Shane Aurousseau has worked in Sydney, London and Amsterdam as a creative director with some of the World’s largest advertising agencies, Including the then largest in the world Young and Rubicam working with Michelin, Yamaha, Time Life Books and Time Magazine designing and in some areas photography. Currently living in London he studied art and photography in Australia followed by art and photography exhibitions in Sydney, London, Amsterdam,Madrid(sponsored by the American Women’s Association) and Athens ( supported by the Australian Embassy of Athens). He now travels extensively and is producing images of high quality from around the Globe. His images of London appear on posters and postcards in all the main tourist shops shops throughout the city including the key tourist shops in the West End. Most of the London tourist images are Photoshop compilations. He has also produced a number of record label covers, design and photography including the work for a Eurovision winner. His images are regularly published by glossy magazines, He has also been involved in a number of medical photographic projects.
He now spends time developing projects for editorial publication and being involved in selected commercial undertakings
Having played tennis to a high international level he also has a website that concentrates on photographing international veteran tennis players: http://www.shanea.photostockplus.com/
Web site www.kiamafoto.com
Blog site www.shaneasite.com
Event site - tennis, mainly international veteran's tennis focus
Most know London for its iconic tourist images however as an Australian photographer living in London I have long felt that I would like to produce a series of images on the real London. Although London has one of the most recognizable profiles in the world it is mainly built around the great iconic images; Westminster, Tower of Big Ben, London Eye, Buckingham Palace, Eros Leicester Square (Originally created to represent Anteros brother to Eros), Tower Bridge and St Paul’s Cathedral. London is one of the world’s great cities and is a place people live,work and play. It is this side of this great city that I hope that I can catch in the images shown in this and future blogs. I intend to produce a series of blogs with mainly images showing the lifestyle of Londoners over the coming weeks.
Australia, the 11th wealthiest country in the world with a debt ratio to GDP of 31% far lower than the UK’s is underpopulated and lacks a cohesive tourist marketing plan Australia is a country of global interest that receives only 5 million tourists per year and many of those must be Chinese families visiting the growing Chinese diaspora living in the country .
A country of such vastness that all of Europe can fit into it has so much to offer in the way of wildlife, Art, History especially relating to the 1800s. The aboriginal community a historic longevity that few countries can offer, a continuous and cohesive society lasting longer than the ancient Egyptians and possibly the Chinese that can be traced back 50,000 years.
A historic social and artistic infrastructure that many races should envy.
Most marketing of Australia is aimed in a limited way at the English speaking world and tends to promote mainly beaches and the common knowledge icons, Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge Uluru /Ayers Rock warm beaches and the Barrier Reef.
There is however much more to Australia and current promotion does not illustrate the tremendous variations that this great country has to offer, the desert, the commodity industry, a country that supplies one third of the world’s wool,
Merino the finest micron wool in the world, the real history of the Aboriginal people.
Promotion tends to give a potted history of the Aboriginal never with the depth that illustrates the the evolution of these
accomplished people through the ages, the great literature that they have illuminated through storytelling, art and music. The cost of getting to Australia as a tourist from Europe can be high and once there travel around this vast country is not made easy for the visitor.Canberra the national capital has a long train trip to Sydney, Canberra to Dubbo (a major central NSW city) can only be accessed by car or bus. The bus only operating on Saturday and travelling to Dubbo via dozens of small towns. Car hire is expensive and usually carries anything up to a $5000 excess, insuring this excess can also be expensive. There seems to be a paranoia within the rental car industry that the car will be damaged or not returned. Also the cost can rise if the car is taken from one state to another. Such costs need to be looked at more closely.
There is of course the problem of many dirt roads a majority corrugated in the Outback not a plus for car suspensions unless . This does present a problem for rental car companies however there still needs to be a more tourist friendly rental structure. Australia has many rail arteries most now closed due to the lack of usage,When I traveled from the shores of my home country the first time there were only 9 to 10 million inhabitants, today that has increased to 24 million. This vast country could support many more. Controlled population growth brings many benefits, it increases the market size thus giving real reason for manufactures to exist as they have both export and home market. Australia lacks diversification and is dependent upon the commodities industry and the market fluctuations of pricing within that industry.
The Aussie Dollar is a commodity driven currency.
Car manufacturers have mostly pulled out of Australia even the iconic Holden is now manufactured overseas. Most business people will tell you that diversification is important in any business strategy if helps to flatten out the market controlling fluctuations.
Goods in Australia tend to move around by truck Road Train this is expensive and lowers the volume of product that can be moved quickly from manufacturer to consumer.
Many of the railway lines carefully constructed from the early 1900’s have been closed. The development of the interior has been neglected for lack of water yet 23% of the country is covered by one of the world’s great sweet water caches the Artesian Basin to this day greatly underutilized and still the 3 to 4 year droughts cause consternation or should I say constipation. Stretching from Cape York in the north, down to Dubbo and across to Coober Pedy, the Great Artesian Basin covers almost a quarter of the Australian continent, and contains enough water to cover the world over. Much remains to be known about this valuable resource that has enabled life in inland Australian to develop over thousands of years.
Look at the irrigated development of Israel and no Artesian Basin. The Darling Murray river system is being plundered without thought. Great rivers that once were busy arteries carrying paddle steamers transporting goods and passengers would be lucky to see a canoe.. Mines are closing even Broken Hill the beginning of Australia’s largest company Broken Hill Pty Ltd a region of more variation in differing mineral deposits than any other place on earth seems to be scaling back.
By 2050 the population is expected to reach 42 million. The infrastructure to cope with this increase needs to be kick started as soon as possible. I think that I pointed out in a previous blog that if Woolworth and Cole’s had waited until their current 18 million supermarket customers had been lined up in front of the first plot for the first complex they would never have reached the market saturation levels they have reached today. When reading papers on population growth and how the terrain can support the projected numbers what I find missing is projected figures based on future investment and development most papers only discuss the here and now, Australia needs some serous modeling put into place, such a vast country is a blank sheet of paper and possibly the world’s real last frontier.
I’m not a religious man in the context of following a Church doctrine or deity, the interpretation of this does not mean that I don’t have religious thoughts. The concept of atheism is a difficult one for me to comprehend as this is a statement of absolute and is a bedfellow of fundamentalism. The following of an agnostic path is to me a much more logical direction, ‘the only thing I know is I know nothing’ Socrates. Man’s interpretation of the teachings of some of the towering figures of religious history. Mohammed, Christ, Abraham, the Hindu teacher Shankara and even the Buddhas I believe would horrify the creators of those great religions. Much criminality and suffering has been perpetuated in the name of religion. The quest for some form of understanding is far more important than some vague and misguided belief that one has omnipotent knowledge, however sometimes from man’s muddled and myopic thinking comes something beautiful, the music of a Latin Mass,
The Sacred Geometry of Islam, The great paintings of the world, The Last Supper – Leonardo da Vinci, The creation of Adam – Michelangelo, Madonna del Prato or Madonna of the Meadow – Raphael, The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist – Caravaggio not to mention the great temple sculptures of the East, the great fiestas of the Catholic world Semana Santa Spain. I have to admit these creations give a fabric and synergy to society that today much of the world lacks with out these creations the world would be a boring and barren place indeed. The disillusionment especially in the ranks of the youth of the world is giving rise to a self driven and violent society with an inability to see any beauty we are building the blind society.
It was attending Holy week or Semana Santa Malaga that confirmed to me the importance of maintaining these great festivals and protecting the great artistic legacy that religious belief of most persuasions has bestowed upon us. The realisation of the contribution that has been bequeathed to us by the great religions of the world is part of growing up and becoming an understanding member of society.
Semana Santa (Easter Week) Spain’s greatest festival and most important week of the year. A celebration of piety expressed almost exclusively in the processions of the brotherhoods or fraternities. Associations that have their origins in the Middle Ages, however a number were created during the Baroque Period, inspired by the Counter-Reformation ( Catholic Revival) commencing from the time of the ‘Council of Trent’ 1545 – 1563 finishing at the end of the ‘Thirty Years War’ 1648 and also during the 20th and 21st centuries. Membership of the brotherhoods is usually open to any Catholic person; family tradition is an important element to becoming a member or “brother” (hermano). The family the importance of being a part of something greater than you. The family can be seen in the important participation of Children and how they are welcomed into the festivities. The family group is an institution that we seem to be losing in most western countries to the detriment of our society.
One of the most striking spectacles of the festival are the hundreds of slow-moving Nazarenos (based on the people of Nazareth) in their tall, pointy hats and matching robes with their faces completely covered, apart from their eyes. Reasons for the use of such costumes have long been lost in antiquity however the purpose is simple , the Nazarenos their faces are covered in mourning and also as a sign of shame for the sins they have committed throughout the year. It is not uncommon for prisoners to participate as pallbearers participating in the carrying of the huge Thrones of the crucified Christ and the mourning Virgin Mary in order to repent of their sins.
There are 168 to 280 men and sometimes women who carry the thrones on their shoulders. Each man must be able to carry 40 Kilos on his shoulders for hours they tend to march for a longer period than women. The processions culminates on Easter Sunday in a long procession from the cathedral or church with the meeting of the effigies of the mourning Virgin and the resurrected Christ. Truly an artistic and spectacular fiesta that gives Spain its character and synergy. .
Much of Australia’s development is not dissimilar to that of the United States and its growth from the coastal regions to the west or inland.Not all of Australia’s population hugs the coast rather like hanging onto a tippin mattress. Although the greater proportion of the Australian population is on the coast the Commodity wealth of the country has driven growth inland seeking the rich mining of every mental and mineral from Gold, tin, copper, bauxite, opals, Uranium, silver, iron ore, coal ;
Sheep and cattle farming booms across most states with the country hosting some of the largest sheep stations and cattle ranches in the world. Wine vineyards stretch from Western Australia to Queensland. Grains and cotton at also grown in the commodity rich outback
Australia produces 30% of the worlds wool and the merino is the finest micron level available to the market. Australia is the 7th largest beef producer in the world, producing around 4% of the world’s beef.
All this rush for wealth really commenced in the 1800s. In 1851 the Australian population was only 437,655 the gold rush of 1851 changed all of this with the population growing rapidly and a decade later it was 1,151,957, today of course it is nearly 24 million people. the mining, sheep and to an extent the beef industry was away from the coast and caused the development of outback towns and cities such as Condobolin,Dubbo, Broken Hill, Ballarat, Alice Springs and Lightning Ridge all now major centers for the commodity driven industries.
The development of these towns really dates from the 1800s a period when the United States of America was developing in a similar way. North America’s towns of the wild west were very similar to Australia’s even down to the stagecoach connections of Cobb and Co. What developed in this period of inland growth were what Australians refer to as the ‘Veranda Towns’. Towns with large verandas circumnavigating the period commercial buildings and houses of these regional centres – designed for hot summer evenings.
This architecture gives Australia its unique character influencing its development from the 1800s on. So much of this development is left in- tact across the continent that the country is a ‘Museum for the 1800s and the growth of a nation..
Australia comprises a land mass of around 7.629 million square kilometers. It is about 50% greater than the European Union. When I did my first trip overseas in the early 1970s the population was around 10 million today it is 24 million people. The latest visit to my homeland started to give me an insight into the deficiencies in the infrastructure of this vast and exciting country. I mentioned in a previous blog the difficulties in travelling to the major inland city of Dubbo from the National Capital. There is only one bus a week Saturday and this travels through many outback small towns. Australians whom I spoke to and as an Australian I do understand the lingo generally felt that there are not enough people to justify building the infrastructure. This is rather like saying that Woolworths and Coles with their 18.3 million customers and total control of the $85 billion grocery market should not have built stores until the 18.3 million people where queuing up in front of the vacant plot picked out for the first store.
I spend my time now between Spain and Australia and have pointed out on many occasions the strong High Speed Rail Network that has gone together in Spain – Alta Velocidad Española (AVE)
Now I know that much of this network is built via EU (European Union for those Australians who don’t know where the EU is) loans. This money is however much better spent on infrastructure than going into some greasy politician’s pocket. The last 6 months have seen Spain coming out of recession with a growth rate as good as Germany’s. The infrastructure in Spain will pay off the country now has the second best High Speed Rail network in the world after China, where is Britain and Australia. The road system of Spain is now mostly silk like highways. Goods and tourists can move faster companies like this type of investment. Ford motor company is putting 2.8 Billion Euros into manufacturing in Valencia what a confirmation of trust; one of the biggest car manufacturing investments ever. What of Australia’s car manufacturing it has stopped, even the
iconic Holden has left the shores. Australia loosely welcomes 5 million tourists per year. I will add that at least half of these tourists are probably Chinese families coming in and out to visit relatives. Spain has 70 million tourists, France 85 million and Britain 35 million. Now most Australians while over the Barbie will tell you that it is due to the distance, from where the antarctic, Asia including China and Japan are in striking distance as is much of the East Coast of the USA. Tourists can lift an economy the Greeks may have to survive off the tourist industry. Greece attracts 22.5 million tourists per year with a population of 11 million; tourism contributes over $30 billion US per year to the economy. Now it is the birth place of democracy whatever that is, however Australia has a people who can be traced back 50,000 years and are living on one of the oldest continents on earth. The differential between what other countries achieve in attracting tourists and what Australia with its stunning and much unspoilt countryside, outback and beaches achieves should make the tourist board ashamed. Thailand gets 22 million plus Tourists annually.
Australia is generally believed to be a dry land once away from the coast. However the Great Artesian Basin is the largest and deepest artesian basin in the world covering 1.7 million square kilometers some 23% of the continent this is a massive sweet water cache, It is also an under used resource with many of the great Australian Rivers being pumped dry.
The Darling river with its tributaries is 2,844 km long making it the largest river system in Australia. The Murray river is Australia’s longest river at 2508 Km. The Murray Darling confluence is at Wentworth New South Wales.The Murray Darling river system is one of the longest in the world.
There was a period when steamers came up the Darling river today you would be lucky to paddle a canoe up this great river. Industry and to some degree intensive cotton farming and its hunger for water have had a great effect on the water level of both the Darling and Murray rivers.
The Murray still has some depth to it but the Darling has little left. Cubbie Station located near Dirranbandi South West Queensland the largest irrigation system in the Southern Hemisphere covering some 240,000 acres has dammed of more water than the total volume of Sydney Harbour from the Darling river system.. All of this intensive agriculture is damaging the environment and having an effect on the native commodities wheat and the wool industry. The problem seems to be that successive governments have been more concerned with their political power and personal financial gains rather than investing management skills into protecting this exciting continent and growing the real wealth of the country. It is hoped that the Aboriginals who control the rights to most river banks will step in and help fight this destruction of the environment.
The only state at the moment that has a sound financial base is New South Wales but I wonder how long that will last, possibly NSW should go for independence the Scots would support them. With sound management Australia has the mineral / commodity wealth to be one of the leading countries in the world. Australia is the 11th wealthiest country in the world, Spain is the 12th. Generally speaking the country left to the Australians would go bust. It’s lucky that the Chinese have come however the joint deals need to be managed so that the Australians also benefit. There is the population for both a manufacturing base and commodity base. The Australian Dollar is at the mercy of commodity and especially mining prices – good business spreads the risk.
A journey around Australia will bring the traveller in contact with some of the most interesting and creative art in the world, Indigenous, European descended , Road and Urban The first great artists of this stunning country where the Aboriginals dating back some 50,000 years. The creativity of this highly sophisticated people is now legendary. One fellow traveller meeting me by chance on an outback road told me ‘ Europe has history Australia has art’.
Many Australian outback centres have established artist’s names past and present associated with their local community some with international reputations, Albert Namatjira, Pro Hart , Howard William Steer, Arthur Boyd – worth seeing the Broken Hill desert sculptures. It would take some time to name all the talent that is and has created the Australian unique character.
Much of the art of Australia contains great humour of a real Australian Character. The vibrant hard colours of Australia make for strong clear work by artists. Ochres reds of the dust, blue of the never ending sky make for some of the most vivid images that can be recreated by artists. As you move away from the green coast travelling over the great dividing range the landscape moves from a light ochre to a ochre red dust and then to the red heart with the bright red dust covering the car. As you get to the red heart the sky becomes clear and cobalt blue.
This is what many Australian artists from the aboriginals to the humorists of the European descended art community depict somewhere in their art. Australia is a country close to the earth the aboriginals mixed earth colours the European community recreates those colours. The traveller looking closely will also discover the abundant road and community art of this incredibly creative country with its stunning landscapes and history of 50,000 years and the development of the second nation from the late 1700s to present day . Australia is a country of Artists.
I recently had the privilege of photographing and filming Kelpies working with Merino sheep the invitation came from Peter and Terrie L’Estrange, they are the owners of a station on the outskirts of Condobolin Central NSW called Belswick Merino Stud. I believe they have around 7000 acres running mainly Merino sheep including prize animals that are regularly shown at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney .
The Merino is of course the sheep that gave Australia its place in history as the leading wool producing country in the world. Wool production of Australia accounts for approximately 30% of world production.The Merino originally from central Spain (Castille). Its wool was highly valued even in the Middle Ages.
The fine micron quality of Merino wool gives this commodity its reputation as the highest quality of all wools.
Merino sheep introduced into Australia from Spain in the late 1700s and developed by Captain Macarthur in the early 1800s into the valuable commodity it has now become for Australia. The production of Merino wool adds some Aust $2 billion annually to the Australian GDP. From the 1800s it was generally accepted that Australia rides home on the Merino’s back. The droving and organising of the sheep has always been a hands on exercise however those hands do have assistants – the Kelpies.
Although different breeds of dogs work with sheep it is generally Kelpies that the the Australian stations use. These dogs tend to have great personalities and have an inbred desire to work and to organise.
The Kelpie tends to be a one man dog and is great with children if brought up in an environment with them. A good working dog is prized and can change hands for anything up to $30,000 Australian Dollars and as one station owner pointed out is worth 2 men. Watching the two drovers working with the dogs moving some 100 sheep around was an incredible experience. The handlers shouted orders to the dogs more or less indicating to them where they wanted the sheep to be directed. The dogs quickly respond to signals even to a glance. To see a sheep cut from the group and the speed of the dogs forcing the sheep to rejoin its mates gives an insight into how intelligent these animals are.
The Australian Kelpie is the most popular of working dogs and their agility gives them the ability to move around tightly packed sheep, see the dog in the photograph clearing the sheep by jumping them. They are workaholics easily trained herding is in their nature.
The workaholic nature and energy of this breed can be demonstrated by the image of the Station hand hosing the dogs down following an intensive working session. The dogs actually seek the cooling hosing when work is finished.
Boredom is the Kelpie’s worst enemy they are working dogs.
When travelling in Peter L’Estrange’s 4×4 one of the dogs Lucy sat between us. This particular dog is as pointed out the house dog and rarely leaves Peter’s side however she still needs to work and knows when he is preparing to move the sheep and more or less demands participation. She can be seen travelling on the back of Peter’s quad bike waiting for one of the flock to make a false move.
I recently finished a photographic tour of inland western and northern New South Wales my home state. its development has been an interest for me for sometime. What I found during this trip was a worrying trend of an’ I’m OK Jack’ culture..
Australia is a country that offers so much especially from it’s richness in commodities much of which it has a ready market for in China. The issues that worried me were ones of development and management. When I first travelled from Australia 40 years ago the country had a population of around 9 to 10 million, today it is 23 million mainly coastal inhabitants. However much of the wealth is not drawn from the coast but the Outback once the great dividing coastal mountain ranges are crossed. The country has the potential to be commodity self sufficient.
The potential for self sufficiency is confirmed by the amount of mines, farms, cattle ranches and sheep stations. Merino wool is still the world’s finest.
Much of Australia’s manufacturing industry has been lost, the final blows coming with the withdrawal of the car industry manufacturing including the Australian iconic Holden brand.
Union and government inability to see eye to eye and manage this incredible country has been a contributing factor. however having said this the attitude of the coastal Australian is one of ‘ let’s have another barbie and go to the beach’ few even realise that their farmers have failing crops due to lack of rain and many have had their land repossessed by greedy banks who don’t give a damn for the development of the country. The immediate quest for short-term profit seems to be the goal of many banks the world over. I have always said that ” banks that do not contribute to the management of society are irrelevant to society”.
A major contributor and hinderance to Australia’s development is infrastructure. Bring this up to most Australians and the retort is but we don’t have the money or people and to add we don’t give a damn, Taxing major corporations properly could change this issue. The only time that the average Australian will give a damn is when food and retail commodity prices hit totally unaffordable levels. Then their will be wailing and gnashing that the prices are too high and still it will take a term for the penny to drop that the farmers and commodity developers should have been taken care of.
Infrastructure there are many developing regional centres, you only have to look at the size of the supermarkets that have grown up in regional centres mainly Woolworths and Coles but now challenged by Aldi. These groups are the real business people and see the advantages and potential for growth. If you look at Spain and the infrastructure that is going into place in a country that has just gone through a major recession you have to ask why not Australia. The average myopic Australian would argue that Spain has a larger Population. The average European will say that Spain has ripped of the Euro Zone for that money – better than being spent on expenses by corrupt Euro politicians. Spain now has one of the finest high speed rail networks in the world after China. Link Sydney, Dubbo, Canberra, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and you will develop the interior of those states. Link Perth and you will develop Western Australia. Have the guts and the people will come. Getting a bus from the national capital Canberra to the major centre of Dubbo is a substantial exercise. Only one goes on Saturday and it goes through half of New South Wales.
Australia gets only 5 million tourists per year, half of those probably Chinese coming in and out to visit family; Spain gets 65 million, France 85 million and the UK 35 million. Now some would say that this is due to Australia’s isolation. I would however argue that the differential is too great and needs a closer look. Australians seem to be in cop-out mode. Promotion of Australia is mainly in English in the UK and yet the cross section of other nationalities in Australia has now become great indeed.
It is almost a no brainer to develop a rich country like Australia if there is a government without vested personal interests.The Australians are so limited in their thinking that unless they take action to manage this great country they will lose it. Already the Chinese own almost everything employing the Australians. Now I don’t have a problem with the Chinese investment in Australia without it the Australians would have bankrupted the country. The Chinese bring a lot of good things and should be welcomed. However when you own something and sell it you should retain a interest in what you have built especially as it is your main home.
The damage done to the Darling river and many other rivers adding to the mismanagement of water through the country. Once steamers travelled along the Darling river. Australia’s Artisian Bore covers 23% of the country one of the biggest water basins in the world yet it is not tapped properly in times of distress for farmers. The Snowy river scheme which was one of the engineering wonders of the world is not working properly and generating the irrigation that it should. Cubby station in Queensland dams off more water than Sydney Harbour contains. The South Australians are plundering the great Murray river without a management system in place
To get the development right you need a government with the will. , Link the great centres and the people will come; Australia has one of the best living possibilities in the World and could be the leading light in Asia.
Pelicans and Galahs these may seem strange creatures to use in the context that I’m about to write about; however In Aussie speak a pelican or a galah is a synonym for stupidity especially related to an action; ‘you pelican’ or ‘what a bunch of galahs’. Not totally fair on those exquisite creatures but what in this world is fair. Especially when it comes to the myopic views of our leaders who govern by vested interest many of a personal nature. I don’t presume to be a great expert on the Middle East, however I have spent sometime there on business and I would like to share some views.
Although an Australian with a trained photographic and creative background having held positions in major advertising agencies as a creative director including the then largest Young and Rubicam working on accounts such as Time Magazine, Time Life books, Michelin, Yamaha, Camel Cigarettes and later financial accounts such as Fidelity, Midland Bank, Royal Life, Eagle Star Insurance and others; by way of the creative world I drifted for a time into the financial sphere including eventually running and representing hedge funds. Some of the companies that I worked with during my time in the City of London were many of the most successful in the industry including a stint forming SECAVs in Luxembourg for the then second largest UK insurance company Norwich Union, SECAVs were a form of open-ended fund used mainly by the French, SECAFs being closed ended. I was IMRO(Investment Management Regulatory Organization) registered, now defunct a bit like me. The largest unit trust industry is in France but of course Luxembourg was then offshore using French fund structures. The position with Norwich union gave me the status of a General Manager in a mutual insurance company this equated to a director’s position. It was through producing creative work for city institutions that I learnt a great deal about how the financial world works.
During this period of my life I became an advisor on product development to the largest of the islamic banking groups Dallah Al-Baraka of Saudi Arabia. I was involved in the creation of a joint venture company between Dallah Al-Baraka and the Johor Bahru corporation of Malaysia locating the joint venture in Bahrain. I was included in their strategy in order to marry western fund ideas into the Islamic system.
My work in the Middle East brought me in contact with such institutions as ADIA(Abu Dhabi Investment Authority) and its associate ADIC plus many of the private departments of the Shaikhs including the private department of the then Life President of the Emirates Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan. I spent a considerable time working throughout the middle East including in Kuwait with the massive fund run by the Kuwait government under the KIO(Kuwait Investment Office). I made many Arab friends and found them to be one of the most hospitable of people.
However as a westerner having worked with Sharia committees made up of scholars who were not banking or financial people but religious academics and judges, I found that there are enormous differences in interpretation and implementation, it is these anomalies that have caused much misunderstanding between people. Couple this misunderstanding in the Islamic world with the total lack of understanding in the western world and the vested oil interests of the West and you have a formula for disaster. The history of the west in the Middle East has been one of planning only for the financial gains driven by oil. Not only has there been no respect for the differences of interpretation in the Islamic world but there was also no respect for tribal borders. Many borders were created on a divide and rule basis or on the premise of who was the strongest and who could be purchased the easiest and give added control to oil rich regions. Although not really an oil issue both Palestine and Israel have been caught up in this border or land manipulation. I believe strongly that both these groups should exist in their own states within their own borders. There is no doubt that the Palestinians have had a raw deal all people should have the right to exist. There is also not doubt that the Arab world could have assisted in the correction of this issue.
For centuries Arabs and Jews lived in harmony. During the medieval periods of the crusades the secular thinkers where in educated Islam. When the West was living in mud and cold castles cities such as Constantinople and Cordoba Spain(the two largest of Islamic cities) had street lighting – Islam was the educated world. Saladin rebuilt the Christian churches and synagogues and protected them following the fall of Jerusalem around 1187. At sometime a halt must be called to revenge, revenge creates more revenge and then the story is never ending destroying the future for subsequent generations.
The US is becoming more and more oil self sufficient and of course the large deposits of shale now being discovered in North America are adding to this independence. As the US pulls away from the Middle East the violence may intensify. Much of this violence will be about the realigning of borders back to their more legitimate pre-western involvement days, real tribal boundaries. The issues in the Middle East are much more than Sunni and Shia an easy Western simplification. The realigning of boarders is not a bad thing as smaller autonomous actor states are much more manageable than large continental groups. In most major countries there is considerable autonomy given to cities and individual states. The real problem is how do they live together with understanding and acceptance of differing ideas and opinions. To quote one of my uncles a successful academic who said ‘ variety is the spice of life’. It is difference that creates progress. Religion and lateral thinking should not be used as an excuse for hate and gain. The great prophets and thinkers would be horrified by much of our interpretation.
We can’t keep looking back and blaming the crusades, holocaust and remember the Russians lost 20 million people during WWII and the same again under Stalin. These debacles must be guides to help us construct a better future not a route to hatred. The next issue will be relating any relative DNA extension of Alexander the Great to some form of criminal activity that took place in 340 BC. Mind you I should not have mentioned this as once the legal fraternity gets hold of it dollar signs will appear and blame could be apportioned. Somewhere without the necessity to apologise we need to say enough is enough.
Because I believe in everything and nothing some have called me an atheist but how can you follow that doctrine atheism is an absolute and a close relative of fundamentalism, it means you know, agnostic is a much calmer interpretation. In the greater galactic scheme of things we are all small fry and much of our nonsense is irrelevant and damaging to our development as a successful species. Unfortunately many of our leaders are intellectual minnows, Pelicans and Galahs stuck in the muddy banks of dogma.
From the time of the arrival of the First Fleet under Captain Arthur Phillip in 1788 Australia has been developing a unique Character that makes Australians who they are today. A greater proportion of the people who came with the first fleet and subsequent fleets were transported and then given land grants. The growth of the colony was of up most importance and transportation key to the colony’s development. The Australian climate dictated the type of living structure that gave the best lifestyle. A climate hotter and dryer than England’s and Europe’s required the development of living structures with broad and low roofs creating a cool internal environment that would also hold heat during winter months.
It was the heat of this dry land that was mostly addressed by early settlers giving Australia the ‘Veranda Towns’. Towns with homes with broad verandas for enjoying those balmy evenings on, shops with cool shade giving awnings. This type of architecture really started to come into its own in the 1800s as settlers moved inland from Sydney, much of it still exits on a habitable basis today. All across Australia can be found towns with architecture straight out of a Western film set and houses with broad verandas. This architecture coupled with the Australian Landscape and the hard working people in the commodity driven industries, mining, wool, cattle and grain farming gives Australia a unique character that make Australians who they are today. It is the ‘Time Warp’ veranda towns of Australia that i found most interesting from a photographic point of view. Towns like Condobolin NSW, Braidwood NSW, Molong NSW, Wellington NSW, Cowra NSW, Sofala NSW, Bungendore NSW, Boorowa NSW Clunes Victoria, Ballarat Victoria