Tag Archives: Australia

Missing in Action

Dear readers, it has been some time since we have posted a blog.

Although we have been missing in action online we have still been having some adventures. For example, Tracey was in Norway for three months doing some creative research into her ancestry. Her project Waters of the Past has resulted in some wonderful collaborations and connections. The project was also presented in a number of exhibitions and symposium, such as Balance UnBalance 2017 and RIXC Open Fields 2017.

Tracey’s project was also featured in the Drammen newspaper. Please don’t ask for a translation ūüôā

We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Troms√ł – more on that later ūüėČ Here is some teasers:

This year we don’t plan to go too far from home ground. We have lots of short trips planned and we look forward to sharing with you some of the great places we enjoy here in the Australian Alpine region – better known by Aussies as ‘the high country’.

We will publish a new article from us each month as well as feature some guest writers. Contact us if you would like to submit something for publication.

Ps – we are now also in Instagram – follow us at geokult_travel

An article about Tracey
An article about Tracey

Thoughts on The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel: Linda Carroli


We are very pleased to welcome a new contributor to Geokult Travel – Linda Carroli. Since the mid 1990s, Linda and I have been good friends and have collaborated on many¬†art and media projects. Linda is an Australian based writer and urban practitioner, who also has consulting experience across a broad range of fields – art, community development and heritage. She is internationally recognised for her writing and contribution to the arts, winning many awards. We hope you enjoy Linda’s thought-provoking writing and commentary on travel.
Tracey Benson

Book Cover: The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel
Book Cover: The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Linda Carroli

This is the first blog post of many I hope to share on Tracey and Marty’s Geokult Travel blog. In my posts, I will explore more unusual and unexpected aspects of travel, tourism and travel writing. This first post is a musing on The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel by Rachael Antony and Jo√ęl Henry (The Laboratory of Experimental Tourism). While the book is now nearly a decade old, having been first published in 2005, it continues to enthral and enhance a travel itinerary. In a sense the book offers ‘gamified’ travel in a way that makes for a sense of difference and play – experiencing differently or playfully. ‚ÄėGamification‚Äô means the application of game dynamics and processes to non-game contexts.

‚ÄėExperimental Travel‚Äô, also known as experimental tourism, is acknowledged by the authors as difficult to define. They describe it as a ‚Äúplayful way of travelling, where the journey‚Äôs methodology is clear but the destination may be unknown‚ÄĚ. They suggest that the only requisite for such an approach to travel is an adventurous spirit. Discovery and exploration are multiplied by playing some of the games or following some of the simple instructions. The instructional nature of experimental is particularly interesting: the acceptance of constraints, such as directions, help redefine experiences.

The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel provides a catalogue of 40 experiments for you to try as well as details the results of experiments undertaken through the Laboratory of Experimental of Tourism.

The book includes methods drawn from the Situationists such as d√©riv√©, as well as Dada and Surrealist style games. Psychogeography, mythogeography and fl√Ęnerie are also in the mix. Imagine throwing a dice or coin to make decisions about your tourist experience and to define your travel itinerary. Have you ever considered spending 24 hours in an airport or journeying from airport to airport? Airports have been described by anthropologist Marc Aug√© as a ‚Äėnon-place‚Äô, an institutional environment designed to expedite transit and passenger conveyance, though strangely reminiscent of a shopping mall.

The Lonely Planet Guide is but one resource for experimental tourists, and will not placate everyone‚Äôs sense of adventure. Road Junky, for example, describes it as ‚Äėsanitised‚Äô and has compiled a list of 101 experimental travel ideas available online, with many of them prompting intercultural and interfaith excursions (not to mention national security concerns!), such as visiting every Muslim country in the world. Initiatives in Countertourism are attentive to the heritage tourism experience and encourage:

innovative consuming, intervention and even ‚Äėinfiltration‚Äô to transform the way that the heritage industry and its sites are visited, looked at, experienced, conserved, managed and changed.

Technologies, such as GPS and GIS, and social media can also enhance the experience. Perhaps there’s another guide to be written about experimental travel using social media e.g. You arrive in a place and tweet asking for advice on a good place to eat, go to the first recommendation. You can continue to co-design your travel. Many of the experiments are open-ended urban incursions, they are ambulatory and constrained. If you have doubts, try it locally first. Try backpacking in your home city, or taking a line for a walk in your neighbourhood. Part of the challenge lies in figuring out how willing you are to relinquish some of the decision-making by following simple instructions and venturing into the unknown or unplanned. While some aspects of the journey are pre-figured, the route and the destination are not.

[NOTE: You are always responsible for your own safety when using experimental travel guides or practicing experimental travel. The author and publisher of this blog disclaims any responsibility for and liability for loss or injury in the event of experimental travel.]


Linda Carroli is a Brisbane-based writer and urban practitioner. Her consulting work has included studies on visitor experience, tourism infrastructure, cultural and heritage tourism, and destination management.

365 Places: Mollymook

Day 176: Mollymook, New South Wales, Australia

Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/mollymook-beach
Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/mollymook-beach

Today’s place is a little gem on the south coast of NSW with a great name – Mollymook. I first remember visiting Mollymook, when I was about 20. Not long after moving to Sydney, I travelled there for a long weekend. I remember it was a wonderful journey: a girlfriend had borrowed her boyfriend’s old VW Combie and we cruised our way down the coast on the old Princes Highway, singing along to Fleetwood Mac on the way.

The Australian Traveller website gives Mollymook a great writeup and also has some clues about how the place got its name:

It‚Äôs thought that the name Mollymook is a variation on ‚Äúmollymawk‚ÄĚ, the slang name sailors use for a type of albatross (from the Dutch mallemugge, meaning ‚Äúfoolish gull‚ÄĚ.

Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/surfing
Image credit: http://www.breakersmollymook.com.au/?/attractions-and-activities/surfing

We stayed overnight with some friends in Ulladulla and then spent the next day at Mollymook beach. I remember thinking at the time, that this beach was very beautiful and great for swimming and bodysurfing. Here is a blurb from the Visit NSW website:

Mollymook Beach is one of the South Coast’s most popular beaches. This golden stretch of sand has ideal conditions for experienced surfers, body surfers and anyone keen to learn how to surf.

Mollymook has more recently become famous as celebrity chef Rick Stein has a restaurant there – Bannisters. This restaurant is famous for fabulous seafood with an incredible ocean view. I haven’t been there yet, but it would be wonderful to experience this place.

365 Places: Tulip Top Gardens

Day 90: Tulip Top Gardens, Old Federal Highway, Sutton NSW

Today we went to Tulip Top Gardens to see the beautiful display of spring flowers. The gardens are not as big or as busy as Floriade, which makes it a relaxing time in the gardens. As part of the entry fee we got a sausage sizzle and some Dutch Pancakes – yum!! Apparently it was a ‘special’ day as the pancakes are not always available. As you walk through the gardens, piped music makes for a lovely ambience and a feeling of being lost in time, to another, more genteel time and place.

Spring in the Capital region is a stunning time of year, when the Wattles are in bloom alongside the Apple, Peach, Cherry and Plum trees. To make this colourful display even more brilliant are the many Daffodils, Jonquils,Tulips, Pansy and Sweet Peas.

365 Places: The National Arboretum

Day 81: The National Arboretum

Yesterday we went to the National Arboretum which was a great way to spend a bit of time on a Saturday afternoon.

The Visitor’s Centre is a beautiful building, with some stunning design features which I hope I have captured below. The use of local timbers and stone has been used to great effect and it is a lovely building to enjoy both from the inside and the outside.

National Arboretum © Tracey Benson 2014
National Arboretum © Tracey Benson 2014

What is the Arboretum?
An arboretum (pronounced ar-bo-re-tum) is a collection of living trees, cultivated for conservation, scientific, research and educational purposes.

The National Arboretum Canberra first opened in February 2013, and has attracted many visitors from Canberra, Australia and around the world. The Arboretum website says that:

It is already contributing to the protection of tree species and tree diversity world-wide, as well as generating new research and understanding about how trees grow, survive and adapt.

The aim of the Canberra Arboretum is to become one of the great arboreta in the world; a place of outstanding natural beauty, community amenity and scientific value.

The  Arboretum  is home to 94 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. More than 48,000 trees grow on the 250 hectare (618 acres or 2.5 million square metres) site, with species from over 100 countries. Map of the Arboretum (PDF). You can also take a number of walks around the Arboretum. At the Village Centre you can get a free map of the self-guided walking trails or downloaded the guide here (PDF).

Here are some pictures:

Maybe next weekend we might do a walk through the Cork forest.

365 Places: Mount Stromlo

Day 79: Mount Stromlo Observatory, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Today we went to one of my favourite places for a weekend drive on a winter day: Mount Stromlo. When there is snow up on the Brindabella Ranges, it is a beautiful place to see the snow on the mountains. Although there was no snow (despite the cold weather of late), it was a lovely afternoon for taking some photos.

The Mount Stromlo Observatory located just outside of Canberra, is part of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Australian National University (ANU).

A bit of background from Mr Wikipedia:

The observatory was established in 1924 as The Commonwealth Solar Observatory. The Mount Stromlo site had already been used for observations in the previous decade, a small observatory being established there by Pietro Baracchi using the Oddie telescope being located there in 1911.

When we first moved to Canberra in 2001, it was a place of wonderment and we had a great day exploring all the telescopes dotted on top of the mountain.

On 18 January 2003, a devastating firestorm hit Canberra and Mount Stromlo (which was surrounded by a plantation pine forest) endured significant damage. The fire destroyed five telescopes, workshops, seven homes, and the heritage-listed administration building.

I have pulled together a little photo essay to present this lovely place, complete with photographs of ruins and some of the existing telescopes.

365 Places: Lorne

Day 77: Lorne, Victoria, Australia

Today, I am continuing the journey along the Great Ocean Road, to the very pretty beach town of Lorne.

Image Credit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/great-ocean-road/Destinations/lorne.aspx
Image Credit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/great-ocean-road/Destinations/lorne.aspx

Lorne is famous for a couple of things aside from its natural beauty, popularity as a seaside resort, proximity to GOR and Great Otway National Park. It is also home to the Falls Music & Arts Festival which occurs over the New Years long weekend every year, and the Lorne Sculpture Biennial, most recently held in March 2014.

Image Credit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/regions/Great-Ocean-Road/Activities-and-attractions/Nature-and-wildlife/National-parks-and-reserves/Great-Otway-National-Park.aspx
Image Credit: http://www.visitvictoria.com/regions/Great-Ocean-Road/Activities-and-attractions/Nature-and-wildlife/National-parks-and-reserves/Great-Otway-National-Park.aspx


The Falls Festival is best known for contemporary music performances, dance, comedy, theatre, circus, cabaret, as well as other art forms. Because the event runs over three days, people bring a tent and camp out at the event. The festival started in 1993, with a small one day concert called the Rock Above The Falls. This initial event attracted nearly 11,000 people, far exceeding the organisers expectations, and the organisers quickly negotiated the use of neighbouring land to accommodate the crowd. Since this humble start, the Falls Festival is now in three locations – Lorne, Byron Bay NSW and Marion Bay in Tasmania.

© All rights reserved by Public Record Office Victoria
© All rights reserved by Public Record Office Victoria

Lorne has long been a place that attracts creative people as well as beach lovers. For example, In 1891, the area was visited by Rudyard Kipling who was inspired to write the poem Flowers, which included the line:

Buy my hot-wood clematis,
Buy a frond of fern,
Gathered where the Erskine leaps
Down the road to Lorne.

Mr Wikipedia says about the area prior to European settlement:

Lorne was part of the traditional lands of the Gadubanud or King Parrot people of the Cape Otway coast according to Ian Clark, although many popular websites report that the area was occupied by the Kolakngat Aborigines.

Given that there is some conflicting information about the pre-European occupation, I am interested to find out more on this subject. The text referred to is listed below as a reference.

We loved seeing Lorne and it is a town definitely worth visiting and exploring as part of the Great Ocean Road journey.

Ian D. Clark, pp119-123, Scars on the Landscape. A Register of Massacre sites in Western Victoria 1803-1859, Aboriginal Studies Press, 1995 ISBN 0-85575-281-5

365 Places: Anglesea

Day 75: Anglesea, Victoria, Australia

Image Credit: http://www.angleseabeachfront.com.au/gallery-full.asp
Image Credit: http://www.angleseabeachfront.com.au/gallery-full.asp

Anglesea is another place worth stopping along the Great Ocean Road which is famous for its beautiful surf beaches and coastal lifestyle.

Located close to Torquay and on the banks of the Anglesea River, the Travel Victoria website says about Angelsea:

Anglesea is a particularly significant town on the Great Ocean Road as it marks the first spot south-west of the road’s official start at Torquay where it meets the coast.

Anglesea is a much smaller community to nearly Torquay, with about 2000 people living in the area, compared to about 6500.

Image Credit: http://www.angleseabeachfront.com.au/gallery.asp?offset=24
Angelsea at Dusk, Image Credit: http://www.angleseabeachfront.com.au/gallery.asp?offset=24

Anglesea is also well-known for its parks and gardens which line the coastal foreshore and the Anglesea River. For example, Coogoorah Park at the end of River Reserve Road features a network of islands linked by boardwalks and bridges through wetlands.

Image Credit: http://www.angleseabackpackers.com.au
Image Credit: http://www.angleseabackpackers.com.au

The Travel Victoria website also says:

Around 10 kilometres north-east of Anglesea is Point Addis where rugged sandstone cliffs overlook a marine national park. It’s popular launching place for hang gliders, while steps lead down from the cliff top to the beach which is an ideal surfing spot.

It is no wonder Angelsea is a popular place for  Melburnians to escape for summer holidays. There a number of related posts about this journey Рcheck out Torquay, Kangaroo Island and Great Ocean Road.

365 Places: Torquay

Day 74: Torquay, Victoria, Australia

Today, I return to a journey I started to document earlier – the trip we took across Great Ocean Road (GOR), which included our couple of days in Kangaroo Island.

Dawn at Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012
Dawn at Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012

Torquay is considered the gateway of GOR and is located about 20 kilometres south of Geelong. The township faces Bass Strait, so it is a bit chilly to swim in the ocean compared to the warmer waters of SE Queensland and northern NSW, where we usually go swimming. Although the water is cold, Torquay and nearby Bells Beach are famous for their surf beaches and surf culture is a key aspect of Torquay’s identity. Mr Wikipedia says:

Many of the world’s most famous surf companies have their home in Torquay, including Rip Curl and Quiksilver- all of which make up part of the Surf Coast Plaza, which provides shopping and eating, as well as the Surf World Museum.

If surfing is your thing, then the best time to head to Torquay is over Easter to check out the world’s best surfers compete in the mighty Rip Curl Pro.

The Torquay shops are well worth a look, with a number of galleries and interesting boutiques featuring local art and craft. We came across the work of  Ed Sloane and also the Watermarks Gallery had some lovely photographic art works.

Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012
Torquay, Image Credit: © Tracey Benson 2012

The coastline around this region is beautiful and it is no wonder Torquay became a popular spot for day trippers and picnickers from Melbourne and Geelong. For us, it was a great start to our journey and we hope to return back there some day soon.

365 Places: Barmah National Park

Day 73: Barmah National Park, Yorta Yorta Country, Australia

Today I go back to thinking about interconnecting stories, cultures and worlds. One of the ways I have been influenced to think about the connectedness of place, identity, culture and life has been through my experience with First Nation Peoples. In an earlier post I talked about Yorta Yorta Nation and the work that this community has done with scientists.

Pygmy Perch, Image Credit: NSW Department of Primary Industries http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/species-protection/conservation/what-current/endangered-species/southern-pygmy-perch
Pygmy Perch, Image Credit: NSW Department of Primary Industries http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/species-protection/conservation/what-current/endangered-species/southern-pygmy-perch

For example, one project titled A monitoring program to determine the watering requirements of floodplain populations of the southern pygmy perch, Nannoperca australis, in Barmah-Millewa Forest focuses on the pygmy perch, an endangered species found in the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. The summary text on the Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre website states that:

The pygmy perch has undergone a dramatic decline in NE Victoria over the last 15 years (now ‚ÄėVulnerable‚Äô (VIC) or ‚ÄėEndangered‚Äô (NSW). Despite this species‚Äô attractive appearance, its ecology is poorly understood.

This project is a great example of how scientists have had the good sense to engage the people who have lived in this area for 60,000 years. Like the ecology in which this particular species resides, there is a larger story here, one that connects through the food chain and through time.

Murray River turtle, Image Credit: http://www.mdfrc.org.au/projects/featured/SPG.asp
Murray River turtle, Image Credit: http://www.mdfrc.org.au/projects/featured/SPG.asp

When I think about the connectedness of our world and of our part in it, I am drawn to consider more deeply the role of knowledge. In our society, expert opinion is usually assuaged to formal knowledge, the learning and research of institutions: ‘book’ learning. This I believe is a blinkered view, one that removes the other types of knowledge that is embedded in sharing stories, oral histories and lived experience. However, the research I have seen through my connection with the Yorta Yorta Nations, demonstrates how linking in the environmental knowledge of the First Nations peoples brings about a more robust and complete picture of the land.

Other academic researchers do not seem to be¬†so aware. For example, this post, titled Be the protector of my species¬†recently published on the La Trobe website does not acknowledge any of the vast research that has already been done on other fish species in the Murray. What seems to be an even bigger omission is to talk about the surrounding environment as a great ‘supermarket’ without acknowledging the land management practices of the Yorta Yorta and neighbouring¬†nations over thousands of years.

To highlight another example from Yorta Yorta Nation, a recent article titled All Strings Attached: Negotiating Relationships of Geographic Information Science talks about the erasure of Indigenous groups when it comes to geographic representations. To provide some detail from the abstract of the paper:

GIS ontologies comprise categorised labels that represent lived contexts, and these ontologies are determined through the shared worldviews of those labelling spatial phenomena for entry into GIS databases. Although Western ontologies and spatial representations reflect Western understandings of human experience, they are often inappropriate in Indigenous contexts. In efforts to be represented in courts and land management, Indigenous groups nevertheless need to engage Western spatial representations to ‚Äėclaim space‚Äô. This paper examines what GISs are and do and shows that GIS technology comes with strings attached to the myriad social contexts that continue to shape the field of GIScience. We show that Intellectual Property Rights Agreements can sever and control these ‚Äėstrings‚Äô; the agreement between the Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and university researchers reframes GIS from a technology of erasure to a technology of opportunity that enables Indigenous groups to define their own engagement. The visual and narrative outputs will contribute important understandings of the environmental crisis facing the Murray‚ÄďDarling Basin and connect older and younger generations through knowledge sharing.

This paper¬†covers some very interesting ground (pardon the pun) and looks to how GIScience needs to address the social constructs in which the science operates. By using an example of how researchers have worked with the Yorta Yorta Nation, the article¬†explores¬†some highly¬†relevant topics, such as how community-based and participatory mapping can have positive social benefits and contribute to community empowerment. The conclusion of the paper argues that “GIScience is a fundamentally relational praxis that always expresses particular world views through its immersion in social relationships.”

Cover Image, The Biggest Estate on Earth<br /> Joseph Lycett "Aborigines using Fire to Hunt Kangaroos" Watercolour, c1820
Cover Image, The Biggest Estate on Earth
Joseph Lycett “Aborigines using Fire to Hunt Kangaroos” Watercolour, c1820

Historian Bill Gammage’s book The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines Made Australia¬†is a richly illustrated and detailed text that acknowledges the impact that First Nation’s people had on land management.¬†He draws on a range of sources which fall into three main categories:

  • writing and art depicting the land before Europeans changed it
  • anthropological and ecological accounts of Aboriginal societies today, especially in the Centre and north
  • what plants tell of their fire history and habitats.

Bill Gammage also acknowledges that because this text focuses on the whole of the continent, he did not draw many sources directly from Aboriginal people. This was because he was drawing a picture of the land and its history from the European context and did not want to make presumptions. He comments that:

I had neither the time nor the presumption to interrogate people over so great an area on matters they value so centrally.

In Gammage’s case, the fact he is drawing from other forms of knowledge (writing, art, plants plus¬†anthropological and ecological accounts) one step removed from direct consultation with¬†Indigenous¬†Peoples, serves to strengthen his argument that indeed Australia was not a virgin wilderness. His proposition is that the land was managed in a sophisticated and holistic way and that once¬†Aboriginal people were no longer able to tend to their country, it became overgrown and vulnerable to bushfires.

I often reflect on how different Australia would be¬†if Europeans came to this country to learn about the land and not to impose values from another hemisphere; which have wreaked so much damage on the land and its plants and animals. One only has to think of the Cane Toad to realise that lack of foresight and common sense that has been used. No one thought about the bigger impact that Cane Toad would have, thinking only of getting rid of the beetle that was destroying the sugar cane. Now, the Cane Toad has invaded most of Australia’s north and there is no way to stop it. It destroys ecosystems in two ways – by eating everything in it wake and killing everything that tries to eat it, as it has poisonous flesh. Short term solutions without thinking of long-term effects – this seems to be the only answer.

But I am no scientist and it would be foolish of me to try to engage in a scientific discussion about the peculiarities of an introduced species and the vulnerabilities of a threatened species. For me, I think there is an urgent need to think differently about how we still compartmentalise the world; believing that one event is removed from another to start to see the connections between our behaviour and the impact that it has. The Yorta Yorta and other First Nation communities all over the world have managed to care for their environment for thousands of years by acknowledging and respecting the delicate balance of the ecology. Liz Bentley states in her article The Earth is a Sentient Living Organism

The strong Gaia hypothesis states that life creates conditions on Earth to suit itself. Life created the planet Earth, not the other way around.

This quote reminds me that as living beings our impact on our earth doesn’t have to be passive. By opening our eyes and learning about the places where we live from the people whose culture extends back for thousands upon thousands of years, we can actively learn how to repair some of the damage done and improve the¬† environment for all living things.

NB. This post has been written in consultation with Lee Joachim, Research Manager, Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation.