Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Brisbane to Narita - New to Asia and Impressions

My last night in Australia was spent sharing a "barbie", Barb-b-q, with May and Colin. We moved the gas grill from outside as we had a visit of the thunder beings along with rain. Colin grilled fish, brats, potatoes, mushrooms, and I could put on tomato sauce on the potatoes, the closest thing to ketchup I found. THanks May and Colin for your kind hospitality and having a place where I could just rest and hang out in the neighborhood. Very Asian, like a little China town. When I posted my package to the US, the two employees were speaking Chinese. Go figure. Australia in many ways prepared me as a lift off to Asia. Grateful for Colin's referral to the Flight Centre where they have a lot of experience with Asian Travel and connections.

View from morning Jet Star flight of Brisbane and the river below.

Coming into Cairns in the north of Queensland. Boarded the international flight to Narita here.

Arrived in the dark at Narita Airport. When I looked to turn on the air conditioning, still warm here, saw the balance in these two traditions here. Buddhism and Christianity. Balance? :-)

Here at the Narita Tobu Hotel Airport, many pilots and crew members from Asian Airlines. Western and Asian Food for Breky here. I nice blend of foods and the green garden in the background . Grateful most of the signs are in Japanese AND English.
O Hi O...the state my parents are from and "good morning: in Japanese, are the same.

Monday, August 29, 2011

From the bush to the colorful currency of Australia

Here is a view of Belingen Camp with the gum trees behind where the Bell Birds chirped all day with an occasional whip bird and the laughing Kookaburra! Yes, here is the bush of New South Wales.

Here is the colorful currency that I have been using over the past weeks during my stay in Australia. The notes, except for the 5, have both a woman on one side and a man on the other. They also have a polymer window in each denomination. Coins have on the back One Dollar, Kangaroo, Two Dollar, Aboriginal with southern cross stars, 10 cent lyrebird, 20 cent platypus, and 50 cent national crest as well as a variety of comemeratives.

Train Journey from Brisbane to Coffs Harbor - Bellingen NSW for an NWTA

Unable to secure a ride to the "Bello", Bellingen, NSW Mankind Project Weekend Training (NWTA) Colin took me to the Fruitgrove Train station down the street in Runcorn at 6 AM so I could get to the Roma Street Station to get the 7:30 train to Coffs Harbor.
Here is the interior of the train that I rode on for 5 hours. I was picked up by a van in Coffs Harbor and then we all took that drive to the site in the "bush" that the Bello Community has for their "organic" trainings. This was the word I got from Joe of Perth of how Organic the weekends are here!

Here is the view from the train of the Brisbane River as the train pulled out of the city going south.

With only 6 states to the country, both NSW and Queensland are larger than Texas. I got to see I lot of pasture land from the train.

Here is more of the varying landscape that looks to be grazing land for cattle and perhaps dairy cows.

Here is the pole shelter that one man mentioned was created 4 years ago, that is used for the trainings. Meals are created in this shelter, and Marquee's (Aussie for big tents) were set up) on here on Thursday. Here is where I reconnected with Billy Hill a local leader whom I first met when I served on the MKP International Executive Committee some 10 years ago. Wonderful heart felt connections...a home away from home in the Australian bush. It is here where I me the aboriginal elders, Uncle Larry and Uncle Tommy who supported and blessed our weekend.

I am grateful that I contacted a man, Peter from Victoria who was bringing a "caravan" translated, "camping trailer" to the sight, where my computer would be safe from the rain. This part of Australia is really a temperate rainforest and I learned on the weekend, how quickly the footing changes when the soil is saturated. :-) Water IS, the FiRST MEDICINE THE CREATOR GAVE US! Part of connecting to nature was the kookaburra who sang and laughed in the evening and morning. One I remember sitting in a meeting was swooped on by what some of the men call miner birds. Awesome!

In the background are thinning gum trees that Peter and some of the men explained are being thinned with the Bell Bird population. Some of the online writing:

"Bell Miners feed as part of a colony, remaining in the canopy at or above eight metres from the ground. They mainly eat insects, especially psyllids and their lerps (sugary secretions used as protective shelters by the tiny psyllid insects) from the foliage of eucalypts."
Read about the Bell Bird

We only had this generator to keep some of the lights on at night, so it was easy to stay connected to the land and trees, as we had to access to internet and the wider world :-) Grateful I could set this up with Peter on Thursday to be part of the set up for the weekend.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Queensland Glass Mountains and Sunshine Coast

My friend Colin from MKP AU, works at Griffith University here in the Brisbane area. We met at the MKP 25th Anniversary Celebration in Louisville last fall. He suggested I take an overnight trip to see the Glassmountains and the Sunshine Coast.
Well, after a stop to have lunch with Dan Adler, an American, now Aussie, I took a trip in the rain up the coast, and after stopping at in information station for Tourists, the rain was so persistent I decided to Keep it Simple and Easy Does it, as my rental car started aquaplaning on the mountain roads, my intuitions says slow down. So I learned that Capt Cook saw these mountains and they looked tall and conical like the houses that manufactured glass back in England during his time . Quite the inner parts of old volcanic cores I think!. Anyway, the National Park designations just pop up on the back roads, here where I got lost out of Beerburrum to Beerwah....and I didn't quaff a single Fosters, XXXX or other Australian Brew. It was just rainy and I took a variety of round abouts, and ended up at the end of pavement, ready to hit the outback, bush or whatever! Here is the random sign I found after being near the peak in the fog. See below.:-)

Here is the foggy peak taken out of the window of the car. Really grateful I found my way from here to Maleny, a mountain town where I picked up some Kenilworth Cheese and olives at a Fromagarie on the main street. This snack held me over for the mountain road trip through Monteville on my way to Noosaville on the Sunshine Coast.

Well, I walked from my motel, The Anchor in Noosaville and the local owners directed me to local eating places away from the main tourist strip. Dinner with Yom Tom soup at a Thai famlly spot within a nice walk. Then, the morning, after check out, to Glenny's for a proper workers
"Brecky" - It seems in Aussie Language, the nouns are just shortened and at a "y". Thus Kindergarten, is Kindy, and St Vincent De Pauls pick up and recycling is "Vinnie's! What a hoot. :-) Complete with sausage, eggs, bacon for my coastal solo bush walks :-)

The sun did come out on the sun shine coast - Here is one flower t hat struck me with its colors along the way.

Beyond the main tourist street in Noosa is this park where there are many Banksias. Here is one I found as a wandered about.

Here is one of the Pacific Beaches I wandered into. I lot of surfing here as surfing seems just something folks do in OZ.

On the way back to Brisbane on my 2 day trip, I climbed a view point off the freeway to see the Glasshouse Mountains. Here is a view with one of the grasstrees, Xanthorrhea in the foreground.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Brisbane Queensland Airport to Mullumbimbi New South Wales

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Cheery seating on the train from Brisbane airport that took me downtown to Central Station. Took this train Friday early afternoon to wait for RIck Maddox and Dan Gaffney to take me to the MKP LKS AU Weekend gathering.

A bright and sunny afternoon, I walked from the Central Station to the Stamford Hotel where I check in my luggage and then walked for a couple of hours around the Brisbane River area. Here is a photo from the Botanical Garden back toward the centre city as I began my walk.

THis red-pink and yellow flower is the common bottle brush that accents a lot of the foliage in the Spring here in Oz. On the path by the river.

THis is the Goodwill Bridge in the distance where I walked to the south side of the river here in Brisbane. Struck by the many Asian culture represented here in Oz. Along the south bank here, quite a variety of ethnicities. !

First I can across a statue of Confucius given to honor the 150th anniversary of Queenland by a sister city in the PRC,People's Republic of China.

Then the Taiwan connection here with this monument. Well, the upload speeds here a Mac Donalds don't support the robust connections I am used to. More later :-( Got this uploaded at Colins place!

Soon I came across this amazing wooden Nepalese building.While standing and looking,these 4 young women students from China had me hold a Happy Birthday sign for a friend (pengyou) and we all sang Happy Birthday. Fun to have my card that has Putonghua, Mandarin Chinese on the back to share. They smiled a lot :-)

Rick Maddox gave a ride for me and Dan Gaffney who had flown a from Sydney and we drove through the dark to the site to open the circle check in on Friday night. Thats when I met Donna from the nedear Boston MA, who I learned within a few minutes that we are cousins related through our famous ancestor, Rebecca Nurse. Here is the Cafe in Mullumbimbi we went to the next morning for coffees called Poinciana after the tree on the land. During our second visit on Sunday here is Dan, after we learned these trees are native to South Africa and were brought here by one of the early owners at the time of the Boer Wars. Wow, the connections of the history of the British Empire!

Here are Rick, Brad and Peter, who with myself stayed at Brad's place not far from Mullumbimbi so we could venture forth for morning coffee and Sunday for a meal of eggs and bacon! Refreshing after the periodic rains of Friday and Saturday at the event.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Coastal Sand Dunes and Tuart Forest Western Australia

While sitting at the Soul Tree Cafe in the hills, one of the workers got a call from Jeremy and Jasmin that they had lost the key for their vehicle in the sand where they were surfing after leaving Ochre Off at Kindy (Kindergarten). So having a rental car and the freedom to drive, I found their extra key at their home and here is the dunes area where we met. A 45 minute drive to the coast from their hills home.

Here I went to soak my feet in the surf of the Indian Ocean with the photo as Jasmin is frolicking in the water. A lot of folks surfing in wet suits in mid winter :-)

THey were kind enough to guide me to see another species of Banksia, Banksia menziesii, in the Tuart Forest north of Twigg Beach where we met. These are the trunks of the Eucalypt, Tuart in local parlence.

Here is the inflorescence of the Banksia menziesii, that is noted for being two colors. Hope Don Roden can check this out as he is a wood turner and has made some things out of Banksia wood I understand.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Perth Hills With Jeremy, Jasmin and Ochre

Here are Jeremy and Jasmin at the Soul Tree Organic Cafe in Glen Forrest. Great food to start before Jeremy, Ochre and I did at walk in the bush.

Nyaania Creek Rehab Site for walk up the Creek. Jeremy from MKP Australia and his son Ochre led me on a walk up this valley in the Perth Hills.

Isopogon dubius (R.Br.) Druce Pincushion Coneflower;Proteaceae, one of the first plants we discovered. Helpful that Jeremy was born in the hills and does gardening!

Ochre, Jeremy's 4 year old son, and Jeremy crossing the creek midway in the walk in the bush.

Diuris longifolia R.Br. Common Donkey Orchid; found along the trail.

Cycads along the creek. All my early botany classes coming to life. Thanks to my first botanical mentor at Carleton College, Bill Muir for advocating an understanding of the spore bearing plants!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Perth Western Australia - Vegemite and Breakfast

Here is the skyline of Adelaide from the river where I saw black swans at night with my guide Amir.

Quiet ocean front marina west of Adelaide we visited the morning of my flight to Perth. A nice quiet end to my laid back stay in South Australia.

Prior to leaving for Perth in the AM, I had not heard from any of the MKP AU guys regarding lodging so I booked a quick economy room in Scarborough on the beach, so I thought! :-) Anyway, the economy special with just a bed and a poor functioning wifi. One of the learnings along the trail. Entry at 7 Manning! Here is the view of spot, Part of the sunmoon resort complex on the land side of West Coast Hwy. The sun is now Out, and I am making my way to visit an organic Cafe run by Jeremy from MKP's partner Jasmin in the Perth Hills, Soul Tree Store and Cafe, Glen Forrest WA for lunch. Driving down the coast to check out the energy of Free Mantle and then through the big city. Woo hoo.

Here are the usual economic downfall news headlines, Qantas is reorganizing to do more Asian Business. Crooks found in Kentucky from Australia. Obama taking buses through MN, IL and IA while Bachman and Perry do the same for politics. Most of the NEWS here is like the TABLOIDS and a grade B movie. Ah such is life. Anyway, I am having a typical Aussie Breakfast, with cold cereal, toast with jam and VEGEMITE ....yum, the vitamin B is great, like MARMITE in the UK. I cultural treat. Grateful for the day and the beauty of CREATION. Cheers.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Adelaide south to Goolwa, fresh and salt water, Whales at Port Elliot and walk on Granite Island

Amir picked me up at my apartment rental at 9 AM Sunday Morning and our first stop south was here at the McLaren Vale Visitors center which opened at 10 AM. Amir worked in the area with a partner who had a B and B for a while. He learned a lot about gardening at that time. Now he is in school and soon to finish his Bachelors in Health Sciences. He is thinking of developing an organic farm-garden with his family in his native Malaya. Fun to share our stories about life, families and travel. Thanks Amir for your great hosting here in the Adelaide area!

I view of the wine growing area looking back north over McLaren Vale.

Here is a view from Hindmarsh Island, just past Goolwa, looking west part of the complex ecological zone where the Murray River drains fresh water into the salt water ocean. According to Amir, there is a movement to re establish native plants in the area here as well. Norfolk Island Pines lining the beach in the distance, were planted thinking they would provide ship masts and they were not strong enough :-)

Amir had an intuition is was important to stop at Port Elliot. He shared that his family had joined him here sitting on the rocks and watched the seals in the surf. As soon as we arrived there were many photographers gathering on the rocks and then we saw the 2 gray shadows under the water as they moved down the coast just a few yards out to sea.

Here the locals say is a mom, Right Whale,with the white barnacles on her and one of her offspring. They mentioned these are Right Whales that migrate up the coast. We just sat on the rocks and watched. A seal swam in and out of the surf for a while as well. Such beautiful peaceful vistas here. I can really understand the attraction of this more laid back and ecological part of Australia. Amir has been a model guide for me here and I am most grateful for his intelligent passion!

Granite Island is connected to Victor Harbor by a walking causeway. Here we join Australian Families in a 45 min walk around the island. Small penguins live in the island and mostly return in the evening after going out for food :-) We took the walk here, prior to driving back to Adelaide.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Journey to South Australia - Simple and Environmental

I was met at the Adelaide airport, which struck me as rather low key and down to earth by a Malaysian Adelaide University student, Amir. We have been connecting through skype, and his handle "Bluebird Bluebird" was quite apt, as after we began a hike up Waterfall Gully, to Mt Lofty in the Cleland Conservation Park, several blue tailed wrens visited us! Like Amir, very friendly and down to earth. Here is some of the ubiquitous yellow wattle, as the locals call it. It is a native acacia I think. The first falls is in the background as we began our 4 hour round trip hike to the top of Mt Lofty with the view of Adelaide to the Ocean to the West.

Very moist soil here in the valley or gully as they say here. Looks like many introduced species mixed with native ones. Here looks like a Freesia, and wiki says a popular garden plant native to S Africa. Well, I remember it as a nice bouquet plant.

About half way up the walk, after we had shared a lot of cultural stories and all, with the the cacaphony of the sulphur crested cockatoos in the background, we looked down and noticed this cluster of bright white perfect 5 petaled flowers! What I surprise when I noticed the typical reflection of a sundew, a carnivorous plant I associate with the north and the bog of N America. Well sure enough I looked up Drosera on line and found the greatest diversity here in Australia. Go figure. What I pleasant discovery at our feet. So many Aussie's use this as a training run up the hill and back! Lots of huffing and puffing. Glad we choose to slow down and notice the birds and plants. Amir says he often sees koala's up in the gum trees here. Did not see one yesterday. Perhaps today.

Here is a view of the stream valley, where there are gum (Eucalyptus) trees where I would expect willows back home. Some of the typical flowers of the Eucalyptus with the white fringe with some Banksia bristly old flowers and fruits as well. Likely what the more wild "bush" looks like. Bush, seems to be the general label for any wild place down unda.

After our about 3 hour, 4 km walk up the valley, here is the view that awaited us. To the west is Adelaide and the ocean. We passed on the libations at the top of the walk and went back to the city to a neighborhood pub that served large portions of beef schnitzel! Yum. Amir has spent time in Vienna and Switzerland and really likes the food. Great portions as a reasonable price. He went home to write a paper for a class at the University and I walk to the North Terrace area where the museums are and the Rundle Mall Shopping area. Pleasant walk and very invigorating! Glad for my health to be able bodied.

Here is the South Australia Museum where there is a large aboriginal collection with a map of the some 500+ languages and peoples that were here at the time of white contact. I was able to sit for a while and watch films of traditional people early in the 20th Century here who model how to live close to the land. They closed at 5 PM and I just had time to pop in and buy a Banksia book for my very own. Inspired by Catherine. THanks.

Here is a classic view of an indoor shopping mall for those who like these things. Not into buying "stuff" or as the Chinese would say "dongxi" which means where stuff comes from! Keep it simple and Easy Does it. Well the internet decided to be really slow Sunday, so here I am uploading at 7 AM local time on Monday. A small modem in this rental apartment that I rebooted many times yesterday. South Australia according to Amir is the greenist of the states, pays 10 cents for each bottle recycled and even has banned plastic bags.

Here is a plane tree, a European Sycamore that reflects the history of Australia,planted throughout the city, the connection to England is still strong. Delightful to have Amir to be my guide a native of Malaysia who became an Australian citizen a few years back. He is looking to start an organic garden-farm back in Malaysia where he still has strong connections with his family there.