Monday 26 March 2018

Colour! Colour!

“You are all the colours at once, at full brightness.”
- Virginia Woolf

“Life is about using the whole box of colours.”
- RuPaul

“Colour in a picture is like enthusiasm in life.”
- Vincent Van Gogh

Now that Bill and I have been back in Canada for ten days, I thought it was time to celebrate the arrival of Spring in the northern hemisphere by playing with colour. Having a full palette of colours in my life at this time of the year helps convince my heart what my mind already knows, namely that the muted browns, taupes, and greys that dominate the landscape will soon evolve into a riot of colour. Bring it on, say I!

So, as my first post-Australian blog, I have nothing profound to offer you beyond the sheer exuberance of the colours in these photos. Enjoy!

Old Parliament Buildings, Canberra

National Museum of Australia, Canberra

"Palace of the Republic" Paper Sculpture by Louise Paramor, 
Ian Potter Centre, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne

Toilet Bowl Cleaner, Little Swanport, Tasmania

Visitors enjoying Melbourne's vibrant street art

Pussy Power at dawn in Canberra

Beauteous umbrella, Sydney Opera House

Mister High-Viz, Sydney Opera House

Public fishing dock, Strahan, Tasmania

The quiet dignity of St. Thomas' Anglican Church, Belleville

Monday 12 March 2018

Australian Adventures 2018 - Part 12

Part 12 – Canberra

Let me sing the praises of Canberra, Australia’s capital. The word Canberra is thought to come from an Indigenous word meaning meeting place. The city was planned by the Chicago architects Marion Mahony Griffin and her husband, Walter Burley Griffin, who won a competition to design the new capital in 1913. (Husband usually gets more credit than wife, alas.) For many people, it is the perfect city. At almost 400,000 people, it’s a livable size. Its climate is warm but not humid in the spring and summer. In the autumn, leaves on deciduous trees become gloriously colourful. In the winter, it’s cool enough for everyone to ‘rug up’, but nothing extreme. The city is beautiful, filled with impressive museums and national institutions, and known for its low crime rate. Yes, it’s a civil service town, but its universities are internationally rated. And, of course, it’s a political junkie’s paradise. Yup, pretty much perfect.

We have been here for three days, our stay coinciding with the Canberra Day celebrations marking the 105th anniversary of the naming of Canberra as Australia’s capital. The city is alive with festivals, concerts, and special events. Most impressive is the Canberra Festival Balloon Spectacular, which saw us getting up before dawn on Sunday AND Monday to walk 30 minutes to the lawns of the Old Parliament Building where we joined large crowds to watch dozens of hot air balloons fire up and float over nearby Lake Burley Griffin. It was fabulous!

We had dinner Sunday night with my old teaching friend Ian, who works at the Australian National University. Afterwards, he drove us back to the Old Parliament Building to see the colourful images of Australian history projected on the front walls of the structure.

Today, our last full day in Canberra, we wandered around the neighbourhood and visited the wonderful National Portrait Gallery. On our way, we passed through a park that was home to thousands of large fruit bats squawking away noisily. And by large, I mean a wing span of about a metre! Absolutely incredible!

And so our 2018 Australian adventures are coming to an end. We drive to Sydney tomorrow (Tuesday) and fly back to Toronto on Wednesday. It will be good to get home, but it will also be good to return next year. Stay tuned!

About this blog: I anticipate that I’ll be taking a few weeks off. After re-engaging with life in Belleville, I plan to start posting again in April. In the meantime, enjoy these photos!

Balloons over Lake Burley Griffin

The Old Parliament Building at night

Canberra dawn


More bats!

Big suckers!

Friday 9 March 2018

Australian Adventures 2018 - Part 11

Part 11 – Melbourne

After three weeks of quiet bliss in Tasmania, I found Melbourne’s noise and crowds to be a little jarring when we first landed on Tuesday. Hobart may only be a one-hour’s flight from Melbourne, but its calm is in sharp contrast to the go-go vibe of central Melbourne.

I have never lived in Melbourne, but I have visited many times. When I lived in Sydney in the early 1970s and announced that I was travelling to Melbourne, condolences were expressed. And, predictably, when I was in Melbourne and announced that I was travelling back to Sydney, once again condolences were expressed.

To paint with a very large paintbrush, I’ve experienced that Sydneysiders consider themselves brasher and more dynamic, while Melburnians see themselves as being more sophisticated and worldly. I’ve heard haughty Melburnians dismiss Sydneysiders as “convict trash.” And in return, I’ve heard Sydneysiders dismiss Melburnians as “stuck up their own arses.” Ah, the rivalries between Australia’s two largest cities!

Population-wise, the two cities are almost identical. Greater Metropolitan Sydney has about 5 million people, whereas Greater Metropolitan Melbourne has about 4.8 million. They are 877 km apart, a little more than the distance between Toronto and Qu├ębec City. The Sydney-Melbourne flying corridor is one of the busiest in the world.

My conclusion: Melbourne’s charms take time to appreciate; Sydney’s dynamism is a tonic. Take your pick. Personally, I love both of them.

We only had two full days in Melbourne, but we packed a lot in: a fine new production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert; visits to the National Gallery of Victoria’s superb Triennial Exhibition; a personalized tour of impressive street art in Melbourne’s Central Business District by our friend Mesha; a Lebanese lunch with friends in nearby Brunswick; shopping in fabric stores and bookstores; and just general wanderings. My camera was kept very busy.

We are now on our way to Canberra, Australia’s capital city, for three days before we drop off our rental car in Sydney in preparation for the flight back to Toronto on Wednesday. I anticipate making at least one more post before heading home.

In the meantime, here are ten photos from our visit to Melbourne. Enjoy!

Bicycle in reflected light, lower level of pedestrian walkway beside the Yarra River near Arts Centre Melbourne

Tower on top of Arts Centre Melbourne

Pedestrian bridges over the Yarra River

International Women's Day protests in Federation Square

National Gallery of Victoria Triennial: 
Moving Creates Vortices and Vortices Create Movement  
by the Japanese art collective, TeamLab

National Gallery of Victoria Triennial: 
Eternity (Buddha in Nirvana)...
by Chinese artist Xu Zhen

Melbourne street art.
Sorry, I don't know the name of the artist.

Melbourne street art.
Sorry, I don't know the name of the artist.

Traffic outside our Airbnb digs

Escalator leading to Dymocks Bookstore,
Collins Street