An Aboriginal boy between the age of 10 and 16 will go on “walkabout,” a solitary wandering in the outback for as long as six months, during which time he must survive by living off the land and undergo a spiritual quest. After his walkabout, he is considered a man. That strikes me as a good use of travel–a rite of passage, an occasion to “find oneself,” a quest for spiritual discovery. I’m not going on THAT kind of walkabout, but I am headed to Australia for six weeks, which will include a sojourn into the outback, in walkabout territory.
Today we set forth on a 22 hour flight, not counting layovers, to Adelaide, Australia. Our daughter is married to a professor in the Lutheran seminary there and we look forward to spending time with them and with our grandchildren (“grandies,” as they say down under). We’ll be there for the rest of May, the full month of June, and we’ll get back on the 4th of July. Most of our time will be spent in the very enjoyable city of Adelaide and the surrounding countryside, where in the 19th century German Lutherans fleeing the liberalizing state church settled on some of the best farmland in the continent–part of the same migration that in the United States became the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod–a group of immigrants who started the Australian wine industry.
We’ve made several trips there. This time I’m also looking forward to meeting with theologian John Kleinig, with whom I will be working as editor on his translation of the “London Writings” of J. G. Hamann. In that work, not yet wholly available in English, the newly rediscovered 18th century thinker tells about his conversion to Christianity and the centrality of the Word of God, doing so in a way that proved to be a catalyst for the 19th century Lutheran “awakening.”
Also while in Australia, we are planning a trip into the desolate “Great Expanse.” We will stay awhile in Coober Pedy, where it is so hot in the summer (our winter) that the houses, shops, and churches are underground, dug into solid rock, rock rich with opals. We will then spend some time in the rugged Flinders Mountain range.
As they say, there are more things that can kill you in Australia than in any other place in the world. So we will have to shake deadly spiders out of our boots and check our swags for deadly snakes, but at least where we are going we won’t have to worry about box jellyfish (with nature’s most toxic venom) or saltwater crocodiles (the animal most likely to eat a human, affectionately known as “salties”).
So this will be an adventure on walkabout scale.
The blog should proceed mostly as usual, as it has other times I’ve been down under. By writing posts and scheduling them ahead of time, they should pop up even while we are traveling, though I might miss some days (especially when we are in the bush). The main challenge may be the time difference, with Australians sleeping while Americans are awake and vice versa (except for an overlap of waking moments, with the American evening being the Australian morning). Also Australia is a day later than the U.S.A. (Another time difference is that when it’s summer in the U.S.A, it’s winter in Australia, a mild winter, but it will make it habitable above ground in Coober Pedy.)
So I may be behind in posting the links to my posts on Facebook, which is necessary in today’s blogs so as to attract an audience via social media. (You can help by putting up posts that interest you on your Facebook page or other social media outlets.)
At any rate, I will probably have dispatches from down under, but I won’t turn this blog into a travelogue or bore you with vacation pictures. I’ll keep up with news and developments online, so you won’t even know I’m gone.
Photo by Prince Roy, “Outside Coober Pedy,” via Flickr, Creative Commons License