Dan and Justy Down Under


February 20, 2005


The Tjapuki people believe that the world is divided into the dry and the wet. This distinction is extended to all things. People are born into the same side as their fathers. Their totem (given to them at birth) is selected from those of their side. Goanna for dry, turtle for wet, and so on.

Your totem is not like an astrological sign. It is much more. It is both a reflection and an ideal of your soul. It is a name and affiliation. A wandering person entering the land of another people would seek out a person who shared their totem. Only in this way would they feel safe in crossing other's land.

Justine and I have discovered that our totem is the camera. All Australia is new to us. Our itinerary has taken us to many a touristy place, if only because that's where the attractions are (thanks, Willie). We always meet other camera-toting folks. In this low-season, many are real photographers, as opposed to folks with a camera. We always lapse into photog argot. It feels right.

Four waterfalls in 2 days. The kind of waterfalls you linger at, even though they seemingly don't change. In truth they are never the same, it is only our eyes that won't accept constant change. Each fall had a personality. Dinner falls had several stations along the vertical drop where its nature was revealed. You had to climb around and up to see all of them. Millaa Millaa falls was a postcard curtain of water over a swimming hole with a small beach of huddled shivering children. And so on. Turtles basked in the sun and dragonflies dreamed of the jurassic.

We relaxed in the shade and cool breeze of the Lake Eacham Hotel, located in Yungaburra, not at Lake Eacham (but whats 10km between neighbors?). At Lake Tinaroo later, we had a nice vista for sunset. Unfortunately, we also had several billion mosquitos. Beating a hasty retreat, we visited the local freak fig trees.

They didn't start out as fig trees. They were just normal trees minding their own business. Along comes a small bird which poops on it and soon there's a fig tree hanging off the tree. It sends roots down and then sets about conquering the whole tree. It envelops it and eventually replaces it. Once in a while, the original tree falls over, and sometimes another tree breaks the fall. Both trees are then overcome by the fig. The resulting curtain of roots reaching the ground can be most impressive. Indeed, the first example we visited was called the Curtain Fig. The now aglomerated "tree" is perhaps 15 meters across and the canopy perhaps 50 meters high. The other tree was called the Cathedral Fig because it is possible to walk into the center of a set of trees colonized about the same time. It is perhaps bigger than the Curtain, but not as visually striking. The process of creating such a thing runs about 5 centuries.

Itinerary Highlights
January 20: Winery Tour
21-23: Moreton Bay Diving
25: Australia Zoo
26-30: Lady Elliot Island
February 13: Diving the Yongala
15-17: Cape Tribulation + Daintree Rain Forest
17-20: Atherton Tablelands
22-28: Coral Sea Diving Liveaboard
March 11-13: OzTek Dive Conference: Sydney
14: Fly to New Zealand
20: Poor Knights Islands Diving
31: Mt. Cook
April 2-4: Queenstown
TBD: To Be Dreamed

Digital Pix Courtesy of Shimmivision.com
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