A few days ago, I received a very encouraging bit of recognition: The National Library of Australia was requesting permission to archive my Waltzing Australia blog.
I was informed that “The National Library has selected your publication for archiving because we have judged it to be an important component of the national documentary heritage. We want it to be available to researchers now and in the future.”
Lovely to have one’s credibility affirmed like this. Thank you, NLA.
I think this will help me stay motivated to keep this effort going. I have lots more to share, as I’ve visited so many places and studied so much about Australia. It’s good to know that it is proving useful for some folks.
I do narrated slide shows about, among other things, my travels in Australia. While people regularly ask about how long the flight from Chicago is or when is the best time to go, I often get questions about Australia’s Aborigines — specifically, “what do they do?” It always interests me that some people seem to believe that the entire group will have made the same choices and have the same fate. I explain that, while some of the choices are not ones open to the general public (most specifically, living a traditional life on Aboriginal land), their education and career choices range almost as far and wide as those of any other people group. There are painters and actors and lawyers and professional tennis players and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Not too surprisingly, given the importance of singing in Aboriginal culture, a number have become professionals in this arena. Among these is Deborah Cheetham, an Australian Aborigine opera singer. Her voice is spectacular and she is very much at home on the world stage. A few years ago, for one of Australia’s most important holidays, the National Day of Mourning, Cheetham performed Australia’s national anthem, “Advance Australia Fair,” and I think it is a good introduction to the talent of this gifted woman.
It is hard to read any Australian history without bumping into Burke and Wills. I saw several places associated with them on my first trip to Australia, and an account of their exploration and tragic end is included in the appendix of my book, because it’s something the curious about Australia need to know. I had always hoped to visit Cooper Creek, where they spent their last days, and I finally reached it on my fourth trip to Australia. It was moving to see the DIG tree and know that lives had hung in the balance here, but it was also an amazingly beautiful, peaceful location. An Aussie videographer named George Royter has done a nice job capturing the beauty of Cooper Creek in a video on his blog. Note, however, that when my friends and I camped there, we had the place to ourselves, so it was even more peaceful than indicated by the video.
George Royter’s Cooper Creek
On my second trip to Australia, I stayed at a wonderful “resort” in the Red Center, in the Eastern MacDonnell Ranges. (The quotes around “resort” are because this is far from what that word might conjure in other locales — this place is a bit rustic, though in my case, rustic was what I was hoping for.) Ross River Resort offered me a cabin not too far from the original, historic homestead, and I spent three remarkable days, hiking around the fabulous rock formations, enjoying the bird life, learning about the area’s history–simply perfect. At least one bird photo (Galahs) that I’ve posted previously is from Ross River, as is the “Cabin ‘roo” I wrote about some time ago–with a photo of the large kangaroo that was waiting on my cabin doorstep when I returned from a hike one day–in case you want to see anything from the resort that was. It was a memorable location, and I’d always hoped to get back.
However, in January of this year, brush fires in the region swept through the area, consuming the cabins, camp grounds, and other facilities at Ross River. The original homestead appears to have survived, but the property is ruined, from the standpoint of continuing as a resort. I am hoping they rebuild, as it was such a splendid place to experience the solitude of the Outback — without having it be too much solitude. (That is, spend the days wandering alone in the wilderness, but have a few folks around the fire in the evening with whom one can recount the day’s adventures.)
The thing that makes it a bit more dramatic is that firefighters thought they’d saved the resort. The fire had been stopped. It had rained. But then the wind picked up, and suddenly, the fire was roaring again.
For more details on the fire, here’s an article from the Australia Broadcasting Company: Outback Resort Devastated By Fire.
Really sorry to lose this place. Hope they stage a comeback.
Most Americans, if they’ve heard of Rolf Harris at all, know him only for the upbeat, funny song “Tie Me Kangaroo Down,” which became an international hit back in the early 1960s. However, Harris has had a career of considerably greater extent than that one recording–significant enough, in fact, to have gotten him a long list of honors in both his native Australia and in Britain (OBE, CBE). He’s a singer, song writer, painter (commissioned to do a portrait of the Queen, so no amateur), and television personality.
I don’t expect everyone to have the same success stories or local characters. That would be boring. But because I’ve traveled a bit, it sometimes surprises me when someone I know from one place isn’t so well known when I get home. And so it is with Mr. Harris. I recently, for some reason, found myself singing “Two Little Boys” to myself, and realized it was not something I knew from the U.S. — so I thought it was something I might share here. It wasn’t written by Harris — it dates back to the early 1900s, in fact — but Harris made it a huge hit in Australia and Britain in the late 1960s.
I’ve written enough, both in my book and in this blog, about Aussies and horses and Aussies and war and Aussies and horses and war that it shouldn’t come as too much of a shock to find a similar mix in this sweet, charming little song. (I know — horses and war don’t sound like they go with sweet and charming — but trust me, here, they do.)
Filed under Australia, Lore
My post on Ghost Gums has, for some reason, remained my most popular, despite the fact that I posted the entry more than five years ago. However, despite that popularity, it was still notable when it had more than 100 hits today. So I did a quick search on ghost gums to see what news might have triggered the avalanche. I was sad to learn that it was because of a particularly unpleasant act of vandalism: the twin ghost gums made famous by Aboriginal painter Albert Namatjira were burned to the ground. I’d seen these famous twin trees on two different trips to Australia. While all ghost gums are beautiful, the connection to Namatjira made these seem particularly evocative.
It’s hard to imagine what would drive someone to destroy these lovely, historic trees. It doesn’t even make a statement. It’s just mindless destruction.
For those who might be interested, here is a bit more on this incident and Namatjira.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 26,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 6 Film Festivals
Click here to see the complete report.