Tag Archives: Culture

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 🙂

We had an amazing time in Norway, the highlight of this was our fjord journey up the west coast to Tromsø – more on that later 😉 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

Finding bearings in Reykjavik #SIMResidency

Tracey’s first blog post from Iceland 🙂

Tracey M Benson || Bytetime

The past few days have been much of a blur since finishing the residency with The Clipperton Project.

I arrived in Reykjavik to enjoy a few days as a tourist before starting my residency with The Association of Icelandic Visual Artists (SÍM) at Korpúlfsstaðir.

The residency is located in what used to be Icelands largest dairy farm, on the outskirts of Reykjavík with gorgeous view of Mt. Esja. Korpúlfsstaðir has 40 SÍM artist studios, a textile workshop, a ceramic workshop, an artist run gallery as well a golf club with a golf course outside. I have also heard you can get a good coffee from the golf course.

When I first arrived in Reykjavik, I stayed in a lovely AirBnB on Laugavegur, one of the main tourist streets. It was very handy to walk to lots of places including the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral and museums and galleries downtown.

Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral Hallgrímskirkja…

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Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

The past couple of days we have been slowly orienting ourselves to the Faroe Islands and our next month as part of the Clipperton Project (TCP). At the moment we are based in Tórshavn, the capital of the Faroes.

Tórshavn is a really gorgeous place – lots of interesting things to photograph!

To give a little bit of a cultural context – the Faroe Islands have been a self governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark since 1948. It has its own parliament and its own flag. The Visit Faroe Islands website has some great information about the history of the Faroes:

According to stories passed down for generations the Irish abbot St. Brendan in AD 565 went in search of The Promised Land of the Saints. One of the stories told of a visit to “The Islands of the Sheep and the Paradise of Birds” situated several days’ sailing distance from Scotland. Based on this story and archaeology excavations there is good reason to believe that Irish monks were the first settlers in the Faroe Islands.
In the 9th century Norse settlers came to the Faroe Islands. These were mainy farmers who fleed from Norway and ended up in the Faroe Islands in search of new land. The special constitutional status of the islands was originally founded on the ancient viking tradition from the 9th century AD (all free men convened at the Althing, later called Løgting, in the capital Tórshavn). From the latter half of the 12th century on – when attached to the medieval Norwegian Kingdom – they further developed their own culture, language and other social institutions, while at the same time adapting constitutionally to the surrounding political contexts of coming and going empires reaching out from the Scandinavian heartlands.
Little is known about Faroese history up until the 14th century. The main historical source for this period is the 13th century work Færeyinga Saga (Saga of the Faroese).

Anyway, we have only just started our journey with TCP – will share more soon!

Old farts couch surfing the world

This year has been monumental in so many ways, a lot of projects developing all over the place which is very exciting.

Tracey has been to NZ, USA, Australia’s Central Desert and Top End, as well as a few trips to Shepparton to work with Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation. The year is not over yet with another journey to work on a book project in NZ next month – ADA Booksprint.

Anyway, we have been a bit slack with keeping up with the blog and promise we will do better!

We have come up with an awesome (perhaps insane) idea that would enable us to travel the world, meet fellow travellers and learn more about this wonderful world we live in. We are tentatively calling this idea Old farts couch surfing the world.

So I have a question for you dear Reader. Would you be prepared to offer us a place to stay on our travels? It could be spare room, a couch or even a tent depending on the climate.

How it would work?
Think of it a bit like Humans of New York, where the story has a connection to place and people. The goal is to document the journey online with a mind to bring out a book when we complete the adventure. As people offer us places to stay we will add them into a map of our journey. People can also add in stories as we develop the project.

The idea builds on the concept of our Cultural Strangers project, where we try to reveal layers of place through documentation, conversation and investigation.We love the concept of the world cafe as it seeks to use collaboration to build knowledge and share experiences for the betterment of us all.

If you think that this idea if fun and would like to get involved please contact us.

Pozible campaign to support Yorta Yorta Community

Yorta Yorta Nation Aboriginal Corporation and Tracey M Benson are working together to develop a series of projects that will benefit the Yorta Yorta community.

We need your support!

Check out this video about part of the project: https://vimeo.com/122281770
Please share and support this project to help reopen the “University of the Bush” Every little bit counts!!


Project outputs
There are a range of outputs intended for this project, they include:
1. The development of a Yorta Yorta language book for children incorporating the use of augmented reality technology
2. The development of an augmented reality walk around Barmah National Park, which builds on the existing GPS/Bluetooth project.
3. Providing workshops for young people in the Yorta Yorta community in digital imaging, bookmaking, video and creating augmented reality works with the Aurasma tool
4. The creation of an interactive map/screen at the Dharnya Centre which would be enhanced by augmented reality
5. To reinvigorate the Dharnya Centre through the above activities.

Some Tips To Deal With Touts In India

Contributed by Rohit Agarwal

Introduction by Tracey Benson, Editor: Rohit’s article about avoiding touts in India is extremely useful for travellers not just to India but to many parts of the world. The article underlines that just by following some simple guidelines you will be more aware and able to enjoy your journey, with an understanding of how to manage some tricky situations. We welcome Rohit to Geokult Travel and hope that we will be able to share some more of his insights in the future.

Some Tips To Deal With Touts In India
Vacation in a country like India has its own pros and cons. The advantageous aspect of it is, being a spectator to the natural world of beauty and serenity and on the contrary being a prey to the wrongdoings of the touts that target the tourists from outside India. One of the major “tout-abused destinations” in India is Agra – which manifests the Taj Mahal.

A lot of wrong practices being followed by the natives of this country have created a horrifying image for foreign tourists. But these practices are not only phenomena in India, but have been evident at many other tourist destination countries. So, should one stop travelling? No! The better answer is to be alert and aware of these practises and prevent yourself from falling prey. Below are some tips that you should keep in mind while travelling to India:

Street Vendor in India Trying to Sell Product - Photo credit Rosipaw, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Street Vendor in India Trying to Sell Product – Photo credit Rosipaw, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

1. Do not rely on ticketing agents
India is a developed country with equipped cybernetics! One should thus not fall prey to some touts who ensure confirmed reservation tickets for travelling through flights, trains or buses in India. It is always a better option to either book your travel tickets online or manually receive tickets from ticket windows available at every airport, railway station and bus stand in India. Generally, tourists avoid the long waiting queues outside these windows and fall an easy trap to these touts who ensure confirmed tickets at some nominal extra charges. These touts are mostly fake and one can be easily duped during peak tourist seasons.

2. Beware of being guided to a cloak room
Wherever you travel, the Indian railway stations provide with cloak rooms for your luggage to be deposited. These cloak rooms are also available at some major bus stands and places of tourist attractions like monuments, temples, etc. One should thus avoid being guided by a tout to a separate cloak room which seems abandoned or is at a faraway place from the tourist attraction. It is always safe to lock your luggage properly before depositing it at any of the cloak rooms. These public cloak rooms take a minimal amount for luggage deposit and give you tokens or slips in return.

3. Be cautious while appointing a tour guide
As a tourist, we all go inquisitive about the history of a tourist place and would love to know the ins and outs of the place we visit. For this we usually hire tour guides, who enable us with a lot of information about the place. As a foreigner, we need to be alert and aware that there are some fake tourist guides in India, who may mislead you and rob you of your money and luggage. It is always a good practise to hire a tourist guide through the ticket window and also ensure to check and take a mobile-picture of the identity card of the tour guide.

4. Stay away from touts ensuring hotel reservations

Tout Warning Signboard at Mamallapuram, near Chennai – Photo by Ashley Bristowe, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Tout Warning Signboard at Mamallapuram, near Chennai – Photo by Ashley Bristowe, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

If travelling to India during peak tourist season or during festivals and vacation time, you might face the challenge of getting a hotel check in. It is always a better idea to do your hotel bookings prior to your travel during these days and if you miss to do so, please do not (NEVER, EVER!!!) trust the touts who ensure room availability in a hotel, guest house or a lodge nearby. It would be worth to move on a self-hunt (or online-hunt) for room availability rather than being trapped by these vaunts who either charge extravagant or deceive you of your belongings.

Let your travel to the scenic beauty of this country be a memorable one, rather than being frightful. ‘Prevention is better than cure’, remember this and always plan ahead and be alert during your travel and do not be fooled by touts, who could ruin your beautiful journey. Always be aware in visiting major tourist destinations in India like Delhi, Jaipur, Chennai and Goa where one can encounter touts of different varieties – from a child to an old man/woman trying to make some extra bucks by misguiding/misleading information. Always be smart and enjoy your travel while being alert!

Author Bio
Rohit is an architect by profession and travel blogger by desire; who loves his country and believes that the tourists coming to visit India should only carry the tender feelings of contentment, eyeing the beauty and serenity of this country and not the overwhelming feeling of fear of being duped by touts. He thus shares, through his articles, some basic tips to make your journey worth recalling.

Images attributions
Street Vendor in India Trying to Sell Product – Photo credit Rosipaw, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Tout Warning Signboard at Mamallapuram, near Chennai – Photo by Ashley Bristowe, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

365 Places: Wedding at Bangalore Palace

Day 180: Wedding at Bangalore Palace, Bangalore, India

Today my post features some images and a video of an Indian wedding we saw at the Bangalore Palace.

It was so colourful and noisy – had it share!

365 Places: Ode to a Cappuccino, Charlie’s 1978

Day 177: Charlie’s Italian Restaurant, Darwin 1978

This post is about my love of coffee, in particular a cappuccino, from where it all began – celebrating my 12th birthday at an Italian restaurant in Darwin – Charlie’s.

Now I may have shared with you my penchant for a good coffee, particularly a cappuccino, but I am by no means a purist. I understand that an authentic cappuccino does not have chocolate on the top, and if this is the case, it is not the cappuccino I love.

What I love, is a strong coffee, topped with foaming frothy milk and drowning with chocolate powder. Around the outside of the rim is a crust of coffee, making the foam a taste sensation of bitter and sweet. It is the coffee of my childhood, of Italian cafes in Darwin and Brisbane in the 1970s and the 1980s. Moreover, it was not the coffee we had at home, which was flavourless in comparison (though my Dad still swears by International Roast).

Bit Strip - about reusable cups
Bit Strip – about reusable cups

My moment of truth happened when I was 12 at Charlie’s: my parents asked me after dinner if I would like a coffee and that is what I ordered – a cappuccino. It was nothing short of a sublime sensory experience – its aroma and flavour sang and I loved mixing the frothy milk into the rich dark coffee. From that first meeting, I know I had found something very special and delicious.

Charlie’s also had a reputation for his Cordon Bleu and Spaghetti, but my mum excels with these dishes – but a cappuccino was a new experience and one that I have loved now for over 30 years. Ironically I drink black coffee at home but I still love a cappuccino when I buy coffee – it just seems special.

Who else loves this kind of cappuccino? Would love your coffee stories 🙂

Photographing Art for Print Publication: Part 1

by Tracey Benson

Photographing art will be a trilogy of articles from regular contributor Garry Benson. This first post is also a playful and whimsical personal journey into understanding photographic techniques for documenting artworks. Garry talks about his background and career as an artist and cinematographer, sharing how this experience has informed his expansive knowledge of photography. We hope you enjoy these new posts.

Photographing Art Part 1
by Garry Benson

This series of three articles covers all the technical steps for successfully taking shots of artwork suitable for publication. What does this have to do with travel? Well, most of us spend our travel time visiting art galleries or buying art so for insurance purposes learning to shoot good images is important.

SLOW FADE TO BLACK. PLAY SOPPY MUSIC (Borodin’s Nocturne – String Quartet No. 2 in D Major).

At the tender age of 15 I had just started Year 11 at Kedron State High School when I was offered a job as a trainee cinematographer with a film production company in Brisbane. Back then everything was shot, processed and printed on 35mm film, so I had to learn the whole process. When I asked my boss how to become a good photographer he said ‘Take lots & lots of photos and then assess them.’

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

Do you remember the film ‘Newsfront’ about early Aussie newsreel camera men? Well, that was my life. When we shot newsreels for Cinesound News we had ‘short ends’ of 35mm film that I could load on to film cassettes and use. And every frame I shot was critiqued in painful detail by both the film editor in Sydney and my boss in Brisbane.

© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson

A couple of years later at 17 I inveigled my way on to the sets of Theatre Royal & Bandstand at BTQ Channel 7, shooting stills of people like George Wallace Jr, Patsy Ann Noble, Bill Thorpe & the Aztecs, Col Joye & the Joy Boys and Little Pattie. I sold prints to the artists and to magazines like TV Week.


© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson
© Garry Benson
Sunday Mail, 24 June 1989

In the 1980s I’d returned to Australia after a number of years working in film, TV and as a photojournalist in SE Asia, the Middle East & Europe. I was teaching photo-journalism and TV production in Adelaide, writing articles for magazines such as Craft Australia, Craft Arts, Pottery Australia and American Crafts magazine. I was editing & designing a magazine called SA Crafts – oh, and I was also weaving & exhibiting haute lisse tapestries. One day I had a call from a young lady called Janet De Boer who was about to launch her magazine into colour production – could I help?

© Garry Benson
Cover: Textile Fibre Forum

‘Gazza, why can’t I take photos with my little digital camera that are good enough for publication in the magazine if I have an emergency?’ asked my editor Janet De Boer of Textile magazine, showing me one of her shots. ‘How do I know if my shots are good enough?’

Technically speaking Janet would just get away with her shot, as her camera is 10 megapixels. I checked the images on my Photoshop program and the image was a JPEG, 3.1 MB, 180 dpi and 3648 x 2736 pixel size image, suitable for a medium size image in the magazine. When converted to a TIFF file that include all the CMYK or RGB channels the image would be around 28 MB.

The other problem is that any shot taken with a digital camera will need at least some degree of colour correction and exposure balance in a digital editing program – a task undertaken religiously by Janet’s designer Paul if the submitted image isn’t already colour & exposure correct.

For most artists there are two options – take the photo yourself or get a professional to do it. And ouch, yes, professional photographers do cost a lot of money. But think about this – how much would you have to pay to get your work seen by thousands of people throughout Australia & NZ? It’s a no-brainer!

Let’s say you want to take your own shots, how do you go about it? Well, just as in life there are people who chose VHS over Beta video systems; Mac over Windows or Nikon over Canon (a personal bias) there are two options – people with access to editing software (such as Photoshop) and people without that access. Photoshop costs anywhere from $1000 to $6000 and you need a computer to use it.

And when you take a digital photo for publication you need to have a file of a certain technical standard. That’s a TIFF file, 300 dpi, at least 3000 pixels on the widest side and approximately 15-20 megabytes.

It’s literally impossible to work this out without software, so below is a guide to help you choose whether your camera is up to the challenge – but remember, the above rules are essential for printing quality images in a magazine:

Megapixels vs. Maximum Image Size
Megapixels Pixel Resolution*
4 2464 x 1632
6 3008 x 2000
8 3264 x 2448
10 3872 x 2592
12 4290 x 2800
16 4920 x 3264
35mm film, scanned 5380 x 3620

*Typical Resolution. Actual pixel dimensions vary from camera to camera.
**At 150ppi, printed images will have visible pixels and details will look “fuzzy”.

You’ll notice that the good old 35mm slide has a much higher resolution rate than any of the above digital cameras. Even though ‘dots per inch’ (dpi) and ‘pixels per inch’ (ppi) are used interchangeably by many, they are not the same thing.

Part 2
Looks at this conundrum – ‘In reality it’s not the camera that makes a good picture, it’s the photographer. You can buy the most expensive camera on the market, but it doesn’t guarantee you’ll take better pictures.’

365 Places: Kochi

Day 86: Kochi, Kerala, India

Today, I am staying in the region of Kerala to explore the coastal city of Kochi. Although Thiruvananathapuram is formally the capital of Kerala, Kochi is considered the financial capital of region. Kochi has a population of more than 2 million, making it the biggest urban centre in Kerala. It is also one of the major tourist destinations in India.

The Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi are an icon of the city, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi
The Chinese fishing nets at Fort Kochi are an icon of the city, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi

One of the events I am drawn to is the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, held in December. I am also curious the explore Kochi as one of my good friends loves it so much she spends 4 months a year based in Kochi.

The Biennale sounds like a fabulous event. Here is some information from the website:

The Kochi-Muziris Biennale is an international exhibition of contemporary art being held in Kochi, Kerala.

The first edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale was set in spaces across Kochi, Muziris and surrounding islands. There were shows in existing galleries and halls, and site-specific installations in public spaces, heritage buildings and disused structures.

Indian and international artists exhibited artworks across a variety of mediums including film, installation, painting, sculpture, new media and performance art.

Through the celebration of contemporary art from around the world, The Kochi-Muziris Biennale seeks to invoke the historic cosmopolitan legacy of the modern metropolis of Kochi, and its mythical predecessor, the ancient port of Muziris.

I love the idea of the engaging the ancient world and culture through contemporary art and emerging media, very appealing. I think it would be an amazing experience to witness the biennale.

St. Francis Church, Kochi, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi
St. Francis Church, Kochi, Image Credit: http://wikitravel.org/en/Kochi

The story of the ancient city of Muziris is also fascinating. Located 30 km from Kochi, Muziris was a prosperous seaport and financial centre in the 1st Century B.C. It is believed the city was washed under the sea during the 1341 AD Periyar river flood. Muziris was a key link in the Indo-Roman Empire and Indo-Greek trade routes and drew legions of Roman, Greek, Chinese, Jewish and Arab traders.

Something else I find really interesting is that Kerala and Kochi are world-famous for the ancient healing art of Ayurveda. This 5000 years old healing tradition is known to heal chronic illnesses naturally. Apparently there are hundreds of government-run and private Ayurvedic hospitals and treatment centres are spread across the state that offer Ayurvedic treatment for almost every health condition. This is also something that I am drawn to as I have had an interest in Ayurveda for many years and would love to learn more about this natural healing tradition.

The more I learn about India the more curious I become, I can’t wait to experience some of these places for myself. I am sure it will be an incredible journey.