Sunday, December 27, 2009

Roger's Dreamland

This view of Twentymile Beach shows Three Rocks, the place where one
'enters' Roger's Dreamland. (See map below)
No one has yet captured an image of The Dreamland itself!

Some can find the Dreamland, some cannot.
The point of entry is at the north end of Twentymile Beach, a place called Three Rocks.
To get in you climb onto the lowest rock, close your eyes and imagine there are sand dunes
and warm spring-fed lagoons backed by grassy meadows and lush forests;
in other words a kind of Eden instead of the crashing surf you hear below.
Step between the two larger tower-rocks with this
image in your mind, and there you are.
It usually works.

When he could be located, Roger Putney became the island's spirtual leader. During those first years when everyone feared a takeover by the British navy or other major power, Roger spoke of sharing, forgiveness, working together and being extremely creative about living together, given the high offset of women to men. The terms Family, Village, Town and Settlement took an new meanings, mostly through Roger's teachings.

When Roger wasn't wandering the island and talking to people, he found time to marry Louise Atherton, a long-time friend. They built a stone house in Monaghan, and as their three children grew older, he once again set off walking the hinterlands of the island, often taking a kid or two along. They stopped along the way to build tiny hermitages or single-room huts, usually of stone, in isolated places, as retreats for other wanderers.

His oddest contribution came late in life, and many people wonder why it exists at all.

When Roger was about 70, he wandered off alone for over two years having left no word except secretly to Louise. People began to worry and many searched for him but found no trace. Then, on a bright chilly June morning in 1872, he walked into the Monaghan Commons appearing "healthy, rested and not a day over 60!", according to the Monaghan Bugle-Tattler.

The Tattler then went on to say, "Mr. Putney claims to have found what he calls a Dream-land, situated at the northern end of Twenty-mile Beach. He says it was pointed out to him by an otter in a dream while he was 'deep in being', as he calls it. To quote Mr. Putney,
Ya look for the three rocks at th' end o' that long beach up north, then ya stand on th' middle-one of them an, look out ta sea fer a while an' let yer mind rest. Be with what yer see there and think what ya'd like to see. If ya believes as if ya know it's there, it'll be there. Yaa-hh, that Otter told me....Ha! "

Roger stayed near home after his long absence, sitting in on local council meetings as 'spiritual advisor'. He also ran a kind of personal counseling service to help pay the bills. He was sorely missed when he died in 1891, at age 92.

Ever since then, people have trekked to the place known as Three Rocks, and untold numbers have "gone in" to the Dreamland. A few hours or sometimes many days later these 'dreamers' return by way of the same rock. They usually describe a sandy, desert-like landscape with beautiful freshwater pools and streams, lovely coves and beaches and a pervasive, eerie charge of energy in the air. Some have come back with stories and descriptions of a far different nature. The sign-in register at Three Rocks contains the names of many who haven't come back yet...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Roger and the Stickyball Incident

Unlike Moses, Roger didn't hold up the otter's ideas
as laws to be
obeyed or else. Yet people listened.

Not unlike Moses on his way down from Mt. Sinai, Roger came away from the otter with new ideas that were actually very old ideas! Roger spent his lifetime sharing these ideas, mostly by example. At first he just spent his time around Monaghan, reading what books he could find, and wandering around in the nearby hills, along the river, or out on the beaches.

Then the people of Monaghan heard of another new town to the west, New London (now Putney) whose residents were close to starvation.

Here's the story:

In 1816 the Atherton Dove was driven aground by yet another storm, this time onto the beach near Alison, about 80 miles east of Beastey Bay and on the South Bight. New Island was still uncharted territory and was increasingly becoming a shipping hazard: the islanders would not build lighthouses in fear of a discovery and takeover by the British or other nation.

Instead of convicts the Dove carried free settlers led by one Capt. James Denby. Local settlers spotted the ship in the surf and helped everyone aboard get to shore safely. Most of the ship's supplies and livestock, including 22 horses were also saved. When Capt. Denby figured out that he had run onto an uncharted island, he immediately began boasting how he would re-float his ship, sail on to Sydney, and claim the island for Britain! No one argued with him but that night he found his ship mysteriously ablaze and its two guards arriving ashore in a rowboat knocked unconscious and sleeping like babies...

Infuriated , Denby convinced most of his entourage to follow him overland far away from this "rabble of convicts" and build their own colony. He too had heard of good land to the north but insisted on locating near a deepwater harbor. He eventually found it at present-day Putney Bay. His group of about 160 men and women were the first to settle the region, and they eventually found that the soil was sandy and the local water too brackish for successful farming.

Denby insisted on settling here anyway, and declared himself Colonial Lord Governor of the entire island, arguing that convicts and even the venerable Capt. Hayes, had no legal claim. To enhance his authority, he hired (or coerced) many of his followers to build a proper manor on a hilltop west of present-day Putney. Staple crops weren't planted in time and then the weak soil hampered any harvest. His followers, who had come this far with him, finally became dissillusioned when the food became scarce, and by April of 1817, the settlerment of New London was becoming desperate.

Then Roger appeared, wirth several women from Monaghan pulling a small wagon. This was loaded with morsels made of ground oats, wild nut butter and honey they called 'stickyballs'! Roger simply said, "We brut these fer yer 'unger...we're a grain food tribe." and the grateful New Londoners swarmed the wagon. Later Roger and the women taught the settlers how to cast for perch in the surf, and how to find holyoke clams in the bay. He then offered to trade their inland bounty for fish and clams from the coast---which soon allowed New Londoners a level of independence form Mr. Denby. They abandoned Denby's projects and more or less ignored him as he eventually isolated himself within his half-built mansion.

This was one of many 'Roger events' that helped convince new Islanders that they might just thrive here, on their own, and create entirely new ways of living together. Roger, to his chagrin, became the spiritual leader of this emerging nation, especially after his strangest discovery yet to come.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roger Putney

Roger Putney on New Island's first 10-penny postal stamp.

Roger Putney was the first European born on New Island. He arrived on Nov. 6, 1799, only one month after the wreck of the Lady Marie. Roger never knew his father but was close to his mother, Tabathea, who taught him to read by age six. Before long, Roger was allowed to visit Capt. Hayes' private library, which much later became the island's first lending library. With a book or two and lunch in a sack, young Roger was often seen wandering off in the early morning toward the beaches and hills, and not returning until dusk.

Cecelia O'Hassett, a friend of Tabathea's, was very impressed by this boy who seemed very insightful for his age. Roger in turn was awed by Cecelia's charisma, and loved to sit with her and listen to her naked-protest stories! From Cecelia, Roger learned not only diplomacy, but that rare skill of really hearing both sides' arguments and then finding the elegant solution.

When Roger was about 15, people began to notice his intense gaze, soothing touch and an aura about him that could put you to sleep. They felt they could trust him completely. His reputation as a shaman or guide spread among the newly settled communities along the Beastey Bay shore; if you had a problem, Roger could probably help.

Scouting and survey parties had been exploring the island almost from the first day they arrived. A valley that had been described as "lush, green, storm-protected" had been located to the north, so in 1813 Roger and Tabathea joined a small settler group who trekked there and founded the town of Monaghan. During a wedding celebration the next year the mysterious otter appeared, again in a eucalyptus grove, and spoke to several of the participants who were taking the short walk from the wedding ceremony to the feast site. Like the first appearance in Womby, no one said anything in return, for fear they were hallucinating!

This time Roger was there. He walked up to the otter and they immediately began talking like this was old times! The stunned bride, groom and about 20 friends stood by thinking maybe this was all a dream! This turned out to be the otter's last appearance and Roger came away from the encounter looking like he'd seen God...

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Check out the Iceberg Article in the Putney Times!

Our beautiful island is being threatened by an iceberg 140 square km (54 square miles) in area!
Click on The Putney Times, our nation's newspaper, at right, to read all about it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Otter Preaches Forgiveness

Womby resident Kate Rice drew her impression of the Otter
that appeared in Womby Wood in 1811.

How can an otter talk much less preach forgiveness?

Apparently in 1811 some people in a funeral procession through a eucalyptus grove near Womby "experienced" a common brown sea otter standing by an "illuminated, iridescent" tree. This otter smiled and spoke directly to these individuals, about how all will be well, and please forgive all your real tormentors, your perceived tormentors, and yourself--

The local brown otters were considered sacred after this event, and people still watch them play and feed near the rocky bluffs, hoping one might speak again. These otters never leave the shoreline, much less lean against trees and preach! However, it could have happened...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Reinventing Civilization

This is spring on New Island, an inspiring
time of year for a new civilization!

Within a few months, most of the convicts from the Lady Marie (and later the Closter) saw this place as a possible new Eden. They found that this island was not only uninhabited but also quite livable -- with adequate fresh water, timber for shelter and an agreeable climate.

Many meetings were held that seemed to go on forever. Captain Hayes realized that none of the guards, crew nor he could "command" 700 pissed-off women--women who had largely been abused or otherwise caught up in a harsh legal system designed by and for the men of England! Hayes intuitively felt that Cecelia could be a leader, and declared that she be in charge.

In the weeks following the first shipwreck, spring had arrived, and the wildflowers, green grass, and warming weather enlivened some spirits, but there was a much resentment between nearly all the women toward their erstwhile keepers. And the the guards and sailors began to seethe against Capt. Hayes, Cecelia and a few of the other "enlightened ones". Several of the older women had brought memories and skills of ancient Gaelic and Celtic spiritual traditions, healing methods, and ways of living together that far preceded the Judeo-Christian England of that time. During the long voyage, Cecelia encouraged these gals to share their 'secret' stories of work and play common in Europe 5,000 years ago! When Cecelia asked these women to address a general meeting of all the women, the 'healers' were jeered by the world-weary streetwise crowd: Renounce Christianity? Bring back witchcraft? And when the men heard of these ideas, The captain had all he could do to keep order!

ut then there was a shift--it came slowly as the wheels began to turn in many minds.

Next: the Old Way and the Otter

Friday, November 27, 2009

The "Old People"

The convicts quickly discovered ruins like these,
and believed the island was occupied.

Almost immediately, the new arrivals noticed stone structures on the bluffs overlooking Beastey Bay, and were certain that local inhabitants would swoop down on them, Like a cloud of locusts! Capt. Hayes mustered the guards to explore the surrounding hills and report back any sightings of 'indigents'. To everyone's relief the exploring party came back unharmed, and reported that all the buildings were long abandoned, and there was no sign of any recent human habitation!

More thorough digging in later years has revealed that the hilltop ruins were built by a prosperous and intelligent population. The oldest signs of habitation, found in some caves on the island's eastern coast, date back to 41,500 years BCE, according to carbon dating techniques. Known locally as the "Old People", this pre-European civilization left impressive stonework buildings, harbors, roads, fortress walls, and several curious platforms at the ocean's edge before disappearing about 800 years ago!

They also left a lot of mysteries, which the Antiquities Institute at Putney University has dedicated itself to unravel. Who were the Old People? What happened to them?
Was it drought?, disease, war, or all of the above?

Next: Reinventing Civilization

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Storms that Changed History

Storm waves like these frequently pound New Island's
southwest coast, the site of several shipwrecks.

In the south Indian Ocean, the 'Roaring Forties' won the name by the ferocity of the frequent storms that sweep this region at roughly 40 degrees south latitude. Anyone sailing eastward in these latitudes made good time but there was a risk!

It was by chance on August 6, 1799 that the Lady Marie and the Swallowtail ran into such a storm. August is late winter in the Antipodes, and it is one of the worst months for storms. This one blew both ships northeast onto the broad beaches near Beastey Bay on New Island's southwest coast. It seems that sailcloth from a snapped mast on the Lady Marie fouled her rudder, and the ship could not steer. Swallowtail was forced to follow her lights and both ships were eventually caught up in huge surf and driven aground.

As the tide lowered and the wind let up, the convicts, crew and guards all found themselves on an entirely new land, not located on any of the captain's charts! The ships were both badly damaged and hopelessly stuck in the sand but still intact. The Swallowtail was by luck a Colony Supply Vessel loaded with tools, building materials, seeds, foodstuffs, cloth, and a library of books from how-to manuals to classic literature.

As soon as the tide receded, Captain Hayes ordered everyone to abandon both ships and remove everything salvageable before the next tide came in. Once everything was on the beach, the entire group fell into an exhausted sleep behind the dunes. And a good thing: both ships were reduced to splinters after another night of pounding by the waves.


Almost four years later, in July 1803, the convict ship Closter ran aground in thick fog and heavy surf not far from present-day Palmer, about 18 miles from the 1799 wrecks. Again, quite by chance, the Closter carried 377 female convicts along with guards, crew and supplies. Due to mishandling of lifeboats, the captain and 21 of the crew were lost. It seems they were in such a hurry to abandon ship, they were dashed upon the rocks in the few lifeboats that were available. The rest were forced to wait out the tide, which dropped low enough so that most of the women were able to wade ashore. 13 were lost.

A hunting party from the Lady Marie had set up a camp in the nearby dunes and heard the shouting. They managed to rescue the survivors and, over some days, escort them back to the now established settlement of Beasty.

This uncharted island now had a population of over 900, by far the majority of which were women!

Next: Reinventing civilization

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cecelia O'Hassett and Captain Hayes

The Lady Marie was a similar to
the convict ship
Neptune, above.

Aboard the Lady Marie somewhere in the south Indian Ocean, a week out of Capetown...

A young woman named Cecelia O'Hassett was hauled in front of the ship's captain to explain a fight that had broken out during the daily deck outing. It seems Cecelia had intervened in an argument and wound up attacking a guard. "I's only tryin' to get 'um to get along, but young Frieda hit me, so I hadda teach 'er, and then this bloke (nodding to the guard) came onto me..."

Hayes had seen this O'Hassett woman before and was impressed by her charisma (and ferocity) among the prisoners. He needed someone like her to help keep order among the women, and to act as a go-between with the guards. The guards, all men, were as indifferent as they were clueless to the needs or their female charges; and so morale, fighting and sickness were becoming a real problem. When Cecelia was brought before him, Hayes dismissed the guard, and offered a meeting over tea, which surprised Cecelia, who thought she was in for a flogging!
Captain Edgarford Hayes, a single man, was a conscientious student of the Enlightenment and on the younger side of 40. As the master of the Lady Marie, he was determined to deliver as many of his cargo of convicts to Australia in reasonably good health, as was possible. He had heard of the sickness, brutality and high death-rates aboard other such ships such as the Neptune.
Cecelia, it turned out, was raised in an educated household, but became a troublemaker in her early teens, and was sent to a workhouse by her stepfather. (Her father had died when she was nine.) Cecelia soon saw the inequities of British society in the Eighteenth century, and was upset by the harsh treatment of peasant families and women. In fact, she had earned her seven-year sentence in 1798 by, among other offenses, marching naked through a Ladies' High Tea on the lawn of an estate outside Liverpool. The local court recorded that she was protesting "the Hideous Practice of allowing Women to own Nothing at All!"

Captain Hayes promoted Cecelia to "prisoner liaison" and gave her freedom of the ship. After a while the women trusted her, or at least respected her, but some held that she was a turncoat. She was eventually able to win at least a nod of praise from the guards since she was making their jobs much easier.

After a few more "tea meetings" and then long dinners every Tuesday night, it became apparent, but never openly admitted, that the captain and Cecelia were more than associates...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Discovery by Convicts

Conditions aboard a typical convict ship on its way to Australia.
Picture courtesy of Dulwich Hill Public School

Many of us know about the convict ships that sailed from England to Australia beginning in the late 1700s to well into the 19th century.

Around 1780 the English came up with the expeditious idea to not only save money housing those convicted of petty crimes in expensive prisons, but to use their (free) labor to tame the Australian wilderness and develop the newly discovered continent for settlement! For decades, these "Undesirables", as they were known, were shipped by the hundreds under miserable conditions to ports in Australia and Tasmania, by the now well-known "Roaring Forties" trade route across the southern Indian Ocean. Most of the convicts were men, but about one in three of these ships carried women.

In 1799, The convict ship Lady Marie left Liverpool, England carrying 380 female prisoners on its manifest (no males), a crew of 42 as well as 82 soldiers-as-guards (all male). The supply ship Swallowtail carried a crew of 31 and enough supplies to begin a small settlement.

Next: Cecelia O'Hassett and Capt. Hayes

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Historical note 2, The Great Europan Explorers all Missed It!

We'll learn later that a Russian explorer named Bellingshausen finally did discover the island.

Though quite large, New Island managed to remain undiscovered until the 19th Century. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to sail into the Indian Ocean in the late 15th Century, followed by the Dutch who eventually discovered parts of Australia and Tasmania. They soon learned that once they rounded Africa's Cape of Good Hope, they could make good time by using the dependable Roaring Forties trade winds, which normally kept them far to the south of the island.

Soon, naval and merchant ships from Spain, France, Germany and Britain, as well as a few pirates, learned to use this well-known sea lane. For 190 years these ships passed within 200 miles of the island's southern coast, and not a one charted or laid claim to New Island.

But one came close: In 1791, George Vancouver (or some of his crew) may have sighted the 3500-foot-tall ramparts of North Cape as their ship was hauling east toward the Pacific Ocean. A mate's diary claims Vancouver had penciled in the notation "mountainous island" on his chart, but the chart has since been lost.

Next History Note: Discovery by Convicts

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Historical Note 1, The Old People

Old people ruins at Beatty Point, on the island's dry northwestern coast

New Island was uninhabited when Europeans arrived in 1799. The first settlers soon found out, however, that the island had once supported a vigorous and creative culture for probably thousands of years. These people were excellent stone masons who left impressive roads, castle-like towers, towns and harbors all over the island. These ruins gave the newcomers a chilling feeling that someone might still be here--but in fact they had all gone.

Research by the University of Putney Antiquities Department indicates the Old People left the island some 800 years ago. There are no signs of war or violence in their demise, they just simply left. The most likely cause could have been a drought coupled with a medical disaster. We just don't know.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How to Get Around

The "PVH" or Putney-Victoria Harbor express train running along the beach near Swansea. Above the clouds rises snow-capped Mt. Hayes, New Island's highest peak.

Now that you've landed at either Putney or Victoria Harbor, you'll need ground transportation! Streetcars will take you from the docks to most neighborhoods as well as the bus and train stations for island-wide connections.

New Island Railways offers daily passenger service between Putney and Victoria Harbor, either by the PVH express route or via the more leisurely Irain-Southwestern route.

I'll write more when I have more energy. Today I continued a remodel job in my daughter Katie's first apartment, and it wore me out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

How to Get There

Your ticket to New Island.

New Island can be reached by taking passage aboard a Rudyard Line steamer.

The SS Charles Ames and the SS New Ireland each leave once a week from the Port of Fremantle, Western Australia. The Ames leaves every Sunday noon from Fremantle and docks at Victoria Harbor the following Tuesday at about 3 pm. The Ireland leaves every Thursday at noon, and arrives at the Putney Main Dock the following Saturday evening. Fremantle (next-door to Perth) can be easily reached by air from all points worldwide. You may call the Rudyard shipping Line Office in Fremantle for reservations...some day you'll get through; or you can contact me.

Scheduled airline service via Aeroflot from Moscow and Kiev was available until 1992 when the Soviets pulled out of New Island, taking the airport facilities with them. The runways at the old airport at Vernon (outside Putney) are now maintained for emergency landings only. New Island's Ministry of Trade is willing to hear proposals to start up scheduled passenger air service to and from Australia, Asia, Africa or beyond.
And, in case anyone tries to navigate to New Island on their own, beware: the geography of the region will absolutely upset your plans.
By the way, cruise ships have been warned away from New Island ports unless there is an emergency. This is a long story, but has mostly to do with a reluctance of New Islanders to allow the island to become one large resort.
Contact me if you need a ticket!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Can't Find it on the Map?

New Island has been 'suppressed' on most maps, mostly due to a little-known agreement with the US and the old Soviet Union made in the 1940s.

Because of it's strategic value as a tracking station during the Cold War, the American CIA and the Soviet KGB quietly asked map publishers to delete New Island from maps or atlases of the region. To this day, the island does not appear, except on very few copies of the
National Geographic Atlas of the World, Sixth Edition, 1995!

In my copy, New Island shows up only on page 112:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Where is This Place?

Over the years people have asked me where my paintings have come from. I used to tell them, "Partly California, some Oregon coast, maybe Ireland or South Africa..."

Well, around 1992 I decided to create an island-nation that became the source of most of these paintings. Over time, I began to relate the paintings to locations on a map, then placed the island in the southern Indain Ocean. So here is New Island's location, above.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Welcome to New Island!

A view of New Island from 450 miles up!

Welcome to New Island and to the New Island website,
which will be in this format for the time being.
I'm inviting you to take part in an interactive journey.
I'm going to talk about this island-nation in the Indian Ocean as if it were a real place. There will be stories and articles about real and imagined New Islanders, and I'll continually add background information to let you know what the island is all about.
New Island is the world's largest work of art, a 12,000-square-mile island-nation made oup of paintings, drawings, maps, documents and artifacts. Like any other similar place, New Island has a history, a unique culture and geography, its own flag, currency, railways, roads, towns, and people both real and imagined!