Departures and Arrivals

White lines down the middle of the road

Dear Ian*,
I have been thinking about you. We departed on our exploration of Australia recently and it got me thinking about comings and goings.

In particular, the question of arrivals – when have we reached our destination? We talk a lot about ‘destinationitis’ with the students at uni. It’s funny how, in our culture,  we always seem to have to get to the end of the track, the top of mountain, the tip of the point. In outdoor education, as in other areas of life, there is the mantra of ‘it’s about the journey, not the destination.’ Which is all very well to say, but does it actually work with our Western society? Being on the road, particularly up the top end of the country, I feel as though lots of us whitefellas are so focussed on reaching our destination. I get the sense from the Aboriginal folks that the destination is not as significant. The point for them is to be on Country. Spend time walking on and connecting with Country. Aiming for the end point often results in missing all the bits in between.

As an imported, white, Anglo-Saxon, relaxing into the journey is a challenge. What if I miss something? Have I spent enough time in this place to see everything? What is the essence of this place? What does it mean to connect?

Maybe that’s the question, then: Do we need to capture the essence of each place we visit, or is the mere movement through a place the experience? I suspect it is how we move through a place that is the key. We have noticed a big difference moving through the country in a 4WD compared to bushwalking or riding a bike. Not only the pace, but the other people we end up sharing the experience with. It has been a challenge to find any like-minded people.

Much of our journey has reminded me of the adventures we had as a family when I was young. Bakeries and bookshops we the norm, as well as caravan parks galore. These days, bakeries persist, while the books are often found in op shops along the way. I find myself wondering what you would be like on this trip. Would you be challenged by the 24/7 presence of your family? Would you need to make all the decisions? Would you be able to sit and relax, and take in the ‘place’? I have so many questions to ask you and often find myself frustrated you cannot answer them. Why am I the way I am with my family? It’s easy to blame you, of course. When do I start to take responsibility for my own actions, then? I keep ticking off unnecessary milestones; I made it past 43 and managed to outlive you, waiting for my first child to reach 15 etc.

I like the idea a friend shared with me recently. Feeling settled.

“…settling might be the answer to finding happiness and contentment from our choices. The alternative is to spend our whole lives anxiously wandering the world, never appreciating what’s in front of us.”source

I wonder how our moving around the country connects to the feeling of being settled?!

When will I finally feel like I have arrived? When will I depart? In reality, I think these two questions are better left alone and buried in the earth like a John Wolseley painting. Perhaps I need to do the same with these questions I have of you. They are not really helping me progress any further to feeling settled.

I have been thinking about the correlation between what we are currently doing, and travelling overseas when I was younger. Most of the time when we travel, we don’t realise how much we have changed until we return home. I certainly felt different when I returned home from travelling 20 years ago. I am hoping I can find some settled-ness on arriving home (if not before!). Whatever returning home may mean.

Mick has a lovely song which questions travel in its many guises.

“…it’s written in your law
Every word a lie
Travel makes you wise

You’ve been around the world
Just to come back home
To tell everyone you know
You’ve been around the world”

May our current travel be more than just something to tell everyone we’ve ‘done’.

The Aboriginal folks have some beautiful culture, which I feel we are really missing in Western society. Culture which enables connection between each other, and Country. In whatever way your spirit may be manifest in this universe, I hope it is settled.

Lots of love,


*Ian Reid Adams – 28-02-1946 – 13-05-1989


Dear Nam Jin,
It’s hard to believe it has been a year since we were visiting you and exploring your tiny island. This year, I am exploring a larger island and discovering more similarities between the two than I first thought.

It has taken us four weeks of driving to go from the bottom of Australia, to the top. The journey has reminded me of the bike ride we took with you from Punggol, reaching the centre of Singapore by lunchtime! As we travel, I have been reading Tim Winton’s ‘Island Home‘. It is a series of thoughts on Australia, our culture and the place. Moving through the centre of my country reminds me of just how big and open it is. Two adjectives that would be hard to use in describing Singapore!

I have been up North for the last few weeks, exploring the centre – the place and the people. I find it difficult to comprehend both the expanse of the place and the timeframe of the culture of the Aboriginal people. I really feel like an interloper. Not in the way that I am not welcome – everyone I have spoken to is very welcoming. More in the sense that I do not belong. The question then becomes, ‘What does it mean to belong?’

In seeing much of the destruction of the Aboriginal culture caused by us whitefellas, I have also been contemplating how we might begin to develop a shared culture into the future. Singapore is grappling with this a little, also, I think? I remember you taking us to, and talking about the last ‘real’ kampong. Singapore is such a young country, having been decimated during the war, and sort to be ‘taken’ by so many other nations. Australia isn’t really that much older, in its current form, anyway. How do countries develop, while maintaining a sense of connection with the place and the people? Perhaps we need to remember big things can grow…

I have come across some very passionate folks over the last few weeks. Many of them would not have a clue about Australia’s rich pre-european history. Some actively ignoring it. I am searching for the stories that may help them make the connections. To understand. I really think storytelling is the way ahead. It really does help us to make sense of things. Perhaps we need to begin by changing the current stories we keep telling ourselves.

There is some great stuff happening in pockets of our country, but I feel it is localised. It has to be more complex in somewhere like Singapore when there are so many different cultures.

In the end, perhaps we can return to a song I have re-discovered this week.

“It doesn’t matter, what your colour, as long as you, are true fella” Black Fella/White Fella, Warumpi Band.

It has been amazing to explore this place I live. Floating in the swimming hole at the bottom of Jim Jim Falls, I looked up and was reminded of many of the Singapore buildings with gardens growing on them. That’s the image up the top of the page. Amazing!

I really admire Singapore and its desire to encourage the connection to the natural place, as well as culture. I hope we can do the same down here.

From one islander to another,

High rotation

Dear Tom,
Thanks for your email dated 12/3/1999. I thought it time to reply to your great question. It has been so good to think about all the good music I am currently listening to.

I was reminded of your unanswered message as I read an interview with Charles Foster in Dumbo Feather. Charles spent time living as various animals to explore how humans connect with nature. In the conversation I was reading, Charles was reflecting on how music effects our senses. I think he was trying to suggest that there are some uniquely human traits we have that set us apart from other animals.

It might be part of me spending more time on this planet, but it also feels related to being a parent, but I feel like I respond in a deeper way to music than I ever have. Particularly on an emotional level. It is a combination of the music and the lyrics. There is no one thing I can put my finger on.

While my current high rotation list has a certain feel about it, I think there are some possible outliers lingering.

I have rediscovered Lior after watching a mini doco on his collaboration with Nigel Westlake. Some amazing music.

AB original have produced some great powerful almost old school rap and hip hop. Love the messages. The reworking of Paul Kelly’s Dumb Things is magic…

Continue reading “High rotation”

A case for the moon

Dear Phil,
Welcome home. You have had quite the adventure. While you were away capturing the dark side of the Sun, I was reminded of conversations we’ve had where you have mentioned how annoying the moon is*.

At the same time, the moon was regularly popping up in my life – and I don’t mean the regular appearance in the sky! For instance, I have been listening to this…

Continue reading “A case for the moon”

Nana’s Muesli

Nana’s Muesli
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Geoff
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
This is the original recipe of Nana, Lorna Thomas.
  • 3 Cups Oatmeal – flaked and uncooked
  • 1 cup Wheatgerm
  • 1/4 cup Coconut
  • 1/2 cup Sesame seeds
  • 1 cup Safflower oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup chopped slivered almonds
  • 1 cup raisins (add after cooking)
  1. Heat oven to 250°F (120°C)
  2. Mix dry ingredients
  3. Mix oil, honey, vanilla
  4. Pour over and spread in tin 16″x10″x1″.
  5. Toast, stirring every 15 minutes for 1 hour.
  6. Bon Appetite.


Born in the wrong decade…

It appears I was simply born at the wrong time, sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and Generation Y.

I’ll have to find another way to take over the world. Time for Gen X’s to go underground and topple the younger mob.

Gen Y @ 30: charmed, tech savvy and ready to take over
GENERATION Y finally means business. They are far better educated and more globally aware and technologically savvy than any generation before them, and they are about to turn 30 this year. The oldest members of this privileged generation are poised to grab the management reins and revolutionise the workplace to suit themselves…

…The baby boomers love them – after all, they were the doting parents that raised them. And as the boomers’ extended reign in the workplace draws to an end, social and economic forecasters predict they are more likely to anoint gen Yers as their chosen successors over the unfortunate generation Xers who have been politely waiting their turn.