Friday, 20 November 2009

Dead poets' society

I've reached Byron Bay, and spent the afternoon exploring the literary landscape - notably the plethora of bookshops (which I scoured for more in Shane Mahoney's Murray Whelan crime series; having picked up the first one for free in a hostel, I've fallen in love - again - with a literary character, and this one has a few film spin-offs too. Why is passion so expensive? Or is that just my passions? Still, Murray is the modern Australian Philip Marlowe, wisecracking his way through sinister situations that are none of his making, and he's my kind of hopeless gumshoe. How could I resist?).

The road names, too, have a certain literary air - they run the gamut from (naturally) Byron Street to Browning, Ruskin, Kingsley, Cowper, Tennyson, Jonson, Carlyle and Keats Streets. Sadly - unless I manage to find the Arts Centre, which apparently has a cinema with bean bags - that's about where the artiness ends. I know the place was set up by hippies as a radical art community, but it's long since become a seaside resort. A very nice one, though - and apparently there's a literary festival in August.

Still, I got some culture in on Brisbane's South Bank - seemingly modelled on London's, right down to the concrete monoliths and big wheel, but with warm weather and places to swim! The Art Gallery of Queensland, in particular, was superb - a wonderful collection of Australian art from a Western perspective, tracing its roots from the colonists to the modernists of the Sixties and beyond. Plus a lovely collection of international art (covering my darling Stanley Spencer, who seems to be something of a hit in Australia, plus Picasso, Matisse, Van Dyck, Hepworth, Rodin, Reynolds...) and the most informative labels I've ever come across in a gallery, with the minimum of pretentious art-speak in them. I did venture out of the arty area, but not for long - I have to say, I think that's the best of Brisbane (though it's pretty damn good).

Tomorrow I'm upping the alternative ante and heading out to Nimbin, plus a quick trip through the rainforest (again! Hopefully no leeches this time). And then I have another day to explore the beaches here, and some more of the walks around town. I'm a lucky girl...

1 comment:

  1. James's wife used to help organise the Byron Bay lit fest or whatever they call it. I guess she misses it, but think she occasionally goes up to speak there. Hope you continue to enjoy Byron. No doubt you will walk up to the most easterly point, Cape Byron - I saw humpbacks and turtles there. xx