thomas m wilson

Goodbye Australia

January 23rd, 2008

The act that founded the city of Perth, Western Australia, for white folks in 1829 was the cutting down of a tree on Mt. Eliza in today’s Kings Park, and the firing off of a volley of shots. Since then the transplanted British and their progeny have not done the best job of living well with nature around here.  Perth has a long way to go when it comes to cultivating the presence of wild nonhuman life within its suburbs.

Tomorrow I’m flying to Sydney and on Friday I’m flying to San Francisco. I’m going to be a work-study scholar at the Esalen Institute, studying massage for ten weeks there. The feeling of anticipation is building. I do like the landscape of Western Australia, but it is very flat here, and it is going to be a real pleasure to see some big hills in Big Sur, northern California. I’m not going to Esalen only to study massage, I’m also going to spend some time under a big starry sky, by the cold Pacific, far away from city life. Living in the suburbs dulls one’s perceptions to some degree, and I’m hoping that these coming few weeks will sharpen my senses and my appreciation of the natural world.

This morning I and my friend Yvonne went down to Bather’s Beach in Fremantle for a swim.  This is my last dip into the warm blue Indian Ocean before heading into the northern hemisphere winter.  As we swam two dolphins, a mother and her young one, came and played with us.  I and Yvonne gasped with surprise as the glistening fins surfaced a few metres away from us.  They circled around us, and I ducked under the water and swam alongside the large grey shape of the mother.  I couldn’t believe that just five minutes bike ride from my house I was playing around with a couple of huge, intelligent wild beings in the warm shallows of the sea.  They were so much larger than us, and so lithe in their liquid space.  What a benediction to receive just before I leave Australia.

I didn’t have my camera handy when the dolphins turned up, but this is where we met the strangers from the blue.  Look at the colours of the ocean today (and thanks for the photo Yve).


There is still wildness to be found in the city.