Rambling Down the South Coast of New South Wales

Yesterday, we set off down the Grand Pacific Highway, south out of Sydney and around Botany Bay and into the Southern Highlands, searching for adventure (and, eventually, a hotel room, as we hadn’t booked anything ahead, and it is smack dab in the middle of the High Season here, with New Years Day around the corner).

This photo was taken in the town of Kangaroo Valley, looking across the local cricket grounds and up to the escarpment that surrounds the river valley.

Collecting Wood for Carving

Uncle Greg needed more wood for carving shields and nulla-nullas, so Bunda and I went up into the scrublands around La Perouse with him, looking for appropriately-sized native trees.

It took us several hours to cut up the wood and haul it back to the car. The day grew hot, even in the shade, and the flies easily found us once we started sweating.

Eventually, though, we hauled several useful logs back to the car for the trip back to the “mish.” Once we got back, Uncle Greg wasted no time turning them into replica weapons, with Larry helping.

Woodcarving on the Mish

While I went for a swim down at the beaches around La Perouse, Larry and Uncle Greg sat beneath a tree beside Auntie Margie’s house, on a gentle slope enjoying a pleasant breeze, carving a shield and nulla-nullas.

In this shot, Larry is using a piece of broken glass (of which there is a lot on the Mission, or “Mish”) to shave smooth the wood on the outside of the shield while Uncle Greg is shaping the point of the nulla-nulla.

Crossing the Pacific, Diagonally

Most of the Earth is water. And most of that water is in the Pacific Ocean, by far the world’s largest. Only the Pacific truly deserves the description of “vast,” where land is not even an exception worth mentioning. It’s a bucket of deep blue with specks of dirt in it.

Crossing such an enormous expanse, from corner to corner, is a strange experience. Most likely, we live in at the end of an era, one that only began only a few hundred years ago. To us, crossing the Pacific is possible, whether by ship or plane, but both methods seem very long, relatively speaking, for that method of transport. It just seems to go on and on, and the comforts afforded to the (economy) traveler don’t seem like enough, even though today’s crossing is even more than yesterday’s science fiction. The looming era of ramjet engines and suborbital travel promise to shorten the trip time to where a nap may not even be possible and time zones zip by like invisible mile markers.

So, while not really comfortable at 37,340 feet and moving at 578 miles per hour, crammed into a seat sized for someone to sit upright for a two-hour trip, right now, I’m just glad not to be bobbing up and down in the waves, at the mercy of the wind, straining my eyes at the horizon, searching for a speck of brown among the blue.

You Cannot Fight the Weather

Well, I’m currently sitting in the Memphis Airport, waiting for the weather to clear enough for my 24-hour journey to Australia to begin.

This is my 5th trip to Australia since 1996, and while I always dread being locked in an aluminum tube for so long, I remain amazed by the ability we have to cross hemispheres and oceans so effortlessly. I can’t help but think that the first folks to arrive in Australia by boat from England would gladly trade places with me. I mean, I’m probably not going to get scurvy on my trip.

Kath and her father, Larry, are already in Sydney and waiting for me to arrive Christmas Day. We are planning to spend the day in La Perouse, visiting from house to house, the traditional Aboriginal celebration of the holiday. I’m eager to see them all, and I’m also looking forward to my first VB in 3 years.

So, while my fellow passengers are gnashing their teeth and complaining to anyone in a uniform over an additional wait of a couple of hours, I’m calm, tranquil, and ready.

Let the magical trip half-way around the world begin!