Tuesday, July 09, 2013

On the road to Gundagai

On to Canberra! Last night my sister's family spent with some friends live in Albury and dropped me off in Wangaratta, where friends of mine from Melbourne now live - priests who had been connected to St. Peter's Eastern Hill, my church in Melbourne in 2006-7. Wangaratta bills itself somewhat dauntingly as a "rural city" offering "the ultimate in livability," and the view above certainly is idyllic. I can confirm that R and J do live in wonderful digs on the cathedral close, and that we had an evening of delicious food and rich conversation. Oz vs US, pedagogy, queer Christianities, Dresden, Vergangenheitsbewältigung, movies, Thomas Merton, and: what should the Church do or be for country Australia?

Today I took the train from "Wang" to Albury, and from there it was through New South Wales to Canberra, which celebrates its centenary this year. On the way we passed through a storied town called Gundagai, and sought out the famous Dog on the Tuckerbox. The story I was told was reminiscent of the faithful dog Hachikô whose statue is the main meeting place at Shibuya station in Tokyo - of a squatter or swagman whose loyal dog kept his tuckerbox safe for him. The Dog on the Tuckerbox is decorated with plaques commemorating the lives of early settlers and the visits of generations of dignitaries, but the story, described at a discreet distance from the statue, is not quite the heartening tale of frontier solidarity I had been led to expect...

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