Friday, October 19, 2012

Icing the Equator

It was snowing back home, or trying to, when I finally landed in Australia. Today was new firsts for me.  It was the first time I had crossed the equator.  It was the first time I crossed both the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.  It was the first time I was in Australia.  I had neglected this blog during this trip, so I am retro posting because I did want to document along the way my journey and actually reflect on this journey that taught me about our cousins.  There is a saying about how everything tries to kill you in this country, I supposed that could have been said about the new world when they colonized it centuries ago.  With regard to Europe, it seems they have always had a concern about population size, and so many were forced to leave Europe and find their fortunes in either the New World, or if they were in Debtors prisons, forced to make the journey to Australia.  I had lived in the United Kingdom for two years during the end of the Thatcher administration.  One thing I observed was their class system, it's so pronounced there.  That need to be titled, positioned or well healed and their subservience to the royals.  I observed the tax battles first hand when the ill fated poll tax proved to be the fatal blow to end the career of Margaret Thatcher.  
But it's not 1990, and I am not in the United Kingdom.  What is the best way to describe Australia at first blush?  They have their own brand of English and the people are incredibly down to earth.  In Queensland, it was not uncommon to see people walking into the local stores "black footing", which mean sans shoes and socks.  I resisted the urge to be snobbish and smiled and people would say g'day to me.  I was quiet at first as I listen to the rate and color of their speech.  They had their own language and coarse wording, but what I noticed about so many people was their incredible love of exploration and they knew their history.
When I first arrived, the driver was telling me about the horrible droughts they were having in Allora, which is an incredibly small town where the author, P. L. Travers grew up.  Those of you who have read the "Mary Poppins" series will know who P. L. Travers is.  I hadn't know that she had spent her childhood here before I arrived, but it's kind of a funny thing, because I would say about myself, "I'm like Mary Poppins, I go where I am needed."  It's also the location of a small museum that houses a replica of the Talgai skull that was found here, estimations range from 9 to 11 thousand years old.  For religions based on the story of Adam and Eve, that throws a horrible wrench into that theory.  The original skull is housed elsewhere, in the Shellshear Museum, Department of anatomy at the Sydney University, but nonetheless, the replica is housed their small museum.  I thought it was interesting that Allora township in Darling Downs actually sold the skull instead of donating it.  
 It was an incredible drive from Brisbane to Allora, and I have a habit of shooting photographs out the window, because it helps me to keep the moment alive when I go someplace new.  The weather was terrifically warm and I was very happy to have stowed my winter coat in my luggage.  Here, spring was coming to an end and the very beginning of summer was upon them.
 I was getting use to the altitude of their small pass, and was shown and told about the aboriginal affection for these mountains, which the driver apologized for their lack of size and said, "well, they're really not mountains, more like hills, but to us, they're our mountains."  The aboriginal people call two particular mountains 'the guardians', not allowing anything bad into the outback.  I was only able to get a quality shot of the one below.  I have to say that I felt like Dorthy, in the Wizard of Oz.  Only I wasn't off to see the Wizard or looking for a place called home and I have only passed through Kansas and have no desire to return there anytime soon.

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