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In the 1860s Tower Hill in South Western Victoria was a thickly wooded area, but clearing and agricultural use over the following century left it a devastated wasteland. A project was launched to remediate the area, but faced a key problem: nobody could remember what it originally looked like. They found a solution in a creative source: the landscape painting of Eugene von Guerard.

von Guerard was an Austrian-born failed gold-digger who came to fame as a landscape artist in Australia in the 1860s. The National Gallery of Victoria currently has an exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre showcasing his work, most of which is astoundingly detailed and realistic.

So realistic, in fact, that it has assisted science on several occasions. Most recently, his painting of Mount Gambier’s crater lakes was used to assess changes to the water table, measurements of which nobody thought to record at the time.

It’s easy to forget that only a century ago obtaining detailed and realistic images was almost impossible, apart from the work of talented artists like von Guerard. In today’s digital world we all have the ability to record reality with the push of a button or click of a mouse. Even so, the next time you post a photo on your wall, or upload it to Instagram or Flickr, you just might be the one helping researchers of the future with their work.

A view from Daylesford towards the Pyrenees


Located about 80 km north of Darwin, the Tiwi Islands hold an annual Grand Final and art day, when visitors can partake in the culture of the indigenous people as well as take in a football game of a reasonable standard. The event is held on Bathurst Island, the second-largest of the group.

Several galleries across the Tiwi Islands show their wares and give some insights into the production of the various carvings, paintings and textiles on sale. While the openings have the feeling of warehouse sales, they are definitely not places to find bargains. I suspect a dedicated collector would be better served doing their research and negotiating with artists separately.

With only 2,600 people, a huge proportion (35% according to Wikipedia) of the islands’ population play in the local Tiwi Islands Football League, a competition with a distinctive free-flowing playing style, spawning numerous AFL players. The rest of the population are fanatical supporters of their chosen team, little old ladies and young children screaming encouragement and abuse from behind (and sometimes on) the goal line, brandishing empty two litre Coke bottles and flags bearing team colours.

On this day the Imalu Tigers took on the Tapalinga Super Stars, with the Stars opening up a wide margin by the beginning of the final quarter, showing silky skills and more discipline than their opponents. At that point the Imalu players appeared to decide that if they weren’t going to win, at least they would put a few Super Stars in hospital, with some bone-crunching illegal tackles and shirtfronts setting off brawls seemingly every minute. While it was a disappointing end to the action on the field, the crowd was whipped to fever pitch, creating a manic atmosphere of fun for the spectators.

After watching the Hawks demolish Collingwood on Saturday arvo (is there a sweeter feeling?) I cruised over to Hogan Gallery on “seedy” Smith Street, for the opening of the Phibs and Deb exhibition. The show drew a pretty big crowd, none of whom was there for the free VB (except me). On the real though, there was some cool stuff on the walls, which you can get a taste of over at Phibs’ site.