ACT News


Picture this: art and water works at Oaks Estate

The night skyline at historical (begun in 1837), ever-battling, ever-neglected but full-of-character Oaks Estate is about to be dramatically decorated. Artist and passionately-pro-Estate local Michael Starling is going to project a loop of 59 images (mostly old photographs of folk who once lived there) onto the broad iron flanks of the old water tank that looms over the ''fringe village''.

Oaks Estate is just in the ACT but is so close to Queanbeyan (its quaint railway station is a pebble's throw from the water tower) that some Queanbeyan folk will be able to see the 4-metres tall pictures.

Starling's projections are part of the Oaks Estate chapter of the Centenary of Canberra Portrait of a Nation: Unmade Edges - Distinctive Places project. The estate will have a day of events on November 24 that he thinks may be its first big community bash for 40 years.

It is one of the six fringe villages of the ACT - Tharwa, Hall, Uriarra, Pialligo and Stromlo are the others - being celebrated.

Starling says the water tank, apart from being an excellent artefact to use for the screenings, is symbolic of the Oaks Estate's ancient and modern struggles.

The locals fought long for a decent water supply until at last in 1937, frustrated by the aloofness of Canberra officialdom (Oaks Estate has always suffered from being out of sight and out of mind) they sent a petition to King George VI. As a result of these agitations, the Oaks Estate water tower was installed in the early 1940s.


Lots of the people who will be projected onto the tank - the 8.30pm-10.30pm projections have already begun, and will continue on alternate nights, weather permitting, until November 24 - are women of the Oaks Estate because, Starling says, its history shows strong women have been vital in fighting for the community and holding it together.

Starling likes the idea that showing their ''haunting, powerful, still'' images like this will be a kind of ''reinstating of their presence'' in the place they loved.

Library breaks new ground

Two of this column's recurring enthusiasms, dogs and cross-dressing, are brought together at last (we'd begun to think it would never happen) in this super picture that adorns the cover of the new edition of the The National Library of Australia Magazine.

The human figure looks at first like a cover girl but in fact the official caption for this illustration from a 1907 edition of one of the graphic novels of Kyokutei Bakin reads ''One of the Eight Warriors, Inuzuka Shino, Dressed as a Girl, and his Dog Yoshiro.''

Yoshiro looks adorable. Don't you just itch to throw a ball for him to fetch?

We're not trying to incite even more Canberrans to cross-dress while walking their dogs (although it is rather fun). But we'd like to incite readers to look at this copy of the ever-stimulating library magazine (it is sprinkled about the library and can be read online by just googling its name) in which an article encourages us to think of Bakin (1767-1848) as the Japanese Dickens.

Wombat gets into the festive spirit

Imitating a muddle-headed wombat your columnist gave readers the wrong email address in Friday's column through which to request the wondrous, fund-raising Wildcare 2014 Calendar. We will give the correct address in a moment after introducing you to clear-thinking Willow Wombat. He is December in the 2014 calendar, hence his Christmassy hat.

Willow was brought into the tender care of the Wildcare people after being found alone in a paddock. In the calendar wombats get referred to rather sweetly as ''our little bulldozers of the bush''.

Wildcare is a very active volunteer wildlife-support group that rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured and orphaned wildlife of those bailiwicks of NSW that surround the ACT, and so it comes to pass that every creature in the calendar is a Wildcare success story. By buying the calendar you assist Wildcare's selfless work and the correct (this time) email address to use to request a calendar is