Thursday, May 01, 2008

What I Did On My Australian Vacation: Day Three

Day Three:

On the third day, we did an all-day drive along the seacoast on the Great Ocean Road. As unhappy as I was about not having more time to spend in Melbourne, I do not regret electing to do this trip, as the scenery was spectacular, especially the famous rock formations known as the Twelve Apostles. (Even though there don't seem to actually be twelve of them.) Once again, the stops we made were too short to be entirely satisfying for me, but in this case I can't really complain, as there's no way we could have lingered longer and still made the entire drive before sunset.

Despite the briefness of the stops and the heaviness of the crowds -- Australia seems to be positively teeming with Japanese sightseers -- I did find a few lovely moments to stand off by myself, stare out across the sea and contemplate things like the vastness of geologic time and the incredible beauty of the planet Earth. Which, corny as it sounds, is something that just makes me feel... better, in a genuinely profound sort of way. Sadly, I seem to be the only one who bothers; I couldn't help but notice that I was pretty much the only person in all those crowds who stopped to look at things with human eyeballs rather than through the lens of a camera. The standard procedure seemed to be to run up, snap a picture here, snap a picture there, snap pictures of each other standing in front of the scenery, and then run immediately off to the next thing. I can't help but think that this must be related to another kind of behavior I've noticed in more than one person, both on this trip and on others, which is the tendency to obsess about buying souvenirs almost to the exclusion of paying attention to the places they're buying souvenirs of. It's like people care more about proving they've been somewhere than they do about actually being there. Which is a deeply strange attitude to me.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm as happy as anybody to take home a few pretty pictures, and I have considerable respect for people who practice photography as a serious art form. And my inability to engage in any activity without acquiring a t-shirt relating to it is legendary; you could probably write a pretty detailed biography of me just based on the contents of my shirt drawers. But, ephemeral is it may be, I'd much rather have the experience than the keepsake.

All of which doesn't mean that I didn't take some decent photographs, or that I'm not going to share them with you! So, here you go:



6 comments:

  1. I'm at the other extreme. I rarely bother to buy souvenirs, and I don't have a camera. I tell myself that the memories are what matter, forgetiing that my memory is lousy and getting worse.

    Anyway, those are excellent photographs.

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  2. Very interesting post you have over here, thanks a tonne for sharing...

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  3. the tendency to obsess about buying souvenirs almost to the exclusion of paying attention to the places they're buying souvenirs of.
    In Monty Python's "The Travel Agent" sketch, Eric Idle waxes on about people sending postcards to Number Four showing pictures of places they haven't been. Actually, the whole bit is about package tours, now that I recall it.

    you could probably write a pretty detailed biography of me just based on the contents of my shirt drawers.
    For two people who aren't related whatsoever, we are disturbingly alike.

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  4. John: My memory is lousy, too, but I figure: how much less chance am I going to have of remembering an experience if I'm not paying attention to it the first time? :)

    Captain C:

    For two people who aren't related whatsoever, we are disturbingly alike.

    I can see where that would be disturbing for you, yes. ;)

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  5. We had no tour guide, just dates we had to be at certain locations (reservations for hotels, flights, etc.), so the three of us (Mom, me and a friend of hers) drove a rental car most of the trip. The sea coast was so gorgeous. I wandered down into this enormous hole that years of surf had dug into the cliff, like a low, but giant well with a half open side. I collected hand-sized stones from each place we stopped at, and came home with about five or so pounds of Australian rock.

    The cliffs were so exotic, not at all like local sandy beaches, that we lingered for a long time, and drove as slowly as we could. I don't remember there being a lot of traffic, so we could pull over often to explore.

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  6. We talked about doing something like that, renting a car or even an RV, but none of us wanted to be the one to drive. :) Me, I get nervous enough driving in places I'm unfamiliar with, even when it's not on the opposite side of the road. Still, it would have been nice to do some of this stuff at our own pace. Ah, well.

    I remember finding rocky (as opposed to sandy-beach) coast terribly exotic, myself, the first time I saw it. I think that was in Maine, when I was a teenager. It's still novel enough to me to impress me, but then as land-locked as I am, any sight of coastline impresses me now, really. :)

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