Author Archives: Brad

About Brad

Engineer and analyst of electromechanical and digital systems by day job. Practitioner and student of life and art (broadly construed).

White-plumed honeyeaters and a treecreeper

I’ve added a couple of images to the Photography page. These were taken at Bushy Bend Reserve in Hay, NSW a couple of days into my Sydney-Ceduna trip last year. It was the first time I had seen the white-plumed honeyeater, and it took me a long while searching on google to put a name to them. Apparently they are common throughout mainland Australia, but I haven’t seen any more since that first encounter. There were about half a dozen of them whizzing about and calling out from the branches above me. Not sure if they were warning others of my approach: they are said to be extremely territorial and aggressive, and I was the only other creature of my type there, so maybe I spooked them. They were no less delightful to watch and listen to for all that.
Treecreepers are always fun to watch as they hop their little upward hops, peeking under flakes of bark, often turning circles around the trunk as they go. I have never seen a treecreeper creep down a tree. Treecreepers only creep up on trees.



White-plumed honeyeater

White-plumed honeyeater

Symmetries on the Murrumbidgee River

Murrumbidgee River, Hay NSW

Murrumbidgee River, Hay NSW

It’s amazing how often a beautiful sight, like this late evening Murrumbidgee River symmetry and light display, can blind you to other, less pleasing sights sitting right under your nose.

It was the Autumn of 2011. I paced along the shore taking photos and drinking beer until the light of day was all but gone. I returned to my car in the dark and was just about to drop off to sleep when I heard something scratching on the roof of the car. I reached for my torch and stepped outside to discover a field mouse. It must have been trying to nibble a way into my luggage. I chased it around the rooftop for a minute or so, eventually catching it with the back of my hand and sending it flying. Soon after I was fast asleep.

The following morning I was shocked to discover hundreds of tyre-flattened field mice pressed into the gravel and dirt all around me. They had clearly been there for days, if not weeks, baking in the sun.

It didn’t cross my mind to take photos of them that day. I’ve gained a lot more experience on the road since then, and had my eyes opened to all sorts of natural horrors and wonders alike. If I had that chance over again I wouldn’t be leaving for breakfast until I had captured their flat little bodies on camera. Perhaps I would turn them to butterfly art.

It came flooding back

This is a reblog of a post dating back to January 2011. Thanks to the National Library of Australia and the awesome Trove database, I finally found some actual newspaper evidence to support my show and tell story!
Indian Pacific train derailed
I see now that I got the month of derailment wrong (’twas January, not March), the train was going in the opposite direction to how I remembered it, and there is thus an undisclosed gap of a school year between the ‘last service centre’ and the Red Rattler back to Sydney. I wonder how many of my other distant memories are travelling in the wrong direction.

From what I can piece back together, it must be March Jan of ’78. The Indian Pacific Express from Broken Hill to Sydney Sydney to Broken Hill has been delayed at Parkes. Major flooding is threatening the stability of the main line between Parkes and Orange.

The driver probably announces that he is taking an alternate line to Sydney Broken Hill. It’s not the only explanation I can imagine for the story that develops later, but it makes sense.

The Indian Pacific Express is pushing through floodwaters. A 9 year old boy has dozed off with a can of soft drink cradled in his lap. The excitement hasn’t worn off, but it’s worn him out.

The boy is jolted awake. He is leaning into the window, or perhaps he is leaning into his mother’s shoulder. He can’t remember all of the details. He remembers the soft drink soaking his front.

The luggage has been thrown out from the overhead compartments and is strewn throughout the cabin. No one has been clobbered by it. Mum’s solid-steel make-up case has landed in an empty seat.

Water is rushing past the window on my side. The other side is pointing at the sky. People must be feeling safe enough. I can hear them laughing and chatting.

“I just moved from that seat to play cards with my mates back here,” the man from the empty seat tells my Mother.

“A woman was just walking through to the next carriage when we went over,” says another. “I hope she wasn’t still out there.”

I think it must be getting dark. We are staying where we are. I don’t know what’s happening outside the train. I don’t think anyone has come to rescue us.

We sleep on our sides through the night. Buses come in the morning to pick us up.

It is a long walk through the water to the buses up on the hill. It is a long drive through the water. Cattle are drowned and floating in the water outside the bus. I think maybe one bumps against the bus. I remember the dead cows. They are mostly black and white, and they are dead.

We have left the last service centre. I think it was an Oaks. I had a milkshake while I was there and now I am vomiting into a plastic bag on the bus. The bus stops and I am let outside to vomit in the mud.

Now we are on a train again. It is a Red Rattler and it is taking us to Sydney Central. It is very hot inside and the seats are hard and everything is rattling. I can see Dad there now on the train. I can’t see him until then. Maybe he came to meet us? I don’t know, but he is not very happy. He is annoyed and uncomfortable, and none of us are talking.

I am back at school. It is my turn for show and tell. I explain how the water washed under the tracks and lifted the sleepers. I explain how the line buckled and twisted and threw the train onto its side. I explain how the driver was given a choice to stay at Parkes or to go ahead and that he chose to go ahead on the other line. I explain how if we had gone on the main line, we probably would have been worse off.

Some of the boys and the girls in the class start laughing and telling me I am lying. Train tracks can’t buckle or twist! Sleepers can’t get washed out of the ground!

I start to get teary and angry. The teacher tells me I am lying and tells me to sit down. I demand that it is true. The teacher is annoyed now and is making me sit down.

“Your turn is over, Brad. It is a good story but that is not what show and tell is for.”

The fox on the lagoon

Rising before the sun this morning, I set out with Vincent for a 30 minute drive to Scheyville National Park to partake in some birdwatching. The entrance to Longneck Lagoon was gated shut, so I parked by the side of the road and slipped in through the pedestrian access.
I didn’t spot much in the way of birdlife, but there was plenty of singing and dancing in the leaves. The sun rose to greet me as I reached the lagoon, and a fine mist rose from the surface. Occasionally a large fish would emerge.
Longneck Lagoon
Having startled a few rabbits on my way in, I wondered if there might be foxes about. It wasn’t long before one appeared to set my wonder right.
Lagoon Fox
I imagined I had seen the figure of a lady wading in a misty shallow and wondered; was she laying flowers for a dear departed love, performing a baptism, or perhaps receiving alms? The fox was nowhere to be seen.
In the name of the Father

Not before time

'Another Time', Dave Beaty (2004)

‘Another Time’, Dave Beaty (2004)

In the words of the artist,

This sculpture has evolved from thoughts on time and history, and the way society represents and records our past. The skeleton of an ancient dinosaur lies like some strange museum exhibit, on a lattice of Casuarina saplings. Below is mounted a stainless steel panel, displaying letters from the 1870s from aboriginal women, to much loved white women who have moved away.*

The panel of letters was absent when I first saw this sculpture, on the Elliston Clifftop Drive, in late 2014. The artist and title of the work were likewise missing, so there was nothing in the way of a guide as to how I should interpret what I was seeing.
While this was not the only clifftop sculpture rendered anonymous by the passing of time, it was the only one that prompted me to walk circles around it; to consider and capture its appeal from every angle and against every backdrop; to make a real effort to read below, or beyond, the surface. I felt that my efforts had been unsuccessful by the end of it.
For some time afterwards I stood on the cliff edge with my back to the sculpture, calmly watching waves wash on a little cut-out cliff faced beach below without a single care in the world. I didn’t know it then, but the last photo I took as I turned on my heels would lead me to follow the artist’s intentions. Not before time.

Behind time; Another Time. Not before time.

Behind time; Another Time. Not before time.

* [Source] Beyond the Black Stump: Histories of Outback Australia; edited by Alan Mayne.

i like you

My first glitch video. A bit rough, but I like it.

Eighth Sign

Eighth Sign

Eighth Sign


“Beyond the edge of the world there’s a space where emptiness and substance neatly overlap, where past and future form a continuous, endless loop. And, hovering about, there are signs no one has ever read, chords no one has ever heard.”
― Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore