You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2009.

Olive Picking on the Side of the Road

Olive Picking on the Side of the Road

I’ve been having a tough time finding the inspiration to write and I’m not exactly sure why.  Coming back to Perth has given me a sense of well-being that only a few other cities ever have.

I haven’t stopped writing altogether, but the last couple of weeks have proved a difficult lesson in sharing.  I’m not able to write for anyone  else but me right now….as I say that…mmhh…maybe I can write a little….you know, now that I’m here…

Why not, eh?

One of the reasons I may be having trouble finding any sort of motivation is that I have just celebrated my thirtieth birthday.  It was a little bitter-sweet to be entirely honest.  Birthdays have always been a priority for Kevin and I.  As most of you know, we always planned bbqs, parties, camping trips…fun-filled events –  for both of our bdays – it’s always just been an excuse to celebrate.  Although it’s exciting to be in another country for the ‘big day’, in my heart I am somewhere in between here and home.  I don’t know how to explain it…another reason not to write.  I’m only able to write around the idea of my feelings.  I can’t quite figure it out in my own head, so how do I type it up into a neat little paragraph (or a slightly larger paragraph, in the instance)?

Maybe another excuse for the lack of written word – I’m relaxing a bit.  I feel like the shock might be wearing off a little bit.  I’m seeing things a little more clearly;  I am getting outside everyday and I’m spending more time by myself than I have in years. 

Just a nibble

Just a nibble

Getting used to the alone thing.  I guess we’ve all had to do this at one time or another;  a break-up or what have you.  There’s something special about eating alone at a restaurant. 

With my many hours of quiet time, I am re-learning that everyone is extraordinarily complex.  I knew this before, but it has really hit home during this trip.  We all have these amazing experiences.   Listening to people’s stories and hearing how they work; what goes on in their minds.  What music they like, how they get on with their families, why they are where they are…its all so fascinating.

Maybe focusing on other people allows me perspective that I don’t get when I turn inside-out.  I am saddest when looking deep into my own heart, but when I get a tiny glimpse of what lays in others’ hearts, I can see, reflected, all that I am going through and all that I’ve been through…just from farther out.  I like this perspective best: no magnifying glass necessary.



Anyway, my time in this city has been wonderful.  We’ve been enjoying some great live music.  I have a bike.. it’s blue and it’s awesome: a birthday gift from a friend.  I have ridden it almost everyday since I got it last week.  What a great feeling: riding along the water and looking out into the plain of blue that is the Indian Ocean.  

Kim and I have found time to go to the aquarium (AQWA) and the zoo.  I am currently a walking encyclopedia of flora and fauna.  There are some CRAZY animals out there.  My favourite it the Leafy Seadragon.  These are absolutely beautiful creatures.  They bob gracefully through the water and you would never know they even existed, as they blend in so well with common sea kelp. 

Beautiful, unassuming, and complex…. just like us.

Theme Songs of the Day:

We Are Not CriminalsMatt Gresham (…we saw him live and he has SO much energy!)

Paper AeroplaneAngus & Julia Stone, from the album Chocolates and Cigarettes

At one point, as the barbed-wire vine ripped into my shin yet-again, I did question my decision to tramp through the unforgiving forest, on a volunteer basis, for hours on end.  It was a fleeting thought, but my shins were already pretty banged up and I had just come face to face with the biggest spider I have ever seen…and yes, spiders this big are, indeed, big enough to have distinguishable faces.

I think this one winked at me as I screamed.

I’m not actually scared of spiders, but I challenge you to find me a person that doesn’t scream involuntarily as they feel the web and the spider brush against their eyelashes…yeah, it was quite the Australian experience.

Weeding Wackyness 090I had been lucky enough to be invited along on a trip to a place called Rainbow Beach (north of Noosa and south of Fraser Island).  We were with Conservation Volunteersand we had six days of forest-walking ahead of us.  Our mission: locate and destroy the invasive species called bitou (BIT-oo).  In total, we covered over 700,000 square meters of Cooloola National Park.  This park, along with Fraser Island, makes up the Great Sandy Region, the biggest landmass of sand in the world.  

We made our way over fallen debris and hidden sandy holes and we did it all with smiles on our faces (maybe they were grimaces at times?).  We were working from a track, out towards the edge of beautiful sandy bluffs (if you haven’t picked up on it – ‘sand’ was very much the theme of the entire trip).  These are the cliffs that line the postcards in the souvenir shops.  Every other time we completed a line, we were greeted with stunning views of the ocean from 200 meters.

We were working on the cliffs in the background

We were working on the cliffs in the background

How many people had actually seen the view of Fraser from this angle?  How many people had looked down the cliffs and noticed the bitou that need be removed?   How many people knew what bitou was?  (note* – probably about 50 of you now!)

The only other time I had done anything remotely resembling this, I was tree-planting back in BC.  And although I was being paid good money to plant those blue spruce, I could see the uniqueness in the experience at hand. 

I think the hard work was good for me… it helps to clear the mind.  I’ve had two months of ‘hard’ travel and I’m guessing a little routine has got to be good for the soul. 

As the permanence of my (real-life) situation sets in I can feel the weight of a million thoughts upon my shoulders.  They are heavy. The non-permanence of my surroundings  helps to keep me balanced.   I truly believe this.  Although I feel lonely at times, I know I would be even lonelier if left to ponder my thoughts by myself without an ever-changing road ahead of me.  I do not want to even imagine what, or how, I would be doing at home right now.

I think I’m going to have to do a bit more with this volunteer work – it’s really great to get my hands dirty (and my knees, and my face, and virtually every inch of  my body, in fact).

Conservation Volunteers is a national group with offices scattering the country.  There are many opportunities to lend a hand out there.  I would recommend the experience to anyone wanting to help and/or experience a different perspective of a local area.   I know I could easily be coerced into more than a week of this!

Theme Songs of the Day:

You’re a Wolf – Sea Wolf, from the album Leaves in the River

Kicking the Heart Out – Rogue Wave, from the album Out of the Shadow

Lola – The Kinks, from the album Lola Versus Powerman & The Moneygoround


Follow the Rusty Red Road

Follow the Rusty Red Road

So I had one full day left in Mt. Isa and I think it was extraordinarily well spent: we trekked out into the bush!  It was exactly the kind of thing I had pictured when envisioning the arid outback: we were going to look for rocks! It was a guaranteed dusty and dry process and I was very excited, indeed.

Termite moundsNow it’s not too hard to get to the middle of nowhere from Mt. Isa.  One can accomplish this by driving in any given direction for any more than ten minutes.  This allows you time to pass through the city.  Within minutes all that surrounds you are  red hills lined with spinifex and some low-lying trees dispersed intermittently around termite mounds (interestingly, I mistook these mounds for rocks when I first saw them – supposedly a common mistake…I wondered why people had bothered to stand hundreds of red rocks on their sides – monolithic art…obelisks du nature?).

The Treasure!

The Treasure!

So we had a great plan.  We were invited to go looking for Maltese crosses (MCs).  These are rock-like crystal formations made of a mineral called staurolite. They form in geometrical diamond-shaped patterns.  Every so often the diamond shapes line up and when they form in just the right way an extraordinary cross is born.  This symbol is commonly associated with good luck and protection.

There are only a few places in the world these small phenomena are found.  We were on our way to find treasure!!  (Finally, a way to fund my trip!)

So we loaded up the 4×4 with food and equipment and five of us headed out.  We were quite a team.  Roy – the Maltese cross expert extraordinaire – was the one who was kind enough to invite us out.  He has the knowledge and the equipment to guarantee us finding a least a few of these elusive gems.  When he’s not digging in the dirt, he frequents the café where Stacey is employed.  He happened to mention this interesting hobby of his to Stacey, earlier in the week.  Stacey showed keen interest and knew I would be totally up for it.  Her co-worker Lisa happened to have the day off as well.  Roy invited a friend of his, Laura, and so we made up a mad team of gung-ho Maltese cross discoverers.

That's as far up as he went!

That's as far up as he went!

After about a half hour down the highway we took a discreet turn-off and started on what would be many hours of very bumpy 4X4ing.  The novelty of being jostled around wore off after about ten minutes, but we were easily distracted from the incessant rigmarole by the abundance of wildlife we encountered.  Roy had this amazing knack for seeing critters from afar and stopping the vehicle at just the right time to get up-close and personal (note the picture of the lizard running up his leg?).  We saw a variety of lizards and so many birds – bugs, cows, insects…it was a desert cornucopia.  It’s amazing how barren and dry everything looks, but there is this whole ecosystem just waiting to be discovered (especially with the very wet wet-season that had just recently ended).  We realized quickly that we had, in Roy, not just a navigator, but a tour-guide as well.

We arrived at Roy’s secret site and each had our turn sifting through the dirt for Maltese Crosses.  Beginners’ luck being on my side, I managed to spot an interesting looking rock in the first batch.  I found one!  I’m told it’s worth at least $10-20!  Now that won’t even get me a nice dinner…I had better keep looking.

Sifting RocksAfter a few hours we all managed to find one, although none as big or as square as the first beauty (the more angled type are considered St. Andrew’s Crosses).  We celebrated by heading back up the track and indulging in a picnic and a swim. I provided entertainment by stepping in the biggest cow-patty I’ve ever seen…or felt (squishing around my sneakers) for that matter, …I only did it for laughs – one of my gifts…really…

The way back was, I swear, bumpier than the trip in.  Roy picked up speed and we all sang along, loudly, to Billy Joel…  Piano Man will be forever etched in those little lizards’ little brains, and for that I apologize – but what fun!  I would, without question, back Roy in a guided-tour-adventure company if he ever thought to start one up – Outstanding Outback Adventures, or some such title.  I would pay good money to be slung through the outback, made to inhale dust, find treasure, and bounced straight into cow patties.  Honestly, it was an absolutely awesome way to spend the day.

What an amazing way to cap off my first trip into the inner-heart of the continent.   And my, oh my, what a big and beautiful heart it turned out to be!

Theme Songs of the Day:

Why Worry – Dire Straits, from the album Walk of Life – (This song is specially dedicated to you, dad).

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10 other followers

Flickr Photos

Recent Comments

benzin vertikutierer… on Road Trip!
jazz on About Today
Lonnie L. on Time in Bright Acrylics
Darby on About Today
About Today «… on Not Drowning But Waving

May 2009