Williams River driving

‘Phonography’ Fun: Some shots from the phone on a quiet afternoon drive

Cows graze as the light hastens across a flowering carpet of gold.












An old tree stands against the greying sky waiting for the vagaries of fate













We came to this place where we were so different and where the things surrounding us had spent millennia in their achievement. So often, the most enduring reminders are those which seek to connect human existence with a spiritual reason for it occurring at all.

Old sheds where once was the hub of a million acres.

A brief detour off the dual carriageway just north of Karuah sees us heading down to the settlement of Carrington on the northern shore of Port Stephens.

Back in the 1820s, Tahlee and  Carrington were established as a base for the Australian Agricultural (AA) company. While little remains on the surface, it’s easy to imagine that with a few quiet moments there may be sounds and memories ready to spring from the sun blanched bones of older buildings and the glow of the hewn stone as the sun retreats again.

Church at Carrington, Port Stephens


Pre-Spring, and dreaming of other possible futures for Newcastle

Perhaps we have become so polarised in the need to have, or not have, that we have forgotten the possibility of developing another view.

If. for some reason, it becomes impossible to get real action on truncating the rail line and providing another option: just what might another possibility look like?

I wonder whether we are maybe focusing too strongly on the sense of an integrated whole rather than what could potentially be a ‘string of pearls:’ a connected string of high value precincts, with frequent trains running back and forth like a pulsing spine.

Sometimes it’s fun to cast our minds ahead and see if we can picture things in ways which might promote other ways of doing things.

In the pre-dawning  glow of Spring, a possible picture of a future which, for some reason, decides to reform our thinking around retaining some infrastructure and changing our way of using it.

Here is a possible picture.

There’s a whole space out by Cockle Creek crying out to be a parking hub for a connection along the line: sitting within reach of the F3 and the Westlakes area

A station and interchange aids the growth of Glendale as a major retail and commercial hub, a link across the line to the light industrial area which snakes its way back toward Cardiff along Munibung Rd.

Clean, fast, frequent trains leave the holding and interchange area and run back and forth to the other end of the line, down by the harbour.

Up through Cardiff and its fast bus connections with Charlestown and the University, we glide through the tunnel and down the valley to the new Kotara station, close to the shopping centre and super centres, covered ways and travelators smoothly deliver people from the station to their destination.

A new development at Adamstown station incoporates a solution which makes the level crossing obsolete and a street corridor has been identified and developed as a connector for the station with the Adamstown mainstreet. Easy facilities exist to assist the multitude of cyclists who alight here and spend the day with a leisurely ride out along the Fernleigh Track to Belmont.

From Broadmeadow, frequent shuttles are available to the Hospital and University and pedestrian connector ways and cycle paths provide easy access to the range of sporting and event facilities which have been supported and developed as integrated and scalable facilities.

At Hamilton, traffic management strategies have allowed the old station to be refurbished, with access from both ends of the platform being easy, with pedestrian access to the Wickham Parklands which have been managed to provide a range of possibilities for sport and large scale outdoor entertainments within easy reach of major transport movers.

University and TAFE students easily swap to the other line which has a new station up at the back of the TAFE, also  providing access to the South West sector of Mayfield, and a pleasant stroll or cycle through the TAFE grounds to Tighes Hill and Mayfield East.

At Stewart Avenue, the large new roadway flies across the line, integrated as far as possible with a development which provides a backdrop for the large open Harbour Plaza which opens out the vista between the new Wickham station and the harbour, and articulating to the boardwalk which runs east along the harbour’s edge.  Public share system bikes sit in racks as families alight from the train and select their bikes to ride down along the foreshore to cafes and beaches, or back up along the Creek cycleway, passing the marina and fishing fleet.

Pedestrian and other non vehicular movement is facilitated toward the growing hub around Marketown, with more pedestrian walkovers for harbour view Honeysuckle offices to connect with the other side

Further down the line we reach the vibrant Civic and Honeysuckle Restaurant and Bar Precinct.  A new development above the line incorporates a station and facilitates easy access from both ends toward the waterfront and toward the Theatres and Law Courts.  Pedestrian connector ways allow us easy reach to Darby Street, via the beautifully redeveloped Civic Park which provides a pleasance within the lovely buildings of civics and study.

On to the beautiful Newcastle Station and direct access to the magnificent Newcastle Mall, a premier restaurant and bar strip within Australia,  Lovely historic facades and the sense of this as a heart of a city, create a sense of vibrancy going way beyond Lygon Street.  Outdoor eating areas and well run bars and entertainment venues have built a density of appropriate behaviour, aided by security and the large influx of patronage intent on good dining and non-offensive enjoyment.  The surrounding blocks now house many thousands of people from a variety of demograhics who love the massive lifestyle choices available to them and the ease of access they have beach and harbour and to fast, clean, frequent transport which connects them with all of the other stations and opportunities.

And yes, it cost a lost to set up. Could work though.

This is not a call to save the rail.  It is simply a view of what a future possibility could be if we had, as a given, that the infrastructure stays.

Gazing into the sunset; days after an election.

Awash in a sea of uncertainty:

Pugwash on his poopdeck with the crisp wind whirling from the west
Shaking branches and the dust of the sunset
Day’s end

The last of the light slips slowly down behind the horizon
Where it can warm someone else’s world
Until ours is ready again.

It’s spring next week
Time to dream of richness and growth
And new dawnings.

Scenes from a Sunday cycle

It’s difficult to imagine just how all of those people must be feeling today, isn’t it?

Scratchley Dreaming

The moat, high above the harbour: division between dreams and realities

Memories and visions, phrases and thoughts, repeated, recycled


then gone: departed yet lingering still in the flashes we see of distant landmarks

A mirage resolving into stark and plausible, whimsical and despondent and more.

Black, white, light, shade


Outward success and a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ full of regret.

Fleeting glances and shadows in familiar alleys as

We meander through stories we all know but somehow remember differently or see

From different perspectives

There are times when pictures and snippets stare deep into our own hearts and places.

There are times where the plain pillbox, planted perpendicular to the parade, glares out across emptiness,

where desultory tunes play over again as stories are told.

Out through the front gates and the dark cannon, snubs its snout at the soaring cathedral on the hill opposite.

The view, familiar in paintings, has changed and yet

This evening we have seen it as if never before

Up here, above the city below

We strain and hear the synergies of that curious jumble which is our very human existence and what makes us what we are as people.

We balance, between past and present and future: a keen edge which slices between the void between what is;

And what could be.

As we sit, in front of a barracks fireplace, armchair jacketed and bound

What does look back at us in that  mirror of reality?

And just how much does that differ from the view we see

from the inside out?

“Please remember us.”

 (Tantrum Theatre presents ‘Dreams of a forgotten city’ a stunning evocative experience at Fort Scratchley in Newcastle for 4 nights only from Wed 18th Aug 2010 to Sat 21st Aug. Info at http://www.tantrumtheatre.org.au/Dreams.html )

Read a Review of Dreams of a Forgotten City in Realtime

Seeing ourselves as others see us?

Images in a mirror, and the interruption of lights in a winter night: glaring through the layers that perception washes in our fields of vision.

From our own world inside, we see the world.

Just how do others see us?

A ‘phonography’ essay

Putting yourself in the frame: reflecting and trying to see it from as many ways as possible.

The Polly Woodside

The Polly Woodside

Marooned in her little lock

Sailing nowhere between the towering glass of the convention centre.

A story of times past: of a Melbourne thick as a forest with the masts of ships.

A huge body of esoteric knowledge: where to get to ‘know the ropes’ took on as much significance as it did for a bell ringer.

Top gallants and royals, gaskets, ratlines and belaying pins. Specialised skills in being aloft at night, pitching and yawing as you scramble, icy handed, to reduce sail.

Replaced by steam and a new lexicon: heads of steam and the vitality of an engineer.

Change Happens

The Wind and the Wheelos

Are those our gigabytes flying with the clouds?

The late afternoon gusts herd the humidity off to the North East. Corrugated iron and powerlines clack and hum: castanet and aeolian harp underscoring an adagio for the receding sun.

Armadas of billowing clouds stream by; foc’sles firmly focused on a North East passage.

We place so much faith in the things we create, while all the while living with an  abject fascination for the fickleness of nature.

I wonder if the wind will drop at dusk?

Thoughts on an envelope

Late afternoon and a broom rests in the foreground at the end of Wasp War II

For the second time in a week, there were wasps; clustered under the verandah table and conspiring to build a nest. Maybe they should not be disturbed?  They are, after all, simply doing what they do, being a part of the world of natural cycles which surround us.  The problem is, of course, that in the process of them doing their thing, it makes the table unusable as ‘their thing’ may indeed involve biting the big warmth exuding thing which sits, forebodingly near to watch the street and puzzle over his crossword, cryptic, and critically intent on making some meaning out of all of this.

Wasp War I was fought and won with the broom.  Minor later skirmishes used folded newspaper, but it was the gentle push of the broom’s hairy head which hastened the wasp retreat. They flew retaliatory missions: beaming in on the warm heat exuding face which peered into the gloom to see their chagrin rushing forward in the beat of their wings.

All was quiet for days and then: they’re back, and so is the broom.

Victory again.  Once more we manage to impose ourselves, just as our whole streetscape sits atop land of the Worimi and Awabakal. High ground, gazing out across the mudflats and mangroves to the thundering seas and trapped wallaby dreaming buried inside Nobbys: lopped off to lessen luffing.

There is so much changed here.  Clanking in the night, we scoop up the black coal that streams forth from the bowels of the trains that batter and shove to drop their load before bucketing back up the line to Ulan, or Gunnedah or Warkworth or Wherever to refill from the growing holes.

Just down there was the Ferndale colliery, and across there, the soot of the cinder, and coke and blast furnace. A dormitory to sustain the mill, to feed the furnaces and supply the metal to back a nation, and an army. This was a suburb bred of heavy industry and mining.

Around the streets, there is the tell-tale flapping of flags on ute aerials, numbers on trucks and evidence of trades reliant on the mines and the loader.

And, living alongside, green leaning later arrivals: happy with their choice. We struggle often with the clash which occurs between possibilities.  As I sit in my chair I justify my victory over the wasps.  The brooms leans.

A day later, the street steams as if to say: “That wasn’t enough!”

The sun breaks through the clouds and the summer storm squalls off huffishly.