Tag Archives: Australia

Home is the Traveller ..

After deciding I would start posting regularly to this blog, I then had the good fortune to be away for the last 9 days. I left my iPad at home as I had assumed that there’d  be no WiFi – mistakenly assumed as it turned out.

We had a wonderful trip on the South Australian end of the Murray River, travelling on a small boat called the “Proud Mary”.  The only bad part, was that I’d forgotten to take my camera.

I spent some of my childhood in Swan Hill and have strong memories of camping along the Murray River with my father. However, the South Australian end is so different – whilst I remember tall river red gums bringing relief from the heat of the long, flat, dusty roads – and the silence except for the bird calls, our trip was marked by the tall sandstone cliffs that the river ran along. I had no idea that they existed. The other surprise was the amount of so many small holiday communities and small towns. My memories of over 60 years ago are peppered with the absence of civilisation. Perhaps the NSW end of the Murray has changed in that way also – and I’m now consumed with a burning desire to revisit the places of my early childhood to see if the same sort of changes have occurred.

The boat we were on was quite unremarkable in appearance, however the large living/dining area was nicely decorated with wood panelling and carpet reminiscent of grander  days. The cabins were quite small but adequate but the bathroom used river water in the basin taps and toilet and I assume in the shower. This meant using drinking water for teeth cleaning and an inability to rinse any light coloured items of clothing because of the colour of the river water. Not the end of the world, although a couple of times I found myself wetting my toothbrush under the tap immediately after placing a glass of clean water on the shelf!

The food on the boat was magnificent.  Jack,  our Mauritian chef, and  his offsider did a magnificent job.  We all came home several kilos lighter  heavier – I haven’t weighed yet and might wait a while so I don’t get such a shock 😉

Each day we docked somewhere along the way and either did a nature walk with the Captain, or transferred to a bus for a visit to a local highlight – an  almond farm, a small local school with an impressive and different approach to learning, a flat-bottomed boat trip though the wetlands and more. Our bus driver was a charming and knowledgable young-ish local who provided us with  excellent information along the way.

This is a trip I can highly recommend. One tip: if possible, get a cabin on the top deck – you’ll have more stairs to deal with, but some people found the noise of the engines a distraction when they were trying to sleep. When we docked overnight at an established mooring there was access to connect to the electricity network, but at other places the engines had to keep going at a lower pace at night for the lighting and air conditioning  and probably for the pumps to provide water etc.

Advertisements

A Room With a View …

Room with a view

What a wonderful country we have.

It’s nearly February!

Or so it seems – the days, months and years fly by so quickly.

We had a long, lazy Christmas this year. The Flea family and various out-laws and assorted relatives took over the  Merimbula Beach Holiday Park for  a fortnight. The weather was good – not too hot but not cold, the cabins we rented were more than adequate for our needs, there two swimming pools to keep the younger and/or more energetic Fleas  busy, and the beach was just a short walk down the hill.  Just right for a teenage gidget to practise on her board. Heaven! We can recommend it as a holiday destination for all ages.

There is a fabulous board walk around the bay that goes for a couple of kilometres  – there are places to sit and take in the view, an art gallery along the way and  a cafe at the end:DSC02472

DSC02488

 

Lots of interesting rock formations (or ‘interesting geological features’ as the family geographer  likes to say):
DSC02476DSC02475Mangroves – trees I never liked when I was young, but love now that I appreciate their role in the ecosystem:

DSC02477

DSC02482

 

DSC02487

 

Lots of little crabs  emerged from their holes, stood stock still or scuttled back inside when they realised we were there, or undertook a fascinating process that looked like they were throwing water onto their faces -?into their mouths? We could have watched them for hours but it started to rain so we turned for home:DSC02491 DSC02480 DSC02479And that was just Day One! We all slept well that night , with the roar of the sea as our lullaby.

 

 

Driven to Post ….. by The Kings School

I’ve been quiet for a long time, but my letterbox has driven me to this. Did you see Jane Caro on The Drum last week?  She expressed opinions about Australia’s treatment of refugees and the funding of education that said eloquently, forcefully and far better than I could, the things that I feel.

But it is the education issue that has driven me to this. Last week I received a Christmas “card” in the letter box – obviously part of a letter box drop to a large number of people. Was I pleased to receive it? Far from it. This card was from one of Australia’s wealthiest private schools. A privileged school amongst many, that receives large amounts of Australian taxpayers’ money. I could say a lot more, but I think the card speaks for itself – why does this school need Federal funding if it can afford to bombard the not-so-local community with this waste of paper?

Far from bringing me “Christmas Cheer”, I could weep for the children that don’t have the educational opportunities afforded to this privileged few.

The cynic in me says it’s to do with the recent negative publicity the school has received. We have never received a “card” before. What do you make of it?

Kings002Kings001

The Fleas Are Hopping Again…

After a longish break I feel reinvigorated and am missing my blog – so here we are again.

I’ve changed the header to a photo from Kyoto – we had a short visit there last year – and while wandering around the backstreets came across a little piece of Australia – it was so delightful to see our familiar foliage growing from a tiny patch of dirt in such a crowded place – eucalypts and a wattle – bliss.

I’m outraged ….

that so much outrage is expressed by the general public about animal cruelty; that politicians large and small jump up and down and call for action to be taken; that immediate halts are called to prevent further abuse from those abattoirs where it is known to happen. Why am I so outraged? It’s not because I don’t care about animal cruelty and cruel and inhumane ways of dealing with living creatures – it’s precisely because I DO CARE about these things.

Why does the plight of animals attract this expression of outrage and subsequent action, when the plight of refugees seeking asylum in Australia fails to evoke the same response?

Reading the letters to the editor in the Herald this morning, the hypocrisy and irony were glaringly obvious. Why is locking up people for indeterminate periods, sometimes years, without recourse to the Australian judicial system any better than the cruelty perpetrated on animals going to slaughter? Try reading the relevant parts of those letters, substituting “refugees” for “cows” etc – it should make you think.

Why is it not cruel to keep children in captivity for long periods of time? Why did the government promise that this would not be the case, when there was apparently little intention to ease the situation? Does no one care?

Why is it cruel to let an animal watch its fellow creatures being slaughtered when it is apparently acceptable to allow people in detention watch their fellow detainees self harm and commit suicide? Why is that not cruel? Do the cries for help from human beings mean less than the anguished noises of other suffering animals?

Why, when the medical profession is calling Australia’s current detention practices a breeding ground for mental illness, are those practices allowed to continue? Are politicians more knowledgable about mental health issues? Don’t make me laugh.

Why are there calls for animal processing to be carried out on Australian shores when it is acceptable to ship refugees off to Malaysia, a country which is not a signatory to the UN convention on the treatment of refugees and a country which has an appalling human rights record? Why is that acceptable?

Perhaps it is felt that refugees had a choice while the cows did not – after all, if they didn’t try to come to Australia by boat, they wouldn’t be locked up. The reality is the choices they have are no choice at all – remain in their home countries and face inhumane treatment, persecution and perhaps death – or remain in terrible conditions in one of the many refugee camps around the world. If it’s such a good option, why do they embark with their families on unseaworthy boats with an unknown chance of reaching the Australian coast alive. Only the desperate would undertake such a voyage.

Think about it.

Shame, Julia, Shame!

What else needs to be said? Kevin Rudd lost the support of the Australian people because of his backflip on climate change, and now Julia Gillard is heading that way because of her shameful Malaysia solution for refugees. A wise person once said We want a Prime Minister who inspires and leads, is passionate, principled, spontaneous and not frightened to depart from the script written by the back-room boys – oh! that was me! 🙂 How many times does it need to be said before someone listens?

The Greens are looking better everyday.