Mary Bani, took a stroll through Ephraim Bani Gallery and got an insight into the regions unique arts and cultures. I also enjoyed the best coffee on the island at Ilan Cafe. It’s already Winner of the QLD Tourism Awards for 2005/06 and 07 and with plans to extend the space there’s no doubt it will continue to be the tourist focus of TI.
Finally, I’m also grateful to Br Tim from OLSH for his deadly photographic skills as seen here.
I'd like to acknowledge the Indigenous Regional Development Fund through the Torres Strait Regional Authority for making my visit possible.