Last day in Sydney (for now)


Did I mention that Australia's really freaking expensive?

The last couple of days I've spent a certain amount of time dealing with a logistical matter—mailing my corduroy sportjacket back home. I HAD to have it on Monday, January 16th on my way to the airport, as it was -5 degrees C. But for the rest of my trip temperatures will be hovering around 30 degrees C, and corduroy definitely won't be necessary. So I found a post office, bought a box to mail it home, filled out the forms, and this morning walked it downtown to Sydney's one Saturday-open post office to send it—Aus$50! Yow!

As I left the Lodge this morning for the post office, it was spitting a bit. With my intense knowledge of Aussie weather, I looked at the sky and determined that it wasn't going to be much, so I took my beach stuff, intending, after mailing my sportjacket home, to head over to Manly Beach for some sun and photos of Aussie surfers. (I should mention that I was aided in this nonsense by an app—my Blackberry weather app said it was going to be "partly cloudy" for the day.) Not to be. As I exited the post office ($50 poorer), it began to rain, and it rained—hard—for two hours. Though one of those hours was spent quite pleasantly, in a covered patio of a coffee shop sipping a terrific cappucino and watching people go by, the beach, clearly, was out.

To protect my camera, I had to take my beach towel out of my backpack to make room. I must have looked pretty stupid hiking back to the Lodge with my beach towel! No beach, but spent the afternoon at the Australian National Museum's exhibit of aboriginal art. Very eye-opening. Hopefully I'm not the only person who wasn't aware of the stunning diversity of Australia's aboriginal peoples. We're used to them being described as "Aborigines," as if they're a unitary lot, but, of course, now that it's been driven home to me, they're not. In fact, Australia's aboriginal peoples speak dozens of languages, some of them unrelated!

The exhibit itself was built around the creation of the "Canning Stock Route," a trail set up by Australian cattle interests so that cattle could be driven through the desert from NE Western Australia to Central Western Australia to market. The route crucially made use of aboriginal water "soaks." Many of the soaks were where "whitefellas" drilled wells so their cattle could drink. Now even those who don't know much about aboriginal culture know that land and water are central to their cultures and belief systems. Imagine how they felt, and it's not surprising that there were conflicts.

Today's observation:

  • One of the most astonishing things about Australia so far, IMHO, the thing that boggles my mind is the extent to which when young women go out at night, no matter what night, they absolutely dress to the nines! Even if they're not going out with men, they obviously put in a lot of effort to look their absolute best. For the last three nights (Thursday, Friday, and, tonight, Saturday) the streets have been full of young women looking like they're on the way to the prom! (And I'm not even staying in that nice a neighbourhood!) Guys don't seem to be wedded to the same aesthetic—apparently a clean, pressed shirt will do.


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