After a break of a few months, I scanned a few more old rolls of film recently, and have added another gallery to Detail with some of the results. In May 1994 I visited Tasmania for my brother’s graduation, and afterwards took a trip up the east coast with my parents—the last time I would see it until 2015. Some of the photos made their way into my very first gallery, but I’ve included them here as well to put them into context.
It’s the end of the year, and I doubt I’ll have a chance to do the best-of music, movie and TV lists that I’d wanted to—maybe in January, but given what that’s looking like, probably not—but there’s still time to squeeze in one last gallery at Detail.
My old photos of the Pacific don’t end with Fiji. At the end of June 1993 my father and I flew Air Pacific from Nadi to the island of Tongatapu: I was continuing my PhD fieldwork on tradition and politics in Fiji and Tonga, while Dad came along to see a country he’d never visited. We arrived just before the King of Tonga’s 75th birthday celebrations, which also commemorated his silver jubilee. I immediately made contact with a senior member of the Prime Minister’s office, and through them scored tickets to some of the key events of the week: a day of performances by school children, and a royal feast held on the grounds next to the Royal Palace. Surrounded by Tongans wearing their finest mats, Dad and I feasted on roast suckling pig and watermelon, and then watched a succession of dances from a perfect vantage point, sitting on the ground at the front of the audience a few metres away from the King himself.
Four years after my third visit to Fiji, I was back for a fourth, as part of my Ph.D. fieldwork at the Australian National University. I spent several weeks there from May to the start of July, and another on my way back to Canberra at the end of August, interviewing more than thirty political figures on questions of tradition and politics in their country. Six years after the country’s first coup, I was apprehensive about how the trip would go, but it went well. Although I didn’t get to interview prime minister and 1987 coup leader Sitiveni Rabuka, I interviewed many other people I’d been reading about for years, including former and future prime ministers.
I’m gradually sorting through more of the photos that I scanned from negatives last year, and lately have turned to my first photos of Sydney, a city I had been visiting since childhood (my grandparents lived near Hornsby) but first photographed on a visit in 1988. In 1991 I was back again to start a Ph.D. at the University of Sydney, before accepting a late offer from A.N.U. in Canberra and moving there. This gallery contains a couple of dozen photos from visits to Sydney in 1988, 1991 and 1993.
In Canberra I lived first in a hall on campus and later in the since-demolished Graduate House on Northbourne Avenue, with views of Black Mountain Tower. I took some initial snaps in April 1991 and more two years later, after returning from my year in the U.K. to continue my doctorate. 1993 was one of the best years of that time, when I met J., went to Fiji and Tonga for fieldwork, and hosted a visit from a great new friend from England. Most of the later photos in this gallery were taken in their company.
More N.S.W. and A.C.T. photos to come at some point as I progress through the 1990s. Next, though, will be Tonga and (more) Fiji.
America in 2020 is a grim sight, and last night’s presidential debate didn’t instill much hope for its future, but half a lifetime ago, when I visited it at the end of my 1992 travels with my parents, it all seemed so sunny, confident, and democratic—even though its first Democratic president in over a decade was a few months away from winning.
More photos of my 1992 travels, as I near the finishing line of this particular Detail project. After a year of study I was joined by my parents and travelled with them around Britain and Ireland, starting in Norfolk, driving across to Wales and the ferry to Ireland, around Ireland’s south and west, over to the Isle of Man, up through the Lakes to Glasgow and Scotland’s west, across to Inverness and Aberdeen, down to St Andrews, and then south through Durham, Chesterfield, Coventry, Warwick, Stratford, Oxford and London. I’ve already gathered up the English photos; here are the rest.
Continuing my archival project at Detail, here are two more galleries from 1991–92, when I was studying in England. These ones cover London and the rest of England (and a bit of Wales), and include some photos from a trip around the British Isles with my parents at the end of my studies. There are at least four more galleries in this series to come, when I get the chance to work on them.
Time for another archival instalment at Detail. On my flight to England in 1991 I was with KLM, which meant my first stop at Schiphol Airport and my first visit to Amsterdam. Over two days I took in the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum, the Anne Frank House and a canal boat tour, on which I took most of my photos. In this gallery I’ve converted a few to black and white to deal with the reddening effects of a light leak at the end of a roll, but they look fine. If I ever get to 1998 in my marathon scanning project I’ll add some photos from my second visit to the city, but for now, grab a stroopwafel and enjoy the show.
In January and February I linked to advice from Laurie Garrett and Ian Mackay on preparing for the coronavirus now known as COVID-19†. After bubbling under the surface of the main news headlines in the UK for weeks, last week it leapt to the forefront; it was pretty hard to downplay the shutdown of northern Italy and now the whole of it. I’d not posted about it here (apart from those links) because I’m no more an expert than anyone else, but as of this week J. is part of UK efforts to test for the disease—on the coordination side rather than in the lab—and not much seems more important than that. We’re so proud of her.