Entries by Noel Murphy

Island of the gods, guardians and peripatetic primates

Peculiar pre-match entertainment for a Cats-Tigers clash when you’re kicking back peanuts and Bintangs in the Bali mountain jungle town of Ubud. A dozen or so Barbary macaques parading alongside the bar – upside-down infants clutching their mothers, cocksure males trooping the colour – suggested a peculiar cheer squad on the march. Perhaps not that […]

Best read with a red … or maybe not

Review: A Mapmaker’s Dream by James Cowan Fra Mauro is a 16th century monk on a magnificent journey around the world without leaving the clustered confines of his cell on an island in Venice. A cartographer devoted to drafting a definitive map of the world, he gathers his knowledge from a steady stream of travellers […]

A meteoric struggle of wills

Two brash colonial scientists jostle for possession of an astonishing 19th-century astronomical discovery­ just outside Melbourne – the world’s largest iron meteorite. This prodigious cosmic lump of metal is a glittering prize but at stake also are critical notions of heritage ownership in an era of nascent cultural awareness. Author Sean Murphy’s The Cranbourne Meteorite […]

Cementing a place in history

Above: The Breakwater aqueduct. Long way from Breakwater to Scotland’s Fife to Breakwater, likewise from Fyansford to the battlefield of Villers-Bretonneux, but with Anzac Day on the doorstep it might be timely to see how Geelong’s cemented its name in construction history. The man credited with winning World War 1 for the Allies, John Monash, […]

Roadtripping and stumbling every step of the way …

Dateline: April 2024, Cabbage Tree Creek: 37.6526° S, 148.8172° E  Nice part of the world for a quick road-trip recce, East Gippsland, when it’s not on fire, that is. And also when you don’t have spare tyres flying off the back of SUVs and across the road at you at 100kmh. Was standing in the […]

Run for your life … or your wife

NOW girls, this isn’t an opportunity comes along every day. In fact, it only comes once in every 1461 days, to be precise. Once every four years. It’s your chance to propose to the beau of your choice. Don’t fuss if he’s not keen. He can’t say no on February 29. Or so the theory […]

Shamrocking old Sandhurst

“Hey, rich bitch!” squawks the emaciated ice junkie skipping along the Bendigo street Jack Daniels can in hand. Her target, an elderly woman lugging two Salvos bags, looks bewildered as the sprite runs past her, grabs an abandoned receipt from the footpath, shouts “11 dollars” and uses it to wipe her backside before dancing out […]

Catechism cataclysm on the doorstep

It’s a bit unkind, I’ll admit, but a little politeness can easily lead to misunderstanding. Take the God-botherers at my door recently. Nice enough blokes so rather than sool the dogs on to them I heard them out, for a bit, before suggesting if they had a leaflet I’d give it a read. “Thanks guy, […]

Magic, mischief and misdirection

Image: Scene from A Haunting in Venice,  20th Century Studios   Easily thrown off script, I am, especially by subjects such as the supernatural, mysteries, bushrangers, UFOs … that sort of thing. Several events have distracted me lately from my usual ruminations. Not getting a lot of work done, fitful slumber, glazed eyeballs. I’m blaming […]

Postcards from the heartland …

Long-standing joke in my family is that the many French letters my grandmother was sent by her Gallic aunt a century ago were addressed to her at ‘Truganina Loose Bag’. Pretty cruel, really. She was a darling thing. Widowed at 47 with eight kids, she drew on country girl nous garnered on the rocky windswept […]