No prizes for guessing where we are going today. In one of my blogs in Series One, I described my journeys as a very green courier between California and Australia. After a long journey with an stopover at Honolulu, I arrived Down Under with very swollen feet. Met by daughter, I was whisked off to Bondi Beach where I was introduced to multiple twenty-year olds apartment sharing and a trip the following day to trendy Kings Cross, red light district at night but just funky during the day. Visited a big indoor market there with tarot card readers, handicraft sellers and second hand clothing, not a kangaroo in sight, but lots of boomerangs. Bought a necklace of pink and lilac leather fashioned as eucalyptus leaves adorned with dried nuts, and had a foot massage after plunging my still swollen ankles in a not very clean looking bucket of water. After my birth sign was consulted, was advised by my hippy masseuse to eat everything white.....potatoes, rice, chicken, bananas, white bread. Ugh! I seem to remember we had a meal in an inexpensive Moroccan restaurant that evening sitting on cushions on the floor. The meal was very colourful! So this was Bondi Beach with its lifeguards and topless sunbathers. I quietly observed Ozzie beach life and definitely kept my top in place.
My daughter took time off work and advised me to put my credit card away; we were going travelling her style and to suit her pocket on buses, local trains and lots of walking. We did the sights of Sydney and clambered around the Blue Mountains, but still I had not seen a kangaroo and my feet were constantly swollen.
I mention the kangaroo, as my scarf today has a large one in one corner with three boomerangs in the other corners. It is silk, sewn and painted by hand, deep blue with turquoise borders. The kangaroo and boomerangs are decorated as in a stained glass window and all the outlines are in gold. A steady hand needed for this work.
We were now off on our budget adventure, flying to Alice Springs. Wow, it was hot and yes, there were flies. Now, I saw kangaroos and deserts. Lots. We were booked into the Stuart Arms Hotel, the oldest hotel going back to 1888. It was demolished In 1986 shortly after our visit. Little did I know, one could book a room there with or without sheets! Does that tell you something? We had sheets....of a sort! Our room was above the bar frequented by mostly Aborigines and it was noisy. I have to admit my first sight of such different faces to mine was startling, but after a few days I was accustomed to them. I was fascinated by their culture and art. That first evening, we went out for a meal and we still agree it was the best we have ever had...and I have eaten in some fancy places. My first experience of a real Pavlova. I was interested to visit the Araluen Art Centre to see the local art, as Araluen was the name of a house we once owned in Essex. (Never did find out why the original owner, an engineer, gave it that name when it was built in 1929.) Then there was the Royal Flying Doctor museum. Imagine way back in 1928 flying with only a compass and inadequate maps and having to carry enough fuel for the return to base after visiting a patient with no proper landing strip. My own grandfather with two brothers went to the Gold rush there, having been to the American ones previously. One brother was sadly lost in the Bush, one remained and took up farming, and my grandfather returned to Scotland to settle down. These pioneers must have had a hard life. I don't think they found that much gold!
Off next to Uluru where we had a little more luxury in a modern Sheraton hotel and an evening trip to Ayers Rock so my daughter could take photos of this extraordinary huge lump of rock rising from the desert floor. I didn’t know what she had let me in for the next morning before dawn, we were back at Ayers Rock and, heaven forbid, climbing it. It was surprisingly cold at that early hour. Today, it is not allowed as the Aborigine people have rightly claimed it back as a revered place. I am proud that I did it, as it was no mean feat and many people have died in the attempt. This is the daughter who had me on a single chairlift last year in Capri, frightening the life out of me. At Uluru we had a nice experience feeding a young wild dingo with pieces of our oversized steak from dinner, the white diet now completely ignored. Feeding the wildlife was not encouraged, but those appealing eyes ....... Off then, on a long coach trip over barren desert areas with lots of kangaroos and even camels to visit the Olgas, other amazing giant rocks. By now it was hot, hot, hot!
Another plane trip to Brisbane on the Gold Coast, fruit bats galore, koalas in captivity and grand, stately architecture, followed by yet another trip by plane, small this time, to Hamilton Island and thence on a boat to Telford South Molle in the Whitsunday Islands. Now we could settle for a week’s relaxation by the Barrier Reef. Do remember I have done all this travelling with one small bag which had to fit under my airplane seat as a courier. At the end of our week’s stay the resort had a fancy dress party. Little resources for this on hand. I had been inventive earlier in the week when going for a walk over the island in warm rain whilst daughter took scuba diving lessons, and improvised with a large black plastic bin bag as a raincoat. I looked at the used teabags from our morning cuppa, attached them to my earrings, remembered my black bin bag, turned it now into a dress with a scarf as a belt....and voila I went to the party as The Old Bag. Won first prize, a bottle of indifferent fizz.
Don’t know what the kangaroos would have made of my outfit. It didn’t have a pouch, but then my joeys had long since hopped out and were having their own adventures. I am glad I shared this one. Three action packed weeks with a small handbag.
Busy Bee, Scarf Face!
Series 2, Blog 4.