When we got to Hobart, Tasmania we decided to roam around. One of attractions we decided to visit was the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Grardens, mainly for the Japanese Garden, the highlight of the garden and the subject of the photo above. The sheltered, landscaped grounds of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens hold historic plant collections and a large number of significant trees, many dating from the nineteenth century. It also has an increasing number of important conservation collections of Tasmanian plants and the world’s only Subantarctic Plant House. Prior to European settlement local Aboriginal tribes used the site, and traces of their occupation are still apparent. A number of historic structures, including two convict-built walls, date back to the Gardens’ earliest days.
When Lisa and I visited the Museum of Contempory Art, they had an entire wall of beautiful bark paintings without (to me) comprehensible labeling p, with my apologies to the artists I have decided to present them here. Bark painting is an Australian Aboriginal art form, involving painting on the interior of a strip of Eucalyptus bark. This is a continuing form of artistic expression in Arnhem Land and other regions in the Top End of Australia including parts of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Traditionally, bark paintings were produced for instructional and ceremonial purposes and were transient objects. Today, they are keenly sought after by collectors and public arts institutions. Bark paintings are based on sacred designs that include abstract patterns and designs (such as cross-hatching in particular colours) that identify a clan, and also often contain elements of the Eternal Dreamtime. Sometimes the elements of a story are obvious—such as men or animals—but sometimes the elements are symbolic. Many of the myths seem only to be concerned with a particular animal or bird. However in symbolic meaning of great importance. For instance, the Sun is a woman, she creates life and she is often symbolized by water, fire, earth and red ochre, the Moon is male and controls the tides and seasonal cycles – he is often symbolized by snake, dog, frog and also water.
While hunting for fossils in Ethiopia’s Afar Triangle on November 24, 1974, paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson and graduate student Tom Gray stumbled upon the partial remains of a previously unknown species of ape-like hominid. Nicknamed “Lucy,” the mysterious skeleton was eventually classified as a 3.2 million-year-old “Australopithecus afarensis”, one of humankind’s earliest ancestors. Homo sapiens or modern humans evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago, reaching modernity about 50,000 years ago. Prior to the arrival of humans in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, these places were inhabited by another species of hominoid, Homo heidelbergensis or Neanderthals. Neanderthals begin to show on the archaeological record at around 400,000 years ago and became extinct at about 35,000 years ago with the arrival of humans. About 180,000 years ago humans (Homo sapiens) successfully migrated out of Africa. By about 80,000 to 50,000 years ago they were already beginning to diverge into distinct populations. This post will focus on migration to Australia by Homo sapiens, an area untouched by Homo erectus or Neanderthals. Recent findings indicate that Indigenous Australians are probably descendants of the first modern humans to migrate out of Africa. They migrated from Africa to Asia around 80,000 years ago along the coast and arrived in Australia around 50,000 to 70,000 years ago.
The history of Australia is similar to the Americas with European settlers displacing the native peoples by means of force. As time went by, the European invaders have grown more respectful both in Australia and the Americas. This exhibition explores the Aboriginal peoples art and it’s connection with the true nature and experience of the landscape of Australia. The “more appropriate” terms describing the native people of Australia stress the humanity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. “Aboriginal” which in Latin means “from the beginning” and other such European words are used because there is no Aboriginal word that refers to all Aboriginal people in Australia. When we entered this room we immediately felt the spiritually and beauty of the art. The baskets glowed in their own quiet way, the fishing baskets enhanced the room and the paintings completed the picture in a truly Aboriginal people’s way.
Also known affectionately as ‘Vic Market’ or ‘Queen Vic’, the Queen Victoria Market has been the heart and soul of Melbourne for more than a century. A historic landmark spread over two city blocks, it’s a vibrant and bustling inner-city market where you can shop for everything from Australian fruit and vegetables, and local and imported gourmet foods, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs. Because there is so much to see, I have broken the post into fruits and vegetables, this is obviously the vegetable portion. Although the variety of vegetables looks similar to an American supermarket, the species and names are often different. I love farmers markets and while I understand many will find these posts less interesting, you cannot understand the food on your plate without understanding the ingredients. The watchwords of the new cuisine are local, fresh and renewable.
Also known affectionately as ‘Vic Market’ or ‘Queen Vic’, the Queen Victoria Market has been the heart and soul of Melbourne for more than a century. A historic landmark spread over two city blocks, it’s a vibrant and bustling inner-city Market where you can shop for everything from Australian fruit and vegetables, and local and imported gourmet foods, to cosmetics, clothing and souvenirs. Because this is such a large market, I have divided this post into fruits and vegetables. Obviously this is the fruit portion and while the fruit looks familiar, the varieties are sometimes very different. I have also chosen to include the histories of these fruits, a guide to our past and the Neolithic revolution.
The Sydney Opera House is such an iconic landmark that it would be virtually impossible to write anything original so I have gathered together the pictures I took of it from various perspectives and times of the day. The architect of Sydney Opera House, Jørn Utzon was a relatively unknown 38 year old Dane until January 29, 1957 when his entry, scheme number 218, was announced winner of the ‘International competition for a national opera house at Bennelong Point, Sydney’. With his vision the City of Sydney was to become an international city. The completion of this building created a piece of architectural art that became iconic, a symbol of the times, like the Pyramids, the Parthenon of Athens, the Colesseum/Aqueducts of Rome, the soaring Gothic cathedrals of medieval Europe and in more modern times the Eiffel Tower, the skyscrapers and the San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge made possible by cheap steel from Henry Bessemer in Europe and Andrew Carnigie in America. No matter the perspective or time of day, the Sydney Opera House gives you that little chill that tells you that you are in the presence of greatness.
When we were in Sydney I wanted to take Lisa for a nice birthday dinner and the hotel suggested the O Bar. Previously known as The Summit restaurant, O Bar and Dining has a revolving floor which captures a 360 degree view across Sydney as well as two bar areas – one which forms part of the building’s stationary center floor and the other which makes up part of the revolving outer section of the restaurant. It sits forty-seven floors above Sydney, in Australia Square Tower, which was built in 1967. O Bar may be Sydney’s loftiest landmark, but still manages to retain some neighborhood warmth. The food is based on chef/owner Michael Moore’s healthy eating philosophy from his best-selling book Blood Sugar. Moore still owns it, but he recently made the move of installing fellow Englishman Darren Templeman to run the kitchen as executive chef. His is a great “High Anglican” cooking of the sort you find in Michelin restaurants in London and around the world, French-influenced but not dominated.
Finding the right hotel can be a tricky business. What seems great for one person/couple may be completely unsuitable for someone else. In general terms hotels can be separated into purpose built American style hotels and renovated older buildings like those often found in Europe. American style hotels usually have much larger lobbies, rooms and other amenities while Europeans are more comfortable with much smaller rooms, beds and actually spend much of their time in the more intimate lobbies. I have come to prefer European style boutique hotels, the smaller rooms don’t affect us since we really just sleep there (although we do appreciate a good bathroom), the more intimate lobbies usually have other guests giving us a chance to socialize, the staff is usually more friendly and surprisingly internet and computer use are almost allways free. My other personal needs are a restaurant preferably with room service, a bar and we both prefer a hotel in a quiet location near but not directly in an area with popular bars/restaurants and attractions. The 1888 Hotel was a referral from a friend and met every requirement and more, we loved this little “home away from home” and we loved the affordability even more.
We decided to visit the rainforest valley floor as part of our tour at “Scenic World” via the incline railway and to return via the gondola. The incline railway, designed by Sydney civil engineer, Norman Selfe, was initially built with twin tracks and was completed in 1882. It passed through a natural tunnel in a slot existing in the cliff face between Orphan Rock and the present site of the tourist center.. A substantial amount of rock blasting was necessary to provide a uniform grade (average of 44°) from the cliff top 200m down to the valley some 30m below the outcrop of the Katoomba coal seam. Travellers on the Scenic Railway, the world’s steepest funicular railway, pass down through, and alongside, sandstone and shale of the Triassic period (between 250 and 205 million years ago) and down to the coal seams and more shale and sandstone of the Permian Period (300 to 250 million years ago). These rocks are all older than the time of the dinosaurs, which was the Jurassic Period.