One trip EVERY month: July

This is a story of mud, bats and abandoned boats.  But it’s also a story of a certain beauty I found in a suburb that was far from a favourite when I was a child.  Fifty years ago, Wynnum was a Brisbane suburb about 20 minutes away from our house, down the road on the edge of Moreton Bay.  In my small mind, families poorer than mine lived there.

So it was weird this month to be holidaying in Wynnum, in a street where many of the old homes have been renovated by owners richer than their ancestors.

My memory of the bay is of mud flats, the poor man’s waterfront.  Sure enough, as I approached the esplanade for the first time in a long time, it was night, but there was enough city light to see the vast expanse of mud.

Wynnum, tide out, evening

Wynnum, tide out, evening

When I walked to the esplanade in the morning, there was still nothing to see but mud, and rocks tumbling across it from the raised walkway.

Mudflats, Wynnum

Mudflats, Wynnum

To make a fair comparison, I had to see the bay when the tide was in, so I returned mid-afternoon which seems to be a good time to see the sand and sea, sans mud.

Wynnum, tide in, afternoon

Wynnum, tide in, afternoon

For water views there’s not only the ocean;  there’s Wynnum creek and the mangroves where bats sleep, black, upside down and ugly.

Bats, Wynnum mangroves

Bats, Wynnum mangroves

But they’re not half as ugly as these abandoned boats in the creek, which the locals must find shameful.  Whose responsibility is it to dispose of them?

So, Wynnum has mudflats, bats and abandoned boats.  Is there anything good about this suburb?  Well, there’s an excellent jetty that projects far enough out into the bay to enable reflection on symmetry, or to turn your back on the mud and reflect on Moreton Island in the distance.

Jetty, Wynnum

Jetty, Wynnum

And there are Queenslanders.  I’m a Queenslander because I grew up in Queensland.  But there are also houses that are Queenslanders, and that’s what you can see in Wynnum, beautifully renovated high-set weatherboard homes, set on stumps to allow airflow under the house, keeping it cooler in the sub-tropical heat.  And from upstairs, many of these homes have a view of the bay, a peaceful sight whether the tide’s in or out.

Queenslander home

Queenslander home

The name Wynnum is possibly derived from Winnam, an Aboriginal word for Pandanus tree, a great number of which grow in the shore-side parks and streets.  Pandanus is a palm-like tree with roots growing out and down in a pyramid form to keep it balanced…

Pandanus tree - Wynnum

… and it produces large fruit resembling a pineapple.  Bats and possums love it, and it’s edible for humans, as are most parts of the Pandanus tree.  As I walked down the street I caught sight of some niblets of the fruit under one of the trees, looking sadly up at me.

Pandanus seeds

Pandanus seeds

Moreton Bay.  A quiet place.  I’m glad I took the trip.

Moreton Bay, Wynnum

Moreton Bay

See some more monthly trips on Marianne’s East of Málaga.  She challenges us to take one trip EVERY month.


In a Pioneer Museum in Queensland this week I saw a number of objects that are relics of Australia’s past.  There was the original Dalby lockup, and a cottage with a backyard toilet, an old boxy TV with a remote connected by a power cord, and bones of local dinosaurs.  There was also a collection which would normally do nothing for me:  one of Australia’s largest gatherings of old agricultural machinery.  But wandering through the open sheds, expecting nothing, I found something.  The old beauties in the photos below are really my scene.  I would have loved a ride in any of them.  Well, almost any.  There was this jazzy yellow Ford truck:

Truck, Pioneer Museum, Dalby, Queensland

A 1957 Chevrolet fire engine:

Fire engine, Dalby Pioneer Museum, Queensland

A train whose chugging days are over:

Train, Dalby Pioneer Museum

And weirder than all of the retired vehicles on display, and one I don’t want a ride in, is this Chandler hearse, one of only two left in the world.  I can’t say for sure there was no one in that box:

I was in Dalby to speak to someone in the historical society, hoping to find a few relics from my family tree…  On a map, Dalby appears as the centre of a spidery star with numerous roads radiating out from it.  Or is it that all roads in the region lead to Dalby?  This town is the centre of a great farming region, the Darling Downs.  The cultivated landscape is hill-free, tree-free, flat as if it’s been levelled, nothing but rolling plains of cereal and vegetable garden either side of the road.  A few cows and sheep congregate under trees, when there are trees.  Dalby was proclaimed a township in 1853, though my pioneering relatives were there a decade earlier, squatting on land, claiming it as their own.  It’s all been divided up and sold off now, but it’s inspiring to know I had self-starters in my family.

Thanks to the retirees who run the Pioneer Park Museum and historical society, who care for our relics, for without them we wouldn’t know about the stages in our development, we wouldn’t understand the progress we’ve made and are making every time we try to do something that’s never been done before, like our pioneers.

See hundreds of relics on the WordPress photo challenge.


One trip EVERY month: June

This month, well, yesterday, I went to the Deep Space Communication Complex in Tidbinbilla, south-west of Canberra.  Relaxing with a coffee in the Moon Rock Café, I had a great view of the largest steerable antenna dish in the southern hemisphere, the DSS43 (Deep Space Station 43), which was staring off into the distance, at this angle:

DSS43, Tidbinbilla

After coffee, I went into the gallery to see the moon rock:

Beside the rock stood an astronaut that some tourists were touching despite the do-not-touch sign.  When they finally left him alone, I took a closer look, without touching, and in his mirrored helmet visor I caught sight of me and my son, who was reading some information on the wall behind me.  I snapped the three of us:

Astronaut head

And I wondered how he would look in a space suit, sans visor:

While I was dabbling in moon history, the DSS43 began to move:

DSS43 on the move, Tidbinbilla

I went out onto the balcony to watch closely as the dish rotated to look straight up at the sky.  I wanted to know more.

DSS43, Tidbinbilla

Back inside, I read the information about the big dish and tried to understand it.  Of course, I couldn’t.  But perhaps you can.

DSS43 info Tidbinbilla

Yesterday at Tidbinbilla, the weather was stunningly clear and fine, if wintry.  Today it’s raining, the wind is howling and blizzards are threatening in the mountains.  We had picked the perfect day for dish-watching.

Thanks Marianne for the prompt to take one trip EVERY month.

Photo challenge: Cities

Ailsa has posted a photo challenge:  take her on a tour of my favourite concrete jungle.  Well I’m not partial to concrete, and I don’t have a favourite city, but I do have a favourite photo of a city.  Here’s Bombay in 1941.  Or 1942.

Bombay, 1941/42

Bombay, 1941/42

Ailsa quoted John Berger:

‘Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and, in this, hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.’

Now I’m wondering about the age of Bombay.  Is it young or old?  Feminine or masculine?  Perhaps a long-time resident of Bombay could tell me.  At least, someone who lived there when it was Bombay.  Now that it’s Mumbai, has it changed its sex and age?  It has certainly changed its population density.  It’s described on Wikipedia as the most populous city in India and the fifth most populous city in the world.  But look at this photo – not a lot of people on the street, not a lot of cars on the road.  Plenty of space for everyone.

And here’s a very attractive Bombay building made of bricks, not concrete, and only three stories high, not scraping the sky.

Bombay 1941/42

Bombay 1941/42

The photos are from my father’s World War II album.  His ship stopped at Bombay en route to Egypt.

Thanks Ailsa for the prompt to find photogenic cities.

One trip EVERY month: May

I haven’t travelled far this month.  But I have travelled.  Just yesterday, for instance, I drove to the library, couldn’t find a place to stop, drove on to the lake, parked. From there I took the long way round to the library, first to the art gallery – ten minutes – in air uncommonly warm for the end of May.  I wound my way through the sculpture garden and photographed dark forms.

"Angel of the North", Antony Gormley, National Gallery of Australia

“Angel of the North”, Antony Gormley, 1996

"Penelope", Emile Antoine Bourdelle,

“Penelope”, Emile Antoine Bourdelle, 1912

I did some work at a table in the café overlooking the sculpture garden.

View from café upstairs, NGA

View from café, NGA

Then I walked to the National Archives – ten minutes – and read a file about a soldier who stowed away on a ship heading to World War One.  At lunch time I walked to Old Parliament House – five minutes – and had lunch with a view across the lake and up Anzac Avenue to the War Memorial and Mt Ainslie.

Anzac Avenue leading to the Australian War Memorial

Anzac Avenue leading to the Australian War Memorial

From there I walked to the library whence I began – ten minutes – and read some police gazettes.  I’d achieved much.  But I had to walk back to my car – twenty minutes – under threatening skies with no umbrella.  Back past the dark clouds over Old Parliament House,

Old Parliament House from behind the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

Old Parliament House from behind the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

back past the dark sculpture of a burgher of Calais by Rodin,

Burgher of Calais, Auguste Rodin, 1885

Burgher of Calais, Auguste Rodin, 1885

back past dark swans swimming.

Swans on Lake Burley Griffin

Swans on Lake Burley Griffin

At the art gallery I learnt that dark sculptures are my favourite;  at the Archives, that my grandfather spent more time in France than I have (4 months in 1916, between Marseilles and Pozières on the Somme where he was gassed and sent home);  at Old Parliament House, that the café with the fantastic view is closing soon and reopening in the viewless courtyard out the back;  and at the library, that it was a crime in the 19th century to desert an illegitimate child.  Hence my searching of police gazettes.

An altogether successful trip.  I can’t say I never go anywhere.

Be sure to check out some of Marianne’s Spanish trips at East of Màlaga.  Thanks, Marianne, for your idea that we take one trip EVERY month, and what a good one it is!

Looking forward, looking back

Marianne at East of Málaga says:  take a photo of something (interesting), turn round, take a photo of what’s behind.  In the National Gallery of Victoria there’s a room where 96 nineteenth-century paintings hang as they would have in that century in the Paris Salon or London’s Royal Academy: covering the walls, tightly packed above and beside one another.  In the hierarchy of hanging, the curator’s preferences were hung at eye level;  the least favoured were hung right up the top where they’re very hard to see.  In this NGV display there were different priorities, with wide skies placed at the top and small detailed paintings low down and easier to study.  In centuries past, none of the paintings were labelled or attributed to any artist.  However, for the NGV’s visitors the information is available near the seats in the centre of the room, which is where you have to stand to see the top row of paintings.  As I stood trying to look at and enjoy every single piece, I took a general photo of one wall, turned round and took a photo of the opposite wall.


NGV 19th-century gallery 2My favourite on this side of the room, at the bottom left of the photo, beneath the writing on the wall, is An Interesting Story by James Tissot.  The two women are not really listening to this man and his ‘interesting’ shipping tale.

'An Interesting Story', James Tissot c1872, courtesy National Gallery of Victoria

‘An Interesting Story’, James Tissot c1872, courtesy National Gallery of Victoria

On the opposite wall I was taken by the nude at the top right of the photo, La Cigale (The Cicada or The Grasshopper) by Jules Lefebvre.  It’s a representation of the cicada from La Fontaine’s poem, La cigale et la fourmi (The cicada and the ant), in which the cicada sings all summer while the ant busily stores up supplies for the winter. The subject in this painting is standing naked in the wind while autumn leaves blow about her.  When the painting was exhibited in the 1872 Paris Salon it was accompanied by a line from La Fontaine’s poem:  Quand la bise fut venue (When the cold north wind blew). I felt a kind of pity for this woman in her lack of foresight.

NGV 19th-century gallery 1

'La Cigale', Jule Lefebvre, 1872

‘La Cigale’, Jule Lefebvre, 1872

I found an amazing blog about James Tissot while I was reading up about my favourite works from this room:  Lucy Paquette on The Hammock.  There you’ll find a large number of Tissot’s paintings, all of them brilliant.  Check it out.

Monochrome Madness Challenge

Leanne Cole and Laura Macky have a blogging challenge to find a sight that looks superb in black and white:  Monochrome Madness.

I presently live in a city where there are no billboards and very little advertising visible anywhere, except occasionally in bus stop shelters.  And there are no overhead wires for trams because there are no trams.  So when I visited Melbourne last week these very things were constantly capturing my attention, the omnipresent messages and photos in street advertising, and the straight dark lines of overhead tram wires.

When I saw these images of a beautiful man and woman, labelled Man and Woman, disfigured, from anyone’s viewpoint down below in the street, by the tram wires, I made a judgement and learnt two things.  1.  It’s good to live without advertising telling me how unbeautiful I am.  2.  Trams are fun and functional and I’d be happy to live with wires criss-crossing above me.

Here’s my photo of Monochrome Melbourne.

Toorak Rd, South Yarra, Melbourne, late afternoon, Anzac Day 2014

Toorak Rd, South Yarra, Melbourne, late afternoon, Anzac Day 2014


One trip EVERY month – April

This month I visited Wangaratta in Victoria.  The town’s name comes from two aboriginal words meaning ‘resting place of the cormorants’.  I’ve been here many times before but this time I saw a forest and an unfinished cathedral I never knew about.

As I entered the forest I was faced with a fork.  I took the left prong.

Fork in the forest, Wangaratta

North Beaches Reserve, Wangaratta

It led to two beaches, or rather sandy strips on the edge of the Ovens River.  In the late afternoon, the view was a series of horizontal panels.

Ovens River Wangaratta

Platypus Beach, Ovens River, Wangaratta

Many trees fallen on the forest floor have been sawn into pieces, making perfect hideaways for small creatures hiding from numerous unleashed dogs being taken for their daily walk.  This tiny mouselike marsupial sneaked in and out of the layers of timber as I crept closer with my camera. Can you see him?  I think he’s called antechinus, one of our native fauna.  But I’m no expert.

Small forest inhabitant, Wangaratta

Small forest inhabitant, Wangaratta

These photos make the forest look a dull green-grey place, but there was the odd orange fungus to break the monotones.

Fungus, North Beaches, Wangaratta

Fungus, North Beaches, Wangaratta

On the way back from the forest I passed a stunning cathedral made from large granite blocks quarried from the nearby Warby Ranges.  Unfortunately, even a truly beautiful object has at least one flaw, and a closer look at the church revealed its imperfection.  The bell tower was never added when the rest of the building was being constructed, though there was every good intention to finish the structure.  The original granite quarry has now been turned into a park, but the granite could be obtained from elsewhere if a million dollars were provided. That’s the estimated cost.  Anyone out there with a lazy million, looking for a project?  In the meantime the bells hang and ring in this timber and steel tower that looks like it’s just landed.

There are nine bells in all.  At the top is an Angelus bell, and half-way down hang eight magnificent bells which were cast in Gloucester, England, in 1806 to celebrate Nelson’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar.  For 171 years they hung in St George’s church in Bolton, Lancashire, until the church became redundant.  They were purchased with Wangaratta cathedral funds and brought to Australia, after which the present curious tower was built in 1983.  These bells are the oldest full peal in Australia, rung by a team of bell ringers on Sunday mornings and for special occasions.

Taking one trip EVERY month is the idea of Marianne from East of Málaga in Spain.  Not that I need to be told to go places – getting out of the house and even out of town once a month is not something I need an excuse for.  But, thanks Marianne for prompting me to write about some of the things I see along the way.  And thanks for your last trip post here.

Weekly photo challenge: Street life

I’m not old enough to have taken these photos.  Lol.  They’re from my father’s war album of photos taken in 1941-42.  He was sent to the Middle East for several months and brought back photos of the places he passed through.  He wasn’t always the one behind the camera;  some of them came from friends in swaps, so I can’t know who captured these images.

The first one is a snatch of street life during the early years of the war in Alexandria, Egypt.  Not much traffic!

In the mid-19th century, under the French, this was the Place des Consuls, where several Consulates were situated in what was then a cosmopolitan Alexandria.  It was then renamed Mohammed Ali Square in 1873 after the statue of the Ottoman governor, Mohammed Ali, was placed in the square (on the right of the photo).  British naval forces bombarded the area in 1882 and destroyed most of the original buildings.  It’s now Midan al-Tahrir, Tahrir Square (same as the famous square in Cairo).  In English, it’s Liberation Square.

Mohamed Ali Square, Alexandria, Egypt, c1941

Mohammed Ali Square, Alexandria, Egypt, c1941

The photo below is from the same album, but is unidentified.  It’s in the same era, and probably in Egypt, definitely in the Middle East, definitely during the war.  I like the perspective, the way the street curves into the distance behind buildings, and the way the buildings are flush with the street.  It’s not so much about street life since everyone seems to be inside except for a woman and two children quietly making their way  home.  The scalloped detail on the rooflines is particularly clear in monochrome, as is the mass of (what looks to be) a dovecote on the right.

Street scene, 1940s, Egypt?

Street scene, 1940s, Egypt?

I’m very thankful these days that my family kept these photos.  They’re possibly more meaningful now that several decades of history have passed, and we can compare the scenes then and now (thanks to all the images online).  Try looking for current photos of Tahrir Square in Alexandria.  The statue of Mohammed Ali is still there, but the square looks very different otherwise.  But perhaps black and white hides some of the grit of street life.


One trip EVERY month: March

This month we went to the southern highlands of New South Wales, stopping at Bowral and Sutton Forest. It’s a region of retirees and tourists and businesses that accommodate one or the other.  (I’m neither; I was visiting an aunty, who is retired.)  Historically, Bowral was a rural retreat for the well-heeled of Sydney who built a number of manor houses on large estates, many of them now accommodation for expensive weekends away.  These days there are also a large number of homes owned by ex-Sydney residents who’ve worked hard all their lives and can afford a comfortable retirement in this cool, green, historical region.  Bowral is also famous for its association with cricketer Sir Donald Bradman, which is interesting if you like cricket.

In Bowral there are big big houses where the rich have indulged their whims.  Let’s say you made your money sailing the seas.  Then you could build a lighthouse-type structure in your garden and pretend you’re still out there on the ocean watching for land.  But not everyone in Bowral’s history has had buckets of money.Garden lighthouse Bowral

There are still a few poor cottages scattered surprisingly here and there.

Old house Bowral

It’s a place where nature has been tamed to suit the formal tastes of European settlers, with pines in lines and hedges with edges.  The garden seat in my header, off to the side under shady trees, was much more inviting than these stiff square plantings.  Not to worry, untamed Australian bush is never far away – once you’re out of town and back on the highway, this is all you see either side of the road.

Roadside Federal Highway

The southern highlands attracts people with money and where there’s money there’s shops, particularly shops that sell non-essentials:  craft shops, antique shops, home decorating shops, country clothing shops and book shops (actually, book shops are essential).  In Sutton Forest there’s even a shop for everything, called The Everything Store, with an American flag flying beside two Australian flags.  There are markets selling fruit and vegies and cakes and nuts.  This one had all sorts of things hanging from the ceiling, even a colourful umbrella sheltering garlic bulbs.  I was amused by the nut warning, which we find on everything now, even on nuts!

On the way back we passed Lake George which is presently empty and used by farmers to graze sheep and cattle.  It’s an endorheic lake, meaning it doesn’t flow into rivers or the sea, and fills and dries out for short or long periods.  I’ve lived in this region for 17 years and rarely seen it full or even half full.  It all seems very mysterious, and urban myth makers make the most of the disappearance of the water and its destinations.  In the past decade the ridge on the lake’s south-eastern side has been embellished with 67 wind turbines, making the Capital Wind Farm the largest in New South Wales.  Here’s a photo I took as we drove past:  lots of clouds, ridges, wind turbines and sheep.  Zoom in to see.

Lake George

You know you’re close to Canberra when you see Black Mountain Tower come into view.  It’s a comforting sight, knowing the long trip is nearly at an end.  The layers of ridges of the Brindabella Ranges are so beautiful from this point on the road that it’s like driving into a landscape painting.

Approach to CanberraThanks for reading about our trip to the southern highlands.  And thanks to Marianne for her challenge to take one trip EVERY month.