Dear readers, it has been some time since we have posted a blog.
Although we have been missing in action online we have still been having some adventures. For example, Tracey was in Norway for three months doing some creative research into her ancestry. Her project Waters of the Past has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and connections. The project was also presented in a number of exhibitions and symposium, such as Balance UnBalance 2017 and RIXC Open Fields 2017.
Tracey’s project was also featured in the Drammen newspaper. Please don’t ask for a translation 🙂
We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Tromsø – more on that later 😉 Here is some teasers:
This year we don’t plan to go too far from home ground. We have lots of short trips planned and we look forward to sharing with you some of the great places we enjoy here in the Australian Alpine region – better known by Aussies as ‘the high country’.
We will publish a new article from us each month as well as feature some guest writers. Contact us if you would like to submit something for publication.
This year has been monumental in so many ways, a lot of projects developing all over the place which is very exciting.
Tracey has been to NZ, USA, Australia’s Central Desert and Top End, as well as a few trips to Shepparton to work with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation. The year is not over yet with another journey to work on a book project in NZ next month – ADA Booksprint.
Anyway, we have been a bit slack with keeping up with the blog and promise we will do better!
We have come up with an awesome (perhaps insane) idea that would enable us to travel the world, meet fellow travellers and learn more about this wonderful world we live in. We are tentatively calling this idea Old farts couch surfing the world.
So I have a question for you dear Reader. Would you be prepared to offer us a place to stay on our travels? It could be spare room, a couch or even a tent depending on the climate.
How it would work?
Think of it a bit like Humans of New York, where the story has a connection to place and people. The goal is to document the journey online with a mind to bring out a book when we complete the adventure. As people offer us places to stay we will add them into a map of our journey. People can also add in stories as we develop the project.
The idea builds on the concept of our Cultural Strangers project, where we try to reveal layers of place through documentation, conversation and investigation.We love the concept of the world cafe as it seeks to use collaboration to build knowledge and share experiences for the betterment of us all.
If you think that this idea if fun and would like to get involved please contact us.
Today we started our fabulous South Indian Mystery tour, curated by our dear friend and artist Di Ball. Our first destination was Bangalore Palace and we were very lucky that there was a wedding on when we visiting. Mr Wikipedia has this potted history:
Bengaluru Palace, a palace located in Bengaluru, India, was built by Rev. Garrett, who was the first Principal of the Central High School in Bangalore, now known as Central College.
The construction of the palace was started in 1862 and completed in 1944. In 1884, it was bought by the then Maharaja of Mysore HH Chamarajendra Wadiyar X. Now owned by the Mysore royal family, the palace has recently undergone a renovation.
The palace is full of very interesting (albeit questionable) objects and well as having beautiful architectural features. It is not a cheap place to visit by Indian standards – 440 Rupees for foreigners and you have to pay extra to take a camera or smart phone for pictures. It was worth it though to have a glimpse into Royal life in Bangalore.
First, a few notes from my notebook—of course I couldn’t scrawl in my favourite red, which I find more legible when reading it later, but managed to read the blue scribble reminding me to comment on a couple of things.
On the 17th, shortly after the riders had set out, I made a note that on too many occasions before leaving England I had felt the need to explain to well-wishers that the trip was not ‘going on holiday,’ though there were three similarities: it was expensive, unpaid, and fun. Three legs are enough to balance a milking stool, so perhaps three common features make this a holiday. But it also has often been, and will continue to be, something other than holiday fun, though not strictly ‘work’; for Donna and myself this has so far mostly involved adding international prestige in face-to-face meetings with suppliers, municipal authorities, and, more recently, introducing horses and riders as they arrive. None of these activities amount to ‘work’ of course, but there are times when even welcoming local and inquisitive guests just when it is time to relax, watch the sunset and catch up on the day’s events can feel a bit like attending a diplomatic summit as we explain ourselves and our aims once again. But the sunsets always make it worth while!
On the 17th I also noted down that over dinner we recalled the ‘worst things’ that can happen on such expeditions. In the five years of its operation, the ‘Great Anatolian Ride’ – as the Evliya Çelebi Way is marketed by Akhal-Teke – has had only two serious episodes of horses escaping and running away. There was, in 2009, the occasion on the penultimate day of the ride, before the support vehicle was ‘arrested’ (as reported on the 2009 Hoofprinting Blog. Most commonly, problems have involved the supply vehicle getting stuck or breaking down. Since I would have the ambiguous position of driving the minibus (like the small motorbike, needed in case of emergencies and occasions when the kamyonet was unsuitable because of terrain and inadequate speed), I would be in the thick of mechanical and other problems for many of which I can be of no use. In 2009, following a bloody foot injury that prevented me getting my riding boots on, I had accompanied the support team for the final ten days. So I had a pretty good idea of the many kinds of logistical and other crises that were largely hidden from riders.
I also made a note to myself to comment here on a question much in my mind regarding Evliya, but also about travel writing in different languages and from different cultural perspectives more generally. Surely everyone who has travelled in a group of like-minded strangers knows there are various things travel writers invariably must leave out for reasons legal or personal. In terms of reading between the lines of Evliya’s The Book of Travels, I am not alone in being pretty certain that there are things he does not tell us about. Certainly his sexuality is titillatingly ambiguous at best – he never married or reports heterosexual relations of any kind; he tells us he was clean shaven when such a thing was relatively uncommon and ambiguous at best; he admires the boys who frequent hamams or bath houses in various cities comparatively, distinguishing those who are there to be looked at and admired aesthetically, and those who advertised their sexual availability. As I commented earlier, Evliya several times protested rather too loudly that he never partook of any of the intoxicants forbidden by religious law which he nevertheless served to his friends at various times: these included coffee as well as opium and a range of hallucinogens.
On the 2009 Ride, for example, I made a list of such events as they took place, things that happened but are better left unmentioned for what we might call legal reasons, and I find it was quite short: mostly occasions when we drove faster than local speed limits, and when local officials who visited us drank alcohol. Once we arrived at camp, having been reported ‘lost’ in a mountainside forest, to find a number of men in uniforms of the forestry service and jandarma corps. It was later observed: ‘They hassle us on the way, but are happy enough to drink our rakı!’
The first full day of the Ride went perfectly as Ercihan led the riders through the magnificent volcanic landscapes from camp outside Ibrahimpaşa to a spot just south of Derinkuyu, famous for the nearby ‘underground city’. By 10am, those of us in the support team had arrived at the proposed site and met the local contact who directed us to a water supply amidst fields of green beans and a field of straw stubble with some trees that was perfect for horses and tents.
Apart from myself, Mehmet – who was driving the kamyonet – was the only member of the support team who had previously made this kind of expedition as part of the Evliya Çelebi Way Project support team. Ahmet – known as ‘Can-Can’ (which in Turkish sounds like ‘John-John’ but means something along the lines of ‘life-life’) – is one of the hands from the ranch, and came along to help take care of the horses when in camp. Yunus, from Kayseri, and Mevlut, from Ağrı in the far distant north east, are both students in the sports science programme at Nevsehir University. Neither have had previous experience with horses but they are young, energetic and keen. Yunus, tasked with being in charge of food and drinks, quickly proved himself a skilled cook, while Mevlut took care of the camping equipment (including the tented long-drop toilet). Both seem to have managed to avoid being in front of the camera. Everyone, of course, pitches in when setting up and breaking camp, but Mehmet is the only one who fully understands the mysteries of the support vehicle and how to pack it all up in a relatively efficient and balanced way.
Shortly after we arrived, something supporting the engine of the overloaded supply wagon snapped in a profound and emphatic way just as it was turning off the track into the camping field. It was serious enough to summon help, so Mehmet and I set off into town with the minibus to find the guy who would help: one of things that I long ago learned, though clearly Turks themselves know this almost instinctively, is that whatever goes wrong, and wherever you are, somewhere nearby is a guy who will help. By 3pm, the mechanic had been to see, gone away to get what he needed, returned with his young son, fixed the problem, joined the crew for lunch, and left. The riders appeared shortly afterwards.
The brief thunder storm that passed over the camp just before dinner freshened the air, enabled Mehmet to show everyone how the canopy over the dining table that folds out from the side of the kamyonet works (and it did keep everyone dry), but the rain was not bad enough to leave significant mud behind. Apart from discovering I had run-down the camera battery, the only other snag this day came later when we realised that the new self-inflating mattresses had not arrived, so some slept better than others this night.
19 August 2014
As if on cue, after making that note to comment on the question of what gets left out of travel accounts, such an event would occur today, something simply unfortunate. But horses and riders were all happy with their partners, and adventurous expeditions cannot avoid mishaps of various kinds (isn’t that partly the point of such kinds of travel?), so everyone was keen to get going as early as possible to ride in the relative cool of the morning. There was one brief delay after breakfast when some itinerant Kurdish workers who were camped about a kilometre away came to visit and admire the horses. Ann gave some of the children rides around the field on Kelebek while Ahmet and the other riders tacked up. But by 7:50am, the riders were off, heading across the lowland plain in the direction of the Melendiz mountain range. Relying on the modern miracle of mobile phones, we planned to meet them around mid-day with food and water for the horses.
Since no-one was certain how long the horses would take, we drove as far as Alay, the first small town (kasaba) outside Nevşehir province; we were now in the poorer Nigde province, where tourists seldom go in significant numbers. We parked opposite the mosque, beyond which was a large paved square with a few shops. I bought some biscuits, a box of peach nectar and some chewing gum, but declined the shopkeeper’s kind and enthusiastic invitation to sit and drink tea—‘My friends are waiting,’ I announced in my best and most polite Turkish. Crossing the square, I noticed a fruit stand tended by an extremely polite and efficient small boy from whom I bought a few shrivelled bananas. Ahmet, meanwhile, had bought a bag full of potato crisps and the sickly sweet chocolate bars to which he, Yunus and Mevlut seem addicted. As we sat in the shade of the mosque, snacking, the young boy from the fruit stand re-appeared with his hands clenched together and presented me with as many sunflower seeds (çekirdek) as he could hold, smiled and went back to his fruit stand.
Eating sunflower seeds is one of those rather lowly and rather messy activities (or even skills, perhaps) that persons of breeding look down upon, but really can be a nutritious way of passing the time (provided no one is about to complain about the noise and piles of wet shells that accumulate). I first developed the habit going to the open air cinema in Kavala, Greece, while living there in the early 1970s, but generally it’s an outdoors activity, not to be carried on inside a car or bus without risking the wrath of the driver. Here, sitting in the shade outside the Alay mosque, was a perfect and clearly customary place for such an activity since, even though the area was paved and clearly kept clean, there was plenty of evidence that others before me had sat on this spot and dropped çekirdek shells.
Anyway, the riders caught up with us in good time, and we found some shady trees for watering the horses. After lunch in a traditional kebab restaurant, the unfortunate and unreportable incident occurred, which delayed us for a couple of hours. With Hasan Dağ and the Melendiz range on the horizon before us all, the riders set off overland across the field system towards the kasaba of Bağlama while we took the black-top road to scout out a suitable camp site. Having parked the kamyonet by the roadside just outside town, Mehmet and I set off in the minibus to find a suitable field with shade and water.
By now, of course, riders and support team had attracted a substantial group of followers, young boys with bicycles and mopeds of various vintage. When Mehmet and I returned from our scouting mission, some had caught up with the kamyonet having followed us along the road, while others arrived overland after running in advance of the horses.
Mehmet and I had found in a beautiful spot just beyond Bağlama, among a fine stand of trees, with spectacular views to Hasan Dağ and the Melendiz range. The heat across the plain was intense as we waited for the riders to arrive.
Despite the unspeakable event, dinner was lively this evening. We had been joined by another Mehmet from Avanos (so I will call him ‘Ikinci’ Mehmet or Mehmet the second) with his daughter (whose name seems to be either ‘Fatma’ or perhaps ‘Fadime’) to supplement the support crew. Ikinci seems to be a jack of all trades and is here to help with all aspects of the camp while his daughter will assist with meal service and cleaning. Much of the evening after dinner is taken up with route planning and maps in the attempt to figure out how long it will take to cross over the foothills of the Melendiz range into the plain beyond around Çiftlik and then on to Altunhisar on the other side of Melendiz Dag itself (with a peak at 2963 meters high).
The 2009 Ride: On Setting out and Returning…
Contributed by Gerald Maclean
The core group of riders set out on 22 September 2009, accompanied by our cook and driver, Metin Aker, and Sedat Varış who took care of the horses.
Riders who joined for shorter or longer periods included Patricia Daunt and botanist Andy Byfield, Turkish Jockey Club vet Ayşe Yetiş, Cappadocian entrepreneurs Özcan Görürgöz and Alper Katrancı, trekkist and academic Pınar Durmaz, and Montreal advertising executive Thérèse Tardif.
The expedition was accompanied for early stages of the journey by Mehmet Çam and other members of the Istanbul production company Ajans21, who shot footage for a potential documentary about Evliya and the expedition.
From Hersek, on the southern shore of the Sea of Marmara, we followed Evliya to Iznik, Bursa, Kütahya, Afyon, Uşak and Simav, before turning back through Çavdarhisar and returning to Kütahya, Evliya’s father’s city.
While finding the Way, we established beyond a doubt that the Turkish countryside remains ideal for riding, trekking, and other forms of independent and sustainable tourism.
So long as traditional agricultural practices of semi-nomadic grazing and farmers’ shared use of the land keep the countryside open and unprivatised, Turkey remains one of the very few places in the developed world in which it is possible to make such long distance cross-country journeys unhindered by ‘No Trespassing!’ signs and barbed wire fences. Turkish hospitality guarantees travellers safe passage and a warm welcome.
Another thing we learned was just how widely Evliya is still known wherever he went. In every village that we passed through where there was a school, the children had mostly heard of him.
The Falls Festival is best known for contemporary music performances, dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, as well as other art forms. Because the event runs over three days, people bring a tent and camp out at the event. The festival started in 1993, with a small one day concert called the Rock Above The Falls. This initial event attracted nearly 11,000 people, far exceeding the organisers expectations, and the organisers quickly negotiated the use of neighbouring land to accommodate the crowd. Since this humble start, the Falls Festival is now in three locations – Lorne, Byron Bay NSW and Marion Bay in Tasmania.
Lorne has long been a place that attracts creative people as well as beach lovers. For example, In 1891, the area was visited by Rudyard Kipling who was inspired to write the poem Flowers, which included the line:
Buy my hot-wood clematis,
Buy a frond of fern,
Gathered where the Erskine leaps
Down the road to Lorne.
Mr Wikipedia says about the area prior to European settlement:
Lorne was part of the traditional lands of the Gadubanud or King Parrot people of the Cape Otway coast according to Ian Clark, although many popular websites report that the area was occupied by the Kolakngat Aborigines.
Given that there is some conflicting information about the pre-European occupation, I am interested to find out more on this subject. The text referred to is listed below as a reference.
We loved seeing Lorne and it is a town definitely worth visiting and exploring as part of the Great Ocean Road journey.
Ian D. Clark, pp119-123, Scars on the Landscape. A Register of Massacre sites in Western Victoria 1803-1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995 ISBN 0-85575-281-5
Today’s post is another puzzle piece that connects to our dream to travel to India. Earlier this week I was at the KM Australia conference and met someone from Bangalore who works for Oracle. Then today, I saw a conference that looked really interesting, also in Bangalore – so now I am curious and want to visit.
Bangalore is the third largest city in India and also boasts a pleasant year round climate. It has a fascinating history and was once called the “Garden City of India” and the “Pensioner’s Paradise”. These labels no longer apply to Bangalore, as it now a large, cosmopolitan city with diminishing green spaces and a large working population. Bangalore is the major center of India’s IT industry, popularly known as the Silicon Valley of India. The earliest records of a place named ‘Bengaluru’ are found in a 9th century temple in an area that is now known as ‘Old Bangalore’.
I am drawn to Bangalore because it is a hub for companies and people working with technology – I am very interested to learn about this aspect of Bangalore, particularly to find out what sort of media arts community might be there. I also understand there are some beautiful lakes around Bangalore and lots of temples to visit.
Day 70: National Gallery of Australia (NGA), Canberra, Australia
Today I had hoped to go bushwalking as it has been a long time since we went for a walk on the weekend. However, we were thwarted by bad weather – cold, fog and rain. Anyway, I was still really keen to get out of the house and have a walk around even if it was indoors, so suggested that we go to the NGA. I also wanted to go to the gallery as there were two temporary exhibitions that were of particular interest – Bali: Island of the Gods and Atua: Sacred Gods of Polynesia.
Both of these exhibitions were excellent. I knew before even arriving at the gallery that I would love the work in the exhibition about Bali, as I adore Balinese culture and love Balinese artworks, especially drawings, paintings and carvings. I am especially drawn to the epic stories told in these works, especially the Hindu classics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. There were also some beautiful textiles works in the show, some of which were used for shrines – which were lovely. My favourite works were some incredible drawings on palm leaves with Indian ink. The detail was so intricate and beautifully executed – I have never seen anything quite like it.
The exhibition of Polynesian works had a diverse selection of (Atua) God and Goddess figures from a range of areas and cultures in Polynesia. Many works were from the 18th and early 19th century and there were also some engravings from the text documenting Captain Cook’s third voyage to the Southern Hemisphere. My favourite works were some amazing small wood carvings for God figures from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and some beautiful Maori carvings, especially the piece pictured below.
Both exhibitions are free, though be warned that there is a little shop out the front of the exhibitions with some very tempting items. I could not resist the catalogue from the Bali show as I wanted to look back at the beautiful palm leaf drawings.
Dates Atua: Sacred Gods of Polynesia 23 May – 3 August 2014 Bali: Island of the Gods 13 June – 3 August 2014
National Gallery of Australia
General information +61 2 6240 6411
For visitors with mobility difficulties +61 2 6240 6411