Monday, February 28, 2005

Thursday January 13 1972. 

We visited Esperance. I didn't see any kangaroos sunbathing on the beach but the history of the name is interesting.

The Dutch ship Gulde Zeepaard sailed across the Great Australian Bight in 1627.

The coast was visited by other Dutch sailors, and probably sealers and whalers, until 1792. Then Bruni d'Entrecasteaux of Le Recherche and Huon de Kermandec of L'Esperance, searching Australian waters for missing explorer La Perouse and charting the coastline, were forced to seek protection from a storm. d'Entrecasteaux wrote in his journal 'I decided to give the harbour the name of Esperance Bay, that of the first frigate to enter it.' Esperance - French for hope or faith.

Later, the sailors of a French ship, the Mississippi, had established a settlement in the area and were growing vegetables and raising sheep and goats during the non-whaling season.

Yet the French still didn't claim Australia. First the Dutch, then the French. And the Brits only claimed it for a penal colony.

Why would anyone not want to claim Australia? Beats me.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Wednesday January 12 1972. 

Denmark was magnificent but the marvels continued as we crawled along the south coast, caravan in tow.

Still more ancient forests towered above. We were like a motorised beetle creeping along a bush track. It was cool in the shade but the sun burned fiercely when we emerged now and then from the canopy.

Albany is the oldest European settlement in Western Australia. It is a beautiful nineteenth century town nestled under Mt Clarence and overlooking King George Sound, one of the largest natural harbours of any city in the world, with a surface area of 35 square miles and an entrance five miles wide. Albany is an old whaling town with a fascinating history which you shouldn't read if you love whales.

These days the whales frolic and breech in the blue waters that in days gone by would have been red with their blood. (Days gone by - what am I talking about? The whaling station was still operating in 1972. It closed down some years after and was turned into a whaling museum.)

Later, as we travelled around the coast, I imagined living in the early nineteenth century with only horses for transport. Rail may arguably have been a greater advance to people - especially those in far-flung places - in those days than the motor vehicle was to those of the twentieth century.

Ravensthorpe was where we stopped for the night, finally out of the forested south, slowly moving back towards the desert. Ravensthorpe is a sleepy town in a great flat plain, sheep and wheat-growing territory. Such a marked contrast to the forests from which we had emerged.

Cousin and I walked around the town, cutting through the schoolgrounds. The school, of course, was closed for the long summer break. Christmas decorations were yellowing in the windows. An unemptied rubbish bin sat by the gate. Someone had left their coat hanging over a railing where it remained undisturbed.

The sun went down just like this.


On the car radio:

I want to live, I want to give
I've been a miner for a heart of gold
it's these expressions I never give
that keep me searching for a heart of gold


I've been to Hollywood, I've been to Redwood
I crossed the ocean for a heart of gold
I've been in my mind, it's such a fine line
that keeps me searching for a heart of gold

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Hunter S. Thompson. 

S. for suicide.

I hated your stupid gonzo journalism.

I hated your stupid egotistical crap as much as I hated your stupid egotistical exit from the world.

Fictional journalism? Crap, Hunter S. Thompson. You summed up the world in which you lived. A smack-head. An alcoholic. A baby boomer who demanded things went your way. A sixties wanker who managed to float above the detritus of a coarse, smut-filled, drug-addled world.

So you could write.

Big fucking deal, Hunter S. Thompson. You were not Robinson Crusoe in that.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Tuesday January 11 1972. 

We set off early, moving eastwards slowly. In this heavily forested part of Western Australia, every town seemed to have a name ending in '-up': Manjimup, Kojonup, Ballingup, Nannup, Jerramungup. They are all aboriginal names. (I wonder what Kojonup means?)

Driving beneath forest canopies all day is strangely fascinating, particularly since most of our journey before Perth was across flat sandy desert. Like going from the Sahara into the Amazon.

After all the '-up' towns, it was somewhat odd that at the end of the day - which found us back on the coastline - we stayed overnight at a town with the unlikely name of Denmark.

Denmark is of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. It is set in a small inlet off the Southern Ocean, framed by forested hills on one side and the sea on the other.

The camping ground at Denmark was carved out of natural bushland. Unmade pathways led in between trees and around hedges. It was overgrown and contained a series of dells and groves. Uncle had cleverly parked the caravan half under a high, dense overhanging shrub of some description. It was shady inside the 'van. In winter you would have called it cosy.

I spent the rest of the day exploring the sand dunes along the bay. I thought to myself, 'This is the kind of place I would like to live in one day.'


Next morning, early, perhaps six o'clock, the tide was out. I walked out across the sand flats. There were pelicans, sandpipers, gulls and marshbirds of various kinds - all in their hundreds. I climbed the rocks at the edge of the sand flats and climbed to the top of the highest sand dune beyond the rocks.

I looked back over the sand flats, silky smooth in the early morning light, just a kiss of rosy orange from the east. Some pelicans rose in the air. Such heavy, ungainly birds - how can they fly? They wheeled around, the sun's rays touched them and they were gone, golden specks disappearing towards the north, inland.


On the radio in the caravan:

it is the special one
it never sees the sun
it only comes up
when the moon is on the run
and all the stars are gleaming
it´s growing in the street
right up through the concrete
but soft sweet and dreamy

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Monday January 10 1972 

I looked right and saw the Indian Ocean.

I looked left and I was staring at the Southern Ocean.

Then I looked straight ahead - right in the middle - and tried to see if there was some kind of join, a seam or something.

Of course there wasn't. I just imagined that there should be a division between oceans.

We were at Augusta, way down on the south-west coast. I was standing right on the edge of Cape Leeuwin (named after the Dutch explorer, one of the many who declined to claim Terra Australis - otherwise I would have been writing this in Dutch and my name would be Johannes van Bloggs).

Here, a lighthouse beams out over the two oceans signalling to ships whatever it is lighthouses signal to ships - no left turn? watch the corner? no parking? you have a severe list to the left? someone just fell off your boat? I don't know.

Having reached the south-west corner, we now turned left and headed east. The road veered inland where we were soon in the midst of one of the world's biggest forests. Western Australia is mostly desert but way down here it is thickly forested with Karri and Jarrah trees, monster eucalypts of up to 90 metres, including the Gloucester Tree, the tallest fire-lookout tree in the world. If you are brave enough you can climb this tree; and when you reach the very top, here's what you will see .

I climbed up like a monkey and marvelled at the surrounding countryside. (Of course, climbing up a tree is one thing, but coming DOWN is something else again. If you have any fear of heights at all, don't try it. They may have to call out the Police Rescue Helicopter to pluck you from the top because have frozen stiff with fear.)


On my cousin's cassette player:

letters I've written
never meaning to send
beauty I'd always missed
with these eyes before
just what the truth is
I can't say any more
cos I love you
yes I love you
oh how I love you

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Saturday January 8 1972. 

I shut my eyes, stumbled forward about five steps and opened my eyes again.

I was in a giant room that looked like nothing on earth.

The light was strange, a soft but eerie glow, as if the room had its own atmosphere. A bit like being in a cathedral during daylight.

A shaft of fuzzy light poured from somewhere above and splashed to a stop in a pool of glittering white on something resembling an altar.

Icy columns rose white from a floor that was so starkly mirror-like, it must have been made of some strange reflective metal.

It was not a cathedral nor any kind of building. It was this.

We entered through a sharp descent - a vent into the earth - amid ancient stands of petrified Karri trees. We climbed down hundreds of stairs through an inky darkness lit by lamps strung down the shaft.

Now, at the bottom, in the great chamber that had stood just like this for thousands of years, I gasped at its sheer size and its haggard beauty.


We had arrived in Margaret River last night. It's a sleepy fishing village with a post office, a row of shops and a few hippie surfers with battered kombi vans plastered with smileys and make love not war stickers. A sign on the main road read 'Lake Cave, 8 miles' so we had decided to go and see it.


I stood silently in the cave, hearing noises. The drip, drip, drip of water. And a deep, busy rumbling, a subterranean gurgling, as if torrents of water flowing somewhere, nearby but where?

Then I realised that the reflective floor was water. It looked like still water but way below, water was flowing:

'The cavern floor is covered in water of depths varying from 0.5m to 1.25m, and the flow of water from East to West has been calculated at 23,040 litres per hour.'

The cave has been unchanged for millions of years except for the stalagmites that grew maybe half an inch every half million years.

Late in the afternoon, back at Margaret River, I surfed in the swirling ocean, thinking about caves and wondering whether I should become a geologist and travel the world investigating caves.


On the car radio:

look all around, there's nothin' but blue skies
look straight ahead, nothin' but blue skies

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Friday January 7 1972. 

Today is the start of the return journey to Melbourne. With a heavy heart, I walked across the road and immersed myself in the Indian Ocean for maybe half an hour.

By ten o'clock, bright sun shining, perfect day, the annexe was packed away, the caravan hitched up and we drove out of Sorrento Park.

Heading south on the Great Northern Highway, we drove through Perth and out the other side of the great sparkling city of the south west, towards the giant Karri and Jarrah forests of the south-west corner of Australia.

'Well,' said Uncle. 'The home stretch.'

If you can call two thousand miles a home stretch.


On the car radio:

you came smilin’ softly, shyly movin’
easy as a dreamer into my room
and before I realized the danger
I found myself looking into your eyes

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Monday, February 07, 2005

A musical interlude. 

The 1971-72 holiday diary will continue presently.

Meanwhile, this personal music survey comes to you thanks to Filegirl who I am sure has guessed my love of music would overcome my aversion to making lists!

So here it is. Thanks, Krissy!

My random ten.
The songs that float in and out of your life, returning to remind you of something ... someone ... somewhere.

Black Ticket Day by Ed Kuepper

Liturgy of St John Chrysostom:X 'We Praise Thee.' by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Crown of Creation by Ride

Conquistador Live at Edmonton by Procol Harum. A sound-mountain of duelling guitars and strings that takes me back to August 1972.

Falling in Love by Randy Newman from Land of Dreams. From 1988 when nearly everyone fell in love. And then out again. Ouch.

Cesar Franck's Panis Angelicus sung by Kiri Te Kanawa

Under the Milky Way by The Church

Kings of the World by Mississippi (who became Little River Band but this was their best song)

Wings of an Eagle by Russell Morris

Hung Up on a Dream by The Zombies from Odessey and Oracle 30th anniversary edition - the track was their answer to Scott Fitzgerald's San Francisco

For Mama by Matt Monro. If you hear this song and don't cry you are not human.

Music files on my computer.
None yet, but elsewhere I have a whole bunch of CDs and some old vinyl that I cannot throw out. ('Running Down the Road', Arlo Guthrie; original pressings of 'Tubular Bells' by Mike Oldfield and and 'Dark Side of the Moon' by Pink Floyd from 1973 and 1972 respectively; 'Mister Ragtime', Joe 'Fingers' Carr; 'Roman Spectacular' Volume Two, Charles Magnante, accordian , and his all-star band; 'For Little Ones', Donovon; Klaus Wunderlich Hammond Organ; etc. I also have a Grundig stereogram console from the 1950s with a diamond needle and ceramic pick-up and a valve four-band radio. Play Matt Monro on that baby and you're listening to the mellowest reproduced music on earth.

Last CD I bought.
Thirty Years of the Beach Boys - the Good Vibrations Boxed Set.

Last song I listened to.
Can't remember. It was in the car this morning, maybe that song which samples Stevie Wonder's Superstition.

Last music documentary I saw.
End of the Century - The Ramones. First Joey died, then smack-head Dee-Dee; Johnny died after the film was made. But Joey WAS The Ramones. Something about his voice.

Five songs I listen to a lot or mean a lot to me.
My Boyfriend's Back by The Spazzys, a new three-girl punk band who know exactly what three-chord rock'n'roll is all about. I listen to it a lot because it's on high rotation on the radio. And it's good.

Anything by Mozart, aria, concerto, symphony, whatever.

I Had Forgotten You by Paul Kelly because I used to play the album in my car and my eight year old daughter would sing along. And because the lyrics punch me in the guts every time. I just don't see it coming.

After All These Years by silverchair because it is freakishly good.

Self-titled All India Radio because my brother made it.

Three bloggers I'd like to see post their own personal music surveys: Monkey, Prestbury and Tif.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Sunday January 2 1972. 

104 degrees.

Uncle and aunt said the words I didn't want to hear. We're leaving in five days, heading back to Melbourne via the South West coast. Can't we stay here forever? Apparently not. I've only just settled in, just gotten used to caravan routine.

When we had approached Perth in mid-December I had been looking forward to just being in one place for a couple of weeks. Now it's the countdown to the end of the whole trip, like it's already over. Why do we enjoy the anticipation more than the entire reality? Must be human nature.

Human nature for fourteen-year-olds means getting into a little mischief. One night, Danny and I climbed the hills at the back of the caravan park, ascended the pine-treed slopes, emerged at the top where roads snaked their way up into the suburbs overlooking the Indian Ocean. We looked back towards the inky sleeping blackness. A fishing boat or two showed lights and there was nothing else.

We were on a sharply curved street, treelined and dark. At the point of the curve, there was a small wedge of open parkland. Now and then, a car flashed around the curve, momentarily drenching the parkland white with its headlamps and then was gone.

Danny and I had an idea. It might have been something we saw in a movie. It was probably just our juvenile minds. We were going to give approaching vehicles a scare.

In the darkness, we disported ourselves at the edge of the parkland in our very best imitations of corpses, arms and legs at violent angles. Soon, a car approached, tore into the curve. Blazing headlights lit us for a fraction of a second.

We had figured it perfectly. The car screeched to a halt forty feet down the road, headlamps facing the wrong way. By the time it had reversed and lit the open space, we had vanished noiselessly into the dense tree cover.

We did this for a while. Every car screeched to a halt. Every car backed up. Every car drove off.

Later we climbed back down through the pine trees, through the ti-tree, back into the caravan park. The heat was oppressive in the darkness.

We crossed the road and swam, the moon glinting on the black ocean swell. The sand was still hot even though it had been dark for two hours.

is it time for a nap yet? i think so

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