On a train bound for nowhere

I had a few meetings in the city yesterday and caught a train for the first time in years. Here were some of my thoughts.

I’m on a train to the city winding on tracks that echo with the sights from my young manhood. Past graffiti spattered walls and fences, some with elaborate paintings, others with tags like mythz, serv, zent and fable. Most of these done with spray cans but the oldest daubed in paint like vosko and “Free Zarb” have been there viewed by train travelers since the days of the red rattlers more than 30 years ago. Zarb was gaoled in the 1960’s as a draft dodger.

The river of backyards, rubble strewn factories and blackberry choked chainlink fences haven’t changed all that much in three decades. All strangely familiar. The graffiti hints of hidden after dark lives, lived outside society’s mainstream, the over abundant use of chrome paint perhaps an indication of the ruin to come.

On the train in front of me is a mother with a late teenage daughter; both a little overweight, mum telling daughter that she was wearing the exact same junmper she had seen on someone else a few days ago.

In front of them was a group of four young blokes in fluro t-shirts and with big hair reminiscent of the Bay City Rollers. I wonder if they’ve ever heard of that group or if the thought of looking like an eighties Scottish gay icon boy band would disturb them at all.

There are few men in suits – ths was the 8:58 from Tecoma and way too late for most office workers, but there is one head shaven guy in a pinstriped suit talking on a mobile phone. I smile as I get a memory of an ex-partner in the police force who returned from a trip to Bali with two tailor made suits he said were the latest in European fashion – one was aubergine in colour the other had horizontal pinstripes; he only wore the once.

Sitting at Camberwell Station for a few minutes, a young girl behind me with an ipod turned up way too loud sat urging the train to “come on” obviously late for an appointment.

Unlike 30 years ago their is a preponderance of mobile phones and people engaged in loud conversations oblivious to the fact that they are revealing snippets of private lives to all and sundry.

To my left is a man with a very bad toupee and in front of him an old guy in a 1970’s two stripe tracksuit top wearing a black fedora. There was a lady with lips that were way too dark and in front of her a woman with an obviously deaf companion because everyone in the carriage was able to hear what she was saying.

After Richmond Station I couls see the cranes in Olympic Park above the building site of the new rugby and soccer stadium slowly taking shape. The MCG looms above the railway line completely rebuilt since the mid-1970’s with only the light towers, the battle ground of greenies and building workers who tried to prevent there construction, left as they were circa 1980.

Before I knew it I was disembarking in the City. The old Museum Station renamed Melbourne Central in homage to the commercial precinct rather than the cultural since the museum moved to Carlton. I used to know every inch of those city streets when I was a young policeman on foot patrol but it struck me that not a lot has changed over the years. There are still hordes of people including kids who I thought should have been back at school.

The Hare Krishnas still walk around banging drums and cymbals chanting incomprehensible but strangely tuneful songs. It occurred to me that I’ve never seen an old Hare Krishna proving that they have either discovered the Fountain of Youth or that as you get older, you get wiser and leave.

*********************************************************
Between meetings I spent a couple of hours testing out a new camera lens. For those interested it’s a Tamron 18-250 zoom and here are some results which I hope show my town in a light different to what you normally see.

For those of a more technical bent I use a Canon 30D and capture the images in RAW before converting them with Rawshooters Essential to JPEGS. I shot at 1000 ISO. The lens performed well with very fast focusing and the range is impressive. The photo of the detail of the lions head was taken at the 250mm extension and the photo immediately below it from exactly the same spot at 18mm.


























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On a train bound for nowhere

I had a few meetings in the city yesterday and caught a train for the first time in years. Here were some of my thoughts.

I’m on a train to the city winding on tracks that echo with the sights from my young manhood. Past graffiti spattered walls and fences, some with elaborate paintings, others with tags like mythz, serv, zent and fable. Most of these done with spray cans but the oldest daubed in paint like vosko and “Free Zarb” have been there viewed by train travelers since the days of the red rattlers more than 30 years ago. Zarb was gaoled in the 1960’s as a draft dodger.

The river of backyards, rubble strewn factories and blackberry choked chainlink fences haven’t changed all that much in three decades. All strangely familiar. The graffiti hints of hidden after dark lives, lived outside society’s mainstream, the over abundant use of chrome paint perhaps an indication of the ruin to come.

On the train in front of me is a mother with a late teenage daughter; both a little overweight, mum telling daughter that she was wearing the exact same junmper she had seen on someone else a few days ago.

In front of them was a group of four young blokes in fluro t-shirts and with big hair reminiscent of the Bay City Rollers. I wonder if they’ve ever heard of that group or if the thought of looking like an eighties Scottish gay icon boy band would disturb them at all.

There are few men in suits – ths was the 8:58 from Tecoma and way too late for most office workers, but there is one head shaven guy in a pinstriped suit talking on a mobile phone. I smile as I get a memory of an ex-partner in the police force who returned from a trip to Bali with two tailor made suits he said were the latest in European fashion – one was aubergine in colour the other had horizontal pinstripes; he only wore the once.

Sitting at Camberwell Station for a few minutes, a young girl behind me with an ipod turned up way too loud sat urging the train to “come on” obviously late for an appointment.

Unlike 30 years ago their is a preponderance of mobile phones and people engaged in loud conversations oblivious to the fact that they are revealing snippets of private lives to all and sundry.

To my left is a man with a very bad toupee and in front of him an old guy in a 1970’s two stripe tracksuit top wearing a black fedora. There was a lady with lips that were way too dark and in front of her a woman with an obviously deaf companion because everyone in the carriage was able to hear what she was saying.

After Richmond Station I couls see the cranes in Olympic Park above the building site of the new rugby and soccer stadium slowly taking shape. The MCG looms above the railway line completely rebuilt since the mid-1970’s with only the light towers, the battle ground of greenies and building workers who tried to prevent there construction, left as they were circa 1980.

Before I knew it I was disembarking in the City. The old Museum Station renamed Melbourne Central in homage to the commercial precinct rather than the cultural since the museum moved to Carlton. I used to know every inch of those city streets when I was a young policeman on foot patrol but it struck me that not a lot has changed over the years. There are still hordes of people including kids who I thought should have been back at school.

The Hare Krishnas still walk around banging drums and cymbals chanting incomprehensible but strangely tuneful songs. It occurred to me that I’ve never seen an old Hare Krishna proving that they have either discovered the Fountain of Youth or that as you get older, you get wiser and leave.

*********************************************************
Between meetings I spent a couple of hours testing out a new camera lens. For those interested it’s a Tamron 18-250 zoom and here are some results which I hope show my town in a light different to what you normally see.

For those of a more technical bent I use a Canon 30D and capture the images in RAW before converting them with Rawshooters Essential to JPEGS. I shot at 1000 ISO. The lens performed well with very fast focusing and the range is impressive. The photo of the detail of the lions head was taken at the 250mm extension and the photo immediately below it from exactly the same spot at 18mm.


























On a train bound for nowhere

I had a few meetings in the city yesterday and caught a train for the first time in years. Here were some of my thoughts.

I’m on a train to the city winding on tracks that echo with the sights from my young manhood. Past graffiti spattered walls and fences, some with elaborate paintings, others with tags like mythz, serv, zent and fable. Most of these done with spray cans but the oldest daubed in paint like vosko and “Free Zarb” have been there viewed by train travelers since the days of the red rattlers more than 30 years ago. Zarb was gaoled in the 1960’s as a draft dodger.

The river of backyards, rubble strewn factories and blackberry choked chainlink fences haven’t changed all that much in three decades. All strangely familiar. The graffiti hints of hidden after dark lives, lived outside society’s mainstream, the over abundant use of chrome paint perhaps an indication of the ruin to come.

On the train in front of me is a mother with a late teenage daughter; both a little overweight, mum telling daughter that she was wearing the exact same junmper she had seen on someone else a few days ago.

In front of them was a group of four young blokes in fluro t-shirts and with big hair reminiscent of the Bay City Rollers. I wonder if they’ve ever heard of that group or if the thought of looking like an eighties Scottish gay icon boy band would disturb them at all.

There are few men in suits – ths was the 8:58 from Tecoma and way too late for most office workers, but there is one head shaven guy in a pinstriped suit talking on a mobile phone. I smile as I get a memory of an ex-partner in the police force who returned from a trip to Bali with two tailor made suits he said were the latest in European fashion – one was aubergine in colour the other had horizontal pinstripes; he only wore the once.

Sitting at Camberwell Station for a few minutes, a young girl behind me with an ipod turned up way too loud sat urging the train to “come on” obviously late for an appointment.

Unlike 30 years ago their is a preponderance of mobile phones and people engaged in loud conversations oblivious to the fact that they are revealing snippets of private lives to all and sundry.

To my left is a man with a very bad toupee and in front of him an old guy in a 1970’s two stripe tracksuit top wearing a black fedora. There was a lady with lips that were way too dark and in front of her a woman with an obviously deaf companion because everyone in the carriage was able to hear what she was saying.

After Richmond Station I couls see the cranes in Olympic Park above the building site of the new rugby and soccer stadium slowly taking shape. The MCG looms above the railway line completely rebuilt since the mid-1970’s with only the light towers, the battle ground of greenies and building workers who tried to prevent there construction, left as they were circa 1980.

Before I knew it I was disembarking in the City. The old Museum Station renamed Melbourne Central in homage to the commercial precinct rather than the cultural since the museum moved to Carlton. I used to know every inch of those city streets when I was a young policeman on foot patrol but it struck me that not a lot has changed over the years. There are still hordes of people including kids who I thought should have been back at school.

The Hare Krishnas still walk around banging drums and cymbals chanting incomprehensible but strangely tuneful songs. It occurred to me that I’ve never seen an old Hare Krishna proving that they have either discovered the Fountain of Youth or that as you get older, you get wiser and leave.

*********************************************************
Between meetings I spent a couple of hours testing out a new camera lens. For those interested it’s a Tamron 18-250 zoom and here are some results which I hope show my town in a light different to what you normally see.

For those of a more technical bent I use a Canon 30D and capture the images in RAW before converting them with Rawshooters Essential to JPEGS. I shot at 1000 ISO. The lens performed well with very fast focusing and the range is impressive. The photo of the detail of the lions head was taken at the 250mm extension and the photo immediately below it from exactly the same spot at 18mm.


























I don’t get….gender discrimination complaints

Let me start by saying that I subscribe to the Groucho Marx theory of club membership –

“I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!”

Our Chief Commissioner of police here in Victoria has been in the news for the last couple of days because she was upset that the Atheneum Club in Melbourne apparently refused her membership. Now I would never be invited to be a member there for a number of reasons including that I didn’t go to a private school, I don’t earn enough money and I am neither a member of the new or old establishment of Melbourne. Christine was upset because they wouldn’t accept her because she is a woman.

I will say that she isn’t making much of a song and dance about it, but she did say on radio this morning that many of the male members had daughters who one day may wish to become members in their own right.

Funny that a men’s only club won’t accept women isn’t it. Fernwood gym’s won’t accept men, we don’t get upset about that we go and join another gym, or we set up our own club. So if a woman applies for a men’s only club and gets rejected why get upset about it. I don’t get it.

I don’t get….gender discrimination complaints

Let me start by saying that I subscribe to the Groucho Marx theory of club membership –

“I don’t want to belong to any club that would have me as a member!”

Our Chief Commissioner of police here in Victoria has been in the news for the last couple of days because she was upset that the Atheneum Club in Melbourne apparently refused her membership. Now I would never be invited to be a member there for a number of reasons including that I didn’t go to a private school, I don’t earn enough money and I am neither a member of the new or old establishment of Melbourne. Christine was upset because they wouldn’t accept her because she is a woman.

I will say that she isn’t making much of a song and dance about it, but she did say on radio this morning that many of the male members had daughters who one day may wish to become members in their own right.

Funny that a men’s only club won’t accept women isn’t it. Fernwood gym’s won’t accept men, we don’t get upset about that we go and join another gym, or we set up our own club. So if a woman applies for a men’s only club and gets rejected why get upset about it. I don’t get it.

I don’t get …religious intolerance


What is it with the Westboro Baptist Church? They have protested against Heath Ledger at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in the US. This is the same mob that has been protesting at the funerals of US soldiers with banners like those in the photo. How is it that so-called Christians can be so intolerant? They have a warped sense of what Christianity is about when they spout such hatred. I don’t get it. At least Australian Baptists have denounced their rants as extreme and counter-productive.

I don’t get …religious intolerance


What is it with the Westboro Baptist Church? They have protested against Heath Ledger at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in the US. This is the same mob that has been protesting at the funerals of US soldiers with banners like those in the photo. How is it that so-called Christians can be so intolerant? They have a warped sense of what Christianity is about when they spout such hatred. I don’t get it. At least Australian Baptists have denounced their rants as extreme and counter-productive.

I don’t get …religious intolerance


What is it with the Westboro Baptist Church? They have protested against Heath Ledger at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in the US. This is the same mob that has been protesting at the funerals of US soldiers with banners like those in the photo. How is it that so-called Christians can be so intolerant? They have a warped sense of what Christianity is about when they spout such hatred. I don’t get it. At least Australian Baptists have denounced their rants as extreme and counter-productive.

The Heartland?

I wasn’t happy with my Australia Day post. I couldn’t really find the words or a theme and I’ve spent a couple of days wondering why. I had wanted to write about what it is that makes us Australian. Is it a laconic sense of humour, our obsession with sport, or that indefinable thing mateship? The fact is that it is all of those things and more but when trying to explain it to other people it may be enough to simply say we are Australian and at the end of the day, we know what that means even if you don’t.

The country has changed a lot since I was born in 1957. Back then the White Australia Policy was still in place, although the traditional British emigrant had been overtaken in numbers in the post war era by other Europeans, the large scale arrival of Asian immigrants had yet to come. In 1957, we were only 12 years from World War 2 and the horrors visited upon us by the Japanese in that pereiod and the fear of invasion were still raw in people’s minds. The Cold War was in full swing and we were not far off entering the Vietnam War to make sure that the domino theory did not come true.

I grew up in a very white anglo saxon protestant world. Despite the fact my Mum was a catholic that seemed a very odd religion to me. My father and uncle’s were Freemasons and it was no secret what they thought of Catholicism.

My school was an extension of that white world. In the eastern suburbs of Melbourne there weren’t even many Europeans at that time apart from the odd Greek or Italian. The closest we got to exotic food was a plate of spaghetti or the occasional dim sim from the fish and chip shop.

I am 50 years old if I go back just twice that amount of time or two generations from the year of my birth I would come to a Melbourne that was only 20 years old. In Tasmania my paternal Grandfather’s grandparents, Irish Catholics all, would have only just finished their sentences as convicts. In the Victorian goldfields my maternal grandmothers grandfather had married an aboriginal girl and had at least one child from whom I am descended.

In the years I grew up though this heritage was seen as something to be ashamed of. The pride in convict ancestry was still a few decades in the future and it probably wasn’t until we celebrated our bicentennial in 1988 that it became a badge of pride. It was just as well that my father’s Mum had passed away by the time we found out that the Joyce’s had convict blood, and were also Roman Catholic, because she came from a very strict Orange tradition.

On Mum’s side I knew of the rumour of black blood in the family but any time I asked my Grandmother she would just say “Don’t ask questions because you may not like what you find.” One day I was visiting her 80 year old cousin, Charlie Fry, and I asked him the question. He said,

Mum took me to visit my grandmother one day when I was about six up in Shepparton. We were walking down the street and I saw a woman standing out the front of a house. I said “Mum look at that black woman” and she clipped me over the ear and said “Shut up, that’s your Grandmother!”

Far from being ashamed I am proud of the fact that my ancestry may stretch back 40,000 years in this country, and that those ancestors were the first mariners on earth and have art work that stretches back 30,000 years beyond the art found in the Cave of Lascaux in France. Maybe it is those genes that give me that sense of great connection to my land.

So Australia in the first years of the 21st Century is different to that of the 50’s or 60’s when I grew up. No great revelation there. And it doesn’t explain what it is to be Australian other than to say that the definition has changed over the years.

When I grew up fish and chip shop owners were invariably Italian or Greek in origin, now they seem to be mainly Chinese descent. Doctors and other professionals were mainly Anglo Saxon, now they are as likely to be Indian or Vietnamese, Serbian or African. The homogeneity of my youth has gone into the melting pot and something else has come out the other end.

But no matter where those people or their ancestors come from there is something in the air and the water of this driest continent on Earth that gets into your blood. It is the sense of homeland that defines us. It doesn’t matter whether we have seen the red earth of the centre, we know that there is a heartland and that it smells of eucalyptus and petrichor. We know the harshness that comes from this place, the unpredictability and uncompromising climate of extremes that gives us “drought and flooding rains”, often in the same day.

We celebrate our differences. It may no longer be relevant or politically correct to mention the skips, dagoes and wogs, the poles and yugs, the chocos and poms who now are all Australian. There is no need to call us anything other than Aussies. We are what we are, no more, no less. Unique on this planet and proud of it.

Now if that doesn’t explain to you what it’s like to be Australian don’t feel too bad because most of us don’t know either.

**************************************************
The photos are a range of shots that I have taken over the past couple of years. I hope they show a little of the diversity of landscape that is my country.

The Heartland?

I wasn’t happy with my Australia Day post. I couldn’t really find the words or a theme and I’ve spent a couple of days wondering why. I had wanted to write about what it is that makes us Australian. Is it a laconic sense of humour, our obsession with sport, or that indefinable thing mateship? The fact is that it is all of those things and more but when trying to explain it to other people it may be enough to simply say we are Australian and at the end of the day, we know what that means even if you don’t.

The country has changed a lot since I was born in 1957. Back then the White Australia Policy was still in place, although the traditional British emigrant had been overtaken in numbers in the post war era by other Europeans, the large scale arrival of Asian immigrants had yet to come. In 1957, we were only 12 years from World War 2 and the horrors visited upon us by the Japanese in that pereiod and the fear of invasion were still raw in people’s minds. The Cold War was in full swing and we were not far off entering the Vietnam War to make sure that the domino theory did not come true.

I grew up in a very white anglo saxon protestant world. Despite the fact my Mum was a catholic that seemed a very odd religion to me. My father and uncle’s were Freemasons and it was no secret what they thought of Catholicism.

My school was an extension of that white world. In the eastern suburbs of Melbourne there weren’t even many Europeans at that time apart from the odd Greek or Italian. The closest we got to exotic food was a plate of spaghetti or the occasional dim sim from the fish and chip shop.

I am 50 years old if I go back just twice that amount of time or two generations from the year of my birth I would come to a Melbourne that was only 20 years old. In Tasmania my paternal Grandfather’s grandparents, Irish Catholics all, would have only just finished their sentences as convicts. In the Victorian goldfields my maternal grandmothers grandfather had married an aboriginal girl and had at least one child from whom I am descended.

In the years I grew up though this heritage was seen as something to be ashamed of. The pride in convict ancestry was still a few decades in the future and it probably wasn’t until we celebrated our bicentennial in 1988 that it became a badge of pride. It was just as well that my father’s Mum had passed away by the time we found out that the Joyce’s had convict blood, and were also Roman Catholic, because she came from a very strict Orange tradition.

On Mum’s side I knew of the rumour of black blood in the family but any time I asked my Grandmother she would just say “Don’t ask questions because you may not like what you find.” One day I was visiting her 80 year old cousin, Charlie Fry, and I asked him the question. He said,

Mum took me to visit my grandmother one day when I was about six up in Shepparton. We were walking down the street and I saw a woman standing out the front of a house. I said “Mum look at that black woman” and she clipped me over the ear and said “Shut up, that’s your Grandmother!”

Far from being ashamed I am proud of the fact that my ancestry may stretch back 40,000 years in this country, and that those ancestors were the first mariners on earth and have art work that stretches back 30,000 years beyond the art found in the Cave of Lascaux in France. Maybe it is those genes that give me that sense of great connection to my land.

So Australia in the first years of the 21st Century is different to that of the 50’s or 60’s when I grew up. No great revelation there. And it doesn’t explain what it is to be Australian other than to say that the definition has changed over the years.

When I grew up fish and chip shop owners were invariably Italian or Greek in origin, now they seem to be mainly Chinese descent. Doctors and other professionals were mainly Anglo Saxon, now they are as likely to be Indian or Vietnamese, Serbian or African. The homogeneity of my youth has gone into the melting pot and something else has come out the other end.

But no matter where those people or their ancestors come from there is something in the air and the water of this driest continent on Earth that gets into your blood. It is the sense of homeland that defines us. It doesn’t matter whether we have seen the red earth of the centre, we know that there is a heartland and that it smells of eucalyptus and petrichor. We know the harshness that comes from this place, the unpredictability and uncompromising climate of extremes that gives us “drought and flooding rains”, often in the same day.

We celebrate our differences. It may no longer be relevant or politically correct to mention the skips, dagoes and wogs, the poles and yugs, the chocos and poms who now are all Australian. There is no need to call us anything other than Aussies. We are what we are, no more, no less. Unique on this planet and proud of it.

Now if that doesn’t explain to you what it’s like to be Australian don’t feel too bad because most of us don’t know either.

**************************************************
The photos are a range of shots that I have taken over the past couple of years. I hope they show a little of the diversity of landscape that is my country.

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