Jennifer at Devils Marbles, NT
Tourism Australia calls travelers (like me) “Experience Seekers.” Their definition goes like this: Experience seekers share a unique set of values, attitudes and motivations that stretch beyond holiday behaviour and well beond the category of travel. When I traveled to Australia for a two-month vacation, I was in it for the experience. I traveled on the “no plan” plan, arriving in Sydney without a single hotel reservation and one train ticket in hand.
I chose to see Australia on my terms, on my time, and in my own way, and it was an experience beyond anything I could have planned. Joseph Campbell, a scholar who studied 240 different cultures, said it best, “We are not looking for the meaning in life, we are looking for the experience of being alive.” After revisiting the trip through writing “An American in Oz,” I can positively agree. Life is to be experienced, and there is an adventurer in all of us.
Australia woke me up to the possibilities of living in the moment and allowing life to show me the way. Ever since I returned to the ‘States, a shift occurred. No longer would I plan every detail through retirement. No longer would I try to figure it all out ahead of time, because I finally realized there were better plans waiting for me than I could ever come up with on my own.
Take a chance, live in the moment, and trust your inner GPS, your intuition, to lead you to a life well-lived.
Australia Day, also known as Foundation Day and Invasion Day, is the official national day of Australia. Celebrated on the 26th of January each year, it marks the arrival of the first British fleet in 1788. It’s a bit controversial to celebrate what was a brutal beginning in the history books. Sadly, the story is similar to the way newcomers in the United States treated Native Americans. Work continues in both Oz and the USA to heal wounds and make peace, so that we can all get along to honor and celebrate our differences. To read more about Australia’s clash with outsiders, read “The Fatal Shore” by Robert Hughes. Learning from our past is the best way forward to a better future. And for all those celebrating a day off work today, make it a good one…be kind, especially to your friends and relatives!
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An American in Oz – Discovering the Island Continent of AUSTRALIA won first place in Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards Contest Action/Adventure Non-Fiction category! Thanks to everyone who voted, commented, and sent good vibes on the contest page. Click here to read more.
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First and foremost, what is a podcast? There are many different kinds of podcasts, and for the purpose of this blog, I’ll describe the one mentioned below. A podcast is a digital audio recording of a radio interview that can be downloaded onto an iPod or mp3 player, saved indefinitely, and listened to anywhere at any time of day as often as you choose.
For the past two years, ever since my friend David in Queensland told me about ABC Radio National’s “The Book Show,” I’ve been making regular visits to the website. (ABC stands for Australian Broadcasting Corporation.) Ramona Koval (left) is the host. She interviews authors and book reviewers from around the world, and her podcasts offer a fascinating look into the literary world. There are recordings from Australia book shows in Melbourne and Perth, as well as one-on-one interviews with authors such as Yann Martel, who wrote Life of Pi and Roseanne Barr who wrote Roseannearchy: Dispatches from the Nut Farm. Even Rosanne found her way to Ramona’s show. That interview was on July 8, just a few weeks ago. As you can see, there’s something for everyone, from serious to sarcastic. ABC Radio National hosts a wide variety of shows and music stations that can be found here.
If you have yet to get an iPod or an mp3 player, I highly recommend it. It’s great to be able to listen to a recording that, ten short years ago, would’ve been missed had we not tuned in to a radio station at just the right time to hear it live. And forget about getting reception all the way from Australia! Technology is a wonderful thing.
Education is the path to living a joyful, prosperous, healthy, and peaceful life. It also played a leading role in the life of my grandfather, Meredith G. Williams Sr. He was an educator and high school principal. Today, there’s a middle school named after him in Bridgewater, Massachusetts.
When I learned about Australia’s “School of the Air,” an unconventional classroom that brings education to children living on cattle and sheep stations and government posts in the remote outback, I was impressed by the efforts teachers and students took in order to study reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic in ”the middle of nowhere.”
With the use of voice only two-way radios, the teacher gave the lessons and the students provided feedback whenenever the connection was strong enough to transmit. Once a year, there are reunions and gatherings of all those who participate throughout Australia, in centralized locations, so they can meet one another face-to-face. Some say, these children receive a better education than those who sit in regular classrooms, because their desire and appreciation for what they have is stronger.
In 2009, Australia announced that it will invest over $40 billion, that’s B for billions of dollars, to provide Internet service to 90% of its population. The remote stations will have satellite and wireless service, and this will result in better connections to School of the Air. Visuals and interactive classroom discussions will surely be added, and parents may begin hearing the early morning question, ”What should I wear to school today?”!
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An American in Oz – Discovering the Island Continent of AUSTRALIA has been nominated for a Global eBook Award in the “Action/Adventure Non-Fiction” category!!
To vote, comment, connect to Facebook, Tweet, or simply visit the official website, click here. I really appreciate your support. Winners will be announced in August!
The Great Barrier Reef
An American visiting Oz, Ian Cole, was snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef last Saturday when he was left behind by tour boat operators. The crew either forgot to take the all-important head count, or they counted wrong, and they left without him.
When I was planning to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef, I knew it was going to be at least an hour’s cruise into the wide open spaces of the Pacific Ocean. I heard true stories about tourists being left behind and never seen again. It’s rare, but it happens, and I didn’t want it to happen to me. When I heard about Ian, that he was left behind this past weekend, the possibility that it could’ve been me was all too real. It was for this same reason that I was advised to seek a small, “snorkel only” boat that takes twenty people max. That’s what I did, and I had a great experience. There are sharks out there people! And it’s a long way to swim to shore. Impossible really.
This story has a happy ending. Ian was able to swim to another boat nearby and catch a ride back, but it wasn’t without his moments of sheer panic and fear. The buddy system goes a long way to do our part in staying safe. Look up often enough and you or your buddy will see when others are boarding for the ride home. Australia is a beautiful country. The Great Barrier Reef is spectacular. Go. Swim. Dive. Snorkel. It’s easy to get lost in the beauty of the reef, but please keep an eye on the boat!
For more about this story Click Here.
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Populations tell a lot about a place. How many live in a specific area gives us an idea how easy and pleasant it is to live there. Looking at Australia’s population compared to the population of Texas puts the outback into perspective. Here’s how: Australia is a continent nearly the same size as the continental United States. At last count, there were approximately 22 million residents of Australia. There are 24 million people who live in the state of Texas. That means, if everyone in the United States, Alaska and Hawaii included, moved somewhere else, let’s say, Canada, leaving the United States empty…and then all the residents of Australia moved to Texas, leaving the 49 states empty, there would still be room for 2 million more people to move into Texas. Wow. That’s how empty Australia is. Most of Australia’s population lives along the coast because life in the outback is very difficult.
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In Australia, the term “Coach Captain” has nothing to do with sports and everything to do with tourism. A coach captain is a tour bus driver, and the post garners a great amount of respect. The coach captain’s uniform includes stripes on the shoulders, and the best tour operators know the value of a good captain. Here’s an article if you’d like to read more.
Australian folk singer and songwriter, Ted Egan, wrote a catchy tune called “Our Coach Captain.” I heard it years ago, and whenever I think about this subject, this happy song pops in my head and brightens my day. Above is a picture of a coach captain standing by the driver’s seat. Notice that the seat is on the right side of the vehicle. Driving on the opposite side of the road takes a lot of getting used to…one of the many reasons a tour bus ride is a very good idea.
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Dr. Doolittle’s pushmi-pullyu was among the many stuffed animals I kept piled in a corner of my room when I was a child. This two-headed gentle and friendly creature was one of my favorites. Maybe it’s time to add it back into my collection, thanks to the Internet where anything and everything can be found.
In September 2010, while attending my publisher’s annual author’s conference, I met author and talk show host Val Heart, also known as ”The Real Dr. Doolittle.” We became instant friends when we learned of our mutual respect and compassion for all animals great and small.
While sharing what I discovered about the rare and unusual animals of Australia, almost as odd as the pushmi-pullyu, Val invited me to be a guest on her radio program called “The Real Dr. Doolittle Show.” I answered “Yes!” and a few months later our podcast was complete. Val asked great questions, and I had fun talking about animals found only in a land called “Oz.” To listen to and/or download the recording, click here.
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