Another Country Diary gumboots
Another Country Diary


For some time I've been storing up whatever the digital equivalent is of scraps of paper, with observations about the pleasures (and pains) of living outside of the city. I've decided to 'go public' with this for the discipline involved (just shut up, sit down and write!), and the creative pressure in getting at least one reasonable descriptive photograph to accompany it. Any record keeping diary is like fighting a rear-guard action. After all, the event is done, unchangeably over before you write. If you're lucky you might have caught some significant moment or image that you can take into the rest of your week. It doesn't always work but I figure it's a task worth trying.


Links to images and other pages are in blue. After about a week of diary entries, they go to an archive.
19 January '03 -25 January
Some of these entries were from last week, and the fires just seemed more important to tell about. I've archived the 'missing entries' and you'll see them there in their correct date order. The week saw two trips to Sydney and the P&O wrap-up is almost done. I'm tired of juggling the two jobs so that will be a relief, (the garden has been neglected as well and I know what happens then).
On a Saturday morning outside the supermarket, if there's not a cake stall, there's usually a card table with a couple of folding chairs and someone selling raffle tickets. This week it was to raise money for the Country Muster music festival. The prize was a 3 way gas, battery and mains portable fridge. It appealed to the outback adventurer in me and I bought some tickets. 
There are angels in Bungendore and  er... (I have to be careful about this) ...and they're Real. 

I've been ready to tackle this topic for a while but I've been planning to take a more journalistic approach and investigate the story (talk to the sources, take some pictures, get an interview). For the last few years I've been taken by the posters around town for Avatar training. I presumed it's not to do with the Avatar characters used in online chatrooms but rather what I worked out it is a personal development, self-realization course. But since this was linked to online pages about angels and fairies being real and at the bottom of my Bungendore garden as well, then I'm jumping into this with my sarcastic skeptics hat pulled down over my eyes.

Now, I'm fascinated by angels and have some nice bits of angel lore stored away, and hanging above my bed for ten years there's been an early 1900's engraving of D.G. Rosetti's 'Dante's Dream' where an angel leads him to the death bed of Beatrice. I understand the argot. 
(You might like Gabriel García Márquez's short story 'A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.)

I'm also of the generation that helped turn the Internet into a commercially viable phenomena, subverting the dreams of geeks and academics who had altruistically started the thing. (Oh how can I sleep at night!) Well, along with building commercial websites I'm an advocate of the way it's changed personal publishing, killed and liberated the vanity press, and fosters the shared cultures that squeezed out in print as street zines. The web is perfectly made for people to spread their opinions wider than they could reach any other way, and I fuel that diversity in any way I can. 

Who cares if it's sometimes dull, intensely personal or screwball? It can be terrific. We are building a source of shared knowledge and if you browse the web with your sceptics hat on too, you'll find incredible sources of information that will fill your research needs and life interests. Just never consider personal websites more than the opinion of the person who builds the page. My personal suggestion is to mistrust anything that has long pages of centered text and web fonts specified that are only on their (Mac Powerbook) PC. Which brings us to the next site.    

Search Google for Bungendore, and a page or so in, you get the Bungendore Chamber of Commerce. Search for  angels 'and' Bungendore and you get the same page immediately. 

When you scroll through the Chamber of Commerce pages and business lists in Bungendore, you work out why. They've both been put together by the author of 'Angels are real' and 'The Angel and Fairy Alphabet'. It's obviously a great (if web-ugly) labour of love that sprawls across long pages with huge fonts and  littered with misspellings. If you view source you see it's built on a Mac and has Mac fonts specified that aren't on my PC.

(The Chamber of Commerce site seems to avoid mentioning a few local businesses like the Harp Inn Hotel but I'm sure there's a good reason for that, unrelated to the webmaster's Carrington Hotel involvement. Web searching for the author/presenter online I found details of the two day trainer course he quotes as his credentials, and a picture on the Camp Mongo Bear hirsute men photo page.  (The picture was removed some time after this diary entry appeared but like all our web sins it's still in the Wayback machine.) He looks somewhat different on his current website photo, but he appears like a nice guy, I've probably passed him in the street a number of times and even said hello.

I almost left the Bungendore / Angels there, but the references to this Avatar training being based on books by Harry Palmer lead me to another search. And to a lot more than I needed to know about the Avatar courses (they've apparently been around for years, how could I have missed them?). The course was developed by Palmer, a disillusioned Scientologist and he, and it, are the subject of some heated discussion and detailed historical background on sites like scientology-kills.com, and in the copyright court cases Palmer has started, to protect his Avatar courses commercial viability. These online documents explain the ideas behind the course, its costs and commercial nature. If you're interested in the course I'd do some online checking first. The number of Avatar websites online in different languages, show a benign promotional face but the other documents around, suggest commercial opportunism and raised my doubts. I like a good online tiff, (there have been battles in newsgroups, shutdown orders etc.) and this seems to have all the right ingredients of an alt.rec stoush.

So that's why I'll pass, on all those Bungendore Avatars, Angels and Fairies thank you. But I'm afraid the Chamber of Commerce is bound to them forever. 

*Since this entry ( a mere 5 years later) there's been an update to the Chamber of Commerce website, now very Wordpress and clean and winged beings free.

The heat of the concreted 'village square' area can be avoided under the wisteria canopy of the Heritage Cafe. It has the ice-cream parlour as well, and attracts good trade on warm weekends. The buildings around the three sides have been mostly restored but they have a toy village feel as they're still small in height and all weatherboard, with adjoining verandahs. When we came here there were a number of closed and dilapidated craft shops and one I seem to remember was a failed theatrical museum show of bushrangers or country life. Others have come and gone, almost all trying to sell the same crafty nick-knacks with nary a touch of good taste. In the photograph you see across the square to Michael Scott-Lees photographic gallery. The current shops have a bit more style and with the influx of sightseeing Canberrans on weekends, here's hoping they're viable.
Number 8 Malbon Street is always neat and the garden well kept. I always say hi to the old man on the verandah who has a prime view of the traffic and walking tourists. The hydrangeas are trimmed and the display lasts for months. The spruce tree on the left hand side of the house, I've photographed in all seasons but it is spectacular when covered in frost, an  iced explosion. 
'Bags not open the gate' was one of the kids exclamations from the back seat as we'd approach home. When it was just one child, they'd feign being asleep or some other ploy ("I haven't got my shoes on"). Now it's just Jan and I, and I'm usually driving, so she says 'bags not open the gate' and then she always opens it.
This sign reminded me of how we had to suggest that when the girls come home in the middle of the night (morning) that they turn the stereo down as they slow into the street. The car lights sweeping the room usually wake us but the thudding from a block away and the blast as they open the gate makes sure of that. 

I've lived in lots of city places where that noise wouldn't be noticed in the general background level. But here, we sometimes lie in bed, laugh and say 'Gee it's noisy' when the entire town seems asleep, there's no traffic on the highway with no swish and bump of tires over the railway lines, no dogs, no scuffling roosting birds or calls from far off cows. I've often quoted that Thoreau line about wanting to live far enough apart so he can't hear 'the sound of his neighbour's axe'. Maybe as I get old I'll feel like that, but for now, turn it down a bit, we're not too old for loud music, we're probably just sleeping. 
The clothing bins outside the Anglican church have been filled to overflowing and are now surrounded by plastic bags of more clothes. It's that time of the year, when a few days of tidying up the wardrobe is required to make way for Christmas gifts, or holidays have finally allowed time to clean out the drawers. When we rang the secondhand bookshop to see if they were open she pleaded for us not to bring any books in, and said she was in 'tidy the bookshelf' glut. It always amuses me to think how we're all doing the same things, but never admit were part of a mob. (Ok, I've been feeling like a demographic lately but I'll get over it.)
One occasion when I don't feel I'm a demographic or it's not been noticed yet, is by the the town's bread maker, the Gunnadoo Bakery. It obviously serves the town well and the bread and cakes have the mass market targeted. I sometimes buy a pie (pepper steak is recommended) but almost never buy the bread anymore, usually getting a sourdough loaf from Silo in Kingston. We'll buy six loaves (if we can -they sell out fast), usually stirato and baguettes, cut them in half, tie them up in a plastic bag and freeze them. A half loaf placed in the microwave to defrost for ten minutes comes out as if it was warm fresh bread, crusty and perfectly textured inside. When we've tried this with other loaves, like some Sydney french baguette loaves I brought back, the crust goes soft and chewy and it tastes like ... microwaved bread. The Silo sourdough is perfect for the process, but in this holiday season when Silo is closed and we haven't stocked up before hand, we have to go back to the local bakery.

C'mon Gunnadoo Bakery it's time for a crusty sourdough.

So, that's a Gunnadoo pumpkin loaf in the background, the usual white and fluffy texture but yellow coloured. It's there as a prop to the cheese in the foreground, a waxed Watsonia cheddar from West Australia. When we were traveling in WA before Christmas I missed taking a picture of an old, deserted, white painted shop front with the name Watsonia in a red Eternity-like copperplate script on the blank shop front. Beside it over a garage door was the word Watson that looked like someone had stopped or replaced a panel and never repainted the full logo. We traveled for a week, discovered the Watsonia wildflowers beside the roadways, but later learned it was the brand name of a WA. producer of cheese and smallgoods. I'm not sure you needed to know all that, but I needed to remember it, and the soft cheese is available here now, and is ok as well. 
 
Fred Harden  
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