I must admit it was initially an affront to my Australian adventure when I ran into Mike Beach of Oklahoma in the Denmark Caravan Park. I was quite content to be the only one of my kind. However, it was not long before this feeling melted away, and we spoke as old friends. You do not meet many Americans in Western Australia, especially not from Oklahoma. We shared similar impressions of this country. The land is in many ways like our western states – vast distances, harsh land and a history of tough people who made a living from it. In the same breath, the story of white settlement and their interaction with the first peoples of this land is almost identical. Mike has a round-the-world ticket and will head to Perth, Melbourne and the red center before heading to Japan and Europe. He blogs at myspace.com/hippiefreak. He met with local students before he left, and they are following him on his trip around the world. One girl drew him a picture of Uluru, which he carries in his bag and when he reaches it, he will take that drawing and take a picture with the real thing and bring it back. He also carries with him a small sack of Oklahoma Rose Rock. "Its not a very practical thing to carry but I give them out to interesting people along the way." He gave me one, a piece that looks like three attached rose blooms. I was quite touched, and now it sits safely in my box of gear, protected from the road.
Everyone carries bits and pieces of things with them that have no practical purpose but perhaps provide some feeling of good luck or goodwill. It may seem like a waste of weight and space, but the memories and the goodwill make these small sacrifices and silly superstitions worth the trouble.
Met quite a few others in the caravan park; some true blue Aussies – 3 young men about my age – who have known each other for years and are down here for Australia Day weekend. Had a beer with them and a family they had just met. Their daughter’s name was Jarra after some of the huge local trees in the forests.
My camp was next to some ex-pat Scots, about 21 years now totally Aussie with the exception of their accent. Had a glass of wine with them and talked of Shakespeare on stage, and The Man Who Would be King.