Friday, 28 February 2014

Queen Mary visits us again

NT News photo - sent in by a reader, posted on facebook.
Yesterday the enormous Queen Mary 2 visited us again.
I watched her come into port just after breakfast and she left around sunset. When the ship was sailing into the harbour there was a big rainbow and it looked as if QM2 was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. My photo is not as pretty as this one. Because of the cloudy conditions the sea does not look sparkling blue. But the Wet Season has made us very green and lush and tropical in the way that visitors expect.

At around five I walked down to have a look at how big this cruise liner actually is. Yes folks, she's big. Hundreds of people were doing the same, especially those families with little children. Bit of a traffic jam.

Those tug boats are not small. The stripey-looking-thing at the end of the wharf is actually a three storey building housing the customs, immigration, and port offices relevant to cruise liners and visiting ships. Along the side of QM2 you can see the lifeboats. There are four that are not orange. They are launches, and each one would probably hold 50 people I reckon.
The fog horn (is that the correct name?) was really loud, booming and echoing off the concrete buildings and the cliffs around town. Actually it sounded like fun. Maybe the babies and shift workers did not think so, but I did.
When it was time to go, engines at the front and rear pushed the ship outwards, parallel to the wharf. Then the back went further and the front moved in the opposite direction - sort of circular movement. Then she was off, slowly at first but this ship really moves much faster than other cruise ships that come here.

It was not possible to get particularly close, but I found my walk an enjoyable activity. The area was busy with loading equipment and whatever else is done when ships call at ports. Passengers were returning from the day's tours and shopping.
Luckily for the passengers and crew the day was cool and comfy although there was rain during the morning. Next year the Queen Mary 2 will call into Darwin in May. The weather should be much better then and will make for a happier cruise experience.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Day 2014

My husband gave me a lovely surprise me this morning. He had remembered St Valentine's day and been shopping. The gift is a miniature vase, a small art work really.

The vase is only 7cm high is rectangular in shape. The main Klimt picture, called Expectation / Fulfilment, is on two sides and the narrower sides are lesser parts of the original painting. The vase is from Goebel's in Germany and is gorgeous.

Did I remember to do anything? No, I was too wrapped up in other things. But, I have spent hours preparing a very special meal for this evening. Polenta stack a bit like lasagne, salad, a heart shaped cake, and pink champagne.

The meal will be gone soon but the vase will remain.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Opening of Parliament Ceremony

Yesterday my choir, the Darwin Chorale, was invited to sing at the Opening of Parliament Ceremony here in Darwin. It was a very important occasion. We have only one House, the Legislative Assembly and we have not get attained statehood.

You can see two lions dancing around the Chamber, one is purple and one golden yellow.
Members are giving them special red envelopes to ensure prosperity.
See the musicians in yellow shirts and black pants.
Hanging under the clock is the lettuce for the lion to eat.
On the right are the Lord Mayor and the Town Clerk in their formal robes.
On the left are the Defence Force dignitaries.
In the gallery behind the glass are the students. The general public is in the galleries.
The Speaker and the elected Members were in their normal street clothes, but very nice ones. Some of the men wore suits. All the men wore ties. There were important invited guests seated in the Chamber too. This included the heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force based here in Darwin and they wore their formal uniforms and ribbons. The Lord Mayor was in her formal robes and looked magnificent. The public was seated in the galleries. Two local schools had sent classes to watch and they were in a section behind glass - children might make a sound I suppose.

The Chorale was positioned up in one of the galleries and our role was to perform the national anthem. It went really well and most of the other people joined in. There was no music of course.

After the introductions, the anthem, and a blessing by the Christian Church we were also blessed by the Lion Dance. A troupe of entertainers from the Chung Wah Society brought their drums and, cymbals. There were three lions, two golden and one purple. Each lion had two dancers and they went around the chamber so that the members could feed them the special red envelopes for prosperity. Then the largest lion climbed up and ate the green lettuce, officially blessing the Chamber and ensuring good fortune and wise decisions. We were allowed to take photos, a very unusual thing as cameras and that type of recording equipment are not actually permitted during business.

Two gold and one purple. Musicians. Dignitaries in robes.
A recess was called and we all went into the Great Hall for a delicious morning tea. Maybe it was a networking opportunity. Maybe it was a chance to thank everyone for such a wonderful start to the year's difficult decisions. I wonder if there are many cities like ours where this could happen.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Local girl makes good

Have you seen this clip from Youtube?

Jessica Mauboy is a local girl who has achieved success in the entertainment industry. She has been in two successful movies. She dances, writes songs, and sings pop songs. She has performed internationally and was also the 2011 Young Australian of the Year.

A glamour shot of Our Jess.
But she really is this lovely in both looks and personality.
Jessica Mauboy is a typical Darwin girl in many ways, and different in other ways. Her Dad is Indonesian from West Timor and is himself an accomplished performer. Her Mum is an Indigenous Australian from the KuKu Yalanji people, and she really enjoys singing too, which is a trifle unusual. Jessica attended the public schools in Darwin and participated in The Beat concerts, which are designed to give students the opportunity to perform on stage in front of thousands of people. One of the teachers working on The Beat recognised Jess's extraordinary talent and drive and decided to help her. And that help was huge.

Jess competed on one of the big television talent shows as a singer. The winner depended not only on talent but also audience votes. The school system got behind it and we were all asked to vote for our little school girl. She did really well, came second, got noticed, and launched a successful career. She has worked very hard and deserves her success. Jessica has appeared on Ellen DeGeneres's show and also with Oprah Winfrey. She has toured Indonesia giving many well received concerts. She has learned to write songs that appeal to the marketplace and to perform like a star. Our Jess happily appears for free at shows for worthy causes. She always has a positive comment for newspapers and magasines and is the kind of girl every family would be proud of.

You might have seen Jess in Bran Nue Dae, the film of the musical stage show. Here is a taste.

Another film success was The Sapphires. This was very popular in Australia but overseas audiences found the storyline awkward. For this role Jessica Mauboy won a Best Supporting Actress Award.