Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Bubble Gum Tree

It has a special name to the local murri people and it has a fancy latin one given to it by a long dead foreign botanist. It also has a simple name at the nursery if you want to plant your own. But I call it the Bubble Gum Tree. It's no gum tree though.

It stands about 5 meters (16 feet) and gets these masses of gorgeous blooms that smell redolent of bubble gum. Isn't it strange how a random, unexpected smell can suddenly transport you back in time to a treasured moment?

It might be a stranger's perfume or aftershave as you pass in the street, that print smell when you open a brand new novel or just the whiff of resin curing at the surfshop shaping bay. Then, snap! The brain flickers back into its data bank quicker than a hard drive searching for a lost jpeg. And bingo, an image appears briefly in your mind's eye - maybe shaping a board at home at 15 or in my case making a translucent skateboard with two layers of acrylic (perspex) sandwiched between several layers of fibreglass.

And yes, it did support my mass through some epic street runs.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Rusty x Rusty

"It's such a funny thing. 
Threats--like hurricanes 
and rectal exams--
are only scary until they arrive. 
Once they're over, 
they're just the basis for funny stories. 
But, you do nearly always survive them. 

And, if you didn't survive? 
It wasn't because of a lack of fear. 
Like I say
the universe doesn't particularly care 
whether you're scared."

The former gold field town of Marble Bar sits in the middle of nowhere and set a world record of most consecutive days of maximum temperatures of 37.8 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) or more, during a period of 160 such days from 31 October 1923 to 7 April 1924. Today, it braces for the fury of Category 4 Cyclone Rusty which stands 12 kms tall and is drenching the West with 120mm (5 inches) of rain per hour as it slowly ambles inland.
In the East, our adopted American son, Rusty Miller (above and below) is prepping for the annual Noosa Festival of Surf in a weeks time. Travel safe mate.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Auntie's Nest

Aunty has a priceless view of a little lake, the sea, the sand and the waves. Zealous real estate agents can't budge her from the nest she built 45 years ago when Ma and Pa Bendall rode The Point.
Aunty still walks her ageing joints on the gritty sands and inspects the fickle seas and is greeted respectfully by real locals when she shuffles up to the cafe for "a cuppa" tea with Nana Brine.
Aunty is still amazed on those special days when the fickle rock shelves, the tides and the cycles of nature's cyclonic fury combine with the cool morning airs rolling down from the ancient volcanic valleys inland to form fluid platforms for local veterans like Darryl Meredith.
And Aunty is once again a small girl sitting on the floor beside the wireless during the Great Depression listening intently to a story from her father, The Carpenter, about the time when he was a teenager, just after The Great War and he swam against this fella called The Duke who came here from far away and caught waves on a hunk of wood.
And she smiles to herself, thinking her dad was pulling her leg.
Surf pics by Brett Wortman courtesy of Darryl Meredith

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Monochrome Monday (50 shades of shed)

I'm pretty sure that if I surveyed my fellow commuters (surfers or not) on this bleak Monday, it would be a safe bet that the majority don't like Mondays. Despite the advances in education, literacy, hygiene, science, the aRts and technology, the modern mega-corporation is really no different to the feudal system of centuries yore, where a select few wielded massive power and the masses toiled away, out of sight and out of history's pages.
Except now, some of us who get two days off each week.
What's worse than saddling up to ride to work on a Monday after a great weekend away from the manipulative manoeuvres of the pseudo-sincere? How about having to saddle up after a weekend of one or a combination of the following: grief, depression, high blood pressure, grog, drug or tobacco abuse, post-traumatic syndrome?
Or what about being a middle-aged bloke and waking up on a Monday only to remember that you have no work to go to because you have recently become another statistic in the world's nihilistic short-sighted race for quick profits via outsourcing, down sizing and all manner of corporate conniptions, aka "increasing productivity". Or maybe, all of the above plus you are socially awkward or introverted.
I'm assuming here the surf is flatter than our hypothetical bloke's spirits, so stay with me as I untangle this thread of thinking. Into these situations a new Aussie phenomenon has been slowly courting an increasing number of sedentary and disengaged fellas. It's the humble, iconic men's shed.
The Shed has replaced the pub as the place for these men to connect, learn stuff and share feelings. "Crikey,  harden up, sunshine!", I hear you bellow in your best Paul Hogan voices. Maybe blokes are always tough and happy in your universe. So why don't the statistics reflect our culture of mateship and camaraderie? Despite what the advertising barons sell us, male suicide and untreated depression are way too high in The Lucky Country. Ar we too afraid to ask for help?
So if your Dad, Uncle, Grandpop, mate who got retrenched, brother-in-law accidentally falls through the safety net of mateship, put them in touch with The Shed online or in person. Additional information about these issues at Beyond Blue - a brilliant mob. Reclaim the stoke.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dark Ocean

My mate Nathan is a famous poet who lives at the foot of a bunch of old volcanoes. He's won national awards and published a stack of books but commutes a vast distance and works part-time to make ends meet.

His Dad used to work in a beef slaughter house to make ends meet before he became a famous painter of stuff like the one above called "Dark ocean of dark eyes with wind". ($12500 AU) and the one below called "Bullock and still life in a dark landscape" ($11000 AU). These are some of his works currently on exhibition at the prestigious Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, AUSTRALIA.

This tension between the creative life and the pragmatic necessity of putting food on the table every night reminds me of a quote from Nietzche roughly translated to mean:

"He who has a why to live for,
can bear with almost any how"


Monday, February 18, 2013


I often hear ringing in my ears when there's nothing really ringing. I'm assuming here there's no invisible Harry Potter's pranking me. Mainly my right ear. It penetrates my thoughts and day dreams unannounced. One minute I'm thinking about something deep and meaningful like "Why do I enjoy seemingly pointless activities like running, meditation, surfing?" I mean how stupid, pointless and time wasting is surfing? It's just a repetitive process of paddle out-catch wave-paddle out-catch wave-paddle out-catch wave (fall off)-curse at drop ins-catch wave-get skin cancer. 
Then, in mid thought, out of nowhere, this high pitched whirr will pierce my reflections. My ears start to hurt - well usually my right ear. Sometimes I get dizzy. It's nothing like the echoes of the past contained in a big seashell type of sound. It's more like a ghost of the Industrial Revolution - a mechanical sound. It's almost like I'm picking up short-wave static via the numerous mercury(!) amalgam fillings in my teeth. Maybe it's from too much loud live music?  Too much mobile phone? Wrong medication? Old age? Who knows.
Thankfully it departs for God-knows-where after a while.
Maybe I'll see the doctor.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Friday, February 15, 2013


"I always prefer to believe 
the best of everybody, 
it saves so much trouble."

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Pigs on the Wing (Pt1)

"music washes away from the soul
The dust of everyday life"
Berthold  Auerbach 

"If you didn't care what happened to me,
and I didn't care for you,
we would zig zag our way 
through the boredom and pain,
occasionally glancing up through the rain
wondering which of the buggers to blame
and watching for pigs on the wing."

Pink Floyd - Pigs on the Wing (Pt1)