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Fri, 01 Jul 2011

New Arrivals

Well, this is the first time I've been somewhere in Australia that isn't along the eastern coast since... since before I can remember. Since getting back to this country at the start of 2003, I've just been messing around on the eastern edge of the continent. Well, that's all changed now. Temporarily.

I'm in Adelaide for about a week, for the Australian Systematic Botany Society 2008 National Conference. The excitement doesn't start until Sunday, I got here a earlier so that I could look around Adelaide a bit.

I had been warned(?) in advance that Adelaide was designed by the same man as Christchurch in New Zealand. According to Wikipedia this isn't in fact the case, but walking along the river I did get a certain sense of deja vu, the city feeling more like Christchurch than any other Australian city than I am used to. This doesn't explain why I kept thinking that the traffic would be driving on the right, maybe I was subconsciously being reminded of a European city.

The walk along the river was pleasant, and graced by musk lorikeets (Glossopsitta concinna)
Musk Lorikeet
(Glossopsitta concinna), near River Torrens  P1030567
and Australian Pelicans (Pelecanus conspicillatus).
Australian Pellican
(Pelecanus conspicillatus), River Torrens P1030568
In a tree, noisy miners were raising a nest-full of appropriately noisey nestlings. The next was part twigs, part plastic: old shopping bags fished from the river, having finally found some use.

I crossed over the river on a rather ornate bridge, and walked across the fields. My attention had been drawn by church spires, by analogy with Christchurch, there should surely be some sort of square out in front. Sadly, the analogy did not stretch quite that far. Walking across the fields, though, I found a juvenile magpie using the tried-and-tested "nearly tread on it" method of bird detection. There were adult magpies lurking nearby, I could but hope that at least one of it was the juvenile's parent. Though no longer a chick, I don't think it was quite up to looking after itself.
Juvenile Magpie P1030595

The delusion that I was in Christchurch was more or less dispelled by the CBD. I didn't really look around the city centre much, though, but headed straight for the South Australian Musuem. Sad thought it may sound, this was one of the main reasons that I had arrived those extra few days early. Here, they have some very rare and unusual fossils indeed - trace remains of the first animals ever, from the Ediacaran period -- some 650 million years ago. It's something quite special to see, and think how long ago they lived. That the imprints of soft bodied organisms have survived so long is quite amazing. It's incredible to think that these ghostly shapes in the rock could well have been the ancestor of all of us. Debate still rages as to if, and how, these things are related to modern life. That they don't really look like any thing that you would see out there today still is undebatable.

This wasn't the only thing to see at the Museum, and I enjoyed looking through the Pacific Islands cultures exhibition, and the extensive and brilliantly done exhibition of Aboriginal Australia.

Then I capped off another amazing day by getting the wrong bus back to where I'm staying. This is where it helps to have made a note of what bus you got into town on.

Adelaide photo gallery

posted at: 01:50 | path: /travel/australia/south_australia | permanent link to this entry

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