Posts Tagged “Australia”
The last couple of months, there has been a World Cup in India. A Men’s cricket ODI World Cup, to be precise.
I’m sure it will be remembered for many things: The collapse of defending champions England, the host nation’s almost undefeated run, and Australia’s victory in a tournament that, for once, they weren’t favourites in. Not to mention a batsman being timed out for the first time ever.
The tournament also included many upsets, but I think for me the most memorable thing will be the upset that didn’t happen. An upset which certainly should have happened, but was foiled by a truly remarkable innings from the great Glenn Maxwell.
Last week, I wrote about Bazball and the ongoing Ashes series, including some predictions of how it might go. So I wanted to keep a running commentary on how those predictions are going, and the unexpected ways the series twists.
It was about this time last year that we first heard about Bazball. The English Test cricket team had had significant away losses to both Australia and the West Indies, but now they were at home with a new captain, a new coach, and a new approach.
At first it seemed like it couldn’t last, but then it turned into an almost unstoppable winning machine: In the lead up to the Ashes they had won eleven out of thirteen matches under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum, while also seeing some truly remarkable individual and team performances.
Now the approach faces perhaps its sternest test, against the old enemy and newly minted World Test Champion Australia. The team that last week dug deep and took first blood.
“She wrought her people lasting good”.
Those words are on a statue here in Melbourne. Written about a long-serving queen. Not Elizabeth II, but our first monarch, Victoria, the one who gave us our name - fully fifty years before the federation of Australia. She appointed our governors, watched carefully over our affairs - but never set foot in Victoria. Or Australia, for that matter.
“As all things come to an end, even this story, a day came at last when they were in sight of the country where Bilbo had been born and bred, where the shapes of the land and of the trees were as well known to him as his hands and toes.” - J.R.R. Tolkien
Queen Elizabeth II is dead (you’ve probably heard that by now).
In among her many other regal duties, she was queen of Australia for 70 years. As a result, she’s been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. So I wanted to share some memories of her.
Well, for Australia tomorrow is it. The time we’ve been waiting for. A federal election.
And it’s been reminding me of the last federal election - exactly three years ago, and long before Covid changed everything. It was called “The Climate Change Election” - and yet it returned to power a government with terrible climate credentials.
With Covid changing our lives in so many ways, perhaps it’s not surprising that it enters our dreams. I’ve certainly had some interesting dreams over the last two years: There have been public gatherings, coughing and sneezing, masks, injections - and even scarlet fever.
On this day last year, I did a daring thing: I actually got up to see a sunrise. Perhaps this doesn’t seem so daring to most of my readers, but it was something I hadn’t done for years, and it changed me more than I expected.
“The world envies us”. Ever heard these words?
Here in Australia they’ve often been rolled out by politicians to excuse failures: Yes, we might not have got it perfect, but we’re still doing better than the rest of the world. And there’s some truth to the words, but there’s also a lot of complacency - past success is not a guarantee of future success, and we can’t expect Australia to be immune to what other countries are experiencing.
Six months ago, I wrote about a year of working from home. At the time, things were going well in Melbourne. Since our long lockdown we’d largely had the great summer we were promised. There had been a couple of scares, including a five-day lockdown, but most mask requirements were gone, we were able to have 100% capacity at the office, and were planning to return to full-time in mid-April.
Well, that lasted around six weeks, before lockdown #4 struck. There were a few opportunities to return to the office in June and July, but since mid-July it’s been back to working from home again.
So I wanted to talk about a (non-)typical week: Last week. A week in which I admired cygnets, saw deer, was chased by chickens, discovered a WikiLeaks bus, and even managed to get some work done.
“Elementary, my dear Watson!”
I was on a train in the Bernese Oberland, a German speaking part of Switzerland, and the words were English, and yet they didn’t feel out of place. Because I too was on a pilgrimage in search of Sherlock Holmes.
This time last year, when Melbourne was in its second lockdown and case numbers were taking off, I heard a number of people asking why the numbers were still going up. The same is true of Sydney right now, which has been in lockdown for three weeks. People are scared and looking for someone to blame, and harmful narratives build.
Here in Melbourne we’ve been in lockdown for a couple of weeks, so I wanted a fun post that was also a reminder of travel. And so I was reminded of the time I was asked whether software developers were scared of the sun. Spoiler: We’re not.
Near the end of March last year, as I was walking near my house, I saw a small, blue teddy bear hanging by a peg from a log. At the time I wasn’t to know it was part of the Bear Hunt movement, intended to entertain children with school closures and lockdown approaching. Nor did I know that I would end up visiting Bear Hunts in all weather and taking hundreds of photos of a wide variety of soft toys.
I’m not sure that I saw a single sunrise in 2019. However, I tried to make up for it in sunsets, and wanted to share some of my favourite sunset photos.
It is said that our Northern Hemisphere ancestors were familiar only with white swans. When they sat round the fire talking about the swans they had seen, there was no need to specify the colour: The mere concept of a black swan was absurd.
However, sometimes these things are a matter of perspective. I happen to come from a land Down Under where Christmas is in summer, where mothers hop around with their young in a pouch, where spiny mammals lay eggs, and where the swans are most distinctly black. And so it was many years before I first saw a white swan.
Like the rest of the world, what I’ve been writing about has changed as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. But I didn’t expect that would mean writing in defence of my favourite bat colony.
Melbourne is privileged to have a colony of flying foxes in a park by the Yarra close to the city. However, some residents have been worried by the risk of disease, so their MP has called for the colony to be moved on or culled. I don’t think anything is likely to come of it, but I still have strong feelings about it.
After recovering from a flu-like disease, I felt in need of a longer walk. I was also curious to find out whether people were out hiking and how they well they were following Covid-19 inspired social distancing rules.
Since I knew kangaroos were much more sociable than wallabies, I thought it would be fun to try and get some illustrative pictures. Thus was born the first version of this guide, which I’ve expanded in the last week.
This year marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, when men first walked on the moon. You might have heard about it - it got far more attention than the anniversary of Apollo 8 orbiting the moon on Christmas Eve.
The anniversary was actually back in July, and at the time I attended various anniversary events and started writing, but somehow couldn’t figure out exactly what I wanted to say. Now it’s the end of the year, and, ready or not, here I come!
Overall, 2018 was a good year for me. Some things have changed, while lots of things have stayed the same. There were frequent hikes, frequent online discussions of religion and culture, frequent quests for knowledge keeping me up to ridiculously late hours, and lots of music and reading.
I said at the start of 2018 I wanted to share more photos, and then didn’t. So I thought I’d take this opportunity to share a few of the nearly 10,000 photos I took.
I’ve spent most of my life in Australia, it is my home, and I’m proud of it. But there are many parts of it that I’ve never been to, and many iconic experiences that I’ve never had.
So the question becomes: How well do I need to know my country anyway?
2017 has been an interesting year, mostly continuing on with life changes I began after leaving religion and particularly after returning home from a long trip to the UK. I started a blog, did plenty of hiking, and continued to discover how well these two fit together. Compared to 2016, I’ve stayed much closer to home, but have still found plenty of boundaries to push.
In the last year, I have seen a large number of Australian birds and animals in the wild while walking, and have had people ask me how to get that to happen. Unfortunately, I don’t have any magic solutions, but here’s my experience with a little advice, some stories, and lots of photos.
Two months ago, full moon found me up Mount Buffalo, camping near Lake Catani. Last month it found me at the top of my street, out to admire the street lights of nearby suburbs stretched out below me. Tonight, it found me walking in the Dandenong Ranges, admiring the ghostly tree ferns and gums.
Walking at night, whether in moonlight, starlight, or complete dark, is probably not something our modern urban life-style encourages (even the simple street lights in my outer suburb outshine the full moon). But it’s something I’ve been trying to do more of, since it provides peace and solitude in a very different way from daylight hiking. And writing about it also provides a slight break from a stream of religious posts (though it’s not entirely free from them: stick round for the religious conclusions).
Every year is a new adventure and a step into the unknown. For me, though, 2016 was less of a step and more of a leap into a completely different world. So here are some thoughts on what the year meant to me.
In my last post, I limited myself to peaks I had scaled that were the highest in their country. This time, I’d like to look at a few more peaks that I conquered this year: some still tall, others slightly less so.
It includes a walk in Switzerland that was probably my favourite walk for the year (though it has some stiff competition). And a walk that was so local that it literally started and ended at my house.
This year, I climbed to the highest point of five different nations for the first time: Australia, England, Wales, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. I also climbed the highest point of my home state of Victoria for a second time.
Climbing the tallest mountain in my home country has been on my list for years, so I made sure I did it before exhausting my leave going to the UK. Doing the UK Three Peaks was a key part of my planning for exploring the UK. I was already planning on spending a lot of time in England, but this gave me a goal to target: I wanted to make sure that I spent at least a week in Wales and Scotland, rather than just dashing in, climbing a peak, and dashing out again. The Isle of Man felt too small to spend more than a few days on it, though I found I could have easily spent longer (it doesn’t seem as well known as it should be).
One of the things my list shows is the importance of choosing your countries carefully. The highest point I reached during the year was in Switzerland, at least a kilometre higher than I got in Australia. And yet it still wasn’t enough: to reach the highest mountain in Switzerland I would have had to go another kilometre up and used specialised equipment. I only spent about six hours in France, and still ended up climbing higher than England and Wales. I seriously considered visiting the Netherlands and trying to reach its highest point (a mere 322.7m high), but decided (wisely) that I’d prefer to spend my time exploring the Swiss Alps.