Australia · 26 Days · 87 Moments · December 2018

Australia 2018

28 December 2018

Without fail we celebrated our last morning in Tasmania with another long walk along the beach that goes on for-freakin-ever. The drive to the Launceston Airport was uneventful. However we did stop a nice little cafe. The message in the cafe garden was most appropriate for the day and how we should approach the travel home. We fly from Launceston this afternoon to Melbourne, followed by a brief overnight stay then board flight to LA. This has been a wonderful adventure and we are ready to go home. There a couple of big takeaways from this trip. Australia is a beautiful country full of contrasting environments woven together by a complex and unsettling history. The awareness of our immense privilege was unavoidable and repeatedly pressed into our consciousness and conversations. Like so many of our experiences and adventures, this one has changed us and we will never be the same. We leave this part of the world with a deep sense of gratitude and humility.

27 December 2018

A little sad saying good by to Coopers Ocean Cabin. We of course, did one more evening walk on the beach that goes on forever.

26 December 2018

Our last full day in Tasmania started with the ritual pre breakie walk to the “beach that goes forever”. Later in the morning we drove north to Piccaninny Point (yes, that is how they spell it). With a name like that we just could not pass it up. On the way, we took a quick detour to check out Lagoons Beach and saw the most amazing tent. The tent was made to look like at 1965 VW Microbus, totally hilarious. Not sure how many folks around here really know the meaning of the term picaninny. Other than a beautiful beach, a wallaby or pademelon footprint, and some amazing rock outcropping, Piccaninny Point did not disclose the origin of its name. We put up a couple of small monuments to honor of the local picaninnies that were once very numerous on this island and likely frequented this small peninsula.
Sitting around reflecting on the nature of the universe only fills part of the soul, exploring and experiencing is sometimes much more rewarding. “Sometimes” was definitely the cast today. We dove to into the near by Douglas-Apsley National Park with the goal of hiking to the Ansley Waterhole. Hey, on the map it looked like something we should see and explore. We walked 15 steps out of the car to the trail sign and got swarmed by several hundred mosquitoes. For a moment we thought we were back in Alaska, it was crazy thick. This moment was followed by hilariously mad dash back to the car. The scene was way beyond insect repellent and would have required mosquito nets, long pants, long sleeved shirts, and duct tape. Scanning the map we headed to the Bicheno Blowhole, where we found found cool breezes beautiful rock formations and blowhole. The blowhole was not as big as ones we have seen in Hawaii. However, this one was not fenced off and we could walk right up to it.
Is it simply a desire for power and influence? Is fear of not being a part of the winning group/tribe part of the motivation to endorse, support, or turn a blind eye, to perpetrators of terrible? Does some of this willful ignorance come from a desire for wealth and control? Clearly, we are not going to find the answers to these questions walking the beaches of Tasmania. The task ahead is more reading and more conversations with family and friends. Oh and the fun part, addressing these questions requires a greater consumption of art, more theater, music, and movies. One thing is eminently clear, art is a great tool for helping us humans better understand the world. If you have suggestion of art, books, theater, music, or people that would help address these complex questions, please do not hesitate to share.
Taking the position that seeing others as human and the world as complex is uncomfortable and challenging, all sounds a little arrogant. It implies that people avoid complexity and ambiguity because they are lazy. It is also way to simplistic and falls into the same trap of trying to find a binary solution to a multifaceted problem. I will grant that for some interpreting the world through a strict religious text or refusing to embrace the ambiguity of science is a choice based on comfort and the desire to keep things simple. However, there has to be more to it. Throughout history, and today, why would so many very smart and strong willed people go along with activities and policies that they know are wrong and not in the best interest of the whole. What more is involved?
We are finding joy and relaxation in our little vacation from our vacation. These non programmed days with no itinerary have been a gift. Besides watching the bunnies having breakfast on lawn outside our cabin, fun walks and hikes, we have had more time for uninterrupted conversation and reflection. The impact of colonization was a big theme during the first half of this trip. Which led to a question of how people were, and still are, able to go along with the horrible treatment of other humans. The initial theory explored was that people avoid complexity and ambiguity. Seeing others as human rather just the enemy or non human means we have to accept that there are multiple realities and perspectives; which is always uncomfortable and messy. Personal experience has reinforced this understanding on numerous occasions the details of which should be shared over a several drinks.
Click on this image/cartoon to see the un-cropped image.
Boxing Day: post coffee and pre breakfast found us heading back to the beach that goes on forever. This time we walked about a mile and half down the beach only to have the feeling that it was infinite reinforced. The warm morning and sunny skies definitely added to beauty.

25 December 2018

Our afternoon hike on Christmas Day took us to to the south side of the Seymour peninsula. It is about a 10 minute walk along a sometimes obscure trail to an absolutely magnificent beach. The beach stretch’s south to the town of Bicheno (an 18 Km drive). The beach just stretches out for what feels like forever. We are sure there are bigger beaches in the world. However, it is definitely the longest beach we have ever visited. And the sand, it was super fine with beautiful patterns left by the waves. Looking out over the vastness of the ocean, we are reminded of how grateful we are to have such loving families and so many wonderful friends. We honor all those who celebrate this time of year sending you heartfelt wishes for holidays filled with peace, joy, and moments of love from unanticipated sources.
After breakfast we did a short 5 min walk to the north side of the Seymour peninsula. Down a short flower lined trail to a beach that was definitely on the windward or up stream side of the local currents. This was evidenced by the tons of seaweed, debris, a couple of shark carcasses. We also got to see a flock of some 15-20 Fairy Terns running along the beach. Apparently they are quite rare in Tasmania, according to a sign posted on the beach there are only 100 pairs on the island.
Christmas morning from the cabin and quick walk down to watch the waves crash on the rocks.

24 December 2018

Christmas Eve, we arrived at our Air BnB called Cooper’s Ocean Cabin. We immediately began for feel relaxed as we begin our agenda free three full days and four nights. Our cabin is parked on small peninsula that served as the old coal mining town site. Once again awesome views and lovely facilities. The best part is there no other guests or nearby neighbors.
On our last morning in Freycinet National Park we took a pre breakfast walk along the beach below the lodge. Later we did the short hike to the Sleepy Bay Lighthouse before driving north to toward our Air BnB in Seymour.

23 December 2018

From Wineglass Bay we hiked over the isthmus to Hazard Bay. Hiking the isthmus trail was our first encounter with mosquitos, glad we had repellent. The Hazard Bay beach was magnificent, we arrived we saw one person several Km away and then a small family that came behind us from Wineglass Bay. Hiking these trails and seeing these beach made it easy to understand why films like Pirates of the Caribbean are filmed In Tasmania. The rest of the hike back to the parking area was long, hot, and dry. We started the hike with a liter and a half each and consumed it all by the time we finished. It was a big day 9.5 miles, 25,000 steps, and 8,100 feet of elevation gain and loss. Perhaps, this was one of the most rewarding days of our trip. Tasmania is really a very beautiful place.
This morning we were chomping at the bit to get out and hike early while it was still cool. These photos are from the first part of the hike up to a pass and the Wineglass Bay lookout, then down to Wineglass Bay. Please forgive my infatuation with the amazing creative stone steps along the trail.

22 December 2018

Dessert was a beautiful sunset from the deck of Lodge’s restaurant. Thinking the day could not get any better we got back to our little futuristic cabin to find some chocolates and a small decanter of Hellyer’s 10 year old single malt whiskey. In our thirty-four years of being together, this was perhaps the second or third time I have ever seen Jodi drink whiskey. Oh yeah, then the full moon rose over the bay just to make sure there was no slacking on the magic.
After getting of the shock of the futuristic cabin, we went for a walk and explored Honeymoon Bay before heading to dinner.
After a long day of driving we arrive at the Freycinet Lodge in Coles Bay. At the lodge reception we were checked-in by a delightfully friendly and authentic local named Jacqueline. She totally charmed us. It was an auspicious beginning, we got to “cabin” we were completely blown away by the view and very modern design. As you can see the views were off the hook, lots of glass, very European, and no right angles inside. The outside bath tube was a big hit with Jodi. We were encouraged by the staff to use the “deck nets” as hammocks. The net strategy made a lot sense by providing safety and not obstructing the awesome view.
It was a little sad driving out of the mountains and headed toward the east coast. Made a couple of stops along the way. The stop in Launceston was to look for a hat with the logo of local Australian Football (Footy) team or something with a distinctive Tasmanian logo. No such luck, I didn’t come all this way to buy Looney Toons image. The second stop was much more fun. After hearing about meat pies from the locals this whole trip, we finally found some in a little village called Campbell Town. According to some, meat pies are standard fair at sporting events and make up a large portion of the average working person’s lunch. The really were good, flakey crust with ground up seasoned meat with sauce. They come in a variety of flavors, beef, pork, chicken, and veggie. They tasted like a flakey version of an empanada with a lot less heat (spice).
The last morning at Cradle Mountain we did a pre-breakfast hike and pilgrimage to Fangorn forest. As the trail meanders back to the lodge it passes a small alpine pond surrounded by Seussian ground cover. To top of the magical moment a blond wallaby punctuated scene.

21 December 2018

Again, the evening walk did not disappoint, the marsupials were out in force. In spite of their apparent comfort with human, it was reassuring to see these critters in the “wild”, free, and not in captivity. The prickly pokey echidnas are totally adorable, you just want to pick them up and give them a hug. That of course would be totally unwise. The wallabies are like really big bunnies. So who designed the critters in Australia, clearly they had a great sense of humor.
From the lodge we caught a National Park shuttle bus up to Dove lake and the heart of Cradle Mountain-Lake St. Clair National Park. We did the 6.3km circuit around Dove lake, The temperature was balmy, not too hot, and we were treated to bluebird skis with a few white puffies. Being in the mountains on a day like this make us feel right at home. We had to include a picture with my new favorite hat. Most of my adult life I have been partial to ball caps. I’m over that obsession and now full embrace a hat that protects my ears, face and neck from the sun. Oh yeah, the chin strap is really handy in the wind. So what if I look a little like Matt Dillon’s sidekick, “Festus”, I love my new hat.

20 December 2018

After dinner on the walk back to our cabin we had our first wombat encounters. They are cute little vegetarians and come out at dusk to eat grass along the trails. They also leave a lot of scat around. One of the Cradle Mountain staff told us that wombats have “square colons, so the can better mark their territory.” Apparently, square poop does not not roll away and that is important when marking territory. That particular conversation caused us to look at a lot of wombat poop to see if it was actually square.
Arriving at the Cradle Mountain Lodge we settled into our quaint little cabin. Our second cabin with a gas fireplace, very helpful with our two morning temps of 6 and 7 decrees Celsius (42-44 F). After a short nap and lunch we when for hike to see giant tree called “King Billy”. As we entered the forest, we could not help but echo the words of an elderly Australian couple from the rental car parking lot, “It looks like something out Tolkien’s world.”
Because the penguin viewing was so close to the solstice the whole adventure ran late, with us not returning to the hotel until 11:35pm. Despite the late night we were excited to get up, pack, and head to the airport for our flight to Tasmania. It was a packed plane with lots of families headed out for the holidays. Our hearts went out to the parents and the fussy children who likely had to get up early and were not experiencing their normal routines. From the air Tasmania looks like paradise. Other than it raining cats and dogs for first hour of our drive, the land lived up to its first impression. Oh yeah, talk about a relaxed country, other than checking our boarding passes several times, not a single person ever asked to see our I.D. It felt a little strange and unsettling passing through “security” and making it all the way to our seats with no verification that we were the actual ticket holders. Is this how our would be if there was less fear?

19 December 2018

After the board walk, we sat down at the viewing area for the “Penguin Parade”. While we waited for it to get dark and the parade to begin we received a very thorough briefing in English and Chinese. The penguins are called “Little Penguins” (Eudyptula minor), the smallest of all penguin species. At 9:05pm the first penguins appeared in the water just off shore, as it got darker they began to venture onto shore. By 9:30pm it was full on parade as hundreds parents came ashore to feed their young. Apparently, these little guys go out at dawn spend the day eating and come back at night to regurgitate food for the fledglings. Note:Guests are not allowed to take photos of any kind after dusk. The Park does invite us to download photos from their online gallery. Hence, the first photos is mine and the others come from the Park website. I attempted to select the photos that most reflected our experience.
We arrived at the south end of Philips Island around 6pm had dinner and then headed out to the Philips Island Nature Reserve. Spectacular views from the board walk, even got to see a little penguin hiding under the board walk.
Again, we lucked out with our guided tour, there was only one other couple in our small van. Their names were Annie and John, both TV show writers. It sounded like one of those professions that was fun part of the time and a pain in the ass other times. The two hour drive to Phillip Island was broken up with a stop at wildlife sanctuary and a Smith Beach.
Back to Fitzroy-Treasury Gardens for morning walk before heading out for a guided tour in the afternoon.

18 December 2018

...When did this first happen? Was there a conversation around the fire, did anyone raise doubts or question the strategy of enslaving or killing others. I know that all sounds simplistic and it can be argued that limited resources and food drove was the primary driver for tribal and family conflicts. Still there had to be lots of conversations over thousands of years where some people questioned the strategies that created inequity. I mean, when some dude said, “I’m the chief” or whatever, did some say, “why you”? And how did it become okay for the earliest tribal leaders to gather so much power that they did not have to hunt or work? Was it just because they were the fittest or strongest, I don’t buy it. It feels like there was some sort of belief system or framework that spread or sprouted up, giving people permission exploit others. All of which leads to the question, will we ever get over this cruel system that says, it is okay for me to exploit others for my own benefit?
...the amazing and complex world we have today. I want to understand the DNA of colonization and how some people were able to commit such horrors as poisoning water holes for Aboriginal tribes. So when did it start? This continent was occupied for some 80,000 years before it was colonized. How did humans come to adopt the attitude that some people are more important or valuable than others? I’m sure some folks have written books about how this came about. As I recall, Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel, gave a fair assessment of the how technology impacted the growth of civilizations and how some cultures were able to dominate others. The question we struggled with was how did it become okay for for some humans to assume domination of others? What moved people to believe not everyone within their tribe or family was not equal in value? What made some people believe that it was normal for one tribe to exploit or enslave members of another tribe?...
The best part of the walk in the park was our conversation. Still processing the morning visit to the Koorie Heritage Center we were able to talk more about the DNA of colonization without getting too emotional. Having recently read Stephen Pinker’s latest book “Enlightenment Now” it is easier to understand the benefits that have come about from civilization. Fewer people are dying of starvation, more people than anytime in history have access to health care, clean water, and education. Despite the craziness of world politics fewer folks are dying in large scale conflicts and wars than any time in history. That and much more provides some hope and optimism for the world. What I’m learning is that the benefits and progress of civilization has come at a huge price. As beneficiaries we can not forget that our world wide civilization and all its progress came at a very real cost. Millions and millions of innocent people were terrorized, exploited, enslaved, and killed to give us...
Lunch was simple crackers peanut butter, apples, and small smoothies from the near by market. After lunch we explored Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens, essentially Melbourne’s version of Central Park. The park is 32 hectors (approximately 80 acres). My favorite spot was the People’ Path, the tiles were created over a year by members of the public attending various events. We also encountered “The Fairies Tree” and the Model Tudor Village.
Our self guided walking tour included a visit to Federal Square and the Koori Heritage Trust. This “Trust” was essentially a museum, gallery, cultural center, research facility for Aboriginal people. Photos were allowed in this center. We had a conversation with an employee who was wearing a black t-shirt with white letters that said, “Dismantle White Supremacy”. This experience was far less traumatic than the visit to the Brambuk Cultural Centre in Hall’s Gap. The facility itself was beautiful, clean, and familiar. Other than the artwork and content, the physical space was similar to any number of philanthropic foundations in the USA. For me it was familiar territory less disturbing, more dominant cultural normal and not pushing as much harsh reality all up in one’s grill. Still the message was same, this country (like ours) has long road ahead when it comes to reconciliation for its version of the Holocaust.
The exploration of Melbourne’s, began with 500m walk to Hosier Laine. One of several narrow ally like streets the city has designated as graffiti art zones.

17 December 2018

The GOR lives up to its name, great views of a majestic coastline. We stopped in the small coastal town of Apollo Bay for lunch at the Chopstick Noodle Bar. In addition to the good food and outdoor seating with an ocean view, the bathroom walls and ceiling are completely wallpapered with black and white anime comic book pages. Approaching Melbourne our nice little two lane “Road” turned into a multi-lane highway. Entering city and seeing graffiti over the road was strangely reassuring. The last three to photos are of our hotel, past/present, and the Dick Van Dyke bed set up.
Our 2nd stop on the GOR was the Cape Otway Lighthouse. It also served as radar station during WWII. The docent at the top of the light house pridefully shared the story of the Fresnel and how important these lenses were to the advancement of shipping and coastal navigation. My introduction to Fresnel was working stage crew in high school. The Fresnel lights were used extensively in the small theater at Oak Park River Forest High School. I had know idea those little stage lights had such a grand heritage.
December 17th we started our drive to Melbourne along the Great Ocean Road (GOR). Our first stop was at turn off for the “Great Ocean Hike”. This is starting point for a 100 Km backpacking trail with a recommended travel time of 8 days. After all this driving, we thought there should be photo of our rental car.
Breakfast in our little Port Campbell “Villa”, more like a small condo. Being by the sea created a phenomenon that we don’t often see at home, wisps of steam rising from the coffee. I’m guessing this ghostly site is caused by high humidity and hotter coffee due to the higher boiling point.

16 December 2018

The Twelve Apostles rock formations definitely are biblical in their beauty, and the crowds were biblical in proportion. Tip, visit them in the morning before the crazy bus tours arrive in the afternoon. I say crazy because the folks on the bus tours got up early and boarded buses at 7:30 and 8:00am. Then a 6 to 7 hour ride with additional sight seeing and lunch stops along the way. They spend a couple hours at the Apostles and Loch Ard before returning to Melbourne, arriving around 7 or 8 in the evening.
The Grotto, first stop on our day trip exploring sites east of Port Campbell.
Lunch at the Grassroots Deli in Port Campbell wrapped up with hot coco and a flat white. The light coming through the carving on the back of the chair was too much to pass up.
Before returning to Port Campbell, we fond a nice little hike to a secluded overlook where we treated to a quiet moment and entertained by some radical surfers. Yes, it is clear that a better camera would have gotten better photos of the surfers. Still it was fun watching them with binoculars.
Photos from a hike above the bay of Martyrs. The last photo in this set includes a surfer in area that had no beach access, clearly professionals. Apologies for the poor photo quality here. Still trying to decide is bringing a nicer camera is worth it. It is tough to beat the ease of using my phone (a first world dilemma).
At the Bay of Martyrs we did walk along the beach provided a nice break from overlooks and “scenic sites”.
Pre breakfast 3.8km hike along the cost starting in Port Campbell, it was cool and quiet. We only saw one other person on the hike.

15 December 2018

After dinner we walked out to the Port Campbell dock. The evenings entertainment included checking out folks fishing, watching surfers, and getting treated with a nice sunset.
Before checking into our lodging we began our exploration of the Great Ocean Road. The coast line to the east and west of Port Campbell is made up of dramatic sand stone cliffs and rock formations. Apparently, this coast line is one of the most rugged in the world, with lots of ship wrecks. This is a bit of an exaggeration, yet it felt like at every scenic overlook there was plaque describing the ships that wrecked on the rocks below, with stories of who survived and how many parishes. Driving west we visited Loch Ard Gorge and a thing called the “Collapsed London Bridge”.

14 December 2018

The close of our Grampians day included a visit to the Brambuk Aboriginal Cultural Center. The Cultural Center was both a celebration of Aboriginal life, culture and art, and a heart breaking experience. The exhibits contained numerous beautiful artifacts, photos and stories. There was also a clear documentation of the killings, kidnappings, and systematic cultural suppression. The wounds of this nation, like ours, are going to take a long time to heal. Sorry, only a photo of the outside of the Brambuk Cultural Center, talking photos inside was prohibited. We could not pass up the opportunity to check out the “Black Panther Cafe”. On our way back to our cabin we saw our third echidna, I think we freaked it out a little by getting out of the car, notice how it burrowed itself in to the leaves and ground cover. All in all, it was another wonderful day in Australia.
Continuing our exploration of Grampians National Park included stopping at Reid Lookout, hiking to “The Balconies”, and hiking into McKenzie Falls.
Grampians National Park: we explored the Splitters Falls trail. The heavy rains caused the stream to run red and create piles of snowy foam. The foam and the color transformation comes from the red loam soil created by the red gum eucalyptus tree. A few of the human enhanced trail features were fantastic. A boulder walk way looked like it was built by trolls and the narrow stone steps felt like they came right out of a Tolkien book.

13 December 2018

The “cabin” at Halls Gap was perfect, set in nice in the woods. The Kangaroos even came by for a visit. I know it is hard to see, clearly I need a better camera, but the last two photo show an Eastern Gray female with joey poking its head out.
This day started with making a great breakfast. Soft boiled eggs are so much easier to time at sea level than at altitude. Drove about 4 hours and 320 Km east to Halls Gap in the heart Grampians National Park. Big storm blew in during the night rained hard in Robe. We drove across beautiful farm land and wine country in what was left of the storm. Everyone we talked to was very happy to get the rain. Apparently, the drought was so bad last year the whole country almost ran out of hay and feed.

12 December 2018

Picked up the rental car at the airport and drove 4 hours to Robe, a small coastal town on the eastern edge of South Australia, near the boarder of Victoria. Of course we had to stop at worlds largest Lobster in Kingston on the Princess Highway. We stayed only one night in Robe at a lovely little B & “Generously provisioned” B. The provided coffee, a French press, eggs, yogurt, bread (and GF bread) fruit, butter, milk, OJ, cereal, and tomato. We also did laundry using their washer and hung clothes out on the cloths line, a drier was available if the weather was bad. Dinner that evening was at a lovely little restaurant called Indulge, great food and service, Perhaps, one of the best meals of the whole trip. All said, Robe was nice little stop on our way to the mountains and Grampians National Park.

11 December 2018

Our last evening on Kangaroo Island was celebrated with a spectacular sunset. As always, photos never to justice to the real thing.
Seal Bay Conservation Park. The Australian Sea Lions protected at Seal Bay are very rare, only 12,000 estimated left on the planet. The scientists are not sure why the population is not growing. It was a treat to watch the playful young seals harass each other and disturb the parents trying to rest in the sun.
Lathmai Conservation Park and our first sighting of a Echidna. Really cute little buggers. [Echidnas, sometimes known as spiny anteaters, belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. The four extant species, together with the platypus, are the only surviving members of the order Monotremata, and are the only living mammals that lay eggs.]
Stokes Beach, with a fun “Joint Trail” like access.
Last day on Kangaroo Island and a small group tour became a private tour with a guide named Mary. Our tour on the previous day was an East-West trip, this day was a Northside-Southside trip culminating at Seal Bay. The day started with usual over the top breakfast spread before Mary took us to her partner’s farm to see some sheep getting sheared.

10 December 2018

Back at the farm and a post dinner “Under the Stars” tour of the farm. Apparently, most marsupials are nocturnal. Oh yeah, and the stars were brilliant and only partially recognizable.
Our first Koala and some very frisky kangaroos.
Admiral’s Arch with fur seals and petrified tree roots that look similar to stalactites.
Toasting our guide (2nd from the left) and our amazing lunch spot.
Our lunch spot near the storage/warehouse for the Cape du Couedic lighthouse.
Vacation faces at the “Remarkable Rocks” ( Okay, who comes up with these names?)
One of the several species of Kangaroo island golf course grounds keepers, the Sand Gianna lizard.
After breakfast traveled to Flinders Chase National Park and visited the Remarkable Rocks and the Cape du Couedic lighthouse, and Admirals Arch.   On the way we had to stop and check out the home of the Kangaroo Island Open and championship golf course, the Samedi Golf Links.
Kangaroo Island started with a pre breakfast hike around the farm (ranch).  Saw my first Kangaroo and a bit of the farm history.

9 December 2018

Flew to Adelaide, then to Kangaroo Island.  Settled in to our stay at the Stranraer Homestead.   This active farm  (their term, definitely a  “ranch”) is on 3,000 acres and has some 3,000 ewes .  They recently sold off 3,000 lambs  for meat.  Huge operation, kind of surprised they had the time or space to host guests.    The hosts Lyn and Graham are delightful people.  The accommodations beautiful and relaxing.  The food was off the hook !!
Our laundry, dried in minutes in the low humidity. Sweet farm dogs and big skies.

8 December 2018

Hiking in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.
City Farm Fairfield,  west edge of Sydney.  Farm and animal rescue site.

7 December 2018

Our Aboriginal guide tells us how her people are connected to nature and with each other by a interweaving aspects of a highly nuanced culture and  a beautiful personal and family history. Our guide also shared stories about how in some cities/regions 100% of the youth prisoners are Aboriginal, and how gentrification in the larger cities is re-traumatizing the aboriginal populations.  It is such a beautiful country it is hard to imagine that it behaved as badly as South Africa until 1967. The adventure continues…
I get it, wrapping ones arms around the concept of being a beneficiary of colonization is not unlike trying to understand how gravity works by embracing the general theory of relativity. It is a lot easier to just accept that gravity works and never reflect on the complexity of our universe. I’m repeatedly faced with same damn choice, embrace complexity and discomfort or seduce myself with a simple or shallow rational.  I feel like I should be all noble and courageous but, I hate facing that choice every time it comes up. Visiting Australia is both stunningly beautiful and deeply tragic. The horrors of colonization and its painful legacy of racism stands in stark contrast to the magnificent landscape, beautiful creatures, and friendly people.
Yes, being black diminished some of my privilege and created some headwinds. Mostly, it created very real risks and vulnerabilities related to navigating the social, public, and non-professional, pathways and streets of my home country. Then there is the baggage that is so damn big it can’t be checked and must be shipped.  The contents of this baggage fills millions of shipping containers and requires thousands of trains and container ships to move.  Containers filled with the immeasurable sorrows, devastated families, and the insane horrors of genocide and slavery that resulted from colonization. There is no way one person can move that baggage.  It is impossible for me avoid the fact that I am the direct beneficiary of massive injustice and pain that has been carried out for centuries.  My wealth and privilege came at a huge price. Sometimes I’m totally astounded that some of peers walk this world in total denial of the price of their privilege.
So why me, why us? I know that I have worked hard in my life, still this privilege feels unearned. Being able to fly to the other side of the planet comes with a lot of non-physical baggage.  My work, travels, and being exposed to numerous social justice warriors and leaders has made it impossible to ignore my status as beneficiary. My roll on baggage is includes the obvious, being born male, in the USA, and in the upper end of middle class.  My imaginary checked baggage contains access to great public schools, growing up in a crime mostly free neighborhood, and being told the world was mostly mine for there me to explore and participate.  A message I later learned was very different from the messages my white male friends received growing up, “The world is your oyster” or “The world is yours for the taking”.
The 17 hour flight provided lots of time to reflect when not sleeping or eating. The concept of privilege keeps surfacing.  Who gets to do what we are are doing?  How many people have the ability to get on a plane and fly to the other side of the planet?  Is it fair to assume most people who travel this way just take it for granted?   What does it cost to travel 8,500+ miles, most of the time above 40,000 ft (12,200km)? Oh, and the outside temp a balmy -77F, it feels like freaking space travel.
Our small group walking tour of the Rocks area in Sydney with an aboriginal guide turned into a private tour, no one else showed up. No photos from this day other than the lunch smoothie, flower and Ibis. Taking photos did not seem respectful and may have changed the intimate and intense nature of the conversation with our guide. It was one of those moments when even asking to take a photo felt awkward. That said, the experience made an indelible mark on our souls and hearts, it was a gift.

6 December 2018

Aussie in your face humor. Yes, there really is a place in the harbor called “Manly”.
Sydney architecture, numerous contrasts and great preservation strategies.
Shepard Fairey’s “The Peace Waratah’”, kind of fun seeing the artist who created the Obama Hope poster going really big.
Day 1 Sydney’s City Christmas tree at Martin Place on the Pitts Street Mall

5 December 2018

The street sign outside the front door of our hotel 😊

4 December 2018

Duh! Who’s washcloth? The adventure begins...