“The candle symbolises light in the darkness of life; especially individual life, illumination. It is also the symbol of illumination of the spirit of truth.” White Night Melbourne
Thousands of LED lights float in the moat of the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV). It’s beautiful. Mesmerising. But, then it’s heartbreaking. As you hear the voices of refugees.
“Departure of a year welcomes so many new memories” Munia Khan
Slumber safari experience at Werribee Zoo
This blog was inspired by my friend Jules Wilkinson, who today posted on Facebook her ‘Top 18 things of 2016’. She later commented: “I worry that the ‘2016 sucked’ narrative is not letting people value the year they had on its own terms. I hope it was a good one for you and 2017 is even more sparkly!”
Recently, I was asked to write an article for Ride On magazine – which is the membership magazine for Bicycle Network Victoria. I’ve been published by them previously, but not for a while as my writing has taken a bit of a back seat to my editing in recent years. But I’ve always been a huge supporter of Bicycle Network Victoria and the advocacy work they do for cyclists. So I was very happy to get this opportunity to write another article for them. I also love cycling the rail trails and this got me in the mood for a weekend to Bright and a ride on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail. So here is the link to the Ride On article… and later this year I’ll have some more blogs about bike rides I’m planning to do.
Source: Riding the trails
“White Night Melbourne is the city as you know it, turned on its head in a dusk ’til dawn celebration of culture and creativity. A night where the surreal seems real, White Night Melbourne is a rare opportunity to experience the city in a different light.”
Four years since the inaugural White Night Melbourne, I’m still very much in love with this festival. For one night, the buildings are a kaleidoscope of illuminated colour. There are buskers on every corner and a myriad of artworks/projections on display. The crowd throngs; sauntering and oft-times dancing down Swanston Street. There is so much laughter and singing; even on the train ride home. For me, it’s almost the perfect time to get lost in the vibrant streets and laneways of Melbourne.
“There is something indecent about the idea that in order to prevent people from drowning in their attempt to reach safety you punish the ones who don’t drown. That is precisely what this country is doing right now.” Julian Burnside
For some time now I have been ashamed of Australia. I love this country, but I utterly despise what is happening to the refugees who have been left to rot on offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. I will never agree with a government policy that imprisons a person who is fleeing for their life; from persecution or a war-zone or any other dangerous situation. And I hope, beyond hope, that one day the politicians responsible for these policies will be brought to task (even prosecuted) for their complicity in human rights abuses.
This is not the first time I’ve felt ashamed of Australia. Back in the early 90s, I travelled to South Africa. I can vividly remember a late-night conversation about politics with a group of university students. This was about a year before Nelson Mandela was elected as President and they were understandably anxious about the political climate of their own country. But the conversation turned and I was horrified to hear Australia being compared to South Africa in terms of civil rights. I didn’t have a clue what they were talking about. I’m so ashamed that, until that moment, I knew nothing about the Stolen Generations – or the underlying current of racism that has always existed in this country. I have written more about this in My journey with The Black Arm Band; including the fact that the government policy of the day was kept secret from generations of Australians.
Does that sound familiar? Because it should! Now journalists are not allowed to visit detention camps; doctors are not allowed to talk about the appalling conditions; the government doesn’t have to tell us if more refugee boats have arrived.
“There’s an exact moment for leaping into the lives of wild animals. You have to feel their lives first, how they fit the world around them. It’s like the beat of music. Their eyes, the sounds they make, their head, movements, their feet and their whole body, the closeness of things around them – all this and more make up the way they perceive and adjust to their world.”
This year I’ve decided I want to get back into my photography by going on an ‘artist date’ every couple of months. Fortunately, I have a wonderful group of creative friends and it’s usually not too difficult to convince others to join me in these types of outings. First up this year was a trip to the Melbourne Zoo to photograph the wildlife. I was joined by Megan Jackson (whose wonderful photographs can be seen at Stardust and Melancholy) and we had a brilliant day. We patiently observed the wildlife, took lots of photographs, and enjoyed our stroll around the zoo.
“Ever bike? Now that’s something that makes life worth living! Oh, to just grip your handlebars and lay down to it, and go ripping and tearing through streets and road, over railroad tracks and bridges, threading crowds, avoiding collisions, at twenty miles or more an hour, and wondering all the time when you’re going to smash up. Well, now, that’s something! And then go home again after three hours of it…and then to think that tomorrow I can do it all over again!” Jack London
Some time ago I wrote an article for Bicycle Network Victoria but it was never published. They decided that given the state of the trails depicted in my article they probably shouldn’t encourage anyone to go cycling there. But, honestly, I loved getting out in this part of Victoria and, although challenged, we did have a lot of fun… so I’ve decided to share my story here. I also adore Walhalla, having been there many times, and I would highly recommend a visit to this historic township, even if it’s not on a bicycle.
When I suggest to my siblings Pete and Lynn that we go for a bike ride on a couple of short rail trails, I’m not expecting it will take us all day. The Walhalla Goldfields Rail Trail, which runs from Erica to Thomson in Victoria, is only 14km return and, on paper, looks relatively easy. Admittedly, there has been some recent wild weather but we don’t imagine this will have impacted on the trails too much.
Initially the route takes us away from the railways original alignment, where there was once a trestle bridge, and there are steep, slippery sections to negotiate. At Jacobs Creek we meet a couple of amiable firemen, who are refilling the water tanks on their truck, and they tell us we could’ve begun our ride at the Walhalla-Tyers Road to skip this messy section. Moments later we wish we had, as we come to another nasty climb. None of us has the legs to get more than halfway up and we are momentarily off our bikes, walking uphill. It’s an early sign of things to come.