Having never traveled so far from home I never knew that jet lag with such a significant time difference included waking up at 4:30 every morning. This is both a curse and a blessing, I'm up way to early but I'm not late for anything! We have specific times to meet in the lobby of the hotel so that we can leave to make our meetings that have been scheduled. And those appointments require a lot of walking, so much more than I had anticipated.
Our first meeting at the Australian Aboriginal Centre was unfortunately on a rather rainy and humid day - not an ideal way to spend a first day in a city. I was concerned that our entire visit in Adelaide would be just as wet and dreary. We hopped on a bus towards the outskirts of the city where we found a park entrance; I figured that the park was just a route to get to the centre. Surprise! The park was part of the tour the entire time - but the need to use the bathroom was distracting enough that I wasn't paying enough attention and the tour was not ruined, and Floyd was on a very speedy mission so we didn't have much of a chance to gawk at the sights. I also knew absolutely nothing about the area the group was strolling through before the tour was given.
Our guide was an Australian Aboriginal whom had learned the history of his land through his parents and tribe. My original thought was that the tour was going to be as interesting as the Canadian Museum of Civilization's Aboriginal exhibit - which is about as interesting as watching paint dry. That could be because it is quiet and not entirely interactive, or because I had enough of an education in Canadian history that I no longer find it intriguing. Australian aboriginal history on the other hand... was very different and interesting to listen to.
They use almost every part of the land that they possibly can to build their communities and be self sufficient. One tree - the Red Gum I believe it is called - is used for many many different things from boomerangs to hunting possum. The trees are a very hard wood making them ideal for firewood, and when they have the shield cut from them to make a boomerang or other tool, they become a protected heritage piece and they and the land around them cannot be touched.
Other plants in the area have been used for generations for a variety of things from food to medicines, such as the kangaroo fruit which has been used as a contraceptive for many years by the aboriginal peoples. It was amazing to hear first hand, from someone who lives in a world drowning in technology, how in touch they still are with the land.
The next visit that afternoon was a little different as we went to the Kilburn Peace and Wellness Gardens. It was a little bit of a mission to get there because it was way in the suburbs within a community. This was a little community garden where different ethnic groups get together to grow a garden with a large variety of vegetables, fruits and herbs that are distributed equally to churches and groups within the area.
The fact that it was originally created to help refugees and asylum seekers to learn to grow food and feed themselves was rather uplifting, mostly because when you turn on the news there isn't much good being shown on most days. One of the goals of the garden is to bring together many different ethnicities and erase stereotypes and prejudices to create a strong community that isn't segregated by skin colour or cultural differences.
After this visit, the group was broken up into teams for the scavenger hunt. Then they ditched us! Just left us in the suburbs with a list of things to find and a bus pass, all on our own in a strange city on the other side of the world.
Great start to the hunt, and it just got weirder after that! The bus we hopped on ending up passing by a school that had just ended for the day, it was so full it was like sardines in a can. By the time we could even get off the bus, half hour of hunting time had passed and we thought we would have to run around to find everything before 6 pm. It was a lot of fun finding all the different places in the city, but my particular favourite were the secret bars we found. The one I would really like to find time to see before we leave the city is called Maybe Mae - it's a hidden door in the wall near the bathrooms of another pub.
I'm excited to learn more about this continent and the businesses that run it's economy. And I need to remember to wear the comfier shoes when we're going to be walking for miles!