Another Country Diary

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25 April '02
Faces, hats & medals. Anzac day in BungendoreAnzac Day in Bungendore is big. This year it was very big. A large crowd was watching, a large group marching and instead of just attending the service at the memorial in the park, I followed the progress up to the lunch in the Memorial Hall.

Why is the event so well attended?

Well, at a time when every Anzac parade around the country is becoming more popular each year we're no different here. It's an amazing shift in the opinions of the people of my generation who protested against Vietnam, are still strongly anti-war and were part of the 'uncaring' public who made the Australian Vietnam war vets suffer when they came home. Now all I see is people marching that look like my father and grandfather, getting older and weaker and deserving of our kinder thoughts. I'll still keep my anger for the government of the time who sent us off to Vietnam, and I had friends that were conscripted who went not understanding they had a choice.

It's a wider than an Australian cultural shift. On Monday I went to the Sydney Premiere of We were soldiers. Mel Gibson followed us up the red carpet through a crowd of fans and media. As he said when he introduced the film, it's not a film you 'enjoy', but if it was as accurate a re-creation of the time as it purports, then all you can have sympathy for are the young soldiers who went into that battle. And that relates to the ones who are left alive now.

There's another traditional reason why our Anzac day in Bungendore is such a success. It has a good country twist and is because of the location our two pubs and the Memorial Hall. After the regular service the morning turns into a pub crawl, or rather, a pub march.

The day starts with an assembly of the school kids, Scouts, Canberra Pipes and Drums band, the Light Horse group and veterans outside the shops in Gibralter Street. They march up towards the railway line to the Memorial arch near the oval and new school and community centre. The road is blocked and chairs placed on the road for the older marches, the public gather around. After a service with all the traditional features including the rider-less horse with boots reversed in the stirrups, the wreath laying and Last Post, the group return down Gibralter street to the Hall. Except that there are the distractions of the pubs on the way.

Apparently (no-one knows when it started or was formalised), the procedure is then always the same. Minus the primary school kids, the pipe band leads the way from the oval to the 'top' pub, the Royal. Everyone stops for a beer or two and the band then drums them out of the bar and they head off down the street to the 'bottom' pub where there is another drink stop. Some time later they all weave their way to the Hall for some speeches and a sit down lunch provided by the local women's auxiliary.

I've taken a lot more photographs this year instead of just a few bits of video as in the past. I think it really needs a serious doco to tell the story emotively. I was most conscious that I wanted to be recording sound as I worked. When the old faces in these images disappear, I'll consider getting my mother and father's medals out and make sure the tradition of the Bungendore Anzac day pub march continues.

There's a page of thumbnail images, linked to larger photographs, here

27 April '02
Doug and Susan's daughter Emily, was married on Saturday in Sydney and we were invited to attend. I offered to take some photos and create a website as a wedding gift and they loved the idea. 

When I was at photography school most of us did weddings as a part time job, but I hadn't photographed a dedicated wedding for oh, twenty years? And this time I was doing it for pleasure. (I think that's how I'd always approached it because I remember I had a string of referrals from one girl to another who liked my 'candid' approach, back then.)

I wasn't the official photographer (there were two and a video cameraman) so I could treat it a bit more casually. I tried to use natural light and that meant slow exposures and a bit of handheld shake, but they were happy with the results. 

Doug had Peter Bourne select the wines to accompany each of the courses of food and the great little lunch/patisserie place Doug introduced me too (and that we sneak away to sometimes when I'm in Sydney), 67Ate, made the wedding cake.

It was a wonderful Sydney night and the reception in a marquee at the Observatory on Observatory Hill, was the perfect Sydney location. We stayed overnight and it all felt pretty glam.

Is this a country diary?





28 April '02
Of course it is, because you always come home. On the way back on Sunday I pulled to a stop just before the Mt Fairy Road turnoff, because I'd spotted this group of deer. They were alert as soon as I stopped the car and when I walked to the fence they were away as a group. There seemed to be about 15 to 20 of them, some stags with large antlers. There were a dozen or so in one group that I photographed, and they joined another few, further away. Within twenty seconds they'd all gone. Jan thought that they must be farmed but the way they were so wary of me makes me think they're wild, and the fences were ratty and broken down and would never have kept them in. I don't know who to ask as the next farmhouse was miles away.

My first encounter was last year when I saw one in the headlights crossing the road just outside of Bungendore. I assumed it was a goat because of the horns, but realised it was a deer. Again, one early morning I saw two bouncing away through long grass with their white tails up but didn't have my camera ready. Some months later (just before Christmas I saw two grazing outside of Tarago. That all adds up to wild ones for me. There's a photo of the Tarago ones on the page here.
2 May '02
City pulls again, but this time I took  the train for my regular meeting. With the car in for a service ( the clutch is 'playing up'), I figured I'd still try to make an 11.00 appointment and could be just a few minutes late, and Countrylink delivered. I don't think I really like that long train trip but I still like the idea of it, and that it is available. It's certainly cheaper than driving with petrol, tolls and parking.

There was fog until well past Bundanoon, and while that reduces appreciation of the wider landscape it brings small details into focus. 

Like the mobs of kangaroos that always are out towards the Mt Fairy Road (on the other side of the hill to the deer above). Some just kept eating, the others wheel away. They must see trains everyday, and never get attacked by one, but still flee. A big old wedge tail eagle flapped away from the trackside being harassed by half a dozen magpies. Then a confusion of dark shapes on the phone line as parrots, when they were actually the tall ceramic insulators with long spikes that had pulled free from the wooden cross bars. They 'perched', suspended taut above it. 

It's movie camera territory to capture this, not stills (certainly not with my camera). Even then there are just a few frames as you flash past that need to be 'step-printed' to catch the event. I've got reels of Super 8 that I took when I was traveling by train from Gippsland to Melbourne each day, that I then still framed and re-photographed. Moments of blur and beauty. Revealing images that your eyes never saw at the time.

The Ladies (& Gents), Bungendore station. 7.20am and 9.50pm.

Fred Harden
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