Weekly Photo Challenge: Forward

23 02 2013

Pause. Step forward.  You’re about to walk the labyrinth.  There is one path in and the same path out.  It’s very much like life.  Step into the Labyrinth – it offers you time to relax, consider, ponder life.  Walk forward slowly, deliberately.  You’ll end up in the centre and have a grand view of where you’ve been.  There at twists and turns along the way.  Some are sweeping bends while others flip you one way and then another, keeping you far from your goal.  You seem to get closer and closer then double back on yourself and go the other way.  Move forward.  You’ll get there.  There is no short cut.  Keep going.

Labyrinth: St George's Cathedral.  Perth, Western Australia.

Labyrinth: St George’s Cathedral. Perth, Western Australia.

This isn’t the best labyrinth I’ve walked but it was convenient.  When I worked in the city centre, I discovered this at the back of the Anglican Cathedral and walked it one lunchtime.  It is based on the Chartres Cathedral pattern which was constructed in the 13th century.

For more on the Weekly Photo Challenge – visit the Daily Post at WordPress


Darwin community markets

21 02 2013

Since moving to Darwin in the Northern Territory, we’ve enjoyed sampling the various wares at the local weekend markets.  The food stalls offer a fantastic variety of fresh specialty dishes from from Vietnam, Thailand, France, Japan, China, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Malaysia and more.  We’re slowly working our way through the Laksa, curries, vege noodles, rice paper rolls, broth and soup combinations, tofu and dim sum.  It is quite a treat and as we’re in a new place it is even easier to try different and ‘new’ things that we would have usually passed by.

The markets also have a range of fresh vegetables and fruit with a particularly tropical and south-east asian influence.  Tropical fruits and iced tropical fruit smoothies are popular and prolific in the heat, as are the fresh greens for a quick home-made stir fry.

I love the laid back atmosphere at the markets.  It has a really friendly and vibrant feel with so many cultures represented.   People are out and about, starting their weekend with some homegrown music and a wander through the spicy stalls, all buzzing with patrons patiently waiting (sometimes in the rain).  Mindil Beach Markets (in the Dry) offer a fantastic spot to sit and watch the sunset.  The rain doesn’t keep anyone away though, with the Parap Markets on every weekend even during The Wet.  Saturday is not Saturday any more without a Laksa!!!

19 February 1942 – War in Australia

17 02 2013

The Bombing of Darwin, 1942.

As a new resident in Darwin, I’m learning about this important day in Australia’s history and I’m disappointed to realised that is was not part of my school curriculum.  I grew up with a basic and brief understanding of World War II in the context of Europe and the Pacific war, but didn’t know that Australia had been bombed over and over and over again.  Here’s what I’ve found so far.  I must say, it makes really fascinating reading and coupled with visiting the remaining sites around town, is quite humbling.

Commemorating the Bombing of Darwin.  Cenotaph on the Esplanade.

Commemorating the Bombing of Darwin. Cenotaph on the Esplanade.

Under the command of Captain Misuo Fuchida, Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbour USA on 7 December 1942.  The task force was led by Vice-Admiral Nagumo Chuichi.  Once the damage had been done, he ordered Captain Fuchida to turn his aircraft carriers towards Australia. A week later, there was an order to evacuate Darwin as the Japanese campaign advanced through South East Asia and cut off the sea lanes to Australia. Over the next month, Japan advanced on Malaya and the Dutch East Indies.The British stronghold at Singapore fell to the Japanese on 15th of February. With all eligible Australian men deployed to Europe to fight the World War, Australia was under grave threat and only military personnel and civilians who provided essential services (Police, Post Office, Telegraphy, Communications, Nurses) stayed to man their Darwin posts. An invasion was anticipated at any moment which would mean a bloody struggle fought on Australian soil, city by city, village by village.  It must have been horrendous.


Four days after Singapore fell,  on the morning of 19th of February 1942, Misuo Fuchida stationed his four air-craft carriers in the Arafura Sea, fresh from the devasation at Pearl Harbour.  They each carried 27 fighter planes and 54 bombers and launched, one by one. A radio report came through from Bathurst Island, just north of Darwin. Father John McGrath, a missionary on Bathurst Island 70km north of Darwin, reported “An unusually large air formation bearing down on us from the NorthWest.Identity suspect, visibility not clear”.  Ten US KittyHawk aircraft had left Darwin to fly over Timor and were due to return that morning, so the warning was ignored.  Everyone assumed it was the US pilots in formation. It was just before 10am.  There was hardly any time to sound a warning. People in Darwin initially thought the Americans had sent help – more planes ready to defend Darwin!!  188 planes were in the sky and the bombs began to drop.

Japanese "Zero" fragment.  Australian Aviation Heritage Museum: Darwin. NT.

Japanese “Zero” fragment. Australian Aviation Heritage Museum: Darwin. NT.

The Darwin Port was crammed with 45 naval vessels, merchant navy ships, American destroyers and Australian vessels.The port was destroyed, 20 military planes were destroyed, 14 ships damaged, 8 ships sunk, hundreds killed and injured. Oil spilled into the harbour and set the water on fire.  There was no escape.  Gwenda Hansen worked as a secretary at the Qantas Airways Office when the first bomb fell.  “We dashed out of our glass fronted office to go to ground”, she said. Ground was the nearest gutter.“We saw a bomb hit the lovely old sandstone post office.  During a lull we set out to run there to see if we could help anyone, but the planes came over again and we dived flat in the nearest paddock”.

Kitty-Hawk - strafed.  Australian Aviation Heritage Museum. Darwin NT.

Kitty-Hawk – strafed. Australian Aviation Heritage Museum. Darwin NT.

Darwin’s Parliament House now stands on the site of the old Post Office where nine civilians lost their lives as their slit trench took a direct hit.Over the course of half an hour, 71 medium bombers, 81 dive bombers and 36 fighters decimated Darwin – the harbour, airfield, communications centre and major facilities.All but one of the returning KittyHawks was shot down.

The raid lasted just over half an hour.

An hour later, the Japanese returned again, another raid of destruction.

There was another 63 bombing raids on Australia over the next two years.

Unknown civilian loss - 19 Feb 1942 - Adelaide River War Cemetery. NT.

Unknown civilian loss – 19 Feb 1942 – Adelaide River War Cemetery. NT.

Lest we Forget.

References for this blog post:
Japan on the Doorstep
Federation Frontline: A secondary school resource
The National Archives of Australia – the Bombing of Darwin
The Battle for Australia
The Bombing of Darwin

Contemplative Photography 16

17 02 2013

My approach to contemplative photography (or Miksang) has been quite intuitive. I’ve read everything I can find and am developing my ‘eye’ but it’s hard to describe miksang without it sounding like a riddle.  I’ve had a break recently and it is interesting to observe the process of “getting my eye back”, as I call it.  It really is about seeing things in a certain way.

Miksang, or contemplative photography is more of an ‘approach’ or a ‘way’ rather than a set of rules. To me (and remember I’m only learning), it is about going out with an open heart, open eye and open mind. I clear out judgement and expectation and just see freshly and clearly. Think about your trip to work each morning. Whether it is a drive, train trip or walk to your office, there are things you pass every day without even noticing. Miksang helps you notice all around you and see them, without judgement.

Here is something that caught my eye.  It captured me, evoked a feeling.  That’s when I know I’m onto something.  I connect with it somehow.  Although it might seem mundane, this pic is full of pattern, shape, form, lines, light, shadow, colour and order.

The urge to order

The urge to order

There’s also disorder, and I find that it’s the disorder that evokes something in me – questions and wonder,  annoyance, an urge to order and reshuffle, eventually I’m settled and like it.  At first I love the neat stacking but something about the red crates being placed in arbitrary positions is jarring.  I think they should be neater somehow.  But then again – why?  does it matter? does it change their purpose? make them more useful?  Is it any of my business?  Why am I so judgemental?  Can I just let it go?  They’re just crates.  Interesting isn’t it?  Miksang leads you out of yourself and then back through yourself.  You examine a scene, and it examines you too – if you let it.

In Miksang, I don’t try to find a ‘better angle, I don’t zoom, I don’t crop, edit, straighten or do any post editing. I shoot what I see. What you see is what I saw and what captured me. Hopefully the shot shows you things that capture my eye, my heart, my mind.  So that’s where I am on my journey into Miksang.  I hope you give it a go as well – enjoy the journey.

If you’d like to find out more about Miksang and the art of Contemplative Photography, check out these links:

Miksang Institute for Contemplative Photography
Miksang Society for Contemplative Photography

Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss

16 02 2013

This week’s challenge, is KISS.  When I was little, my lovely Fairy Godmother bought me an inflatable seagull at the seaside.  Why?  Because I wanted one, I screamed my head off and she is my Aunt.  Little did I know that she would repeat the treat some thirty-odd years later and send me one all the way from the UK, with lots of love.   It’s the little things isn’t it?

Mwa mwa Mr Seagull

Mwa mwa Mr Seagull

My Beautiful Fairy Godmother

My Beautiful Fairy Godmother

Look with your eyes open

11 02 2013
At the end of the day - sunset at East Point Reserve: Darwin. Northern Territory.

At the end of the day – sunset at East Point Reserve: Darwin. Northern Territory.

Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore.  An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, “What did I really see this day?”

John O’Donohue, Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

Weekly Photo Challenge: Home

9 02 2013

I’ve never really felt ‘at home’.  I’ve lived in lots of houses and spent most of my life living in one city but rarely felt ‘at home’ in a place. I wonder what it is like to feel at home somewhere?  Is it tied to a place?  A person? A feeling?  I’m not sure.

This challenge comes at a very interesting time for me.  I’ve just moved house, city and state, changed jobs and moved from the south west of Australia to the Central North coast, in the tropics.  It’s vastly different.  I’m homesick, but it’s not for a place.  I just have sense of yearning, longing for some connection, to feel whole, to feel full, to belong, to feel content but not bored.  As I don’t have a ‘place’ that feels like home, I went through my photos to find some images that made me feel whole.  These images remind me of a time that I felt the most alive, the most settled, clear, and connected with my core. Maybe that’s what it’s like to feel at home?   In the process I’ve realised that I feel most at home when I’m out in nature.  Whether it is hot or cold, I feel most ‘at home’ when I’m away from the bustle of a city and connected to the earth.  I love to feel its rhythm and voice, the raw elements of earth, air and water.  Rocks, trees, flowers and creatures complete the picture.  I am at home in the quiet, natural rhythm of the earth.

For more about the Weekly Photo Challenge, check out The Daily Post.

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