Just before 10am on 19th February 1942, 152 bombers and a fighter escort of 36 Mitsubishi A6M Zeros appeared above Darwin Harbour. A second wave arrived two hours later. To this day, nobody knows exactly how many people were killed in the bombing of Darwin. A report the following month found at least 242 died, but much higher estimates have been offered. There is a widespread, but probably untrue, belief that the wartime government covered up the extent of the destruction. Early newspaper stories and official statements gave very low death tolls, but these reflected the figures Canberra had at […]
These days rattle against a sense I’ve always prized, of some certainty in life. Something to count on. Beyond dying of course, though that now seems a part of this greater chaos. It is hard to muster hope. Harder still to plan in a way that might encourage it. But we push on. Work—if we are lucky enough to have it between times cities lock shut, dashing jobs like shattered glass—seems a strange half shadow of itself. Similar motions, to similar ends, but hollowed from the core as we sit at home no longer in creative company. Going through the […]
I’ve done what I love doing most of my life. I’ve been very fortunate in this way. When I worked as a journo and photographer, I found my calling working with NGOs. I could work without a translator as I speak at least four languages fluently, and I had great connections, also known as ‘fixers’, who took me where I wanted to go without having to worry about who was picking up the tab. Like most journos, finding time to apply for funding is hard, to say the least. Although grant applications to fund journalistic work aren’t as complicated as […]
In June of this year I moved back, temporarily, to Sydney. I say moved ‘back’ because I lived in Sydney as a teenager and in my early twenties: 12 of my 38 years, with the remainder spent in regional Victoria and Melbourne. But Sydney marked me formatively. It’s brutal and beautiful. I feel nostalgic for it but I also remember how it felt to struggle here. I remember why I left. I haven’t moved back to the Sydney I remember. In some ways that would be impossible; more than 15 years have passed and cities, particularly ones you have nostalgia […]
On Australia’s ‘Day of Shame’, after the release of the Brereton Report, there was much talk of ‘warrior culture’ and ‘bad apples’. Sir Galahad, shining exemplar of warrior culture, never burnt villages or murdered children, but ‘bad apples’ has more of a ring of truth if applied to the few soldiers who take pleasure in killing. The uncomfortable phrase ‘blood lust’ rarely gets a mention, in spite of a nod in that direction in the Brereton Report.
Was not the world a vast prison, and women born slaves? Was I a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? May I not witness your grief? Am I not your friend? Art thou not tired, and beaten with stripes, even as I am? Who buys a minute’s mirth to wail a week? Joy?
My parents chastised my brothers and me because we grew too quickly. The lifespan of a shoe was a fixed length that they could not reduce to suit the size of our feet. Our clothes, always second hand, fitted us poorly and we often went hungry, so it makes sense that memories of food are the strongest of my childhood. We ate damper smothered with butter and Vegemite.
I. Like curved eggs, they stoop & I have seen this before at the end of a film, the immigrant family varnishes the door of their American Dream. The Deck Staining DIY Kit™ includes paint & brush & plastic tray but they begin by kneeling & saying amen with the split ends of ngaa coi II. when I caught lice in Arthur’s Pass my mother scrubbed my hair on hands & knees, crushed each swollen body until I dreamt of shelling peanuts. Now, she is waterblasting the deck’s splintered face. Cleaning is a matter of violent transfiguration. III. […]