The Pursuit of…

It seems that most people would allow that one of their most common pursuits is of happiness but it seems to me that happiness is, by its nature, and ephemeral thing.  For me the pursuit of contentment makes more sense.  Happiness comes and goes as events occur but the pursuit of contentment may result in the maintenance of real contentment.

I have to admit that contentment has eluded me so far but I may find it one day and if I do I will be able to say to myself that my life has not been wasted.  I have achieved some things in my life that I find highly satisfying and when I exercise the rights and privileges pertaining to those things I an both happy and content.  But there is too much in my life that pushes happiness and contentment away from me.

When I was very much younger I used to find contentment in wandering in the Australian bush.  I always saw kangaroos in their natural state, snakes in theirs, goannas and the occasional echidna.  There were no koalas where I lived back then.  I used to wander at night as well as during the day and way out there where there were no lights of towns and cities the night sky was magnificent and uplifting.  It inspired thoughts without limit.  The Milky Way and the full moon made nights almost like days, there was even some colour to be seen around one.

The bush was is quiet at night, very passive; it seemed to be very content in a way that attracted and influenced me and still does so many years later.

What’s Eating Australia?

Right now one answer is India.  Our conservative politicians bend over and take it up their rears when India wants to turn Australia into one great big coal mine (Adani) but when Australia wants something from India we don’t get it and well our ratbag government just bends over again and take it up their bums and they expect all of us to do the same.

Coal is rapidly becoming a commodity that no-one wants!  Already burning it to make electricity costs more than renewables and this disparity will only become more in favour renewables in the future.  Adani may open it’s great Australian hole and then find that what comes out of it will be unsellable.  And this will be at the cost of the total loss of the Great Barrier Reef.  The Reef is already seriously damaged and in some substantial area damaged beyond recovery but it is still worth more to Australia via tourism and medical science than any coal mine, no matter how big, could ever be.

Australia’s coalition government is craven, disunited, stupid and fearful.  They hate the poor and middle classes but love the rich no matter how immoral or corrupt the rich may be.

Of course Adani is not the only thing eating Australia.  We are far too close to the USA and we really need to be more independent, to stand up for ourselves and not ask the US “How high sire” when they tell us to jump.  Especially but not exclusively now while the USA has Trump as President and Trump’s cabinet which reflects the President’s idiocy, ignorance and prejudice.

Honestly, I would prefer China as our closest ally over the USA!

Summer Silence

There is in NSW Australia a 3,000 km² area of semi-arid woodland in temperate north-central New South Wales, Australia. It is the largest such continuous remnant in the state. Unfortunately in recent times this forest, named the Pilliga Scrub or just “The Pilliga”, has been opened up to fracking operations. You can see the fracking operations in the upper right, between the A39 and B51 roads. They are the small bare areas on the map below. They should never have been allowed.

Map picture

When I was growing up I spent a fair bit of time in The Pilliga. In summer it is very hot and very quiet.  The heat is quite oppressive and shade not all that abundant. However, if you sit still and listen you don’t hear much, just the occasional rustling of a goanna in the undergrowth. Occasionally I would hear an Australian Raven, sometimes called the undertaker of the bush, it was a remarkably miserable sound as the last note of the call was extended and fell in tone. They are quite big birds and often weight more than half a kilogram. They were always rather intelligent too, using tools to get at ants and grubs. If you point a stick at them they would often fly away, just in case you were about to shoot at them with a rifle.

Except for a few species the trees of the scrub seemed to all stop growing at about 6 metres (20’). Exceptions were the big iron bark trees (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) which legally belonged to the state railway before concrete sleepers began to be used. The timber getter could come onto anyone’s property to cut the iron barks into sleepers and deliver them to the state railway. Red Ironbark is a very strong, tough, eucalypt specie with very rough bark. the wood was often used in wharves and bridges because of its strength and very long lasting properties. It is very hard to work but does produce a beautiful finish. These trees could grow up to 10.3 metres tall (about 34’).

That part of Australia gets most of its water from thunderstorms so actual falls in any particular part were very variable but they tended to average out at about 560 mm (22’) per year. My father reckoned however that the actual rainfall was gradually reducing; I think he must have been aware of global warming very early on. He first mentioned it to me in the 1960’s.

Eric Rolls (now deceased) wrote a book about The Pilliga and named it “A Million Wild Acres” and subtitled “200 years of Man and an Australian Forest”. It is not brilliantly written but it is very interestingly written and if you can find a copy I would recommend it to you. Of course the Australian aborigines had occupied the area long before white men did and evidence of their occupation can be seen at sites within The Pilliga.

The Outback

The Outback is the majority of the Australian landscape away, mostly, from the coast but some coastal areas can also be genuinely regarded as being ‘outback’. Very few people live in the outback because the climate is harsh and communications, particularly in the internet age, are fairly poor.

Americans like to talk about how everything is big in Texas but in Australia we have a few cattle properties (I guess and American would call them ranches) which are actually bigger than the entire state of Texas.  This is why Australian cattlemen use helicopters to round up and drive cattle when they need attention or are to be sold.

Image result for helicopter round up Australia

Helicopters used for cattle (and camel) round up are flown very low and the job can be quite dangerous. To watch a helicopter round up is to experience a rollercoaster of excitement.

Many years ago, in the 1800’s, Australia imported a small number of camels and Afghani cameleers to manage them. They provided transport into the outback before there were roads or any other form of communication. When road trains, railways and aircraft began to be developed the need for the camels ceased and they were allowed to run wild. And they bred! Now the Australian outback is being overrun with camels, very big and very healthy camels, so it came about that some Australians began to round up camels and export them to the Middle East. I know the bloke who started this and he has described to me what it was like when it all began. Of course the business was quite speculative then and has had periods of no activity.

The camels have been exported for use in racing and for slaughtering for their meat. But Australia still has far too many camels in country that was never meant for them.  They muddy water holes and make them unavailable for the animals that would normally use them, so efforts are being made to bring the camel population down to a manageable number.

The Afghani cameleers brought Islam to Australia and as a result we have hundreds of mosques here, many of them much older than most Australians would believe.

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Australian Mosque, built sometime between 1861 and 1882. It has been abandoned for a long time now.

Here is a much more modern and still used mosque in a Sydney suburb:

The interior of this mosque is quite beautiful, spectacular.

Australia is, and has long been, a very culturally diverse country, a fact that I revel in and greatly enjoy. There are quite a few descendants of the original cameleers living in Australia now.