Friday, October 29, 2010

The Irrisistable Allure of Alan Jones

Image lifted from

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

All Saints of the Estuaries

All Saints Day is when Irwins Inlet, Pallinup and other estuaries close to commercial fishers for the summer and fishermen of the deep south head for the open seas in their little boats ...

The Well That Matthew Flinders' Men Dug

Bush bashing out the back of Bremer ...
My four wheel drive host Blunty says 'There's a well here that the explorers dug.'
He pulled into a camp behind the sand dunes. 'It's around here somewhere.'

Someone had set up their own cubby of branches and a fireplace in that sheltered bit of forest on the edge of the prickly country. No well.

'Well, maybe not. But I saw it around here. It's somewhere close.'

I said I'd see him down the track and started walking for the beach.
The dogs followed me, panting, short of water after grabbing branches for an hour on the back of the ute in 30 degrees.
Blunty caught me up and we all jumped in and he found it then, because he'd been there before,

Seven days after visiting Kinjarling, Flinders dropped into Doubtful Island Bay.
"On 30 December, (1801) Flinders ordered his marines onto the beach to be 'exercised' in the presence of a group of Aboriginal men who had become constant visitors and 'friends at the tents of the strangers'. Flinders noted 'the red coats and white crossed belts were greatly admired' by the men, as he believed they resembled 'their own manner of ornamenting themselves.' ... "

Tiffany Shellam, Shaking Hands on the Fringe, University of Western Australia, 2009, p.18.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fishing Shacks #3




Fishing Shacks #2

Fishing Shacks

East of Albany, the whales are still rolling about in the tuquoise waters of long, white bays.
Sand so fine it squeaks beneath your feet.
Hot nor-westerly.
Smoke haze from the out-of-control fires at Bluff Creek.
Working with necessity being the mother of invention and a strange but fine tuned sense of aesthetics, commercial fishermen have been building shacks along the coast for generations. The one above is Grievous' brother's shack. Another brother built one at Drage's Beach where they fished for herring but now all that remains is a fireplace in the bush.
Next ... Whale Villa, where the Gordon Inlet greets a hard, wind swept sand bar and the flock of resting plovers rise in unison straight into the sky. They settle just as fast, on the skin of the water, as the dog swaggers away.

 Below, the caravan's door opens into a dinky verandah, looking out to the sea. The backs of all the fishing shacks appear verdant, healthily green with a lingering smell ... yes, it's the septic tank. There's a great fig tree growing out the back of just about all these shacks.




                                                                  Whalebone Beach

Friday, October 15, 2010

History With That Sea Witch

Every morning Matthew Flinders puts on his white shirt and treads the pathways through shafts of steaming, green light. The gravel in his bladder is getting worse. He chafes at his gaoler Daecan, that vindictive upstart Gaul. He worries that the French governor will steal the map Flinders is working on, to further his own flailing career. He also pines for his Anne. He is embittered, incapacitated by the coitus interruptus to his marriage and to his life’s work.

After his daily walk, he returns to his hosts, the beautiful French women of Mauritius. They give the handsome Englishman succour, enchanted by his condition of house arrest. One of the youngest sisters wants to marry him. Her slender white neck and doe eyes bother him. 
Blame it on Calypso, he thinks. There is a history with that old sea witch.

Calypso awoke in her cavern to the alarmed shrieks of the raptors.  She went to the sea shore and the man stumbled through the shallows towards her. Calypso, that lonely island beauty, sighed with relief and welcome, her arms outstretched, her hips swaying with shells and feathers. She took him into the cavern and fed him heady wine, the juicy flesh of abalone. She laid him out on the furs of her soft bed and watched the wrecked sailor sleep for two days.

She tried to make Odysseus forget Ithaca and Penelope. She offered him immortality and managed to detain him for seven years. But Odysseus pined. He wanted a full life, not an endless one. He stared out to sea while Calypso tended to her sea crows and falcons. Every morning he would walk the island while she dived for crayfish. One day, in her soft bed, he turned away his head.

Indiana Jones After the Party
Away from the gleam of winter stars, Calypso sheds her belt of seals teeth and seashells. Indiana Jones pulls pelican feathers from her wind-tangled hair. Outside the motel room, cars wait like tethered ponies. Outside, her sea crow clatters on the tin roof with impatient, flat feet. Sea storms the shore. But in here it is warm.
“Take off my dress.”
“You take it off.”
“Take off my dress!”
“I want to watch you.”
Calypso takes off her dress. She minds the wounds of Indiana Jones. She licks him well again.

A cold alarm bleeps at five in the morning. He dresses and pats himself down.
“Stay with me,” she says.
“Today, Calypso, is a most important day. Much travel ...”
“We’ll have some breakfast and I’ll take you to the sea shore.”
He searches for his whip and his whiskey.
“Stay with me ... “ she will not beg. “Is it not good enough that I receive you, I nourish you, I lick the briny from your barnacle’d wounds?”
Poor, lovely Calypso. She wonders if she may be wiser to find work in the mines, join the yacht club, internet dating maybe. It has been this way for millennia, she thinks. The moment a questing sailor wades wounded and broken into her arms is the same moment he begins planning his escape.  Calypso strokes her golden thighs and jingles the sea shells. Their focus on their quest is admirable, she muses, if a little misguided.

In the 1940’s, writer Ernestine Hill sailed through the Gulf of Carpentaria with a fisherman who seemed to know his way.
“Whose chart are you using?”
“Flinders’. No one has produced a better chart in the last century and a half,” he told her.

The Greek Myths, Robert Graves, 2002.
Map by Matthew Flinders, National Library of Australia.
My Love Must Wait, Ernestine Hill, 1941.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Moments from Chaos ...

A quiet place this, just down the hill to the muddy beach where pelicans lurk and king skinks emerge from their winter dreams. 
Sun-drenched against the granite. 
Moss drying, a good book, a bottle of chilled sweet white, lichen.

Monday, October 11, 2010

He's a Bastard But He's Doing Okay

This is what happens when I place trust in the theory of 'The Honest Outside Dog'. The rot set in when he got hit by one road train, twice. We lit the fires and fed him pain killers like lollies for days. Not long after that he turned into a Bastard.

I kicked him out of the house when he recovered and banished him back to his verandah home. The looks I got. Ever since then he noses through the doorway with visitors and small children alike. Greased lightning, couch as earth. This Dog is a seasoned life insurance salesman in full mastiff mode ... the nose-in-the-door-sixty-minutes-seven-thirty-report-kinda-guy. Just found a new name for my dog. Geoff The Bastard.

Friday, October 1, 2010

In Good Company

Contributors in The Best Australian Essays 2010

The writers selected for inclusion in The Best Australian Essays 2010 are:
Sunil Badami
Murray Bail
Carmel Bird
David Brooks
Peter Conrad
Mark Dapin
Sarah Drummond
Elizabeth Farrelly
Tim Flannery
Shelley Gare
Lorna Hallahan
Janet Hawley
Ian Henderson
Amanda Hooton
Clive James
Christine Kenneally
Jo Lennan
Melissa Lucashenko
Shane Maloney
David Malouf
Anne Manne
Robert Manne
Kathy Marks
David Marr
Paul McGeough
Alex Miller
Les Murray
Pauline Nguyen
Maureen O’Shaughnessy
Nicolas Rothwell
Guy Rundle
Andrew Sant
Gerard Windsor

It may have been a bad week for one silly Toa who thought she could successfully mix red wine and a postman's bicycle - but there's been at least one win - and look at the company I'm keeping!

Edited by Robert Drewe.
Out in November.
Published by Black Inc.
More about the bicycle incident later.