Reflections of a hunter-gatherer as she makes art out of the stuff of her life
Sydney opera house and Australian flag with stars

Sydney opera house and Australian flag with stars of the southern cross

“it is better to travel than to arrive.”  The Buddaha

I Came to Australia for the first time about a month ago.
The trip from North Carolina took over 30 hours, spawned one continent and two oceans while crossing the Tropic of Cancer, the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn. Somewhere during the flight I crossed the international date line which meant I gained an extra day that I will forfeit upon my return. An Australian man who sat next to me on a twelve hour train ride from Melbourne to Sydney explained to me that although the moon I was seeing might be the same moon as the one my friends back home were seeing, the “man in the moon” was a different one. The way it is seen in the Northern Hemisphere is upside down from how it is viewed in the Southern Hemisphere.

The first week or so I was here, each night I had dreams in vibrant  color so live with people of my past I felt sure each dream was in real time. Does any of this explain the strange power of this ancient continent so new to me? Gondwanaland.

Here are a few things I have learned:

Kookaburra looking for lunch

Kookaburra looking for lunch

Kookaburras are large and handsome birds. They will eat meat off of your plate if you let them and if you do not they might steal it anyway. Opportunists indeed.

Australian magpies are black and white, are as large as American crows and have ethereal morning calls.

Kangaroo enjoying the rain

Kangaroo enjoying the rain

Kangaroos, who are often compared to American deer in their wildness and willingness to live near humans, are grazers. When they come onto a green and watered lawn they are hungry for the grass. Like this popular Australian icon, possums, koalas, bandicoots, wombats, wallabies, bilbys and koalas are all marsupials as well. Mammals that carry their young in a pouch.

Platypus and echidnas are both monotremes, marsupials who hatch their young from eggs.

Australia is the most ancient of our continents, thought to have been broken off and isolated from larger land masses in prehistoric times, hence the uniqueness of its indigenous animals. Australian aboriginals have the oldest continuing living culture on earth.Their history is as deep and ancient as is that of the animals of this continent.

Cockatoo watching through the window

Cockatoo watching through the window

It is said that the world’s songbirds originated in Australia. I have seen so many  species of birds new to me. Tiny bright blue fairy wrens, willy wagtails, cockatoos both black and white, rose breasted gulahs, huge wedge tailed Eagles, red beaked water hens, magpies in black and white, lovely multi colored lorikeets and rosellas, small blue and white penguins and beautiful black and white feathered pelicans with large gold rimmed eyes and long salmon colored beaks.

I have been sleeping under the stars of the southern cross. While here I have experienced the wonders of a natural world so different from anywhere I have ever been or lived before.

Coffee on the street

Coffee on the street

Many thanks to everyone who has helped me with my journey along the
way…From the people who have invited me into their homes to stay, to the friendly bus and tram drivers, to my students who have taught me so much, I am grateful.  Australia is a generous country. And yes it is absolutely true that you can get an amazing cup of coffee on every street corner.  “Good on ya” Aussies is what I say.  And if I can learn to say “No worries” like a true Australian and really mean it once I get a back to the states then ” good on me” as well.

Me and my students on our last day Grampians Texture 2016

Me and my students on our last day Grampians Texture 2016