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Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

Reconnecting with my long-lost friends

Back to mountains with mud that slides

Slippery upon our hiking boots

Looking up the hills

Their gentle, rolling and soothing sides

Sharp rocky edges hiding in the mist

Walking all day


Taking different paths

We are back in our Stirling Range retreat

Thirty five acres of rugged mountain tops

A sense of space

Listening to robins and wrens

Holding our breath to see a Wedge-tail eagle

fly by


Drunk on the sweetest smell

of seven hundred flowering plants

Chasing the hidden treasure

I see my Aboriginal friend, a Noongar woman
called Yoondi, cry when she finds a precious spider orchid in a sacred place.


'Long time ago, before the Wadjela (white man) came, this mountain belonged to my people.
Thousands of years we lived here - Koi Kyounu Ruff - mysterious, rugged mountains hidden in a mist. That which white man calls the Stirling Range.

'Then my great great grandfather came and cleared the hilly part of the bush. He ate rabbits
before they built 'the rabbit proof fence'. Then chased parrots or kangaroos. He also killed many of your men in his heyday. Meanwhile, his wife planted a climbing rose and called her the 'Australian Beauty'.


My English friend Lizzie stopped by, taking hold of Yoondi's hand.

Back to mountains with mud that slides

Slippery upon our hiking boots

Looking up the hills

Their gentle, rolling and soothing sides

Sharp rocky edges hiding in the mist


'When my great grandfather Giovanni first came here, many people were looking for gold.
I was born on an olive farm and my Mum planted vegetables. We had a cow for butter and cheese. When my baby brother died, my father planted vines for wine and looked for a good Italian boy to marry me.

I took salami and pasta to school. Everyone laughed and called me names.

My parents never learnt to speak English.

'I just so desperately wanted to fit in and find my way.'

My Italian friend Maria stopped by, taking hold of Lizzie's hand.

Back to mountains with mud that slides

Slippery upon our hiking boots

Looking up the hills


Their gentle, rolling and soothing sides

Sharp rocky edges hiding in the mist

'My father was born in Kachin state, next to the Kia's mountain. Just like this one but in a jungle, just the same...He wore longyis, a Burmese sarong. My mother's face was painted beige.'


My Burmese friend Chin Win stopped by and took hold of my hand:

'I am proud that our Aung San Suu Kyi is so famous in the West.'

'I saw her in the news. She is back under house arrest. For so many years, she has been imprisoned, just because she is the oppositon leader of the Burmese junta.'

I joined in, closing the circle,
holding Chin's and Maria's hands.


Back to mountains with mud that slides

Slippery upon our hiking boots

Looking up the hills

Their gentle, rolling and soothing sides

Sharp rocky edges hiding in the mist

We talked about Aung San Suu Kyi.


'She lives behind a guarded gate in a large run-down home in Burma's capital, Rangoon. Over the past sixteen years, she lost contact with her English husband. Is he dead? Her two young sons have grown up without her but she refuses to HATE.'


Yoondi, Lizzie, Maria, Chin and I were breathing hard on the way up to the summit of 'Bluff Knoll' - the highest rocky, misty place. Breath-taking scenery opened in front of us.

Yoondi, Lizzie, Maria, Chin and I discussed our memories. We'd known each other for years. We shared our life stories - not only the ones as bright as wildflowers on a sunny spring day,
but also those of the colour grey.


But we can forgive, and we can forget. We're not scared of the future. Just like Aung San Suu Kyi, we don't fear and we don't hate.

'I'm not scared of death anymore,'

I looked at my friends with new bright eyes:

'Cancer, accident, disaster or just pure bad luck - there are many ways to die, but I still have a place in this world. I have a role to play, if only small. How insignificant am I?'


'Just like me,' said Yoondi.

'And me,' added Lizzie.

'Me too,' smiled Maria, as Chin waved her hand:

'Kachin, Shan, Wa, Arakan, Karen and Mon - the
different Burmese tribes keep fighting on. We have a Nobel Peace laureate but Burma will still end up in civil war. Aung San Suu Kyi is significant, but her voice is not heard and her battle is not won.'


The clouds around us turn red in the setting sun. In the distance, a harsh bird call sounds.
A wedge-tailed eagle wings its way to the nest
after a successful hunt - ignoring us. We are part of the landscape. We are here or we are not. The rugged peaks of the Stirling Mountains
do not mind.

We are insignificant.

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