Bushcraft novel for kids
We met up with Alan Greenwood from the Fitzgerald Street Homeswest complex a while ago and he spoke about his love of plants.
He hinted at the time that he was working on publishing (with the help of others) a kid’s book on bushcraft.
We met again out the back of his unit among his plants and he showed me some of his paintings. While he relaxed in his wheelchair, he outlined the content so far of his work.
“My book is for five to 10-year-olds, junior bushcraft and bushcraft for life, not for survival,” Alan said.
“It’s done in such a way that schools can take it and teach it to their class. They can go out into the playground, no need to dig a hole. What I am showing in the book can be done on the top of a building, in your kitchen, or anywhere.
“All the way through it emphasises LOST. If you are lost — look, observe, stop and think. If you do that before you start, you won’t get lost.”
“That’s the bushcraft part of it?” I asked.
“Yep,” he replied. “It’s done in the book with two bilbies as guides, Bilby and Jillby.”
Bilbies, or rabbitbandicoots, are desertdwelling marsupial omnivores.
“There is some bush tucker in there, shows you how to get honey from flowers off native trees and shrubs, not out of the garden,” Alan said. “Australian bush flowers are so minutiae you can’t go and suck out the pollen. What you do is swirl it around under water, the pollen rises and you scoop it off.
“It also goes into how you can safely tell certain insects and amphibians. It’s quite comprehensive, but only a condensed version of the book I have started for adults.”
Alan explained the book is basically teaching the kids how to use their noggin.
He is a self-taught painter and has been doing it from his wheelchair for the last four years, starting with the basics and learning techniques as he went along.
His paintings are displayed in the Rangeway Pharmacy, Community Health Centre at the hospital, Batavia Health and as far away as Sydney.
The story of the tragic events that put Alan where he is and ended his promising career in the Aboriginal communities was re-visited.
He said he was attacked and stabbed eight times in the back and shoulder and his throat was cut with a dirty fishing knife.
All the tendons in his arm were cut and the painting he does now is a way of teaching himself to use his arm again.
But his health is steadily deteriorating and his eyesight is going because of the deep infection he received from the dirty fishing knife.
He has been in the wheelchair for 10 years.
Self-taught painter Alan Greenwood with one of his paintings.