6.5 C
Byron Shire
July 23, 2024

Here & Now #120 Water and tears

Latest News

Byron and Tweed Councils pursue housing project dreams

Long-held council dreams of new, affordable housing on public land in the Byron and Tweed Shires are closer to being realised, mayors say, with state and federal government support.

Other News

Youth crime

Boring as I might seem on this subject, National service is the most applicable method of getting ‘youth crime’...

Mullum’s future water supply Q&A

In the same week public submissions were published largely against Council staff plans to decommission Mullum’s local water supply in favour of bulk supplier Rous (see page 1), Greens Council candidates are calling for a pause on the decision until after the September 14 local government elections. 

Heilpern’s piece

Re Heilpern’s Echo piece last week. I am not Jewish, but married into the local Israeli community. If you...

King tide flooding in Ballina

King tides in Ballina are expected to cause minor flooding of some local roads this week.

What is happening in our community is tragic

Esther Berkon of the Facebook group ‘Jews for Palestine Northern Rivers’ spoke at the Byron Council meeting under that...

Dirty laundry

Beacon Laundry’s half-page ad (Echo, July 3) trumpets the promise of ‘clean karma’. This is the same business, a multimillion-dollar...

Here & Now 120 picS Sorrensen

Rocky Creek Dam. Tuesday, 12.15pm

She sits at the wooden picnic table, staring straight ahead, a paper plate in front of her. Behind her on the wall of the park facilities is a mural of the Rocky Creek Dam catchment area. She is small, frail and elderly.

Beside her, a younger woman with a large tray places a sandwich from it on the elder’s plate and wipes her mouth with a napkin. The elder doesn’t react and her eyes remain fixed on a group of young Japanese adults seated at the adjacent picnic table.

The young people are university students from southern Japan, barely into the second week of their four-week stay on the north coast. During that time, they’re studying English at Southern Cross University. That’s where I come in: I’m their teacher.

But it isn’t all classroom stuff.

Today, we’re free from the glare of fluoro lights, the smell of whiteboard marker and the trickiness of comparative adverbs.

Earlier, we visited the primary school at Dunoon whose students proudly showed us their school and displayed their musical skills on half a dozen marimbas. Every Dunoon student learns to play, and they played well.

The Japanese visitors were suitably impressed. Their own manual dexterity is more inclined to mobile internet than musical instrument. But they returned the melodic generosity by singing a Japanese song they’d practised in the classroom. (I’d suggested that such a reciprocation would be appropriate.)

Now, it’s lunch time, and ever the teacher, I have taught these visitors from the land of teppanyaki the finer points of proper cooking – the Australian barbecue.

The first fine point for these students of English is, of course, that ‘barbecue’ is spelt with a ‘c’ not a ‘q’, despite the word’s misleading aural signal, and despite how it’s spelt in giant letters on the shopfront of Barbeques Galore in Lismore.

The table is laden with plates of beef sausages, chicken steaks, fried eggs and bread rolls. There are bowls of fried onion and salad (lettuce tomato, cucumber). For taste, plastic bottles of sauces (red and brown) are lined up, ready for the squeezing.

And the students are noisily tucking in. They joke and laugh in rapid-fire Japanese. They like this place. So they should. Coming from a land where the water is threatened with contamination as a consequence of the Fukushima tsunami, the 31 square kilometres of catchment area surrounding the dam seem to be an Eden, producing clean, clear water which fills the dam and flows from northern rivers taps.

They are surprised when I tell them they can drink the water from the taps.

(I haven’t the heart to tell them that sodium silicofluoride will be added to their water during their stay here. By the government. Intentionally. They wouldn’t understand.)

The elder is not alone. While she ignores the sandwich on her plate, four other elderly folk eat theirs, assisted by the trio of carers. These other elders have grey hair, but she doesn’t. Her hair is dark. And her face has, I realise, Japanese features.

Being in this place of clean air and water, of barbecue sauce and chicken steak, a joy drops down on the students like a hungry kookaburra. One begins to sing the Japanese song he and his classmates sang at Dunoon:

Ue o muite arukou

Namida ga koborenai you ni

(I look up as I walk

So the tears won’t fall)

He has a sweet voice.

A smile blooms on the elder’s face, her eyes flash, and she sings, adding her loud, clear voice to the young bloke’s.

All the students join in and sing with her.

Omoidasu haru no hi

Hitoribotchi no yoru

(Remembering those spring days,

But I’m all alone tonight.)


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Tweed council catching up on DA backlog

Tweed Shire Council staff say they’re catching up on and reducing the number of outstanding development applications [DAs] lodged locally.

King tide flooding in Ballina

King tides in Ballina are expected to cause minor flooding of some local roads this week.

Teenage girl missing from Coffs Harbour

Police are asking the public for help finding a teenage girl reported missing from the Coffs Harbour area over the weekend.

Ballina motel siege: captives freed after 6 hrs

A man is to face court today after allegedly holding a woman and a small child against their will in a Ballina unit on Friday.