Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Joann Hutton and Jerry Ladiges traveled to the Australia (aka the land down under) for a three-week trip, chock full of site-seeing, in September. The cousins traveled via airplane, taxi, bus, train, rental car, ferry and on foot during their trip that took in a lot of southern Australia. Although it was early autumn here in the northern hemisphere, it was early spring in Australia so they experienced daytime temperatures from 50 to 90 degrees. One of the good things about traveling during early spring was that Joann and Jerry didn't happen to come across any of the world's 10 most deadly snakes or a couple of species of extremely deadly spiders while in Australia!
Joann and Jerry traveled to several stations (farms/ranches) on their trip. Joann was interested in visiting stations that utilize holistic management and biodynamic farming techniques. Both holistic management and biodynamic theories employ procedures that are meant to improve the health of natural resources and agricultural products through responsible land stewardship. They visited stations that grow native and improved grasses for pasture; alfalfa and grass for hay; dairy and beef beasts (cattle), and a lot of sheep. A six-year drought in Western Australia has resulted in decreasing water levels for irrigation and livestock. Water is found 20 to 40 feet below ground in bores (wells), but is very salty; so the Aussies utilize catchments (ponds) to catch all rainfall for fresh drinking water for livestock. They also catch rainfall off of houses and barns in large storage tanks for domestic use.
The tourists were fortunate to see Uluru (Ayers Rock) at sunup with the full moon to the right. An aboriginal guide, Ashley Paddy, through an interpreter, told the tourists about aboriginal life and the importance of Ayers Rock to their existence. The Three Sisters and the Blue Mountains National Park near Katoomba was another stop on their trip. Tourists from the world over brave the narrow and steep 50 mile road to view the spectacular site from the top of the ridge. The Tasman Sea beach on the east coast of Australia and the Circular Quay were a couple of other interesting stops on the trip.
Jerry and Joann visited the Botanic Gardens in Canberra, King's Park in Perth and walked through a number of parks during their trip. Jerry enjoyed the beautiful orchids and plants. His favorite plant was the Kangaroo Paw -- a green and red fuzzy-looking flower.
They took in several agricultural shows including The Royal Show (similar to our state fair); and the Henty Machinery Field Day with 700 vendors, speakers and advisors. The "best invention of the year" award was announced at the Henty show. Both shows included many exhibits for Joann and Jerry to enjoy and the opportunity to visit with a lot of people.
Joann and Jerry visited several educational sites such as the Temora Aviation Musuem that has rare aircraft of all ages and sizes. The Melbourne Museum, Powerhouse Museum, Australian Museum and the State Library of New South Wales provided the Americans many hours of viewing exhibits relating to history, culture, government, transportation, environment and everyday life.
Jerry reported that most houses and buildings are made of brick as wood suitable for building is scarce. As a rule there was not much graffiti and towns seem cleaner than those in America.
Australia is famous for kangaroos, and Joann and Jerry got to see quite a few of them -- alive, road-killed, and for dinner. Jerry said kangaroo is a pretty good meat with a sweet flavor. They even got to touch live kangaroos and a koala bear in a wildlife park! For those of you who are young at heart -- and are wondering how Santa gets around in Australia for Christmas (which is in mid-summer down there.) Australia's famous animal, the kangaroo, springs to action. Santa hops on his back and away they go delivering toys to all of the good little girls and boys.
Jerry reported that the Aussies liked to talk to Americans as much as we enjoy talking to them. They are intrigued by our "accents." The Australians were curious about our "financial system bailout" and our elections. They only allow six weeks for campaigning, and every Australian (of age) is required to vote. If they don't vote, they better be dead or next to it -- or they are fined! When asked about his favorite part of the trip, Jerry replied "all of it was nice, but meeting the people was really nice."