Tuesday, 7 October 2008

The Big Launch

Just prior to this most recent trip to Melbourne Lucy and I attended the premiere of the upcoming SBS documentary series, First Australians, held at the Opera House in Sydney.

Six years in the making, this multi platform project is the most ambitious to be undertaken on Indigenous Australia. The project encompasses seven episodes of landmark television, a substantial online experience, educational and retail DVD, a hard cover pictorial book and a community outreach program. The series First Australians chronicles the birth of contemporary Australia as never told before, from the perspective of its first people. It begins in 1788 in Sydney, with the friendship between an Englishmen (Governor Phillip) and a warrior (Bennelong) and ends in 1993 with Koiki Mabo’s legal challenge to the foundation of Australia. First Australians chronicles the collision of two worlds and the genesis of a new nation. - firstaustralians.com.au

An enjoyable evening, the event kicked off with an opportunity to catch up with some friends and family, along with meeting new people (particularly those whose literary and academic works I am familiar with and admire). Some media personalities amongst the crowd or upon the stage that I was familiar with were Debra Mailman (Radiance), Karla Grant (Living Black - SBS), Peter O'Brien (Water Rats, Flying Doctors etc.. he was dressed like a train robber from the ol' West) and unless Lucy and I were both mistaken and most curiously we also saw Kevin McLoud (Grand Designs - UK), and not to forget that guitarist fellow who played a few years with Mental as Anything and engaged us in conversation for a fair whack of the evening. Nice bloke.. whoever you are!

The presentations made by the directors and producers of First Australians, along with the head of SBS and Jenny Macklin made for a thoroughly enlightening evening, and one that built my anticipation and axcitement for the first episode of First Australians to new highs.

The episode I appear in doesn't screen until I think October 22 or 24, but Episode One starts 12 October, 8.30pm on SBS.

Can't wait.

Monday, 6 October 2008


Achtung! I have seen Peter Cundall in person. Live. In reality. All is now well.


On Saturday Lucy and I ventured out into the Melbourne sun, walking toward the light, braving a mild breeze and unruly throngs of black thumbed middle-aged Victorians, hippies and jam sales-women all eager to bathe in the shadow of the awesomeness that is Peter Cundall.

I'd never been to a garden expo before. I wasn't quite sure what to expect, other than greenery, lots of grey haired people (greyer than I) and the occasional tool. It turned out to be quite a fun few hours, where Lucy and I looked into and midly researched our longterm big dream; a sustainable home, environmentally friendly and off the grid (or lightly tethered to).

Plenty to see. There were plants of a myriad different type and more water tanks and cow poo than you could shake a garden wand at. Perhaps my favourite elements of the afternoon (aside from the Cundall) were the lounge chairs designed for outdoor use, suspended from a rope, complete with a foot stool that is suspended from its own rope. Mmmm lazy. I also quite liked the various solar, wind and water related stalls/products, of which I now have a handy bag full of literature to digest. Beyond those, and the brilliant recycled wood photo frames that I bought - there was Peter Cundall.

Peter Cundall is special. A recently retired octogenerian (b. 1927) star of ABC TV's "Gardening Australia", Peter is an icon of Australian backyard culture, but to me he will always be known as the guy who loves shit. Oh yes, I have never seen, heard or known of any soul who could get as excited about compost, cow turds and a bag of blood and bone than this guy. The way he caresses and enthuses about mulch is truly a thing of.. well, interest. Whilst a tad funny, the bloke is a champion. The highlight of seeing him and being the people in the line to get him to sign Lucy's DVD (we missed out as we hit the front) was to see Peter give two little would-be gardeners and fans the biggest hug you've ever seen (plus minor unintentional headbutt). How can ya not love the dude?

Well worth having gone, but jeez - $17 is a bit steep. For that I'd at least expect a packet of seeds (for me) and a doughnut (for Lucy).