Saturday, 18 December 2010

Discover Queensland and the Symbols of Australia

On Thursday, my Father drove me up to my Gran's house. I sat and chatted with her for a while before jumping on the train around the corner to South Brisbane, where I would then head to the Queensland Museum.

I had first gone to the Museum when I was in First Grade, and I still remember sitting under the strange blue sculpture in their gardens (if it was indeed, the same one) and being upset about my juice popper being mostly frozen.

I didn't truly realize how much I loved the complex, which consisted of an Art Gallery and a Library, too, until I was 18. 2007. I wandered my way through there after a day of auditions, some of you might remember the video that I put up at the time, and thought the whole idea of it and that it was real, was just lovely.

So I was excited to return, especially since I caught a glimpse of it the previous Saturday at the Queensland Performing Arts Center, which links to the Museum via bridge, for the Queensland Ballet's production of The Nutcracker.

One reason to love this museum first up? Free entry. I don't know if all the exhibitions are free at this time, but all the ones I saw were and I love that. You don't even have to donate any money, which is always an extra lovely little perk. Not that I mind giving the Met a dollar for entry, but I do feel like a cheapskate when other people willingly pay the $25 dollars to see the same stuff.

I was on my way to the Symbols of Australia exhibit, which I had read about (" Hogwarts, A History") in QANTAS magazine - as I write this, the first roll of thunder lulls on and on for the day, at 3:35pm - and I wanted to see and do more in Queensland during my time here (however long that may be) than I usually would because I

a) needed distraction and,

b) was tired of not knowing enough about my state/country.

Damn those boring history lessons in Primary school, I hardly remembered a damn thing about Queensland, "The Sunshine State." Oh no, wait, "The Smart State." Blaaargh.

As I headed towards the fourth floor, I read every sign or note of information that I could see until an exhibition up ahead, Discover Queensland, caught my attention. I proceeded to read every single little fact or elaboration on the items on display and was inspired and moved and intrigued by it all. It was beautiful. They had this fake tree that you could walk into and press buttons to see the hidden creatures inside, and though it was mainly aimed at kids (the buttons were all below my hips and I was surrounded by children), I still wanted to take part and find joy in discovery. When I pressed one button to reveal a creepy, long-legged insect, a little girl with a splash of blonde hair quickly pressed the button off and smiled, "Don't press that one!"

As a teenager I would have been annoyed by the interaction (I always felt like younger children were mocking me), but I found it sweet now, and ignored the mothers outside muttering about it being, "just for kids," as I wound my way around the corner to next goldmine of information.

After about an hour of reading one side and then walking back and reading everything on the other, I headed up to the fourth floor to the Symbols of Australia exhibit, which was quite small. I didn't mind it as my body was feeling Museum Weary, and after some quaint information on Wattle, Kangaroos, Boomerangs, Vegemite, The Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Flag and "the great Australian Holden," I happily walked away from a grinning Paul Hogan and towards the cafe, where I had a sausage roll and a Lemon, Lime and Bitters. Meanwhile the storm that had attacked Brisbane while I was meandering around, quietly made its way out to the coast, dark as night.

The day ended in confusing and then sad phone calls, a flurry of desperate emails, a train ride with Hunter S. Thompson, a bus ride spent ignoring two male adults, eyes red, as they play-hit each other and chucked each other's hats and bags down the aisle. Before New York I would have felt uncomfortable, after New York I was completely unmoved by their silliness.

My Mum said I looked nice as I walked in, which pleased me as - the storm began only moments ago with cracks and heavy rain, I went into the hallway and out to the patio to see the cat, Gandalf, just casually sitting under the table. I kissed at it and it slowly came towards me, seemingly undisturbed by the ferocity behind the barks of those Cloud Gods, and yawned and stretched before it came and sat in the hallway.

For some reason, I decided to sit beside Gandalf. I wasn't scared, but I did feel slightly on edge, as I often am whenever there is a storm on top of me, and we listened to the cracks together and I watched the flashes on the leaves of the garden outside.

Even as I type this, the flashes are still flashing and the thunder, though coming late enough to signal that the storm was kilometres away or above us, still grumbles on - anyway, her compliment pleased me as I've been feeling a little self-conscious about my looks.

"What's new?" My friends closest to me would surely joke, but it seriously hasn't helped that my grandparents seem so concerned about my weight, and if not concerned, they sure do love pointing out how I've changed. I think they aren't use to my curves, since they have watched me grow up stick thin from all the ballet I practiced as a younger me. Still, it was nice of my Mum to say that.

I've immediately noticed an improvement of self-care that comes from eating healthy and going to bed early and living alone and getting up early enough to take time on my appearance. However, it only took me half an hour to get ready that day. Where were those skills when I needed them when I was running late for a high-profile meeting in New York? Alas! You can't begin to succeed in New York unless you're already dreadfully well practiced in the art of Self Care or if you just don't give a goddamn and go blazing through the streets from event to event with charm and a dash of menace in your eyes.

Before Thursday ended with the film, Adaptation, my Mum asked me if I think all the Gold Coast girls are "skanks... or something?" I suppose she asked this because of the difference of dress from New York to - Wow, the loudest cracks are happening now, thank goodness I'm on battery power and not plugged in! The cat is definitely on edge now, and I feel a sense of relief whenever his ears or his head perks up with a crack of lightning. I suppose I don't want to feel like the only "scaredy-cat." - here. I hadn't even given it a thought. Though I've noticed that most girls I encounter seem to walk around in groups here. I've rarely found one young woman on their own, and the ones who are on their own could easily be seen in Brooklyn or New York. Fashion is fashion and most young women, with this global access, can easily look as fine as any East Village model. I'm usually the one who is way behind in terms of fashion.

My response, however was, "I just ignore them."

"Now, you don't want to be a snob (or did she say bitch?)" my Mum replied.

"No, it's not like that..." I began, though I struggled to find the right way of putting it. I love girls but I'm also terrified of them, especially in their groups. Their packs. So, I just ignore them because it's easier then being friendly and ignored in return or possibly meeting a withering glare. Some things just don't change and when it comes to women, no matter where they are on the globe, we are pretty damn stubborn, scarred and afraid.

Discover Queensland and Symbols of Australia at the Queensland Museum in Southbank


Anonymous said...

In their zeal to have the best life for grand-children, grandparents say the darnest things sometimes. (just like children)


Jer said...

I totally relate to your walking around the museum and reading every sign and informational placard. When everyone else seems oblivious, I just walk around revelling at what other people find mundane, like trees, leaves, the sky, snow flakes, history... informational know...CRazY things. I think one of my weaknesses is information and beauty. I cant enough of it.

Thats why I had to cancel my internet at home cause it distracts me to no end. Having my mind is a blessing and a curse.

Merry Christmas to you and all your curves Caitlin ;)

Bilby P. Dalgyte said...


What struck me about this post was it's prose like quality. You did some intriguing storytelling.