On a wintry day in Orange (mid-western New South Wales) my graffiti-sensing camera picked up the ghost of a boastful hoon, faintly discernable through the sheen on the wet asphalt in the council car park. Street dawg 94 seems to be making a reappearance after being painted over years ago.
The dawg’s inscription is autobiographical. He has written himself into the landscape of Orange. I wonder if he revisits the site to remind himself of what he used to be?
Bulli Pass, NSW
Pavement graffiti is not confined to the city. A drive further afield always turns up something good. I was heading to Sandon Point, north of Wollongong, to look for protest graffiti on the ground associated with locals’ action to prevent development of the site. But on the way, at the top of Bulli Pass right where cars veer off the main highway at 100 kph to take the twisting descent down the pass, I found declarations of love: DALE 4 SHELL and UM 4 JODEE.
Only fleetingly readable, surely these messages written at such a dangerous spot
are evidence of great gallantry.
The label ‘gay’ remains a term of abuse in many situations. This piece of oversize graffiti is on Lakes Way, the road between Bulahdelah and Forster, a seaside holiday area on the central coast of NSW. It raises several questions. Is Tim P actually gay and is he being outed by the graffiti writer? Or is ‘gay’ the worst insult the writer could think of in retaliation for something Tim P has done? Why is it written on a road? Why this road? Why at this spot on the road? And by broadcasting the message to a wider audience and revealing its location, am I complicit in the vilification of Tim P?
At Nambucca Heads, on the NSW mid north coast, one of the cultural attractions is graffiti – of the mum-and-dad-and-the-kids variety – applied in house paint to the twin breakwaters called the ‘Vee-Wall’. It all started in the 1960s and now photographs of the wall are featured on postcards and tourist brochures
Read the messages and you will find stories of people who have enjoyed their holiday at Nambucca and want others to know it. Honeymooners who have returned to find they still love the place (and each other). Families who come back year after year, adding the names of new babies to the family rock. Overseas tourists who want to leave their mark on Australia. Teenagers who reveal their current crushes. Names, dates, tributes to Nambucca and thanks to God are all here, many decorated with pictures of family members or the fish they caught.
After the crowds have cleared the traces remain. The numbers on the road mark the starting line for the annual Great Goat Race in the main street of Lightning Ridge, NSW. The photograph was taken the day after, on Easter Sunday 2006.
The marked starting boxes are the only orderly thing about the event. With kids as jockeys and goats having minds of their own, the races are chaotic, smelly and funny.
There are city roads and there are shity roads. Pavement graffiti is not just an urban phenomenon. This was on the Castlereagh Highway near Walgett in far northern New South Wales.