Biographical Log of Michael Furstner - Page 189
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The Martinshof Story -
A Philosophy of Happiness -
Life Awareness -
Maps & other Text series
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Friday & Saturday, November 26 & 27 2010
Every time I drive through inland Australia (as I am doing right now) I
am overwhelmed again by the landscape : endless panoramic plains of
largely undisturbed raw nature. A carpet of bushes and low trees in a
variety of greens (of which especially the silver green and grey green
shades form wonderful highlights) partly overlies the red or buff
coloured soil and ruble with here and there some rock formations, or some
bright yellow flowers, of wattle or other types.
Black scorched tree trunks are the scars of survival from numerous bush
fires and "burn offs" (burning of the undergrowth to prevent large bush
fires). Tree branches, twisted in agony, eventually point upwards towards
their source of existence, but at times also their tormentor : the
It is a country dangerous to men, not because of wild animals, but on
your own and without water you could not survive here for longer than 48
But when well prepared and driving in a comfortable air conditioned car
(like I do) it is a wonderful experience to drive through this
This landscape (from a geological viewpoint) has been there and done it all!
Sedimentation, intrusions, volcanic activity, structural deformation and
uplifting and finally repeated periods of total erosion to a perfect
This is an environment where only raw, relentless honesty can survive. High
pretensions and low lies succumb, are eroded away, like the mountains and valleys, into a
For this is the landscape of
eternity, and eternity does not speak, it only breathes
quietly in and out.
This is precisely what I experience when I drive through this landscape :
an enormous feeling of satisfaction, contentment, of peace and
tranquility. But it also gives me inspiration and energy.
Perhaps I am especially susceptible to it, because I am a Dutchman and
grew up in a flat country, alert to its mood and to the most subtle
changes as I drive through it.
But these two plains are of entirely different natures.
The Dutch clays and sands, barely dry from the sea from which they
emerged, are like a newly born baby, innocent and without a single
life experience. The old Australian plains, on the other hand,
have completed an entire life history and are like an old man filled with
But do these two plains, despite their enormous difference,
reflect (or perhaps echo) what lies before and after in time? For the
baby has just emerged from the same unknown stillness the old man
will return to when soon he dies.
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Sunday - Tuesday, November 28 - 30 2010
In the book Empire (a most entertaining historical account "How
Britain made the Modern World"), the author (Niall
Ferguson) outlines the extensive network of telegraph
connections with which London kept in close communication with all
of its Dominions. The 3,000 km long NS line between Adelaide and Darwin,
completed in 1875, was an important segment of this network. Several of
the original telegraph posts have been preserved including the one just
North of Tennant Creek and at Barrow Creek 250km farther
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The Alice Springs
telegraph station, completed in 1871, was the first white settlement in
the region. When shortly after gem stones and gold were discovered in
the area prospectors would follow the telegraph line from Adelaide
North, then set up camp at the Alice Springs telegraph station. When this
became too crowded, a street network was laid out nearby which became
the present Alice Springs township.
On my way south I take photographs of the old Tennant Creek
telegraph station and also of the Barrow Creek telegraph station. Both have been preserved as historical monuments. The one in
Alice Springs is also still standing.
In Alice Springs I find excellent accommodation in the Palm Springs Resort,
right next to the Lassiter's Casino Resort. Both are located along the banks
of the (usually bone dry) Todd river.
I have dinner in the iconic Memo Club : a great scotch fillet
steak grilled to perfection, medium rare.
During the war (WW2) Alice
Springs was a large logistics centre for the army, with supplies
traveling North to Darwin for the fight against the Japanese (1942-43).
So there were lots of service men who established their own club. After
the war however the club was no longer viable as an RSL (Returned
Soldiers League) club, so it was opened to the general public and renamed
the "Memorial Club". The Club has grown from strength to strength over
the years and is still thriving today. A must visit place if you ever
come to "the Alice"!
My journey south continues to be a "spiritual" one, with subtle variations
in the landscape and trees as I drive along. These days it is a unique
experience to drive through an environment that is barely touched by
human hands. For hundreds of kilometers there are no houses or other
man made structures at all and no human beings either.
It is only you alone in your
car and the road. This establishes a wonderful connection between you an
a timeless world, which existed millions of years ago before mankind
came into the world.
It makes me realise in what a polluted
and damaged environment we live, houses, roads, railway lines, cities.
An ever spreading network of infectious disease across the globe.
And for a brief period I get right into that again when approaching the
opal mining town of Coober Pedy on Sunday afternoon.
Whereas large mining companies are required to make extensive
environmental impact studies and clean up their mess, in Coober Pedy that
appears not to apply judging by endless rows of dirt cones that stretch
almost to the horizon.
But on Monday all is good again as I pass some
magnificent natural salt lakes along my route in South Australia. I
finally arrive at my destination in Adelaide at around 5PM. It has been a
Copyright © 2010 Michael Furstner