Monday, August 27

Yarra Wattle

At the time of Federation in Australia in 1901, the wattle was considered the national flower as it was found in all states and territories. Its golden colour was linked to prosperity and the spirit of the emerging nation. Golden Wattle Acacia pycnantha became our national floral emblem in 1988 and floral tributes are often seen at funerals and were evident at those of the Bali bombings.

Walter Withers was a famous Australian landscape painter who in his later years owned a property in Eltham. He painted many scenes at that time in history. Several of his paintings were of scenes similar to the above photos taken recently of wattle flowering on the banks of the Yarra at nearby Warrandyte. Prints of his pictures and history are interspersed along its banks which add interest for walkers. The Yarra is often said to be flowing upside down because of its muddy appearances as it carries suspended silt.

With these facts in mind I have composed some verse

River you reflect our first spring rays
Wattle symbol our first nations praise
Withers surveyed in morning haze
Wattle blooms a picture to gaze

Withers heeded nature’s spring call
Mixed vibrant colours for us to adore
Painted a picture of natures embrace
Paintings resplendent of new nations place

The rivers currents still flow upside down
From mountain streams to city, ocean bound
Withers pictures now prints on the banks
Landscapes he painted put spring in our steps
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Tuesday, August 14

In the spirit of dancing


I recently attended a dance performance entitled “I like Shorts”. The name was indicative of the format: just 10 minutes of individual dance performance acts by emerging and established dancers. Although some of the presentations were excellent others represented the longest 10 minutes in dance history, as it was far too repetitive and left the audience bored. I think an artist owes some measure of responsibility to entertain within the ambit of artful expression.

Dance however must be one of the most subjective types of expression within the whole gambit of the arts, yet it has existed since time in memorial in all of its different forms within different communities and across cultures. Amongst early indigenous peoples we know it celebrated their life cycles, to welcome in new seasons, to celebrate a successful hunt or season or as an initiation ceremony into adulthood. Many of these elaborate dance ceremonies extended over several days and were taken very seriously. The dance was almost always accompanied by much singing and playing of musical instruments, which themselves became objects which were held in reverence. Aboriginals in Australia in Arnham land in the Northern Territory remain traditional owners of the Didgeridoo, an instrument fashioned from the trunks or branches of eucalyptus trees hollowed out by termites with a mouthpiece made from bee wax and adorned with paintings and carvings. The instrument stretches back into their ‘Dreamtime’ estimated to be an uninterrupted period of occupancy and affinity to the land encompassing 60,000 years. Aborigines have a rich spiritualty encompassing their own law, passed on by the elders. The Didgeridoo was considered a sacred instrument and played an integral part in all religious ceremonies. Strict rules apply to its use with heavy penalties for transgressors, as they believe its spirit lives on in the instrument. However any instrument made by a non-Indigenous person is deemed to have no spirit; considered merely a musical instrument. The same principles apply to Didgeridoos made by Aboriginal people who do not have the instrument by virtue of their cultural heritage.

When I was in Kiribiti I witnessed their dance ceremonious and singing, representing an oral history from first migration, maybe from Tahiti about 10,000 years ago in giant canoes. The training and rehearsal extended over several months before each important celebration and the elaborate dance routines were both graceful and beautiful. I learnt from a local volunteer from Canada, who had decided to learn their language and dance that they were arduous and difficult to remember. She recounted a story to me of a young man who had kindly dedicated himself to train her for a dance but died several months before the intended celebration. During the dance she lost her way as her mind went blank. Immediately the image of the man came to her and she had no further recollection other than when it was completed several hours later. Many complemented her on her performance afterwards.

The above photos show several young Kiribiti dancers from the island of Tarawa in their resplendent costumes which were all hand woven.
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Friday, August 3

Hot Rocks to heat the world

A former work colleague kindly brought to my attention the latest report in the Herald Sun Newspaper which reported Federal Industry Minister Ian MacFarlane’s statement on geothermal energy as a probable source of up to 30% of Australia baseload power needs in the future.

For the full article click here.

He added in his e-mail to me “Being a cynic I can only see the government's involvement as a hindrance”.I tend to agree as Scientists have been actively championing renewable energy such as hot rocks for several decades and I think it’s only recently political parties have donned “green coats” in preparation for the forthcoming election.

Already there are several investment funds set up for investors willing to risk private funds into new mining ventures, mining for hot rocks.

So what’s involved and how does it work?

The energy is in the form of heat stored beneath our feet, the hot molten rocks that lie just beneath the earths crust. The technology involves water being injected into a borehole and circulated through a heat exchanger below the surface. Water is heated as it contacts the hot rocks and returned to the surface through another borehole to provide the power to generate electricity. The cycle is repeated as this water is then injected into the first borehole to return to be reheated over and over gain. The technology is less arduous than drilling for oil and at lower depths. It is thought there will be abundant hot rocks of sufficient temperatures to produce vast quantities of energies in many parts of the world.

If you combine other energy alternatives such as solar, wind and wave power combined with a concentrated effort to adapt to a less energy dependant civilisation the future looks somewhat brighter.