Tuesday, March 22, 2011


I have had some fun in my time. Here are some fragments of it.

I have crossed the continent via the Nullarbor Plains four times in recent years, and on each occasion paused for fuel and food at Nullarbor and Mundrabilla as my two favoured stops, plus a variety of other bush-towns. This day, parked near the fuel bowsers, were a heavy carrier loaded with card - and a light aircraft. Only in Australia ...

Exactly halfway across the continent, lies a town called Kimba. Now, pink and grey galahs are large and personable cockatoos, but I would hate to tangle with a galah the size of ths fellah if he were cranky! Look how he measures up to that four wheel drive.

Sopwith the camel, in the pre-dawn light. Well, what else are you going to call a camel? Samson, Suzie, Sappho, and Amique, perhaps. While I was there, I'd be up and go and talk to the camels before dawn every day, then go back to bed for an hour or so. I loved then and still love early mornings, and being out and about when the world feels clean and intimate before the day starts.

On the east coast of Australia, the beach-sand is yellowish. On the south coast of Western Australia, as you can see, it is as white as snow, and even has the slight blue tinge of snow-shadows, too. Here we are at Twelve-Mile Beach, around eighteen or nineteen kilometres out of Hopetoun, looking across the water directly to Antarctica.

This blackbutt-gum stands on the right of the main road through Ravensthorpe near the blue house, and I was facing west when I photographed it. In person it always reminded me of a tree which had had a violent mid-air collision with a drunken driver, but looking at it now on my screen, it looks a little like a startled cockerel ...

Wave Rock, Hayden, near the priceless town of Varley. Not the biggest rock in the world, but one of them. It has enormous presence. It also has an outpouching on its less photogenic side looking just like an open-mouthed hippo yawning as it starts to surface - from the land. Nearby are two hills called The Humps, and in one of them is a cave called Malcha's cave. The indigenous story associated with this cave is inexpressibly sad, and the cave itself is so overwhelming that I clean forgot to photograph it.

On a driving holiday in Victoria with my daughter and a friend when wild weather came up, we were first on the scene when a tree fell down across the road, right after a bend. I parked the car with hazard lights before the bend to warn people with time to spare as it was a fast road, and it wasd only a few seconds before cars started turning up, so the tree must have fallen only half a minute, maximum, before we came around the corner. We waited until the third or fourth car stopped before someone had a chainsaw, at which time we all pitched in to haul segments of the tree off the road. I only through to photograph it when the job was almost done.

I love long-distance driving. This particular trip took three and a half days, where a day was fourteen hours of solid driving.

In NSW, we have the airy-fairy "Stop Revive Survive" campaign with Dr Karl simpering sympathetically down a TV camera. In South Australia they are a lot more direct. This sign is frequently seen, with its companion, "Drowsy Drivers Die." And they have little signs every so often along the highway, telling you how many people had died on that stretch of the road in the last year.

I love this country. How can anyone ever say it isn't beautiful?

A quiet moment of reflection in my favourite cafe, shared with the Servants of the Light Tarot, designed by the awesome Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki.

"Aesahaettr" - "Weylandt"

One of the two abandoned observatories at Mt Stromlo. My companions were very taken with this one.

Views of the other observatory at Mt Stromlo, the one which no longer has a dome or any doors. I was very taken with this one myself. There is something very poignant and evocative about buildings in the process of crumbling and in the process of being built, and it had a fabulous feel to it. One day, I'd like to take my meditation group there and do a ritual in that circular space with its breathtaking energy.

A forest of ghosts.

Even just the architecture of the National Art Gallery, Australia, is worth seeing. This walkway provides covered protection from the weather when passing from the gallery to the carpark. And yet, from this viewpoint, it takes the shape of a huge stylised sitting housecat, with pointy ears. Magnificent.

They wouldn't let me photograph anything indoors, but I found this outside.

Early morning autumn mist rolling across the Eden-Monaro.

Alchemical art.

"The Eyes of God" or "The Glare of God", a system of two spiral galaxies in the process of colliding with each other. This picture combines visual light (white) with radio waves and X-rays (red and green, cannot remember which).

A witch-burning.

A suffering ghost.

A boar's skull. My best friend has a parent who is a psychiatrist, now long-retired, but still working in the eighties when we bummed around together a lot. In particular, we used to enjoy weekend markets. Once, she leapt, whooping with joy, on a boar's skull, much like this one but from memory far yellower and with tusks probably three times as long as this one. She gave it to her father for his birthday. He loved it, and put it on the desk in his office, where it spent the rest of his career confronting fragile people.

Nicholas Culpeper's title page for his authoratitive work.


Hellebore, very likely to have poisoned Alexander the Great, judging by the recorded symptoms. In his day small doses were used as a tonic, and he would not have been suspicious of being offered it.

Hemlock, not exactly beloved of Socrates. "I drank WHAT?"

Leonardo da Vinci's  most famous foetus. He did many autopsies on condemned criminals in order to learn about anatomy - this poor innocent soul would have died not long after his mother was hanged or beheaded.

A Mithridate Jar, de rigeur in all Renaissance houses. You never know when your guests are going to try and poison your wine, so keep the Universal Remedy handy!

Someone badly in need of dental work. I love bones. Bones are honest. You cannot change or hide your bones.

The Orion Nebula

A glass burial-urn from first century Rome. Only a wealth person could have afforded to have their bones (broken but not crushed) and their ashes stored in glass at that stage. It was discovered intact but empty. One wonders about the person whose ashes lay in it.

You'll see this sign when travelling west. I have slept in Kimba, Ceduna, Balladonia and Norseman, on different trips. I have delightful memories of fuel stops in Kimba, Kyancutta, Nullarbor, the Eucla, Caiguna and Norsemen on other occasions.

Used pork. This is what a pig looks like when it's stripped naked, when it's pared right down to the bones. Did I say I love bones?

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