Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Carlton Gardens.

it is a green oasis in a concrete jungle.
a calm breeze in a storm of traffic.
you can sit and watch the busy people powerwalk past
or pick at the lush grass while you read O under the thick trees and forget where you are.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Port Melbourne

The other day, I went to Port Melbourne. You know, I don't think I've ever been there before. Not that I can remember anyway. I know, I know, I've only lived here my whole life! Anyway, all the relators have moved in, snatched all the land and made it into modern restaurants and exclusive apartments. Living by the sea is so trendy now.

I wonder what my father, uncles and grandmother saw when they first docked in this godforsaken land of red desert and chico rolls. Certainly not Rex Hunt's Fish and Chip shop, that's for sure. I wonder what they thought and felt, what they expected to see and whether they were dissapointed. After all, moving from a country with thousands of years of civilisation to a land less than 100 years of federation would have been a shock, to say the least. These are all questions that have come too late for me to ask my dad. God, it just seems so dumb that we spent all that time bickering, when all I want to know now is who he really was. It's a shame I never will know.

It felt a bit strange wandering the pier and imagining what it would have been like, to leave everything you knew behind only to find yourself where opportunity lived. I feel a strange affinity with Port Melbourne, even with my one visit. This is the place of the first steps of my family on soil that I now call my home. Hope and excitment must have been on the horizon and that hope was Australia. I mean, that's what we're all waiting for, right? It makes the rest so much easier, when you know that there's a glimpse of hope in the sea spray.

Saturday, October 22, 2005


This is a test.
Driving along smooth freeways, winding gently from suburb to city. You watch the pink sky turn indigo dusk through your windscreen as you travel swiftly. Behind you the reviewmirror reflects the eastern suburb already yawning and settling down for a quiet night in; while neon blue and stark white dazzle ahead, lighting up the dark buildings of town. The city, looming like a storm, ready, waiting. You bypass the CBD though. This journey takes you west - along new highways and contemporary warehouse conversions, squished together almost as if there isn't enough space to accommodate all that life. A trendy contrast to the wide sprawling lawns you left behind. The Western suburbs is the Eastern suburb's bratty younger sister, fighting for recognition but not really caring if she gets it. Brash, wide main highways breaking off into quiet unassuming communities. You realise this is yet another side of town you haven't explored. You know she has potential for surprise, this one. A myriad of cultures crammed into eachother's back pockets for decades are now watching the upwardly mobile move in and scrub things clean. This is going to have an impact somehow. She has secrets to reveal.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

a trip out of the city - July 2004

got away and now I'm back. Driving through forests divided by roads frayed at the edges, like ribbon. Naked trees like arms reaching up from the dry earth, crooked fingers pointing, curled over and desperate. We pass occasional tin sheds, rusted on the top. Stark and grey, they are almost eaten up by the landscape. It's going to swallow us up, this land. We've tried too hard. Already the English country gardens they so desperately tried to establish 200 years ago have been ravaged by the elements and taken over by the gum and grey - a staple of the Australian landscape.

The surroundings are so quiet and so I turn "politik" on. I want to escape all these scenes of hungry desperation that feature so heavily in my own city life already, but here they are again - the trees, the leaves the dirt - craving something.

We drive through all this. Across bridges, over dried creek beds and through hills. Up, up, up. And spent three days away from everything that stressed and hurt. It was good. It was great, as a matter of fact. I miss the city too much when I'm away. But I like the feeling of escaping, even if it means heading towards the belly of this big land-beast of ours.

I don't really want to go into the details of every single event. Believe it or not, sometimes I can't be bothered disecting everything that happens to me, on paper (err). When I leave my journal behind, I already go through the motions of writing an entry in my head. I hate doing things twice. But there was one stop that stands out more than the others. It was in Castlemaine, yet another of our country towns built near the old goldfields. A visit to Buda house where a hungarian immigrant lived, with his family in the 1800s. He'd made his fortune and his family had followed in his footsteps by being quite artistically inclined. I could see the gardens were once grand and beautiful, but perhaps because of the grey weather and chill in the air, they seemed tired, sad and haunted to me. The house was cold and old, had many rooms, sitting room, working room, music room, silver room, bedrooms etc. I walked through these and had a strong feeling of being stifled and sad.

I don't know if I was projecting but I felt the burden of being female and young and having nothing to do but wander the gardens and waiting for my life to bloom but knowing it might not in this little (for it must have been truly little, then) town. I've never had a feeling like that walking through an old home before. It was such a marked difference, from what I'd always considered an optimistic feeling from those living and working in tiny cottages on the goldfields in Ballarat; where the day must have beeg long and work was hard but there was a sense of real purpose. I wonder if I'm this emotionally malnourished girl, wandering through my life without purpose, and waiting for something to happen? This scares me - like the Australian landscape scares me. It's a feeling of being eaten up by something so much bigger than me. Who ever knew that I'd ever feel so out of control?

But the trip was good. It put some space between myself and all these dramas for a couple of days. I felt the stress building up again we drove closer to the city. I couldn't do without it though.. These twinkling lights and beeping noises of the city. Let the land swallow us up. We were never meant to be here anyway, I don't think. I'll just keep wandering, biding my time. Trying to forget about the desperate fingers rising from the dry, grey earth. It'll get us all in the end. I'll go back to listening to my walkman.


I am what is known as a city girl. Grey walkways framed by looming buildings are my jungle of choice. I enjoy watching the city breathe, live and grow like any other sprawling environment. Because it is, you know - a living organism reaching its tendrils up toward the sky and filled with other living organisms all growing and surviving together.

I like her roads; the arteries - curling inwards and intersecting at every opportunity and then stretching our endlessly beyond her limits, ensuring each town is supplied with a vital dose of heavy people traffic and connecting us all. The city is the brain - the message centre, the control, the life force and soul. She is the electrical impulse that jolts all else into being. I love her lights, both blinking and not, neon or natural, soft or harsh. I marvel at how a city can come to life after dark, dressed in lights; a beautiful, twinkling neon goddess. I enjoy watching clouds drift across the sky through gaps between tall buildings. I like watching the blur of storefront colours pass me by as I wiz by in my car. Blue, Red, Yellow, Pink - all mixed and planted on my retina, making me dizzy.

I am a city girl. I breathe with the city. I like the noises of the city; a thousand echoing footsteps reverberating around my ears, the occasional beep of impatient drivers already late to their morning meetings, the ready shouts of store vendors selling their fresh goods and the rhythmic hammering of trams travelling over the tracks. A constant heartbeat. I enjoy the hustle, the rush, the urgency of the city that seems so out of place anywhere else. I thrive on endless choice of everything I could ever want at the very tip of my curious fingers. I am constantly surprised by her dark alleyways full of hidden and delightful treasures. I am enthralled with her ever changing beauty.

This city. I walk her path. I am part of her. Mother.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The NGV International

you walk about 10 minutes and the city takes on a different feel. If you squint, you can just make out the seedy drug dealers on the corner of Swanston and Russel st. vying for another easy punt. You're standing out the front of the water windows at the gallery and staring as parents pull roughly at the arms of their children who run up to press their sweaty hands against the water-fall window. You remember how you also, used to run up and thrust your whole face at the glass, stick your tongue out and taste the recycled water as it rushed over your lips and down the front of your t-shirt. But that was the 80s and they didn't have smartly dressed security guards standing out the front then.

Impatiently you shift from one leg to the other, waiting for your friend. Late, again. You take a seat on a nearby wall and are immediately lost within the soundscape of buzzing car motors and dinging tram bells that are characteristic of Melb. Behind you is the dis-connected fountain, a flow interrupted for more years than you can think back - you used to throw coins with wishes attached into it. You like to think they're still there, somewhere under the mould, those coins, still good for a wish or two, but you know that this man-made concrete pond has been cleared out many times since.

A nervous looking man with carrot coloured hair and a neatly tucked-in shirt approaches. You know he is going to ask you for money. But he offers you a poem for your trouble as well. Your recent viewing of Before Sunrise, with it's poetic street buskers makes you nostalgic, romantic and vulnerable to his charms. You hand over your coins and he hands you his poem.

It's pretty bad.

Kids keep running up to the water window and screaming in delight if they make it there before their parents.

The silver coins sparkle underneath the water.

You look at your watch again.
Here she comes.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Vic Market

You escape the tedium of the day by engaging yourself in the busy hustle of the Vic Market. It has perhaps been more than 6 years that you have been back here, but it seems still untouched by the hours, days, years that have traversed since. The thing you missed most was the percussion of voices which immediately envelopes. There are the cagey vendors with their loud propositions you want? for you lady, five dollar!. You smile shyly, already sold on that feeling of time-warped nostalgia in his words, voice and intonation, but this was never an operation to empty the wallet and so you walk on. Everywhere the colours and noises bring it all flooding back. You remember, as a small child how you hung for dear life to the back of your mother's skirt, your little fingers clinging desperately to the material - knowing it would have to be ironed out the next day. One could easily get lost in the wave of people and drown in the sights and sounds of the Market and somehow this is comforting and frightening to both the 7 and 27 year old you, alike.

Idly you make your way to the end of each isle and turn accordingly to go down the next. Each row, brings new flavours, colours and noises - and yet, still all feel amazingly the same. What one stall offers, you could find as easily in the next isle, and the next and the next - all cheap knock-offs, gaudy wannabe-chic handbags and kangaroo-fur rugs. You know you're not going to buy anything but it's enough just to run your fingers along the merchandise and pretend for a moment.

that's all you've been wanting to do, since forever..