Friday, 14 August 2015

Australia: an American's view  

  https://www.facebook.com/pbaker3460?fref=photo

Interesting set of observations from a visitor from the other side of the Pacific.'Value what you have and don't give it away.' There's a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you're a visiting American, says David Mason. More often than you might expect, Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said, ''We need outsiders l
ike you to remind us what we have.'' So here it is - a small presumptuous list of what one foreigner admires in Oz.

1... Health care. I know the controversies, but basic national health care is a gift. In America, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy. The drug companies dominate politics and advertising.
Obama is being crucified for taking halting baby steps towards sanity. You can't turn on the telly without hours of drug advertisements - something I have never yet seen here. And your emphasis on prevention - making cigarettes less accessible, for one - is a model.

2... Food. Yes, we have great food in America too, especially in the big cities.
But your bread is less sweet, your lamb is cheaper, and your supermarket vegetables and fruits are fresher than ours.
Too often in my country an apple is a ball of pulp as big as your face.
The dainty Pink Lady apples of Oz are the juiciest I've had. And don't get me started on coffee.
In American small towns it tastes like water flavoured with burnt dirt, but the smallest shop in the smallest town in Oz can make a first-rate latte.
I love your ubiquitous bakeries, your hot-cross buns. Shall I go on?

3... Language. How do you do it?
The rhyming slang and Aboriginal place names like magic spells.
Words that seem vaguely English yet also resemble an argot from another planet.
I love the way institutional names get turned into diminutives - Vinnie's and Salvos - and absolutely nothing's sacred.
Everything's an opportunity for word games and everyone's a nickname.
Lingo makes the world go round.
It's the spontaneous wit of the people that tickles me most.
Late one night at a barbie my new mate Suds remarked, ''Nothing's the same since 24-7.'' Amen.

4... Free-to-air TV. In Oz, you buy a TV, plug it in and watch some of the best programming I've ever seen - uncensored.
In America, you can't get diddly-squat without paying a cable or satellite company heavy fees.
In Oz a few channels make it hard to choose.
In America, you've got 400 channels and nothing to watch.

5... Small shops. Outside the big cities in America corporations have nearly erased them.
Identical malls with identical restaurants serving inferior food.
Except for geography, it's hard to tell one American town from another.
The ''take-away'' culture here is wonderful.
Human encounters are real - stirring happens, stories get told.
The curries are to die for. And you don't have to tip!

6... Free camping. We used to have this too, and I guess it's still free when you backpack miles away from the roads.
But I love the fact that in Oz everyone owns the shore and in many places you can pull up a camper van and stare at the sea for weeks.
I love the ''primitive'' and independent campgrounds, the life out of doors.
The few idiots who leave their stubbies and rubbish behind in these pristine places ought to be transported in chains.

7... Religion. In America, it's everywhere - especially where it's not supposed to be, like politics.
I imagine you have your Pharisees too, making a big public show of devotion, but I have yet to meet one here.

8... Roads. Peak hour aside, I've found travel on your roads pure heaven.
My country's ''freeways'' are crowded, crumbling, insanely knotted with looping overpasses - it's like racing homicidal maniacs on fraying spaghetti.
I've taken the Hume without stress, and I love the Princes Highway when it's two lanes.
Ninety minutes south of Bateman's Bay I was sorry to see one billboard for a McDonald's.
It's blocking a lovely paddock view. Someone should remove it.

9... Real multiculturalism. I know there are tensions, just like anywhere else, but I love the distinctiveness of your communities and the way you publicly acknowledge the Aboriginal past.
Recently, too, I spent quality time with Melbourne Greeks, and was gratified both by their devotion to their own great language and culture and their openness to an Afghan lunch.

10. Fewer guns. You had Port Arthur in 1996 and got real in response. America replicates such massacres several times a year and nothing changes.
Why?
Our religion of individual rights makes the good of the community an impossible dream.
Instead of mateship we have ''It's mine and nobody else's''.
We talk a great game about freedom, but too often live in fear.
There's more to say - your kaleidoscopic birds, your perfumed bush in springtime, your vast beaches.
These are just a few blessings that make Australia a rarity.
Of course, it's not paradise - nowhere is - but I love it here.
No need to wave flags like Americans and add to the world's windiness.
Just value what you have and don't give it away.

David Mason is a US writer and professor, and poet laureate of Colorado.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Whale Watching outside Sydney Harbour, Sydney, Australia
OzWhaleWatching 270615 AMWobblecam from this morning's cruise, best in HD. One of the whales of this  minimum configuration competition pod surged to the surface regularly, sometimes with its mouth partially open, whilst the Humpback with white flanks had distinctive upturned tail flukes with the tips missing. Ignoring the commentary, some of the different sounds of the blows are audible in the 2nd half. The footage needs colour correction but this morning's guests might enjoy.
Posted by Biggles Csolander on Saturday, 27 June 2015

I went early this month to watch the whales in the Tasman Sea just outside Sydney Harbour. What a magnificent sight that was. Incredible mammals.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

VIVID SYDNEY 2015


I will be going into to Sydney to see this stupendous display in June. What a lovely time to take photos of Sydney.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

TARONGA ZOO GORILLAS
Sydney, Australia


Photo by Suzie Lemon

https://www.facebook.com/tarongazoo?fref=photo

Sunday, 11 January 2015

My local New Years Eve Picnic.


on the Waterfront, Gosford, NSW

Sunday, 28 December 2014

New Year's Resolution to post more.

In the meantime here are some pictures from during the year.


6th October, 2014              Darling Harbour Entertainment Quarter.


25th October, 2014      First meeting between Fred the cat and Barney rescue dog.


30th October, 2014. 

Three months after my brother passed away, my sisters and I get together at the family home to start to pack up the house for sale. My brother lived here all his life.



22nd Decembe, 2014.

I went into Martin Place, Sydney. I walked up it from George Street until I came to Castlereagh Street but I was unable to cross the road to stand closer to the Lindt store. Too much respect for the two who were murdered.


Some of the floral tributes.


There were fears that Muslims would be targeted for violence when it was noted that the shooter was a Muslim so someone on Twitter posted I'll ride with you #illridewithyou if a Muslim was fearful of travelling on public transport.

THE SIEGE AND MURDERS AT THE LINDT SHOP HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH RELIGION OR RACE.


Later, that evening I headed into Pitt Street Mall.



David Jones store


Darling Harbour


Monday, 29 September 2014

A great interview - Vincent D'Onofrio



Thanks to Carol Docherty

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Some photos of my visit to Sydney.






Sydney harbour is so lovely.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

What a day yesterday was, up out of bed at 5.45am to catch the train down to Sydney and I find there is trackworks. So hop on the rail bus which takes you down via the F3 (now known as the M1) freeway. If you are like me driving on that road, then you have your hands firmly gripping the wheel with an intent look on your face as the road dips and swerves around hills and mountains, across bridges seemingly suspended in mid air and hugging the road as the juggernaut trucks sway past you. Fun, not.  So to sit back in a modern coach as it leisurely sweeps down hills on it way to Sydney is a pleasure where you can enjoy the scenery. You have time to chat to your fellow riders and a couple who will be going to the same market as you. (See paragraph below.)

I came down from the NSW Central Coast to help my daughter with her stall. There was trackworks on the Sydney Trains so I caught a rail bus down opposite me was a elderly lady travelling with her grand-daughter. The lady was dressed in full modern vintage clothes, I asked her if she was going anywhere special and she replied "We've come from Newcastle and are going to the Round She Goes Sydney's Preloved Fashion Market, we have been travelling for 3 hours now, do you know the way to Marrickville?. 

I wish now I had taken her photo.

After arriving at Central, it's onto a city train (yes, some were running just not on the northern or some inner city lines) trundle out to Marrickville then a brisk walk up the hill to the town hall. I bypassed all the hopeful shoppers to the front desk. "I'm here to help my daughter with her stall" I say and am ushered into a hall in utter chaos, people rushing to and fro with armfuls of clothing and dodging racks of handbags and coats.



I finally track down my daughter who is serenely setting up her stall, everything is labelled and tagged, and whom also grabbed some chairs as its going to be a long day. 10am to 3pm.

The doors opened to the general public and it was on for young and old, we took turns to go out and grab a drink and some lunch and then back into the fray again. FUN. We were packed up by 4pm, with not so many journeys to the car as pre market so that was great.

Natalie dropped me off at Strathfield for the journey home. I arrived home at 7.45pm after having to catch two buses, one to Hornsby to change for a coach to the Central Coast. All I wanted was a banana roll and a coffee for dinner, a catchup on twitter and facebook to see what every one else had been up to during the day and then off to bed. 

Today has been Wash Day, getting ready for work this week.