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The second large scale installation in the Falling Back to Earth exhibition by Cai Guo-Qiang is Head On.

Yes it is.  It’s 99 wolves with their pack mentality, flinging themselves into a glass wall in a blind leap of faith. Their resilience and repetitive behaviour in coming back for more seem not to serve them well. Unseen consequences. Yet still the rush towards the unknown. The artist comments that invisible barriers are “the hardest walls to destroy”.

This is an installation that you can get close to, walk in and around and under the life size animals, and feel the fierce intent in the eyes of the wolves.

wolves panorama

Head On 1Head On 3Head On 2

This work is called Heritage and is part of the Falling Back to Earth exhibition currently at the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane. Cai Guo-Qiang is the artist with an impressive body of work involving fire, explosives and large-scale installations. He was the Director of Visual and Special Effects for the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

There are 99 animals replicated here. All of them, predators and prey alike, are drinking together at the one waterhole. One single drop of water breaks the surface and the quiet every once in a while.

It’s a pristine scene, almost utopian. If you are fortunate enough to be in the space with just the gallery staff for human company, this peaceful, reflective space holds almost restorative power.
Heritage 5Heritage 6Heritage 3


Heritage 7Heritage 4

Heritage panorama 3

Here are three Bush Stone-Curlews we met on Stradbroke Island. Also known as the Bush Thick-Knee, they are remarkable for being able to stand, sit and kneel. Here are a few individual and family portraits. The fourth photo in this series shows one of the curlews demonstrating the reverse kneel.

Stradbroke - Curlew 6 - Tilt shift - Grunge 20

Stradbroke - Curlew 9 - Grunge

Stradbroke - Curlews 5 - tilt shift - Grunge 20

Stradbroke - Curlew 4 - Grunge 20

Stradbroke - Curlew 7 - Grunge 20

Stradbroke - Curlew 1

It will come as no surprise to some that I took thousands of photographs on the trip to the Kimberley last year.  I’m scanning those pics to find those that didn’t feature in the blog (mostly) and give them a treatment with Grungetastic.  Here are seven of them, up to and including Halligan Bay at Lake Eyre.

Pelican at Innamincka

Pelican - Grungetastic - Worn 3Caldega Ruins

Caldega Ruins - Grungetastic - Worn 3

The Birdsville Pub

Birdsville Hotel - Grungetastic - Distressed 16

abandoned truck in Birdsville

old truck - Birdsville - Grungetastic - Worn 6

barbed wire – near Birdsville

barbed wire - Birdsville - Grungetastic - Worn 16

Lake Eyre Yacht Club – Marree

Lake Eyre Yacht Club - Grungetastic - Gritty 18

Halligan Bay – Lake Eyre shore

Lake Eyre Shores - Grungetastic - Worn 1

Yesterday the wind was blowing at 20 knots, twice the rate it was today.  The sea swell was around 1.4 metres as we set off to Platypus Bay to see humpback whales.

This map is from Queensland-Australia.com and is provided for my map-loving reader as a last indicator of where we are at the end of our 12 week adventure.

Queensland - map of Fraser Island regionMarina

From the marina, it was nearly an hour before we were in the whales’ rest and recreation area. The mothers certainly need the rest after giving birth to their calves and before heading back to Antarctic waters. Hervey Bay is where mother whales fatten up their ‘small’ ones with up to 200 litres of milk per day before heading back to their own food source of krill in the Southern Ocean.

I was hopeful of catching some magic shots of breaching and tail waving.  Instead we were treated to mostly mother and calf pods. As the calves are feeding (and with 200 litres to consume it must be for a good portion of the day), they were the ones surfacing for a breather before the next drink. We saw the occasional mother near the surface. They apparently tend to stay underwater in either vertical or sideways position to feed their offspring.  The males were even less obvious, although the hydrophone dropped in to the water indicated that they were around as pod escorts.

The large swell and the necessity to mostly hang on to the boat (and the camera) meant that today’s shots were going to be hit or miss.  This is the best of a blurry lot.
Humpback watching 2Humpback watching 1Humpback watching 3

Charters Towers would not have existed were it not for the discovery of gold. We followed what you might call the supply chain story today which included a visit to the Venus Battery. It’s here that miners took their ore to be smashed to bits, splashed with mercury and soaked in cyanide to get the very most out of it for their effort. Charters Towers is extremely hot in summer. This was a sweaty, noisy, dusty and chemically dangerous place for anyone to work.

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Venus Battery 1 - Ancient Canvas effect

Venus Battery 2 - Ancient Canvas effect

Venus Battery 3 - Ancient Canvas effectVenus Battery 4Venus Battery 5Venus Battery 6

Everything associated with gold digs was established in Charters Towers, including a Stock Exchange, countless banks and pubs, and what were euphemistically referred to as dance houses.  The article from The Northern Miner of 12 February 1880 may provide some clues.

Calling of the cardbank vault

The Northern Miner - dance houses

A stroll down Gill and Mosman Streets in Charters Towers will reveal some lovely surprises and details in the looking up and looking down. Beyond the commercial realities of current businesses in the town are the remnants of previous design including painted glass, lead light work, iron lace and pressed tin.

Reardons sign 3Reardons sign 2Reardons sign 1Stan PollardStan Pollard - DrapersStan Pollard - MercersStan Pollard shopfront detailbuilding detail - Charters TowersPressed tin shopfront - Charters TowersStock Exchange building tilesWorld Theatre tiles