Category Archives: #Melbourne

Slinking sea

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Twirling, swirling, spinning and furling … stretching for skies of deep sapphire that dazzle in a virtue only Mother Nature can perfect.

Higher and higher they rise above glowing jetty lights reflecting off soothing, rippling waters , bigger and brighter than sea stars dimpled in ambers and aquamarines with elongated arms of claret, some shorter and regenerating after being lost or damaged. They zap tendrils wisping sensuous, of the jelly fish and butterflies of the sea and eels slithering in tails of ruffled seaweed, longing for that pinnacle of spasmed peak.

Riding the lustre of a full moon, circling round and round until the luminous longing entwines. And grips.

Dance jellies, dance staries; pirouette into the flowing of the butterflies of the sea, slink into cerulean skies.

Flounders skate under the jetty and spring up into spears flashing in arc upon arc as shooting stars streaking light over dark. Banjo sharks, eels and flatheads too, pipis and oysters, the nebulous arms of the octopus … all in a shimmy of sky high.

Suddenly, curiously, from the joy and glee, she appears. Eyes of jet pierce from skin of caramel blended in the clay of earth and ash of the phoenix, a transcendence of ethereal beauty.

It’s her. Queen of the night, Queen of the Quantum. Dark in her shadows yet light in her essence, she is the radiant energy that magnetises, compels to be.

The lure is fierce. Locks. We embrace. We kiss in the flounce of delicate seaweed frills fluttering under a shower of salting sea, the carnival of confetti. The contrast of night and day unite as the yin and yang. We are we.

Eels electrify in zesting iridescence, illuminate in the jewelled transparencies of kelping sea tangle. They entwine with jellies and staries on the languishing limbs of the octopus and swirl into an entwine of water and sky. The interweave of bewitching encircles us in a lime-green filigree as the French lace of the sea.

We’re kyanized, into the heavens of being.

Spirit of Earth, Soul of Sea, a sea spray of yesterday.

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Melbung smellee welly high

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It’s hard to imagine that almost 130 years ago, Melbourne in Australia was considered the smelliest city in the world when today, year after year, it’s voted the world’s most liveable city.

The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was established in 1891 to manage Melbourne’s sewage. Its crest bears the motto ‘salas mea publica merces’, meaning ‘public health is my reward’.

I think they call that transformation.

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How fine this grand Dame of cities is, my Melbourne town. Yet such a past has she, before the first sewage flows from the All England Eleven Hotel in Port Melbourne traversed pastures of graded green at the Metropolitan Farm in 1897.

Ten years earlier, mortality rates from diphtheria and typhoid in our fair Melbourne town numbered 86.3 for every 100,000 inhabitants, compared with 16 in London and 66 in Paris. The idea to establish a Royal Commission to inquire and report on Melbourne’s sanitary condition was indeed, a splendid one. It came at the eleventh-hour when our fair city was gripped by demonic disease.

Very soon after, in 1891, the authoritative and very official Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works was formed. Their business was to provide water supply, sewerage and sewage treatment for our fair city.

Until that time, this admired Queen City of the South had a rather unsavoury means for disposing sewage.

All liquid waste, one day to become known as liquid gold, was thrown into the streets to mix as free as those on the recline of debauchery at Madame Brussels in Bourke Street. My Melbourne town had ‘borne testimony to her evil reputation among travellers as one of the unhealthiest cities in the world,’ according to a journalist of the time.

We all saw it, couldn’t hide from it. Slums in Melbourne town as far back as the 1850s spored faster than mushrooms in an asexual orgy steeped in high humidity and moist damp. People lived in squalor, with no bathrooms or sewerage and in homes held together on scant thread. Rooves leaked and drafts blew through holes in walls. People crammed in close and often shared beds. There was little room to hang laundered washing out to dry and keeping it clean was nigh impossible.

slumsStrolling through streets and children playing outdoors meant an Irish jig within a cesspool of urine, night soil, kitchen and bath water, soap suds from washing clothes, drainage from stables and cow sheds, liquids from trades and manufacturers, and water running off rooves and overland. All would meet in open street channels made from stone, often running into earthen ditches as sluggish glob or collecting in pools that would flood and overflow in rain, giving it free reign to meander into waterways.

‘Tis no wonder typhoid and diphtheria proliferated. No adult or child was safe, even when many claimed it was purely in the slums.

‘Twas an inclement falsity. From mine church cometh my dark demise.

 

Riverine Grazier, Friday 15 February 1889

MARVELLOUS SMELLBOURNE.

[by an original in the Adelaide Observer]

“Those who know say that Port Said is the champion filthy city of the universe. If we are to believe Mr Cosmo Newbury, Melbourne, which claims to be ‘the Queen City of the South,’ is in a fair way to thrust Port Said from that eminence” – Register.

“Bill,’ said I to my erratic Friend, who’s travelled just a bit,

“Name the strongest aromatic City you have ever hit.”

Then he bowed his head in silence, And a study that was brown,

And – when out of reach of violence – Said “I name your Melbourne town!”

“William,” said I, “thou art witty with the music of thy mouth!

Knowest thou that glorious city is the Queen of all the South?”

“Yes,” he answered; “well I know it! Heard it till mine ears do ache;

And, believe me, gentle poet Still in this she takes the cake!”

Then I asked a chewing Yankee, Lantern-jawed and most uncouth,

One of that cadaverous lanky Sort who always tells the truth.

Wal, Siree, he kinder reckoned Melbourne’s people like to blow,

So he’d mark her down as second, Just to give Port Said a show.

Then I asked a dark Egyptian, Who had sojourned in the East,

Answering the true description Swathed in linen like a priest;

Rarer far, he said, and rankers than others Melbourne’s ware

Ah, she had a lot to thank her stars for in the way of air!

Then a frugal child of China for an answer I cajole –

One of those who can combine a head and tail upon one poll;

One who’d found a way of making both ends meet.

To him I cry –

And he says, with laughter shaking –

“Melbung smellee welly high!”

Then said I, the fates are in it! When will Melbourne’s honours stop?

Others have no chance to win it, For she always comes out top!

Energy? She’d do without it! And ascribes it not to pluck!

This it is, and do not doubt it – Melbourne’s wonderful for luck!

 

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