Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Johnson – Taxi Driver

One criticism often voiced by European travellers to Australia is that it’s vastness is not quite matched by variation. A town in rural Victoria isn’t too different from another about more than a 5 hour plane journey away in Western Australia. Certainly not the kind of difference you would see in Europe going from Madrid to Moscow. I spent a lot of time back in 2006 fruit picking in Northern Queensland and flew back to Sydney with a similar impression. There were similar structures, the familiar green of a Woolworths, a local Hotel (pub) on the street corner and people still hated AFL!

However today, it is different, as Queensland recovers from the horrors of a category 5 cyclone it’s difficult to image what they have gone through up there and what they still have to go through. A tragedy hitting even closer to home with practically everyone in the country knowing of friends and/or relatives  in and around the danger area. Yet on the street of Sydney life doesn’t miss a beat as this taxi driver dropped off a fare at a busy shop forecourt, while the patrons of the pub beside it boisterously celebrate getting one day closer to the weekend.

It’s the inevitability of life but all the same it leaves a lingering and uneasy sensation of how disconnected we all are. Even in the picture there is familiarity, the street lights giving the photographic scene a distinctive tungsten hue, the same hue that’s being emitted through our TV sets amongst the fragmented images of the storm at its worst last night, but the two pictures exist worlds away. The only similarity now is the comfort to be found from the compassion and reassurances articulated by Queensland Premier Anna Bligh whose presence over the last few days, and before that with the flooding crisis, has stood up as a symbol of Australia’s unbelievable strength and readiness for dealing with such disasters. Her role as much for those feeling powerless to help by geography as those powerless by human limitation against the forces of nature.

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Day 253 – Sit Down Beside Me

I’m a little behind as this should’ve been posted on the 15th, even though it’s now the 19th but I’m posting as if it were the 11th! Make sense? No, great!

On the 15th there was a campaign from students from schools and universities in New South Wales to wear purple to raise awareness about the mental health crisis affecting gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth. But as I’ve no purple clothes I just made my daily picture purple instead! Make sense? Kinda, great!

Bullying. Make sense? Definitely not. Idiot kids (or in some cases adults) that need to belittle people in order to get any self-esteem. The problem is not that they exist, they are in a minority amongst a usually good world. The problem is the people who laugh at them and facilitate them and allow them the power to keep on bullying and ruin more lives. Unfortunately children do not always have the courage to stand up in situations where they know wrong is being done but as adults the rest of us should and should be leading by example. Not by wearing purple or making purple photos but by standing up to these types of people and by being aware of the effects of our own actions and words also.

To make someone feel so bad that the only solution they see is ending their life is horrific. Yet some governments and religious leaders are a catalyst for suicide as an answer. Julia Gillard says Australia isn’t ready for gay marriage but even if it were to be put into law, it would never effect those people she feels aren’t ready as the message that not allowing it, sends to at risk teenagers and their would be tormentors. The Pope denounces homosexuality as evil yet it’s not something that effects his day-to-day life. As these people so willing to cause pain and suffering for such little reason? Politicians fine, I understand they are competing for votes but the religious people of our society are supposed to be compassionate. I would hope they consider that first.

Kids – It gets better. Make sense? Yes, great!

Day 184 – Holiday Snap

Today’s picture is quite a regular sight for anyone who regularly passes Circular Quay, or any other tourist monument for that matter. It’s funny because I’ve taken plenty of similar photos in front of similar structures in various countries, yet something about this sight at Circular Quay makes me think, in a kind of way, that they will probably miss the point and potential experience of travelling to another country.

What is it to take a picture of yourself or companions in front of a tourist attraction? Is it to send home proof that one reached the sight? Or to have a memory of your trip? Or to connect, in some strange way with the place or structure? To me the Opera House is a magnificent piece of architecture, one that represents Australia in a lot of ways, but I bet that a lot of tourists spend more time visiting places like the Opera House, Town Hall, Mrs Macquaries’s Chair, etc.. than they do interacting with Australians. Why do they need things that represent a place when you can actually experience the place from the point of view of locals just by talking to them?!

I think it’s probably one of the good things about photojournalism and documentary photography. You tend to have to talk to random people, whether to get a photo or ask them questions or just chat. The more you do it the easier it becomes and you end up with pictures full of personality and a better representation of a place than a static structure.

Having said that I’m a little obsessed with taking pictures of people taking pictures, especially in front of tourist attractions and the less relevant the attraction the better! Or maybe I just like it for the weird looks I get from the tourists when they see me taking a picture of them!

Quote of the day: Strangers are friends you have yet to meet

Day 21 – Farewell

Well today was a day for saying goodbye, to Bendalong and to my friend Yvonne who is heading to London.

As an Irish person in Australia I’ve encountered my fair share of goodbye parties, especially being involved with an Irish football team, it seems like someone arrives and/or leaves every 5 minutes! Then there are the people you know that are still within the geographical confines of regular rendezvous but who have settled in their own niche and environment. I guess it can be a mixture of circumstance and the randomness of life but you don’t always socialise or meet up with the people who once were a big part of your life, no matter how strong the friendship was.

Yvonne, however, was one of the only people that I knew since I first landed in Australia that I continued to meet on a regular basis. I guess that link being severed reminds me of the transient nature we pass through each other’s lives. Obviously with modern technology you can keep in contact, whether by phone/facebook, skype/email with those who matter enough to always be a part of our lives. But the changing nature of those we see every day can be a fascinating study, we change and they change and life still moves on.

Having said that I’m sure its not the same for everyone and certain people can end up living in the same place, being with the same partners or working in the same job with the same workmates for years. I guess it’s called settling down! But even with settling down the people around you can change dramatically too. For me I’m not quite there yet but I do love the randomness and excitement of meeting new people and new people being in my life, it’s just that the flip side is having those you like leave.

Anyway Yvonne we will miss you, hope life finds you well back in the Northern Hemisphere!