Friday, April 28, 2006


..with the idea of pregnancy. I am an older mum and in the light of my experience, fortunate to become one. But before I actually had a babe in arms I was almost terrified of the thought. I was probably as afraid of losing myself, as I was of the thought of becoming a mum and nurturing another. I could not conceive that the self I was so tenuously holding on to was actually going to be strengthened and emboldened by having a kid.

Though I am hoping for a bit more time to make some pictures to make sense of this juggling world.

Digressing back to West Papua. I find it very strange that our government is still holding one of the 43 West Papuans who landed in Cape York. The remaining asylum seekers name is David Wainggai and I have recently learnt that his father died in a jail in Jakarta while serving time with his wife for displaying the West Papuan independence flag during a demonstration.
All the other West Papuans in this group have been released with Temporary Protection visas. If he remains in detention for much longer or his application is not processed it can only seem that Canberra is trying to appease Indonesia by not releasing him or at the very least processing his application.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

green and urban...

Freizeit means freedom in German or translated literally free time. I like the idea of a big board with something like that on it instead of the increasingly enourmous pictures of boobs and legs everywhere.

Laneways- a subject that I would like to do a lot more blogging on, but here is some graffiti real time, a good Australian, urban scene.

Another green scene. An ultrasound picture of my womb with an ectopic pregnancy and some of my graffiti.

The final green scene..urban, board room. I have long wanted to paint this fairly mundane subject and this is an unfinished painting on the theme. I used to teach English in Germany and often worked in board rooms and they were so banal as to be fascinating..

Sunday, April 23, 2006

tea ceremony

Many moons ago I was involved in a project to develop a Mental Health Resource centre in a Melbourne suburb. We were developing an old house in Cheltenham, which was surrounded by a garden filled with big trees and some outhouses. I had been interested in transforming one of the outhouses into a teahouse, as a place to be outside and feel as if you were somewhere far away from the city. As you can see by the photo my ideas didn't quite make it.
The exercise bikes stand like butting goats in the old shed , though around this shed the people who use the centre have developed a nice, japanesy garden.
Anyway, I did quite a bit of reading around the tea ceremony and got very interested in some of the concepts. About two years ago I ran into a young japanese woman, Kuniko, who is studying to become a tea master. I mentioned my interest and she said that she thought I might like to come to their annual tea ceremony. It was cancelled last year so I got a surprise e mail out of the blue from Kuniko wanting to know if I was still interested to come. I did and today I partook in my first real ceremony this afternoon.
The tea ceremony was held in a big house whose owners kindly support this annual event. Kuniko invited me to be one of the "guests" who sit up on the tatami mats with two other "guests" and partake directly in the ceremony. The room smelled of the coal from the small brazier and subtle scent that had been added to the coal. Kuniko made the tea but the difference between a normal tea and this event was vast. Each action that Kuniko made was ritualized and controlled to a high degree. Every utensil had been carefully chosen. The utensils were from both Japanese and Australian artisans, reflective of the theme of the day which was the harmonious connection between Australia and Japan. The tea was also specific to the occaision and I have not been able to have a normal cup of tea after tasting it, though I have managed a glass of red!
We were first offered a sweet, to be savoured before the tea. The tea, after being slowly and carefully prepared by Kuniko was offered to me in an antique bowl from Kyoto. It was beautiful tea, bright green and very fresh!
After the tea ceremony we made our way to tables where we were served Seasonal delicacies such as Asparagus pickled in beer and Clear soup with crocodile and chicken dumpling.
Below is a link for more information about the tea ceremony...

Thursday, April 20, 2006


On a completely different note I move into the world of activism....
It is good to meditate and begin to make sense of the self that you are caught up in and the realities that surround you and then it is even better to find ways to connect with others to get movement on things that concern, enrage, worry you.
Over the last few years I was very fortunate to meet a man who is one of the West Papuan leaders who live in Australia and has been active in bringing the plight of the West Papuan people into the public arena. That meeting brought to my attention the situation of West Papua. I had a very vague sense of the history of that part of the world but have since learnt a hell of a lot more.

The photo here is of the skirt of a dancer at a protest outside the Dept of Immigration in Melbourne. This was around the time that 43 West Papuans had just landed on Cape York in a traditional canoe. Since then West Papua has become a lot more visible in the media , especially since 42 of these West Papuan refugees were given Temporary visas. And especially since the Indonesians have been greatly offended at what has happened and have managed to inspire Howard to cut Australia out of the Immigration act so that people fleeing here will no longer be processed here but shipped offshore and then maybe given protection by a third country. It just goes to show that you can not afford to ignore realities and then react suddenly when your game is up. Mind you that seems to be the way our government works. Australia has been very quiet about human rights abuses in West Papua and rather than talking about these issues, we are refusing to look the problem in the eye. This helps no one and particularly not the West Papuans. West Papua is rich in resources and Indonesia is protecting their control over these assets but has shown little interest in the health abd well being of the West Papuan people. West Papua is also a land resource for over populated Indonesia and the policy of transimigrasi ( for more info on this policy you can go to- is being used to transfer large numbers of Indonesian settlers to West Papua. This large transference of populations has a profound and negative impact on the indigenous population.
The group that landed here were very aware that their action would bring these problems into the light and we can only hope that through engagement these problems are dealt with by listening to the concerns and needs of the West Papuan people. These people are our neighbours with a history of helping us during World War 2. I have been to some moving ceremonies in support of the West Papuans in Melbourne's Anglican churches with the presence of old fighters who recognise and support their claims for autonomy.

The Hill 2

I was about to try and write about walking and I had in mind the thoughts of Osip Mandlestam, a Russian poet, who could only compose his thoughts and get a poem together when he was walking but....

Instead I have stayed with the Hill and for the first time in this blog a person is being pictured. This is an old slide of my father that I scanned a long time ago. The hill behind him looks like a moon scape rather that a land scape. This is a favourite photo of mine, more so as I relate to this image of my dad more than I do to the man himself.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Weeds Above the Wilddog Valley.

The Native American Indians used to call Plantain , Englishmans Foot, as it seemed to mark every footprint made by the newcomers. I have long thought about the connection between the plants that have been transplanted to Australia and become weeds and the colonists themselves. Weeds are just plants in the wrong place and I am sure that a lot of the early settlers felt exactly the same way.
There is a long tradition in Australia in the Arts in depicting the bush as something alien and threatening. Even the name" The Bush" objectifies, distances and does not connect with the country itself.
I spent a lot of years wandering in other places looking for my own ancestral background and enjoying being a foreigner. But after 10 years ( I am a slow learner) I started dreaming every night of Australian country. After 6 months of this I packed my bags and finally went home.
I realised that I was part weed, and part, part of this continent. And the greater part of me belonged here.

Blackberries and other weeds, close up.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Full Moon over the Wilddog Valley

Photo taken by my stepson Mikkeli Godfree about a month before the Easter moon.

Abandoned Garden

Just below our place in the Wilddog valley is an abandoned house with a tangled old, neglected garden. Local rumour has it that Von Mueller planted all the old cypresses that line the driveway. The garden used to be the pride of the district, especially the Rose Garden. The last tenant had a stroke and had to leave. The owners never seem to come and visit so it is a home for ghosts and perennial bulbs. I include a photo of the old house and the property title. Long ago it used to house the local school teacher for the kids of the local farmers. The old school was located just above our house in what is now an old pine plantation. We know one of the kids who is now one of the last remaining farmers in this area. Frank Murnane. He is now in his eighties and working the hills with his beloved dogs. He used to live down the bottom of the valley and every morning he and 5 other kids would ride a horse up to the school. Often the kid at the back would fall off and end up being dragged up the very steep hill by holding onto the tail.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Rain and Wind

There are two relative constants to the Wilddogroad, Wind and Rain. And today we have both in spades . The Wilddog valley is cloaked in a white mist and the wind is whistling through our broken window.
I am trying to post two pictures today. One being a picture of a road that winds above Wilddog and the other being a picture I made of casurinas with images from Baron Von Muellers drawings of plant cells floating behind.

Von Mueller spent some time in the Otways, collecting seeds and getting dirty. He was as well known for his general smelliness as his plant knowledge as he put all his time into his work and almost none into personal hygene. Or so the legend goes. His publications were so numerous that it is unclear if he ever slept.
Most Melbournians know of the Baron through his plantings in the Botanical Gardens. I heard of him early on as he planted all the conifers in a garden of my grandfathers at Mt Macedon. The garden, due to a change of family fortunes, is in new hands but I learnt to walk beneath his towering legacy.
I forgot to add the other legacy of the Baron. He , with great abandon, scattered blackberry seeds all over the place. Blackberries are a problem all over the Otways. Mind you, we have left a thicket on our place for the birds to hide in and us to gorge on.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

starting point

I have been inspired to start this after reading phaedra press's blog- I have been a sporadic diary writer all my life so I am curious to try this out as a way to keep track of my days and to play around with ideas.