Thursday, October 14, 2010

Australia Walkabout

S/Y Aspen – October 14, 2010 – Log #52
Position: 11 degrees 45' S 128 degrees 26.0' E (UTC +9.0 Hours)
At Sea

Australia was one of the highlights of our journey so far. We stopped
in Darwin at the Top End of Australia for 2 weeks to prepare for our
onward trip and to take a walkabout. A walkabout is an Aborigine word
for, simply, a vacation!

During our time at the Top End of the continent we rented a 4x4 vehicle
and toured Kakadu National Park and Litchfield National Park last week.
We saw Aboriginal rock art that included hundreds of nearly 20,000
year old paintings on the desert rocks. The colors that they used in
their paintings was vivid and bright, reflecting their attitude on life.
We have come to understand the meaning of Dreamtime that is part of
the Aboriginal culture describing how they came to live on this
continent. Their neighbors, New Zealand and Polynesia had highly
developed cultures, fierce warriors and the ability to travel thousands
of miles across the ocean. Aborigines, on the other hand, are nomadic
people that did not develop villages or singular places to live. They
simply moved with the ever changing seasons to find food, water and shelter.

When Captain Cook arrived in Australia he offered the Aborigines that
met him on the beach trinkets as tokens of friendship. The Aborigines
simply ignored the gifts and turned their backs on Captain Cook and his
ships, pretending that they didn't exist. That is just the Aborigine

Their indigenous music comes mostly from the didgeridoo, the oldest
musical instrument in the world, as well as two short sticks stuck
together like a drum to create the beat. The didgeridoo is made from a
hollowed out tree limb that is eaten by termites. This is then
decorated to create both an interesting sound as well as a multicolored
piece of art. Of course we had to buy one but it is too long to carry
around on the boat so we had to ship it to Colorado. Look for the
release of our CD coming to your store sometime soon!

Australia is a very young and modern country with very few people. We
traveled 1,600 miles along the east coast and found hundreds of miles of
coastline without any people, services or anything except wilderness.
Cell phones are useless because there is nothing there at all. In all
of Australia there are only about 19 million people - about the same
amount of people that live in the Los Angeles area! But the Australian
people are scattered amongst a huge continent!! It is pretty amazing.

The Aboriginal people are included in that population number. In the
past and even today they tend to wander far and wide, taking walkabouts!
They are also adapted to the intense heat that exists here at the Top
End of Australia, much better than we are. We are suffering in the 100
degree daily heat and 100% humidity. It is oppressive to say the least
and we are lucky that this is the dry season!

The most common expressions that everyone uses here are "no worries" and
"no dramas". They like to end their sentences with those all the time.

Yesterday we lifted our anchor (by hand because the trusty electric
windless decided to quit) and we are now sailing toward Indonesia. Our
next stop in 4 days will be Kupang, Indonesia, an entirely different
culture than anything we have ever experienced.

Sail on sail on Aspen...