Australia is mostly empty and a long way away. Its population is small and its role in the world consequently peripheral. It doesn't have coups, recklessly overfish, arm disagreeable despots, grow coca in provocative quantities, or throw its weight around in a brash and unseemly manner. It is stable and peaceful and good.
-Bill Bryson, In a Sunburned Country
Breakfast: Oatmeal with bluberries
Lunch: leftover chili
Dinner: Lean Cuisine
My Australia diary entries and Bill Bryson's "In a Sunburned Country" (it means a lot more, now that I've seen the things he's writing about)
I admit to taking a break from the article-writing to watch a couple of episodes of The Sopranos on my latest NetFlicks DVD.
Does typing count?
Sunny and rather nice today.
RELIVING THE MAGIC
18 December 2003
I've been on another Australian holiday for the past two days.
I promised the newspaper that I would write up a travel piece about the trip, but what with work, housecleaning, and computer upgrade difficulties, I never got around to it. But it's been rolling around in the back of my head all these weeks, and I finally got to a point where the start of it was pounding on my head ready to be put into writing.
I love the opening (you'll have to wait till it's finished to read it).
Not sure if the editor was still in the market for it, I sent it off to him. "Absolutely," he responded. "And this is a fine start."
Well, if ever there was an invitation to indulge myself in some writing, that was all I needed.
I left the dusting and the transcription and started to work on the article. As it began to take shape, I started thinking of which photos I would submit to accompany it.
Obviously most of the photos that will go into this article are pictures Peggy took--because she's a much better photographer than I am (that's your Christmas present, Peggy--I'm admitting it in print!)
I started looking through some of our photos and was amazed to discover when I next looked at the clock that more than two hours had passed.
I didn't hear Dr. Phil. I didn't hear Oprah. I didn't hear Hollywood Squares.
No, I was once again blinded by the sun shining off the carpet of canola flowers, I felt the kangaroos climb up to my shoulders begging for food, I felt the rain pelting down as the camel lurched under my seat, I watched Chippa bounding through the bush chasing rabbits and roos, I enjoyed the solitude of Big Lagoon near Monkey Mia, I stood at the edge of the Indian ocean and drank in the clear sky, the aqua blue of the water, and the clean, empty beaches, I watched the galahs and the cockatoos fly overhead and light on "the bird tree."
The only thing missing was a cup of instant coffee, a bowl of dog soup, and the good friends I made in Perth.
I got so involved in picking "the very best" photos that I didn't realize how many "excellent" photos I'd pulled.
"I don't want to be buried in photos," the editor wrote. "Be ruthless and limit yourself to 15-18 of the best photos."
I thought I'd already been ruthless, but I had a disk of nearly 60 photos.
Obviously I have more ruthless cutting to go!
The photos were a good jumping off point for telling the stories, for trying to paint a verbal picture of the attractions of Western Australia.
"Don't make it sound too good," Peggy had cautioned me. She fears that if I paint too bright a picture, people will come flocking to Perth--one of the best features of this "most remote city on earth" is its lack of crowds. Even at Monkey Mia, where "crowds" gather to watch dolphins swim in from the ocean to be hand fed by the tourists, there were fewer than 100 people standing on the beach, dolphins swimming at their feet.
Would I destroy "paradise"?
I've been looking for narratives of the experiences of other tourists in Western Australia and have discovered that they just don't seem to exist. Bill Bryson wrote an entire book about his travels in Australia and devoted only a few pages to Western Australia. Obviously this is fertile ground for travel writing.
So that's how I've spent my day. Reliving those magical six weeks, trying to bring a taste of it to print...and trying to figure out how the hell I can choose a mere 18 photos to illustrate it all.
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST
Weight Lost to date: 48.6 lbs