Saturday, September 13, 2014

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I've come across emu tracks and their poops all over the old townsite of Kundip, but they have never stalked through when I'm around. One such resident was hit by a car the night before last. It was the third emu carcass I saw on my drive into town this morning.

Feathers were strewn along the road for several hundred metres. Something I've noticed about emu feathers: they are always joined to another by a ... their ... follicle? I walked along the highway picking up whisping, curling tendrils of roadkill, two by two, trying to keep a hand on the feathers as the wind blew.

The swallow was quick to cash in on the tragedy. Within hours she'd added new plumage to her nest in the rest area's public toilets.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The last whalers

This is so cool: it's a great article if you are interested in Australian whaling history, or even if you just want to read a ripping yarn full of home truths.
"He likened seeing into the eye of a live whale as coming before God."
The story of one of Albany's last whalers.

Kase Van Der Gaag. Portrait by Jonny Lewis. Copyright 2007

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Sarah's Sandwich Seminar

This map, taken from Lynette Russell's book Roving Mariners, is commonly called The Great Circle.  The map has been the best way for me to get my head around the movements of nineteenth century Southern Ocean sealers and whalers and is one of the images I'll be using as presenter at Thursday's Friends of UWA Sandwich Seminar:
'Reimagining the Breaksea Islanders. History and Fiction on the Eve of Colonisation'.

Before West Australia was colonised, a small community of seal hunters lived on the islands around Albany, where I live now. Their origins were diverse - African American, English, Maori and several men and women indigenous to Van Diemen's Land, New South Wales and South Australia.
Pigeon or Warroba, pictured below, was one such sealer.
(John Glover, 1833, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart)

When Major Lockyer arrived on the Amity to found the settlement of King George Sound, he wrote that there had been 'some bad work done here' and within a fortnight he'd arrested several of the sealers with charges of murder and abduction.

Part of my PhD thesis is a fictional account of this snippet of history.  On Thursday, I'll talk history first, of the characters and events that I've found by delving into explorers' journals and reports. Then I'll go into the process of writing historical fiction based on these stories.

Here are the deets:
12.30 - 1.30 pm, August 28th
in the function room at UWA Albany.
Entry by donation.
You can ring 98 420850 to rsvp
You can bring yer lunch! And eat it too!

I hope to see any interested folk there.
Please be nice.
I'll be nervous.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would
take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea. 

Dylan Thomas

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sea Monsters

From Heavy Weather Sailing by K. Adlard Coles, Granada, 1967.