Okay, this place is huge. Australia is as large as the US (48 states) and has only 50 percent more people than Los Angeles, so there are vast amounts of beautiful land with no people. Quite diverse too - from rainforests to desert outback; big cities to earth loving communes; and some of the most unique animal species in the world.
It’s been another whole new experience here in Australia. After spending some time in Melbourne where we met up with Alicia (whom we met in Amsterdam last December) and went to our first Aussie rules football game, we decided that we would hitchhike. Not just to save money, but to meet interesting people. And we have. 5 rides so far, one of which was 3 days! (see Hitchhiking at My Age?)
We worked a few days at the permaculture center (WOOF = Working On Organic Farm) by planting onion, beet root, and celery seedlings in exchange for some food. Robyn’s permaculture farm was amazing. Her motto is "pragmatic in an ecologically sensitive way". So many eco designed systems that integrate water, irrigation, natural filtration treatment, soil, edible landscapes, dams, living fences, composting, chickens, geese, ducks, fish, prawns, bees, butterflies, birds, herbs, fruits, veggies, cooling etc. Thousands of species live together harmoniously on this little farm and they take no water from the city. We had hoped to live on the farm for at least a few days but apparently the couple we'd be sharing accommodation with were having some sort of marital issues.
May 28, Reconciliation DayToday is Reconciliation Day in Australia - for the aboriginals who’ve never signed a treaty and had a generation stolen (whites were allowed to take a baby from its parents if either parent was black, and put it in a foster home). Reconciliation Day recognizes all the injustices done to the Aborigines (like Americans did to the Indians). They expected 100,000 to march in Sydney, but ended up with 250,000! We marched in the streets of Nimbin with about 50 people, had our faces painted with the symbol of Mother Earth by an Aboriginal guy, crossed a symbolic bridge and then sang a traditional nundjalung song. Then a few aboriginal elders said some words. We were proud to be part of such a special day!
May 30We decided hitching was taking too long, so tomorrow we are renting a car for 3 days. Thanks Mom for faxing our drivers licenses - saved our butts! Some Leslie travel notes - I love the lingo here, hate how ugly my feet have gotten, and would like some cuter clothes. Also, for anyone who was wondering how long it would take for us to want to kill each other, I would put the date at May 22. Things are back to normal now.
Jun 7, Leavin' AustraliaDarwin. Now leaving Australia for Indonesia. Oz was truly great, the land of extremes. One month was definitely not enough to do it justice.
Things I'd like to see on the next trip: Fraser Island, Whitsundays, 12 apostles, Uluru, aboriginal culture, Darwin, Daintree (and other) rainforests, croc feeding, Tasmania, Perth, and a platypus.
The people are very laid back, down to earth, rugged, and caring. Their sense of humor is acute and they can take the piss out of just about any culture. the lingo is great: good on ya mate, no worries, spot on, full on, fair dinkum, cuppa, go on, bisquit, whatya reckon, how ya going mate, mozzies, servo, shout me a beer, eh?, bloke, bludger, digger, cobber, esky (cooler), icy pole, lolly, dodgy, pom (brit), piss (beer), reggo, road train, root (screw), saltie (croc), sheila (babe).
They seem to not mind if things move slowly or are uncultured. We met several Americans who were on holiday, but now want to move here. As Jacob said, "I've adopted Australia, now if only Australia will adopt me." Local joke: Whats the difference between an Aussie bloke and a cup of yogurt? The yogurt has more culture.