Monday, October 31, 2011

Small Town AUS

I've been WWOOFing with a woman named Evelyn who lives in the small community of Tomerong. Anyone who's ever lived in a small rural community would feel right at home here. There's one shop that also serves the role of the post office and local hang out, a small primary school and a community center. Folks in town banded together over the last couple of years to fight a proposed landfill nearby and just this past month or so it went final that the landfill (tip, as they call it) was dead in the water. At the occasional (three a year in 2011) Tomerong Community Night the mood was celebratory as they marked the end of the landfill issue. Community night consisted of a potluck, an open mic session and some karaoke as well.

The sunset out the back of the community center was so much more beautiful than my blasted camera was willing to show.
Bev read two pieces of original poetry; one about community involvement that involved flaming sambucas out of eucharist cups (no lie) and another about using the f-bomb when folding fitted sheets. Bev recently won a prize at the Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival for a poem about the refugees on Christmas Island. Her book is sold at the local shop/post office. I might rustle one up.
Chris and Jordy, recent additions to Tomerong, performed Hit the Road Jack even without the father who typically plays guitar but he's in the Royal Australian Navy and out on exercise in Townsville.
These four sisters performed a stand up routine, of sorts. Jokes included:
-What do you get when you cross a crocodile and a rooster? Crocodoodle-doo.
-Did you hear about the two fish that went all the way around Australia? Yeah, they end up in Cairns. (Aussies pronounce "Cairns" as "Cans.")
-What do you get when you cross a kangaroo and a sheep? A woolly jumper. (A jumper is an Aussie term for a sweater.)
Jamarama Outcasts, a local ukelele club, performed You are my Sunshine and Waltzing Matilda (the crowd sang along, me too) and a precious little song I'd not heard, Pearly Shells.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Afternoon at the Beach

Well I made it south of Sydney to the little town of Tomerong where I am WWOOFing with a woman named Evelyn. I'll post about that in a day or two, but first.... after a morning bustling around the yard, today Evelyn dropped me off at a beach near Vincentia which is on the coast of Jervis Bay. While the temperatures have been, I am told, unseasonably cool, it was still enjoyable to get out to the beach and do some beach combing.

That steep cliff far out on the horizon is the northern edge of the entry to Jervis Bay. There's a lighthouse on it.
A pretty little shell, super purple and shiny on the inside. So I took a pic. Then I found another. And another. Then some more. I left with five of the prettiest. I'll probably tote them around for a bit then get frustrated with the packing/unpacking of my backpack. But I hope I keep them.
Smooth sailing!
Up next on the agenda? Tomorrow night the little township of Tomerong (a few hundred households) has its monthly (or quarterly, I don't remember) Community Night. There's an open mic, it's a potluck and, this time, they're bringing in a karaoke machine. I'm looking forward to it. And for some reason, I keep thinking of Northern Exposure.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sydney: Night Viewing

By day, Sydney is a beautiful city. By night, it's jaw dropping.
Today marks the end of my incarceration residence at the piggy Paddington house; I've got one more night in Sydney before I head off to points south to work on farms. Today might also mark the end of easy internet access so blog posts may become much less frequent. Although I've got a local cell phone with data so e-mails, etc. should still be good (don't forget me friends!) as long as there is cell service. My first WWOOFing experience will be in Tomerong, assisting a woman and her niece with their 2-acre garden. I'm planning up to 2 weeks there.

Finally a Pic-Worthy Eat

I think I'm back in Barcelona mode where I'm hardly eating. While I wouldn't mind attributing this to my delicate and dainty nature (ahem), truth of the matter is it's flippin' pricey to eat here. A small appetizer and a glass of house white easily runs 30 bucks. And none of the food, thus far, has been stupendous. Until today. I was so happy to have The Observer Burger (without the bun) brought to my table at The Observer Hotel in The Rocks neighborhood of Sydney. And it was only 16 dollars. (Yes folks, a cheap burger is 16 bucks and I was glad for it.)
To quaff? (Feel free to use that on Words With Friends.) Ever since Pula, Croatia I have been on the look-out for a light pear or apple cider. I've yet to find one, until today. Thank you Monteith's.
Rounding out my date night, sans date, I treated myself to the movies. The Hunter stars Willem Dafoe (a man I am slightly embarrassed to admit to having had a crush on at one time- I think it was the Platoon days) as he is on Tasmania looking for an elusive tiger, the last of its kind. SPOILER ALERT: he finds it. He kills it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Beaching at Bondi

Bondi is an Aboriginal word meaning crowded beach. Perhaps. From my cell phone pic's vantage point, the beach looks positively saturated but, honestly, once you get in closer and you look for a spot yourself, there's ample space. I camped out for about two hours and had at least 10 feet of space all around me. But the water- the water was cold. And not stand-in-it-for-30-seconds-and-get-used-to-it type of cold either. COLD. I got in up to my knees.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Penal: No Laughing Matter

The history nerd in me (the part that never dies) could not resist touring Hyde Park Barracks which was Sydney's penal locale. According to the brochure, it housed male convicts from 1819 to 1848, then female immigrants (most, it appears, escaping the Irish famine) from 1848 to 1886 (immigrants but referred to as inmates), then a female destitute asylum 1862-1886, then various government offices and finally a museum in 1979. What a past. And quite eery, even on a a sunny, breezy Sydney day.
The display of all the layers was quite interesting. Black being the top museum-y layer, then you can see all the colors, the brick itself is the original exposure during the penal period.
The third floor was displayed as accurately as possible from the original days of the building.
Hyde Park Barracks housed 600 men in 12 rooms, in hammocks like these. 
This room creeped me out because they piped in recreated convict chatter from seemingly invisible speakers. So suddenly behind you comes, "15 years, and lashings to go with it?"
Quite a few cases of artifacts. What I found most fascinating was that many of the smaller artifacts (such as, but not limited to, fabric pieces shown here) were carried off by rats and used in their nests. When came time to restore the place, and they lifted floorboards, the rats provided a lot of historical material. Thatsalottarats. 
From the female "inmate"/immigrant period, an entry in the daily report on one woman, Mary Shand. This made me laugh.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sydney: My First 24.

I landed early and made my way to my rented room- the one in the Victorian-era house with three comedians living there. I will say this, they forewarned me it was a bit dilapidated. And the dilapidation I could handle. This place is very Dickinsonian but, on top of that, these boys are some piggies. I'd planned to stay a few more days in Sydney than the five I'd booked here, and I'd prefer to stay in one spot but I think five days in this house will be ample. Let's just hope my immune system holds out.

But I digress. So I checked in, got cleaned up and ventured off on foot. I walked all of the Sydney Central Business District (CBD) and then some yesterday. And, man oh man, is this town pricey. But the folks are nice! I finished up with some olives and wine at a neighborhood wine bar, with a stop into the Dr. Seuss Art Gallery (only two in the world!) where the very nice salesman, Fuzz, recommended a run through the Botanical Gardens and around the Opera House once he heard I liked to run. So this morning that's just what I did. It came out to 6.6 miles- further than I've been running but city running, garden running, and zooming around the Opera House made it a damn fine run.
My run route. I'm staying in Paddington (search for my body there) and the tippy top of this route is the Sydney Opera House.

Friday, October 14, 2011

An Afternoon in SW Wyoming (etc.)

Southwest Wyoming is picturesque. In certain ways. In certain lights. On certain drives. Such as an afternoon drive around the Flaming Gorge which also dips down into Utah.
These views are from about 1500' above the water. Purely stunning. My camera does no justice.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Something I Forgot

Going through my European vacation photos the other night, I came across a photo so hilarious, so odd, so SE Europe that I had to post it- and was surprised that I had not already done so.
This was on the trail of the Plitvice Lakes death march.
As for my next adventures, they start on Monday when I fly to Sydney. The only thing I have planned so far is five nights booked in the Sydney neighborhood of Paddington, renting a room in a Victorian house of three stand-up comedians. What could go wrong?

After that, it does look like I'll be WWOOFing. Trying to get a gig on a cattle station (that's what Aussies call a ranch, apparently) or a creamery (mmmn, cheese).

Updates as I get 'em.