Australia Travelogue – update / last day

Well, it’s early evening on the last day of my stay in Aus. I just got back from the Hawksbury show (a kind of fall fair type type dealie) and have been packing up and preparing for my flight home. It occurred to me just now that my last post was on a bit of a grumpy note, so I’m taking a break from packing to reassure everyone that I’m in a much better mood now and that my trip has been great.

To my family and friends from Australia: Thanks for making my trip really special. I’m glad I met / spent time with you, and I’ll think fondly of you whenever I look back on this trip.

To my family and friends in Toronto: I missed you! I’m really excited to get to see you again. Soooooon.

Look out for more posts (hopefully) as I sort through my pictures and finally upload the rest of the days I’ve missed!


Australia travelogue – no update today

It has been raining all the rain and it’s cold and muddy and I’m tired and homesick  and I am not in a picture-sorting mood. (Don’t get me wrong: me being grumpy right now doesn’t mean I’m not having a good time, or that I’m not glad I’m here.) So no update today. You’re not really ending up a day behind, since I haven’t been taking many pictures today: refer to the aforementioned rain and mud and general grumpiness.

Australia Travelogue – Day 6 – Travelling to Pebbly Beach, and ANIMALS

Left Canberra in the morning. I forgot to mention that part of the reason we were there was to visit another one of C’s cousins and his family. I was so jet-lagged that I barely got to see them, which was too bad because I’ve heard many good things. They were very sweet as I stumbled zombie-like around their house, and patient with me in my befuddled state.

We were thinking of going to see the War Memorial but decided we didn’t really have time, so we headed out in the early afternoon.

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The trip was nice. We drove through a lot of farmland, which meant I saw a lot of sheep and cows and things.

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We crested a mountain and drove back down on this incredibly steep, squiggly road. The drop-off was right beside the road, and a very, very long way down. Every so often, there were these raised ramp things (I didn’t get a picture, but you can see an example on this blog) so that if your brakes fail partway through, you can just gain speed while you swing around several sharp curves, cut across 3 lanes of traffic at full speed, and hopefully roll to a stop before you fall off the mountain. The really scary part is that there were several tire track marks in the sand bed. It was pretty intense, but C got us down just fine.

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We stopped to buy groceries in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. We went to a cute fish shop and bought oysters and prawns (I also wandered off to look at carpets and shoes in the two adjoining shops when the fishy smell got too much for me) and then to a pretty standard grocery store.

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Pebbly beach was amazing, right from the start. There were approximately a billion kangaroos, and they tended to just hang out on the lawn out back of our cabin and chill. During the entire time I was there, I can’t recall ever seeing fewer than 6 or seven kangaroos out back at a time, and usually there was way more.

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Wood fire barbeque! c toasted marshmallows after dinner, but we weren’t sure if they were gf so I just vicariously enjoyed watching her eat them.

Later on, a fuzzy visitor appeared and acted veeery interested in the marshmallows.

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“Give them to me.”

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Someone ran inside and grabbed me a few pieces of bread from the loaf of sourdough we bought…

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And I made a new friend! ❤

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Australia Travelogue – Day 5 – Canberra! (Art gallery)

We went to the art gallery! It was amazing.

My favourite piece of art in the gallery (and one of my favourite ever):
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From the plaque by the entrance:

The Aboriginal Memorial is an installation of 200 hollow log ceremonial coffins from Central Amhem Land. The Aboriginal Memorial was created for the National Gallery of Australia in 1987-88 in response to the Bicentenary of Australia, which marked 200 years of European settlement. The path through the installation imitates the course of the Glyde River estuary that flows through the Arafura Swamp to the sea. The hollow log coffins are situated broadly according to where the artists’ clans live along the river and its tributaries. […]

The project grew to include 43 artists […] from Ramingining and its surrounds in Central Amhem Land.

Comprising 200 hollow log coffins (one for each year of European settlement), and is, in the words of Mundine, ‘like a large war cemetery, a war memorial for all those Aboriginal people who dies defending their country’. […]

While it is intended as a war memorial, it is also a historical statement, a testimony to the resilience of Indigenous people and culture in the face of great odds, and a legacy for future generations of Australians.”

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Details from a few of the poles. I took about a million pictures of these; they were incredible.

A few other really cool pieces:
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Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri, Anmatyerr people
Bush-fire II
1972 Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory
synthetic polymer paint on composition board

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Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Pintopi people
Sunrise chasing away the night
1977 Papunya, Western Desert, Northern Territory
synthetic polymer pain on composition board

The other really cool exhibit was an overview of Australian art from 1850-1950. Much like in Canada, European settlers were tried to paint a totally new landscape using the techniques and preconceptions they’d learned painting Europe. Much like in Canada, the results range from bizarre to terrible.

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If it’s not instantly obvious to you why this painting is terrible, hold on for a few days and I’ll post a side-by-side comparison with an actual Australian rainforest.

Eventually, though, artists started to get the picture (see what I did there? I’m hilarious!). Heidelberg Tradition refers to a group of Australian artists who played a similar role in Australian art as Canada’s Group of Seven (when I say Group of Seven, I’m usually also referring to Tom Thompson and Emily Carr, because their work was so linked). My impression (get it? get it!?) is that Heidelberg tradition seems much less experimental than Group of Seven – the Group of Seven created new visual languages to describe Canada, whereas the artists of the Heidelberg tradition modified existing visual tools. In other news, Arthur Streeton has joined the esteemed ranks of “artists who are my favourite”, alongside Lauren Harris, Emily Carr, and a bunch of other people whose names I can’t recall just now without internet access. Good job, good sir!

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Walter Withers
1893 Creswick, Victoria
oil on canvas
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J Miller Marshall
Fossicking for gold
1893 Creswick, Victoria
oil on canvas

This was cool. Basically, Heidelberg tradition was just a group of artists who painted together sometimes – they didn’t have any officially alignment with each other as far as I could tell. So there was one place in the museum where you can see two artists’ takes on the exact same scene – they must have been sitting within a few feet of each other to get such similar angles.

Also! Some of the paintings were ridiculously tiny – this was apparently because at points Streeton and Conder were so poor that they went to a relative’s cigar shop and asked for the empty boxes to paint on. This story was told to me by a random security guard at the museum, so it may or may not be true, but (either way) it is definitely awesome.

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Outdoor art is cool. Maybe the giant pears are going to be fed to the sheep.

Australia travelogue – day 4, for reals – travelling mostly

Today consisted basically of packing up and getting ready to go to Pebbly Beach. C’s cousin Jo came by and brought us snacks: kangaroo-shaped crackers for c (they’re a lot like goldfish crackers), and mini rice cakes and an ENTIRE CHOCOLATE CAKE for me. Well, we shared the chocolate cake. We talked about what nursing training used to be like, and I realised how much I don’t know about the histories of the adults in my life. Spoiler alert: a lot.

We stopped outside what I can only assume was a 1:1 scale model of a regular sized Merino (a type of sheep), and arrived in Canberra in the early evening.

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GF chocolate cake, packed up to go on the trip with us. Not shown: the quarter of the cake we ate for breakfast.

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The sheep here are much bigger than the ones in Canada.
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Australia Travelogue Day 3 – Beach!

Writing these at the end of the day means you get me at my most sleepiest. Enjoy the magic.

My dad was going to the university in Sydney to have a meeting with this guy (an important space guy, actually. Pretty awesome. He was a big deal on the Mars rovers.) so we drove him into Sydney and then C and c and I went to DA BEACH. C brought boogie boards, and c and I brought SO MUCH ENTHUSIASM (and a camera, on my part – hence the pictures!) and it was awesome. C has the only pictues of me boogie boarding, so I can’t show you that, but it was super fun and RIDICULOUSLY tiring. Also, there were these amazing clifs and I went on a walk by myself along the cliff tops and it was also super great. Dunno how much explanation this set of pictures really needs. Drop me a comment if you have questions about any of them! Actually comment anyway, I like knowing that people are reading / interested. To the people I know IRL who are reading this: I love you lots! I miss you! To anyone else, sup. Thanks for checking out my blog.

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Passion fruit with breakfast! SO DELICIOUS. Seriously. Had my first passion fruit yesterday, and it was awesome, but today I remembered to take a picture.

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This is the guy. The space guy. I shook his hand, which means I’m either 2 or 3 degrees from Curiosity, depending on if he ever actually touched it while doing mission planning. (Z, I’ll see if I can get you an introduction. Obviously. <3)

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I saw this great bird. I think it’s an ibis? Or something? Anyway it’s great.

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