March 3, 2013
Yesterday I travelled south along the edge of the Melbourne harbour to Sandringham, to meet up with my dad's colleague and his wife. Lovely people who I met eons ago when they visited us in Washington. Anyway, my dad and Eric have collaborated on a number of publications on coastal geomorphology (how beaches are made), and have known each other for years. Eric and his wife Juliet, a geography prof, are "Fellows" at the University of Melbourne, which I think is equivalent to the US status of "professor emeritus."
So of course, with the common thread of coastal
geomorphology, we visited a few beaches. But what was cool (for me, as
the art person) was that this area of Melbourne was once home to a group
of artists, in the mid-to-late 1800s and early 1900s; the current
community has reproduced a number of paintings by those artists to
display along the beach edge. It was interesting to see the various
styles - some obviously Impressionistic, some almost Fauvist - as well
as seeing the changes in the landscape as both humans and the sea have
impacted the shoreline. And of course there's always the amusement of
seeing what people wore to the beach in Victorian times!
There was also an old metal Navy ship that was deliberately sunk as a
breakwater, rusting away by the beach - and looking very strange.
We also went on a bush walk - I'm not sure where we
drove to, other than obviously inland - but we went to a reserve where
the farmland has been allowed to return to native plants. Oh, and the
shore is backed by sandstone bluffs and dunes, which over the last
15,000 years (or so) have been eroded and the sand blown north across
much of the continent, creating the sand deserts one finds over much of
Australia. (This is why one goes hiking with coastal geomorphologists
and geographers.) Anyway, we were hiking on sand, covered in bush -
eucalyptus trees (but no koala), gum trees (but no kookaburras), and all
kinds of low scrub and scratchy plants and things that are totally
unfamiliar to those of us from other continents. The sun was warm, the
sky bright blue, the breeze brisk enough to keep things from getting
hot, and it was a perfect day for a hike. Gorgeous colors and scenery
with a definite wild edge to it.
But alas, the only sign that there are wallabies in the bush was one
set of little wallaby footprints in the sand. We also saw the trail of a
lizard. And a bunch of small birds. No big exciting animals, nothing
one would hope to see (and nothing one would hope to not see, like a
poisonous snake or giant spider or something).
fun, it was exciting to be on the lookout for animals even if they
didn't cooperate. And we crushed eucalyptus and gum leaves which smell
Then I headed back to Melbourne to meet up
with Richard, who had a guy day with a friend. Football was in the
plan. Oh, a bit of trivia: Australian rules football (which is unique
to, obviously, Australia) was actually developed to keep cricket players
in shape over the winter, when cricket season was out and players had a
break. Really. I read that on a billboard from the train, sponsored
by the newspaper. Just thought you'd like to know.
So that was my first bush walk in Australia!!!