Today is the birthday of Charles Darwin. Currently reading “Evolution in the Antipodes” by Tom Frame which does give some details about the time Charles Darwin spent in Australia but is more generally a discussion of the history of creationism.
According to Frame, Darwin didn’t find much to interest him when he travelled on horseback from Sydney across the Blue Mountains to Bathurst in 1836. But we do have this quote which can be read on a plinth at the famous spot for viewing the Three Sisters and the Jamison Valley at Katoomba.
“Below is the grand bay or gulf, for I know not what other name to give it, thickly covered with forest.”
The former Government Printing Office on the corner of Murray and Pier streets in Perth city centre was the work of architect, George Temple Poole. Built in 1894, during the goldrush, it was extended in 1899 and 1907, and is now the home of Curtin University’s business school.
Wandering around the grounds of UWA on the weekend we noticed these Poems on Posters on the walls of the Octagon and Dolphin theatres. The 20 or so line poems make for something interesting to read during theatre intervals.
The poem “Learning to Row”, by Henry Briffa is relevant because of the university’s riverside location. And Mandy Tu, writes about love in “He Asks For Poetry”.
A beautiful fountain commemorates pioneer women in Perth’s Kings Park, but hidden away behind it is a smaller memorial from 1999 to celebrate the centenary of Women’s Suffrage in Western Australia. In 1899, Western Australian women won the right to vote in state elections. WA was the second state in Australia to give voting rights to women, and Australia as a whole was one of the first countries in the world to support women’s suffrage, making it a democratic world leader.
The memorial, which takes the form of a book, also notes that, unfortunately, Australian Aboriginal people were not given the right to vote until 1963.
A calligraphy exhibition at the Moores Building Contemporary Art Gallery in Fremantle made a nice end to the year. Artists from the Calligraphers’ Guild of WA displayed unique works of art based on hand lettering.
Pictured, is a work by Trish Kraus of hand lettering of the poem “On Children” by the early 20th century Lebanese poet, Kahil Gibran. This poem was first published in 1923 as part of Gibran’s collection of poetic essays called “the Prophet”.
Sometimes you can find interesting book related exhibits in small museums like this early 19th century hand drawn pattern book. It’s on display at the old Courthouse in the Guildford Heritage Precinct which is 12km from the centre of Perth. The book was given to Sophie Roe, who was the eldest child of John Septimus Roe, the surveyor who laid out the towns of Perth and Guildford in the 1830s.
There is still a lot to see in and around Geraldton which is reminiscent of Randolph Stow and his classic novel. You can walk along Gregory Street, where Stow lived and admire the old style houses. And you can look at Geraldton Primary School (below), which both Stow and his fictional hero Rob attended.
Stow attended the University of Western Australia and lectured at universities in Australia and England. He wrote eight novels and three books of poetry, plus a children’s story and several opera libretti, and won the Miles Franklin Award in 1958 for his novel To the Islands. He lived in Britain from 1966 until his death in 2010. The Geraldton Public Library has the Randolph Stowe collection which includes personal items donated by the author.
The seaside town of Geraldton, 415km north of Perth, was the birthplace of writer, Randolph Stow. Born on 28 November 1935, Stow wrote about his childhood in and around the town of Geraldton in the novel, “The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea”.
There are several different merry-go-rounds in the novel. The one in the sea was actually a shipwreck off the main swimming beach, but the beach has been redeveloped and the wreck is gone.
The second merry-go-round is the one that appears in the opening chapter of the novel. Amazingly, it is still there, beneath a spreading Moreton Bay fig tree alongside the old two storey library building. The current merry-go-round is a replica of the one in the novel, which had already fallen into disrepair during the closing chapters of the book.
The Subiaco Christmas Night of Lights was a fun event held on Rokeby Road last Friday. We enjoyed the food, entertainment and fun atmosphere, and also picked up a couple of free books. The City of Subiaco public library were giving away unwanted stock and we picked up a novel by Tom Keneally and a history of “William Dampier in New Holland”.
The Dymocks bookstore on Rokeby Road in Subiaco has a new owner. Tim, who is still only in his twenties, and must be Perth’s youngest bookseller, has stocked the store with heaps of interesting books. It’s good to see a local book shop that is thriving.