Thursday, May 02, 2019

Australian Sojourn – April-May 2019

Part 1: Guruk

I've been in Australia, the country of my birth, since April 23 – a week-and-a-half ago. I was last in the "Great South Land" visiting family and friends a little less than two years ago. It definitely feels good to be back.

This visit is shaping up to be somewhat different from previous ones in that, so far, I'm not doing much traveling around but staying put with my parents in Port Macquarie. They're both dealing with some health issues, the extent of which was unknown to me prior to my arrival. Basically, it's important for me to be here with them, at least for another week or so. Perhaps after that I'll make my way to other parts of the country to catch-up with other family members and friends.

This evening I share some images and commentary on my journey to Australia and my time to date in Port Macquarie, which for the Birpai, the Indigenous people of the area, is known as Guruk.

Above: Preparing to take off from Los Angeles to Sydney – Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019. It was also my Dad's 82nd birthday that day. . . . And it would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to say a big 'thank you' to my friend George for helping me secure a really sweet deal on my return-trip ticket to Australia!

Pictured with my boarding pass are my colorful bracelets. The larger metal one is a gift from my friend Mahad.

Above: My reading material on my long journey to Australia was spiritual teacher and Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson's new book, A Politics of Love: A Handbook for a New American Revolution.

I bought the book at the Barnes and Noble in The Galleria in Edina, MN on Sunday, April 21 – just a few hours before I headed to the airport. The book wasn't actually due to be released until Tuesday, April 23, but thanks to an obliging staff member I was able to purchase a copy ahead of its official release date, as the store had copies in its storeroom.

To give you a flavor of both Williamson's book and politics, here's a brief excerpt from A Politics of Love.

People think politics is so ugly, and part of it is. But there is something else there too, when we allow it to unfold – something noble and meaningful and good. As someone who has been speaking to audiences regularly for thirty-five years, I have seen something wonderful happen when people sit together in a room and consider the most significant questions about their common existence.

. . . I have had the good fortune in my career to see people at their best – not necessarily when they were at their happiest, but when they were at their deepest and most real. Whether counseling a single person or talking to a large audience, I have been with people in that place – everyone knows it, we've all been there – where life is serious and hushed and true, even when painful. We should participate in politics with the same level of consciousness we bring to intimate love and therapy, parenting, and all of our most important and meaningful pursuits. We should bring all of ourselves to politics. We should bring our hearts and minds and deepest dedication to something bigger than ourselves. Politics is very, very serious business in a country as big and powerful as ours; when we get it right, it can be a beautiful thing, but when we get it wrong, it can be a terrible thing. And we are all responsible for that. With every election, with every campaign, we are deciding what is possibly the fate of millions, the fate of the earth, even perhaps the fate of humanity. If that is not a sacred charge, I cannot imagine what is.

Above: Landing in Sydney on the morning of Tuesday, April 23 after a 14-and-a-half hour flight from Los Angeles, I made my way to Central Station. My train from Sydney to Port Macquarie was scheduled to leave at around 11:45 a.m.

Left: Outside of Sydney's Central Station – Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Above: The Grand Concourse of Sydney's Central Station – Tuesday, April 23, 2019.

Opened in 1906 (the year of my maternal grandmother's birth), Central Station is Australia's largest railway station.

Right: Breakfasting at Central Station in a rather fancy restaurant that's new since last I was here in 2017.

Above: On the seven-hour train trip from Sydney to Port Macquarie I sat next to Nina, a lovely lady in her late 60s. At one point in our conversation she shared that she admires President Donald Trump. I asked her why and she said because he wasn't a regular, business-as-usual, two-faced politician, and because he was doing something about "all those dangerous Mexicans flooding the border." She thought that Australia needed a similar type of non-traditional political leader. It was an interesting conversation that followed.

I acknowledged that the desire for non-"business as usual" political leaders was a legitimate one, but questioned if authoritarian populist figures like Trump was the way to go. I also shared with her some facts about the situation on the U.S./Mexico border. By the end of our journey together, Nina thanked me for sharing with her a different way of looking at what's going on in the U.S.; for introducing her to non-"business as usual," progressive populist figures such as Bernie Sanders and Marianne Williamson; and for "being so patient" with her.

Above, right, and below: The New South Wales Mid North Coast town of Port Macquarie, which has been home to my parents since 2002.

"Guruk" is the traditional Birpai name for that area of Australia that includes what is now known as Port Macquarie.

Above: The sculpture in Port Macquarie's Mrs York’s Garden entitled "Together as One (Guri wakul gagil)."

Described as a "contemporary interpretation of Australia’s first surf rescue," the work, erected in 2016, commemorates the events of December 9, 1827, when seven Aboriginal men rescued the crew of a small European pilot boat after it was capsized by a large wave.

Following is how Port Macquarie's commandant at the time, Captain F.C. Crotty, described the incident in his diary.

In the morning, after the Alligator had sailed and the Pilot had just landed in the inner harbour, a tremendous wave upset the boat, throwing the crew of seven into the surge. The sea ran so high that no European would venture to assist them. Seven aborigines coming up dashed into the surge and succeeded in gaining the boat, which they soon righted and placed four of the crew in her, after which they went to the assistance of the other three men. They brought them safe on shore, one nearly exhausted. Nothing could exceed the bravery and humanity with which these poor blacks acted on this occasion. . . . Governor Darling ordered a medal to be struck for each of them and blankets and trousers supplied.

Above: Located in the center of Port Macquarie, The Glasshouse comprises a 600-seat theatre, rehearsal/performance studio, an art gallery, conference facilities, heritage displays, and a Tourism Information Center.

Left: Legendary British vocalist Petula Clark is scheduled to perform at The Glasshouse on Sunday, May 12. I'm seriously considering attending her show! My parents saw her at the same venue back in 2014. For my mum's review of that particular performance, click here.

Above: With Mum and Dad – Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Above: Lunch with Mum and Dad and my niece Layne and her boyfriend Jack – Port Macquarie, Sunday, April 28, 2019.

Above: Mum and Dad with their good friends Bob and Daphne – Friday, April 26, 2019.

Above: At Port Macquarie's Town Beach – Thursday, May 2, 2019.

Above: Views of the Hastings River and its bird life – Tuesday, April 30, 2019.

Above and right: At Flynns Beach – Thursday, April 25, 2019.

NEXT: On Sacred Ground

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Return to Guruk (2017)
Australian Sojourn – May 2016: Port Macquarie
Australian Sojourn – April 2015: Port Macquarie, Wingham, and Ellenborough Falls
Port Macquarie Days (2014)
Port Macquarie (2008)

Images: Michael J. Bayly (except image of Marianne Williamson which is by Helga Esteb/

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