Sunday, June 7, 2009

Some Aussie Anthems - and other iconic tunes.

So I got distracted on Youtube today.. tickled to find some great aussie tunes thereon. I will post the links to the best of them, but I can't be held accountable for any comments by shameless bogans in relation to the clips.. sigh..

I'll start with the anthems, and I'll also post links to some others that may be mentioned in other posts, but I think it will be convenient to have one collection here of the ones I love best.

First of all, will have to go the offical National Anthem - Advance Australia Fair. No-one sings it better than Julie Anthony. This long version she's towards the end, but you get the full lyrics. This one is the abbreviated anthem that is very popular.
The lyrics for those not familiar:

Australians all let us rejoice for we are young and free
We've golden soil and wealth for toil
Our home is girt by sea
Our land abounds in natures gifts of beauty rich and rare
In history's page let every stage advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing: Advance Australia Fair

Beneath our radiant southern cross, we'll toil with hearts and hands
To make this commonwealth of ours, reknowned of all the lands
For those who come across the seas we've boundless plains to share
With courage let us all combine to advance Australia fair.
In joyful strains then let us sing advance Australia fair.

Well of course there's Waltzing Matilda. There's various versions, but Slim Dusty's has to get the nod.
For those who would like to understand Waltzing Matilda and what it means to us as Australians there are a couple of early blog posts about it. One by the Prime Minister at the time of the 100 year anniversary of the song and some notes for interpretation of the lyrics by yours truly.

Another more recent tune that seeks to capture modern Australia in a more inclusive sort of way is I am Australian - this is the original Seekers version. Try watching school kids sing this and not cry!! Oh heck, try not crying any time at all!! Even the tune will make me a jibbering mess LOL.
the seekers sing the lyric very clearly, but for those who miss something here they are, thank you Bruce Woodley and Dobe Newton:

I came from the dream time, from the dusty red soil plains,
I am the ancient heart - the keeper of the flame,
I stood upon the rocky shore, I watched the tall ships come,
For forty thousand years I'd been the first Australian.
We are one but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come,
we share a dream,
And sing with one voice,
I am, you are, we are Australian.
I came upon the prison ship bound down by iron chains
I cleared the land, endured the lash and waited for the rains.
I'm a settler, I'm a farmer's wife on a dry and barren run
A convict then a free man, I became Australian.
I'm the daughter of a digger who sought the mother lode
The girl became a woman on the long and dusty road
I'm a child of the depression, I saw the good times come
I'm a bushy, I'm a battler, I am Australian.
We are one but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come,
we share a dream,
And sing with one voice,
I am, you are, we are Australian.
I'm a teller of stories, I'm a singer of songs
I am Albert Namatjira, and I paint the ghostly gums
I am Clancy on his horse, I'm Ned Kelly on the run
I'm the one who waltzed Matilda, I am Australian.
I'm the hot wind from the desert, I'm the black soil of the plains
I'm the mountains and the valleys, I'm the drought and flooding rains
I am the rock, I am the sky, the rivers when they run
The spirit of this great land, I am Australian.
We are one but we are many
And from all the lands on earth we come,
we share a dream,
And sing with one voice,
I am, you are, we are Australian.

but what about

Great Southern Land - Icehouse - a classic by a band of my youth. Saw them at the Manly Vale hotel in Sydney years ago.

Land Downunder - Men at Work. Always played in sporting contexts. I recall it for the America's Cup when we finally beat the Yanks in that was some day. It's the only time I can remember that they had the radio playing over the loudspeakers at Sydney Central train station. As the trains pulled up the passengers where sticking their heads out the window to find out what was happening... and we'd won. It was an amazing day. .. and of course Land Downunder was almost the anthem at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Great song.

This is Australia - Gangajang

or My Island Home performed by Christine Anu. The lyrics taken literally are about indigenous people called the saltwater people.. (note the reference to holding the long turtle spear) ... but it has been adopted by everyone as it really captures that longing and love you feel for your home.. and Australia is an island afterall. This version they have amended the original version, adding an additional verse to make it more a "national" song.

..and Chris Martin and Coldplay at least see this one as an Australian anthem. Can you doubt it when you see this clip of Australians singing along to John Farnham singing You're the Voice fundraising for bush fire victims in 2009. Backing is by Coldplay. Good one them for joining in the fundraising.

Songs that speak to the ANZAC legacy

And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. By Eric Bogle. This rendition by John Williamson and it's good, but Eric Bogle sings it better.. unfortunately the misinformation provided in the clip to the original on youtube just annoys me too much to link it!

I was only 19 - brilliant song about Vietnam.

and I guess you would have to include Khe Sanh in this category. Classic Cold Chisel, iconic...also relevant to Vietnam and returning home, it's a great song... unfortunately also a bit associated with rabid boganism.. but we'll try to overlook that.

Classic Aussie tunes:

Along the Road to Gundagai is a particular favourite of mine. Slim Dusty's Along the Road to Gundagai is loved by many.

Home among the gum trees would have to be in this list too.

John Williamson songs:
True Blue - some people have recommended this song as a source of understanding the Aussie spirit, which is advice I don't actually understand. It was written at a time when some iconic Aussie brands were being sold off to mulinational giants. The economy wasn't doing so well. The days of the lucky country seemed to be drifing away. Aussies felt very very upset about it and this song came out as a introspective look at who we really are and what we really stand for, because at the time we really were really feeling pretty shell shocked. It doesn't answer the question it asks it.

Cootamundra Wattle - another of my personal favourites, and another huge hit in Australia when it was released. There's more than one variety of wattle in the film clip. Cootamundra wattle is the one at 2:02 LOL.

Raining on the Rock .. with a live version of Cootamundra Wattle as a bonus!

...and just because I like it and I'm feeling self-indulgent here's Desert Child!

The most iconic of our literature

My Country - this version read by the great Dorothea McKellar herself. This poem is so iconic that the language of it has become woven into how we express our land in language. Whenever you hear Australia referred to as "the sunburnt country" it is an echo of and reference to this poem.

The Man From Snowy River by Andrew Barton (Banjo) Patterson. ..but we've also turned it into a song. This version is a live rendition by Jack Thompson at the Corryong Man From Snowy River Festival in 2009. Jack Thompson is a bit of an icon himself, so he's a natural choice for the job!
No land in western Europe was as dependent as Australia on the horse. The horse was absolutely indispensable in most regions, even at the ports. A far higher proportion of Australians than Britons knew how to harness, saddle and ride a horse. Newcomers marvelled at the ease and daring with which many Australians, both men and women, handled horses. Horse races drew large crowds. A township without a racecourse or land set aside for one was a rarity. It is no surprise then that this poem, recording a real and legendary display of horsemanship became such a cultural icon.
(Reference: Geoffrey Blainey, Black Kettle and Full Moon, Daily life in a Vanished Australia)

The Loaded Dog... well, an excerpt of this iconic short story anyway. By Henry Lawson and read by Jack Thompson..

Wonderful Classic Aussie ads

And of course there's the Happy Little Vegemites! and rather a lot of other deeply loved ads that just about everyone my age or older can sing even now decades later... and what's more get a great deal of pleasure doing so!!

and the eternally wonderful Louie the Fly

.. and Aeroplane Jelly..... Hugo and Holly... for which my hubby still has his song book.. who didn't love that one!

and another that became part of the Aussie vernacular "Oh Mr Hart!! What a mess!!" .. and some proof of just how much most of us loved that add - the chaser's tribute to Pro Hart on his demise.

Some Some of the Best Comedy

Australiana by Austen Tayshus .. warning this clip is quite rude and incldues drug references.. maybe it might go over the heads of people not well versed in Australiana but you never know. It is chock a block with (ie absolutely full of) references to Australian animals and locations, pastimes and events. Classic.

Sporting Anthems

Cmon Aussie Cmon. Written by mojo if my memory hasn't failed me. A really successful ad agency, but this bled over into being a cricketing anthem. Penned when the windies were at the top of their game. The reference to being up against the best was a reference to the windies touring. There is also an updated version reflecting more recent dominance of the Aussie team.. Cmon Aussie Cmon now has a life of it's own.

Up there Cazaly - VFL ie Victorian Football League - Aussie Rules before it went national. But even up here in the league states we enjoyed this one that became a hit song. Love the clip. ... oh by the way.. Cazaly is the name of one of the great players of Aussie Rules.

Then there's the 12th Man's Marvellous... maybe needs some background. Richie Benaud was captain of the Australian cricket team who has gone on to commentating. He's a dead set icon. He and the rest of the team strongly favour the word "marvellous" to describe the action....

Perhaps this one should go in the comedy section.. the Aussie Haka. As far as I can distinguish the words are
Take your thong off your foot.
Slap your thong on your arse
Slap your thong on your arse
Scull your beer Scull your beer, pour, pour
Scull your beer Scull your beer, pour, pour
We've got the cup you won't get it get it
Bill stays right here in Australia
You come ah! you come ah! You come a waltzing matilda with me!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Walking in the Blue Mountains: Leura Forest, Dardanelles Pass, Federal Pass

It's been another trying couple of weeks what with moving house and all there's been precious little opportunity for enjoyment. Following on from our Jenolan soujurn today we are up for another challenge and a Blue Mountains walk on one of the more challenging tracks is our agenda. We are again quite late getting away, but we arrive at Echo Point at about 10:45. We have decided to call in at the information centre and acquire some maps of the walks that we can carry with us.

It's many a year since we've gone in the info centre and gosh, what a change. It's not so much an info centre as a massive gift shop with small, two person info counter down one end. How the priorities have shifted. Last time we were here the windows overlooking the views were unobscured and there was a bird feeder outside the window where you could watch the gang gang cockatoos, king parrots and other beautiful birds. Now you're flat out seeing beyond the product displays.

After a bit of back and forthing to the maps and walks stand and some helpful advice about the publications from the girl on the sales desk we are out. We need to move the car. Our $3.50 will only take us along for an hour and we have at least 3-4 hrs walking in mind. Charges go up to $4 per hour after that first hour. As we have to drive anyway we decide we will do the walk: Leura Forest, Dardanelles Pass, Federal Pass which starts from Leura Cascades. Only a short drive away. We stop for a snack in the car which we have saved from brekkie, bircher muesli, with banana and king island yoghurt (yuuuuumm!) . Armed with wensleydale cheese and salad sandwiches, a couple of oranges and a couple of bottles of water, rainproof jackets etc we set off at 11:45.

It is chilly in the mountains today and I am glad I've brought a scarf and gloves. These shady walks don't take advantage of the glorious blue skies either so on go the gloves. It is a steady walk down broadly spaced steps which gradually increase in incline as we travel. The forest in this area is lush and moist. Delightful - but there is even better to come.

We've had a couple of weeks fairly steady rain in the Sydney area, and the path shows it. Fortunately the frame for the path provides an easy walk around, but it's not fast going. Fortunately the track improves as the terrain gets steeper.

We are walking downhill past the long series of cascades that give the locality the name. They are flowing beautifully and provide a contrast to the last time we were here for an Australia Day picnic with my brother and nephews. Daughter caught a yabby in the cascades on that day, and the baby and preschooler played leaf boats in the stream. Far too dangerous to even consider something like that today even if the weather wasn't so cold.

At the base of the cascade there is a cute little viewing area under a rock overhang. As paths go it's quite picturesque and I snap a shot. From the other side of the little bridge there is a scene of a nice little sandy beach beside the stream.

Sensible people head back up at this point, but we are headed down, down down the stairs...

A little way along we come to snatches of views across the valley to the glowing orange escarpment. A flowering banskia spinulosa or hairpin banksia with it's orange brushes and black styles frames the view out, while looking downward we see the plunging bridal veil falls. Leaving the lookout we head up the steps then climb down the staircases to the base of bridal veil falls. The long winding stairs traverse through the dense forest and past a beautiful gully of tree fern. Everything is moist and dripping. Rocks are covered in beautiful ferny moss. This is a truly beautful gully. Next to the path someone has carved a rudimentary face in the rock which has then been covered green with lush growth making a memorable landmark.

In the surrounding forest, a tree trunk has been comprehensively colonised by a fruiting fungus which climbs like a tawny apartment block high up into the tree. Surely the beautiful fungi are the jewels of the rainforest!

Finally we emerge at the base of the falls. We are immediately struck by their appropriate name... we admire for a minute or two and another couple arrive. Their first comment is the same as ours.. gee they really do look like a bridal veil!

From the falls we are heading up again, and pass under the canopy of tall tree ferns. Everywhere we go the sound of cascading water, trickling water, abundant water provides a rich serenade. In this drought ridden land, the sound of water everywhere around is indeed a luxurious sound!!

We pass around the edge of the escarpment on a narrow band of exposed claystone track, kept dry by the overhanging rock. This is the amphitheatre track and the guide books warns it can be slippery after rain. Then we come to our first obstacle. A tree has fallen across the path, breaking the railing of the metal bridge across which it has landed. Hmm. How to get round this. I decide the easiest way seems to be to hold the railing and step down off the path and across the rocks, then climb back through the barrier to retake the path. This does prove quite a simple exercise and we are again on our way.

We pass another beautiful silver torrent of water bounding down through the forest over a beautiful array of rock and out of sight to the valley floor below. This is soon followed by a magical section of path that runs underneath a deep and dripping rock overhang. The rotten wooden planks of the old path are visible against the rock ledge. The new subtly coloured recycled plastic boardwalk is fringed by beautiful ferns.
Another five minutes and we emerge to a fine veil of water falling from far above to strike a narrow rock ledge that seems to be placed just for the purpose of enhancing the effect of this beautiful fringe of water. We pause for several minutes in admiration. As we move off we notice that this was Lila Falls. Yes, it deserves a name. We are already running out of superlatives for this walk. It is magnificent.

The stairs keep on taking us down, steeply down, as we follow the path of the water. We are reminded that we are on Federal Pass by an interpretive board that gives historical information about this track. Heading on we soon come to Linda Falls which proves more amenable to still photography. It falls in a roar into a beautiful clear sandy bottomed pool, before running under the bridge of the path and flowing again down into the abyss below.

Down again the track travels via a couple of sharp hairpin turning stairways. It's still only 12:46. One hour into a four hour walk and we're wondering how we're going to find getting back up when the time comes....
Our thoughts are again distracted by the Marguerite Cascades. Three falls named for three women. I wonder who they were... Marguerite Cascades is lovely, though not quite as easily viewed.
As we continue along the track we continue to pass falling water meandering around beatiful mossy rocks in silver torrents. The forest to this point is dim. But the ground begins to level and the canopy to show shafts of light. We have arrived at the magical Leura Forest. Like a fairy glen with mossy rocks placed with harmonious skill around the flat ground neatly ornamented with a leaf litter over rich moist brown humous. A Japanese garden would struggle to outdo the beautiful placement of these rocks among the tall straight tree trunks. Fantastic!!

We are pleased to see several picnic tables scattered at discrete distances around the forest floor. What a special place for a picnic!! We decide to have our lunch here on our return, but first we'll knock over the Dardanelles Pass. We cross Banksia Streamlet and find another section of the picnic ground, this time with a corrugated iron roofed tea house. A reproduction of an original built over a hundred years ago that was destroyed by a falling tree.
We head on up Federal Pass and are struck along the way by a large rich brown, deeply textured tree trunk beautifully ornamented by some fine fungi fruits of the finest delicate fawn colour. They are exquisite but the light is very poor. Oh for a tripod!
We are now walking through bell bird country. Their outstandingly ethereal tinkling bell calls provide a magical atmosphere and belie the nature of the actual bird. As children we would always wind down our windows in sections of forest we knew had bell birds and listen to their beautiful call. I imagined them to be tiny pretty sweet natured little things. Quite disillusioning to find they are a quite aggressive large honeyeater quite a bully of the bird world. A pretty green, which orange highlights in skin, but with very very sharp claws like needles and an almost evil talent for digging them into the quick of your fingernail as you extract them from a mist net, or try to measure them... but nothing, nothing can lessen the joy of listening to their call.
In a little while we pass a lyrebird calling. We stop to listen and record the call for you and for posterity. The recorder has picked up the bell birds which of course are nearer, but we also manage at least some of the lyrebirds repetoire. The bell bird calls dominate, but all the various other calls you can hear are the lyrebird letting fly one bird call after the other..see what (if any) you can recognise, I can clearly hear eastern whip bird, black cockatoo, currawong, kookaburra, and shrike thrush. What a delight to stand in the peaceful forest with such a chorus around you!

The path all along is steep uphill. Not a lot of steps, but strenuous just the same. As we rise the forest is opening out. As the forest opens the beatifully lumpy and knobbly red trunks of Angophera Costata stand like sentinels, with shed bark arrayed modestly round about in beautiful rich shades of brown. Oh how I love this tree the shedding season up here in the mountains seems quite out of kilter with that lower down by the coast. A little way along shining straight smooth white trunks here and there light up the forest and I wonder what species they are - maybe Eucalyptus oreades? or deanei?

Through the trees we can see the ruined castle and conclude we must be nearing the intersection with Dardanelles pass. Click on the photo and you can see the ruined castle on the top of the ridge that curves gentley across the foreground of the distant escarpment.

Sure enough here it is. It's now ten minutes to two. We've been walking about 2 hrs to get to this point. Heading back along Dardanelles Pass, we meet up with a couple of brits who have just come down the giant stairway and are wondering which way to go. They've come without their purses and have only $10 between them, so getting the railway up is out. They got directions at the info centre and can't remember what they were told. A bit of quizzing of us and they decide to head across to Leura Cascades. They take off
at quite a formidable pace, but we are happy to let them get ahead. It's much nicer walking in the forest on your own isn't it. The terrain is very easy after the rest of our walk and feels like a rest by comparison. It is gently downhill, and quite a smooth path. We navigate through/over/around a couple of fallen trees along the way and come to a lady and small girl seated on a wayside bench listening to another lyrebird this time up the slope a bit. The bird is calling beautifully we have a brief chat about it and share the wonder of these fabulous Australian birds. Many people assume that because they are such great mimics - they can even make the sound of chain saws and tinkling chains when those sounds are around them - that they are named for that ie they are liar birds. This is not the case. They are lyre- birds named for the lyre shaped tails. The lyre is of course a musical instrument. The indigenous people regarded the lyrebird as having been given among the birds permission to speak all languages and was the "totem" symbol of the Dharawal people resident around the Campbelltown/Camden "cowpastures" area who took a role of diplomat and hospitable hosts among the local tribes. Living in such a rich and abundant area, in times of drought the mountain tribes would come down to the Dharawal area there around Mt Annan and the Dharawal considered it their duty to welcome all visitors, hold conferences and so on... they were similarly tolerant of the early european settlers. So a Dharawal oral historian told us in a talk I once attended. He said that the mountain tribes were not so tolerant and the violence that ended up occuring was when those people had come down in dry times and came into conflict with the settlers.
But I digress...
Soon we are back at Leura forest and ready for lunch. We're not the only ones with this idea, but the tables are well spaced and it's perfectly possible to have a quiet private lunch, albeit with an occassional wave and g'day to a passing walker. The forest encourages quiet contemplation, like a cathedral. There is something about this track. Almost everyone you pass is moved to be friendly. Does this wonderful place bring such a sense of common humanity to people who walk with spirits soaring? We all seem to have a common sense of unspoken awe... Well, apart from those locally resident British ladies, who seem to be powering on in chattering conversation oblivious to the forest. Oblivious to the lyrebirds. We catch them up when another guy is talking to them about the birds and saying to listen for them. The ladies stand with blank faces. They've not noticed the birds at all. I can't help feeling they've missed the point completely, but hey, each to his or her own I suppose.

Lunch out of the way. We press on wanting to see whether we can comfortably complete the walk in the 4 hours. It's now about 2:40 pm. Allowing extra for our lunch stop our 4 hrs runs out at 4 pm, but can we do it? It's only a short while until we hit the up-stairs section. We come to features that felt so far from the start of our walk. It's a strenuous climb up. We pace ourselves and pause regularly to take in the scene and catch our breath. It is an extraordinarily beautiful track... or should we say stairway, but our lower body is certainly feeling it. My knee is the first to complain and I start to feel my age. Bloody knee! Fortunately we have mostly to go up stairs and this it can tolerate no worries. Down is not so comfy and the problem leg must go down first which is a bit of a drag that slows us a bit.
We make it back to the carpark at 3:45pm. The guide book says this walk should be treated as a day walk. Probably quite correct, and it would be no problem if you just moseyed up and down the stairs etc, sat on the provided seats when they come up and generally just do a bit of communing. Certainly when doing cave tours at Jenolan, you take a flight or two of stairs, or a ladder and then you have a good 5 or ten minutes of resting listening and admiring before heading on again. Not very tiring that way at all. Certainly even half of this walk done at a steady continuous pace, seems twice as strenuous as the river cave that's for sure. However we're rather tickled that we've done it without too much problem. I must look up Tongariro Crossing and have a think about the comparison in the terrain etc. I think they say that once you get up the first bit.. is it the Devil's Staircase, the rest isn't too bad? I still don't know if we're game to take that on, but we'll have a great time walking before we decide. .. I've got my eye on the walk to ruined castle which is a similar grade but longer. It would need an early start of course....
.. back in the car we have some more water, and head off home in time to get the dinner...
Sunday morning after a better than usual night's sleep we aren't sore, but our lower body is tired. It certainly got a work out!

I must say that this challenging walk is superlative. Absolutely glorious. I am sure it would be delightful at any time, but now in winter after rain, in the season the lyrebirds are calling, it just cannot be bettered. What a privilege it is to live so close to such an amazing place as the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.