Everyday Life in Southern Victoria
On the train I spoke with a few Aussie elders and we talked mostly about motorcycles and farming. Looking at the window all I could see were livestock (Emu, Goat, Cattle, and Kangaroo) farms. When I arrived at Sale I called Frank up. He showed up a few minutes later and drove me an hour away to his beach-farm property. When I got out of the car I met Fred, one of the many local Wallabies.
Fred loves carrots. But, Fred's not all that's in the bush. Kangaroos can be seen jumping around the beach trails. Kuckaburros sing from the tree tops. Whales cruise the ocean. Seals rest along the shore...
Here's Frank climbing out of one of 8 shipping containers filled with good ol' junk. You can see the solar panels right next to him. In front of him is Olivia, a girl from Switzerland who decided to get out of the floods of Queensland and cyclones of the West. Now she faces bushfires and we laugh about it. Australia is being hit by all the elements of nature... except ice and snow, which is ironic for me after being in Antarctica for the last few months.
The campground from a glance. Energy comes from a generator, but we hardly use it, maybe 1 or 2 hours a day. Our bathrooms are holes dug by ourselves, nothing different from my Alaska park experience. I bathe in the ocean. We clean our clothes in a bucket. Life is simple.
Things are a bit of a mess. But, sometimes intelligence is lying behind the trash built by insanity. In the back of the container there is one small clean spot, just for the telescope we use to read the stars.
Our dining area is in a big blue tent. Quite splendid. We dine right at sunset, eating very healthy foods while watching the wallabies next to us. The green water container is for the fire fighting system.
An old tractor from the previous landowners.
You can see our camp towards the bottom. It's bloody hot, around 35 C during the day and 15 C at night. Today is 40 C and fire alerts are all over the radio and television. The last time it was this hot, was Black Sunday when the fires claimed many lives, only a couple weeks ago. Frank's in Sale getting his truck fixed and the three of us are just keeping an eye on the news and weather. After finishing this post I will run to the hill-top and keep an eye out for smoke. My job for today is to be a fire watchdog and protect the girls.
Ontop the hill is the house we are building. It should be done within 6 months and is the most sustainable abode I have seen. I've been reading through eco-friendly development books and while reading walk around the house to check Frank's work. Everything is 110%. He's thought outside the box and I can't wait to see the final product. Not too expensive, amazingly strong (Cat. 4 cycle and fire proof), water comes from rain and storage (14,500 litres), can be split into two residences, air-locked windows and doors, energy from solar and wind (maybe micro-marine-hydroelectric system), and much more.
Here's Olivia and Latesha having lunch while looking out for whales.
The last few days we have been leveling the insulation, and soon we will start the rendering and installation of the bottom floor windows.
The roof has been originally pieced together by Frank. He took a bunch of older strong roofing designs and maximized their potential by using certain materials and grounding the roof deep into the infrastructure. His dream is to have an Aussie environment safe house that is a sustainable residence for several people at a time... while having a widescreen television that can alternate floor levels via a motorized track.
After work I head to the beach for a jog, swim, and nap... assuming I don't have to box any kangos on the way ;)
The only footprints are my own. The first day I got the shore I stared at the flowing ocean thinking about how different it was from the icy shores of Ross Island. I ripped my shirt off and ran into the water falling gracefully as if I were being reborn... again.
Well, maybe there a few other tracks on the beach...
In the Bush
The top clouds in the pic above are from the fire. Black ash is scattered all along the beach. Whales, seals, and penguins are a common sight... and no people.
Victoria Fire Maps
The yellow arrow in the second map points to where I'll be later today. My Nannie emailed me earlier saying that she has friends about 25 miles away and they could see the fires burning from their backyard, which is probably that big red circle. Worse case scenerio jump in the ocean.
The City of Melbourne
The Land of Oz from Heaven
As the sun climbed higher into the sky the clouds looked more metallic. In Bangkok the sky would sometimes look like this due to haze and pollution. But, these clouds were different, very rainbowy and layered, they must contain some chemicals from the bushfires nearby. In many of the stores there are donation boxes for those impacted by the fires. They are a big deal and forecasters say it's not over yet.
Sustainable Design & Surfing in Australia
My taxi driver told me that he was supposed to winterover at Ross Station (the Kiwi base) in the late 1960's. He told me that things were much more primitive then, they ate penguins and seals, and if you lucky you got a side of rice. He was going to be a cook, but never made it to the ice. While he was telling me this we came to a stoplight where there was a funky red box-like truck. The driver stares excitedly at the truck telling me that's probably the oldest truck I will ever see on the road... it was built in 1901 and electric. Electric truck from 1901... huh? If they had electric back then, why is it that were became so hooked on gas? He goes on to tell me that NZ has the greatest collection of ecletic and antique cars. Just from one hotel to another I saw three antique cars and a couple old mopeds. It's nice to see so many bikes, scooters, electric cars, hybrid cars, and mass transit vehciles on the road. Environmental bumper stickers are common. Most of the antique cars come from England. I asked him if the New Zealand car scene was like Cuba's. He says it wasn't, these cars are more compact and engineered in many different ways.
Anyways, I have to check my laundry and go for a run in the sun. Peace.