Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The heat has eased off somewhat, and while there are storms around we have had little in the way of rain. Much time is spent mulching and watering. Not being on town water, every year I appreciate water more and more, precious resource that it is. Nothing, nothing, is more satisfying here than rain.

Last week it was a bit of a thrill to catch sight of this glinting in the morning sun.

Yes, there's only one - the great Indian Pacific - its stainless steel carriages dusted with the Nullarbor.

Born in AlburyI was raised on trains (and blackberry picking) and many a time, staring down from the bridge over the railway station at the people crossing from the Sydney train to the Melbourne train (the rail guages were different and Albury was the border town), Dad would say - let's go and look at the engine. And we would.

So here it was, about 700 metres or so of it (diverted* away from the Blue Mountains where the fires were still raging) moving slowly north to Sydney. It stopped very soon after, long enough for me to get past, jump out of the car at Exeter, the next station, call out to some startled man getting out of his car at the parking area - hello there, look what's coming - and together we stood on the platform, waiting. The blue engine with its blazing wedge tailed Eagle ...

I waved at the driver who grinned back and pulled the whistle, and we stood, stranger and I, for ever it seemed, and I waved, and met the eyes of one woman passenger waving back, just one, like a ghost in a scary movie, and waved till it was gone.

No one knew I was a bit teary behind my sunglasses, a boy again. Not till I called K and said - you wouldn't believe it, how it took me back. He knew.

* At Parkes it is shunted off the Great Western Line to Cootamundra (birthplace of Bradman, and the Wattle of the same name) and onto the Great Southern Line.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


Back in the country there has been a welcome break from the early dry warm conditions, enough to get the accumulated debris from a few big wind storms and general droppings burnt off before summer.

Showers have moistened the top soil and we are between fire bans so despite these days there being a not so comfortable feeling about burning green waste, this is big stuff that can't be mulched without the use of a mulcher, neither practical nor affordable here, and so early one morning up it went.

It rekindles strong memories of dad burning piles of russet and gold autumn leaves on cold winter's days, leaning on rakes watching the curly whisps of smoke, the sparks fly, and not knowing then that that smell in my nostrils would take me there again, every time.



These mornings are rare and sobering. Mornings when you wake to hear that someone who had a significant influence on your life is dead, always unexpected but this one especially so, and you reflect for the first time seriously about what this person has meant to self and to the world and without exaggeration I can say he enlightened me. Yes, the Ring, but I think in honesty about the meaning of theatre.

This coming weekend we will watch Queen Margot (it's on the shelf) and now seek out his other works starting with Those Who Love Me Can Take The Train. I feel desperately sad for his partner and family and friends.

Friday, October 4, 2013


I am now back in the big smoke for a few days where if nothing else the dog gets to meet old friends twice a day in Centennial Park, our only significant big green oasis and which like most other parks just can't be left alone. I don't mean maintenance and the like. I mean chipping away at the most unspoiled areas, once were wild places, of creeks and fallen trees and refuges from human interference.

The grassy belvedere, built up fairly recently on the top of the hill overlooking Federation Valley

(January 1, 1901, Federation Valley)

on what used to be a tumble down unspoiled corner of the park, is now being rased and the terraces under the pine trees which are leased to a major movie distributor for summer film nights are undergoing considerable redevelopment. It is all part of the leasing of public space to keep the revenue flowing in the face of dwindling Government funding about which others have strong feelings, too. By the way, the pine trees have gone.

So what a joy and skip of the heart there was to find in the late afternoon light in the woodlands not far away something beautifully simple and simply beautiful. Peace and tranquility indeed.

The elements are rocks and pine cones decorated with floral parts from the coral trees and tufts of white flowers from a wild shrub scrambling along a nearby creek.

I was immediately reminded of Derek Jarman's "Paradise haunts gardens" and his rock circles.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013