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The Travel Map - February 2007

OZ Rock Map

February 28th 2007 08:28
In Dublin recently, I stumbled across a great map in a local tourist magazine.

It was a self-guided musical trail around the Irish capital highlighting historic landmarks in the country’s musical history, such as first gigs, last gigs, song inspirations, homes, graves, arrests and watering holes of the likes of U2, Bob Geldolf and the Boomtown Rats, Shane McGowan and the Pouges, Thin Lizzy, the Corrs, Van Morrison and Ronan Keating.

Anyway, this got me thinking about a similar kind of map highlighting Oz rock landmarks for travellers looking for a rocking good time down under.

Now this needs lots more attention (and hopefully your help), but as a work in progress this is what I have come up with so far:

Freemantle Cemetery – grave of former AC/DC frontman Bon Scott.

The Manly Ferry to Circular Quay – immortalised in Australian Crawl’s all-time Aussie classic Reckless with the line “As the Many Ferry cuts its way to Circular Quay.”
The Sandringham Hotel, Newtown – Known locally as The Sando, this is the spiritual home of several Sydney bands, including The Whitlams who formed there during the Saturday afternoon acoustic sessions and wrote a song about the pub titled “God Drinks at the Sando”.
Glebe Point Bridge – One of You Am I’s classic inner western Sydney icons. “Had a scratch only you could itch underneath the Glebe Point Bridge” from their Purple Sneakers track.
Sydney from a 727 at night – Paul Kelly track of same name: “Have you ever seen Sydney from a 727 at night, Sydney shines such as beautiful light and I can see Bondi through my window way off on the right.”

Sunbury – home of Australia’s own Woodstock, the Sunbury Music Festival from 1972-1975.

The Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda – legendary live rock venue and setting for SBS TV’s Rockwiz program. Paul Kelly’s declares his love for the St Kilda’s Esplanade precinct and its superiority to Sydney Harbour in “From St Kilda to Kings Cross.”
The MCG – Viewed from a distance always brings to mind Paul Kelly’s lyrics from Leaps and Bounds: “I’m high on the hill looking over the hill to the MCG.”
Carlton – The spiritual home of Aussie rock legends The Skyhooks. Their first gig was at St Jude’s Church Hall and their Carlton (Lygon Street Limbo) track sings of the area’s “pizza places” and ‘Spaced-out faces”.

Vulture Street, Brisbane – name of most recent album from Briz rockers Powderfinger.
The street, located in the suburb of Woolloongabba, is also home to The ‘Gabba cricket ground.
Any verandah in North Queensland – to relive the classic Gangajang lines “out on the patio we’d sit, and the humidity we’d breathe, we’d watch the lighting crash over canefields, laugh and think, this is Australia”.

Bow River – more a creek bed than a river, this small outpost between Kununurra and Hall’s Creek was the title of a classic Cold Chisel track about the desert landscape and tropical rain written by band member Ian Moss, who grew up in Alice Springs.
Anywhere in NT – whack Midnight Oil’s iconic ‘Beds are Burning’ track in the car stereo for extra atmosphere, particularly the opening lines:”Out where the river broke, the bloodwood and the desert oak, holden wrecks and boiling diesels, screaming 45 degrees.”

Langs Pier Hotel, Adelaide – legendary live rock venue and birthplace of Aussie cult heroes Cold Chisel, The Angles, Paul Kelly and the Masters Apprentices.


Note: There are plenty of old landmarks that no longer exist, so the rough criteria is that there still has to be something for the rock-loving tourist to see (except a new apartment building) no matter how much they have to use their imagination to picture past glories or original inspirations.

All suggestions welcomed!!!!

World's Best Parks

February 27th 2007 07:15
City parklands are usually welcomed by weary travellers as a sanctuary from the sensory overload that comes with dedicated sightseeing.
Of course, many parks are true tourist attractions in their own right, like New York’s Central Park, London’s Hyde Park, the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris and Munich’s English Garden to name just a few. But even at these world famous standouts, the appeal lies mostly in slowing down the pace, taking a break and watching the world, and the citizens of a foreign city, go by.
Oslo’s Vigeland Park however takes the standard park experience to a whole new level. This unique park on the inner western fringe of the Norwegian capital, is a smorgasbord of sights courtesy of more than 200 fascinating full-size human sculptures from local sculptor Gustav Vigeland.
Vigeland Park is probably best described as a study of human life. It could also be termed ‘giggle park’ judging by the squeals of many of the young female tourists during our visit.
See, all of Vigeland’s sculptures are nude. Not only nude but also nude and engaged in a diverse range of everyday pursuits such as crying, fighting, wrestling, hugging, holding hands, climbing, running, dancing, dreaming, sitting, standing and chasing. These granite and bronze sculptures, clustered along the park’s main tree-lined boulevard, depict human beings of all ages in an overall theme focused on the circle of life.
The centrepiece of this amazing open-air artistic showcase is the imposing 14 metre-high monolith. Carved from a single granite pillar, it features a writhing mass of entwined human bodies, all striving and undermining each other to reach the top. Like most of Vigeland’s works, and indeed any study of humanity, the monolith is open to endless interpretations, ranging from phallic symbolism to the struggle for existence.
The plateau area around the monolith continues the display of multiple-body sculptures with groupings of humans, from babies and children to elderly men and women, shown in a variety of activities and emotional states. The best thing about this art display is there are no signs not to touch. It is a real hands-on experience (just be careful where you put your hands!).
Another real showpiece of Vigeland Park is the fountain where six huge male figures are holding aloft a bowl from which water splashes down around them. The bridge and its bronze child-themed sculptures lining both sides is another highlight and this where you can find one of the park’s most popular and most photographed sculptures ‘Little Hot-Head’.
Vigeland’s talents are also showcased in the bronze wheel of life display and in the park’s iron gates. He also designed the architectural setting and layout of the grounds, which are a popular picnic, recreation and relaxation spot. This is just as well as you may be looking for some quiet park space to catch you breath in after taking in Vigeland’s stunning array of emotion-charged and thought-provoking works.
Unfortunately, Gustav Vigeland did not live to see the park named in his honour in its full glory. The City of Oslo recognised his sculpting talents in the 1920s and built him a studio in return for all his future works. Around the same time, the parkland was set aside for an open-air showcase of his works and Vigeland devoted the rest of his life to new sculptures for the park. However, many of these sculptures and architectural elements were not installed in the park until after his death in 1943.

Enough from me. This is my favourite park that I have come across in my travels. What’s yours?

This article was recently published in The Sunday-Mail in Adelaide.


Below is an article I wrote recently about attending a festival on my own home patch, just after returning home from more than three months travels overseas.
Sometimes when you get back from a great overseas holiday, particularly an extended period on the road, and all the spontaneity, excitement and adventures that comes with that, all you want to do is head straight back. More often that not, it is just not possible. I don’t think there are any real cures for itchy feet, but I do know there is temporary relief to be found, often right under your nose.
I hope you enjoy my review of my experience at the Woodford Folk Festival and please let me know of any tips you may have for scratching the travel itch at home.

Woodford Connects Folks Down Under
Australia’s Woodford Folk Festival has turned 21 and like any enthusiastic young adult has celebrated its coming of age in great style.
In truth, Woodford, like many other young adults, came of age a little while ago. However, the milestone is a testament to its longevity in a field where many festivals are lucky to make it anywhere near puberty. It also signals a bright future ahead for an event that is now in the prime of its life and possibly holds the keys to a better cultural understanding and connection so desperately needed throughout the world.
Having recently returned home to Australia’s Sunshine Coast after more than three months traveling, my wife and I were already missing the daily adrenaline rush and cultural immersion of our inspired days hiking in Norway, drinking in Ireland and eating in Italy. Unfortunately, the world would have to wait for our next international adventures, but what if the world could come to us? We knew what we had to do.
We had been to the Woodford Folk Festival a few times before, but this time we were bringing an unexpected outbreak of itchy feet with us, an ailment we thought was well and truly under control given the travels of the months before. The itch came straight back and we needed a cure, no matter how temporary.
Our relief was sudden and soothing as Woodford took our senses around the world in 24 hours in our own back yard. Our overnight New Year’s Eve visit also provided a perfect reflection on the year gone and a celebration of the promise ahead. A soothing three minutes of candlelit-silence throughout the festival site at 11.30pm said a moving goodbye to 2006, while a spiritual hill-top sunrise ceremony at 4.30am said hello to the first sun of 2007.

The six-day Woodford festival is now one of the largest of its kind in the world, with more than 2,000 performers and 120,000 visitors from near and far creating a temporary global village complete with world music, food, bars, workshops and discussions. It is a true melting pot of world cultures simmering under Australia’s summer sun and burning brightly from its magical hidden bushland valley, which oozes with an atmosphere of open-mindedness and understanding that slows the pace and soothes the soul following the commercial excesses of Christmas.
While Woodford is a showcase of all performance and artistic genres, world music is still its beating heart and choosing who to see, and who to miss, creates the biggest stresses of the day. On the local Australian music front, we took in pulsating acoustic guitarist and singer Paul Greene, enigmatic pianist and story teller Tim Freedman of The Whitlams, and boisterous blues outfit Backsliders (with Midnight Oil’s Rob Hirst on drums). From the world stage, Irish fiddle virtuoso Martin Hayes and American guitarist Dennis Cahill reeled and jigged their way through an energetic one-hour set, including a stunning five-minute opening number. This was just the organised music experiences, complimented by the ever-buzzing hive of musical and theatrical street performers that bring Woodford to life.
If music is Woodford’s heart, then cultural understanding is the blood flowing through its veins. A panel discussion on Islam, featuring a mix of new and old Australian Muslims and academics, drew a huge audience who opened their ears and minds to every word.
“It is in the spirit of Woodford that a Rabbi introduces a panel discussion on Islam,” proclaimed panel moderator, journalist and author of The World of Islam George Negus. He described the need to understand Islam as arguably the world’s most important issue and bemoaned that “we do a lot of talking about Islam, but not much talking to Muslims” and the idea of the panel discussion was to help “build bridges of understanding between cultures”.
Celebrating the world’s diversity as you walk the dusty streets of Woodford and soak up the eclectic sights, diverse sounds and exotic tastes and smells of the village’s international foods, against the backdrop of Queensland’s bush and brooding summer storm clouds overhead, it is easy to feel an instant connection to this temporary, utopian global community and forget which reality you are meant to belong to.
Festival Director Bill Hauritz says that connection is perhaps Woodford’s greatest achievement. “It seems sometimes that many of us come here, connect into the festival, and then return home to a world and community that disconnects itself from reality,” he says. “Yet reality is where we say we go when we go home.’’
We didn’t know what reality we were in. All that mattered was we were a world away… at home.

Time Travel with Hottest 100 Flashbacks

February 23rd 2007 12:00
Ahh, Australia Day! Lamb chops on the BBQ, backyard cricket, ice-cold VB, red hot sand and sunburn, and an ever increasing and angry mob of drunk young Australians roaming the streets draped in flags on a patriotic rampage that looks more and more like a redneck convention in disguise every year. When exactly did Australia Day become such an aggressive outpouring of national pride among youths? The Cronulla riots probably played a big part in drawing the Aussie flag out of its long-time slumber and into the forefront of modern youth culture – just look at how the flag has infiltrated the surf fashion industry, from bikinis and board shorts to thongs and tattoos. Of course, the flag is now a news issue in its own right after The Big Day Out concerts tried to discourage its use for aggressive, anti-social purposes. This is all a discussion for another time and another blog, but the point is Australia Day has come and gone again and what are your memories (hopefully not being bashed by a flag brandishing skinhead).
For me, the consistent heartbeat of Australian Day has been the Triple J Hottest 100 countdown. The day-long playlist of the previous year’s best songs, as voted by listeners, is an Australia Day institution and one that more inclusively reflects all the diverse elements that make up modern Aussie culture, more so than a flag or pair of thongs.
The songs can also reflect the moods of the time (both personally and collectively) and that is where the travel hook comes in – in case you were wondering

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Mapping A New Direction

February 22nd 2007 11:44
Here’s the thing. I love maps. Probably because I love travel, and travel and maps go hand in hand (literally).
To hold a new, unmarked map in your hand and plan your attack on a city or country you have just arrived in for the first time is, to me, the exact moment that fully captures the anticipation and excitement of travel.
I love looking at the map and circling the famous tourist icons, such as the Colosseum, Eiffel Tower, Times Square, or the Big Banana, knowing that soon I will be physically standing in front of and admiring these landmarks that I have long dreamed of visiting

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Welcome to the all new domain blog!

February 22nd 2007 11:38
Welcome to my all new domain blog (previously found at
I will be copying over my brief history of posts and then getting stuck into mapping out the new blog.

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