Me and the Flies

Flies! That is the memory that I will take away from my visit to Kangaroo Island. The travel guides don’t mention the flies that seem to be everywhere. Locals characterize the swarms as everything from “shocking” to “usual for December.” 

Taking a hike is nerve-racking and eating outdoors is miserable. The moment you step outside, they descend on you by the scores. They buzz around your face and settle on your back. Looking at a group of people in the distance, you see them waving their hands around. If you didn’t know they were frantically swatting at flies, you might think that everyone on this island was engaged in passionate conversations using hand signals.


Remarkable Rocks
Admirals Arch


Don’t get me wrong. Kangaroo Island is a very interesting place. Close to half of the island is either natural brush land or national park. It’s surrounded by pristine waters, and contains arid landscapes and lush eucalyptus forests. KI is home to 15,000 kangaroos, 6,000 seals, 5,000 koalas, numerous dolphins, and 600 rare Australian sea lions; but clearly the dominant species is the fly.

Me and the Flies

Flies! That is the memory that I will take away from my visit to Kangaroo Island. The travel guides don’t mention the flies that seem to be everywhere. Locals characterize the swarms as everything from “shocking” to “usual for December.” 

Taking a hike is nerve-racking and eating outdoors is miserable. The moment you step outside, they descend on you by the scores. They buzz around your face and settle on your back. Looking at a group of people in the distance, you see them waving their hands around. If you didn’t know they were frantically swatting at flies, you might think that everyone on this island was engaged in passionate conversations using hand signals.


Remarkable Rocks
Admirals Arch


Don’t get me wrong. Kangaroo Island is a very interesting place. Close to half of the island is either natural brush land or national park. It’s surrounded by pristine waters, and contains arid landscapes and lush eucalyptus forests. KI is home to 15,000 kangaroos, 6,000 seals, 5,000 koalas, numerous dolphins, and 600 rare Australian sea lions; but clearly the dominant species is the fly.

View of Coogee Beach
from My Hotel Room

View of Coogee Beach
at the Start of the Hike













There’s a stunning coastal cliff top trail that runs from Bondi to Coogee. The walk features amazing views, beaches, parks, cliffs, bays, and rock pools. It’s not a difficult walk, and the beaches and parks offer places to swim, rest and eat along its 6 km.

My hike started at Coogee and ended at Waverly Cemetery, one of the most scenic burial grounds in the world. Here are some photos of the hike.

Entrance to Ocean Baths

People Enjoying a Swim
at the Baths



Do People Read Signs?

Row Boat Harbor

View of Waverley
Cemetery
Cloverley Bowling Club
situated on the Cliffs Overlooking
the Pacific
View of Coogee Beach
from My Hotel Room

View of Coogee Beach
at the Start of the Hike













There’s a stunning coastal cliff top trail that runs from Bondi to Coogee. The walk features amazing views, beaches, parks, cliffs, bays, and rock pools. It’s not a difficult walk, and the beaches and parks offer places to swim, rest and eat along its 6 km.

My hike started at Coogee and ended at Waverly Cemetery, one of the most scenic burial grounds in the world. Here are some photos of the hike.

Entrance to Ocean Baths

People Enjoying a Swim
at the Baths



Do People Read Signs?

Row Boat Harbor

View of Waverley
Cemetery
Cloverley Bowling Club
situated on the Cliffs Overlooking
the Pacific

Last night, as I was sitting in my hotel room, I noticed what appeared to be a bird fly into the room. Closer inspection revealed it to be a 4-inch-long flying cockroach. In Australia, the roaches are bigger and they fly, which brings me to yet another bus/bug story.

It seems that my most interesting stories about Sydney have occurred while I’ve been on public transport. (Traffic congestion in Sydney is terrible, and bus rides through the city take a long time.) Yesterday, as I was riding back from central Sydney, I felt the person behind me brush my shoulder. As I turned around, the passenger informed me that she had brushed off what appeared to be a poisonous spider. It was dark, sinister, and about the size of a US nickle. Then the two fellows across the aisle remarked,


Australian Copperhead
Hiding in the Marsh
Tasmania

“We haven’t seen one of those in a long while. You were lucky. Those are poisonous.”

At that point, the reality of Australia’s deadly creatures finally sank in. In Tasmania, I came across a black copperhead, one of Tasmania’s three venomous snakes, and here in New South Wales, I was nearly the victim of spider. At least the roaches are harmless. 


Last night, as I was sitting in my hotel room, I noticed what appeared to be a bird fly into the room. Closer inspection revealed it to be a 4-inch-long flying cockroach. In Australia, the roaches are bigger and they fly, which brings me to yet another bus/bug story.

It seems that my most interesting stories about Sydney have occurred while I’ve been on public transport. (Traffic congestion in Sydney is terrible, and bus rides through the city take a long time.) Yesterday, as I was riding back from central Sydney, I felt the person behind me brush my shoulder. As I turned around, the passenger informed me that she had brushed off what appeared to be a poisonous spider. It was dark, sinister, and about the size of a US nickle. Then the two fellows across the aisle remarked,


Australian Copperhead
Hiding in the Marsh
Tasmania

“We haven’t seen one of those in a long while. You were lucky. Those are poisonous.”

At that point, the reality of Australia’s deadly creatures finally sank in. In Tasmania, I came across a black copperhead, one of Tasmania’s three venomous snakes, and here in New South Wales, I was nearly the victim of spider. At least the roaches are harmless. 


The bus ride on the 373 would normally take 30 minutes, but it ended up taking close to an hour, all because of a drunk who decided to take a nap in the aisle. I’m talking about my bus ride from central Sydney to Coogee, a beachside suburb where I’m currently staying.

It was rush hour, and the bus was packed. All of sudden, I heard a ruckus coming from the front of the bus involving an intoxicated man who was falling over passengers. He had had a few too many drinks and was barely able to stand. When one of the passengers offered his seat to the staggering man, the drunk became belligerent and proceeded to lie down right in the aisle blocking the front door. This caused the bus driver to stop bus and radio for police assistance.

There we sat and stood, wondering how this unfortunate saga would end when suddenly another 373 pulled up. All the passengers on our bus immediately exited through the back door and boarded the newly arrived bus. Unfortunately, the drunk decided to follow us. Just when it seemed like the whole thing was going to repeat, the driver of bus number 2 slammed the door right in the drunkard’s face and started to drive. All the passengers broke out in cheers. The bus reached my destination without further incident. 
Brisbane has a reputation for being cultureless, but nothing could be further from the truth. Brisbane has a lively arts scene, wonderful neighborhoods, great cafes, fabulous restaurants, and one of the best museums in Australia, the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Every time I visit the GOMA, there’s something new and exciting. This time I was completely blown away by Rivane Neuenschwander’s Contingent.

Contingent is a ten minute video that presents a map of the world rendered in honey and consumed by a swarm of ants. As the honey ‘continents’ gradually erode and landmasses become fragmented islands, Neuenschwander’s cartography is shown to be mutable and transient. Neuenschwander is telling us that the health of the world is contingent on the rate of consumption, played out in the video by the ever-decreasing number of ants able to access a diminishing supply of food.

My Monument: White Forest (2008)
Kathy Temin

Kathy Temin’s My Monument: White Forest is also interesting. It invites visitors into a fantasy realm of white fur trees. As I wandered through the white forest maze, I lost track of time and space. I felt isolated, yet completely at ease. Is Temin’s artificial park illusion or a reflection of reality?

Brisbane has a reputation for being cultureless, but nothing could be further from the truth. Brisbane has a lively arts scene, wonderful neighborhoods, great cafes, fabulous restaurants, and one of the best museums in Australia, the Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA). Every time I visit the GOMA, there’s something new and exciting. This time I was completely blown away by Rivane Neuenschwander’s Contingent.

Contingent is a ten minute video that presents a map of the world rendered in honey and consumed by a swarm of ants. As the honey ‘continents’ gradually erode and landmasses become fragmented islands, Neuenschwander’s cartography is shown to be mutable and transient. Neuenschwander is telling us that the health of the world is contingent on the rate of consumption, played out in the video by the ever-decreasing number of ants able to access a diminishing supply of food.

My Monument: White Forest (2008)
Kathy Temin

Kathy Temin’s My Monument: White Forest is also interesting. It invites visitors into a fantasy realm of white fur trees. As I wandered through the white forest maze, I lost track of time and space. I felt isolated, yet completely at ease. Is Temin’s artificial park illusion or a reflection of reality?

It’s been 3 years since my last visit to Brisbane, and it’s not surprising that things change. For the most part, I like the changes I see; however, one change that’s disappointing is the loss of the Mangrove Boardwalk, which was located in the City Botanic Gardens (Mianjin). The Boardwalk was one of the most memorable experience I had in Brisbane. It was authentic nature, right in the heart of the city. 

Last January, a storm destroyed sections of the Boardwalk and the City decided not to repair it. At a time when Brisbane is spending 72 million on the Riverwalk project, it seems foolish not to spend 1.8 million to restore the Mangrove Boardwalk.