I shall now take the journey to Australia for the purpose of tracing the paths and directions of this continent sized country. At the outset, it ought to be made clear that this writing is not a tour guide of Australia; there are countless detailed travel books just for that purpose. Furthermore, tourists don't feel the joys and pains in the real life of Australia, away from scenic tourist attractions. Only with life experience and close encounters over a long period of time does one get certain degree of familiarity with norms and emotions of the people.
The Most Liveable Place and Pleasant Diversities
This is a clean and temperate environment. It may sound odd to many if Australia is described this way, since images of that remote part of the world "down under" are generally of an incredibly harsh land. Pictures of Australia show enormous wilderness with amazingly exotic creatures and unbearable (except to the Aborigines) natural conditions. The once popular comedy movie "Crocodile Dundee" starring Paul Hogan projects this distinctive image of other worldliness abundantly clearly.
The incredible reality is territory-wide hostile inhabiting conditions. The continent of Australia is the driest in the world, known for its world famous barren outback and large expanses of emptiness under punishing heat. This is largely a red and brown country. Living things in Australia, flora and fauna, have to adapt to dehydration and dire scarcity of food sources in their unique processes of evolution, leading to strange looking forms fitting more to the age of dinosaurs. One has no alternative there to endurance and sweating hard work for a survival. That is the main background theme of an Australian company making tough jeans and work wear named "hard yakka" (yakka for hard work in Aboriginal vocabulary).
Despite all these commonly facts of an unrelenting nature, there is another side of the same coin for the claim of an oasis in both symbolic and practical senses. In a twist of fate, this tough landscape apparently scared off numerous early European explorers who ventured randomly to the northern and western coasts, and handed an unexpected gigantic bounty to late-coming English explorers who happened to have docked at a tiny, more inhabitable area along the eastern coast, a hard to beat odd in human history. Australia is now recognised as one of the most liveable places on earth, obviously no thanks to the major proportion of barren territories, but mostly to the fertile and well developed coastal belt of the eat and vibrant urban centres around the country where people can afford temperate climate and comfortable living environment. These coastal areas are perhaps within the zones of 200 kilometres from shorelines of the east and the south, with an approximate line being drawn along the Great Dividing Range, starting from the south eastern end of the continent up to its north eastern end. This lush and green belt covers three states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, with the state of South Australia offsetting its great deserts with certain green zones of valleys for good name wineries.
One of Australia's first virtues must be that this is so far an unpolluted continent, with pristine clean environment and high standards of its protection. Occasional pollution does occur, but with high awareness of environmental protection and vast land areas, that did not and will not make visible negative impact on the overall situation. In other straight words, these guys have a lot of room to pollute before it is getting to the point causing serious concerns. Bars have been raised high in this country as precautionary responses to those duly concerns and some pessimistic predictions.
Blue sky is freely and commonly available in Australia, even in densely populated metropolises. Morning fogs are often thick in suburbs to blur the views of motorists. This is due mainly to the fresh air and moisture rising from expanses of farmland and green meadows along the meandering roads. Bright sunny follow the retreating fogs. Air quality in Melbourne is evidently high that there is a slight worry that people's minor facial defects or thick make ups are clearly visible under bright sunshine. Stepping out of Melbourne's tidy, modest, and unassuming Tullamarine Airport, the first inhaling of the air is always fresh and refreshing. A friend of mine called the trips back to Melbourne from Hong Kong as a journey for a thorough "lung cleansing". Such trips certainly serve to improve the health of those people who bury themselves deep in dusty, misty concrete jungles of high-rises for too long.
In Australia, at least in Melbourne in the south, people have supply of best quality water for their use and are able to drink right from the taps. Aussie friends are fond of making jokes of my preference to take a sip of boiled water; to them tap water is good enough and worry free. During tours around the state of Victoria, I pondered times and again along some large reservoirs, and they are in effect well maintained beautiful natural parks, fitting for a holiday resort or country retreat. This gives me an impression of the slightest chance of contamination or lowering water quality for the consumption of the people of Melbourne.
Australia as a whole is ranked one of the most liveable places of the world. From the southern ends of Melbourne and Tasmania, temperature moves only one direction, up, with plenty of sunshine from the territory of NSW to Queensland. It is unfair to say that there are no other excellent places to live, and many European and North American countries are indeed quite nice and picturesque. Their major drawback is just too cold, even comparing with some freezing nights in Melbourne. Many Englishmen, and women, would prefer warn weather in Australia to their wet and chilly days. I heard on a train in China from travelling Canadian managers about their dread of cold winters back home. Norway is routinely regarded as a beautiful country and ranked the best country to live from time to time, but their people cannot say much to praise their extreme cold weather. A Norwegian student I met in university years, Rita, fled her country to study in Australia ad vowed never to return. When Melbournians scream freezing cold sometimes, they have no idea what a cold chill feels like. Australia is blessed, in a sense, by average warm temperature across the country; heat is instead often the problem to some: I had my first ever sun burn in Sydney while a new comer not heeding the warning.
(to be continued)