Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Australia. Show all posts

Saturday, June 10, 2017

La fin de ma terre de naissance ?

Dans cette image de New Scientist
indiquant des pays en train de disparaître,
le drapeau à gauche est celui de l'Australie.
Ça ne me choque pas du tout. J'ai souvent dit que
cette nation finirait par sombrer dans l'océan Pacifique.
Je veux dire que c'est la "nation britannique" qui va disparaître.
Puis le pays nouveau sera un énorme élément de l'Asie du Sud-Est.
Avec des citoyens de toutes les cultures, toutes les couleurs et toutes
les langues. Mon pays deviendra un énorme "melting pot".
Avec un nouveau drapeau, bien entendu,
sans les croix de l'Union Jack. Et
un nouvel hymne national.
Seul son nom restera.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Journalists in my upside-down world

Everybody knows that people in the Antipodes walk on their heads, because they live in an upside-down world. It's true that my Antipodean land of birth, Australia, is quite different to my adopted country, France.

• Australia is thought of as an immensely rich land, since all kinds of treasures lie beneath the surface. On the other hand, Australian history and culture are not particularly exciting. The Aborigines, for example, have never produced any written texts. So, it's as if the past only came into human memory a few generations ago. We know next to nothing about their ancient history. Aborigines themselves have invented myths about the past, but they have no precise objective knowledge of the names or life-styles of their ancestors. They simply guess. And their conclusions are probably right, because Australian Aborigines are a people that doesn't seem to evolve considerably in time.

• France, on the other hand, cannot be thought of as a rich land, since there are few treasures beneath the surface of our land. Our treasures are above the surface, in our history, culture and, above all, our people.

Normally, one would expect that a rich country such as Australia would send many journalists to a land such as France, to keep in touch with what's happening here. Similarly, one might expect that a less wealthy nation such as France would run into financial problems in trying to maintain journalists in a faraway land such as Australia. Actual reality is exactly the opposite. France attempts constantly to find out what's happening in Australia. On the contrary, Australia depends on foreign sources of information to find out what's happening, say, in France. We live indeed in an upside-down world.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Amazing documentary on Australia

This evening, France 2 showed an amazing documentary, shot in Australia, on the subject of animal intelligence. We saw baby kangaroos being reared in a clinic, a female crocodile examined by echography, clouds of fruit bats in the sky (a familiar scene in Grafton, my place of birth), horses that communicate with humans through emotions, a huge snake being captured in a suburban house, the glorious movements of dolphins, giant turtles and rays, a presentation of the extraordinary cuttlefish...

This was one of the most intelligent and exhilarating documentaries from Australia that I've ever seen, totally different to the general touristic rubbish that emerges regularly from Down Under. There wasn't a single shot of koalas, Aborigines,  opal mines or Uluru. We didn't even get a glimpse of the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House. Not even Taronga Park. And no surfers or lifesavers. Viewers were simply presented with a land whose animal diversity surpasses that of all other places on the planet. Australia has 378 species of mammals, 828 bird species, 4,000 fish species, 300 lizard species, 140 snake species and 2 species of crocodiles. 80 % of these creatures are endemic, which means that they don't exist anywhere else in the world.

This documentary, created by a team of friendly and intelligent French people, was the 13th in a series designated as The Extraordinary Powers of the Human Body, directed by Michel Cymès and Adriana Karembeu.

Michel Cymès et Adriana Karembeu (Crédit photo : Philippe Doignon / FTV)

Monday, September 26, 2016

Australia’s preferable mate: USA or China?

The French newspaper Le Monde informs us that this crucial question has arisen Down Under. May the better mate win.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Certain weird Aussies won't admit that I exist

The behavior of the Australian book-sales business is unique. They don't seem to function in the same way as ordinary civilized bookshops elsewhere in the world. In a nutshell, they behave as if their country still lived in the days of bushrangers. For example, when a prospective customer attempts to purchase books that I've written and published, Amazon Australia simply tells the would-be customer that no such author or publisher exists.

It's amazing! When I discovered this state of affairs, a few days ago, I was utterly shocked. The primitive bastards don't seem to realize that, beyond the shorelines of their Antipodian island, a vast new world exists. To be honest, I don't know exactly why a few Australian Internet book shops behave in this weird manner.

I suspect, though, that it's because they discovered that I was an independent publisher, with my own successful business named Gamone Press, Choranche. What they dislike about me, I would imagine, is the fact that my book-printing platform is Lightning Source. Maybe there's some kind of gang warfare going on between Aussie bookshops and this platform. I'm merely guessing, because nobody seems to be able to tell me what's happening in the Antipodes. In any case, the situation Down Under truly sickens me... like many things, these days, that emerge from my land of birth.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Plans for future new bridge at Grafton

One of these days, my native town of Grafton in Australia will have a new bridge over the Clarence River. The northern area, which includes the major town of Grafton, will have the following layout:

Click to enlarge slightly

The southern area, which includes my childhood town of South Grafton, will have the following layout:

Click to enlarge slightly

Details of plans for the future bridge can be found in a website of the Roads & Maritime authority. Random remarks about Grafton's old bridge over the Clarence River can be found elsewhere in my Antipodes blog.

The vast extent to which Pound Street is to be modified will certainly change the area where we Skyvington kids grew up, in the company of local friends such as Jimmy Kemmis and Anne Fisher. It might be said that a central zone of the city of Grafton will be transformed into a highway, running alongside Market Square and the clocktower, then through Jacaranda Avenue. To my mind, the old town will find it difficult to survive such an onslaught of road traffic.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

An Aborigine talks of "the Australian dream"

The journalist Stan Grant is a descendant of the Wiradjuri tribe.

I love a sunburned country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges… It reminds me that my people were killed on those plains. We were shot on those plains, diseases ravaged us on those plains. My people die young in this country. We die 10 years younger than the average Australian, and we are far from free. We are fewer than 3 per cent of the Australian population and yet we are 25 per cent, a quarter of those Australians locked up in our prisons. And if you're a juvenile it is worse, it is 50 per cent. An Indigenous child is more likely to be locked up in prison than they are to finish high school. My grandfather on my mother's side, who married a white woman, who reached out to Australia, lived on the fringes of town until the police came, put a gun to his head, bulldozed his tin humpy, and ran over the graves of the three children he buried there. That's the Australian dream. And if the white blood in me was here tonight, my grandmother, she would tell you of how she was turned away from a hospital giving birth to her first child because she was giving birth to the child of a black person. The Australian dream. We are better than this.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Yanks in control of an Aussie Eden

If I were still residing out in my native land, I would surely react strongly to this ugly case of a total sell-out to American capitalism. Click here to see what I’m talking about. Settled down in France, far away from this sad situation, I can’t do much, and I no longer really care too much. Australia, after all, has become a total sell-out to global capitalism. Aussie voters—including the much-celebrated social wage-earning class known as battlers—are solely concerned with paying off the mortgage on their dull little homes. So, who gives a brass razoo (or a fuck, for that matter) about the presence of Yankee capitalism on an exotic West Australian island.

All the same, I’m immensely saddened by this story. But there’s surely worse to come…

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Knowing Indonesia

At the start of 1962, when I sailed from Sydney for the Old World, my grandfather was surprised, indeed slightly shocked, that a young Australian might venture out into the Northern Hemisphere without having first visited Outback Australia and our neighboring New Zealand. Today, in a way, I agree with him. But I’ve never, of course, regretted for an instant my profound relationship with France, along with parts of Britain and the Mediterranean (particularly Greece and Israel). For me, travel has always been an almost sacred affair, carried out necessarily in solitude, akin to setting foot in an ancient monastery. Consequently, I’ve never really traveled very much at all, except maybe into my own metaphorical “heart and soul”.

For Australians in general, Indonesia is a very special nation, since they’re our closest northern neighbors. Personally, I’ve never set foot there. As a schoolchild in Grafton, in the 1950s, I was thrilled when my paternal grandparents, in the context of an exchange program, welcomed a male Indonesian student into their home for a short time. (It’s not impossible that his name is going to spring into my mind, one night, in a dream.) He was so intelligent, refined and friendly that we tended to look upon him as an exhibit in a cultural museum. I would love to know what he thought of us.

Click to enlarge

Today, in my native land, everybody is shocked (like me too) because, in the early hours of the morning, Indonesian police dragged a couple of nice Australian fellows out of their beds in Bali, and stood them up for execution in front of firing squads. Needless to say, I disagree entirely with this kind of barbarian manslaughter, which serves no useful purpose. Here in France, on 18 September 1981, the great lawyer Robert Badinter made a moving speech to the National Assembly that culminated in the abolition of the death penalty.

« J'ai l'honneur,
au nom du Gouvernement de la République,
de demander à l'Assemblée nationale
l'abolition de la peine de mort en France... »

It would be marvelous if every civilized nation in the world were to abandon forever the disgusting death penalty… but we’re nowhere near the achievement of this goal. Just look at Texas. Meanwhile, it would be good if Australia were to make an effort in getting to know our northern neighbor, instead of reducing the Indonesian nation to the sole silly low-cost pleasure-ground of Bali.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Pathetic end of a pioneering era

I don’t know whether many of my compatriots have ever heard of a NSW rural township named Breeza. Here’s a wonderful photo of the Breeza landscape from Ian Stehbens:

Breeza is surely one of the loveliest names you could possibly imagine for a hot flat place out on the Liverpool Plains. One imagines sea breezes floating in magically from the distant Pacific! I heard this name constantly during my childhood, because my grandmother Kathleen Pickering [1889-1964] was born in nearby Quirindi and brought up in Breeza, on a sheep station named Currabubula. What fabulous place names! If you’ve got a map—or, better still, Google—you’ll find that the municipalities named Breeza and Currabubula lie in the middle of a triangle whose corners are Gunnedah, Tamworth and Quirindi.

I’ve just published (through Gamone Press) a family-history book, They Sought the Last of Lands, presenting pioneering stories of my Australian ancestors.

If you’re interested, I invite you to click here to download the chapter in which I speak of my grandmother from Breeza.

Now, some of the few remaining flimsy threads that tie me to my native land are about to be destroyed forever. A Chinese company named Shenhua has apparently received approval from the NSW state government to build a gigantic coal mine on the agricultural lands of the Liverpool Plains near my ancestral township of Breeza. Astounded and shocked by such a scenario, I hardly know what to say.
Australia is selling off to China
 the lands and spirits of her pioneers.
The souls of my ancestors.
Click here and here for press stuff on this unfolding tragedy.

Meanwhile, as usual Down Under, where life is casual, nobody seems to give a coal-mine fuck. Is our Australian people really as apathetic and indeed pathetic as that? Yes, no doubt. I would love to be contradicted...

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Patriotic sheep

On Australia Day, these sheep got their act together:

But this dumb ram didn’t:

Monday, January 26, 2015

Australia Day thoughts

I’m so stunned and embarrassed by the comical stupidity of that Abbott fellow that I don’t feel like saying anything much at all today. So, out of respect for a land I once loved, I shall remain silent.

PS A sad thought crossed my mind: Things could get worse, alas, if Charles were to become king. And another sad thought: How many of those Australians who joke about Abbott today were actually responsible for voting him in, often with the sole misogynistic aim of getting rid of Julia Gillard? Aussies are a fickle people.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Συγχαρητήρια Ελλάδα !

It would be wonderful if the stunning victory of the extreme left in Greece could be an incentive for vast changes in Europe.

On this Australia Day, it would be wonderful too if my native land, inspired by the Greek example, were to set out at last on the road towards the creation of a republic, capable of recuperating the vast mineral wealth that is being stolen by international capitalists, and using it to build a splendid infrastructure and a decent defense system for the people of Australia.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Darwin guy close to getting a Darwin Award

In this blog, here, I’ve already mentioned the prestigious annual Darwin Awards. They’re necessarily posthumous awards, because a winner has to have done something immensely stupid, to such an extent that he kills himself, whereby benefiting humanity through the removal of his ugly chromosomes from the human gene pool. The standards for receiving this award might appear to be excessively high, but the underlying idea is that, if a candidate doesn’t kill himself, then he wasn’t stupid enough to deserve a prize. You might say that such a failed candidate demonstrates, through his survival, that he wasn’t sufficiently altruistic or self-abnegating, with respect to his fellow men, to be a winner.

In the case of the following fellow, with a shirt hiding his face, all I can say is that he came bloody close to getting an award. The ATM [automated teller machine] that he succeeded in blowing up knocked him backwards onto the ground, but the explosion didn’t have quite enough force to blow his stupid head off. Pity.

I was most impressed by the way in which the guy got back up immediately onto his feet, tore the shirt off his face, and headed off away from the camera. When I was a kid in Australia, we had a nice expression that sums up this kind of sporting prowess:
He took off like a bat out of Hell.

This would have been a particularly poignant Darwin Award, because the fellow’s act took place in Winnellie, which happens to be a suburb of the Northern Territory town of Darwin. What a shame he failed.

Incidentally, among the comments of well-wishers who appreciated this fascinating video, I was really pissed off by an American who talked as if our hero were a citizen of God’s Own Country… and moreover a Republican. Bloody pretentious Yanks. It’s time they realized that, Down Under, we’ve got individuals who are just as brilliantly idiotic as the dumbest US specimens.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fit to be worn by an Aussie PM

This morning, I was browsing around on the Internet, looking for stores that sell long winter underwear... which is the ideal solution for keeping warm whenever I'm wandering around outside in the snow. I took a look at the website of the French textile company named 3 Suisses.

Now I can already hear some of my readers complaining: "William is such a staunch Francophile that he's trying to pull the wool (or synthetic textile) over our eyes by suggesting that the 3 Suisses company is French. But we know enough French to realize that this company, in view of its name, is obviously Swiss." I'm sorry to disappoint such bright readers, but the explanations I'm about to reveal might enable them to succeed in a future French trivia quiz. In 1932, Monsieur Toulemonde set up the offices of his company in Roubaix, in the north of France. Opposite his office building, there was a bistrot run by a Monsieur Suis, who had 3 daughters. Customers got around to referring to the bistrot as chez les 3 Suisses. And that name rubbed off onto the textile company on the other side of the road.

After World War II, the annual 3 Suisses catalogue became required reading for families throughout France. And, as early as 1998, the 3 Suisses company glided effortlessly into the Internet era... almost as if they had been waiting for it to happen.

These days, when Internet users are reading the French news, they often find images of scantily-clad females, wearing 3 Suisses garments, floating across the top of the screen. And I know from experience that, whenever I've been tempted to take a closer glimpse at such a creature, I've been bombarded constantly, for days afterwards, by all kinds of 3 Suisses ads for female clothes... which are generally of a quite pleasant nature.

This morning, though, I was hit in the eye by the following 3 Suisses publicity:

I peered at the name beneath the photo on the left, and said to myself that this was no doubt a joke. Somebody had surely created this hoax name and image on the 3 Suisses website. No genuine manufacturer would dare to call his company "Aussie Bum". Maybe the site had been hacked by a gay guy from Down Under who was still under the spell of Mr Rabbit's budgie smuggling.

Well, it seems I was wrong. The company in question really exists, and you can click here to view their range of big-bulge products.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Satellite night views

I'm impressed by this lovely Nasa night view of the planet Earth:

[Click to enlarge]

Questions arise, demanding answers. From right to left (like the Sun):

— Clearly, the New Zealander who was holding a candle has learned that humanity possesses fire. A kind soul might inform him that we've also invented electricity.

— The Australian government should find and punish the fuckwit who turned out all the lights in Tasmania at exactly the moment that Nasa photographers were asking the people of the world to say cheese.

— What's all that luminous agitation in the Nile Delta ? The spirit of the pharaohs ?

— Dark Africa. Basically, the African continent remains dark. Is this some kind of literary arrangement?

— Northern America appears to be sharply divided between illuminated society (to the Atlantic east) and the obscure Far West. California might succeed in throwing light upon this vast dark territory.

Don't forget to blow out your bedside candle before falling asleep.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Young Australians 2012

In France yesterday, a similarly illegal protest march took place in Paris. We learn today that an official inquiry will take place, to identify the ringleaders. An organizer of an illegal happening of this kind can be jailed for six months and fined 7,500 euros. To perform their inquiry, French police have the identities of 152 protesters, and they will be using street video images and messages that appeared on the Internet.

The exceptional resolution of the French ministry of the Interior is reassuring. I have the impression that a similar procedure is to be adopted in Australia. The following excerpt from The Sydney Morning Herald confirms that the disturbances in Sydney are being taken most seriously:
The chain of text messages that led to the riot in Sydney's central business district on Saturday leaving 23 people injured, including six police officers, was being traced by detectives last night. More arrests were expected in addition to those of the six men already charged, after about 400 protesters tried to storm the US consulate in Sydney and became involved in running battles with police around Hyde Park, St James railway station and William Street. [...] The public order and riot squad was on standby last night to quell any further outbreaks of violence, and an investigative team, Strike Force McAlister, was formed to track down ringleaders.

Australian child 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

French visitor in Australia

Recently, this emu at Taronga Park on the shores of Sydney Harbour was puzzled:

The bird couldn't be expected to know that the great French 34-year-old rugby international Sébastien Chabal (nicknamed the Caveman) was in Sydney on a working holiday. He had been invited as a guest player in the third-grade Balmain team in a match against Petersham.

Why not have fun while getting paid to visit Down Under? For the moment, Chabal has a bit of time on his hands, since leaving his last club in Paris.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Rally Australia

At Coffs Harbour, over the four days starting next Thursday, this is the Citroën automobile to admire:

Here's a rear view of this vehicle:

And here's the driver, Sébastien Loeb:

For the moment, Loeb is leading the 2011 championship, but he could still be beaten by the other Citroën driver, Sébastien Ogier. Meanwhile, with three rallies remaining after Australia (in France, Spain and the UK), the Finns Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala, in their Fords, are unlikely to catch up with the Frenchmen.

Click the banner to access the Rally Australia website. I've been looking at the four-day schedule and the various maps, and trying to figure out what I would do if I were a spectator out in New South Wales. On the opening day, it would be good to spend some time at the Jetty Precinct in Coffs Harbour, in the hope of glimpsing the drivers and vehicles before they actually get into action, late in the afternoon. Then, on Sunday afternoon, it would be interesting to watch the final so-called "power stage" up in the vicinity of Wooli and Red Rock.

The rally covers such a big area—of what appears to be bush country (?)—that I have no idea how spectators are expected to move from one place to another. Nor do I know how spectators can actually obtain real-time information on the results of the latest stages. Maybe by means of an iPhone capable of linking to the above-mentioned website?