Month: September 2012

Travel Blog to Central Australia; Day Three

An early rise meant we captured the beauty of the place in the morning light- stunning features and majestic rolling mountain ranges emerge through the haze. So far I’ve seen fire-tails, zebra finches, a wedge-tailed eagle, all kinds of kites and Gouldian Finches. Breakfast at Glen Helen Gorge was lovely and a small bushwalk to the main waterhole was fresh and sparkly. Surrounded by reeds, the great gorge remains a refuge for many waterbirds and pond life. Water plants, where there seemed to be leaf litter floating on the surface were full plants, their roots in fact extending down through the water to the sediment at the bottom, each facet of this gorge aided the calm waters, and even calmer visitors. But it’s getting too hot too early to stay.

I keep trying to stick an emotional personal to the landscape. Is it lonely? Tired? Resilient? I’ve come to the conclusion that you can’t. it is in this nature that everything is nothing and nothing is everything. There is a sense of eternal timelessness, a certain completion. Little pin-points of rosie-lilacs and saffron tell me that there is no positive or negative to the landscape, there just is, just endless blue and endless ochre and nothing more and nothing less. It is not harsh or unforgiving, it just is, come rain, fire or drought, man or animal, the little puffs of wattle yellow will remain. The Ochre Pits make the rocks seem like they’re bleeding and to think of what the ochre was used for and meant to the Indigenous people, is something very deeply spiritual, not spectacular, just spiritually humbling.

No emotion, just trying to exist.

When looking at the panoramic view from the campervan, it seems like a photographic sepia, where colour has thankfully graced the top third- the darkened ash and charcoal of a burnt landscape sees twisted and blackened trees welcoming a brilliant green tuft or two on the very tops of the trees. The saturated blue sky provides a perfect wash of colour to the top of our framed canvas.

Our bodies are parched and fatigued from the muggy night, so we sleep as we travel between landmarks, occasionally waking to reposition ourselves with a swig of water only to fall back into a restless sleep.

If you stop moving, everything moves around you.

We lunched in Alice Springs; Bojangles’ Saloon- an eclectic, hard-yakka pub where I had a real steak sandwich. Here, there were saddles for bar stools, foreign currencies on peeling off the roof and old boots nailed to a cartwheel off the wall.

The local art gallery and cultural museum in the Alice mall is an experience more education that I initially believed. While the front was the general regime of overpriced Indigenous artworks, the back room was filled with replicas and glass cabinets of cultural artefacts with reasonably objective information.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Catholic parish in Alice is a very old-timey one, with stained glass windows washing church-goers in an amber glow. The bella vista is accompanied by a depiction of an Indigenous Christ and all in all this is a welcoming parish, yet perhaps not a cosy one.

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Glen Helen Gorge

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Travel Blog to Central Australia, Day Two

The Todd River is no longer a river, and the local Indigenous peoples are wearing beanies in over 38 degree heat.

The Simpson’s Gap is beautiful and utterly majestic. The finches here are a tawny colour and wear black masks and red beaks and they flit in and out of the shrubs. They chatter amongst themselves then in a flash they hide in the leaves. Busloads of school kids and tourists pile onto the jagged rock and wear it smooth. They climb all over things that say Do Not Climb in English, so it’s no wonder that they disregard the Indigenous pleas to not tread on their sacred site.

One can stand quietly, and close their eyes. I was asked, “was it fun? Are you having fun?” and I just nodded, thinking to myself that I am feeling more calm than anything. Here, there is a vast emptiness, a  vast quietness. Hear the water drop dropping in a plink that echoes through the chasms of the Gap. Hear the wind breathe through the gorge, and it feels like the place is alive and exhaling itself, the dry leaves rustle in faint whispers. All at once, hear everything, and nothing… this is a very hollow feeling.

The John Flynn gravesite praises the flounder of the Royal Flying Doctor’s service for his achievements in outback communication and missionaries. A commemorative plaque is marked by one of the Devil’s Marbles; a sacred land form to an Indigenous group of people. These people protested for over 22 years and finally the rock was replaced by the sacred site of a different regional group who sought peace between the Indigenous peoples and the white Europeans.

Burnt and skeletal trees stand tall, supporting small birds nests and green buds.

Standley’s Chasm was a half-hour hike of cycads, blue gums, ghost gums and a bus load of American retirees. The chasm itself was both stunning and serene and we produced ourselves in, coincidentally, the right time of day. Apparently at noon the sun aligns with the chasm and the gorge fills itself with a muddy-orange glow that towers above.

Ellery’s Creek is pure magic. Two sheer rock faces house a river that trickles into a large waterhole. There, I can thankfully say, I was not eaten by bunyips, but the water had interesting floaty bits, nonetheless. They colours are of dusty orange, scarlet and hazy blue. Wattles, wildflowers, white cedar and a clear sweet smell fills the air-melaluca adds a tang. They reflect off the gently rippling and lapping water and as you cast your eye along the beach, you can the West McDonnell Ranges in the distance, sleeping giants.

Dingoes troll past like absent lone rangers, they appear to answer to no-one.

Our stay at Ormiston Gorge meant a swim in the waterhole, where clear, cool waters were framed by a serene red rock face with caves leading to a magnificent gorge. There are only three colours out here; orange, blue and green, the varying shades of these are determined by the ripples in the water and the shadows marking the time of day. The night in Ormiston saw sausages on the barbeque served with salad, and we were set for a very hot night.

Simpsons’ Gap.

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Travel Blog to Central Australia; Day One

Welcome to Alice Springs. Fire Danger; very high.  Random red dust winds on an otherwise hazy day. The first thing I noticed was just how barren the landscape was, devoid not of life, but of people and I wonder just what this place would have looked like had there been no highway cutting through, or no signs of modernisation. If you cast your eye over the natural land ridges, you can see a few mobile-phone towers protruding from the landscape; a dominating and perhaps even phallic image.

We take camp in the Big 4 McDonnell Ranges Caravan Park just out of Alice Springs and after a mix-up with a rental motor home, we’ve ended up safe and sound having our dinner under five million stars. We swam in the pool and bounced on the jumping pillow and I feel like a child again. All the while, we are surrounded by the Ranges, overshadowing us and looming (but not ominously,) over us as we play.

If feels as if there is some greater force here at work, something more peaceful than you or I could even imagine.

 

Our view from the caravan park looking towards the West McDonnell Ranges.

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Water

From the 12th until the 23rd of September, the Sydney Theatre Company presents Water, a visual spectacular and an auditory soundscape with ingenious staging, props and scenery. The performance outlines two stories that run parallel then intertwine to create a show that will leave you pondering the deeper mysteries of life. A British government negotiator battles to unite a G8 summit on a carbon emissions deal while her neglected boyfriend turns his attention to beating the world record for cave diving while two distant half-brothers meet to grieve the death of their father. By using the allegory of water- a combination of elements that must bond together to create a co-dependent structure, the show likens this bondage to human relationships and the need for connection in order to live a full and healthy life.

Water uses visual and sonic storytelling techniques that create an absolute wonderland. The fast-paced, helter-skelter nature of these techniques are innovative and marvellous, however, these elements may detract a little from the significant themes at hand. At times, the central message was lost and the ability to connect with the audience was dampened underneath the fast-paced visual spectacular. Some of the strong social commentary may have been lost, nevertheless, the performance was one of brilliance and well worth a night out. 

Sydney Fringe Festival- Fun Direction

 

For a night of great comedy entertainment, the Sydney Fringe Festival hosts Fun Direction; amateur comedy guaranteeing laughs for everyone. The night at the Star Bar in our beautiful city kicks off with Kristin, the first of three acts, whose humourous anecdotes help us to reimagine our society as we know it. With enthusiasm and vibrancy, this first act connects with the audience on issues ranging from foreign politics, to television advertisements. Following Kristin comes Christine, a mum with mid-life crisis humour of domestic life and divorces. As this is most of her material, it is a little difficult for audiences to connect if they don’t relate. However, her left-field view of the world and one-liners contribute to a memorable night, with the final act, Krystal Meth, entertaining audiences in an outrageous and relentless visual treatise.

All in all, the night is a wide variety of entertainment and caters to all types of humour. Grab a few drinks as you go in from the Star Bar. As part of the Sydney Fringe, this night is one of value for money and the light humour helps the audience relax and take a break from society. As with any comedy night, however, please be advised about the attendance of minors, and some viewers may be offended.

For more information, please visit- http://www.whatsonsydney.com/eventDetails.aspx?id=20034