South Australian building and Smithy's Place

30 September 2006

Travelling in the bush in 2003, especially in rural South Australia, we could see there was room for a book about back yards.

This time we seem assaulted by front yards, beginning with the wondrous Flying Teapot of Ballan, followed by many we seem to have flown past.

We have also neglected to photograph the many beautiful forms of South Australian stone building, of earlier times.

These sit among the ordinary and the amusing.

In Cowell, on Franklin Harbour, Eyre Peninsula, this small but gracious home sits in a parched street of ordinary houses. In a hot and stony state, there are many stony buildings, most often, as here, with a decorative facade at the front and other walls of rendered mortar, filled with rougher rubble.

Facade is also evident in at least one other property if we turn the camera the other way down the same street.

...and of course the eye, the tourist prochure and the giggling reporter focus more on Smithy's Place than on the fine old home.

and it is surely deserving of worship and comparison with the Flying Teapot

This is in a much harsher environment than Ballan, Victoria– flat, dry, dusty, limestone country, cloudless cold winds now in spring but searing heat in summer – and the materials and genre suit the fishing port

Certainly some Sydney yards in the 1950s sported posts bearing hand-fashioned aeroplanes, but this one below seems wild, original and innocent, though reminiscent of World War II bombers, with drawing which in combat we spent our early school days in the immediate post-war decade...

So it is a 'hark-back with magpie'.

The magpie (or Magpie) is surely a football allusion in South Australia, as is all of life here an aspect of football, these photos taken on AFL Grand Final day.

The place of broader issues in football was made clear on the front of this day's Adelaide Advertiser: "The Iraqi grains inquiry was told that in an email, AWB executive and former South Australian Football player [--] wrote..." leading counsel to ask if the AWB executives had committed a crime under terrorism laws.

In this context, looking out over the parched back streets of Cowell, South Australia, is this noble birdly figure below (with his black and white capacity for judgement) not a defender of decency and suburban rectitude? But what hope has such an anacronistic pillar of decency against a writer of idiotic and incriminating emails, in an era when football players are paid salaries admired by Saddam Hussein?

Nonetheless, the defence of decency and of maidens of suburbia must go forward unblushingly, whatever apprehensions we may have of becoming lost and poisoned by the taint of modern sophistication... can any reader tell me who the maiden may be and what she carries through the bed of baby violas? Is it an ancient innocent? Or lascivious Suburbia, bringer of custard apples from the supermarket?

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Go on to see fish out of water