Category Archives: Australia

On Anzac Day

When I was at university back in the ’80s it became de rigueur to mock celebratory days like Anzac Day.

People spoke in slogans to voice their disdain -

Don’t glorify war

War Is Not Pro-Life

War is futile

To me all the naysayers seemed to be missing the point. Anzac Day and days like it are not a publicity opportunity for the war machine, they are all about the remembering. They are all about honouring the ordinary people just like you and me who were placed in extraordinary situations. Situations which were frightening, challenging; situations that were all to do with living and dying.

What must it have been like to be 18 years old and landing in a foreign country, sick of the endless days of being in the trenches, devastated to see your brothers falling at your feet? I cannot imagine the fear and despair.

Yet despite the bloodiness of campaigns like Gallipoli, in spite of the huge numbers of lives lost on both sides; people still speak of the camaraderie that existed between Australian and New Zealand troops, of the brotherhood that was borne on that day. People still speak of the never-giving-up, of the courage.

That’s why we recognise this day.

That’s why we march.

That’s why we remember.

I would like to say to the ANZACS today – THANK YOU.

For everything.

I won’t ever forget you.

Saving Daylight

Daylight saving has finally ended in New South Wales. I don’t know if I like it or not (daylight saving, I mean). It’s nice to have the longer, lighter days in summer where you can have barbecues and go for pleasant evening walks but I think it goes on for too long (nearly 6 months). By the time it is over I am longing for the dark.

Daylight saving started in Australia in 1917, running during late summer. It was discontinued after the war but started up again during World War II for three consecutive summers.

The state of Tasmania had a major influence on why we have daylight saving today. It was due to the state experiencing a severe drought in 1967. It was thought that by saving power, water would also be saved. The campaign was a major success and afterwards the Tasmanian government pushed to introduce daylight saving across the country.

They weren’t successful everywhere. In 1972 Victoria, NSW, the ACT, and South Australia adopted Daylight Savings Time but it is still not practiced in Western Australia, the Northern Territory or Queensland.

When it is in effect it means Australia has five different time zones. People joke that it also makes curtains fade and stops cows from producing milk…….

The clocks move forward. The clocks move back. I have lost track of how many times it has happened. Longer days, lighter days. Does that mean I am older or younger than I actually am?

I have scary thoughts about daylight saving. Does turning the clock forward and then back six months later act like an enormous zipper that opens and closes the fabric of the universe thus splitting the time-space continuum?

Is the cup of coffee I made 5 minutes before daylight saving ended the same an hour earlier as it was an hour later? Should I drink it? Is it safe? Are the particles of which the cofffee consists reversible in time?

If the clocks keep moving back and forth does it make it harder to live in the moment? Is that why I have so much trouble with that concept?

What has happened to all the hours I have lost or gained as the clocks turned forward and back? Are the thoughts and experiences I did have, could have had in those vanished hours gone for good, sent out chaotically into an alternate universe?

Thinking about daylight saving could drive a person crazy. Months and months of lingering, lazy, light nights mess with your head. It is nice to end the day with a night that is decisively dark like a candle snuffed out for sleep. It is nice to pull in and hold the comforting night, sleek as velvet.

Rowers And Horn Blowers

It was a beautiful day yesterday. The sky was so bright that as soon as I walked outside I felt my spirits go WHOOOSH – straight up, soaring.

I was so inspired by the brightness and blueness of the day that I made this comment on Twitter -

Down at the park it was vivid and vibrant. The bridge was gleaming, sparkling.

The corellas were on the grass in little families, munching.

From nowhere came this dazzling burst of yellow, so unexpected and enlivening I felt as if it was a medal being presented to me.

As the rowers began their vigorous training the skies began to darken. The water turned deep blue.

Hee are some things about rowing I didn’t know -

The person who steers the boat and urges the rowers on is the Coxswain. They’re lean, they’re mean, and they generally aren’t over 5ft 4in, and are probably the most important part of a boat. They control everything. During a race they
steer the shell, call the race, and make corrections.

A  regular race is usually 1000 to 2000m long, but some races can be 5000m long. When you are in the rowing crew you use every muscle in your body. A training session is like doing several different workouts at the same time. One after the other.

No wonder these guys were beginning to slow down.

But it didn’t take long before they got their second wind and got back into it -

with another crew close at their heels -

[*Rowing facts from here. ]

Then all of the sudden the sky went black. It was as if someone had flicked a switch to a resounding OFF. The clouds gathered, cranky, menacing and just as a massive clap of thunder sounded this boat appeared blowing its horn. Blaring its horn. It was a deep, resonating sound as if came from the bowels of the underworld itself.

The Ilonka, looking like it had just dropped in from supervillain school. I swear I could hear faint strains of balalaika music on board. Do you see that guy holding the big ball? (click on photo to get a better look) I think he was the one responsible for the noise in the sky. He might have been the very god of thunder himself.

And then the rain came down….