The Motorcycle as Art

The Motorcycle as Art

The motorcycle has been used as a symbol in many ways;

the rebel,

the outlaw

the philosopher

The revolutionary

the freedom seeeker

the speed freak racer

the dare devil

and many more archetypes

The book Sons of Thunder in its anthology of writing covers many of these

To a rider their bike is a work of art

But as a public artform curated in an Art Gallery

This was special

The beautiful old Moto Guzzis took my eye

as the the Norton Commando and Laverda Joto-bikes I once owned

There were bikes so stylish

And bikes record breakingly fast

There were the off road bikes

And the electric bikes of the future

And my favourite – amazing hand built Britten

Still amongst the most innovative and eye catching bikes ever built

So if you love the image of motorbikes, the art of motorbikes and you are in Australia, head to the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane

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and if you go don’t forget to buy a tshirt!

Dreaming of Bunjil the Eagle and all eagles

Dreaming of Bunjil the Eagle and all eagles

The panorama from the Bunjil lookout at Maude north of Geelong takes in a valley in the Barabool Hills where the Moorabool river has cuts its path

Bunjil the Eagle is the dream time creator of the lands and the people that traditionally inhabited the land now known as Victoria Australia

Bunjil is depicted as a Wedge Tailed Eagle, Australia’s largest bird of prey

A majestic bird in flight

The lookout Bunjil Lookout is shaped like an eagle its powerful bill in front and the huge wingspan behind

Many decades ago the air over the Barabool hills would be full of soaring wedge tailed eagles but after years of European settlement the great bird is listed ad threatened in Australia

I parked my Moto Guzzi in front of the look out

The emblem of Moto Guzzi is the eagle, a mythical eagle inspired possibly by the Golden Eagles that live in the mountains that surround Lake Como, the home of Moto Guzzi.

And looking at the two emblems together I could not help but think of how eagles have inspired us through the ages from the Dreamtime of the oldest culture on earth to the modern machine age

And despite this inspiration, this fascination the awe which these mighty birds install in us

We don’t treasure them, but have hunted eagles over centuries, destroyed their habitat and threatened the beautiful birds that are so inspirational.

The old gold mining town of Steiglitz is an interesting stop to look at an old settlement village

And in contrast to the indigenous names of Barabool and Morrabool the is the sister villages of Maude, Meredith and Elaine the run from south to north through the hills.

A stop in Geelong for a coffee and the view over the bay that was created in the dreamtime by Bunjil the Eagle.

On the Umbrial Pass in the Stelvio Region of the Italian Alps

There is a memorial to the to the Italian Aviators of WW1

And at the crown of the monument is the Golden Eagle in flight

Carlo Guzzi and his co-founders of Moto Guzzi were veterans of the Italian WW1 airforce.

And maybe that is their affinity with the eagle and how it found its way to being the emblem of the Moto Guzzi motorcycle.

Melbourne Lockdown Reflections 13 (the last)- New Delhi

Melbourne Lockdown Reflections 13 (the last)- New Delhi

Arriving in New Delhi on 1 December 2008 for a first visit to India was more chaotic that was to be expected.

It was only 5 days after the the 2008 Mumbai Attacks, which when added to the massive construction program, that was being undertaken for the 2010 Commonwealth Games there was a special craziness in the city and its people.

I wondered if seeing Shiva the Destroyer looming over the city was a strange omen.

There was a level of wariness as well

Evidenced in the usually bustling Koral Bagh area of the city where most of the shops were shuttered and only a few street vendors were plying their trade.

The heavy smog and often frantic foot, car and tuk tuk trafic made photography a real challenge.

As did the heavy military presence at this time.

Like many capital cities New Dehli in its architecture give hints of the history of the country.

From the Minaret at the old fort from the time of the Mughal Empire from the long period of the Mughal domination.

The British Colonial, Presidents Palace and Arch of Triumph, from the high period of British colonialism

But most impresive

Was the understated Mahatma Gandhi memorial or Raj Ghat

A quiet and peaceful place is a busy noisy city.

A place emblematic of India as an independent nation.

Today is the last day of the Melbourne lockdown.

Over 4 months of restricted movement, stay of home orders and not seeing friends and family.

With now 9 days straight of zero infections and zero deaths from Covid 19 the restrictions are eased and the lockdown of the City of Melbourne finished

So the Mighty Breva has been serviced and loaded and ready for a weeks adventure in country Victoria

Along the coast, over the mountains and along the by ways.

Stay tuned!!!!

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Lockdown Reflections 12 – Agra, India

Agra is the home of marvels none greater than the Taj Mahal

In some ways it overwhelms the other significant sites of Agra

So lets save it for last and start with the Tomb of Akbar

Akbar the Great led a huge expansion of the Mughal Empire and built both its military and economic strength.

Akbar arguably took the Mughal Dynnasty from Warlords to Emperors ruling over lands from Uzbekistan in north and well into southern India in the south and to Bangladesh in the east.

Coming by road from New Delhi to Agra the Tomb of Akbar is the significant monument you will come to first as you enter Agra

The Red Fort or Agra fort was the residence of the Mughal Dynasty

The Fort is better described as a walled city given its huge size

But the huge fortifications are definitely fort like

Inside the fortifications the remains of the sumptuous apartments give an indication of the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by the Emporors who resided here

The Fort became a prison for one emporor Shah Jahan, who had commissioned the Taj Mahal, the tribute to his wife who had died.

While the Emperor was ill his youngest son seized power, imprisoning Shah Jahan, in a wing of the fort

From where he could peer out at the tribute to the love of his life and mother of his captor

The Taj Mahal – the tomb of Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of Shah Jahan.

As you walk through the entrance gates you can not be taken by the beauty of the Taj Mahal

I’m sure Ive read it is the most beautiful building in the world and from my first sight I can not fault that claim

From afar

From every angle it is truly an awe inspiring building

Up close the detail of the carving in the marble and the inlay work is breath taking

The view from the main deck of the Taj Mahal back to the main gate one surveys the opulence of the grounds.

And of course I could not help but admire the beautiful colours that are India

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Lockdown Reflections 4 – Rift Valley Lakes, Ethiopia

Hippo in Lake Chamo

Lake Chamo

South of Addis Ababa, running down from Ethiopia’s central plateau is the Rift Valley

Near the city of Arba Minch is Lake Chamo the last of 8 lakes in the Rift Valley running south from Addis Ababa.

From points in Abar Minch you can look over Lake Chamo and Lake Abaya

Abar Minch is a great stepping off point to explore the tribal south of Ethiopia and the Bale mountains.

But a boat ride on Lake Chamo is a must before heading south.

To see the Nile Crocodile nursery

To see the African Pelicans. These birds migrate up into the Danube Delta in Romania for the European summer (see Danube Delta blog under Romania in the menu).

See the fishermen casting for Nile Perch just around the corner from the crocodile nursery

Till the sun starts to set on the beautiful lake.

Lake Awasa

Awassa and its lake are approximately 290 km south of Addis Ababa and a well serviced tourist destination.

At a bit over 1,700 meters above sea level Awasa retains the mild temperatures that are a feature of Ethiopia’s Central Plateau.

The colourful fishing boats and fish market is an attraction of Lake Awasa

As is the wild life in particular the Marabou Stalk, particularly in and around the fish market (see above)

But also:

Sea Eagles

King Fishers large and small,

Jacana and

Colobus monkeys on the lake shoreline.

The area around Awasa is very productive

With abundant fresh fruits

And lots of coffee being grown dried and sorted in the region.

Because Ethiopia is the home of coffee.

The Awasa Valley is also where Lucy the skeletal remains of a 3.2 million year old hominin were found.

The reconstructed skeleton of Lucy is on display in the National Museum of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopia is an amazing country. One of a handful of countries never to be colonised by a European power. (Though there has been significant European presence and influence).

Unfortunately political tensions have again arisen which hopefully be resolved.

I leave my lockdown reflections of Ethiopia now.

Next reflections in Africa will be in Kenya and the amazing wildlife there.

For those wanting to find out more about Ethiopia I recommend the above book amazing research text and images.

Lockdown Reflections 3 – Ethiopia’s Tribal South

Lockdown Reflections 3 – Ethiopia’s Tribal South

The Omo River valley is the centre of the tribal area of Ethiopia

The south east of Ethiopia near where the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan meet is home to a group of mainly nomadic tribes

It is largely a very traditional part of Ethiopia with numerous tribes, mainly nomadic, living in the highlands and valleys surrounding the Omo River

If visiting the part of the Ethiopia the South Omo Research Centre Museum, Which is a German/Ethiopian collaboration provides awonderful introduction to the tribes and their cultures in the Region

Outside the museum

Not far from Jinka along one of the dirt roads that connect villages

Roads which the walking paths through the landscape

Is the small market village of K’ey Afer which on market day is abuzz with colour and activity

Selling spices and earthenware

And cattle and sheep

K’ey Afer is n the Hamar tribal area

Each tribe is distinctive in clothing hairstyle and custom. Some tribes are less welcoming to tourists that others.

Like all traditional cultures though there is a challenge to of maintaining custom in the face of western society encroachment

Up in the mountains

Is the land of the Mursi, a warrior tribe and visiting without prior approval is not advised

The Omo River winds its south toward Lake Turkana which is the largest permanent desert lake and largest alkaline lake in the world.

This southern part of Ethiopia is very hot, dry and dusty a significant contrast to the cool moistness of the central plateau.

This is Dassanetch country and these nomadic herders land has traditionally spanned the borders of Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan

The simple housing reflective of the nomadic existence of the Dassanetch

There are over a dozen tribes in the South Omo Zone

Others include the Borani, Banna Surmu and others

All culturally and physical distinctive in their own ways.

It is nearly 13 years since visiting this part of Ethiopia and even then the tribal life here was under threat. – Like traditional life in all continents.

Since this time the Omo River has been dammed and resettlement from the more populous parts of Ethiopia into this Zone has accelerated.

All this presents a survival challenge for these traditional tribes , their culture and way of life

Sailing Ships upon the Sea

Sailing Ships upon the Sea

1988 Hobart to Sydney Tall Ship Race

There is a certain romanticism of billowing sails carrying great ships across the sea

Distant shores unexplored

Harnessing the power of the wind

The power to cross vast oceans

The clouds of billowing sails

Masts reaching for the sky.

Ships from all parts of the world

Oman and the exotic east

The new world of the Americas

The old continents of Europe and Africa

These sailing giants covered the globe

As a young man I read and read Joseph Conrad and dreamt of the sea

My mind full of imaginary adventures in distant and exotic ports

The exotic ports of the trade winds in Lord Jim

The loneliness of being at sea and the weight of command in The Secret Sharer

The power of the weather and the sea in Typhoon

To be amongst the tall ships and the sailing tales of the crew

To sail away

Tech Note

These images were captured during the 1988 Hobart to Sydney Tall Ship Race on colour transparencies. I have rephotographed these with my digital camera using an Emora slide copier extension tube attached to the my camera lens.

Lockdown Reflections 2 – The Historic North of Ethiopia

Lockdown Reflections 2 – The Historic North of Ethiopia

Traditional Amhara music on the shores of Lake Tana, Bahir Dar

The capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa sits pretty much in the centre of Ethiopia.

Addis Ababa (New Flower in English) was created as the capital by King Menelik II, the creator of modern Ethiopia, in 1886

North of Addis Ababa to the Eritrean border and to the Danakil Depression is termed the Historical North

It is the area which has most interaction with European culture and hence a region that is significantly Christian with cities that formed as their capitals.

It is also where we find Aksum the centre of the Kingdom of Aksum with a history reaching back to 4 BC

Ethiopian history extends from the Iron Age to Rastafarianism and beyond to much for this blog but worth a exploration.

Aksum

The Stelae of Axum are monuments to past Kings of Aksum the largest and most impressive from the 3rd and 4th century AD.

Some of the simpler Stelae are older

A short drive from Aksum is Yeha

The Lion of Yeha providing an geological marker

The remains of the Temple of Yeha is Ethiopia’s oldest standing structure. Estimated to be built in 700 BC

In the nearby monastery there are relics from Pagan times reflecting times when The Ibex and the sun and moon were sacred

And beautifully illustrated Christian manuscripts

Lalibella

Lalibella is a medieval city famous for its rock hewn churches built around the 12th century by the then King Lalibella.

There are 11 rock hewn churches in Lalibella

The most famous of which is the Church of St George (below)

The churches are also noted for their rock star clergy

Aksum and Lallibella are considered the most holy sites in Ethiopia and both are UNESCO world heritage listed and as such are the highlights of the Historic North of Ethiopia

Gondar is the stepping off city to explore the Simien Mountains and has its own treasures – in churches

and in the Castle

Bahar Dar is rounds out the main stops in the Historic North

With the beautiful Lake Tana which is the source of the Blue Nile

These are reflections of years past travelling in my mind during the Covid -19 lockdown in Melbourne

Reflective travelling in my mind!

LOCKDOWN Melbourne, Australia -finding the place within.

LOCKDOWN Melbourne, Australia -finding the place within.

Jawbone marine reserve, Williamstown

In many ways a severe COVID-19 lockdown is about finding oneself

In ones own environ

Reconnecting and finding peace within

I grew up 5 or 6 km from where I live now

We were A Bunch of Ratbags

Back in the rough industrial suburb of Footscray 

And as a kid I ride my bicycle to the City of Williamstown

To look across at the City of Melbourne and dream.

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Walk along the old piers looking at the boats and dreaming of adventures in distant lands

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Now this area is my home and Im back from adventures in distant lands

And am again cycling by the waterside, sometimes dreaming and often appreciating the beauty of the place

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The mighty ships coming up the Yarra River to port the ever present reminder of modern industry

So different  to the time when the ball on the Time Ball Tower was raised and lowered so the waiting ships could set their chronometers.

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Riding along the trail over the weeks of the restrictions I see and experience the moods of the slowly changing hours, weeks and months

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Lost in the winter fogs

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Feeling stranded like the boat at low tide

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Rejoicing in the joy of a clear winters day the bear cloudless sky reflected in the still waters of the creek estuaries

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Clear but cold with the beach all but empty apart from some hardy souls walking on the sand or buying a hot coffee.

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Sometimes having to ride home hard in the cold chill of a waning day

The trail I ride is about 15km its like a meditation as my legs move to the rhythm of the trail.

The same trail but everyday different.

Lost in the place and its beauty.

Travel Vaccines and reflections of Africa – The Simien and Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

Travel Vaccines and reflections of Africa – The Simien and Bale Mountains, Ethiopia

 

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If you have travelled to Africa it is most likely you would have been required to have a yellow fever vaccination – still required in many countries

I got my Yellow Card, proof of vaccination 20 years ago on my first trip to the African Continent.

Being in the Melbourne, Australia COVID 19 lockdown it is a good chance to reflect on the need for vaccination and travel and the relationship between the two.

The Simien Mountains

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The Simien Mountains are a World Heritage alpine area in the North of Ethiopia

Its also called the water tower of East Africa providing the source for the Blue Nile

The Blue Nile provides 80% of the water that reaches Egypt, flowing through Sudan where it meets with the White Nile to form the Nile River

 

With peaks up to 4,550 metres within the vast sprawling alpine range

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A range of deep gorges, rugged peaks and waterfalls plummeting thousands of metres

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The Simiens have unique flora and fauna

Such as the Giant Lobelia

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The endemic Gelada (or bleeding heart baboon) and Olive baboons

And if you look closely a Walia Ibex

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It was a three night trek through the Simiens

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Camping in the Alps

Amazing sunsets and the high plateau

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And watching the moon rise over the cliff tops from the gorges

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The Bale Mountains

The Simien Mountains are in the North East of Ethiopia and the Bale Mountains in the South East

Almost bookends at each end of the Ethiopian Central Highlands

The Simiens in the Amhara Region and the Bale in the Oromia Region

The Bale Mountains are drier less dramatic that the northern bookend

These mountains are the catchment for the Jubba River system

Which flows across Ethiopia and Somalia to the Indian Ocean

The Bale Mountains are more easily accessed than the Simiens

Far better for catching sightings of the Ethiopian Wolf

And the amazing bird life

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Also In the Bale Provence toward the Somalian Border is are the Sof Omar Caves

Its well over a decade since I travelled in these mountains with my family.

And yes a vaccine for Yellow Fever was compulsory

Maybe compulsory vaccinations will be more widespread for travellers in the future given COVID-19