Thursday, March 25, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Thursday, March 18, 2010
The entire crop of rocks is called Hanging Rock after a particular rock formation where a rock seems to hang over the pathway. We passed through this and continued our way until reaching the area of flat rock where the four girls stopped for a rest and fell asleep in the sun. Here, we went off the designated path and weaved our way through some of the narrow passageways in the rocks, finding small clearings leading to further passageways. We made our way further up, with more exploring of the rocks. It is not difficult to see how someone could get lost there. The rocks are tall but narrow and there are so many of them that once you make your way around a few, your sense of direction gets confused and finding the way back is tricky. For a brief moment, I felt lost and unable to work out the way back to the path. I circled round until luckily I found it again. Once at the summit, I climbed to the highest point possible and had a great view of the surrounding Macedon Ranges.
The major theme of the book and the film is the mysteriousness of nature, its oddity and at times otherworldliness compared to the life and activity of humans. Hanging Rock feels like that. You feel like you’re somewhere where you don’t really belong, or, that if you do want to belong, you have to separate yourself from usual worldly affairs. Perhaps that ultimately is the only explanation of the girls’ disappearance.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Australia and New Zealand both fought in the First World War and the battle at Gallipoli in Turkey has become heavily symbolic in both countries, with increasing numbers of people (and increasing numbers of young people) commemorating Anzac Day every April 25th. The reason they fought Turkey is that they were allies of Britain and Britain was at war with Germany who were allies with Turkey. ‘The friend of my friend’s enemy is my enemy’ is hardly a sound basis on which to take action that will kill thousands (and as it turned out, millions) of people. Imagine Amy and Adam are friends and Ben and Bill are friends with each other, but Amy and Ben are enemies. So is it right for Adam to be hostile to Bill? Surely not. So the action at Gallipoli was actually an unjustly hostile invasion of Turkey by Australia and New Zealand. I’ve never seen any suggestion of this in a war museum.
It gets worse actually. Unlike in some other wars, the soldiers who fought for Australia and NZ in the First World War were volunteers. They freely chose to take part in this unjust war. So not only should the governments of the countries be held responsible for declaring an unjust war, but the soldiers themselves ought to be held accountable. Instead of honouring the surviving veterans every April 25th, we should actually be putting them on trial for war crimes.
I’ve spent three days in Australia’s capital city. The first thing that strikes the visitor is how self-important the city is. Parliament House is a huge building inside a circular piece of land and all around is a wide and spacious area dotted with other large buildings and statues. The area looks like it's trying to be Washington D.C and they even call it 'Capital Hill'. It's handy for when you are lost, for you simply scan the horizon for it, but otherwise the area is a sterile, forboding place. A sweeping vista of land leads from the parliament to the lake, and from the other side of the lake to the war memorial. Nearby, the old parliament house has been converted into a Museum of Australian Democracy, recording the 2000 years of development of democracy, as though this was a historical process that was always leading up to a culmination in Australia’s form of government. It is as though this nation - which although geographically large is only a small country of twenty million people - is stamping its foot and saying ‘take me seriously!’ Having said all that, I did enjoy my time here though. I sat in the public gallery of the House of Representatives and heard them debate paid parental leave policies. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said 'fair dinkum' at one point and another politician said it three times!
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Saturday, March 6, 2010
Today I sought out the offices of Frew Publications, the Sydney-based firm that has been publishing the Phantom comic book (which I read when I was young and still buy the occasional issue of) since 1948.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I’m at the end of my stay in Brisbane and here are a few facts about the city:
1. It rains a lot. Four or five days of constant rain. I’ve never seen so much of it. I’ve lived in Auckland where it rains a bit and been to London where it also rains, but Brisbane takes the record. At least now whenever Australians hassle me about NZ weather I can mention Brisbane.
2. There is a beach in the middle of the city. Artificially created of course but there is sand and a bit of water to swim in. Unfortunately it rained so constantly that I never got a chance to sit on the sand or swim in the water.
3. There are river taxis you can catch and from which you can enjoy views of the city. Can’t really enjoy this when it’s raining though, which is ALL THE TIME.
4. It is close to Surfer’s Paradise, which I went to but didn’t really enjoy because of the rain. See earlier post.
5. The cultural centre - containing two art galleries, a museum, and the state library - is a good place to go to when it is raining. You may get wet getting there though.
6. There is a casino in the old Treasury building. This is something to do when it rains. I didn’t but I thought it was funny that the treasury is now a casino.
7. Fortitude Valley is the main nightspot with bars and clubs, though its difficult to get round when it is wet, and that is (have I mentioned this?) almost ALL THE TIME.