This journey is a war memorial


See the virtues of a German, and

The virtues of a God, which did not last.

See the virtues of soldiers and carpenters

Who know it hurts to hear about the past.

The bell has rung its hands have stung

We’re still sitting here in our English class

See it last, that spotted culture of silence

See it last.


There might be honey up on One Tree Hill

Who’s going to listen even if you tell?

We’ll see the cause of death but not the kill.

Sami’Allahu liman Hamidah


This is part of a song for the journey from ANZAC Square to the top of Mt Coot-tha, which was, for a time, known as ‘One Tree Hill’. As a war memorial, the journey picks up many contests over names and naming.

The ‘German’ is Heussler, whose name on the map was replaced by Haig and Birdwood amidst the anti-German sentiment of World War One. Heussler built a house called Fernberg (meaning ‘distant hill’), which is now the residence of the representative of the Queen of England in Queensland.

The ‘God’, from another hilltop, advocated radical virtues such as ‘do not kill’ and ‘do not steal’.

The ‘soldiers’, Haig (commander on the Western Front) and Birdwood (commander of the ANZACS during Gallipoli), were both responsible for astonishing human carnage during World War 1. For many decades, it was Haig’s name which appeared on the red remembrance poppy. The white poppy movement is a peace movement, advocating the end of war itself. It claims to have emerged in opposition to the insistence of retaining Haig’s name on the remembrance poppies.

The road to the summit of Mt Coot-tha is named after Sir Samuel Griffith. The name Samuel is an ancient name referring to God as one who hears. As the ANZACs landed in Gallipoli, the Muslims, who were defending their land there, were preparing to acknowledge God as one who hears (As Sami’ in Arabic)  In their morning prayer they declare ‘Sami’ Allahu liman Hamida’, which means ‘God hears those who worship him’.

‘One Tree Hill’ memorialised the process by which the stealing of land was made acceptable – i.e. by mapping.  For many, One Tree Hill is a clear reference to a war memorial, but not in Brisbane. In Brisbane, ‘One Tree Hill’ is remembered in civilian terms, as a trigonometric survey reference point, established by the denuding of the hillsides of vegetation so that just a single tree could be identified from many different vantage points. The vegetation, which was cleared was home to Kuta – the native honey bee.  The land, which was taken was home to the Turrubul people, the Jaggera, and others.  We have blended our language so we cannot distinguish civilian from military.

We see the cause of death, but not the kill.

Postcard from during Thailand's 'war on drugs' 2003

Postcard from during Thailand’s ‘war on drugs’ 2003

Assalaamu ‘alaikum wa Rahmatullah


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