Been reading some Australian history recently and it’s really quite interesting. I mean, when I say interesting, I don’t mean good or enjoyable. The basic two tenets of European/Australian history seem to be racism and incompetence. Racism intended, incompetence unintended and then denied. There is no more prime example than the story of Burke and Wills. For those of you who are fortunate enough to reside in Melbourne, you can see a giant erection of the two pricks at the corner of Swanston and Collins.
To be fair, I think it’s a bit unfortunate on poor old Wills that he gets lumped with Robert o’hara Burke, an ill tempered, born to rule, Irish coppa of gentry stock who was so arrogant that, on the verge of death, refused offerings of fish from the Dieri people of Coopers creek. Instead, behaving like an officer of the Irish constabulary plagued by the peasantry, decided to unload a few rounds at them, what a wanker!
During his time as a Police Officer in Beechworth , Burke was renowned for getting lost on the way home from the pub. This has often happened to me so I reckon it wouldn’t be too smart for me to try and find my way from Parkville to Cape York. The hopelessly incompetent and pointless expedition was a half arsed attempt to promote the supremacy of the wealthy colony of Victoria by proving umm…by proving that man can walk.
To this day Burke and Wills are superficially lionised as great explorers with monuments and phallic symbols of their conquests all over the place. There’s even a Burke Museum and television show created in honour Burke’s Backyard 1987 -2004.
A film (one of several already made) of the life and times of Burke and Wills would star Alex Dimidriades as the plucky Irishman, Mark ‘Jacko’ Jackson as Wills, Paul Mecurio as John King the soul surviving member of the party, Ernie Dingo as the wise and mystical Aborigine who Burke (Dimidriades) is foolish to shun and Sigrid Thornton as Sigrid Thornton. Who else but Baz Lurhman to direct that takes a different angle on the calamitous tale by transforming it into a fast paced, modern day adventure about two down and out hobos who search the wilds of the Australian outback to find fame and fortune but end up finding each other! Throw in a couple of show tunes and Bob’s your uncle, keep an eye for Nicole Kidman as the DIG tree.
Where was I? Oh yes, Australian history. If you walk the streets of Melbourne you’ll see dark and dour statues depicting racists and bullies of the worst kind. Go to the steps of the state library and you’ll see a very lean looking Sir Redmond Barry which is strange because he was universally known as big fat bastard. Barry is best known for sentencing Ned Kelly to death but he just liked hanging people full stop! He seemed to have a particular like for stringing up Irish peasants, ex-convicts and Aborigines quite often refusing the accused legal counsel. But there he is on the steps of the state library covered in bird shit and surrounded by skateboarders.
Maybe it’s time to get some new monuments in Melbourne for those truly worthy and not just members of the Melbourne Club.