This September, I’m riding in Cycle Queensland for the first time. Each spring, about 500 bicycle riders pedal their way through this nine-day cycling holiday. The route changes each year. And each year I’ve been tempted to register but taking time off work, as well as doubts about whether I’d make the distances, has stopped me. Not so this year.

Having ridden in the GreatVic bike ride last December, my first long-distance tour, the distances are no longer daunting. Plus, being able to choose a four-day option makes getting time away from work easier.

There was another incentive too. The 2017 Cycle Queensland is finishing at Currumbin on the Gold Coast, where we live! The prospect of seeing hundreds of bicycle riders streaming jubilantly into Currumbin on the last day of their cycling holiday was just too much. There was no way I was going to miss out.

This year the tour starts in Goondiwindi in western Queensland and weaves its way towards the southern Gold Coast. Jane and I have registered to ride for the final four days from Stanthorpe to the Gold Coast. As Bicycle Queensland put it in their recent blog post about our adventure, that’s 271kms of riding too good to miss!

If you’re interested to know more about Cycle Queensland, go to: www.cycleqld.com.au

Yarnbombers hit Currumbin

Yarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail Rehbein

The Currumbin yarnbombers have struck again. First, it was the beachfront banksia trees that copped it a couple of years ago. Knotty tree trunks covered with colourful threads knitted with naughtiness. Now the creekside pelicans have been hit. I rode over there on my bike to take a closer look.

Yarnbombers take to the streets and cover objects with knitted or crocheted yarn. Most yarnbombers are women who cloak trees, lampposts, bollards, bicycle racks and hand railings with crazy, colourful patterns of thread. Yarnbombing is playful protest. But the issues embedded in this peaceful activism are serious.

Beautifying bland public spaces, challenging norms about women and their homemaker crafts, and bringing attention to a specific issue, can set the yarnbombers knitting.

In 2013, the Knit Your Revolt Tricycle Gang threaded their yarn around their tricycles and bicycles and took to the streets protesting the assault on civil liberties posed by the Queensland Government’s “anti-bikie” laws. (These laws made it illegal for motorcyclists to ride in groups of three or more.) In July 2017, Knitfest knitters and crocheters will be yarn bombing the small rural town of Maleny in support of refugees seeking a new life in Australia. The focal point will be a very large tree where yarnbombing will reflect the idea of ‘Safe Harbour’.

However, yarnbombers are not always so public in their intentions. For some, being the anonymous yarnbomber, secretly spinning their threads to cover public objects, often under the cover of dark, taking the risk to engage in some public naughtiness, is part of the yarnbomber ethic. And it looks like this variety of anonymous yarnbombers have visited our creekside pelicans.

In 2004, after the annual Swell Sculpture Festival, eleven pelican sculptures were installed beside Currumbin Creek. Each sculpture sits atop a timber post and portrays a pelican composed with machinery parts. Since last week, the pelicans have been wearing knitted hats and scarves!

After quizzical looks subside, a local whodunit emerges. Who is the pelican yarnbomber? This, I admit, is one mystery I hope stays unsolved. The more interesting question is: ‘why?’

We can only guess at the yarnbomber’s motivations and message but if it’s something like looking after our local pelicans, the fish they eat, the waterways they swim in, then the yarnbombers have won my respect. But then, maybe it’s just a little reminder to rug up for winter. Either way, I’m happy to see our yarnbombed pelicans as I pedal by.

Yarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail RehbeinYarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail RehbeinYarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail RehbeinYarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail RehbeinYarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail RehbeinYarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail RehbeinIMG_9819Yarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail Rehbein

Yarnbombed pelicans photographed by Gail RehbeinThanks to:

  • The Conversation for unravelling some of the mysteries of yarnbombing,
  • Artist, Richard Moffatt for The Pelicans, a wonderful piece of public art that is much enjoyed; and
  • Our mysterious yarnbombers.

Lamenting little fences

Fences have become tall. Too tall. There was a time when fences were built small. I’m sure you’ve seen one. It might be timber, palings painted white or uprights strung with a criss-cross of wire. Little fences are sometimes brick, three hands high, punctuated by small turrets with one housing a letter box. Sometimes a little fence marries a garden. Sometimes a garden is simply enough on its own.

As I ride, I look around. Where fences are small, my eye has space to stretch. There is depth where near and far, light and shade, short and tall, mingle into a complex celebration of the ordinary. The view is not always beautiful but it’s often interesting; more interesting than a six-foot fence that funnels life into a narrow view.

I lament the passing of little fences where lives lay open and front yards ran free.

IMG_9620

Afterword…

I wrote these observations some weeks ago. Since then, I’ve been collecting photographs of little fences seen on my regular rides. Compiling a collection of photos was an interesting experience.

I found quite a few little beach bungalows with their low-rise fences retained. I was encouraged to see them. However, I found myself experiencing a peculiar paradox. Stopping to take photos on the footpath of my bike in front of the fence, I became very aware of the resident’s privacy. I didn’t want to cross any boundaries in capturing images of the little fence. Typically, I directed the camera along the footpath, avoiding the house (unless it was obviously unoccupied). There were some fences I would have loved to photograph but I didn’t even stop because I felt the responsibility of discretion.

In times where large fences are designed to ‘secure’ a property, an irony emerges.

Little fences, where lives lay open and front yards run free, offer a different type of protection, one seeded with respect.

|||

So, here is my collection of images celebrating little fences. First though, let’s begin with a not-so-little fence.

IMG_9356

A six-foot fence changes the streetscape.

IMG_9570IMG_9359IMG_9604

IMG_9606

A small turret housing a letterbox.

IMG_9661

IMG_9581

Sometimes a garden marries a little fence.

FullSizeRender

Sometimes a garden is simply enough on its own.

%d bloggers like this: