Map of AustraliaIn 2001 I realized an old dream of visiting Australia. A sabbatical period was used to experience the land 'down under', it was to become one of those experiences you can live on for a long time - and continue to think back at the pleasure of it - just viewing my photos takes me right back to the beautiful red desert...

With a backpack containing only a bit of cloths, I flew with TaiAir via Bangkok to Sydney in April 2001. April being autumn in Australia, the weather was not so nice the first month or so when I was traveling around the southern part of Australia. Most tourists from Europe arrive in Sydney or Melbourne then traveling up the east coast - I had another agenda - There was areas I knew I wanted to see like Canberra (the capital, which many Europeans don't even know), the Murray River, Barossa Valley, Perth, Darwin and above all the outback "the Red Center"  as it is also called. Red due to the red soil - the color coming from iron in the soil.

If you click on the images below this you can view a few of the photos I took during my trip which generally followed this route: Sydney - Canberra - Albury - Mildura - Adelaide - Perth - Albany - Denmark - Perth - Geralton - Broome - Darwin - Alice Springs - Sydney.





Aboriginal artThe original Australian population - the aborigines - are creating a very characteristic and beautiful art were the images mainly is made up of dots, usually with symbols of animals or nature.

In Australia, like most places the Europeans colonised there are paradoxes and opposites between the original population and the white population. In Australia the aborigines only got citizenship in 1967 - citizenship in a country they inhabited 40000 years before the Europeans came!

It is striking and a great paradox to see how many aborigines lives even today (2001) outside the normal society and this in a country often highlighted as one of the most open and welcoming countries.

This society within the society stands out the most in the outback, I saw it particularly in Alice Springs and the area around there, I saw how  aborigines live in utmost misery. Through Alice Springs runs a river which is dry most of the year so the city is cut in two by this river bed. In the outskirts of of Alice Springs, in the river bed small groups of aborigines (10-20) "camped" sleeping under the open sky with just a blanket to cover them (and I can tell you it's getting cold at night in the desert). During the day they went in to Alice Springs begging money from tourist, they seem to have no education and some spoke only poor English.

To see how some aborigines live as a contrast to the way I was received and welcomed everywhere. I found the Australians so forthcoming and friendly that the contrast was just stunning. I do not wish in any way to be judgemental as I know too little about it. So I just have to say this was something I did not know about Australia - and something I do not understand.