As a child, I took note of the bats that frequented Seaforth Park in Bexley, Sydney.
I watched them fly in and out of the canopy of the huge old fig trees that were central to the park. On balmy summer nights I'd marvel at the seemingly endless swarms of them pouring into the tree like a thin veil of silent treacle against the ebbing rose pink skies.
At age 11 we moved home from Bexley to a suburb called Kirrawee in the Sutherland Shire in south Sydney, right alongside the Royal National Park. The first thing I noticed upon the very first swing of the LJ Torana door was the screeching, deafening roar of the Sulphur Headed cockatoo (Cacatua galerita).
These magnificent birds flew literally in flocks of sometimes hundreds filling the Savilles Creek valley with a shrieking roar that resembled (if possible) the worlds nosiest aviary. These birds were also notorious eaters, snipping the entire tops and new buds, eucalyptus nuts and twigs of all the trees in the vicinity across the valley especially it seemed right about our home with it's 90 feet high gums in the back yard.
They are also notorious grass root eaters and can literally rip up lawns in minutes if unchecked.
Those who had idiotically built from American red cedar or who had installed wooden balcony railings as was fashionable in the orange and browns of the 1970's soon found flocks of these birds gnawing, ripping and shredding whole sections of timber to within a paint veneer of it's former glory. Not surprisingly there were complaints after complaints to the local council that these birds were a "nuisance and vermin" or " intolerable" and there were if I recall correctly even complaints that these birds were "introduced" and "not a native to this area".
I am heartened and overjoyed that someone has finally managed to secure the temporary (as always) true meaning of the word "Kirrawee" into Wikipedia and so here I want to capture that entry in it's entirety:
"...The Sutherland Shire Council website suggests two possible origins for the name, "Kirrawee". The first possibility is that it derives from an Aboriginal word meaning 'lengthy'; the second is that it derives from a Dharawal word, "gi(a)rrawee(i)" (alternative spelling "garrawi"), which means 'place of white cockatoos' or 'sulphur-crested cockatoos'. The current signage erected by the Council uses 'place of white cockatoos' as the accepted meaning for the suburb name.
Note: I do not endorse the Sutherland Sire council website at all in it's vernacular adaptation of the Aboriginal Dharawal word for this suburb being girrawee or girawi (pronounced garr-a-way)
What I do know is that Australia is filled with place names that are the lazy and poorly expressed forms of the correct Aboriginal word for a place name, largely because the Aboriginal language was an oral language and the written form was often the anthropologists estimation or approximation for a term.
In short, I am overjoyed as it finally explains why I observed with my very own eyes whilst sitting at the base of the majestic gums in the National Park opposite my parents home, late in the afternoons, huge squabbles and what appeared to be the fighting between these garrawi in corroboree.
in corroboree, as humans did returning year after year, to sacred places where pairing, fights, rights and order was maintained amongst community.
I saw countless birds then in the early two thousands disappear from Saville Creek and temptation creek valley as hords of motorcycle riders ripped the bush up illegally until they blocked off all access via the "fire trails" that the Royal National Park "rangers" ripped through pristine country to access and burn "fire breaks" like suicidal psychopaths. Then came the mountain bike riders whose chunky grip tyres ripped every known endangered moss, frog habitat and precious fern families to shreds since.
Some call this progress but I and many other people call it ecocide - http://eradicatingecocide.com/the-law/what-is-ecocide/
The garrawi or sulphur crested cockatoo will outlast any human population on this earth as they are the kings of the sky and the eyes and mouths of the land. Their screech, roar and rumble is the essence to what I now know is my heritage as is the pademelon wallaby that once frequented in large families through Caringbah my birthplace in Sydney, Australia.
I was born on Dharawal country and the keepers of this country are the Garrawi.