Easter in Australia

Trip Start Jan 08, 2004
Trip End Ongoing

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Saturday, March 26, 2005

Hi, Since the last travel log I have left Melbourne and gone to work at Canberra Grammar School. I have done 3 Canoe / Kayaking camps there and one Rock Climbing Camp. All were great fun. The kayaking camps involved taking the kayaks to the coast, as there was not enough water in the rivers, and spending time surfing the boats on the waves. YAY! The Rock Climbing was good too and all the groups have been pretty good and the kids have enjoyed themselves. I have some pictures and will put them on later when I get a chance and perhaps Nick will also send me some. ;-)

I met up with the Antipodeans Volunteers that are coming through Thailand in June and they all seem very good and also met the Bennies team that I am taking to India in December and they seem great.

And I have been doing some work at Somerset - mainly running climbing, abseiling or canoeing parts of school camps - so that has been good too.

I have caught up with all the Bennies / India team from 2001/2, Michael and Luksna, Trent, Pat and Suzanne Lun, Mark and Nat, Jo from Intrepid, Tom, Laughlin from the 2001 Knox Africa trip, Sue Prescott, Adam Lesley and family, Brett and Fiona, Brett's helicopter pilot friends including Matt Fox, Preeyawat, Kiani, Crystal, Malmut and his relatives and others (who have I forgotten?). I hope to get to Chakola to visit everyone there, get to the Blue Mountains to visit Trent and still catch up a bit more with Laughlin, Preeyawat and others. Sorry if I run out of time and cannot, I am starting to think that may all be a bit ambitious for someone on a budget, with no car and dragging a pack around.

I have 1 more week of work at Somerset and 4 more Canberra Grammar camps and also I am doing a course with Red R that I hope can start getting me more likely to be involved in humanitarian aid work in the future. We'll see.

Now it is Easter in Western countries. This is a Pagan fertility festival that celebrates the goddess Oestre. It is held near the full moon, on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and there are eggs (mainly made of choclate) and lots of symbols of rabbits. It was traditionally to mark the start of Spring, although in Australia it is now Autumn and getting cold. The Christians also use this time to mark the approximate death of Jesus. Many shops are closed for 4 days and so there is not much for me to do at the moment. As with other festivals in the West, it is largely used by the rich merchants to sell things: this year I noticed Easter eggs being sold in shops from late December.

That's it. I will add some pics as soon as I can, but it may not be for a while. I am very much lokking forward to getting back to Thailand.

Oh - almost forgot something. My friend Alex and two of her uni friends (sorry I am not sure how to spell Rianin? and I can't remember the other girl's name) took me to Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney. This is a gaol (jail) where refugees and people who have broken immigration laws are sent. Well actually it seems to be a place where refugees and non white people who have broken immigration laws are sent; as I saw only darker skinned people from poorer, non English speaking backgrounds, despite the fact that most people that break Australian immigration laws are British, New Zealanders, Canadians, U.S.Americans or Germans. Anyway, it seemed an OK place and the guards were reasonably polite. However the people we met in there had been there for a very long time. Over a year and they had no idea what was happening to them. They were quite depressed. They may be deported overseas tonight or stay in Villawood for another year or two or maybe get a temporary visa to Australia. There were plenty of young children in there. One of the African guys was quite certain he'd be killed as soon as he got home, but thought he had a 50% of being deported by the Australian government. It was very interesting and I would encourage anyone near Sydney to visit. Just turn up. Don't take muck in as you are not allowed and bring some food to supplement the prisoner's diet. Say you are there to see Mohammoud or some other common name or ask someone in the waiting room for a name and you will be allowed into the visiting yard. Then you can speak to anyone. The people there have some interesting stories and they like people to visit. It is also interesting to see Australian taxes being used to punish refugees and jail children. Doesn't seem like a good idea to me. Go check it out.
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