Friday, 11 July 2008

dogs and spirituality in Darebin Parklands

Today Penny had to wait till the afternoon for her regular outing to Darebin Parklands, the beautiful urban wilderness at the bottom of our street, because we were busy welcoming a large group of overseas visitors to the park. Thirty-six young people from Korea and sixteen from France walked the Spiritual Healing Trail under the leadership of a local Aboriginal guide.

As part of the welcoming group we couldn't take Penny with us, so it felt strange to be there without her. However, as usual, there were plenty of people walking with their dogs and the young people seemed to enjoy meeting the local canines.

At one point on the trail we all sat down on small rocks and meditated, whilst our guide played the haunting tones of the didgeridoo. As the music echoed around the bushy hillside, soft rain beat a gentle rhythm on our umbrellas. The purpose of the meditation was to gather our thoughts and use the tranquil surroundings to reflect on the issues that are concerning us at present. I used the time to try to come to terms with the anger and frustration I feel that local authorities are determined to drastically reduce off-lead dog walking in this beautiful park that is so central to my life.

It was interesting to walk along the Banyule side of the creek. It's an area where dogs have to be on lead so we don't go there. Luckily the rain had stopped, so the creek wasn't up over the stepping stones and we could all make our way back to the Alphington side of the creek.

In the flat ground on the other side we took part in an Aboriginal smoking ceremony, in which we took turns to step into the smoke - our guide said this ceremony would bless the young people in their time in Australia.

A final part of the Healing Trail was at the arched bridge, where each of us dropped a leaf into the creek, thinking about those issues we have no control over. I found this more than a little ironic, seeing I am seething with frustration about the way my love of walking with Penny in this park has been dismissed as having no importance.

After this wonderfully inspiring morning we arrived home tired out. So what did we do? Yes, you're right! We set off back to the park, this time with Penny. If we can't manage to change the mind of the Powers That Be about forbidding off-lead walking, we need to build up as many happy memories as we can, to help us get through the loss and sadness when we can no longer enjoy the park.


Beta said...

Your park sounds like a great place to walk on or off leash. I hope you will always be able to enjoy it.

parlance said...

Beta, you're right, it is a beautiful place and I guess we'll have to enjoy it in the more limited way if that's the way the decision goes. But in the meantime we'll fight to make the decision go in the direction of more freedom.

Mark Lawrence said...

I'm glad you got a lot out of the Aboriginal healing ceremony.

Happy (belated) NAIDOC Week!

And I do hope you take some comfort from the possibility that you can still use the park for walks with a lead. Surely all is not lost.

parlance said...

You're right, Mark. We'll try to change the minds of 'the authorities' but we'll still love this beautiful place even if we can't.
I hadn't realised the Healing Trail was a gift from the local Aboriginal people as part of the reconciliation process. I had never understood the HealingTrail, before that day, even though I'd read the signs.
To be taken around by Troy Blow was a different experience indeed. It was very special.
There are some nice photos of him on
My sister also got some lovely shots of him. He was a gentle and confident leader.

The Aphasia Decoder.... said...

I heard a didgeridoo here in the U.S. a few years ago that was touring with a worlds beat show. You're right, it does have a haunting sound.

Your park sounds lovely.

Levi's mom

Amber-Mae said...

What a loverly place! We should always have a choice to walk on or off-leash. I mean those dogs who owners have good control, there shouldn't be a problem walking without a leash on. We always walk off-leash but Faith always stays on just on case.

Butt wiggles,
Solid Gold Dancer

parlance said...

Levi's mom, the didgeridoo is a fascinating instrument. It has a lot of spiritual significance as well as its unusual sound.
Yes, our park is great. I hope we can resolve the big debate about where dogs can walk.

parlance said...

Amber-Mae, you're right that if a dog is under good control she should be able to walk off-leash. The problem in this park is that it is also a refuge for our native wildlife and for endangered plants. But I'm hoping we can come up with some compromise so that there will be places we can walk - and swim! We don't want to go everywhere in the park off-lead.

kimba said...

Hi Parlance.. I am Taz's mum. We met at the park the other day! I have just been at Danni's making balloon dogs for the rally tomorrow.. see you there.

Man - I hope it works.. I am feeling so defeated about the Council and the park recently.. x

parlance said...

Hi, Kimba
I sometimes feel defeated about the Council and how they see us - that's why I don't often write about it here.
However, what they are proposing is so outrageously unfair that I had to write about it.

I thought the rally was great. The balloon dogs were an inspiration! I was over in the main street (so I missed the speeches, which I was told were good) and I sent quite a few parents over to get balloons. The balloons added a light note to the rally and were great at getting over the message of how our dogs bring us joy. Thanks for doing them.

Kimberley Seedy said...

Hi there
My name is Kimberley, I'm from the Heidelberg Leader. I was hoping to have a chat with you about the dogs off lead issue in Darebin parklands. Was wondering if you attended council meeting this week? I'd love to have a chat with you or if any other dog owners affected by the decison want to give me a call or email I would love to hear from you too!
Ph:9875 8287 or email Cheers and thanks!!

parlance said...

Hi, Kimberley
I've put your comment here so it's visible to any readers who walk in Darebin Parklands or who have an interest in the issue. I'm not in Melbourne at the moment but I'll try to call you in the next couple of days.I didn't attend the council meeting because I had another commitment but I would have loved to have been there.