Friday, September 15, 2017


Over the past month or so I've been watching a television program on SBS called Great British Railway Journeys and this is what primarily inspired me to take day trips on our Victorian Railway system. Although Michael Portillo has his Bradshaw's to guide him to the most interesting historic buildings & he sleeps overnight in grand hotels, I've been somewhat limited in what I can see and do as a pedestrian. Nevertheless, on Wednesday I took a longer ride to Geelong on a comfortable VLine train. Choosing to board the 'quiet' carriage I rather enjoyed the hour or so journey through the vast expanse of flat terrain dotted with trees and sheep. As we neared Geelong I saw some amazing structures, some constructed through human hands, other formed in nature. I'm fairly sure that one of the structures was the Shell Oil Refinery and the other, the old whiskey distilling plant.

However, the structure that was most compelling was a stretch of granite rocks that spread across the horizon like a naked giant asleep in a depth of dreams. I took as many photographs of it through the window as the train throttled along and the trees along the route insisted on inhibiting my view. It was absolutely magical seeing this large undulating form and I immediately thought of Devil's Tower, that wonderful rising rock in the science fiction film 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'. It was as if that rock was calling to me and I vowed to make some drawings of it on my return home (I've already began one using prismacolor pencils).
It was only when I visited the Geelong Gallery and saw the major exhibition of Fred Williams entitled 'The You Yangs' that I realised what I'd seen. You Yang comes from the aboriginal words Wurdi Youang, meaning big mountain in a plain and it is certainly that. I wanted to return to Lara and take the half hour walk to the foot of the granite rock, but time and the inclement weather stopped me. After all, I'd come to see the bay and it was magnificient.
I walked to the end of Cunningham Pier, holding onto the rails because the wind was fierce towards the far end. I walked back along the developed forshore over to the cluster of fishing boats and I sat amazed at the color of the water that appeared so deep even at the water's edge.
Geelong is lovely, probably the most enjoyable coastal place I've been over the past few weeks and I already feel it calling me to return.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Pier at Altona Beach. Photo: Julie Clarke (c)2017

The reasonably pleasant spring weather last Saturday inspired  me to take a short trip to the end of the Alamein line. A train ride from Hawthorn Station with a change at Camberwell. I'd been to Ashburton before and knew there wasn't really anything much to see except the surrounding trees, so I ventured along the Walking Trail and took some photographs, all the while promising myself that I'd go somewhere else as soon as the weather improved.
I finished reading Kris Hemensley's book Your Scratch Entourage this morning and underlined  passages I appreciated, then decided that, given the Bureau of Meteorology had forecast 19C degrees, sunny with patches of rain for Melbourne, that I'd go to Altona Beach where I lived for a short period of time between the ages of eleven and thirteen.
I rode the tram to St. Vincent's Hospital and then the 402 bus to Footscray Staton, where I caught the train to Altona. I struck  up a conversation with the coolest young man on the  station who was going to the Star Theater in Yarraville to see IT (which I saw last week). His name was Billy and I doubt whether he'll remember the name of this blog, but I said I'd mention him as he and I have the habit of seeing films by ourselves.
I was looking forward to seeing the beach and in particular the pier (as I had swam the length of it when I was eleven). I also wanted to see St. Mary's Primary school near the station (that I attended in years 5 and 6) and the house in Civic Parade where I'd lived with my two siblings and grandmother. 
Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Whilst I was on the train I was surprised when it approached Seaholme that it was in such proximity to the Altona Oil Refinery, which parents and teachers had made us fear back then, with their stories about fine particles spewed into the air and strange odors obviously (they thought) attributed to some concealed accident at the refinery. To my eyes and everyone else the refinery was a small structure in the distance, but whose intermittent  siren sound would be carried  on the wind and fall not so gently upon our ears.
Part of Altona Oil Refinery (photo taken through train window). Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
And here it was, not so far away from the railway tracks as the train throttled towards it and then just as suddenly as the refinery became closer the train slowed as if not wanting to wake the giant structure with its long, tall pipe and flame that seemed to, even now herald possible disaster.
Part of Altona Oil Refinery. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Why is the word 'possible' so potent, all these fears locked together in an embrace with all other possible or real disasters?  Yesterday was 11 September and I had thoughts but briefly about associations as I photographed all that was possible as its exoskeleton spread thick amidst an expanse of vacant land.
It looks futuristic to me. Altona Oil Refinery. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I found the oil refinery, with its knotted pipes and abstract forms aesthetically pleasing, so much so that when I walked from the station down to the beach, Hobson's Bay's slumbering seaweed decoratively gracing the sand, appeared benign. Perhaps I've seen too many science fiction films, but the oil refinery looked futuristic to me. Still, it was the beach I'd spent much time at when I was young and I appreciated walking along the pier and seeing Point Cook on the distant horizon.
View of Point Cook in the distance. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
The best thing about the old pier with its uneven wooden slats underfoot was the pylons that reminded me of the graveyard of those that lie beyond the old Princess Pier at Port Melbourne.
Altona pier. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Pylons underneath Altona Pier. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
It was cold. There was no sunshine and I spent much of the two and a half hours in Altona walking in light rain. I vow to make no more journeys until the weather is more reliable, but is that really possible in Melbourne?

Wednesday, September 6, 2017


Pedestrians (after Mallard). Acrylic paint on 30.5 cm X 30.5 cm stretched canvas.
Julie Clarke (c) 2017
Most of the day I've had one of those horrible vestibular migraines (dizzy, unbalanced gait, nausea and just feeling weird). Late morning I went for a walk hoping the fresh air would help and I ended up talking to an interesting woman who was walking a beautiful ebony colored cat on a lease down Bridge Road, Richmond. I did some food shopping, read some of Kris Hemensley's book and made minestrone soup. Then I painted (see photograph of it above). Cross fingers I begin to feel better soon so I can do another painting in the next few days.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017


The Pedestrians: Henri Mallard 1930s rephotographen by Julie Clarke 2017

Before I went to Lionel's place/Grant Street Theatre on Saturday afternoon to hear some jazz improvisation from Melbourne Conservatorium staff and students (each of the performers accomplished, but the female soloist was exemplary in her vocal execution) I went to NGV Australia to see the Australia in the 1930s exhibition, an extensive show of photographs, paintings, films, furniture and posters. It was just wonderful and I was completely captured by Henri Marie Joseph Mallard's 1930s photograph entitled The Pedestrians, most probably because I do so much walking and I rarely ride in a car. Of course, there is a pay off for doing so much walking and I was struggling for much of the week with a sore back and painful sciatica.
Yesterday, still very much inspired by Mallard's photograph I began searching through the vast amount of photographs I've taken to find the one and only photo I could remember taken of me whilst I was walking. It was by a man who caught the 402 bus I also travelled on every day to Melbourne University when I lived in North Melbourne. I don't know his name, but he was elderly and gave me the photo he taken of me walking towards Melbourne University down Grattan to Swanston Street, which I re-photographed and cropped.
Julie Clarke, 2003. Photo: Anonymous however rephotographed by Julie Clarke 2017.
He wrote on the back 'Miss Essendon, RMH' obviously associating my black clothes and red stockings with the colors of the football club. I decided that this would be the beginning of a new project that responds in various ways to Mallard's photograph and the idea of the pedestrian/a walker/performed on foot/journey/ordinary.
So, this morning after doing a sketch on a square stretched canvas of Mallard's photograph I went into Melbourne to take some photographs of pedestrians. Then I went up to see long time friend Kris Hemensley, Melbourne writer and proprietor of Collected Works Bookshop, Level 1, Nicholas Building, Swanston Street, Melbourne. Kris was the first person to publish my writing and so we go as far back as 1980. It seems appropriate somehow that my photo of Kris, head down in the shop is slightly blurry because it suggests time as distant memory.
We had a great natter about one thing or another and Kris said it was only a few days go whilst he was in the NGV bookshop that he had seen my article in Stelarc: The Monograph. That's synchronicity for you, for he has just recently published another one of his poetic prose texts called Scratch Entourage, published by Cordite Books. I purchased a copy and am looking forward to reading it as I've read many of his past works.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Williamstown Beach yesterday

What an absolutely glorious prelude to Spring. Yesterday my pedestrian excursion began with a ten minute walk from my place to Victoria Street, Richmond where I caught a tram to St. Vincent's Hospital in order to connect with the 402 bus to Footscray Station. From there I caught the train to Williamstown Beach. I couldn't believe my luck as after a week of getting around in extremely cold weather the sun was shining and I'd had an interesting conversation with a woman on the Williamstown train.

After I arrived I walked through the underpass and then over the road and took a long trek through a rather muddy oval, all the time with my eye on the prize, which was the blue waters of Port Phillip bay and the craggy rocks that formed a line between the smooth and clean sandy beach and the pedestrian walkway.

I hadn't been to Williamstown Beach for about thirty years and the above photograph shows you my first glimpse of it through the trees. I wasn't disappointed. There were several cargo ships on the horizon, which streched out as far as the eye could see from left and right of my view. I've always been fascinated by the fact that the water just stops at the edge of the sand. It's immensity sometimes overpowering. Anyway, I took loads of photographs, walked as far as I could and then backtracked to The Kiosk and consumed the most delicious fish and chips with aoili and lemon I've every had. Six aeroplanes flew in formation above us, turning and repeating the overpass for about ten minutes. It was quite a display.

I was happy later after leaving the beach and walking around the general environs admiring the beautiful white weatherboard houses, to have coffee with Linzi and her friend John who kindly drove me back to Footscray Station. I got off the bus at Swanston Street and had another afternoon coffee at Ganache Chocolate in Collins, my absolute favorite place to have a caffeine pick me up. I eventually walked through my door around five o'clock, tired but happy.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

USS BONHOMME RICHARD at Station Pier, Port Melbourne 2017

USS Bonhomme Richard. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
This morning I went down to Station Pier, Port Melbourne specifically to see the gigantic amphibious USS Bonhomme Richard. Tbe temperature outside was about 9C degrees, but walking along the small pier adjacent to the ship it felt like about 4C degrees. The looks on the faces of about a dozen or so Melbournians who had also come down to see and photograph this historic event showed that they too were feeling the sharp bite of early morning freeze. Still it was worth it to see this lumbering, ugly, rusty ship that houses approximately 2,500 marines and staff that had been involved in the war games around Brisbane for the past few weeks. I met some of the guys from the ship who were most polite and answered my questions with either a 'yes maam' or 'no maam'. I was able to give them directions to the Museum. My sciatica and back pain were worsened by the fact that I'd been out in the cold for way too long so I treated myself to chocolate cake and coffee inside a warm, large cafe near the pier. On the tram ride back into the city I spoke with a group of people from Stawell who had come to Melbourne to see the theatrical version of The Bodyguard at the Regent Theatre, but had taken the opportunity to see the naval ship. They were lovely folk who spoke fondly of their little house in a small country town 3.5 hours away by train and the fact that their property was over-run by kangaroos. I was thinking as I spoke with them that one of the advantages of getting around on public transport is that you meet all kinds of people and I enjoy that.
USS Bonhomme Richard. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
USS Bonhomme Richard. Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
I took about a dozen photographs but think these are the best. Oh, by the way I think that the man with white hair, moustache and beard that I photographed at the Equal Love rally was indeed Bruce Pascoe, indigenous Australian writer. Ha! (As always if you discover spelling or typographical errors please forgive me, I'll attempt to correct them)...

Monday, August 28, 2017

EQUAL LOVE RALLY State Library of Victoria 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017
If individuals want to engage in a wedding ritual that is recognized by law then they should be able to regardless of their gender preference. I will vote YES to marriage equality and that's why I attended and supported the Equal Love rally held at the State Library of Victoria on Saturday. Here are some of the photographs of took of the event, which had a party vibe and was most peaceful.
Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally - Bruce Pascoe.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Equal Love rally.  Photo: Julie Clarke (c) 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Trip to Sandringham Beach today.

I hadn't been to Sandringham Beach since 2012 so I decided that I would go today. I caught the tram from my place down Church Street to High Street, Prahran and walked to the Prahran Railway Station where I caught the train to Sandringham (it's the end of the line). There was a vast difference between the photographs I took in September 2012 as Spring was evident in the amount of flowers, whereas there were no flowers to be seen today. It was very cold (about 7C degrees) when I arrived at around 10.15am. But I just loved the impressive rolling of the waves and the amazing scenery.
There are high cliffs around this part of the beach and I traversed them as best I could, not going too near the edge for I fear the damp undergrowth may give way at the edge.
Several cargo ships could be seen on the horizon.

All in all I enjoyed the experience. I walked around for about an hour near the beach and likewise for the shopping centre where I had lunch and then headed home out of the cold.