G’Day Western Australia

An account of my first day in Australia on a trip undertaken with my father in order to eventually meet up with our relatives in Adelaide, before that however we had a week of adventures in Western Australia where we got to know places such as Freemantle, Perth and Albany.

Flying over Australia for the first time in my life felt like I was truly arriving at the far end of the world. That feeling of reaching somewhere special had maybe begun an hour or so before we actually reached the coast. It was when the sky turned a shade of blue I had never seen before that I stared out the window and kept thinking that in the distance lay the beginnings of Australia, even though at this point it was still only sea and sky. In actual fact it was just an illusion created by the far off sea and sky merging together, both bathed in an amazing blue which I thought indicated terra firma, a sight so beautiful it kept me on the edge of my seat as I just couldn’t stop looking at it. Eventually the land mass did appear and with crystal clarity I saw thousands of feet beneath our plane, Planet Earth in reddish orange, looking huge, awesome and impenetrable as to its mysteries. As we flew down the coast of Western Australia on our way to the city of Perth, the colour of this flat immensity below was dominated by those various shades of red and orange and even though I was a mile up in the sky above, there was an overwhelming sense of emptiness to what I saw beneath me. A desolate beauty on which it became easy for me to project wonderful thoughts, as if my mind was painting on a blank canvas.

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The Makaratta Project

The Uluru Statement From the Heart was delivered by more than 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander delegates gathered at Uluru in 2017. After centuries of struggle for recognition and justice the statement calls for the establishment of a “First Nations Voice” enshrined in the Australian constitution and the establishment of a “Makarrata Commission” to supervise agreement-making and truth telling between governments and Aboriginal and Torres Straits islander peoples.

The Makaratta Project is the new album from the Australian band Midnight Oil, probably best known for two rock classics released around 30 years ago: Diesel and Dust and Blue Sky Mining. It contains their first new music released in nearly 20 years and extensively features First Nations artists.

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Nullarbor Song

Stream of consciousness words written on the Indian Pacific travelling across the Nullarbor Plain in Australia whilst having the jazz classic Bitches Brew by Miles Davis on heavy rotation, along with his other works Big Fun, Live Evil & On the Corner. The journey began in Perth, Western Australia taking in stops at Kalgoorlie and Cook along the way before arriving two days later in Adelaide, South Australia.

Guess Nullarbor Song has in mind the original inhabitants of the land of Australia, those peoples who had lived there for over 60,000 years and seamlessly blended in with its foreboding environment, who knew its dangers and wonders intimately. Made it a sacred landscape. Sure it also touches upon the activities of those people who have been in command of things for just over the last 200 years – the white man – but it most certainly does not seek to elevate their relentless exploitation of Australia’s natural resources, something which has been undertaken with unceasing greed and vigour. No, Nullarbor Song is not for them; let them stay in their mansions, let them fly above us in the private planes and corporate jets, let them sail around the continent in their luxury yachts and eventually at the end of their lives let them go far, far away from us.

land of the empty bowls
on a curve side track
unknown hills of the once holy
days of the graze
how did this land ever get to be?
ancient perplexity
perplexity of the ancients
in the settin’ sun
sandy soil
multi-coloured earth foil
bush scrub blue
in a church less land
no religion
no junk

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Indian Pacific: Cook & The Nullarbor Plain to Adelaide

The third of a three part account of a journey undertaken with my father on the Indian Pacific from Perth in Western Australia to Adelaide in South Australia visiting places along the way such as Kalgoorlie, Cook and the Nullarbor Plain.

Eventually of course a town did appear after the endless miles of plains but it was not really a town in the normal sense of the word, just the remains of one. Not really the remains of one of truth be told, but the remains of a small settlement of people who had once lived there in the middle of the vast emptiness of the Nullarbor Plain. Yes, we had arrived in Cook! It was around 11 when Dad and I got off the train and we had about 20 – 30 minutes to explore the place for ourselves, although to be honest you could have seen all there was to see in about 5 minutes flat. But that was not the point; it just felt so good to be able to stretch our legs and to walk on the earth of the Nullarbor. There was something about the freshness of the air blowing in through Cook and the silence of the plains which was fascinating by way of the sense of immensity the whole scene engendered. Mid morning and now the sun was high and bright, the sky was a brilliant blue and as we walked away from the Indian-Pacific I turned around in order to see for the first time just how long it was and realized that if Cook had had an actual station the Indian Pacific would stretched way out the other end of it.

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Indian Pacific: Kalgoorlie & The Nullarbor Plain

The second of a three part account of a journey undertaken with my father on the Indian Pacific from Perth in Western Australia to Adelaide in South Australia visiting places along the way such as Kalgoorlie, Cook and the Nullarbor Plain.

We had left the hinterlands of Perth and the Swan Valley a long way to the west behind us. It was now only small towns we were passing through as we made our way further inland, further into the interior. There were many farms which were clearly quite huge, we were right in the middle of the wheat belt after all, and slowly but surely the land was beginning to appear more untamed and less inhabited. At one point we passed a series of strange colored pools and lakes, probably caused by mineral deposits, and there was a beauty about their appearance which in the late afternoon sunlight was both haunting and mesmeric. The quality of my thoughts changed as well, and as if reflecting the lands we were riding through they were becoming less crowded. At this stage there was a sense which I can only describe as slate wiped clean; no religion here to speak of, people in this part of the world were too busy, too far away from anywhere to worry about things like that.

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Indian Pacific: Checking In at Perth West

A three part account of a journey with my father undertaken on the Indian Pacific from Perth in Western Australia to Adelaide in South Australia visiting places along the way such as Kalgoorlie, Cook and the awe inspiring Nullarbor Plain.

Wednesday morning was another fine day and after breakfast we got our stuff together and made our way down to the foyer where we checked out of the Esplanade in Freemantle. We said goodbye to the friendly concierge girl who proceeded to call a taxi for us as Dad pressed another couple of Aussie bucks into her open hand which then clasped tightly shut. We had to get to Perth West train station in order to catch the Indian-Pacific which departed at 11.55 in the morning and which we would be travelling on for the next couple of days, all the way to the city of Adelaide in South Australia.

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Heart of the Country

A piece from a longer work which goes by the name of Snapshot Log. This one, Heart of the Country, describes a car journey through the heart of Wales which saw me drive from Penarth, South Wales to Snowdonia, North Wales and back again in one day, 12 hours behind the wheel.

Earlier this week we were in Wales and on the Tuesday Nov 21st, took a ride up through more or less the heart of Wales and then back again in a single day. The ride up and down was great, since I was born in Wales and am now 55 years of age, it was probably long overdue for me to get out and finally make that journey from the south to the north going straight through the heart of the country.

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Walsingham is a village in Norfolk where there are shrines to the Virgin Mary following a series of visions experienced by an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman in 1061. It was a major place of pilgrimage in the middle ages until its destruction during the time of the Reformation, at the beginning of the 20th century the shrine was revived and it is once again a popular place to visit, primarily but not exclusively, for Christians.

The village of Walsingham was quiet with an air peace and tranquil serenity about it as I walked down to the Anglican shrine of the Virgin Mary, shrugging off the effects of the last few hours behind the wheel. It was quiet enough to hear the birds singing, warm enough to enjoy that late summer breeze blowing across my face and safe enough for me not to worry about any cars or lorries suddenly racing down the main street and swishing past me at a distance too close for comfort. Once inside the grounds of the Anglican complex I made my way to the chapel in which the shrine was located and at the third time of asking found the correct door to open in order to go inside. Don’t quite know what happened there, the first two doors which to me seemed the obvious ones to try were locked, it was only when seeing people emerge from the third that I worked out that must be the one. Despite the fact I had not drunk or eaten anything since leaving my house Woodford, I did not feel particularly hungry or thirsty, as a matter of fact I felt pretty good, energised and keen to sit in front of the shrine to do my meditation.

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Bob Dylan Live: Stirling Castle Part Two

This show is from July 2001 when I went on the road up to Scotland from London to attend a show by Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan given in the grounds of Stirling Castle and who by that point was over 12 years into his Never Ending Tour. This is the Part Two of the story.

By 7 or so the sound check was over, with Bob and the boys now probably back stage having a snack or maybe even a light meal before the show, fresh Scottish salmon possibly. Things were running late, it said on the tickets the gates to the castle would open at 6.30 but we were already way past that and they still remained firmly shut. No one seemed to mind however, the setting was great, the vibe nice and peaceful, so no one was getting unduly excited or agitated that still not much was happening. We began to move forwards at around 7.15 with people on high alert for any possible queue jumpers who might just try to barge in as we slowly made our way towards the castle gates. There was none of that thankfully, which meant that in a stop start kind of way we slowly got closer and closer to the inside of the castle, a slow but sure advance to get within those walls. Finally we got to the castle gates and it was with more than a degree of excitement that we handed over our tickets to let the stewards tear off the stubs. We were in, now it was simply a question of taking a brisk walk up the steep incline into the castle grounds before a mad dash in order to find the best place possible to see the show.

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Bob Dylan Live: Stirling Castle Part One

This show is from July 2001 when I went on the road up to Scotland from London to attend a show by Columbia recording artist Bob Dylan given in the grounds of Stirling Castle and who by that point was over 12 years into his Never Ending Tour. This is the Part One of the story.

Really hadn’t thought I would want to write about Bob’s Stirling Castle show in July 2001. After writing up the five September 2000 shows I hadn’t done anything since then with regard to words on Bob for months and I didn’t think in the build up to Stirling the fires would be re-ignited. However after seeing the show I realised I was wrong, way wrong, that the energy was there to make me want to sit down and put down on paper my impressions of the whole damn trip.

The September 2000 shows had been special for me after all. Five Bob Dylan shows in five different cities over a period of about a week or 10 days and getting into more than one or two scrapes along the way. That brilliant feeling of arriving in a new city with the knowledge I was there to see Bob Dylan live that evening was simply unbeatable, unbelievable and unrepeatable!!! A privilege that can only have happen if you are lucky enough to have the liberty plus a little bit of cash. This time it was different. There was only one show I was going to for a start and it also happened to be a hell of a long way from London, up in the grounds of Stirling Castle and within spitting distance of the Highlands of Scotland.

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