Saturday, January 14, 2006

Art, pain, and the voyage

I love the painters of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
This one reminds me of my daughter, Herself.
It is a painting by Rossetti titled The Blue Bower.
The piece below is by the Afro-American poet, Gwendolyn Brooks.
I have snitched it from Gregg over at Speed of Life.
"Art hurts. Art urges voyages -
and it is easier to stay at home,
the nice beer ready."

Friday, January 13, 2006

Blue Hills - oops I mean Blue Heelers - is all but over

It hasn't run as long as Blue Hills, Australia's iconic radio serial. Blue Heelers may or may not be an icon but I think John Wood just might be. He has set something of a record in regard to the Logies. He is the most nominated actor never to win the Gold Logie. Now that Heelers is all but over, it is unlikely that he ever will take home the Gold. I fell in love with John when he played Sugar Renfrey in the television mini-series of Power Without Glory from Frank Hardy's novel of the same name. Final episodes go to air later this year.











McMillan and the voices of history

My journey through Gippsland recently brought Angus McMillan into my consciousness. McMillan has an entry in the Dictionary of Australian Biography. One thing we know now is that there are many aspects, many voices to history. What we learn at school, or what is written in dominant histories is not the whole story. There is an old saying about history written by the victors. Angus McMillan was certainly one of the victors. He is a pioneer of white settlement only in Gippsland. Notice I added the word only. Settlers tend to just say that so-and-so was a pioneer. We forget or gloss over that so-and-so was a pioneer in one sense only. I first heard about Angus McMillan and his journey from Adrian on The Director. I found this interesting since there were other Victorian journeys by whitefellas but only Angus McMillan's is talked about in Gippsland to any extent. This is probably because it had and economic impact that was not present with the other journeys. The first seems to have been in 1797 when the Sydney Cove was wrecked on Preservation Island, part of the the greatest survival trek in Australian history. I am also aware of Thomas Walker's journey publish anonymously as A Month in the Bush Of Australia. Journal of one of a Party of Gentlemen who recently travelled From Sydney To Port Phillip - with some remarks on the present state of the Farming Establishments and Society in the settled parts of the Argyle Country. Catchy title, don't you think? The reason I know about this one is that my four-times great-grandfather Rear-Admiral John Gore gets a mention. And of course, there was Hume and Hovell but they didn't go to Gippsland. These are the histories of the victors.

But other voices are heard these days. One place to hear the other voice is at Krowathunkooloong, the Keeping Place in Bairnsdale. It was here I heard and read another side to the McMillan journeys: the deaths, even the massacres of aboriginal people that are ignored or glossed over. These were the deaths of people defending their land, their country. They are recorded and remembered there at Krowathunkooloong. There is an electoral district named for Angus McMillan but aboriginal people would like to see this name removed.

In recent years, there has been much debate within the ranks of academic historians about the extent of aboriginal deaths during the taking of land by white settlers. This debate has earned the name The History Wars. While the debate rages and even finds its way into print, one thing tends to be overlooked. Firstly, that some massacres are fairly recent and are within living memory or only a generation behind. Secondly, that the stories of these massacres have been handed down within families to whom they are relevant - both white and black although in many white families they are covered up. I used to live in Mount Isa in North West Queensland. The Kalkadoons, the original people, had some huge, and sometimes successful, battles with white settlers. They were true warriors. In very recent times, along comes Charles Perkins who became quite a controversial figure in modern aboriginal history. One thing that seems never to be realised is that Charlie was a descendant of those Kalkadoon warriors - and he was a fighter too. I once worked with his sister, Nerida, and I sometimes used to give his mother a lift home from the shops to her home in Sunset. These are the things - the stuff of a family's heritage - that are lost in the academic research. So I have a family tree which includes a crew member of The Endeavour and his son, also a naval officer and god-son of Sir Joseph Banks who came as a white settler to a land grant (stolen land?) at Lake Bathurst near Goulburn. The Perkins family has a family tree which includes a fighter for aboriginal equality and rights, as well as fighters for their land and their freedom.

So let the academics do their histories and argue and debate. But the stuff which gives flesh to the bones of an academic history lies in local and family histories and the energy and memory that sustains them.

















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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Bairnsdale 3

An important place to visit in Bairnsdale is Krowathunkoolong, the keeping place of the Gurnai/Kurnai people. The aboriginal people of Bairnsdale seem to be well set up with a strong identity: there is a CDEP program, a childcare centre, and a place for the elders. They are keeping their culture strong and alive and making it known. One thing I learned from my visit was the discrepancy in history when only one side of the story is heard. There are many histories in our lives, many viewpoints and we need to listen to them all. You know the saying - history is written by the victors. Well, these days all sorts of people are getting a voice - even us bloggers - and it is good to listen to the voices to get some insight into what is actually happening or what has happened in the past.

Bairnsdale 2


I took quite a shine to Bairnsdale.
The picture above is of a roundabout done in mosaic.
It is reminiscent of Gaudi and his mosaics in Barcelona.


It is also reminiscent of
Estevao's Gaudi-esque work in his favela.


There is a memorial plaque in the roundabout.

Whether Porky Allen had anything to do with the mosaic creation is not mentioned.

Someone might like to let me know about this.

Monday, January 09, 2006

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St Mary's Catholic Church, Bairnsdale, Victoria


The stained glass at St Mary's is quite beautiful.

The stained glass and the Floreani murals complement one another beautifully.

Bairnsdale 1

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St Mary's Catholic Church, Bairnsdale, Victoria
Painting by Francesco Floreani
My last night away from home was spent in Bairnsdale - in a motel. I missed the sound of the Bass Strait rollers but - strange to tell - I went off to sleep with the sound of them - or the memory of the sound - in my ears.


The piece-de-resistance in Bairnsdale is the artwork at St Mary's Catholic Church. This is the work of Francesco Floreani. Floreani was born in Udine, near Venice, in 1899. He studied painting under Lucardi, Professor of Painting and Decorating at the Udine College before going on to the Academy of Arts at Turin.

Floreani left Italy in 1928. On arrival in Australia, he worked as ahouse painter in Melbourne. In the earlyl years of the great depression, he was forced into the country to look for work. Like many Italian migrants, he went to the Bairnsdale district where he found some employment, chiefly picking peas. Sometime in 1931, he turned up on the doorstep of the parish priest, Father Cremin, looking for work. Father Cremin asked him to repaint some of the statues at the foot of altar. He was impressed by Floreani's work as well as his credentials of formal artistic training. Every great artist needs a patron. Floreani had Father Cremin. Father Cremin commissioned Floreani to paint some murals in the church. Rather basic scaffolding was used: timber and rope anchored in sand-filled drums. Floreani covered the entire ribbed barrel-vaulted ceiling with gardlands of flowers and over three hundred seraphim and cherubim, each with a different face. The side altars, the sanctuary and upper areas of the nave walls were decorated in what proved to be a mammoth task. It took almost three years. Floreani received the sum of three pounds a week from Father Cremin's own purse. There were further extensions to the church and Floreani returned in 1937 to complete this work. He continued painting after returning to Melbourne where he died in 1981.

Off to Mallacoota

Orbost was my first stop en route to Mallacoota after leaving Red Bluff. This is a beautiful little country town on the Snowy River and the gateway to all that Snowy River country offers. The real estate prices are modest and the main street is well maintained and looks prosperous. Three real estate agents in town indicate optimism. Is this a town about to take off? Off again, with a pit-stop at Cann River. The General Store was busy, busy. Running out of coins, already out of bread rolls and using bread for the burgers, and unable to take specific orders only selling ready made food. On the main coastal highway from Sydney to Melbourne what else could be expected at this time of year. Then on to Mallacoota.

Detoured into Gipsy Point and made a note that the Gipsy Point Lodge looked worth the trip on a return visit sometime. Karbeethong Drive at Mallacoota, which is clearly the domain of the well-heeled, is quite attractive. The views are wonderful and reminiscent of the Hawkesbury in NSW. Then on into the town centre. The main camping site was packed with dome tent upon caravan upon marquee. Masses of people. How did they all manage showers and toilets with crowds like this? I imagined the noise at night once all the kids came home to roost. I had spent two marvellous nights without this lack of privacy and decided this was not my cup of tea. I beat it out of there. Mallacoota is far too crowded at this time of year. Clearly, most people love this. Any return to Mallcoota by me will be when school's in.
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Sunday, January 08, 2006

Red Bluff

Unfortunately, this is not me.
This is to let you know something of what the surf is like at Red Bluff, Lake Tyers.
This is where I camped on my second night away.
Camping may not have been allowed there - but I didn't see any signs banning it.
There I was in splendid isolation atop the Red Bluff cliffs
with the Bass Strait rollers sounding in my ears.
This is a beautiful site maintained with the assistance of boardriders.
Down the track to the beach are memorials to two boardriders who lost their lives in the surf here.
The waves were feirce when I arrived in late afternoon/early evening
after a day of galeforce winds.
I was not surprised that such mighty forces might have taken young lives.
Again, I didn't get to swim but I paddled at the water's edge just to get wet.
The next morning the water was quiet by comparison.
First came the recreational fishers, then came the board riders
and human life at one of Victoria's best surf beaches was underway.
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Lakes Entrance


After Loch Sport, it was off to Lakes Entrance - beautiful, magical Lakes Entrance.

In the afternoon, I was off to Metung - trendiness by the Lake.
I went cruising on Lake King in The Director.
A big thank you to Adrian and crew for their helpfulness
and for the informative trip.
It was a delight.
It is also value for money. It was the cheapest cruise on offer at the Visitor's Centre.
The price included nibblies and a complementary champagne or beer.
We walked from lake's edge up and over the dunes to The 90 Mile Beach and Bass Strait
absorbing, with the help of Adrian, the history of the place.

A wonderful day!

Loch Sport

Got off early on Tuesday morning. Gale force winds off Bass Strait and being cold were not conducive to a leisurely outdoor breakfast. Got in the car out of the wind where I could be warm and was off to Loch Sport. Loch Sport is situated on a sort of isthmus between Lake Reeve (a dry salt pan) and Lake Victoria a beautiful boat-strewn water sports heaven. It is a lovely place with some beautiful homes. The picture above was taken from The Causeway between Loch Sport and The 90 Mile Beach. There were thousands of little birds eating away in the shallows. Someone might like to tell me what sort of birds they are? Posted by Picasa

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