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.



  1. Pen and the Sword said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:08 am

    I *loved* those pics, Loz. And how observant you are… funny the myriad of people, similar in travel… different by mannerisms/personality. I personally am too much of a social phobe to endure public transportation.

  2. Blur Ting said,

    January 31, 2008 at 2:21 am

    I really enjoyed reading your vivid account of your journey. You do enjoy people watching 🙂
    The photos are very interesting too. I love looking at graffiti art which is very much non-existent here. Talking about Hare Krishna followers – they have seem to disappear from the face of this island too. I realise now, we’ve really cleaned all the undesirable stuff out of our city.

  3. paisley said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:23 am

    wow.. those graffiti photos are amazing… i love graffiti,, i wish i could find someone to come and do it all over my walls… what an amazing freestyle art form…

    and i have to tell you i saw a guy two days ago,, and i said oh look the bay city rollers!!!! please tell me that look is not coming back!!!!!!!!

  4. Loz said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:28 am

    Thank you Pen – I’m trying to train myself to be more observant. I think the key is in the detail and I’m yet to capture that to the full extent I’d like to.

  5. Loz said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:31 am

    Hi Blur – I’m a bit like Paisley. I like some graffiti but I hate the vandalism of tags alone.

  6. Loz said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:32 am

    Paisley – the photos on the post are on a “legal” graffiti wall and do amount to art – a lot of the stuff along the train line was rubbish and I didn’t think to get the camera out of the bag then I was too busy making notes:)

    And alas, it does seem that over here at least, that BCR look is coming back in a big way with boys under 17.

  7. Anonymous said,

    January 31, 2008 at 10:50 am

    My daughter and I were in the city last week and she is a keen photographer. We took photos of her and I at the legal grafitti alley also.
    I like observing people too. And like to think that everyone has their own special little story happening just as we do.
    Oh, we also went in by train. It is nice to do that at times. Gives one time to just sit, observe, think, read, write. Whatever. But without the stress of city driving.


  8. Beth said,

    January 31, 2008 at 4:19 pm

    I know you commented a while ago that you were truly an observer in life – and this post is a great example of it. I spend too much time in the doing to notice what is actually going on. I really need to work on that. You are a great photographer – I loved the pics as well…

  9. meleah rebeccah said,

    January 31, 2008 at 6:01 pm

    now THATS art. Loved those pictures

  10. Dorothy said,

    January 31, 2008 at 7:49 pm

    Loz, it was wonderful, I could see the mom and daughter and the hat…and then…the wonderful photos…the graffiti..the art..and the buildings…

    Great camera….we need more.

    My best,
    Dorothy from grammology
    remember to call gram

  11. Gypsy said,

    February 1, 2008 at 8:28 am

    The Bay City Rollers were GAY? Are you serious? When I was 15 I used to trade BCR pics for pics of David Essex. I seriously had no idea though I probably should have.

    They were fantastic photos though the technical information was wasted on me. I’m just an aim and shoot kind of gal I’m afraid.

    Aren’t you going away this Sunday? Hope you have an AMAZING holiday and look forward to seeing more great pics of your travels.

  12. Jeff said,

    February 1, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Those are great images. I think your verbal snapshots are equally impressive!

  13. Loz said,

    February 2, 2008 at 4:00 am

    Jen – it was much more relaxing than driving in through peak hour traffic

  14. Loz said,

    February 2, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Beth – thank you. I think I’ll always be an observer…but I’d like to be a better one. I’ve been reading a number of travel books lately and the best ones are those that notice the differences.

  15. Loz said,

    February 2, 2008 at 4:03 am

    Mel – that graffiti wall was an interesting one and worth looking at.

  16. Loz said,

    February 2, 2008 at 4:04 am

    Dorothy – very kind of you and I hope to bring more – that was practice for my Thailand trip.

  17. Loz said,

    February 2, 2008 at 4:11 am

    Gypsy – I’m not sure whether they were gay or not – but they sure looked it 🙂

    Off on the trip tomorrow and I’ve just posted the itinerary.

  18. HollyGL said,

    February 2, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Isn’t it fun to people watch! You could have just as well been on a train to downtown Chicago, believe me. 🙂

    I love the pics, Loz. Melbourne looks like a beautiful city.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: