On Friday, 25 October 2019 Uluru was closed to climbers permanently. Tourists, both international and Australian have always considered the climb a bucket list item but the local Anangu people consider it a sacred place and have always asked that visitors do not climb.
In 1985 the lands surrounding Uluru, then more commonly known as Ayers Rock, were handed back to the Anangu people to administer. Climbing the rock was not immediately banned but over the past thirty-four years, they have tried to steer tourists into other activities. As time passed fewer tourists did make the ascent and it was agreed that when the number of tourists who were climbing dropped to less than 20% of visitors the climb would be closed permanently. The decision was made in 2017 and the date of closure was announced some months ago. Over the last few months, a lot of people have rushed to have a last chance to do the climb. Many people on social media have made scathing comments about it being disrespectful but it is what always happens when people realise they will only have a limited time to do something or see something. They want to be there, the last sailing of a ship, a last train journey, the last time in a favourite hotel. It’s human nature I guess. I can understand it.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post or two David and I visited Uluru in the 1980s with a penfriend of mine from the USA. I think this was just before or around the time that the land was handed back to the Anangu community.
At that time tourists were requested not to climb the rock out of respect for the beliefs of the owners but it was not outright forbidden. My friend and I did climb it.
In hindsight, I don’t know why we did it except to say that we had done it because it was “a thing”. Perhaps it was to conquer our fears because both of us were afraid of falling. I didn’t intend disrespect to the indigenous owners but I knew very little about their culture and beliefs.
I suppose that I should say that I’m sorry I climbed but I’m afraid I can’t do that. It was a special experience to be there. I remember how I felt the age of my surroundings and how it felt calm and peaceful at the summit.
In recent years when the subject of closing the climb has come up, I’ve felt relieved that my ageing body would no longer allow me to climb safely even if I wanted to. I wouldn’t have to make the decision. But if I were suddenly granted the body of a twenty-something would I go? Probably not, I may not understand the reasons any better than I did then but ultimately I think I would respect the culture in the same way that I’d accept the rules of any religious structure I visited, covering my head, removing my shoes or whatever is asked.
37 people have died whilst climbing Uluru, many more have collapsed due to heat, dehydration or the exertion of climbing. As I said, I was in my twenties when we went and moderately fit. We saw much older people struggling to get up there. We also saw people who ran up. I believe people have taken bicycles up as well. It’s really not the safest place to be. On Friday morning it was very windy at Uluru and the rangers were obliged to delay opening the track for safety reasons causing a lot of consternation amongst the line of waiting visitors.
I have added some links to news articles about the closure below if anyone would like to read more about the subject.
Although you don’t hear it as much now the expression “Fair Dinkum” is one that most older Aussies know, even transplanted ones like me. Well, I have been here more than fifty years now.
Every country has its own slang words and expressions and often we use them without thinking how strange they probably sound to people from other parts of the world. My understanding of “dinkum” is that it means something is the real deal, for example, Crocodile Dundee was meant to represent a dinkum Aussie bloke.
An Aussie would say “Fair dinkum” to reinforce that what he/she was telling you was the truth or by changing the inflection use it as a question. “Fair dinkum?” (Is that true?”)
A long time ago I read a book called “They’re a Weird Mob”. It’s the story of an Italian journalist who is sent to Australia to write articles for an Italian magazine about Australia. Nino, the protagonist, thinks he speaks very good English but when he arrives in Sydney he finds he can hardly understand a word anyone is saying to him. Taking a job as a builders labourer he makes friends and gradually learns to think and speak like an Aussie. The author was, in fact, an Australian by the name of John O’Grady who wrote it in 1957. The book was made into a movie in 1966. Here’s a scene. Of course, it looks very dated now.
While I don’t entirely agree with O’Grady that migrants should forget their own culture and embrace that of their new home I did like the book very much. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts Naomi and I worked with many Europeans who came to Australia around the time that the book was written. I believe that our culture has benefited from them bringing some of theirs with them. It’s why we have a wine industry, restaurants serving food from all around the world and colourful fairs and festivals to enjoy. Those people’s children who were born in Australia and their grandchildren are as Australian as any of us.
I think that movies, television and social media have homogenised our language. Young people in Britain, Australia and the USA use more of the same words and expressions. Only the accents differ. I can’t help feeling that’s a little sad because I rather like “strine”.
It’s hard to believe that it is four years since the men’s Cricket World Cup was held in Australia and New Zealand. Although David was sick as the tournament began I was able to attend a match in Hobart and eagerly watched the matches in other states and in New Zealand on TV. This time around it is being held in England and Wales and I have subscribed to a sports channel for a month so I can watch it. I watch a game most evenings even if Australia is not playing; might as well get my money’s worth. As the matches start in the early evening our time and go on till 2 or 3 am I don’t always stay for the end, there are handy replays the next day. The format of the tournament is a bit different from the last time and I have rather missed seeing Scotland, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Zimbabwe although Afghanistan and Bangla Desh are participating. As it is summer in England it is, of course, raining a lot and several matches have been completely rained out which is a pity as it may affect the outcome. In the event of a washout, teams are awarded a point each. Australia has been lucky not to have had a match washed out so far. It is a shame for the fans at the ground who sit in the rain all day hoping for some cricket until the officials finally decide it is too late to play.
My photos are from matches that I attended at Blundstone Arena in Hobart in the past. I haven’t been to a match in a couple of years now and don’t know if I will ever be able to attend another.
Here is a more cheery post than I’ve done recently. Today is the first day of the Wooden Boat Festival in Hobart. It is only on once every two years so I didn’t want to miss it. As I was not sure if the bus would be running from Geeveston I opted to stay an extra day with Matt and Ally and go from their place leaving Matt to doggy sit Cindy.
I got a ride to town with Ally who had to work and arrived around 11:30am. Of course, as it was the first day, not all the boats had arrived and many were making their way into the harbour when I arrived. The tall ships that are usually on display were not due until the afternoon and unfortunately, I was not able to stay to see them.
There were still a lot of very nice ones to see though. Some were quite old but a lot of the ones that I saw were built in the last forty years. I’m sorry but I have a hard time thinking of something from the 1990s as old.
I walked around for a couple of hours taking photos of the ones that I liked best. It was already quite busy although still easy to get a seat in the food area where I stopped to get a baked potato for lunch. At this point, I thought I should check on Cindy and messaged Matt. He said that she had been howling a lot and of course I immediately felt guilty for leaving her and cut my visit short.
I did manage to take more than 50 photos though. Here are some of them.
Messing about in boats
MV Goolara built 1958
Pelican and Curlew two boats named for birds.
Brittania one of the older boats I saw.
Moored at Elizabeth St Pier
I thought that the man in this boat was called Gus but actually it is the name of the boat.
How could I resist joining in this challenge? The only local public transport we have around here is the bus but as a non driver I’ve used plenty of public transport while living in Adelaide and of course public transport is usually the easiest way to get around when you are visiting a large city.Here are some ways of getting around in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart.
I recently watched a program on television about Flying Scotsman being returned to service after a 10 year break. I saw the locomotive in 1988 when she was brought to Australia for our Bicentennial celebrations. Back then she was in her LNER livery with the number 4472. Now she is in British Rail livery with the number 60103 and smoke deflectors added.
This locomotive has appeared in different forms during her lifetime but I have to admit that for me apple green and 4472 are the real Flying Scotsman.
It didn’t seem much like summer on the first day of the Test Match between Australia and South Africa. The sky was overcast and there was no sign that the sun might appear any time soon. In fact there had been dire predictions that up to four days of the five-day match could be washed out.
Nevertheless I decided to buy a ticket for Day One and hoped that at least part of the day would be dry. I have a 100mm-300mm zoom lens for my camera which I have hardly used and I was looking forward to trying it out.
I was lucky enough to get a ride to Hobart with a friend that morning so I was there in good time and arrived at Blundstone Arena in Bellerive before the gates opened. This is my favourite time to be at the cricket, first thing in the morning on the first day of a Test Match because you can see the two teams warming up before the formalities begin.
At the ground
It always looks rather chaotic to me. The Australian team are a tangle of arms and legs as they run, skip and do stretches in one part of the ground while the South Africans seem to he having an enjoyable time kicking a soccer ball around in another. In the middle of the ground the ground staff hover with coverings for the wicket in case it starts to rain and nearby the Channel 9 commentators are doing their pitch report.
The Australian team, Blundstone Arena, Hobart
Grounds staff cover the wicket with hessian during a light shower.
Australia warming up 12/11/2016
The South Africans enjoy messing about with a soccer ball.
A tangle of arms and legs
The heavy covers go over the hessian if the rain is heavy or prolonged.
Former Australian Captain Michael Clarke watches the warm up.
Channel Nine commentators and former cricketers Ian Healy and Shane Warne.
I don’t recognise many of the players. Hashim Amla is the only South African I’m sure about and even some of the newer Australian players I’m not too familiar with. Two Australian players are in the team for the first time but at least I can recognise them because they are training in their brand new baggy green caps instead of the usual baseball cap. In these situations I generally opt to take as many photos as I can knowing that I will need to edit them later and I can check then to get names of anyone I haven’t recognised.
Note*: I know this blog gets a few visitors from South Africa so please accept my apologies if I have mis-identified any South African players and feel free to correct me.
Joe Mennie, new Australian fast bowler training in his brand new “Baggy Green”.
Nathan Lyon – Australian spin bowler.
Hashim Amla – South African batsman.
JP Duminy -South African batting all-rounder.
I do recognise a lot of the commentators. Most of the Channel 9 team have been working at the station for years and all of them are former players. I also spot a former South African player, Shaun Pollock, doing commentary for his national television station.
South African born former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen.
Former South African cricketer Shaun Pollock commentating.
Former Australian spin bowler Shane Warne.
After the coin toss to see who will bat first, the ” Welcome to Country” by the local indigenous community and the anthems play begins with Australia batting first. What a disaster that turned out to be as wickets are lost immediately with the opening batsmen getting out for one run each. In fact the whole morning is like that with the batsmen falling instead of the expected rain.
The South African Team
The Australian Team
At the lunch break the ground is filled with the Milo Into Cricket kids playing multiple games of cricket while the ground staff and their tractor also reappear in case of rain. There was a light sprinkle that sent the players off for about ten minutes but not the downpour everyone had been predicting
The Australians lasted for less than an hour after the lunch break before they were all out for 85, over half of those runs made by the Captain, Steve Smith, who ran out of partners in the end and was left unbeaten on 48. After a short break for the pitch to be rolled the South African innings commenced. The Australians who were now fielding received plenty of “advice” from the small but vocal crowd. Bellerive is a small ground and as Test Matches are not accompanied by constant rock music and other distractions it is easy to hear the hecklers. There was support too of course, whistles and cheers for the few boundaries and the usual chorus of “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi.” coming mainly from the wet area where some fans had their first beer soon after 9am.
Australian Opening batsmen David Warner and Joe Burns
The South African team walk out to field.
Quinton de Kock, South African Wicketkeeper.
A wicket is taken.
Australian fast bowler Mitchel Starc.
One of the South African opening batsmen.
End of Day One
I took a lot of photos but by 3pm I was feeling rather cold and as I didn’t want to miss the bus home to Geeveston I left. Of course as soon as I did the Australians took four wickets but they still ended day one badly behind. On the shuttle bus that took us back to the city the consensus seemed to be that we were rubbish but everyone had enjoyed their day at the cricket anyway.
For those who want to know what happened the rest of the match went like this:
Day One: Australia all out for 85. South Africa lose 4 wickets by close of play.
Day Two: It rained all day and there was no play whatsoever.
Day Three: South Africa regrouped and built up a big lead requiring Australia to make 241 runs just to make South Africa bat again. They are all out for 326 At the end of Day 3: Australia had lost two wickets.
Day Four: Australia was unable to make enough runs being all out for 161. South Africa won by an innings and 80 runs.
Day Five: Not required. Australian players, coaches and selectors tearing their hair out trying to work out how to improve before the next Test Match in Adelaide which starts on 24 November.
I took far too many photos to put in this post but if you would like to see more head over to my Flickr photo stream where I have a cricket album to see the best ones, well the ones I liked best anyway. As an exercise in photography I think it was a worthwhile day. I got used to handling my big lens and most of the photos in this post were taken with it on maximum distance. I cropped most of them and in most cases the results were acceptable. It was also a good opportunity to practice sports photography. I found that I could focus and press the shutter faster. Some photos were too blurry to be useful but as I took over a hundred during the course of the day I did expect that some would be no good. I probably missed more close up shots because I didn’t feel comfortable taking a photo if the person was looking at me. Allyson is much better at that type of photography than I am. To end this post I’m going to share a few more of the photos that she took at the Michael Clarke book signing the day before the Test Match began.