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On my recent trip to the Kimberley area in the northwest of Australia, I got a conversational comeuppance.  It is useful to get those every once in awhile as it helps put things in perspective.  I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel a fair amount in my life so far, but there were three Australian teachers on the eight-day Outback trip who made me feel like a nomadic neophyte.  One afternoon they sat under a tree comparing notes about their hikes along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Not only have I never been to Machu Picchu, I have never been to South America.  There are two entire continents I missed in my wandering.  It occurred to me then that Australian teachers may be the best travelers in the planet.  Lonely Planet was founded by an  Australian couple, after all.  It is still based in Melbourne.

Teachers may not have deep pockets, but they have time, curiosity, and the inclination to explore.  Australia is far from everyplace except Papua New Guinea and Indonesia, and it is fairly homogeneous. Every Aussie student who has managed to accumulate any sort of nest egg will build a “gap” year into his life plan, setting aside time to see some of the world before settling down.  Getting away for a good, long time seems to be in their genetic code.  Since getting anywhere from here seems to take forever, you may as well set aside as much time as you can to enjoy it.  I asked Lynne and Bronwyn, two of the teachers on the trip, to send me a list of countries they had visited.

” I try to take any opportunity to have a new adventure or see something new. This weekend I am heading up to Sydney to visit my daughter who has just shifted up there. I am claiming the saying– ‘I’m always travelling, I love being free’. Not sure if you are aware but this is a line from the Qantas ad. Very appropriate as we stood on the rocks at the Bungles where the latest version was filmed.  Lynne.”    The following is Lynne’s country list.  She put it in alphabetical order.  She is a teacher, after all.  Lynne was the first to tell me I was misspelling the place we visited.  I had failed to place the second “e” in Kimberley.

Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, England, Fiji, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Nepal, New Zealand, Peru, San Marino, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, The Netherlands, United States, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Vatican City, Vietnam, Wales, Zambia, Zimbabwe

This came from Bronwyn just the other day.  “It is the last class before holidays. I am in the computer room letting them (the students) do what they wish so I am ending as a hero. Going to Noosa for a week (a town north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast in south Queensland) and then? Jannis (daughter)  is doing a road trip up the east coast with another Gap boy. They are living in the car for 6 weeks. They are going to try surfing….

“Well, I have been to Europe including Russia but never the UK. Most of Asia- China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Fiji, New Zealand, BC Canada, Mexico, most of Australia. Have driven Florida to New York and Vancouver to San Diego. It seemed like a lot at the time but now looking at it not much.  Bronwyn.”
Listening to the three teachers talk about their travels was a treat.  I had the sense that they were always learning and challenging themselves.  I’m astonished when I meet people who have traveled a great deal and fail to appreciate differences in language and landscape, traditions and customs.   Especially those who fail to see that other people do certain things better.  Lynne and Bronwyn seem to possess boundless curiosity and a willingness to get out of the comfort zone.  Their students are lucky to have them around to infect them with the travel bug.  Let the infection spread.

The author of this blog is deeply apologetic over the lack of new pics and stories.  It may be difficult for millions of readers to understand, but yours truly is actually too busy to write at the moment.  How can a man who does not work for a living be too busy, you say?

We are in transition again, and there is a lot of preparation required for this particular move.  On Saturday, we will be traveling back to North America.  We’ll stop in Portland to see my son and his family, spend Christmas in Nova Scotia with our daughter, then head down east coast of the U.S.A.  From January to June we will be in Durham, North Carolina.  My wife will be teaching a course at Duke during a sabbatical semester away from the University of Melbourne.

There has been no shortage of lively events in this part of the world.  The Liberals had such a big fight about a  Labour plan to introduce emissions  trading that Malcolm Turnbull was toppled from leadership.  His team had negotiated with the government to go along with emissions trading and this did not sit well with the more conservative members of the party.  Tony Abbott has taken over.  He’s just challenged Prime Minister Rudd to a series of debates about the emissions trading scheme.

Abbott’s a former Rhodes Scholar, so I’m sure the debate will be intelligent and enlightening.   Australia is one of the biggest contributors to global warming around on a per capita basis (if not the biggest) and the country stands to be severely affected by an increase in temperature.  Weather plays a huge role in bushfires, and the current agricultural practices are unsustainable.

But Aussies, like Americans, are highly suspicious of scientists, intellectuals and environmentalists and they don’t care for change based on something they can’t see.  Even intelligent individuals are capable of convincing themselves that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by tree huggers.  I’m just not sure what they think the purpose is.  What do we stand to gain?  This is not a case of simply wanting to say “I told you so.”

I was happy to see that some young students from Damascus College in Ballarat are committed to countering the spin that is currently coming out of the mainstream media.  They have built themselves a speedy velomobile, and they are currently riding from Darwin to Melbourne.  That is a distance of 3775 kilometers (2360 miles) across the inhospitable Outback.

They started November 29th and hope to arrive on December 9.   They have already ridden across the continent.  Right now they are resting up in Adelaide for the final push.  The aim is to raise funds and awareness about the impact of global warming on the poor people in the world.  Cheer them on or contribute to their quest at “Rage Against Greenhouse Emissions”  at http://roderage.com.au/

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