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"For me, and, I am sure, for most of you, to be human is to always be in the process of becoming, to be in quest of openings, of possibilities." ~ Maxine Greene

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tennant Creek Grocer

We stopped in Tennant Creek for a few groceries before heading north to Elliot!  The food offerings along the highway were getting slimmer so Juliette made her rounds, gathering up pasta and fruit and veggies.  M re photos will be coming soon!  My trip to Australia comes to an end in a couple of days; tomorrow, we head to Darwin, spend the night, and then I fly to Sydney.  After a short night there, I fly to Auckland, New Zealand, and then back to San Francisco.  The time zones are goofy: I land in San Fran about 15 minutes after leaving Australia!  So, I basically get to enjoy Wednesday for a very long time.
  ~ "Over and Out" from the Outback, where we are resting at Juliet and Michael's sweet little home in Elliot.

"Jerky" looking for Grog!

After another long day of driving on the Barkly Highway, we passed into the northern Territory and rolled into Avon Downs, where Juliette and Michael lived for about 18 months before moving to Tennant Creek.  There is a police station here, and a rest area across the highway, where several campers pulled over for the night.  One of the current officers,Cameron, and his family, own a cow named "Jerky".  As you can see by the look on my face, he is getting a bit too friendly with my beer!  

Crocodile Dundee Tavern

Of course, we had to stop at the Walkabout Creek Hotel for a short break!  It was REALLY hot for a Seattle Girl; I got a lemonade (in a can), and took a few more pictures of the inside (which I will post soon).  For those of you who don't know, this tavern was featured in the Crocodile Dundee films.  It used to be set off of the main highway, but was moved to attract more visitors.  We heard it was up for sale ... about $1.4 million!

Where Qantas Airlines Started

Here Michael and I stand in front of a jumbo jet in Longreach (747-200, nicknamed "City of Bunbury").  Qantas stands for Queensland and Northern Territory Airline Services, and it began in a small town called Longreach in the 1920s.  We spent about one hour touring the museum.  Fun!


Here are a few of the dozens of camel we saw along the highway a couple of days ago, between Rockhampton onthe coast and Longreach (heading due west).

Monday, October 18, 2010

Boat Ride!

Byron Bay Lighthouse

It was a stunning day, as we drove from Yamba, north to Noosa Heads!  We ended up on some country roads, and passed macadamia nut groves, banana trees, and some spectacular views of the ocean.  This particular lighthouse was finished in the early 1900s, and is on the eastern-most point of Australia.  It's about 800 feet above the sea.

At Noosa Heads

G'Day!  Here is a shot of me on the front of a small boat that we took out on the Noosa River today.  Juliette and Michael rented it for a few hours, so we drove it all over the place, enjoying the houses along the banks, and also seeing some non-spoiled areas with just birds and mangrove-like trees.  There were also a lot of houseboats and all manner of water transport along the way.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

We arrive at Noosa Heads Beach!

Here's a picture of the beach ... well, one of them (!) in the area called Noosa Heads.  On the map at the top of this blog, look for Brisbane and then just a nick above that for Noosa Heads.  We spent the night before in a place called Yamba (pictures will be forthcoming!), which is about 440 km south, and along the shore.  Very beautiful as well!  We arrived here in Noosa in time for Happy Hour at a place high above the surf, and enjoyed the view of surfers. swimmers, and even a few whales!  We will be staying in this area for a few days.  I will post some pictures of our trip since Sydney -- it takes a little extra time to upload the pics from the camera and then get them online, and we have not had much "down time" with all of the travels between places.  It has been a whirlwind tour from Sydney to Canberra and then over 900 km north to where we are now ... through sun, wind, rain, and even some snow!  Crazy weather.  More soon!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Genet at Darling Harbour in Sydney

Just a quick shot of a Happy Camper!  We walked around Darling Harbour and looked at the boats.

Here's the view from our apartment in Sydney!

Michael and Juliette "pulled out all the stops," and reserved a two bedroom suite on the 73rd floor of the Meriton Serviced Apartments -- This is the view!  We are looking east, over the Pacific ocean, and back at all of you.  We had a dining area, kitchen, and livingroom area to sit in -- very comfortable, modern, and clean.  A lovely place!

Juliette and Michael at the Harbour

We have taken various modes of transport about Sydney -- busses, trains, and the monorail!  Yesterday (Wednesday), we were at the water again, and I took this picture of Michael and Juliette standing in  front of the building (far in the background) where they got married 23 years ago.  It was a beautiful morning ... we then headed to the Chinese Garden, and walked around some more before catching a ferry boat back to the main harbour by the Opera House.  I will try to post a map of the city and highlight the areas we've been!  Today, Thursday, we drive south to Canberra ... about 2.5 hours.  We will stay there for a couple of days with Michael's brother, Richard, and his wife, Gail.  More soon!

Genet's Birthday "Bombe"

We went to a restaurant on the waterfront, with a table overlooking the harbour and the Sydney Opera House.  We enjoyed a PHENOMENAL dinner of steak, fish, and suckling pig (you can try to figure out who had what).  Accompanying the main meal were steamed carrots in honey sauce, creamy mashed potatoes, and "chips" (fries) cooked in duck fat!  Of course, we had some wine and beer.  For dessert, the waiter lit this "Bombe Alaska" ... three layers of ice-creamy confection, covered with whipped egg whites ... the whole thing was drizzled with brandy and lit on fire!  Quite the event.

Getting ready for a boat ride

Here we are, Michael and Genet, getting ready for a jet boat ride in Sydney Harbour!  We went out and got thoroughly drenched, in spite of these fashionable red ponchos.  More photos will be forthcoming!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Here I go!

This picture was taken by me and my iPhone, just before getting in line to check my bags; I am currently in the San Francisco airport, having sailed through baggage claim after my quick flight from Seattle (via Alaska Airlines), up to the "Air Train" (elevated train) and to the International Terminal. Everything has gone smoothly!

It was fascinating going through Security; I heard so many different languages, and saw families and friends wishing each other goodbye. It was different from a domestic terminal, where the prospect of seeing your loved one again sooner, rather than later, seems more probable. My favorite people to watch were an elderly couple: the woman was very stylishly dressed in a long black skirt and gold colored sweater; she sported some simple, yet stunning gold and silver jewelry, all of which was complemented by long silver hair. Her husband, presumably, had on lovely black slacks, a white button-down shirt, and suspenders. He was tan and very healthy and earthy looking ... They both looked straight out of an Italian vineyard.

At the moment, I am sitting in a Mexican restuarant named "Andale" (for "Let's Go!") And I am listening to a family converse in rapid French at the table next to me. I wonder how many other nationalities I will encounter, and I wonder at the marvel of this high-tech transportation, where we can all amiably walk into a tube and get hurtled through the air at hundreds of miles per hour ... and then gently set down in another place on the planet.

My flight will be departing soon; I have a seat in row FORTY-FOUR. Yikes! But it's on the aisle, which is what I will need in order to get up and walk around a lot.

See you on the other side!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Julie and Michael make it to Sydney!

They did it!  Two left Elliot, and two arrived in Sydney ...

From an email sent Australian Time, Oct 9, 2010 4:29 PM
Subject: Update from Australia

Julie and Michael reporting:
"We arrived early evening yesterday, after four days travel - 40 hours in the car and just over 4,000 kilometres (2485 miles, give or take a bit). We went from the heat of the central desert, to the coast of Queensland and south to Sydney. Presently, we're in the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney, enjoying a beautiful, cool and rainy spring day. A huge change from our 'home' in north central Northern Territory. We had one near miss with a kangaroo, drove through cattle being herded across the road by two drovers just outside of Longreach QLD, and the windshield got sprayed continuously by enormous bugs and at one point by gravel. Other than that, it was smooth sailing. We were happy to arrive at the Yamba pub, over-looking the ocean on the north coast of NSW. It is always wonderful to arrive at the sea, after traveling so far from the interior of the continent."

Genet here ... So, I can just picture the cattle drove, and I can picture the bugs, having lived in Minnesota right after the farmers fertilized the fields ... but having "one near miss" with a KANGAROO?  That should be an interesting story, and I'll do my best to get the facts when I finally land Down Under. 

By the way, I learned recently that the word "kangaroo" is a bit of a misnomer ... One story goes something like this (from an Aboriginal person):

"At the time of colonial settlement, an English government official was walking along a beach with an Aborigine when he saw a strange furry animal with a long tail, hopping along in front of him.  Unable to speak the Aboriginal language, he pointed his stick at it.  The Aborigine said, 'kangaroo.'

The Englishman turned to the Aborigine, saying, 'I say, my man, what was that you said?'

The Aborigine said again, 'kangaroo.'

From that day on, 'kangaroo' is what the animal was called, but the Aborigine was really saying, 'There he goes.'  The kangaroo's Aboriginal name is 'bagaray.'  (From Gadi Mirrabooka: Australian Aboriginal Tales form the Dreaming)

Who knew?  More tales to come ...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Trip Begins "Down Unda"

Julie and Michael kick off our Australian Adventure!

Sent Oct 5, 12:29pm
Elliot, Northwest Territory, Australia *

"In one hour we start the drive from Elliott to Cloncurry, Queensland. We think it will take about 9 hours driving and is about 800 km ... so an easy start; longer trips come ... Also, no interstate on these roads, just one joined lane in each direction … Two set out but will two arrive? ... more later.... kenty"
* Photo above retrieved from the NW Territory News: http://tools.ntnews.com.au//photos/index.php?group_id=68

Click below to see the section of the continent they are covering on Day 1. The starting point, Elliot, is located along Hwy 87 in the middle of the map. Use your cursor to click and "drag" (move) the map to follow Hwy 87 south to Warumungu, just above Tennant Creek; then, follow Hwy 66 east into Queensland through Mt. Isa and into Cloncurry. (NOTE: REMEMBER: TO RETURN TO THE BLOG, USE YOUR BACK ARROW!)

Testing Video Uploads

So, before embarking on this long Australian trip, I wanted to practice uploading videos. Duke just returned from his afternoon walk and, knowing that he likes to replenish the liquids he's just dispersed around the neighborhood, I was standing by his water station. The video speaks for itself (see the entry below, "You can lead a dog to water ...")!

You can lead a dog to water ...

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Bear is a Bear … or is it?

So, of course, everyone wants to know if I will see (and maybe hold) a koala bear during my trip Down Under (pronounced “Down Unda”).
I have no idea if I will, but I hope I can! Being the curious sort, I had to look up a few facts about koalas; after all, if one is going to find its way into my arms and fix its beady little eyes into mine, I want to know what I’m holding.

First, koalas are not really “bears” (who knew?!); they are marsupials, or mammals with a pouch where the young one gets to hang out until ready to leave his or her mother. This “pouch potato-ing” goes on for about 6 months, and then there is another 6 months of the baby hanging on the mom’s back or belly! Not a lot of privacy for mom … (where’s dad?!)

Anyway, Koalas are found munching on, and sitting and dozing in eucalyptus trees, which grow best on the eastern side of the Australian continent.

Have you ever been in a eucalyptus grove? There is a very nice one in the Berkeley, CA, Hills, where my brother has often taken me for walks when we are visiting family in that area. The aroma is so spicy and pungent and “clearing,” and I typically feel quite energized after strolling through that grove. The trees are very high and messy; they seem to drop everything! Strips of bark and slender leaves are scattered everywhere. I wonder if the eucalyptus trees in Australia will be different? For some reason, I think of those trees as being stubbier than the ones in California.

Anyway, Koalas tend to live for about 20 years, and weigh as many pounds; they eat a lot for their size, about 2.5 pounds of leaves each day. (Think of it in human terms: a 160-pound person would be eating about 200 pounds of salad. Whew!)

Unfortunately, Koalas are a threatened species, because the forests they need for their survival continue to diminish in size due to the hand of man, and apparently koalas need a lot of room to roam: about 100 trees per koala. But that’s only 5 trees per year during the normal lifespan, which isn’t a lot to ask.

I mean, how many trees have I consumed so far in my life? Almost every DAY, I am involved to some extent with handling printing paper, copy paper, paper towels, toilet paper, envelopes, cards, notepads, cereal boxes, receipts, handouts from my physical therapist … and so much more that I cannot even think of right now.

I wonder, "Could I get myself to reduce my 'paper footprint' to that of a koala? Hmmm. Five trees for every 20 years ... that means I should be only up to 12.5 trees. Doesn't look too promising.

If I do get to hold a koala, and when our eyes meet, I will be sure to apologize for all of the human behavior of which I am a part, and swear to do my best to set it right again.

Note: This information was obtained from the National Geographic website:

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Dream Time

When we think of the history of Australia, we often assume that it started with the Portuguese, or the Dutch, French, Spanish, or British explorers. But we need to roll back the clock from the 1500-1600s to approximately 68,000 to 40,000 BC, when the Aboriginal tribes were thought to have traveled by boat from southeast Asia. Some historians put that date back to 70,000 BC! Before the Europeans invaded the continent, there’s no telling how many Aborigines lived there, but by the time the Europeans arrived, it is estimated that there were about 1 million native people. They lived in about 300 clans, and spoke 250 different languages; they traveled continuously in search of food and water, but maintained a special spiritual connection to specific pieces of the land. In spite of the great diversity between the clans living in the desert, the rainforests, the mountains, or along the shores, they all shared (and still do to some extent) a belief in what is called “The Dreamtime” ~ a mythological “era” in which ancestral beings (“totems”) formed the Creation.

I recently watched the film “The Last Wave” (1977), which offered this explanation of the Dreamtime: “Aboriginals believe in two forms of time; two parallel streams of activity. One is the daily objective reality, the other is an infinite spiritual cycle called the ‘dreamtime’, more real than reality itself. Whatever happens in the dreamtime establishes the values, symbols, and laws of Aboriginal society. It was believed that some people of unusual spiritual powers had contact with the dreamtime.”

I am fascinated with the concept of “time,” and enjoy learning about the perspectives of the Aboriginals who, even now, do not seem to operate in the one-dimensional 24-hour day cycle that a great deal of the world’s people build their lives around. But what IS “time”? And is there a Dreamtime for non-Aboriginal people? This is worth exploring …

For more images and a helpful overview of Australian Aboriginal history, go to: