Right, so Oz is what folks down here call Australia for short. We went to Australia basically for three reasons. 1. To see friends of friends. 2. To go the Melliodora, Dave Holmgren’s permaculture spot. 3. Because we were in NZ and Australia is relatively close as compared to when we are in the US.
We flew into Melbourne and stayed at a dope air bnb that was an apartment 14 floors up in the heart of the city. I can’t say I minded. I apparently was craving some urban environment, and Melbourne is a particularly nice one.
I even went shopping for some…new clothes. *gasp* I don’t really shop. Melbourne CBD (central business district) is pretty much tea shops, dumpling houses, and lots and lots of shopping. As much as I live to promote co-creation as apposed to consumption…I loved it. I think it was just that everything was relatively new to me and yet familiar. There is a strong asian influence and large asian population in Melbourne, and it was really great to experience the varieties of foods especially. We went to the National Art Gallery and the Melbourne Museum. City stuff. I also got to do a bunch of yoga. City stuff. Which is stuff I don’t get to do that often, so I took full advantage and tried on all the octopus fingers in the Melbourne gift shop.
After a few days in Melbourne, having gorged ourselves on the urban lyfe we headed northward into Victoria to Daylesford, a mineral springs town not unlike Saratoga Springs with the horse racing culture and whatnot. As we drove through the rolling, dry country side I started to quickly become acquainted with the dominant biome of the region, the “Eucalypt Forest,” which, as you may have guessed means a shit load of eucalyptus trees.
Eucalyptus is rather novel to me, but I began to understand why it’s one of least expensive essential oils on the shelf and that is because there are a lot of eucalypts and they are very big. The smell of a dry eucalypt forest is amazing, like the cleanest forest you’ve ever walked through. Eucalypt forests are also akin to redwood forests solely for the reason that they need fire to germinate, which is why the state of Victoria has so many “bush” aka wild fires. The aboriginal peoples practiced controlled burning, as many indigenous peoples seem to have done int he past, to influence the growth of the forests.
Currently, however, the bush fires have become worse and worse and the fire season longer. We went to Daylesford to get to Hepburn Springs, which is where Dave Holmgren, one of the co-originators of the permacutlure concept lives and works with his partner, Su Dennett. There was a bush fire next to their property, called Melliodora, not six weeks before we arrived. The hillside across the way was blackened and there was still smoke in the air.
Before we went to Melliodora to meet Dave and Su, we spent a few days hanging around Daylesford and the area, drinking mineral water that tasted like the water out of my grandmother’s tap, walking through the eucalyptus forests, and listening in pleasure to the lovely flutelike caroling of the magpies-when they weren’t interrupted by the sulfer crested cockatoos.
One day my mom decided we should go to a national park called The Grampians. I was just along for the ride at this point, so we made the two hour trek to Hall’s Gap, where we got to experience the Grampians mountain formation. Three pictures of me being equally beguiled by a short walk in the smokey Grampians National Park. Missed out on the climbing again, but I was still pleased to be there. Grampians (before it was Grampians) is a sacred spot to the Jardwadjali and there is a beautifully and intentionally constructed aboriginal cultural center there.
It was quite smokey in the Grampians, but we enjoyed the rock formations and cultural learning opportunities. We also had ice cream. I love ice cream. We also saw our first wallaby and kangaroo!
Our tour of the Melliodora property and home was inspiring and it was definitely cool to see in physical form one of the people to whom I owe a lot of my philosophy. I’m glad he and Bill Mollison wrote down the concepts how they did. I found Dave and Su to be wholly unassuming and open. Their property an awesome result of experiment and adaptation. There was also an old male kangaroo on their property who totally freaked me out with his all-too-human arms and creepy long claws. It’s rare that I’m freaked out by an animal but that kangaroo really did it for me.
On our way back to the Melbourne airport, we stopped at a state park called Hanging Rock, another sacred aboriginal place. You could tell it was special as well.
Australia was hot and cold and flat and not and a lot to take in for just a week. We saw about as much of Australia that someone who visited New Hampshire would have seen the United States, so there’s definitely more to explore in that rugged country.
Back to cool, rainy New Zealand!