Saturday arvo. I was sitting in the gutter thinking about the fact that 75 years ago on August 6 and 9 …
Little Boy, the green one, was dropped on Hiroshima from a plane called Enola Gay after the flight commander’s mother. The other, Fat Boy, was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. (These are actual-size replicas at the site in Los Alamos in New Mexico where they were developed and manufactured.) More people died in the carpet bombing of Tokyo and the subsequent conflagration than in either disaster, and I’ve just read that it wasn’t the atomic bombings that persuaded the Japanese leaders to surrender: it was the Russian invasion of Manchuria. Russians. Terrifying.
I was also prepared to get distressed about this.
But then I discovered that these US Postal Service mail boxes had been there for several years in the yard of the company that refurbishes and resprays them and sells them on as novelties. Notwithstanding, and also irregardless, shortly after again I found out that Trump’s new Postmaster-General Louis DeJoy holds between $25 and $50 million worth of shares in XPO, a company of which he was formerly CEO, which is a competitor/ sometime sub-contractor of the US Postal Service. He received $7 million in income from that source last year and still receives regular rental payments from its properties.
Phwicckkk Phwacccck. Mon Dieu. Time to go for a walk.
You have to lift your eyes from the screen. There are other things to see, to notice.
Could be Loco Hall 1914 with loco on top of the Panarkadian Association of Melbourne. Could be Cooky yelling out the window as we passed although, heaven knows, there can’t be much foot traffic down that lane. Could be Ralphy, in a weird 20-year cycle, setting up his own eatery in the front of Trutrack. Could be the roughcast pattern in the second hand bricks of the new unit block in Leveson Street near Bet’s. That’s before we’ve even got to Coffee Roasters Warehouse which, even if it’s a bit hard to get El Pres these days, will definitely have large Evolve flat whites; and the first sip will say mmp mmmm … welcome. Sit in the gutter and enjoy this. (That’s what I was doing sitting in the gutter.)
No scrubs to deliver, but 5 kms gives you quite a lot to play with. Moreland Road to the north, right round Flemington racecourse to the west, all of Studley Park going east, and to the south the beach and half of Albert Park Lake.
But Geoff and Vera had pointed us towards the unknown, so we followed the Moonee Ponds Creek down to Docklands and its confluence with the Yarra.
It was a pleasure to see the effort, however modest, which had gone into new plantings of natives under the freeway and in Railway Canal Reserve and the number of birds and range of species which had found homes there including a community of what I will call New Holland honeyeaters. (Australia has about 90 indigenous species of honeyeaters and you can’t always tell: Collingwood jumper, white ear muffs, yellow markings on the wings. Quite a treat really.)
The entry to the Bolte bridge from the north and like most such affairs something of an urban wasteland. But as I said, not completely revolting. Giving it a go. Tanbark. Bushes. Not much graffiti.
‘We’re on a road to nowhere …’ A set of steps with no obvious destination just near the confluence of the creek and the river which appears below.
One way to keep your perspective and your eye on the vanishing point in these horizontally-challenged times, albeit with vertical accents. [ •Who knows what these plants are called? Gymea Lily/ Spear Lily bot. name: Doryanthes excelsa, a native. Thank you very much Dreda!]
Round the corner, who knew, is the Ron Barassi Snr Park.
Ron Barassi Snr being distinguished from Ron Barassi Jnr, Ronald Dale that is. Both played for Melbourne, both won premierships, but RB Snr was the first VFL footballer killed in the second world war at Tobruk, a port on the coast of Libya. And, frankly, who knew that either. I had it in the desert … with Rats. And, of course, RB Snr would be Kurt’s grandpa.
It’s coronavirus quiet this day. A bit of desultory soccer.
We’re walking down New Quay, in this instance looking at Marina Towers. Would the floors be level? You’d have to think so. Would the tilted walls and windows give you mild nausea? Quite possibly. You’d be inclined to ask: why bother? But look, there it is.
There’s money here. Some of the apartments right on the water must be worth a fortune. The boat is ‘Texas’, almost certainly implying ‘as big as’.
[An addition here. Intent reader Dr Cook tells me that this boat may have something to do with Solomon Lew, member of the VERY Rich List. So I checked and this is what I found in the business pages of ‘The Age’ 15 or so years ago:
Eight months after an arrest warrant was issued for “the ship Texas”, the fight between the owner of the vessel associated with Solomon Lew and a New Zealand boat builder has not been settled.
The Texas – a 45-metre “yacht”, more aptly described as an extravaganza – was arrested last November. It might not be too much longer before the matter actually makes it in a Federal Court room for a hearing that presumably will feature one Solomon Lew, and maybe his wife, in the witness box.
Basically Sensation Yacht’s case is that it was retained by Lew to refurbish and extend the Texas in late 1999 on a cost plus profit basis. It was no ordinary refit: it is claimed that 366,463 man hours were spent on readying the vessel to the standard required by one of the richest men in the country.
The amount of work increased substantially and the exercise brings to mind that old line that if you have to ask the cost of owning a yacht you have no business owning one. The monthly invoices for the Texas refit were paid each month from October 1999 to June last year, and the monthly amount was rarely below $400,000 and sometimes was as much as $750,000. By the end of June last year, close to $14 million had been poured into the vessel.
The latest writ lodged by the New Zealand company reckons that the vessel and its owner Paymetal owe some $4.6 million as well as interest and damages.
It reckons the Texas was berthed at the Viaduct basin in Auckland while final work was being done on the ship. It says that without any prior request or notification to the boat builder’s management, the ship was taken from its dock with the ship’s captain and crew. It subsequently arrived in Melbourne.]
And here we’ve got some remnants of more active times: a party plan junk tethered, two prolific and untouched lemon trees, a mound of outdoor furniture and lighting packed up for the duration, and back left in the lively livery is the NAB building, once full of 2300 workers, now empty.
As though in memory, Meeting 1, by Wang Shugang.
One of those Docklands lanes you can fire a gun down, even emptier than usual.
Sans football, sans crowds, sans everything …
Ievers Reserve is still Ievers Reserve, flourishing in winter.
And just for interest, this is Councillor George Hawkins Ievers who was generous enough to present this bust of himself on top of a 2.5m ornamental pediment (according to the inscription) ‘to the citizens of Smith Ward amongst whom he has lived for the past 61 years as a thank offering to them for having returned him unopposed as one of their representatives since 1901.’ I bet they were chuffed if not downright thrilled.
And what a year it has been for camellias. It’s by no means all bad.