I feel rather amiss for writing the last month’s report so late. However, my excuse is jetlag! Only back in the country for two weeks and still aclimatising – well, I did suffer a 26 degrees drop in temperature coming back from my Australia sojourn. It was a lot of fun and took most of November and into December. I did not keep a log as such and just let the experience wash over me but I did return with 467 photos!
My plan is always to fly to Perth, which is the nearest point to stop. Very nice it is as well to be in the Esplanade hotel – a stones throw from the seafront and its fish restaurants and Freemantle town behind.
I chilled out there for the week beside the pool and took the odd excursion into the city for galleries and a change of scene.
Freo itself is lively with restaurants and cinemas, markets, etc. Just went into this lovely little ‘alternative’ shop the Blue Buddha – which was full of crystals, clothes, ornaments, books, records, and other goodies.
No sooner was I there than the shop assistant diagnosed a stiff back – the flight! – and set about to burn a suitable herb around me. She also recommended South Beach, which I immediately took in. Lovely.
Also, went into Murdoch University and caught up with some people I know there as well as doing a public lecture and seminar.
Next was Melbourne. Arrived there in rain – what!!?? and indeed clouds for the first half of the week. Too far south. However, a lively place and very cultural. My hotel was odd – I had to lie on the floor to look up out of the window to see the sky in order to know what the weather was as there was a high grey concrete wall about six feet from my room. This was a bit weird. Especially, as the room was decorated in black and silver – very designer. So, the overall effect was a bit ‘grey’. Quiet though which is my main issue, and then out into lively downtown Melbourne. Took in the rather good Victoria National Art Gallery which had a good selection of Australian and European art, if not much indigenous pieces. A fun designer exhibition on Kyle Minogue as well – what a wonder! Quite busy at the university with three sessions and also individual post-graduate tutorials. This was probably the most ‘cultural’ of the departments I visited, and I did talks/ seminars on Music and journalism.
Sydney next and treated very grandly. A lovely hotel just to the edge of the University, which made my daily travels into it easy.
Hot here though and this is something to be managed; that is, do not go out into it or, if you do, make it for only short passages between shade hops. Really good facilities and it shows that this university is the tops in the country. Excellent lecture theatre and good breakout rooms.
Again, I did individual supervision meetings with an amazing range of topics – from literature to sado-masochism! Also recorded, in film and audio, some ‘dialogues’ with a colleague there focusing on Bourdieu and Legitimation Code Theory.
And, finally, Canberra. This is an odd place, but I love it. Odd because it was set up to be the capital of Australia to stop Sydney and Melbourne fighting over the title. Ozzies tend to be regionally quite competitive. It was also set out as one by an architectural couple who were associates of Frank Lloyd Wright (in turn an associate of Gurdjieff). It is all very modern and well organized but so quiet. In fact, you think you should keep your voice down as someone might hear what you are saying. Never any traffic jams. Here, I talked on Biography and gave a one-day workshop on Creativity. It being the capital city, there was the best of the galleries there. Some amazing indigenous art also. I took hundreds of photos. Actually, got into the whole situation with respect to the Aboriginals much more on this trip. As someone said, to me, their position is so bad it is almost invisible. Certainly, there are so few and they seem marginal, in a very sorry state. I saw one walk through a crowd one day and everyone just ignored him as if it was a cat. Like they pretended he was not there. Also took some photos of Aboriginals protesting in front of the old government buildings. Much as I really like Australia, it is very difficult not to have this huge Aboriginal shadow standing over one all the time.
The quality of life there does seem higher than in the UK, and there is a great sense of dynamism. The Ozzies were always open with me, which I like and prefer compared to the reserved English. A little brash, occasionally, but never to take offense.
Then back to Perth for a few days before flying back to good old UK. I already want to go again!!