'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

19 May 2011

Brisbane Queensland Australia

These are some views of the city where I live
click to enlarge - detail is in the JPG file name
Migaloo (white fella) the white celebrity Humpback Whale who visits our city.
Tidal Brisbane River and Moreton Bay 
Botanical Gardens
River at Dusk and a Gay Pub
Treasury Casino and Queen St Mall
St John's Anglican Cathedral and St Stephen's Catholic Cathedral
Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art
Concert Hall and Opera Theatre
Gabba Cricket Grounds and evening lights
Judith Wright Arts Centre and Powerhouse Theatres
A little bit of Gay Brisbane which is being once again marginalised by a newly installed  Christian Right influenced, conservative government
Brisbane Gay Magazines Q News and Queensland Pride
 Brisbane is a large city with warm weather, a beautiful tidal river, hills and greenery, We have plenty of outlets for the arts. What we lack is the commitment of the people (about 2 million of them) to get involved. This is what I am always trying to address in some way with my small efforts. Please join me if you are so inclined.
In Jan 2011 we experienced yet another great flood which sent the city underwater for the second time in my lifetime. 
Link to my Brisbane Flood Page.
Some references to Brisbane when I grew up are in this passage from my fictional novel 'Dance With the Sun'
........It did take some years after the War to establish themselves, but in time the three of them moved from Sophie’s parents home to a new house in what was then, the far edge of the city. The yard was bare, because in those days it was the habit to tear down every native tree, and plant small European flowerbeds. They soon tired of this precision, and the garden flourished into a sub- tropical jungle much to the disgust of the neighbours who took pride in the clean manicured lawns edged by pruned rose bushes and short unimaginative flowering annuals, that to them appeared the height of suburban good taste. The overgrown town was the epitome of modern sterility. Looking over the many hills of Brisbane in those days provided a neat, stiflingly hot vista of acres of red oxide tin, greying fibro or orange clay tiled roofs, purposely unhindered by the slightest sign of any tall green vegetation. Little could be gained from venturing out into the pastel plastic of 1950's suburbia, and hence the oasis of their home life sheltered the boy from the stagnant reality of what surrounded him. It was within the privacy of the secret garden that the boy played. From the window or the back veranda the boy's little white feet and bottom could be seen darting through the trees and bushes. Every branch, every insect, every breeze became his plaything. Keenly he explored what was about him and just as intensely did he explore his body. Nipples, belly button, testicles were fascinating things that he initially found no explanation for. He would sit on the grass and as his attention was redirected from a hopping sparrow to his hands, and then to probing the parts of himself that were nice to touch he pondered the mysteries of his flesh. At night while sitting on the carpet he would clasp his genitals excitedly and ask ' What's this for? What do they do? Have you got some?' Eventually he became aware of society’s inhibitions, and the subsequent contradiction of this with his parents’ encouragement of freedom. This muddled his thoughts, but he could hardly accept what to him was irrational.

The unpaved, dirt street on which they built their home wound itself up into the bush on the side of a small mountain. There was much to explore on that mountainside where the child could lose himself and act out his imaginative adventures. This second oasis was where he could refresh himself, contemplate and experiment in isolation with the fantasies he developed. Explorers, hunters, Tarzan, ballet dancers, orators and heroes of every description roamed or skipped through the bushes on his wild, private playground. The only place that scared him was the remains of a long gone farm. The rusty old tin sign warning that 'Trespassers will be prosecuted', somehow always looked like 'executed' to him. He stared at this sign and knew what it said, but his mind continued to think that he had somehow misinterpreted it, and even though it was clear, he might one-day see that it really meant death to those whom entered. There was probably a deranged and hideous old man with a shotgun, or perhaps a ghost in the collapsed wooden vine-covered building hidden in the shadows behind the trees. It was frightening, but stimulating to imagine that such danger was close by. His fantasies did not always make for security in his life, but they exercised and stretched his emotions, in that his protective parents were unwilling and unable to offer.

Every other house in the recently developed suburb was neat, new and small. Families were young, and the streets resounded with the screams and calls of children playing and chasing each other around and unhindered from yard to yard. Neighbours chatted over fences, exchanged gossip at the local store, and praised each other for their fortunate life.

In the 1950's home-grown culture was almost non-existent, or at most embryonic. Crime was low, people left their doors open at night, and pets were allowed to leave their droppings on the footpath. Being so close to the bush, snakes were often seen in those days. Wild horses, kangaroos and once, even two confused elephants were found wandering down the stony, ungrassed footpath. The huge grey beasts had escaped from a travelling circus, and immediately headed off in search of freedom, away from the screams of children and traffic. The huge blue and white tent, with all its accompanying smells of sawdust and manure hitched itself annually in a vacant lot at the end of the street. The boy loved the wild and special beasts, and the story of the elephants was one he loved to tell and wait for people's look of disbelief. It gave an air of primitive frontier adventure to the exterior blandness of those early years. All was not without meaning though. There was a spirit that did give simple sincerity to this evolutionary stage in Australia's development.

It was all part of the beginning of the post war recovery, full of hope and optimism, because the earth was being repopulated with the children of the future. Having not been ravaged like Europe and Asia by the full impact of explosive destruction, and nature having blessed the land with a wealth of resources, this country was well placed to leap ahead into what would become a boom period. A security that removed the constraints of general poverty from the daily lives of a very unadventurous, unchallenged and stable people.

Somewhere amongst this spirit of regeneration was hidden a sadness at what the world had become. Two great wars, the collapse of Empires and the knowledge that the Atomic Bomb hung dangerously over the heads of us all, gave an undertone to the abandonment with which people committed themselves to the pursuit, and accumulation, of twentieth century advances. As fashions became more industrial and functional the germ of opposition was taking shape in the minds of those who longed for the comfort, stimulation and rewards of beauty. The age of the common man was taking hold. An egalitarian greyness gripped the western world like a tightened spring that would strain on the minds of the rebels until it burst forth in a shower of reactive creativity that would eventually destroy the concept of discipline for decades to come......

Thank you Driver!
People in Brisbane almost universally thank the bus driver when they alight from public transport. They may be an old lady with a walking stick, someone in a suite or a kid with green hair and piercings, they all yell from the back of the bus. "THANK YOU DRIVER." Foreign students, of whom we have thousands, seem to love adopting this habit even if it is only one of the few English phrases they are familiar with. I have travelled the world a few times and have never noticed this elsewhere. It may happen in other countries and cities, but I have discussed this widely and most think that it is possibly unique to Brisbane.
Some Major Events
G20 meeting of world leaders to be held here in 2014.
Commonwealth Games Brisbane 1982
World Expo Brisbane 1988
Cultural Links
Queensland Performing Arts Complex
Queensland Theatre Company
Brisbane Powerhouse Theatres
Opera Queensland
Brisbane Festival
Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art
La Boite Theatre Company
Expressions Dance Company
Zen Zen Zo Physical Theatre
Queensland Ballet
Museum Of Brisbane
Queensland Museum
What we looked like in 1954 when I was 5 - An overgrown country town.

Brisbane Under Flood

The glories of global warming.
The number of huge and tragic natural disasters worldwide has trebled in the last 30 years.

The Brisbane River as you can see winds snakelike through the city and hence when flooding occurs it spills into vast areas. Below are the most notable inundations.

Brisbane has had the regular floods since its settlement.
Early records talk of floods in 1824 (the year of its foundation), 1825, 1836, 1839

January 1841 flood 8.43 metres (27 feet, 8 inches). Highest flood in Brisbane's recorded history.

March 1890

February 1893  flood8.35 metres (27 feet, 5 inches) occasionally referred to as the Great Flood of 1893 or the Black February Flood,

February 1931

 January 1974 The highest since 1893
This one I recall and I had a house full of stranded people. From our back stairs we watched two houses float down a creek at the bottom of the hill that usually had no more than a foot of water. One friend had a dead body float in and got stuck in a front yard tree. The city looked like a collection of islands as hill tops poked above the water.

 January 2011 The largest disaster ever.
The current flood in Brisbane that is part of the biggest natural disaster in this country's history. Friends and relatives are all out cleaning houses and businesses. Volunteers are out in their tens of thousands along with the Armed forces as they bulldoze the tons of mud and rubbish from the houses, streets and highways. 84 other towns and cities in Queensland have also been devastated.The huge flood affected 500,000 square kilometers. Food production has been totally destroyed and mines are now lakes.
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