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This adult Laughing Kookaburra frequents the fence in my mother’s garden, an excellent vantage point with which to spy wriggly ground worms or other interesting edible treats. The adult status is shown in the pale pinkish lower beak which is dark when a juvenile. They make a fantastic loud chuckling laugh, often in chorus with other Laughing Kookaburras which can be astoundingly loud.

P1120229Spied this lovely Pied Currawong in my mother’s Sydney garden. I love these large black birds with their majestic stance and piercing eye. This one is a good 50 cm and far from darting away when it spied me, it returned a steady gaze.

 

bliss

bliss

Islands off Serenity Beach on the Coffs Coast NSW Australia draped in low lying cloud ‘float’ on the horizon.

I am a toadstool. Please don't eat me.

I am a toadstool. Please don’t eat me.

After the rain lots of ‘mushrooms‘ sprout seductively from the ground promising a good feed. The truth is most of them around here on the Coffs Coast are part of the tricky toadstool clan, like this little beauty. A good first hint in identifying who’s who is that toadstools grow under foliage and shady trees and mushrooms tend to like open pasture. I wonder if the tiny fly at its base is contemplating taking a nibble?

 

storm brewing

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Valla Beach on the New South Wales north coast is the perfect escape for a spot of birdwatching and a long stroll at the beach

Bush turkey on the roof

Bush turkey on the roof

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P1120171While Grey Shrike-thrush are supposedly common throughout Australia they seem to keep well out of sight as this is the first time I have captured one. They are quite beautiful with their large long-tails and soft  brown backs. The black bill and white patch in front of the eye on this one identifies it as a male. These small birds love woodlands and forests and favour large cups of bark and grass in enclosed situations like upright stumps in which to lay two or three creamy white eggs.

Acknowledgement: Slaters Field Guide to Australian Birds, 2nd ed.

 

Fiji sunset

Fiji sunset

I’m a travel addict, not that I get to do it as often as I’d like, which would be constantly … but when I’m not travelling, I’m plotting, dreaming and checking out the latest deals with the intensity of one about to book a trip. What do I like about it? For starters I love airports, the buzz of all those different people converging into a single space and then flying out in all directions. I am sure this is an oft over-looked aspect of what attracts people to travel. The sense we are part of a web of connections enveloping our planet can generate a nice cosmopolitan buzz.

I’m not the type of tourist that ‘does’ places, in fact I prefer the solo meander or low key budget group that has some likelihood of engaging with locals and their ordinary lives, at least those who live away from the man tourist sites. Of course, I realise that this notion of myself as the, ‘flaneur who travel[s], gaze[s] and roam[s] freely’ (Maoz 2005:234) is really an illusion, and I am just as much a disruption and object of the local gaze as the most brassy tourist. Maoz says that this mutual gaze, ‘makes both sides seem like puppets on a string’ (2005:225) as it makes us all control our behaviour. This idea somewhat counters the claim that the power in the relation between tourist/local falls on the tourist; and shifts it to one where dominator and dominated is both mutual and simultaneous (Maoz 2005:225).

Empire State Building NY

Empire State Building NY

In a world where economic exchange rules our relationships in general, it should be no surprise that the local delivers what the tourist wants (Maoz 2005:225), be it in enacting cultural traditions, or providing the tourist a trophy in the form of the souvenir that, ‘represents [for the tourist] distance appropriated’ (Stewart in Frow 1991:143). As a ‘light’ traveller I don’t look to purchase ‘things for the sake of it’, and in keeping with my penchant to retain a ‘small global footprint’ my purchases while travelling have been limited to physically small objects. These include tiny wooden elephant statues from Thailand and a small stone picked up while hiking in Yosemite. Nevertheless, my desire to bring home a foreign object is conducive to Stewarts, ‘insatiable demand [for] nostalgia’ (Frow 1991:143), that establishes a relation with the moment of origin. All in all, this reduces my travel/souvenir relationship to one of commodification, where travel and the travelling experience is something I buy for my dollar … and do I mind? … not one wit (Howell & Garbutt 2008:61).

References

Frow, J 1991, ‘Tourism and the Semiotics of Nostalgia’, October (57), pp. 121-151

Howell, C & Garbutt, R 2008, Study Guide: Space, Place and Travel, Southern Cross University, Lismore

Maoz, D 2005, ‘The mutual gaze’, in Annals of Tourism Research, 33 (1) pp. 221-239

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