Thursday, March 19, 2009


How about 660 hectares on the southern side of the Fleurieu Peninsula? There's some impressive creeks and scrub, your own stretch of the Heysen Trail, plus a couple of k's of coastline in the backyard. All this, just an hour and a bit's drive south of Adelaide. We're talking here about the western chunk of Mt Scrub, a grazing property that last changed hands in 1895. If you have a few mill' lying around, it could all be yours.

Parsons Beach, looking west towards Mt Scrub

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Artist, writer, photographer, Antarctician, friend, comrade-in-authorship and all-round polymath Alasdair McGregor has just launched his own website. It gives a quick sample of his endeavours in many disciplines. Those who admire Alasdair's preternatural gifts as a painter will be especially interested to see a cross-section of major works on show. A computer screen doesn't really do justice to his big, radiant oil paintings - but it's great to have the opportunity to see so many of them again and reconnect with their scope and verve. Later in 2009 Penguin will be publishing Alasdair's next biographical opus: Grand Obsessions: The life and work of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin, as well as bringing out a paperback edition of his acclaimed earlier biography: Frank Hurley: A photographer's life.

Alasdair McGregor: Grass Trees Northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia, oil and acrylic on canvas, 107 x 91cms

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I would never admit it publicly, of course, but given my vocation there are times when going bush can begin to feel like work. So where does a fresh-air fiend go to frolic? In my case it's occasionally onto the water. And to be specific - given an aversion to getting wet - onto a boat on the water. Accordingly, four day's sailing on Boston Bay at Port Lincoln comes very close to being a holiday. It was race week in Lincoln, which meant my contribution was as moveable ballast. In between all the leaping about there were stints on the gunwale when I could enjoy the scenery.
The bay is a terrific place to sail - four times the size of Sydney Harbour - and though we never left its surrounds I was reminded of the times past when I'd sailed out of the bay to cruise the gulf beyond. On the longer beats to windward I had time to stare down into the deep green waters of the bay and dream innocent, carbon-neutral dreams about sailing to the distant islands.
However, even in sunny, far-flung Port Lincoln, there are reminders of the world we have created and the kind of thoughts that, for me at least, begin to feel like work. In our races we were often passed by large fishing boats ferrying pallet-loads of frozen pilchards to the tuna farms beyond the bay. A fellow crew member reckons that 5,000 tonnes of pilchards a week are used here fatten up the tuna ready for export. 5,000 tonnes every week. And I couldn't help thinking to myself that a downturn in the Japanese economy and a little less demand for our tuna might not be such a bad thing for the planet.