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After finally recovering from some nasty virus at the beginning of this week I had some time to head to CERES (Centre for Educational and Research for Environmental Strategies — say that ten times fast!). This is a massive farm located in the middle of Melbourne that houses many different ongoing projects such as community gardens for let, chucks (read: chickens), bicycle workshop, skill trading groups, cafe (oh baby), etc.

What’s amazing is that within such a large city such as Melbourne CERES is showing the community that they are ways to be more sustainable. One are of the farm consists of an array of solar panels and wind turbines that help to put energy back onto the Melbourne power grid, and can’t help but make you smile with how cool it is to see them sitting in the middle of the city collecting the suns rays.

I think that a great deal of work and thought goes into the projects that they are setting up to work feasbily and responsibly. For example, their cafe uses water collected from the roof, is heated through two systems of solar heating, used to cleaning, etc. and then when drained goes through some reed bed water treatment system before being used to water other plants around the farm. If we had implemented systems of better grey-water reuse I could see there being less water shortages and better use of our water. The closest thing I get to t his back home is to shower into a bucket and then use that water to then flush my toilet. This is saving quite a lot of water considering the amount of water we are using in our bathrooms each day but still it might be easier for the average person if new homes were simply setup in a manner to allow for these types of systems. [You can read more about what the cafe is doing here.]

Frankly, I am just plain impressed with the entire site and can’t wait to get out there again to check out more. Learn more. There’s something about being in a farm in the middle of the city that is relaxing, amazing, and perhaps surprisingly natural to me. Shouldn’t all cities have something like this? A means to provide large scale agriculture that actually contributes to the food that people eat in that city? Or perhaps farms on the outlying areas of the city for the same purpose (not to mention people growing their own but in some cases people can’t because lack of yard space, etc).

Bennie & Tess or Bennet & TomPrelude: (Scene shows trucks driving by with gruff looking men and some really nice drivers) Anyone who says that hitchin with truckies is A) easy to get B) not an epic journey C) available anytime has not sat at a truck stop for a day and half waiting for a ride. After spending an amazing week at the Students for Sustainability conference meeting some really rad folk and getting to know Bennie, Tess, and Pat I felt it was time to bail (Bennie, Tess, and Pat put me up at their humble abode prior to the conference and afterward). The day before I left we had one last goodbye session, good food, a movie, and of course critical mass (like the icing on any cake).

The next day (very tired) Scarlett & I headed off to the trucky station. Half a day passed and no ride appeared so we headed back to Bennie’s place (to their surprise – or perhaps I couldn’t get enough of these rad peeps). We got up super early the following day (Monday) and headed back to suss out another ride. After spending an entire day at the truck location (and being told that “we would never get a ride together”, “truckies don’t leave this day”, … read: truckies in Perth don’t like driving men and generally give womyn rides but watch out cause they might expect something — that was Scarlett’s later experience)

I got about 3 hours of sleep that night and felt a bit shitty but wanted to meet Ella on Thursday when she was arriving into Melbourne. Tragically, I couldn’t take the train cause it rocked up a bit late into Melbourne (and turned out to be completely full) & paid for a flight. An hour after I left back for Bennie’s place Scarlett and Alice (our other friend who was hitchin) got a ride with some sketchy truckies (wanting a bit more … I’m proud of Scarlett for holding her own). Maurice also managed to score a ride but from regular cars across the dessert (go figure). Chris & I were the only two who were completely unsuccessful catchin a lift?!?

That's what I'm talkin aboutIt’s not the lack of rides that really made Perth for me. It was the people. Arriving back at Bennie’s Tuesday morning at Bennie’s joint again was pretty funny as he was pretty shocked and surprised. These guys were so amazing letting me into their home, giving me a bed, driving me around town (& to the airport), and acting as though all of this is nothing…as if I were family. You can’t buy that. Sometimes you feel strong connections with peeps and I’m lucky to have discovered that. This house was filled with some beautiful love, support, and goodness. Pat, Bennie, and Tess were rad kats with great attitudes, dance moves, and open arms. If I were meant to understand and feel what “real” peeps from Perth are like I surely got a taste. Each night we did a little dumpster mission and made massive cookups (or feeds) for the hungry masses. So to the kids @ 105 I pay you homage.

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Adelaide Museum (Aboroginal Man)During much of my time in OZ I’ve felt a draw towards the dessert and although the hike didn’t completely go through I still managed to head out to the most previous spiritual land for the aboriginal people of this country Uluru and Kata Tjuta. Previous to my departure I spent many nights infront of a nice fire at the hostel I was at having a yarn (chat) with touristy people about the politics of climbing Uluru. I knew that this was pretty sacred land for them and they ask that people respect that and I tried (and convinced several) to not go through with the climb.

Kings CanyonWhile on my tour I experienced some really amazing scenery. I can’t begin to describe it nor can I post pictures because the indigenous people of this country ask that we don’t. When we arrived at Uluru I felt an amazing feeling come over me (even though things were rushed with the tour that I booked I still felt a connection there). Our tour guide gave some pretty good stories about the history of these people and why this place is special, sacred, and unique to them.

I think one of the most precious quotes that I read in the booklet they give you upon arriving at the park was along the lines of the following (sorry I have to paraphrase because it’s packed in my overstuffed bag that I’m hitchin to Perth with tomorrow).

So many people come to this land to climb Uluru. But they should look at the rock, look inside, and see that there is more there than just something to climb.

While walking around Uluru I sat down for about 20 minutes and looked inside the the walls of this spiritual place only to find myself looking inside myself. Looking at the aboriginal people. Understanding that something as sacred as this should be respected.

But then why don’t they just stop people from climbing it then? Well after petition the United Nations to get Australia to hand over the native title to this land they were finally granted the land that they should have owned in the first place. The catch is that the UN put a stipulation that the aboriginal people in the nation around Uluru had to lease the land back to Australia for another 99 years. So effectively they don’t really have much say other than to “encourage” and “beg” people to respect them.

It’s a sad state really. But frankly I’m kinda happy I walked around the base because I saw more than most. I saw what the aboriginal people wanted me to see and experience. Along the path I found some pretty special things with regards to the direction my life is taking. I found some truth and feel good about follow my heart in trying to figure out what’s next on this journey in life for me. On a side note one guy on our tour climbed to the top only to feel like crap later for doing so. I felt bad for him as I’m sure he doesn’t want to carry that around for the rest of his life (then again maybe he can use that to his advantage heh).

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July 2007

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