Friday, October 05, 2007

Australia and Bowen: films. tourism and memories

I am getting in early this week for Show and Tell Friday.

So early that Kelli over at There Is No Place Like Home doesn't have Mr Linky up yet for this week so I will have to go back later and do the link up.


My Show and Tell this week is centered on Bowen, in North Queensland. Miss Eagle was born in Brisbane and lived there - at Wynnum and at Manly on the shores of Moreton Bay - until, in 1955, at the age of 11 she went to live in Bowen because her father, Jack, got a very good job there. There Miss Eagle grew up and married Joe, the Dear Departed Dearly Beloved - Phyl, her mother, said she married half of Bowen when she married Joe and she wasn't far wrong - and Herself, the first of three children was born in Bowen in 1964.





Miss Eagle and Herself, Bowen, 1964




In 1968, we left to follow the now widowed Phyl to live in Toowoomba where my sister, The Director, was now in high school at St Saviour's and two sons, The Nerd and The Actor, were born. So the thirteen years of my life lived in Bowen were formative - to say the least.


Bowen is a quiet tropical town at the northern end of The Whitsundays. One of its nicknames is Sleepy Hollow - not without justification. There is also the joke that it used to be called Blowen but it blew so hard it blew the 'L' out of it. That's not wrong. In Miss E's childhood, Bowen had three cyclones in three years. The first was an afternoon breeze by comparison with the next two which were severe and without any meaningful warning. The up-to-the-minute warnings that there are to-day have their genesis in the Bowen experience.

Our family home, 46 Powell Street , Bowen - destroyed cyclone, 1959. Could have been worse except for a new roof holding walls up.

Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman starring in Australia

Quiet Bowen is now in the spotlight. It is the site and set for Baz Luhrmann's latest film Australia which is due for release next year.
Australia is an historical drama set in northern Australia prior to World War II and centres on an English aristocrat (Kidman) who inherits a cattle station (ranch) the size of Maryland, USA. When English cattle barons plot to take her land, she reluctantly joins forces with a rough-hewn cattle driver (Jackman) to drive 2,000 head of cattle across hundreds of miles of the country's most unforgiving land, only to still face the bombing of Darwin, Australia, by the Japanese forces that had attacked Pearl Harbor only months earlier. It stars some Australian greats including Nicole Kidman, Hugh Jackman, Brian Brown, David Wenham. For more, see here.

Now the story has nothing to do with Bowen. It is centered on Darwin. Bowen was selected because of its round-the-year good weather - well, not counting those strong south-easterlies. Darwin is in the wet tropics; Bowen the dry tropics. And needless to say the filming is the talk of the town, the talk of North Queensland, the talk of Australia. Welcome to BowenWood.

Over the years much of the major industry and employment in Bowen - sugar, beef, railway - has declined. Tourism is an important lifeline for the town and Baz Luhrmann and his movie have undoubtedly given that a boost. But tourism is a major industry for the real Australia and it looks like "Australia - the movie" is going to be the central theme of tourism promotion to attract visitors to this country. It is expected to have an impact comparable with the impact of Crocodile Dundee.

Back to the Bowen of Miss Eagle's memory - explaining the picture at the top of this post.
In the background is the facade of a movie theatre. It is the Summergarden at Queen's Beach. In Miss Eagle's youth, this was the only movie theatre to screen on Sunday nights. But...it did not commence screening until 8.15pm on Sunday nights. This was because the last church service in town, at St Mary's Catholic Church, did not finish until 8pm. Then there was the travel time from town to the beach and the houselights dimmed and the movies were on.
The man is holding the poster of our Nic is Ben de Luca. Ben owned the Summergarden in Miss E's young days and still does. His brother, Frankie, was in Miss E's Grade 8 class. The rushes of Australia are being shown privately to the relevant film personnel at the Summergarden.

And if you are one of those who chooses your tourist flings around movie themes, here are some Australian suggestions:
Wolf Creek - South Australia, Northern Territory and Broome, Western Australia The Proposition - Winton, Queensland
Mad Max - Broken Hill, New South Wales
Storm Boy - Coorong Wetland, South Australia
Crocodile Dundee - Kakadu, Northern Territory; Mackinlay, Queensland
Picnic at Hanging Rock - Mt Diogenes, Victoria; Mintaro, South Australia
The Castle - Melbourne, Strathmore, Bonnie Doon, Victoria
The Dish - Parkes, New South Wales
Jindabyne - Jindabyne, New South Wales
Babe - Robertson, New South Wales

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Astolat: now and then

Further to my previous post on Astolat...
I have found some older photos taken on 5 September, 1970...
by John T. Collins. See them here.

Brighton, gossip and the Willy Wagtail

Photo: Canberra Ornithologists Group
The Willy Wagtail (pictured above) is an Australian bird with a bad reputation among Aboriginal people. You see, he is seen as a gossip. He listens in on conversations and flies off and spreads what he has heard. Not nice. Miss Eagle thought of the Willy Wagtail yesterday when she was walking down the shopping strip at the Middle Brighton shops.
I love to see people stopping to chat while shopping. As communities become large and impersonal such individual signs of community diminish. So I noticed when I saw two middle-aged women in conversation in the middle of the footpath. One woman spoke as the other looked at her intently with mouth agape. As I walked past I heard only the words "and he..."
From the aghast look on the listener's face, I could only imagine what horrible news might have been imparted:
...and he sent the family company to the wall because he gambled everything away in the Mahogany Room at Crown Casino and now the children have had to be pulled out of Brighton Grammar because there's no money for the school fees.
...and he cleared out with the nanny. They are now living in France and his wife has been left with STD - sexually transmitted debt.
...and he......(you can complete this one, dear Reader)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Garage Sale at Upper Gully -and- Bluster and beauty at Brighton

Divestment

Rescued and refurbished - from the Hard Rubbish
We at The Trad Pad are divesting again with a garage sale on Saturday. Please email me for address and details. Piece de resistance will be this charming two seater cane lounge all freshly refurbished. It has a shabby chic-style bench pad with roses one side, as you can see dear Reader, and the other side is in an elegant pink and white stripe. Lots of other good things, new and vintage, will be on sale at reasonable prices.



~~~~~~
Blustery Brighton



I was in Brighton this afternoon. The beachfront was blustery. These pictures were taken at the end of North Road. The tide was in and the wind was making sea spray and white horses. Not quite cyclonic but significant force in the wind. Reports say 60kph - I'd say 60mph!
Away from the blustery beachfront and around in Durrant Street, I discovered the charm of Flower mee at No. 43. The talented Kathryn Weichmann pulls an array of wonderful goods and material together into a memorable whole. Kathryn told me she was in the process of clearing the decks somewhat to make space for the Christmas goodies. Can't wait to get Herself to schedule a visit with me to see what Santa has in store at Kathryn's hands.
Flower mee - Kathryn Weichmann, principal, 32 Durrant Street, Brighton. Phone: 9592 1480 Mobile: 0414 917 070

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Astolat: an idyllic garden

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On Sunday, I visited a garden in Australia's Open Garden Scheme. I could have taken more pictures but the battery gave up. However, there are plenty of pictures in the slide show above to give you an idea of how wonderful it is - and the skills and resources it takes to maintain it.

Astolat, 530 Riversdale Road, Camberwell, Melbourne, Victoria was buiit circa 1882-1884 by Thomas Plumley Denham Junior, a solicitor. The residence is typical of late 19th century Italianate architecture of the Melbourne upper middle class. It has an asymmetrical building form, return cast iron verandahs, refined cement render detailing, intct fenestration, chimneys and a slate roof. The name, Astolat, is derived from Tennyson's Idyll of the King.

The garden was developed soon after the completion of the mansion and is recognised as a typical 19th century suburban villa garden. At the front of the house is an oval lawn formed by the carriage drive, a tennis court with original pavilion built in 1890, an elaborate timber picket fence, and well established tree and shrub species of the era.

From 1985, the garden underwent many changes as a reult of new owners. Many Australian native species were planted. Structural additions such as urns, a small circular temple, the recessed seating west of the court and new additional buildings at the rear of the mansion diverted from the original design and changed the Victorian feel of the garden.

In 1995, the present owners bought the property and have proceeded to slowly rejuvenate the garden and return it to its original Victorian glory. A tree replacement programme has been implemented and is slowly removing self-sown and inappropriate tree species, replacining them with species of the Victorian era. Garden renovations have created seven specific themses within the garden: a fern garden; tropical garden; cherry walk; woodland garden; hot perennial border; grey border; and a winter border.

These gardens act like rooms encouraging one to venture further, provoking curiosity to see what is around the next corner. The addition of themed gardens helps generate interest throughout the year through texture, form, and colour.

Australia is in the middle of the greatest drought since white settlement in 1788. This year, underground tank has been installed at Astolat beneath the lawn to the east of the residence. The capacity of the tank is over 300,000 litres and is fed from run off from the buildings and drains throughout the two-acre property. This development will ensure the garden will remain healthy and intact. The garden is maintained by the equivalent of four person days per week under the oversight of a qualified landscape gardener

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