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Around the bend

The Ghan at Manguri, South Australia

The Ghan at Manguri, South Australia

If you ride The Ghan the 2,977km (1,850 miles) from Darwin to Adelaide, as a friend and I did in August 2016, you will stop at Manguri in South Australia. There is nothing in Manguri. There isn’t even a train station. This train, which on average is 774m (2,540ft) long but can be up to 1,096m (3,595ft), slowly — very slowly — comes to a halt in the desert. Manguri is, however, the gateway to Coober Pedy, aka the opal capital of the world. And when passengers return from touring the mines, the underground houses, the underground church, and the desert golf course, they gather beside the train for drinks and nibbles as the sun sets (feature photo at top). Quite marvellous.

This stop also gives an unprecedented opportunity to get up close to the train without stations or fences or people getting in the way, although a rather belligerent guard did prevent me from walking across the track to take a photo that included the entire train stretching away into the distance around the bend. (It’s the middle of a desert, I hardly think that another train would have taken me unawares!!) So although The Ghan’s vanishing point is not quite as impressive as it should be, the train itself most assuredly is.

The Ghan at Manguri, South Australia

The Ghan at Manguri, South Australia

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Deep in Thought

"Niemand" by Viktor Freso, Sculpture by the Sea 2018

“Niemand” by Viktor Freso, Sculpture by the Sea 2018

I’ve called this post “Deep in Thought” because to me the figure’s rather petulant frown indicates that he’s wrestling with a troublesome question, or trying to remember something he’s forgotten. The great thing about sculpture, and all art forms, is that you project onto it — what you see may not be what I see, and neither of us may see what the artist intended!

This is “Niemand” by Viktor Freso, Sculpture by the Sea 2018

"Niemand" by Viktor Freso, Sculpture by the Sea 2018

“Niemand” by Viktor Freso, Sculpture by the Sea 2018

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Trinity House Weathervane

This nautical golden weathervane perches atop Trinity House in London, near the Tower of London. Trinity House, granted a Royal Charter by Henry VIII in 1514, is the General Lighthouse Authority for England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar; a charitable organisation dedicated to the safety, welfare and training of mariners; and a Deep Sea Pilotage Authority. They also have a blog on WordPress, which is where I got that information.

And if you’re puzzled by the name “Trinity House” (I was), that’s due to their name on the charter: “The Master, Wardens, and Assistants of the Guild, Fraternity, or Brotherhood of the most glorious and undivided Trinity, and of St. Clement in the Parish of Deptford-Strond in the County of Kent.” You don’t get organisation names like that anymore!

Posted as part of Weathervane Wednesday — and tagged with #500posts because according to WordPress this is my 500th post on Pics by Kaz. That’s kind of scary!

500 posts

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Quokka encounters

This little creature is so cute it could star in its own Disney film.

This little creature is so cute it could star in its own Disney film.

Many of you may not have heard of Quokkas. (WordPress helpfully highlights the word as a typo.) They’re a marsupial found only in Western Australia and primarily on Rottnest Island. A Dutch naval captain gave the island its name because he thought the animals were rats.

The photo below is my first one of a quokka. I had dumped my backpack on a bus stop bench and turned to look for the bus. Turning back, I exclaimed “Jesus Christ!” in the shock of seeing this guy, who had certainly not been there 10 seconds earlier. I quickly snapped a pic with no attempt at artistry, thinking it would dash off at any moment, and was quite pleased with myself for having captured it.

Little did I know the quokka would come closer …

… and closer …

… and then rear up and thrust its face against the lens so quickly that I had no time to refocus.

Here you get a better idea of quokka body shape. Definitely a hopper with those hind legs.

They are curious animals, and those in the settlement on Rottnest Island are very, very accustomed to people.

This one is doing a spot of dress shopping. It paid no attention to the people passing within a foot or two of it, or to the phone cameras thrust in its face, or even to the people who stroked it.

They are so at ease with people, in fact, that many shops have installed gates to keep them out!

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The Mystery of The Yellow Bits

Walking down Fremantle High Street in Western Australia, you see these odd bits and strips of yellow on the buildings.

Aha, clearly there is some pattern taking shape here.

Look back at the street from the steps of the Round House, and it all springs into shape. Isn’t this amazing?

From a news story dated 25 Oct 2017: Arcs d’Éllipses is the work of Paris-based Swiss artist Felice Varini, who has produced geometric optical illusions around the world.
This latest work on High Street has been created for High Tide, the inaugural Fremantle art biennale.
“The colour is in fact very thin aluminium sheets, which are self-adhesive,” Varini said. “Because the artwork is of a temporary nature, the work has to be removeable and this is the material we have developed over time that best fits.”
Arcs d’Éllipses will remain in place until December 30.

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That was two years ago and the ellipses are still there, though looking slightly tattered. If you’re interested in how they created the ellipses, click the article link above.