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Melbourne Odds and Ends

ANZAC Day

Today is ANZAC Day, and my daily walk took me back to the Women’s Peace Garden. I am reblogging the post I wrote last year, when I wrote about my feelings about the day, and why I visited the Gardens.

Anne Lawson Art

Last Saturday was ANZAC Day, the day in which we remember the men and women who have fought for Australia, and New Zealand, in many overseas wars; remembering too the many who are still serving. This year was a big event because it was the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in the First World War. In fact it was such a Big Event that there was debate about the amount of commercialisation of Gallipoli and the ANZAC Legend.

However, I had a different view of the day. Let me assure you that I am quite respectful to those who fought in wars, and also of those who treasure the day. My grandfather went to WW1 and fought on the Western Front. My father was involved in WW2. Fortunately both returned. I have visited the War Memorials in Normandy and been brought to tears by the acres of graves. So many…

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Categories
Odds and Ends

ANZAC Day

Last Saturday was ANZAC Day, the day in which we remember the men and women who have fought for Australia, and New Zealand, in many overseas wars; remembering too the many who are still serving. This year was a big event because it was the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in the First World War. In fact it was such a Big Event that there was debate about the amount of commercialisation of Gallipoli and the ANZAC Legend.

However, I had a different view of the day. Let me assure you that I am quite respectful to those who fought in wars, and also of those who treasure the day. My grandfather went to WW1 and fought on the Western Front. My father was involved in WW2. Fortunately both returned. I have visited the War Memorials in Normandy and been brought to tears by the acres of graves. So many lives lost needlessly.

I have a very ambivalent attitude to ANZAC Day. I grew up in a time when there were large protest about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. I didn’t go to the protests, but they were lead by people who were later to become friends and political comrades. During the 80s we protested about nuclear weapons and uranium. I remain very anti-war.

I realise that many who went to ANZAC Day events would also be anti-war too. They go, I suppose, to pay their respects to soldiers who are seen to have been defending our way of life.

We know that the Gallipoli Campaign ended in defeat and retreat. (Although I have heard some youngsters are surprised to know that. The relentless media lead them to believe it was a victory.) But the whole of WW1 is difficult to celebrate. Indeed I think Gallipoli is chosen as the poster campaign because the rest of the war is riddled with huge numbers of dead and wounded, mutinies and desertion. In fact the war was stopped, not by military campaigns, but by the Russian Revolution in 1917 and then the German revolution in 1918. The years afterwards were years of upheaval, strikes and revolutions.

If we are really going to celebrate our ‘way of life’ why don’t we celebrate the people and events that created the things we hold dear?

Education Act (Victoria) of 1872 established an education system that was free, secular and compulsory, giving all children access to education. Isn’t that part of our way of life? We were amongst the first in the world to give women the vote, to remove property qualifications for Members of Parliament and to give salaries to MPs. I recently learnt that we had secret ballots way back in 1856. Aren’t measures that promote democracy and help squash undue influence in our political systems worth celebrating?

What about the workers who fought for the 8 Hour Day? Our Labour Day holiday in March is to recognise them, but instead the day has been taken over by the hoopla of  Moomba.

Why don’t we have memorials to scientists and inventors? People whose work has given us break throughs in medicine and or made things safer or easier?

I could go on, but I think you understand my point.

So, what did I do on ANZAC Day? Well, I went back to visit the Women’s Peace Garden in Kensington. I have blogged about it before; surprisingly it is one of my most viewed posts. In it you can read about the history of the garden and the symbols used in it. I sat and thought about those who have died in wars, and continue to die. I sketched the colonnade, to help me remember that a world without war would be a wonderful thing.

And lastly I want to leave you with two video clips from Eric Bogle. He is a singer/songwriter who was able to encapsulate the sorrow of WW1. The first is “The band played Waltzing Matilda”, the Gallipoli campaign told from the point of view of a young man sent off to fight.

The second video, is even more heart wrenching, “The green fields of France”.

Categories
Melbourne Odds and Ends

Women’s Peace Garden, Newmarket Saleyards and the Maribyrnong River

The Women's Peace Garden, (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
The Women’s Peace Garden, (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

We have had some glorious Autumn weather in Melbourne the last couple of days. I decided my walk would be also be an exploration.Two or three times a week, perhaps even more, I travel down Epsom Road, through Kensington. For a long time I have seen a sign pointing to the Women’s Peace Garden, but have never seen any real indication of where it is. Now a larger sign has been erected on the road. This was the day to find out more.

This is the view that I now see from the car.

The Women's Peace Garden, (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)
The Women’s Peace Garden, (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson 2015)

So I went through the entrance, under the Morten Bay figs and down the steps,

past the mosaic,

Pass by the mosaic, in the women's movement colours of green, purple and white
The mosaic, in the Women’s Movement colours of green, purple and white

to see the garden spread out below you. It has been designed with the peace symbol and the woman symbol in mind. You can see the peace symbol easily on the grass. The other is more difficult. The bluestone colonnades at the bottom form the cross. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo of that.

 

The garden was built in 1986 to commemorate the International Year of Peace. It was designed by a team of women and is now maintained by the community and local schools. The plants were chosen to fit with the colours of the Women’s Movement — green, purple and white — and to symbolise remembrance — the peace rose, rosemary and olive trees.

I sat for a while and did a very poor sketch of the garden. As well I thought about war and peace, soldiers and civilians. Australia has recently celebrated ANZAC Day (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), our day of remembrance. I have a very ambivalent attitude to ANZAC Day, as so I was grateful to find a place where peace was celebrated and the innocents of war cherished.

This garden has been built on the old Newmarket Saleyards. They were built in the 1850’s and by the twentieth century they were amongst the biggest saleyards and abattoirs in the world. They closed in the 1980’s. When I first lived in the local area I remember hearing the bellowing of the cattle, and if the wind was blowing from the south the smell was not pleasant either.

After they were sold the yards were developed into medium density housing, the first in the area. As I wandered through the other day I was impressed with how the development had been done. There is a lovely tangle of streets, lanes and mews. The houses seem to open to walking lanes and many of the old peppercorns have been kept. The heritage of the area has been remembered with the bluestone paths and post and rail fences. I wandered along the old stock route to the Maribyrnong River. These photos might give you a little feel for the place.

Bluestone paths, post and rail fences, peppercorn trees.(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
Bluestone paths, post and rail fences, peppercorn trees.(Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The road narrows so that cars have to give way to pedestrians (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The road narrows so that cars have to give way to pedestrians and on-coming cars. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

And finally, some images of the Maribyrnong River from the bridge the cattle used to cross on.

The city from the bridge. The water was so smooth. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The city from the bridge. The water was so smooth. (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The bridge (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)
The bridge (Photo copyright: Anne Lawson)

Thank you for joining me on my meander on a beautiful Melbourne day.

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