SUE JACKSON Therapist/Writer/Photographer/Activist

Last year, as the unofficial blogger/photographer to the anti-East-West Link campaign, our battles were my blog's entire focus. But by Christmas, with the electoral win for people power and the dumping of the dud Tunnel, I was suddenly at a loss. What to write about now? Not sure yet. But there will be ongoing musings and images from this Australian life. So please leave a message. (No need to sign into an account. Simply comment as ‘anonymous’; then leave your name within the comment itself.)

Saturday, November 17, 2012


Cape Otway Lighthouse

Yesterday turned out to be a day of illumination - some of it bad, most of it good.
We headed with our friends Alison and Marion to Opera in the Otways down the Great Ocean Road - surely one of the wonders of the world. 
But I was shocked to see unremarkable signs at various points along this most narrow windy dual carriageway casually reminding travellers to 'Drive on the Left in Australia'. If this came as news to any driver, surely it was far too late. 
I'm certain there were no such signs last time I ventured down that Road. And back then I never gave a second thought to the possibility that drivers from other countries might have crucial memory lapses. Yesterday, as I negotiated each new bend white-knuckled, I concluded that for once I would rather have been left in the dark.
The stunning Cape Otway Lighthouse at the Lightstation, the venue for the Opera, did its thing, illuminating my darkness in a much more positive way. This had nothing to do with the fact that the show featured the talented Jonathon Welch (Choir of Hard Knocks) and was ably compered by the anarchic Rod Quantock. 
I'm ashamed to admit my ignorance, but what totally blew me away was something I'd never even heard of before - Pecan Summer. In case you share that ignorance, Pecan Summer is Australia's first Indigenous opera, which premiered last year to sell-out audiences. Unfortunately there was insufficient time at the concert for anything other than highlights, but even that was enough to leave many audience members, including myself, in awe, as well as in tears. 

Deborah Cheetham, Yorta Yorta Soprano, Composer and Founder of Short Black Opera Company

The opera was composed by Deborah Cheetham, whom you might be unsurprised to hear, I was totally unfamiliar with. Deborah, who is a Yorta Yorta woman and a beautiful soprano, starred in the concert. She is a wonderful story teller too and treated us to the story on which the opera is based. It is all about the stand taken in 1939 by the people of Cummeragunja, who packed up their possessions and left the mission where they had been forced to live.
I was most intrigued by Deborah's description of her creative process. Especially by her assertion that she didn't find the story; the story found her. And by the fact that Deborah, one of the Stolen Generation, via her research for the opera, unexpectedly discovered links to her own personal history and even to lost family members.

Sunset at Apollo Bay
Last night, staying at Apollo Bay, we lucked on a light show of our very own. I couldn't help thinking back to the people of Cummeragunja, who I hope were treated to just such a sunset as they crossed the Murray and disappeared into the bush.


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