So i just finished up a tour through Australia, about to fly down to New Zealand for the second leg of my trip. I had an absolute blast. It was my first trip back down here since i was 8, which i barely remember, so it was almost like visiting a new country.
As a half-kiwi myself, Australia holds significance due to the close connection with New Zealand. A lot of New Zealanders end up living here, including a few of my old mates from Tauranga, attracted here by it's warmer/dryer weather and opportunities while still being a quick hop back home. Relocating here is a thought I've even entertained myself, although I could say the same of a number of countries. Culturally Australia and New Zealand have a lot in common, like the British heritage, a love of rugby, a no worries attitude on life... feels good to be back down. I've found during my travels that larger cities, with their influx of foreign brands and immigrants, tend to be more diluted culturally. Sydney and Brisbane are no exception, having a more international feel, diverse people, particularly from Asia & the U.K., with lots of choices in food that you'd expect from such worldly cities. The smaller towns have more of a distinct Australian flavor, where the accents are a little sharper, the slang a little thicker, and people are a little more brash than what i've come to know in New Zealand.
Politically Australia is a contrast from the dysfunctional current gridlock of Washington D.C. Countrary to the libertarian's claims from America's right wing media, Australia is no model of anarcho-capitalism. It should serve as a model nonetheless. Like all governments there are ways in which it overreaches, places where reform is needed, but for the most part it seems to be doing a good job of balancing the concerns of it's people, with moderate policies, supporting the mining and export of natural resources while also putting in place good environmental regulations & protected areas, providing universal healthcare coverage to its citizens and decent investment in infrastructure & transit. To me it was evidence that governments can work for the benefit of their people provided there's the will to do so.
What really sets Australia apart from any other place is its ecosystems and it's unique native wildlife. Being an isolated island continent, it's one of the most interesting places on the planet in terms of witnessing the unfolding of evolution. Throughout this trip I've made an effort to document the natural environment, mostly within some of the country's well preserved national parks. The wilderness seems relatively pristine compared to most countries I've seen, with tons of great unexpected photographic opportunities. I'm really happy with the work i came away with, managing to make a lot of progress in capturing images of wildlife. It looks like it's going to be a collection of images that gives a broad overview of a couple of distinct ecosystems, particularly the gum forests and the rain forest. But with a country of this size, about equal to the entire lower 48 of the united states, a few weeks of shooting isn't going to do it justice. So I'm already looking forward to returning, to continue learning the story of Australia, particularly within the red center, Darwin, and Tasmania.
Lovely post Tony :)
I especially appreciate your perspective and the bit of insight about the Australian government. I also have read that they highly regard early childhood education there, more so than in the US, which speaks a lot to me about their values. Your photos are a treat for the eyes, and make one wish of far away travels. I hadn't realized you wrote this little piece when you were traveling! Love it.