Late July Catchup

It’s Sunday afternoon and I have just realised it’s almost a month since my last proper journal update, aside from movies, books etc.

But I’ll start with one. Last Saturday night I went to see a show featuring Mary G – The Black Queen Of The Kimberly. Mary Geddardyu started out as a cult disc jockey of indeterminable gender in Broome at Radio Goolarri, but is now heard across the country on the National Indigenous Radio Network. But this is no “Dame Edna”, nor Oxford Street drag. Recurrent themes throughout the show were reconciliation and an understanding of Indigenous culture, particularly that of the Kimberly region. As is often the case I was part of the audience participation twice, meaning I was invited to kiss Mary G’s black ring and was invited to come back to her room after the show. It was great fun. The show also featured fellow Kimberley artists Tahnee Carrie and Desert Child. Although I thought Tahnee was a little “two dykes and a guitar”, I enjoyed the amazing enthusiasm and musicianship of the performance by Desert Child. I’d actually interviewed them about twelve months ago, about the time of the Illawarra Folk Festival, so it was nice to see them perform live on stage in an environment where I could just relax.

I’ve also been to see some classical musicians and some exhibitions with Kate, Paul’s friend who has arrived back from Perth after ten years living in Europe. We went to an exhibition by Julie Dowling which we both thought was spectacular. Julie Dowling was born in Perth in 1969. She is of the Badimaya/Yamatji language group and currently lives in Perth. Dowling studied at Claremont School of Art and Curtin University in Perth. She has exhibited widely both in Australia and overseas and has been the recipient of several art awards including the Mandorla Award for Religious Art (2001). In 2002 and 2001 she was a finalist in the Archibald Prize. I was absolutely blown away by her Dispossession Series, esp. “My Great Uncle George” and “My Nana, Molly”. There are quite a few landscapes that I found uninspiring, but the portraits were just magic. We also went along to see the current exhibitions at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts and the Art Gallery of Western Australia before deciding it was time for a beer at the Brass Monkey, a great pub in Northbridge which has very comfortable lounges on the upstairs verandah. Highly recommended.

In stark contrast to this day of art, we then headed back to my place and watched “Funniest Home Videos”, which featured a hilarious compile of projectile vomiting by babies. The vomiting/farting them continued that night in a bar tonight discussing with a couple of musicians the “fart tapes” they have compiled over the years with friends. Yes, that’s right, blokes who record their farts for later amusement. I thought it was funny and wondered how common it is. And these blokes were musicians with the West Australian Symphony Orchestra!

We were there to see Yuri Bashmet is described as one of the world’s greatest living musicians. An artist of immense passion and presence, the Viola Concerto was written especially for him by Alfred Schnittke and provides the perfect vehicle for his mercurial genius. Concluding with Brahms’ tempestuous final symphony, this concert traverses a remarkably powerful landscape. Although I agree the level of musicianship was spectacular, the work by Schnittke failed to move me in any way shape or form. Too clever for my ears anyway. One of the other highlights of the night was the older woman with brilliant blue hair, which we ascribed to her attendance at a children’s birthday party in which she was caught in the rain wearing a crepe paper hat. No one would seriously die with their hair that blue at such an age!

I think I’ve made another new friend too when, on Wednesday night, I went along to Fruits In Suits once again which was great fun, especially since a couple of the regulars I know, Brad and Marshall, were also there. While there, I met a bloke called Elliott (who had been chatting with Brad and Marsh) and with whom I got along pretty well. So well, in fact, that we ended up having a meal together at the Belgian Beer House and we’ll probably catch up for a movie this week. He seems like a nice enough bloke – born and bred in Sydney – and it’s nice to make new friends.

I also caught up with Tiffany (an old colleague from Wagga Wagga) who invited me to join her for the NAIDOC Ball, which marked the culmination of NAIDOC week which is an annual means of “celebrating and promoting a greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and our culture”. Tiffany picked me up from home at about 6.30. After we arrived at the ball’s venue, Burswood Casino, we sat down, and enjoyed dinner, a few drinks and a bit of dance. I also met heaps of Tiffany’s friends, including Gina Wilson who was one of those singing on the night and she was fabulous. Was also impressed with Linda Purcell’s live performance and the “welcome to land” by a bloke from Wagin. One of the ball’s highlights was a presentation of an award to a woman who had never been out of Alice Springs. Amazing stuff. We finished up just after midnight and I went straight to bed. Exhausted!

For the last week or so I’ve had visitors, with Damien and Rhea staying with me, on and off, for the last seven days. We’ve had some good fun together, visiting places like Fremantle and King’s Park. It’s been a terrific playing tour guide in the city in which I’m still a visitor. Yesterday, in particular, was great, spending several hours enjoying the sunshine in King’s Park.

Rottnest Island, 2004
Rottnest Island, 2004

My greatest unexpected joy, however, was going to Rottnest Island, located 19km off the coast of Fremantle. More than 500,000 people visit Rottnest Island each year. The Island is 11 kilometres long, 4.5 kilometres at its widest point and the land area measures 1,900 hectares. I travelled with a company called Boat Torque which offers an all-inclusive one-day package tour to the island which includes return a ferry trip from Perth, morning and afternoon tea, and lunch at the Rottnest Lodge Resort.

I’m coming home next week for a few days which is great. It’s been a fairly momentous couple of weeks for some friends back in Sydney – Damo’s step-father has died and Ellen has a new career-changing job – so I’m looking forward to getting back to Sydney to see them both (and everyone else of course). I arrive in Sydney late on Thursday night and the only thing I’ve planned so far is dinner with Damo on Sunday night at Becasse. It’s another one of those multi-course nights with the theme this time being the food of southeast France. Can’t wait!

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