Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Town of Coonabarbaran and the Warrumbungles

1: Museum at Narandera. First and only Aboriginal pilot and his plane "Black Magic"
should have been told he was a victim, given welfare for life and rotted on a community in the middle of nowhere... Not.
2: The Warrumbungles nat park - "breadknife" in the background.
3: nat park.
4: View from a small peak where I met the Eagle.
5: Rainbow in the evening.
6: Lake Eildon sunset
7: around lake Eildon
(click on a photo to enlarge)

-a close encounter with an Eagle
-why bother going to National Parks and sweating ?

Town of Coonabarbaran : Astronomy capital of Australia , private telescope domes on green country road that leads to Warrumbungles Nat park. Lots of swank properties – names like “Xanadu”… great place to raise kids. Also a hill at 1100 m with 11 telescopes, including the Main Anglo-Australian telescope. Was chosen by the ANU as having good location – no city glare, night skies clear 70 % of the time.
I saw some good starscapes looking up with the naked eye – shooting stars, the milky way pretty clear.

The Town has the usual practical amenities – a supermarket, information centre, library with internet, some swank cafes, It’s a small country town, but actually quite artsy, with an art gallery, pottery centre, Jazz festival, Astronomy week… (with local Astronomers giving lectures in the pub).
NSW so green after drought-stricken Victoria. .. green starting not that far north of the border with Vic.
I Get a fresh bag of ice for my eski, fill up with water and buy a bit of food at the supermarket. Also get some info and a free map of the National park at the info center.

I Drive to the Warrumbungles Nat park and spend two nights there. Sunday, I do a 14 km walk – the “Grand high tops tour”, which goes up and around some famous landmarks – the “breadknife” and such.
There are some other walkers in the park, but I met no-one. It’s kind of great being all alone in this stunning nat. park. I sit on the top of a lava block and just look at the scenery. I spot several wedge-tailed Eagles gliding around an adjacent volcanic plug. Then one comes right overhead – about 30 m above my head. I look up and we look at each other for a while as he glides past. I can see every detail of his plumage. Then he goes past. Quite an experience. This is why I get out to these places.., nothing I can experience in the city can beat this.

-Why bother get off the couch at all ?

On the way up to the viewpoint, there was a visitor’s book which I looked at. One the entries was written in big print, by kids of about 11, I guess:


mmm… yes, why bother get off the couch at all, in fact ? I could think of a dozen answers to that question. But at least they were being honest… the virtual age is here, as predicted by sci-fi writers many decades ago, and the fun has only just begun. Soon we will be able to experience views in 360 deg, virtual reality with sound.

I wrote in response: “stay at home and get fat and bored”. Which kind of sums it up. But the proper response involves explaining why tactile reality cannot be replaced by technology, why using your muscles to achieve an outcome – a view, getting from A to B, earning money, building something… can bring satisfaction not found on the couch.
And interacting with a real live Eagle, or scaling mountain rock and feeling it’s texture, or being surprised by an Emu, or watching an awesome sunset on a cold mountain top is not the same as simulated reality, however life-like.
(on my walk I saw grey Kangaroos and Emus).

Apart from the above psychological benefits of walking in a Nat. Park, there are also other benefits: It keep you fit, which helps at work, in social life, avoids medical problems and produces endorphins which makes you feel more chirpy.
If the walk is a bit challenging, or involves scrambling rocks, it increases your confidence in being able to tackle obstacles in daily life.

On a deep level, interacting with nature can be akin to a mystical experience – eg watching the stars at night from a campsite. Which can allow a person to see the bigger picture and feel part of a grand cosmos of inter-related beings and phenomenae. And maybe touch his own connection with the transcendent and the oneness of the uni-verse.

Or alternatively, you can feel depressed by convincing yourself we are all "just a bag of greasy water" as a Marxist lecturer in Paris once said to his students. And as Post-Modern lecturers are saying to their students in Universities around Australia. Apart from uni Lecturers of course... uni lecturers are Gods who have a divine right to tell us what to think, say and do with our lives. Somehow, I'm sure they don't include themselves in their reductionist viewpoints about humans.


Cecilia said...

Perhaps the kid who wrote that had a dry sense of humour!
Jules, you've got me wanting to visit Coonabarabran now.
Can't believe I've lived in this country all my life and haven't been there yet...

Cecilia said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks Celia !


Marcus said...

Jules, I agree with your comments on modern day kids' shortcomings entirely; and I also agree totally with your observations on the benefits of direct connection with nature. There is no substitute.

I'm not sure I quite understand what you are getting at in your last paragraph, though...