The Yellow Water billabong. Quiet and serene, it lies on the East Alligator River in the Kakadu National Park in Northern Territory in Australia. In the heat of the day, it feels relatively ordinary. At daybreak it is magical. Watching sunrise, enshrouded in a mist that adds enchantment to the light, and seeing the mist give way to wonder and colour and crocs and snakes and birds and flowers is simply glorious. Together with Uluru at first light, and the […]
It must be one of the most photographed of modern buildings. Yet the Sydney Opera House still elicits a gasp of awe every time one sees it in the concrete. Danish architect Jørn Utzon’s expressionist masterwork is a remarkable melding of form and function, and of architecture and engineering. It is also a wondrous evocation of the imagination. The story of the Machiavellian politics that surrounded its construction, and led eventually to the resignation of Utzon from the project, and […]
This is a video of a debate on ‘What is right? What is left?’ at the Festival of Questions in Melbourne in October. It was hosted by the Wheeler Centre. Seven of us had two minutes each to answer ‘What is right for immigration?’, ‘…for the economy?’ and ‘…for society?’. Sounds mad, but it was actually an engaging event.
Ubirr is to Australia as Chauvet and Lascaux are to Europe – perhaps the finest rock art on the continent. It lies in Arnhem Land in the far north, on the edge of the Nadab floodplain, in the traditional lands of the Gagudju people. Today, it is part of the Kakadu National Park. The art at Ubirr spans a period of perhaps 40,000 years from the Paleolithic to virtually the present. None of the art has been carbon-dated, so all […]
This is the full version of the article I wrote last month for the New York Times on the debate about Indigenous rights in Australia. (I cannot publish my NYT articles on Pandaemonium until the month after they are published in the newspaper.) It was originally published under the headline ‘The New Voice for Indigenous Australia’. Nothing prepares you for your first sight of Uluru. Amid the vastness of Australia’s arid ‘red centre’, there is something wondrous about this monumental slab […]
An excerpt from my latest column for the International New York Times on the debate about Indigenous rights in Australia. It was published under the headline ‘The New Voice for Indigenous Australia‘: The debate about Indigenous peoples seems – at least to me, an outsider – to take place on only two registers: on one hand, silence; on the other, a romanticization of indigenous life. It may seem odd to speak of silence in a nation where the issue of […]
Yes, I know, I’ve only just returned from Australia. But I am back in October to talk at the Festival of Questions at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne and at Griffith University’s Integrity 20 conference in Brisbane. The details: . The Festival of Questions Wheeler Centre 176 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne 15 October 14.30 What is Right? What is Left? The times, they are … confusing. Trump and Brexit have shaken up traditional definitions of ‘left’ and ‘right’ in politics. […]
Nothing quite prepares you for your first sight of Uluru. Amid the vastness of the arid landscape of Australia’s red centre, fringed by ill-shapen hills and mountain ranges, there is something wondrous and almost magical about this monumental slab of sandstone, most of which actually lies beneath the ground. The monolith was created more than 500 million years ago, and is a remnant of a vast mountain range formed during the creation of the Australian continent. Much of the surrounding […]
Off Byron Bay, where I was speaking last week at the Writers Festival, lies a headland which forms the most easterly point of Australia. The point over which dawn first breaks. There is inevitably something clichéd about images of sunrise. But there was also something dramatic about first light over Byron Bay, a light very painterly in its composition and palette. So, a few images from the break of day over Australia.
This is an update on the talks I am giving in Australia over the next couple of weeks: . 4-6 August Byron Writers Festival Byron Bay New South Wales I am speaking in three sessions: Friday 4 August, 11am-12pm In conversation with Laura Kroetsch about the themes of my books From Fatwa to Jihad and The Quest for a Moral Compass. Friday, 4 August, 3-4pm ‘Living Ethically’ a discussion with Rebeccca Huntley, Emrys Westacott and Anthony Funnell Saturday 5 August, 2.45 […]
I will be giving a series of talks in Australia later this year – not once, but on two different trips, first in August, and then in October. In August, I am speaking at the Byron Writers Festival, before giving two talks in Sydney, and then at the Bendigo Writers Festival, In October I will be speaking at Integrity 20 in Brisbane. The details: . Byron Bay 4-6 August Byron Writers Festival Byron Bay New South Wales I am speaking […]
This is a short shout-out to event organizers and others in Australia. I am coming in August to speak at the Bendigo Writers Festival. The exact details are still being sorted out, but I am very much looking forward to it. I am happy to speak at other events or venues, too. So, if you are interested in organising an event or talk, do get in touch.