December 30, 2010

•January 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Kangaroo sign

Quote for today.

‘As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.’

Henry David Thoreau

Travelling through the great outback of Australia draws attention to the vast perspective, not only of the horizons but also of the history and hardship in these remote areas. The isolated outback is a life of extremes, the contrasts of heartbreaking droughts and heat, devastating floods, cyclones and bushfires testing even the toughest spirit.

Some farmers are driven to despair facing the decision to walk away from generations of hopes, dreams and hard work as unpredictable natural disasters destroy stock and crops.

Politicians and the majority of urban dwellers add to the burden of those in marginal communities as the hardships they face tend to be overlooked and forgotten.

However, the resilience of Australians is often most apparent in times of crisis as people take the attitude that ‘the main thing is we’re alive’ despite losing everything, retaining their sense of humour and their sense of camaraderie.

photo Kangaroo sign

December 29, 2010

•January 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Coober Pedy

Quote for today.

‘As nothing is more easy than to think, so nothing is more difficult than to think well.’

Thomas Traherne

We arrive in Coober Pedy as the sun is setting, grateful for the sight of a petrol station!  The opal mining capital of the world, with a population of just under 2,000, is also famous for most of the residents living underground to avoid the scorching daytime heat.

The miners who first moved into the area around 1916 began living in ‘dugouts’, caves bored into the hillsides, soon realizing that a standard three-bedroom cave home with lounge, kitchen and bathroom can be excavated out of the rock in the hillsides for a similar price to a house on the surface, remaining at a constant temperature without the need of air-conditioning.

The local golf course – mostly played at night with glowing balls, to avoid daytime temperatures – is completely free of grass, and golfers take a small piece of ‘turf’ around for teeing off.

As a result of correspondence between the two clubs, the Coober Pedy golf club is the only club in the world to enjoy reciprocal rights at The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews.

photo Coober Pedy

December 28, 2010

•January 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Salt lakes

Quote for today.

‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.’

Matthew 6:33

Driving to Central Australia, we pass through fields of wheat as far as the eye can see, wheat silos and later sheep stations, the Stuart Highway sometimes running parallel with The Ghan railway track until we reach salt lakes near Pimba.

Stopping at the lookout at Lake Hart to admire the bright white expanse of salt lake which looks quite incongruous, glistening like a snowfield in the heat of the surrounding red bushland, we continue on past Glendambo, with its population of 30 (and where we should have stopped for petrol) and onto Coober Pedy.

The Australian Outback is amongst the most vast and sparsley populated areas in the world; embracing a region of around 3 million kilometres, it is home to less than 1% of the population.

But despite the harsh environment, the Australian Outback remains in many respects the heartland of the continent, and of the nation, containing much of the country’s mineral wealth, national icons such as Uluru, and a culture that is uniquely ‘Australian’.

photo Salt lakes

December 27, 2010

•January 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Adelaide sunset

Quote for today.

‘Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.’

Benjamin Franklin

Stopping in our home town of Adelaide, we are reminded of the beauty of the city as a bright pink sunset silhouettes the sprawling suburbs from the coast to the low-lying Mount Lofty Ranges.

Adelaide is notable as it continues to rank highly as one of the world’s most livable cities, reflected in the metropolitan median house prices which have tripled in the last decade to March 2010. It is also well-known for its many festivals, sporting events, its food, wine and culture, its long beachfronts and its large defence and manufacturing sectors.

The economy is primarily based on manufacturing, with over half of all the cars produced in Australia being made in Adelaide and a thriving electronics industry exceeding $5 billion annually.

Some iconic products remind us of our South Australian heritage: Balfour’s Frog cakes, Haigh’s Chocolates, Menz ‘Yo-Yo’ biscuits, Fritz, Pie floaters, Kitchener buns, Golden North honeycomb ice cream and ‘Woodies Lemonade, the best lemonade made’!

photo Adelaide sunset

December 26, 2010

•January 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Docklands

Quote for today.

‘Urbanism works when it creates a journey as desirable as the destination.’

Paul Goldberger

Our final journey this year, travelling by car to Ayers Rock, begins early as we leave Melbourne and catch a last glimpse of the City and the Docklands development on the Yarra River.

This primarily waterfront area is the product of an ongoing urban renewal project to extend the area of the CBD by over a third when completed around 2015. The 200 hectare site boasts distinct precincts with a diversity of uses ranging from residential to retail, from technology to leisure, from offices to entertainment.

From the 1880’s, the Docklands were used for docks, rail infrastructure and industry but mostly fell out of use following the containerization of shipping traffic; the space remained vacant and unused during the 1980’s and it fell into disrepair.

Urban renewal began in earnest in 2000 but, while still incomplete, Docklands developer-centric planning has been widely criticized, many Melbourne politicians and media commentators lament its lack of green open space, pedestrian activity, transport links and culture.

photo Docklands

December 25, 2010

•January 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Christmas Day

Quote for today.

Jesus said to Thomas, ‘You believe because you’ve seen Me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen Me but believe.’

John 20:29

Throughout the world, this day is set aside to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Everything about Jesus, from where He would be born to how He would die was written in the Old Testament hundreds and thousands of years before His birth.

Jesus fulfilled scriptures as the One chosen by God to enter time and history, fully man and fully God. The revealed truth of who He is changes our perception for knowing God in a deep and intimate relationship, an impossible thought before Jesus came to show us ‘the way, the truth and the life’ through His own life.

Now, everyone who believes is saved from being trapped in a world without hope, without purpose and devoid of spiritual comfort.

Quiet confidence and absolute trust in Jesus enables us to understand the greatness of God’s love for all His creation.

photo Christmas Day

December 24, 2010

•January 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Halong Bay 3

Quote for today.

‘There is nothing as tragic as being alive and not enjoying life – life should be celebrated!’

Joyce Meyer

We leave Halong Bay and Hanoi to travel back to Melbourne in time to celebrate Christmas Day. The Halong Bay setting with its stunning natural rocky islands jutting out from clear emerald water provides the most spectacular scenery from every angle and in continuously changing composition.

Observing this natural wonder of the massive vertical walls of these limestone karst features whilst cruising on one of the old teak tour boats winding slowly through the labyrinth of great monoliths, is a great inspiration for art and photography.

We were there on fairly cold, crisp days when it was quite hazy, creating a mysterious atmosphere as the huge shapes emerged from pale grey mists and as other tour boats and large junks cruised silently by.

But at any time of year, staying on one of these boats overnight or in one of the new hotels that line the esplanade of Halong Bay, this unique area is a totally memorable experience.

photo Halong Bay 3

 
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