Archive for January, 2010

30 January, 2010

Birkinesque

There is not a fashionista alive who doesn’t – unknowingly or not – channel the sexy, tomboyish style of Jane Birkin in her 1960’s heyday.  Those legs!  That fringe!  That smile!  Serge Gainsbourg!  The wicker basket!  The crazy bo-bo lifestyle!

Too busy living life, I imagine, to really bother about clothing, the off-duty Ms Birkin always espoused the ‘less is more’ principle (and, judging from the number of photos of her au naturel, she often took this to the extreme).  Most impressively, she always looked like she was having a grand old time, whatever she was doing.

Besides the timeless chic, that’s something to be emulated.

Non-Jane photos from A.P.C. Spring/Summer ’10.

26 January, 2010

Cake and Calm

Ten days of hiking, walking, splashing about waterfalls, wading through rivers, living out of a backpack, negotiating tents, toilet blocks, avoiding snakes, spiders, lizards and dehydration in the desert, wondering if things would ever dry again in the tropics, standing in the presence of colossal, ancient monoliths, fighting off swarms of flies, mosquitoes and nasty, nasty sandflies – well, a girl could get a little preoccupied, and forget the little things in life. I only realised how much I missed a cuppa when tea bags miraculously appeared on the sixth day and I sat down to a mug of thick, steaming tea despite the sticky closeness of Kakadu.

“How can you drink hot tea in this weather?” asked an aghast Sydneysider.

“I can drink tea anywhere,” I responded, calm, peace and a feeling that all was right with the world descending as I held the mug between both hands and drank. Seven years in London, and an Irish flatmate who would have had tea fed intravenously into him if such technology was available, had taught me as much.

Back where I could drink as much tea as I liked ie. civilisation, and it was time for friends, a little holiday photo slideshow, and this amazing cherry cake, courtesy of Rachael.

Happy Australia Day, all.


24 January, 2010

Swingin’

Mad Men illustrated.

See more here.

21 January, 2010

Into the Wet

Heading up north from the Alice along the Stuart Highway, we were told stores of unfulfilled promises, rapes, murders and oh, one or two massacres perpetrated by the white colonisers on the aboriginal populace. Australia may not have had the revolutions or civil wars from which most modern nations sprung, but its history has nevertheless been writ in blood.

Then it was past the Tropic of Capricorn and into the warm, verdant lushness of the Top End in the midst of the annual Wet.  The stark, red landscape softened as greenery began to penetrate; the air grew damp, heavy and almost suffocating; and the clear, blue skies of the desert clouded over and violent bursts of rain would at times suddenly reduce visibility to 15 metres and then would just as abruptly end.

All in all, a pleasant change from the arid desert climate with beautiful tropical flora, shimmering butterflies and ickle frogs surprising us on ledges in petrol station and phone booths.

Or so I thought.

Because, with the humidity and lushness of the tropics come the insects.  And these little critters weren’t satisfied with the moisture in your eyes, or just irritating the heck out of you (and a face net came in handy in this instance).  No sirree, these mosquitoes, these sand flies wanted blood.  And they would hang about waiting for when you were most vulnerable – in toilets, in your tent, when you were occupied with negotiating a track to a waterfall – to strike.  I can only say bless the inventors of insect repellent and the mosquito coil!

There was also the impossibility of drying clothes in close to 100% humidity.  In fact, the heaviness of the air were making things which hadn’t gone near a drop of water clammy.

There were some wonderful moments: the news that we were heading into a cyclone (low level, unfortunately).  Making the acquaintance of an aboriginal man in Katherine who, though pleased to meet Chris and Philipp from far off Wokingham and Zurich respectively, seemed more curious about meeting another Australian.  “You’re from Melbourne, huh?” he said, shaking my hand.  “Respect.”  Getting up close and personal with a very tame wallaby at the Materanka Thermal Springs.  Hearing an Austrian and two Swiss brusquely dismiss cricket (“That’s not a sport.”) and the face of an Aussie cricket diehard upon hearing those words.

And finally, splashing about in those beautiful waterfalls, my favourite of which required us to hike for thirty minutes, strip down to our togs and ford a wide fast-flowing river before engaging in a ten minute clamber along a rocky path.  The braver among us climbed up the waterfall to, apparently, reach another level, and yet another, and another.  But I was content to relax at the first and luxuriate in the clear, cool, fast-running water flowing through my fingers.

Pics from Daly Waters, Daly Waters Airfield, Elsey National Park, Katherine Gorge, Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park.


10 January, 2010

I See Red

Fed a steady diet of American television, English literature and European film, I was always disappointed that my parents had chosen Australia, and not North American or Britain, to raise myself and my brother in. But since returning to Melbourne after a long stint abroad, I’ve been overcome by an immense curiosity for this wide brown land – a country which I had grown up in but had not paid much attention to.

The Australian experience is a broad and varied one, and I wanted something different to that of surburban Melbourne,  arguably Australia’s most European city. And so, in addition to diving into the literature (Picnic at Hanging Rock and We of the Never Never to date), I decided that it was time for a trip to the heart of the country, the Aussie pioneering experience and Aboriginal culture.

It is the great Australian summer and temperatures in the Uluru desert hovered around 40-43 degrees during the day, and did not fall below 20 degrees at night. Fabulous for a backpacker needing to do a bit of washing most days.  Not so good when you’re traipsing around the 9.4 km Uluru base walk at 8am and it is already in the late 30’s.  And absolutely dire if you’re taking the unprotected hike into Kata Tjuta at around 4pm and are prone to nose bleeds.  After 15 minutes under the merciless sun, blood erupted from my nose and I was forced to take cover under the shade of a small boulder off the track.

Our guide was forever exhorting us to drink at least one litre of water an hour and to let her know immediately if we felt a headache – one of the first signs of dehydration – coming on.  When I saw someone from another tour group by the side of the road furiously vomiting – the next sign of dehydration – at the side of the road, I began to drink in earnest.

It really is a battle between your body and the dry, dry heat in that sun-blasted part of the world where water is king.  My 1.5 litre water bottle was always within easy reach – on nights without air-conditioning, I would wake up, my mouth parched and dry.  I watched birds and lizards boldly nip into the midst of human habitation to drink from dripping taps and air-conditioner condensation.  And at Standley Chasm, the flies headed straight for the easily accessible moisture of my eyes.

But when you feel insignificant and dwarfed by the immensity and age of Uluru, or marvel at the touch of the clear, cool water at Simpson Gap, or laugh at yourself and the hundreds of tourists descending Uluru at sunset and sunrise, or catch a glimpse of wild camels and brumbies galloping in the distance, or wince as your skin comes into contact with the hot, red desert sand, well what’s contending with a little dry heat?

Pics from Alice Springs, Standley Chasm, Simpson Gap, Uluru, Kata Tjuta, King’s Canyon and the Devil’s Marbles.