I Went, I Saw, I Came Back, I Blogged

My short holiday with Stu was absolutely wonderful, despite the fact that I am now firmly entrenched in the realm of Person Who Goes on Romantic Holidays With Their Significant Other, Ooh Yuck Boygerms. Despite my panic merchant side getting anxious that something would fuck up, and my cynical side giving me shit for acting like, well, a smug married (I’m not quite sure how I manage to be simultaneously deeply in love and very happy but also incredibly leery of that whole Being In a Relationship malarkey, but I do), everything turned out well.

The cottage we were staying in, a place in Olinda called Henty’s, was absolutely beautiful and perfect, and I highly recommend it for anyone planning a stay in the Dandenongs. The weather meant that we didn’t do quite as much outdoors stuff as we’d planned, but we’d made allowances for that so there was a fair bit of video watching, napping (fortunately not to the same ridiculous extent mentioned previously), and unco-ordinated dancing.

On our first night, we decided to go to a pub near the cottage, and were treated to a fine if perhaps slightly overpriced meal, a not-quite-roaring open fire, and the interesting clash of easy-listening music being played in the dining room (it may have even been Celine Dion, although I didn’t pay too much attention) and Metallica being played on the jukebox in the games room. After dinner we retired, drinks in hand, to the games room, where we were treated to more of the pool players’ tastes in music (I’m not being entirely sarcastic there; they played some good stuff and I was quite enjoying myself) and where I unsuccessfully tried to convince Stuart to play video games with me, which I thought was very spoil-sportish behaviour on his part and not in the spirit of the holiday at all. So for the first time in my life, I actually sulked while listening to Nirvana. I must say, I don’t see what all those flanelette-clad people I remember from my teenage years were on about; it wasn’t that great an experience.

We went to the William Ricketts sanctuary, which was a slightly disturbing experience. Before we went there, we had trouble remembering what it was called, and so settled for calling it Crazy Old Dude Santuary. This proved to be a moniker which stuck even after we were able to remember the name and had made our visit to the santucary.

Ricketts was a white man originally from Richmond who moved to the Dandenongs and at some point decided he had a Deep Spiritual Connection with various Aboriginal peoples. This was despite, at the point in his life he made the discovery, having never actually met any Aboriginal people. He was a sculptor and quite prolific, and much of his work consisted of Aboriginal figures and was a weird mix of bastardised Aboriginal beliefs, Christian imagery and mythology, and a healthy dose of the old noble savage syndrome. When Ricketts did eventually travel to the Northern Territory and meet some real live Aborigines, they were bemused by him, and quite understandably so. He did eventually succeed in attaining a relationship of sorts with some Aboriginal peoples, although this did not seem to inform his work in any noticable way; he clung to his own interpretation of beliefs even after they were exposed as erroneous or misguided, and his work never lost the sense of exotic otherness in its portrayal of Aboriginal figures and philosophies, despite his asserted oneness with the peoples he encountered. One could also take into account that, in order to truly respect the beliefs of the Pitjantjara and Arrernte peoples, whose company he sought and upon whom his figures were based, the statues should have been destroyed after the person they were modelled on had died. But one doesn’t wish to

History lesson over, the sculptures themselves are made of clay and are displayed in the bushland the Sanctuary is comprised of. In order to view the statues, you have to walk through the forest, which is absolutely beautiful, even in the dead of Winter. They’re stylistically quite well done, with incredible attention to detail. Even after accepting that Ricketts came from a very specific time and mindframe, though, I found them uncomfortable. A repeated motif which appears in many of the statues is a group of disembodied heads of Aboriginal children. I realise that, in accordance with Ricketts’ bastardised philosophy, this was supposed to indicate humankind’s link to the land which we come from and will eventually return to when we die. After a while, though, they started getting to me, and I felt really disturbed and upset and had trouble looking at them. This had its upside in that I spent a fair bit of time gazing up at the mist winding through the Eucalypts, which was soothing and very happy-making. Before we left, we watched the documentary on Ricketts’ life and art which plays to itself in a small onsite cabin. To the credit of its makers, it doesn’t attempt to make Ricketts look like some sort of visionary, which is just as well: dude was loopy. And lived with his mother. Until she died. Which happened when he was well into his fifties. No matter the actual scenario, I cannot help but think of Norman Bates when I hear about things like this.

We also went to Healesville Santuary, which I enjoyed more than I felt was really necessary since, as a country kid, I frequently came into contact with native birds, wombats, kangaroos, echidnas, and the occasional koala. Once I even found a platypus in the creek on our neighbours’ property. Other than the moment when a wallaby attempted to mug me for the museli bar in my pocket, I had a peaceful few hours of animal-gazing. I was greatly amused by some international tourists who could not for the life of them comprehend why the dingoes would not come when called. Stuart and I decided that someone should remake The Birds and cast emus in the title role.

Other than that, we spent a lot of time holed up in the cottage, napping and talking and having spa baths and watching videos. My body has developed an unfortunate tendency to get cystitis whenever it looks like Stuart and I will have an extended period of time alone together. Crisis was averted thanks to a late-night trip to the Safeway in Monbulk, and excessive consumption of cranberry products.

I could probably go on, but I won’t. This entry has been far too long already and I congratulate you if you’ve gotten this far though my excessive ranting and rambling. Just pray I don’t go on holiday again anytime soon.

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