Memories of Down Under and visiting the “real” Australia today

When I was in Australia, over ten years ago now, aboriginal Australia seemed largely absent from the coastal cities of the south and south-east.  Not an uncommon sensation for newcomers and visitors, I suspect.

It wasn’t until I visited Darwin and other parts of the Northern Territory that I felt I had arrived in the Australia of my preconceptions, as well as the Australia of certain desires I perhaps held at the time.  I had heard accounts of horrific events and read about the chronically dislocating effects of colonial and other incomer changes wrought on the aboriginal people of Australia.  I had witnessed a couple of saddening sights first-hand too.  But I felt that at least here I was closer to Australia’s soul, where people’s connections with their environment were “real, deep and distinctive”, as in steeped in ancestry and a profound understanding of the land.

Then again, I might have been “place dreaming”.  You see I was also aware that those Australians who helped impart all this to me were in fact white descendants of Europeans, particularly a remarkable friend of my parents, the late Lance Brooks.  They too had intimate connections with this part of Australia.

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Learning from the (place) likes of skateboarders

Outside Barcelona’s principal contemporary art museum, MACBA, skateboarders exhibit their skill, concentration and precision, not unlike the architect who carved new lines and folded new spaces into this mixed urban landscape.  Except the skateboarders are indisputably dynamic.  Weaving amidst others passing by or lingering here, their movement adds energy to this place, and is inextricably linked to its physical parameters.

Yet the skateboarders can be a noisy nuisance, particularly for nearby residents if the clatter of boards on concrete goes on for hours on end and late into the evening.

What would you do–prohibit, tolerate, regulate, enjoy?

From a lecture by Iain Borden and opinion piece on The Independent‘s pages:

“What skateboarding, and all the myriad urban practices of the city tell us, is that we need to need to celebrate three things: different peoples, different spaces and different ways of knowing the city.”


Going unseen places

One of the highlights of last week’s World Responsible Tourism program for me was finding out about Unseen Tours (London’s Street Voices), which received a hefty whack of recognition by winning Best Tour Operator for Local Experiences and Joint Overall Winner at the Responsible Tourism Awards 2011 (the latter shared with Robin Pope Safaris).

Here’s the proposition.  If you “want to challenge your view of what it means to be a person living in London”  then Unseen Tours offers “historical but also unexplored glimpses of the city, as perceived through the lens of homelessness”:

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