I spent 12 months living in Australia's Capital city, it was my first posting after I had finished my technical training in the Navy. Perhaps not the best career wise, but certainly I made the most of it as I was young and just loved to party.
15 or so years later and I return with a different outlook, and certainly a different purpose. My end goal was to shoot some astrophotography at the radio telescope farm just outside of Canberra, but I would have the day which gave me the opportunity to explore this city with a different motivation.
As I began to investigate this place I began to notice the way in which this city was crafted seemed very much intentional. Like something from the illuminati, everything had its place, every design had a purpose, and nothing was done without reason.
Unlike most cities these buildings would stand out, and indeed were spread out so they had room to breath as if to say they had room to grow. They would stand tall enough that they could be seen, but not so tall as be an obnoxious eye sore on the landscape. Most notably was everything centered around Parliament house, The war memorial looked straight down Anzac Parade and into the rooms of the Politicians who were responsible for the very reason it existed, and the reverse is also true, however I am not sure how effective it is. They have the view that looks right at the memorial as if to remind them of the cost that Australia's have paid for their decisions.
For me the revisit to the War Memorial was certainly one full of emotion, I really didn't know how to process what I was feeling. I looked at the bridge and gun of HMAS Brisbane and at that point I began to feel confused by a strange rush of emotions, was this what Diggers felt when they are reminded of their fallen? the Brisbane wasn't a ship I served upon... but it served as a keen reminder of my time in service. I can only ever really imagine what it is like for those who faced war as they view the names that line the walls.
As I walked around the War Memorial I couldn't help but notice one very key thing. Everything was done with symmetry, everything was uniform, and not a thing was out of place. Oh yes, this is the military after all!
That evening I camped out in the bushland just outside of Canberra and for half the night I kept getting up to check on the skies in the hopes of some stars above. I had a half cocked plan to shoot with the radio telescopes, but my idea simply didn't pan out.
The following morning as I headed back into town I stopped by Mt Stromlo for a bit of a ride on the mountain bike. This brought about a welcomed break from what was turning into quite the mental journey while exploring this city. As distracting as it was, the moment I stopped I felt I had still yet to answer this question, this question was bugging me because I didn't know what the question was to begin with... so how can I answer that?
I ventured into town and headed to the National Gallery of Australia, which was a little out of character for me. These types of places, while they hold immense knowledge and history importance, have never been high on to do lists but today... today would be different. I wanted to see if I could see something in other peoples art, see if I could draw my own story from what they were illustrating.
For the first time in my life I would sit in front of two seperate pieces of art, I would sit and just see what happened. Of course I had to look, and I had to think but I let the imagery in front of my steer my imagination. One piece of art was by a Frenchman whose name does escape me, and the other was Jackson Pollock. What imagined was in these pieces of art is all of my own making, and I am sure we all see things differently, but what was interesting was that my mind actually engaged with them. I managed to sit still in front of each of them for a good 15 - 20 minutes.
Finding myself mostly at peace now I stood up and proceeded to leave but one final piece of art has caught my eye, nothing dramatic or insanely abstract about it but it had a statement which grabbed me. I read the words that would bring about the final moments of my trip to Canberra, and would finally give me the answer to my unknown question. I leave you with this...