Thursday, June 20, 2019

Friday, June 14, 2019

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Gibraltar Peak

Gibraltar Peak is in the Tidbinbilla Nature reserve to Canberra's south. As I was planning our trip the guide book said that it was the ACT's 45th highest peak, which sounded distinctly underwhelming.

Actually the top part of the walk was pretty steep and (as I was carrying our picnic and a flask of tea) left me puffing like a steam train by the time we reached the pinnacle.

It was a lovely walk though. The path meanders upwards through beautiful woodland and as well as the ubiquitous gum trees there's a number of grass trees on or near the path.

We learnt that the route people now take to the top is longer (but less steep) than the previous path. The 'new' path (which I think is now over ten years old) is well signposted and there was a well situated picnic table near the top.

It was beautiful at the peak, although slightly precarious as there's no safety barriers or fences, but I don't think there's been any recorded falls, for if you did fall they'd find your broken body several hundred feet down in a tree.

It was a lovely walk nonetheless and I'm sure from the top (despite only being the ACT's 45th highest peak, you are able to see for at least 40 or 50km.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Filming 'Moons'

There’s every chance you haven’t heard of Amr Tawfik. I hadn’t until I saw (somewhere?) a brief advert looking for extras for a film that he was shooting.

What can you do when you see invitations like that but reply and offer up both my services and those of A&E plus their friend Seb.

Amr and I exchanged a series of slightly chaotic messages. With every message the location of the shoot grew more mysterious. Initially it was going to be in Googong – a new development just outside of Canberra, then in Gunghalin in the city’s north and finally we were told to head to Mulligans Flat – a nature reserve – we were even provided with grid co-ordinates of where to meet!

What we did know was that the film was called ‘Moons’ it was set in the future (a post-apocalyptic world) and we were to be in a montage that would form the start of the film. The rest of the film we were told had already been shot, but Amr needed a bit more material for the opening credits.

It was a freezing cold morning when we headed out to the location. The kids were fairly tentative, but they’re used to being asked to take part in crap like this and so they didn’t complain as much as perhaps they should have. It was 4 degrees when we arrived.

As we got out of the car it was like being in Hollywood. That is if you imagine a type of Hollywood where the director has one camera and him and his assistant are directing a group of student-types to run over the top of a hillock and then simulate giving one of their number a good kicking. 

The student-types were extras like us who were shooting another scene. They’d clearly tried harder than us and had dressed in ragged clothes and looked like the post-apocalyptic individuals they were supposed to be. We wore dark clothes, but no rips. A more upmarket apocalyptic group of survivors.

After about a dozen takes Amr was happy with what he’d shot. Sadly he didn’t declare that it was ‘in the can’ or anything like that, but it signalled that it was our turn.

The other extras disappeared into cars and drove off.

Amr explained that our role was to walk along and spot the film’s main protagonist who was walking determinedly towards us. We were to sight him and then it was my duty to pull the kids over to one side while the film’s main man strode onwards past us. We didn't have any lines, but then I guess I have to start my film career somewhere.

We found our spot and then proceeded to walk. But we'd gone too early and were called back for 'take two'. Take two and three were similar, We went too far to the right and the film's hero hadn't caught up to us. At about take five the kids suggested one of them stumble as we were walking. Amr agreed that we could try it but all three of the kids started to trip (several times) after a couple of goes Amr suggested we drop the idea. He said we looked clumsy rather than scared.

At about take 10 or 11 I think we'd perfected it. Amr said that he'd got what he needed - either that or he'd seen enough - a grown man trying to corral three constantly stumbling children.

I guess we won't know until we see the film whether we (literally) made the cut. Whether we did or not it was great to meet Amr. He told us that the guy playing the 'star' was the sixth lead that the film had had. Several people had been in the role, but had either moved away, got other jobs or just lost interest. Because the character wore a mask Amr felt he could get away with it. I wasn't entirely convinced.

I'm looking forward to the release date now. Apparently sometime this year!

Amr centre next to the main star (well star no.6 at least)

An artificial gun made by Amr himself.

On location

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Nils Desperandum

I've recently started introducing some variety to the hikes/bushwalks that we've been doing. Historically we've tended to complete a couple of favourite walks (which as a result I know very well) but Canberra is covered in multitudes of walks, paths and climbs and so we've started expanding our repertoire and beginning to explore a wider area.

Our trip to Nils Desperandum was one such walk which we took on a sunny public holiday.

Nils Desperandum is a homestead - built in the 1890s (ancient by Australian standards) and has been occupied by three or four families until it was eventually consumed by Tidbinbilla nature reserve in the 1970's. It's possible to book the house and stay overnight which I think it would be a great adventure. The house has got a lot of rustic charm, has a kitchen with a range and is quite remote. There's running water but no electricity and of course no wifi (hurrah!) 

Your neighbours would consist of the numerous kangaroos lolloping around and while we were there we sat and listened to the maniacal chatter of a kookaburra.  

One of the reviews I read of the place said that staying in the house was basically 'camping but with a roof' which I think is probably a fair summation.  

It's not a very long walk (around a 9km round trip) and is mostly along an easily navigable fire trail. The walk has a steady uphill incline but nothing like as steep as Granite Tor which was the walk I'd completed on my own in March.

My walking companions were a bit underwhelmed by the homestead when we reached it (no TV). Fortunately I'd taken along some sweetcorn, bread and sausages and so we happily cooked them on the BBQ that belongs to the property. The house has an enclosed garden area where it would also be possible to camp if your party exceeded the six beds that were inside the house itself.

Walking back to the car park was much easier (downhill) but because we'd left relatively late in the morning we could feel the winter chill around 4pm after the sun dropped below the horizon. We had about an hour of daylight left by the time we reached the car. I drove my three companions the short 30 minute ride back to Canberra. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Whitlams and National Gallery of Australia

Sitting down at the Whitlams concert with my friend Emma, we worked out that the last three people we'd each been to watch the band with had died. It was a relief therefore that we made it out alive.

I didn't live in Australia when the Whitlams were in their pomp (in the 1990's) but I've seen them half a dozen times in a retrospective effort to catch up. Their music is an eclectic combination of political statements, melancholy tunes and upbeat toe-tapping rhythms. The thing that links everything together is the talent and charisma of front man Tim Freedman.

Half way through Freedman asked the crowd if we were all going to head to the National Gallery after the show as it was open 24 hours as part of a special celebration of female artists. Until that point we hadn't heard that it was an option, but with A&E at a sleepover we did go along after the Whitlams had finished their show (and two encores)

The gallery was buzzing with a pop-up bar and a DJ (who Emma knew). It was a wonderful 'vibe' there and there was a free table of sweets to tuck into. All in all, the combination of art, music and good company made for a really enjoyable night out.