Tropical Pride

Let me continue my story about Tropical Pride in Cairns.

On Saturday, October 13, a rainbow crossing was organized in the city, which we crossed with rainbow flags in our hands, to the applause of the public. Then we went to the Cairns Museum to deposit a few posters of the YES campaign, in which we participated last year before the plebiscite about same-sex marriage. Let me remind you that the majority of Australians supported the LGBT community, and the law on same-sex marriage was passed by the Parliament. The director of the Museum, as it turned out, is a lesbian. She warmly welcomed us, along with other staff, and accepted the posters. Then she conducted a tour of the Museum. We were photographed with rainbow flags on the balcony of the Museum. By the way, in many events we had the company of Matthew Mitcham, an Australian Olympic champion, openly gay. On the first photo, he is on the left.

Then we went to our LGBT centre QuAC, which is located not far from the Museum. We had a meeting where people talked about themselves, their LGBT life and activities. The theme, as in the last year, was “Survival.” It sounds sad, but we heard not only sad, but also optimistic stories.

At 3 pm, our LGBT-resort Turtle Cove scheduled Queer Spring Break II. It is outside the city, and the place is beautiful. I went there. I saw a lot of people, mostly gay. There were also guests of Cairns there: from other cities of Australia and from overseas. I met, in particular, a 74-year-old resident of Brisbane. He began to live a gay life only 3 years ago! He was married (his wife died), has three sons, one of whom is gay, openly gay.

Sunday, October 14, was the main day – Fair Day. The program included concerts, a film, a drag show, a dog competition. Everywhere there were tents and tables with information materials and LGBT badges, pens, etc. In one of the tents was our local writer, who writes mostly on gay themes. In another tent, a candle company, people could buy rainbow candles.

Of course, there was a good opportunity to make acquaintances and chat with old friends.

At the end, there was a 45-minute concert by Matthew Mitcham, who entertained us with songs in French, Spanish and English. Many songs were autobiographical. Matthew has a good sense of humor, and a nice voice. He performed in Cairns last year. This time he arrived with a new program. He is public’s favorite.

That’s how our city held the most important annual event for our LGBT community – Tropical Pride.

Chillagoe mosaic

Here’s the final selection of my photos of this amazing region. I called it “Chillagoe Mosaic” – due to the fact that the images are very diverse in nature. I hope they are a meaningful addition to my story about my recent trip and the places I visited.

On the way to Chillagoe:

Chillagoe and surroundings:

The next petrol station – 560 km:

Chillagoe smelters

As I mentioned before, another local tourist attraction is Chillagoe smelters. It adds to better understanding the history and culture of the region, and is beautiful in its own way.

Chillagoe smelters are an important part of Queensland’s industrial heritage and contributed significantly to the economic development of the north.

Mining in North Queensland was established during the 1870s with the Palmer River and Hodgkinson gold rushes and, from the early 1880s, in mining at nearby Herberton and Irvinebank. The Chillagoe area – home to local Aboriginal Wakamin and Kuku Djungan peoples – remained mostly undisturbed by Europeans until the late 1880s, when prospectors discovered copper, silver, lead, zinc and gold. This shaped the future of the Chillagoe area – and of North Queensland.

In late 1890s John Moffat succeeded in securing investment for large-scale development of the Chillagoe copper field. Capital was raised to purchase the mining leases, build smelting works and construct a private railway from Chillagoe to the railhead at Mareeba, thereby connecting Chillagoe with the port of Cairns.

The Chillagoe smelters preserve evidence of the technological advancements made in mineral processing during the era, and the innovations adopted to meet local conditions.

Chillagoe smelters employed over one thousand people at the peak of production in the early 1900s – by 1908, Chillagoe boasted a population of more than 1500 people and ten hotels. The Chillagoe company operated the smelters from 1901 until they closed at the outbreak of world War I in 1914. Struggling financially, the smelters had been hampered by the geology of the field – shortage of ore and complexity of minerals – and over-capitalisation.

The Chillagoe smelters were unprofitable, and dogged by political scandal, but they created thousands of jobs – boosting North Queensland’s prosperity for 50 years.

The Chillagoe smelters remained closed during the war and, in 1919, ownership was transferred to the Queensland government. Low copper prices in the 1920s led to their closure in 1927 but, in 1929, they were operated as an instrument of the State’s welfare policy – to create work in the depressed mining districts. The smelters operated until 1943, by which time other smelters had been built closer to other ore-producing areas, such as Mount Isa. Most of the plant and buildings were sent to other mines, or were sold in 1952.

The Chillagoe smelters never made a profit in any year of production, but their flow-on effect for regional employment and the survival and growth of heavy industry in North Queensland was significant. In addition to creating thousands of jobs, the enterprise established the largest network of private railways in Australia, providing transport throughout the region over enormous distances, and helped keep mines and businesses open in the north for almost half a century.

Between 1901 and 1943, the Chillagoe smelters treated 1,250,000 tons of ore and produced:
– 60,000 tons of copper (over 37 years),
– 50,000 tons of lead (over 25 years),
– 6,500,000 ounces of silver,
– 175,000 ounces of gold.

The three chimneys surviving at the Chillagoe smelters are unique as a group and symbolise the important cultural heritage of this site. The tall roaster chimney was part of the lead-sulphide pre-treatment area. Because the ores to be smelted contained various minerals, pre-treatment was necessary before separating out the metals. Waste gases from the roasting plant escaped up the brick chimney.

Today the chimneys, smelter flues and slag dump are all that remain to convey the grand scale of operations that were once so important to development of the north.

And now, I’d like to share with you different kind of information. It relates to the LGBT situation in the country where I lived and studied for half year, long time ago, but which I still remember quite well for its beauty, culture and specific socio-political situation (with communist ideology, like the Soviet Union). The name of the country is Cuba. Its people are friendly and fun-loving.

The information below was taken from Pink News.

The big news is that Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel has said he is in favour of legalising same-sex marriage in the country.

Speaking on TV Telesur, he said he was in support of recognising marriage “between people without any restrictions” to help eliminate “any type of discrimination in society”.

In April this year, Diaz-Canel took over as president from Raul Castro, the brother of Fidel Castro.

Cuba is in the process of updating its Soviet-era constitution, as part of a package of reforms intended to modernise the country.

The landscape for LGBT+ rights has changed dramatically in Cuba in recent years, in part, due to a campaign by Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul and the niece of Fidel.

She is the director of the state-run National Centre for Sex Education (Cenesex) and since 2008, gender reassignment surgery and hormone replacement therapy have been available free of charge under the country’s national healthcare system.

Under Fidel, who rose to power in 1959 after leading a revolution that toppled the corrupt government of Fulgencio Batista, LGBT+ Cubans suffered persecution and discrimination.

In 2010, Fidel apologised for the treatment of the LGBT+ community, telling Mexican newspaper La Jornada: “If someone is responsible, it’s me.”
I’d like to add that I heard the passionate presentation Mariela Castro gave at the OutGames (basically gay games) human rights conference in Montreal in 2006. I was quite impressed by it. Cuba appears to have progressed a lot in respect of LGBT rights since then. A very welcome development indeed!

Chillagoe Automobile Museum

Let me continue my photo story about Chillagoe. Today I want to show you an unusual museum – an automobile one. The pictures speak for themselves. It is interesting that in such a remote place lives such an enthusiast of vintage cars. He restored a number of hopelessly, at first glance, broken and neglected machines.

This museum smoothly turns into a colorful dump of rusty vehicles and, further, to an endless savannah where wallabies (small kangaroos) are hopping, different kinds of birds are sitting on trees and flying around, and even further, to camping grounds (where our gay group stayed), to an observatory and to a cottage hotel with 4-star rooms. By the way, the property, which includes the camping grounds, the observatory and the cottage hotel, is owned by a friendly middle-aged couple: husband and wife. They are enthusiasts of astronomy and conduct those ‘galaxy’ sessions. They enjoy a good reputation, and professional astronomers from Japan regularly come here. When our gay group was there, a dozen Japanese came to live in the hotel. They use both their own equipment for astronomical observations and the telescope of the observatory. They booked for five days, and come here every year.