australia

Midnight Oil – Warakurna

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Always loved these boys’ ability to turn the local phrase with utmost authenticity. An album’s worth of their music and it’s easy to come to your senses utterly transported.

Warakurna, camels roam
Fires are warm and dogs are cold
Not since Lassiter was here
Black man’s got a lot to fear

Some people laugh some never learn
This land must change or land must burn
Some people leave, always return
This land must change or land must burn.

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The Pogues – …and the band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’

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Shane MacGowan tells an old man’s story perfectly in his primal, alcoholic growl. Eric Bogle’s 1971 original the archetype for countless heartfelt covers, The Pogues here render a version that rings with the authenticity of Empire.

When I was a young man I carried my pack
And I lived the free life of a rover
From the Murray’s green basin to the dusty outback
I waltzed my Matilda all over
Then in 1915 my country said “Son
It’s time to stop rambling ’cause there’s work to be done”
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they sent me away to the war
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we sailed away from the quay
And amidst all the tears and the shouts and the cheers
We sailed off to Gallipoli

How well I remember that terrible day
How the blood stained the sand and the water
And how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter
Johnny Turk he was ready, he primed himself well
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shells
And in five minutes flat he’d blown us all to hell
Nearly blew us right back to Australia
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As we stopped to bury our slain
We buried ours and the Turks buried theirs
Then we started all over again

Now those that were left, did their best to survive
In a mad world of blood, death and fire
And for seven long weeks I kept myself alive
While  the corpses around me piled higher
Then a big Turkish shell knocked me arse over tit
And when I woke up in my hospital bed
And saw what it had done, Christ I wished I was dead
Never knew there were worse things than dying
Ah no more I’ll go waltzing Matilda
To the green bushes so far and near
For to hump tent and pegs, a man needs two legs
No more waltzing Matilda for me

So they collected the cripples, the wounded, the maimed
And they shipped us back home to Australia
The legless, the armless, the blind and insane
Those proud wounded heroes of Suvla
And as our ship pulled into Circular Quay
I looked at the place where me legs used to be
And thanked Christ there was nobody waiting for me
To grieve and to mourn and to pity
And the band played Waltzing Matilda
As they carried us down the gangway
But nobody cheered, they just stood and stared
Then they turned their faces away

And now every April I sit on my porch
And I watch the parade pass before me
I see my old comrades, how proudly they march
Reliving their dreams of past glory
I see them march slowly, all twisted and torn,
The forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
And the young people ask me “What are they marching for?”
And I ask myself the same question
And the band plays Waltzing Matilda
And the old men answer to the call
But year after year their numbers get fewer
Some day no one will march there at all

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
Who’ll come a waltzing Matilda with me?

Portuguese navigator Christopher de Mendonca discovered Australia 250 years before James Cook

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Portuguese Map of Eastern Australia
Portuguese Map of Eastern Australia. Credit: Reuters/handout

I love paradigm-shifting discoveries like this: new information and insights that demolish mythologies.

A 16th century maritime map in a Los Angeles library vault proves that Portuguese adventurers, not British or Dutch, were the first Europeans to discoverAustralia, says a new book which details the secret discovery of Australia.

The book “Beyond Capricorn” says the map, which accurately marks geographical sites along Australia’s east coast in Portuguese, proves that Portuguese seafarer Christopher de Mendonca lead a fleet of four ships into Botany Bay in 1522 — almost 250 years before Britain’s Captain James Cook.

Australian author Peter Trickett said that when he enlarged the small map he could recognize all the headlands and bays in Botany Bay in Sydney — the site where Cook claimed Australia for Britain in 1770.

“It was even so accurate that I found I could draw in the modern airport runways, to scale in the right place, without any problem at all,” Trickett told Reuters on Wednesday.

You can find the rest of the story at the Reuters site here.

Eric Bogle – Glasgow Lullaby

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Eric Bogle

Eric Bogle (of ‘And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda’ and ‘No Man’s Land’ [aka. Green Fields of France] fame) couldn’t decide whether to be a poet or a musician so he became both. A Scot by birth, later Australian by nationality, Bogle has an almost supernatural power to humanize his ideas so broadly we hear them as inherently credible, as if muttered in the mystic, compelling tongue of the primordial brain stem.

In ‘Glasgow Lullaby’ Bogle presents a tale of two people, mother and father; the setting (divined by prejudice) a depressed, heartless, industrial Glasgow. The audience –their baby– is both object and subject for the mother, whereas for father everything is drink, to the effects of which he has surrendered his identity. Issues not only of substance abuse but violence, trust, delusion arise, yielding only the promise of further disappointment. In the end you come to suspect it’s not about the binary between mother and father, but the delusion of Babby’s present and the reality of his future as he takes instruction in ‘the Glasgow way’ of life.

Hush wee babby, for yer daddy’s comin’ in
Stumblin’ up the stair and missin’ every yin
Rotten wi’ beer and stinkin’ o’ gin
He’s drunk again — as usual

Oh my God, it’s a weary, weary life
Who wid be a drinkin’ man’s wife
Who wid thole a’ this trouble and this strife
Who but a silly woman

Hush wee babby, he’s comin’ in the door
Drunken big feet are skitin’ over the floor
He’s had a bucket, but he’s thirstin’ for more
He disnae ken when he’s beaten

Hush wee babby, listen tae him sittin’ there
Wi his bloodshot eyes and his tangled hair
Mooth fu’ o’ big talk and eyes fu’ o’ despair
And blaming me — as usual

Hush wee babby, yer daddy’s gone tae bed
The morn he’ll no’ remember a’ the things he said
But his tongue wis sharp and a’ the wounds they bled
But then I’m used tae bleedin’

Hush wee babby and close yer weary eyes
Cuddle intae mammy and stop yer tired wee cries
And in the mornin’ when ye decide ta arise
Yer mammy will be here waitin’.

I apologize in advance for the cheesy crying baby graphics OP used to bed this recording. What’re you gonna’ do? Click play, close your eyes, and just imagine Eric Bogle’s smiling mug.

All lyrics & music © Eric Bogle. All rights reserved.

A hopeful moment for cetaceans

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Photo © SCMP
Photo © SCMP

Australia’s Environment Minister Tony Burke calls Japan’s ‘scientific’ whaling a “joke,” and threatens sanctions against Japan if they do not desist from the slaughter of whales:

“In the interim it is open to Japan any day of the year to take the same action that the rest of world has taken and that is to observe a moratorium in the Southern Ocean. That is to accept that commercial whaling is wrong and scientific whaling is a joke,” he said.

“We cannot continue to have a situation where everybody knows it’s nothing to do with science and yet, with a nod and a wink, Japanese fleets travel from one side of the globe to the other to engage in this, and to break the moratorium year after year,” Burke added.

The cetaceans need all the friends in high places they can get.

The Paleo-Geology of Negative Space

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Scientists analyzing rock samples in Australia have found the earliest evidence of life not in items like fossils, but in the absence of such items. A type of rock can be identified as having accreted from sand that became trapped in a thick algae-like mat of bacteria along the shore of an ancient lake, remaining as stone even after the bacteria have died & washed away.

“It’s not just finding this stuff that’s interesting,” says Alan Decho, a geobiologist at the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. “It’s showing that the life had some organisation to it.” Ridges that crisscross the rocks like strands in a spider web hint that primitive bacteria linked up in sprawling networks. Like their modern counterparts, they may have lived in the equivalent of microbial cities that hosted thousands of kinds of bacteria, each specialised for a different task and communicating with the others via chemical signals.

All this just a billion years after our planet formed. As if in confirmation of Aristotle’s suggestion that “Nature abhors a vacuum,” we catch life in the act of organizing even on a planet still trembling from its cataclysmic cosmic coalescence.

Australian Chough feeds dog & cat

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In this video Cha Cha the White-Winged Australian Chough(for once not a corvid, but rather the distantly-related Corcoracid) feeds what appears to be bread to Kitten the Cat and Skye the Dog: The cat grows tired of it and wanders off (as cats will), but there is yet to be a dog that won’t lie down & be fed.