Michael Leunig: how we travel

Just behind from: The bush, erratic happily
among a trees, wallabies and birds, and feeling utterly at
home.


Next up: Sydney and weariness.

I’m from Melbourne’s western
suburbs, glowing with factories, quarries,
rubbish tips, slaughterhouses, noxious industries, tanneries,
clouds of smoke, bad smells, nauseating songs, tender language,
working-class humour and nauseous out-of-date hooliganism.

My initial outing abroad was to Bali in 1974 with
my initial wife, Pamela, and a dear friend, Kathy. We stayed in Ubud
for a month in a soppy season. There was no electricity, just
kerosene lamps. It was all really agricultural; a rice enlightenment using
traditional methods and such a outrageous revelation: bare-breasted women
in sarongs carrying baskets on their heads, H2O buffalo pulling
ploughs, frogs, geckoes, fireflies, herds of waddling brownish-red ducks,
gamelan music, animals and chickens erratic a unpaved streets,
paintings and sculptures, sensuous gardens; unusual beauty at
every turn.

I’m a still and studious traveller who doesn’t
enjoy recreational trips really much. I’d rather be during home making
something or openly comical myself. The some-more we go out into the
world, a some-more contemplative we become.

When cramped to a plane we lift a tiny plain
Moleskine cover and jot records or pull patterns and peculiar
things. we don’t watch movies. we demeanour out a window and find
fascinating shapes in a land below.

I’ve done noble prolonged journeys into remote
regions of Australia with some unusual artists: Les Murray
the poet, David Larwill a painter, Ginger Riley and Michael
Nelson Jagamara, both Indigenous artists. Unique memorable
people.

My ideal outing is one with a purpose, a
practical engagement, a peaceful tour into people’s lives. Not too
long and not too short. Not too many time in a bleak plane.

The travels that have influenced me many include
journeys with Indigenous people in a executive dried regions, in
Arnhem Land, Cape York and a Top End. we have been overwhelmed by many
of a tiny problematic nation towns of Australia. Time spent
wandering a unhappy militarised backstreets of Belfast when the
hunger striker Bobby Sands died in a Maze jail was heated and
sorrowful – though profoundly abounding and enlivening, too.

I understanding with fans on a road with good cheer
and curiosity. we ask them about their lives. we hear poetic funny
things. They open adult to me. we learn. we mostly suffer these
people.

Travel substantially broadens a horizons,
particularly if you’re uninspired or narrow. Perhaps it’s
humbling. Maybe it’s treacherous and corrupting. A lot of it is
delusional and self-aggrandising. Old-fashioned wanderlust might have
become transport greed. If it creates we homesick or feel insignificant
or causes we to simulate in waste soulfulness, afterwards it could
deepen we immensely.

Michael Leunig’s Ducks for Dark Times (Penguin,
$24.99) is on
sale now.

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