My mind ain’t nothin’ but a total blank, I think I’ll just stay here and drink…

In these days of political correctness and obfuscation, it’s refreshing to come across the Queen’s English plainly spoken, as you frequently do in Australia.  Australia’s coast is rocky, rough, and littered with the wreckage of ships that were blown or blundered ashore…or in the case of the Queen of Nations in 1881, unintentionally beached in a legendary bout of drunken confusion. The ship carried a cargo of mostly wine and distilled spirits, for which the captain and crew had a great enthusiasm.  According to the official commemorative marker, the “hopelessly drunk” captain mistook a brushfire in the hills above Corrimal beach for the lights of Sydney some 90 kilometers away and ordered an ill-considered turn to port…whereupon the good ship and crew ran immediately aground to general consternation.  The plaque cheerfully continues that only one crew was drowned during evacuation due to the stalwart efforts of the “equally intoxicated” first mate.  Well-done, Australia, tell it like it is!  The image below was shot a few miles away near the site of another nautical come-apart along the Shipwreck Coast.  (30 March, 2011  Port Campbell, Victoria, Australia)

Beauty and silence both run deep…

If you need a little downtime to unwind your mind and rethread your head, I recommend the beach.  I know, it ain’t the latest thing, but cliches like the “quiet walk on the beach” get to be cliches for a reason.  Any place with simple and pleasing visual distractions, combined with the space to let your mind go where it will, can be a tonic when you’re troubled.  We put so much time and energy in “going”, and not enough in contemplation of “where to”, and I think that incoherence between what and why is a great source of stress.  An added bonus is the cool stuff that washes up on the beach, like this skeleton of a sea urchin!  What little I know about sea urchins is confined to a strong desire not to locate the creatures by stepping on them.  In life, they are loaded with sharp, pointy spines that cause instant regret when introduced to tender flesh…a highly useful adaptation if like the urchin your motor skills are lacking.  (29 March, 2011 Robe, South Australia)

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet…

Known today as The Twelve Apostles, this gorgeous limestone formation along the Great Ocean Road was known as the Sow and Piglets until 1922, when it was thought something more catchy might help lure the tourist masses.  The site has only sported nine of these limestone stacks in living memory, and we’re presently down to eight of them, but I guess poetic license prevailed.  Erosion first creates a cave, then further erosion turns that into an arch, the arch collapses…Kodak moment!  On reflection, I think I prefer the original moniker!  (Port Campbell, Victoria, Australia, 31 March, 2011)

Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call…

The Great Ocean Road is a 151-mile stretch of awesomeness on the south-eastern coast of Australia, starting near Melbourne in the town of Torquay.  Known as The Grotto, this little arch is only one of many spectacular sights along a road that simply drips with photo opportunities.  (30 March, 2011  Port Campbell, Victoria, Australia)

It’s a good thing ants are small…

This big guy was on a beach along the Great Ocean Drive in Australia, 2011.  If you’ve ever had a painful ant bite, then you’re familiar with formic acid in one of its natural forms.  It was first isolated by distilling the bodies of ants, hence the name, since the Latin for ant is another term you probably have heard…formica (the good old inexpensive countertop material of my youth).  Ants tend to be highly organized socially creatures, given to segregating their societies by the individual’s job, making “war” on other colonies, and even taking slaves from other colonies and keeping large numbers of aphids in their nest to feed off their secretions.  There’s a lot going on with ants, you just have to look closely to realize it.  And while you’re at it, be thankful they aren’t a whole lot bigger!  (29 March, 2011  Robe, Australia)