Brisbane; it’s a beautiful city, a great climate. The clouds here billow and pillow in the summer, and the air is heavy in the afternoon, but not as oppressive as in the real tropics. The cloudscapes are spectacular.
There’s only the slightest bit of exaggeration in this – the sky really did look that way.
At least when my sons are with me, a visit to Brisbane means the thrill of the Maritime museum, where the photo above was taken. All this rigging and rust isn’t so heady for me, but the Diamantina is a lot of fun to wonder about on. It feeels like a relic too – all those steep marine steps, and not a skingle OH+S officer in site, and very few ares off-limits.
We were lucky today as a replica of the Duyfken, a Dutch Galleon from the 1600s was in town, and we got to explore it with a very knowledgable guide who was very generous with his time. It was the most beautiful, hand-crafted vessel. It was a guess, an estimate, recreated from one tiny engraving, records of the original’s dimensions and a limited amount of documentation. A mixture of history, romance and imagination masquerading as the authentic experience. If this seems curious, then it is because of the nature of authenticity rather than this instance of it. It was a superb experience, going below these decks.
Still, a 16th Century Dutch galleon that was legally required to have modern liferafts and fly the the Australian red ensign…
We also got to the “big” museum. I paid my regular visit to my favourite exhibits, if favourite is the right word.
Upstairs, there is an extensive collection of Aboriginal artifacts. There are many form my area. These everyday objects that were used in daily life are more touching to me than any historical account. They are also mysterious. And beautiful, redolent of an aesthetic that is so unfamiliar. The shield from Rockhampton has an angular design, like a capital letter E and it’s mirror image joined back-to-back. The Mackay conterpart was similar, but more angular, like the ABC sign on its side. So many questions – was this similarity a coincidence? Was the similarity due to the proximity of the two tribes? Or was each one unique?
The mainstreaming of the Central Desert art style has created apop cultural impression of “Aboriginal Art”, but it is a particular not a generic style. These Queensland artefacts seem more melancholy somehow sincce they look so alien to me. Which of course they are. Not quite so to a kid who proudly told us of his Aboriginal heritage, and was just thrilled by the nets, clubs and spears. I wondered if he’ll see a different side to them when he was my age. I hope they are always a celbration to him.
There was also time for a quick look at the taxidermic remnant of the Paradise Parrot. If you followed that Wiki link, know that the actual specimen is so much more colourful and beautiful than the pictures. It’s so sad to see something amazing that used to be here, but isn’t. And the information card gives it a nice O of distribution on the map of Queensland that flows right over where I live. To think, these birds were where I am, but are now nowhere.
Greetings from Brisbane, everyone.
By the way, the irony of me writing something that seems to equate an extinction and a human tragedy is not lost on me. And i even drew a diagram. How Victorian of me. No, wait, this is Queensland, Victoria isn’t until Monday.