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Australia

Visiting family and friends

Melbourne

Luna Park St Kilda

After four hours of blasting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere we landed in Melbourne Australia. We moved quickly through baggage claim, customs, and the border patrol to arrive at the car rental dispatch. Here we picked up our hybrid car and began pouring more carbon into the atmosphere. All this while Australia is on fire. If you see our actions as irresponsible, they are. This is the conundrum of modern life. I have no excuse for my actions, only love for my family and friends.

Melbourne by Port Phillip Bay

The drive to our accommodation in Seaford took us down the Beach Road, one of the most scenic drives in Melbourne. On one side of this magnificent road are many modern grandly designed homes and on the other side is, the stupendous Port Phillip Bay. In my life I have driven this road many times and traveling it has always been a pleasure, it still is.

Seaford

Kananook Creek

Fortunately, there are several walks accessible from our new home in Seaford. We walked into Frankston via the Kananook Creek walk this day. This creek was an open sewer when I lived in Australia over 30 years ago, but today it is mostly restored. Kananook Creek is a good example of what we can do when we set our minds to it. Though we did see a shopping cart full of empty beer cans on this otherwise lovely trail.

This day the temperatures soared to 40 degrees Celsius and above. This heat drew Julia and I to the golden sand beach across the road from our new Seaford home where we swam in the cool water and dried-off in the extremely hot air. The weather also changed the wind direction, which filled the air with smoke from the many bush fires to the northeast of Melbourne.

The Never Ending Story

Today we watched the latest installment of the perpetual Star Wars story. This unending story has continued for most of my life, and I'm 62 years young now. It seems clear that people love a good story even if it is the same one retold over and over again.

Relationships

The main purpose of our trip to Australia is to visit with family and friends. This we have done and continue to do. When you haven't seen people for a long time it is wonderful to see how they have changed and how they have not. So it has been, as we revisit old relationships and share old and new stories. Again, we all love stories. In fact, one could argue that we are not much more than a collection of stories; the story of us.

Relaxing

Today we spent the day at the Peninsula Hot Springs soaking in their thermal waters. Taking these waters was very soothing and very social as we spent hours talking to other guests also soaking in the waters.

Unfortunately for me, I had completely forgotten how harsh the Australian sun is. The ozone layer, although much improved since I lived here 30 years ago, is still very thin at these latitudes. This makes prolonged exposure to the Australian sun very dangerous. I got very, very burned from sitting in the warm pools without proper protection. Well, this particular story has returned to me now, with a vengeance.

Eating

Fortunately for me, no matter where in the world we might be, if there is a kitchen, Julia will be cooking. Here you can see her preparing dinner and making scones. I must say her cooking is delicious. I do play a small part in these culinary delights; I wash the dishes.

Mornington Peninsula

Hiking the coastline of the Mornington Peninsula is always a wonderful experience. Today we hiked one of the most beautiful sections of this breathtaking shoreline, Cape Shank to Gunnamatta Beach. The walk took us through a complex jungle of plants and trees, across extensive sandy beaches, and the crisscrossing of many gnarly rockpools. It was a long hike in the hot sun, but it was worth the effort.

Taradale

When, in 1960 my family migrated to Australia from England, we left behind many aunts, uncles, and cousins. Some had gone before us to Australia and had in fact enticed my mother and father to take the risk of uprooting their family to live in a foreign and remote country. But most had stayed behind in old blighty to continue their lives uninterrupted by the many traumas of immigration. Despite the risks, some of my cousins immigrated later with their families. One such cousin is Philip. He invited Julia and I to come visit hm and his wife Mary on their remote property in Taradale, Victoria.

Taradale is a very small town. It is located beside the Calder Highway between Melbourne and Bendigo. Its local government area is the Shire of Mount Alexander. At the 2016 census, Taradale had a population of 448 and many, many more Kangaroos, Wallabies, Cockatoos, and Kookaburras.

My cousin Philip is a super inventive handyman. Lots of his innovative solutions can be found scattered all over his many acres. For example, he impressed us with his homemade composter. It is made from an old bathtub, filled with numerous worms, and produces excellent compost from what was once the drain of the bath.

Castlemaine near Taradale

Mary and Philip put Julia and I up for the night in their lovely home. This gave us an up close and personal, and very enjoyable exposure to the Australian bush. Thank you, Philip and Mary, for this enlightening and welcoming experience.

Anthropocene

The weather in Australia has become very unpredictable and extremely variable of late. This statement is supported by the record high temperatures and unprecedented wildfires that have engulfed this beautiful land recently and continued to plague Australia during our visit.

There was even a small fire that occurred just down the road from where we are staying in Seaford. A propane gas cylinder exploded during one of the many 100 plus degree days we have experienced. But this small fire was quickly contained and hardly compares to the fires that are burning Australia to the ground in every state of this great nation.

That the carbon pumped into the atmosphere to get Julia and I here to visit with our family is contributing to these devastating fires, has made me more than sad, it has crushed me. The only words I can muster, are an apology to those that come after us. Please forgive us for destroying the world that we passed on to you.

Friends

And so, another year ticks by. This day, New Year's Eve 2019-2020, we visited with my old friend Fred.

We walked with him the lovely shoreline of Port Philip Bay. But this walk was not the usual bay walk, it was along the craggy cliffs at Black Rock, which is a little further north from where we were staying in Seaford. The weather had cooled considerably from the very high temperatures we'd just experienced, and this made the day extra lovely.

After the wonderous walk a short ride on the train had us in the heart of Melbourne. This very diverse city was filled to overflowing with faces of all colors and ethnicities all preparing to celebrate the New Year. Julia and I shared dinner with our friends: Fred, Vic, and Andy at a reasonably good vegan Chinese restaurant called Goon De Lin. After many long and sometimes heated political and religious debates we left to experience more fireworks at the mecca of Australian sportsgrounds the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Happy New Year to you and yours from Julia and me. I hope we will all do the most we can, to avert the coming climate crisis facing human civilization. Please do whatever you can to reduce your carbon footprint.

Mount Macedon

We drove the long, but scenic drive from Seaford to Mount Macedon. This grand mountain is enveloped by green forests and rises some 1,000 meters from the surrounding dry plains. Because of this the mountain is very conspicuous.

View from Mount Macedon

We made the trip to Camels Hump, a notable outline at the very top of Mount Macedon, to join Fred and some of his friends for a day of rock climbing. When I was a younger man living in Australia Fred and I regularly climbed rocks and cliff faces. We became reasonably proficient with this. However, when I left Australia to live in the USA, I left behind my rock climbing, but Fred continues to practice this skillful art.

It's been many years since I performed the intricate rock dance. And my body no longer has the abilities it once had. Strangely though, my mind had not forgotten some of the skills and so I was able to scale a modest cliff.

However, the biggest surprise of the day was Julia's demonstration of her ability to scale the gray granite. Without any training or experience and at first no enthusiasm, Julia amazed us all as she dominated not one, but two climbs.

Illuminati

Escape from the Illuminati! We did another escape room, but this time in Frankston and accompanied by my brother Lawrie, Cynthia, and Steve. We really liked this escape room, I would like to tell you why, but I am sworn to secrecy. At this point we are hooked on escape rooms.

Here is the information on the Frankston Escape Room.

Julia danced with a snake this evening, I know, and we walked about an animal reservation and interacted with many of the nocturnal animals there. To say Australian fauna is very unusual is an understatement. And strangely Australian fauna, even the vicious ones, are very cute.

I'm not a fan of zoos and Moonlight sanctuary is no exception, but we did enjoy interacting with the animals even if they were all in prisons. I believe it would be better if we saved the animals' habitats rather than put them in cages.

Point Nepean

Today we drove south down the Mornington Peninsula to the wonderful Point Nepean National Park. Here we walked the Tea-tree lined trails, down the Golden sand beaches, looked out at the aqua blue waters, and rode electric bicycles to the very tip of the Mornington Peninsula.

The flies in Australia can be overwhelming and today in this beautiful place was no exception. At one point they became so bad we had to take a handkerchief and cover our faces to get some relief from the buzzing swarms. Another distraction from the beauty of this place was the hazardous air quality that filled our lungs with PM 2.5. The fires in Australia are now at unprecedented levels and only seem to be getting worse. I feel sorry for my countrymen as they are trapped in an anthropogenic snare of their own making; as are we all.

Botanical Gardens

Almost every time we have visited Melbourne, we have gone to the Melbourne Botanical Gardens. This lush green space is truly an oasis in the middle of the increasingly busy metropolis that is Melbourne. This visit we were accompanied by my friend Fred.

We are both looking much older than when we first met in grade school, so many years ago now, but we still at least look happy.

In the same vast park area that is home to the Botanical Gardens stands a monument to the daughters and sons of Australians that have fallen in the many wars fought over the years.

Australia has been occupied by non-indigenous peoples for some time now, and just like America and so many other countries it was forcibly taken from its original inhabitants. The so-called civilized peoples of this world have a propensity towards violence and destruction. This trait will cause the demise of our so-called civilized peoples, of this I am sure. Well may they say: “You don't get to be the dominant species by being Mr. nice guy”. However, we have no one left to dominate except ourselves and we are now beginning to tear each other apart. Que Sera, Que Sera.

Finish

I've tried hard to convince the people around me to change their minds about climate change. However, given what little progress we've made, as a civilization, I have to say my efforts have been in vain. There is a way of thinking that has become more prevalent in the last few years, I refer to it as faith-based thinking. It is not per se just religious thought, but rather any thought process that supports elevating fiction to fact. I believe it is this maladaptive thinking that has led us and continues to lead us to our demise.

Here is an example of faith-based thinking I encountered on this visit to Australia. An Australian friend, who blindly supports Trump, claimed that the criminal president had positively influenced the US economy, more so than President Obama. This did not seem a credible claim to me and so later I found evidence that contradicted his claim. His response was to insinuate that the evidence I had presented was “fake news”. At this point I asked him, “what evidence could I present to you that would change your mind?” His answer was, “none.” This is faith-based thinking at its zenith. No evidence can change the mind of a faith-based thinker as they deal with only absolute truths.

Of course, the only absolute truth is that there are no absolute truths.

At the end of the day it is all about the story of us, our families, and friends. Farewell Australia, may you all live long and prosper.


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