Steven (unzeugmatic) wrote,

Museums, Souvenirs, and Farewells

This is likely my last trip entry from the field, as I leave for the airport tomorrow shortly after the Internet cafes open for business. I have enjoyed keeping this journal as I traveled. I get a little verbose when I write about things before I've had time to process them. I thank you all for sticking around.

I haven't really been keeping this as a day-to-day accounting. Before this trip I always kept a small trip diary in which I wrote down what I did each day (and sometimes small observations). I found this to be useful in reconstructing where my time went, and sometimes I come across these diaries years later and find myself grateful that I kept them up. But this trip I did not do that, because of the online entries, and I regret this. I'm already starting to forget, for example, what museums I went to.

Museums are certainly in the category of things people tell you that you must see in the various cities of the world, and if you come back from a city with a famous museum without having seen it you find yourself facing implied criticism. So just to reassure everybody, I have been to:

- The Museum of Western Australia, in Perth
- The Shipwreck Museum, in Fremantle
- A old sailor's cottage in the Rocks in Sydney
- The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne
- The Ian Potter Gallery in Melbourne (twice! -- I wanted to go back and ponder the 19th century stuff)
- The Aquarium of Western Australia
- The Aquarium of Sydney (the best Great Barrier Reef outside the Great Barrier reef, they say)
- The Melbourne Musuem in Guess Where

I think I'm even missing some. This should be enough, but there's no winning this game. Evidently from what I've already been told I "should" have seen:

- The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney
- The Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney
- Maybe the Melbourne Zoo or the Sydney Zoo
- The Maritime Museum in Sydney

And who knows what else.

Last night somebody gave me what I thought was a rudely hard time when he found out that I spent my trip here visiting cities, because I didn't see Australia at all that way. But this is the guy who later insisted I come with him on the nightlife tour on Oxford Street and asked me lots of questions about the people I'd met and what I'd noticed while I was here so he did ultimately seem to get where my interests lie. Much later in the evening I found out that this guy is native Aborigine and, in fact, makes his living by traveling around helping native Aborigines get insurance and health care, so that may have colored his view on what the real Australia is.

As I look over what I need to pack up in the morning I note the souvenirs I've purchased. I love souvenir shops. There are lots and lots of them here. If Australia were buried under volcanic ash and excavated centuries hence the archaeologists would determine that there was great ritual significance in the armies of stuffed koalas the natives evidently worshipped as totemic items (kind of like the terra cotta soldiers in China).

My absolute favorite item by far: A tote bag decorated with Aboriginal art! Yes, just like the tote bags the Aborigines carried when they went down to the Aboriginal mall to do their original Australian shopping. Some of them were forethinking enough to write the word "Australia" in English on their tote-bag decoration. I did not buy any of these tote bags, however. But I did buy some nice cotton handkerchiefs printed with Aboriginal art, which are actually kind of nice in a decorative sense if you don't think too hard about them.

The remainder of tonight I'm taking it easy. After this morning's fish fest I think I'll just return to one of the nice Italian restaurants along King Street and have some big red wine and some nice pizza, a favorite meal wherever I am. Then a beer or two at the Newtown (which has yielded an adventure every single time I've gone, so we'll see if the record holds), then a good night's sleep to prepare myself for the long, long flight. I'm happy I had a chance to take it easy my last day or two here. It feels sweet.

I have been very happy here.
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