Image

The Indivisible Curves

Sculpture by the Sea is on again in Sydney. Apparently, it’s the world’s largest free sculpture exhibition, and it runs along the coast from Bondi Beach (where I live) to Tamarama Beach. Two friends and I braved the inevitable hordes of people today to check out this year’s offerings. It was a beautiful early summer day, with a cloudless sky and a temperature around 26C (79F), and ocean breezes to take the edge off the sun.

Remembering that this week’s theme is curves or rounded, I was on the lookout for a sculpture with no straight lines.

Finally, towards the end of our walk, we came across this one. A sensous swirl of curves twining around itself, with no beginning and no end.

And if you’re wondering why I titled this post “The Indivisible Curves”, it’s because the piece is called “Indivisible.”

When I get my other photos sorted, I’ll post about some of this year’s other sculptures. You can see my other related posts from previous years here.


sydney-strolls-badge

Advertisements
Image

Marriage Equality: Vote Yes

The “YES vote” campaign is highly visible in Martin Place (downtown Sydney).

Here in Australia, we’re in the throes of an emotionally charged postal survey to discover people’s opinion about changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry. The YES camp and the NO camp are putting their messages in front of the voters. The survey is not a referendum, not a plebiscite — the result will have no binding consquences and will not force the federal government to take any action.

It’s not just banners, there are ads in Martin Place too.

“This means that even if a majority of Australians vote ‘yes’ in the postal vote, it doesn’t ensure same sex marriage will be legalised. Instead, [Prime Minister] Turnbull says that a ‘yes’ vote will prompt a free vote based on a private members’ bill in Parliament. A ‘no’ vote will not trigger this action.” (source)

I walk through this avenue of banners every morning, just one more faceless drone scurrying to the office.

So we have our say in order to determine whether Parliament will even consider passing a law. Tortuous, but the only option at the moment.

Quite apart from the serious message, the banners are, well, pretty! Their bright rainbow colours are a cheery sight.

I don’t normally take an overt political stance, but this issue is a no-brainer. Love the person you love; marry the person you love, if that’s what you want. The state should have no right to dictate such matters.

An Australian flag behind a YES banner.

Update: How did the vote turn out?

The results were announced on 15 November: 61.6% of the votes were for yes (including mine). Almost 80% of eligible voters took part.
So, we’ve taken a step towards ending at least one kind of discrimination in Australia.

Image

Textures of the Great Barrier Reef

Coral is the most amazing stuff. It looks like rock, but it’s alive, and not rock at all but animal. The colonies are formed by millions of tiny soft-bodied polyps which have a hard outer skeleton that attaches to rock or to other (dead) coral skeletons. (More info about coral here.) And what a variety of corals there is! All the colours and textures that you can imagine, often growing around or on top of one another.

The ruffly yellow stuff looks rubbery, in contrast to the spikier coral behind it.

While snorkelling or diving around corals, it’s important to avoid touching them — not only can it damage the coral, but a person can get a nasty cut from those sharp edges.

What a mix of corals and textures here!

What IS that yellow stuff? It looks like spilled paint that has dried in wrinkles and folds.

I took some of these photos last week on the Great Barrier Reef near Port Douglas (with a GoPro I hired for the day), and some on the Great Barrier Reef near Cairns three years ago (with a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 I bought for the trip, but it was second hand and died after one outing).

This is brain coral, I believe. I imagine that if you brush your finger along it, the little white knobs would feel plush. But I have no idea!

That white coral looks smooth, but I’d steer clear of the spiky stuff at lower right!

A texture contrast here of hard coral and smooth, slippery fish.

This is a Maori Wrasse dubbed “Frank”! He’s very friendly, as these divers are discovering. I don’t dive (only snorkel) so did not get to pat Frank and discover his texture.

There are so many warnings about the health of the reef and the damage we (and nature, in the form of destructive storms and voracious starfish) are causing, that I feel now is the time to see this astonishing feature — while it’s still there.

Image

Random Fridays: I’m glad they’re small!

These blue crabs look pretty scary, but they’re only about the size of the end of my finger. I didn’t even spot them initially while walking along mud flats at Ettalong at low tide — it was the plop-plop-plop of millions of tiny feet that caught my attention. The more I looked, the more I was astonished. There were hundreds of thousands of these things! For those of you of a scientific bent, they are Mictyris longicarpus (light-blue soldier crab) I think.

As the heading says, I’m glad they are small. And not looking for a fight!

The next two shots give an idea of the numbers:


random-fridays-logo-2

Image

A convict colony past

The remains of the Port Arthur penitentiary. In the background is Queen Mary 2, on which I arrived.

Living in Sydney, with its glass office towers, opera house and beaches, it’s easy to forget about Australia’s convict past. European discovery and settlement of Terra Australis Incognita (unknown southern land) began in 1606 with the arrival of a Dutch ship, the ‘Duyfken’. Contact was sporadic for the next 164 years, until 1770 when Lt James Cook in the ship ‘Endeavour’ charted the east coast and claimed the land for England. January 1788 brought the arrival of the First Fleet, 11 English ships carrying more than 1,480 men, women and children — convicts, army and administrative personnel. This prison colony, formed at what is now the city of Sydney, was the beginning of the modern Australian nation.

Port Arthur is some 1,100 km south of Sydney, in the island state of Tasmania. It was first settled as a timber station, but between 1833 and 1877 it served as a prison colony. The site was carved out of the bush and industries such as ship building, shoemaking, smithing, timber and brick making began, all using forced convict labour.

The building that began as a flour mill and granary (built in 1843) was later (1857) converted to act as the penitentiary.

Light falls through a barred window into a cell.

The Separate Prison took punishment from the physical to the psychological. Under the Silent System, prisoners were kept in isolation cells, hooded and forced to silence. Convicts in the Separate Prison received one hour of exercise each day: brisk walking in a walled-in courtyard, where silence was again the rule.

Not surprisingly, the regime inside the Separate Prison led to a number of instances of mental illness. This building, beside the Separate Prison, began as an asylum (and now houses a café).

The asylum.

Not only adults were incarcerated at Port Arthur. Boys as young as nine were sent here, and used in hard labour such as stone cutting and construction. One of the buildings they contributed to is this church, constructed in 1836-37. The church could hold 1,000 people and attendance was compulsory for convicts. A fire destroyed the building in 1884, leaving only the walls.

The church

Government Cottage, built in 1854, was used to house visiting officials. It burned down in 1895. You can see a photo of the cottage and church before they burned here.

The remains of Government Cottage

The remains of Government Cottage

In contrast to the harshness of the convicts’ surrounds, the families of officers and officials could stroll in ornamental gardens, complete with imported trees such as weeping willows.

This avenue of trees leads to the Dockyard, which between 1834 and 1848 was a busy and productive shipyard. All that remains now are outlines of former buildings — boat sheds, steamers, a saw pit, the overseer’s hut and blacksmith’s shop. This ship sculpture sitting in an old slipway is a haunting reminder of the past.

After the closure of the site for prison purposes, the area was renamed Carnarvon. People bought land and built houses. Tourists also began to arrive, providing a new industry for the local residents. In 1927 the name Port Arthur was reinstated, and over the years, management of the site was taken over by the government. The Port Arthur Historic Site is one of 11 historic places that together form the Australian Convict Sites World Heritage Property, which was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2010.

The theme for the Weekly Photo Challenge is Heritage. My entry in last week’s WPC, on the theme of Reflection, was also taken at the Port Arthur Historic Site.

Sources
http://portarthur.org.au
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Port_Arthur,_Tasmania


click for more posts of Queen Mary 2