Sunday, March 15, 2009


from w
The word 'Avalon' conjures up magical places connected to the King Arthur legends, of a blessed isle, a quiet place. Avalon -probably from the Celtic word abal: apple; a legendary island famous for its beautiful apples, the place where King Arthur's sword Caliburn (Excalibur) is forged and where the king is taken to recover from his wounds after his last battle at Camlann. The concept of such an "Isle of the Blessed" has parallels in other Indo-European mythology, in particular the Irish Tír na nÓg and the Greek Hesperides, the latter also noted for its apples.

Not far from Geelong there was a quiet little settlement on the beach where an Anglican retreat centre was occasionally used. We went there a couple of times for a retreat and it was a beautiful peaceful place. Earlier on, it had been the home of pastoralist, James Austin. Avalon is also a centre of salt production with the Cheetham company operating a system of saltpans. The wetlands in the area attract a wide range of birdlife, some among the rarest in the world. Part of Austin's property was sold for smaller farms in 1910. A small primary school operated from 1911 to 1950.

In 1949, much of the Austin property was sold to the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation for a jet plane test field and assembly plant. In 1960, the Austin homestead and grounds were given to the Brotherhood of St. Laurence as a temporary shelter for those experiencing hard times.

In 1992, the Commonwealth Government's corporatised Aerospace Technologies of Australia Ltd (ASTA) took over the 1,750 hectares of the Avalon airport. Another milestone in the airport's history came in 1997 when Linfox acquired the airport from the Commonwealth to become a functioning airport for passengers.

But hoorah for the local Avalon these days! (I am being sarcastic.) It's the place where for the past five days, bombers and massive macho airplanes have been hogging the airspaces and burning up petrol in the skies over our quiet suburbs. It's the International Air Show with scores of war machines on show for those who love noise, mayhem and wars. Okay, I'm a misery guts. Half a million people went there, many at $50 a pop, to have a sticky-beak. As for today, the road from Melbourne was clogged one way in the morning and the other way this afternoon. I wouldn't cross the road to see those kind of planes! Okay?

So the name 'Avalon' has such contradictions to me, and perhaps that is life - nothing is as it seems and there are layers of oppositions, serenity and chaos, in so much of our human experience and in our spiritual path there is such a mix of rough stones and polished gems.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home