Last Dispatches from Sydney

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Greetings from another very warm and nice day in Sydney…sadly my last full day. Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will board the Virgin Australia plane for California in the afternoon, and some 15+ hours we will land, still during the day on Wednesday! It will be a very long Wednesday indeed! When we flew west, we left on Saturday and arrived on Monday…Sunday disappeared! What a strange planet…

Yesterday (Monday) we explored more of The Rocks, and visited St. Mary’s Cathedral, the huge Gothic Revival RC Church. I then walked over to the Australian Museum and spent about an hour and a half in their natural history exhibits…local flora and fauna, dinosaurs, unique Australian creatures, and a delightful loan exhibit of Charles Adams cartoons, “American Gothic.”

Dinner found us back at The Rocks, where we dined at the Löwenbräu Restaurant. It was quite similar to the Biergärten of Bavaria and Austria. It was a lot of food, and of course, large flagons of beer carried by capable waitresses (four in one hand!). Sure, it is for tourists, but lots of Australians were there too.

Speaking of Beer…there is NO Fosters here that I can tell. It must be their export beer. They do have many local beers, as the Australians do like their suds.

Another Hotel (pub+restaurant+rooms) we looked into had a cook-it-yourself steak grilling area, something I have not seen before.

Tuesday morning arrived, and I headed out to the delightful suburb of Leichhardt to visit the headquarters of the AMORC English Grand Lodge for Australia, New Zealand and Asia. Grand Master Paul Panikian was very welcoming, as were Frater and Soror Kogel. Frater Kogel is CEO of the Grand Lodge, while Fr. Panikian serves as the Grand Master.

They showed me around the compact and very efficient property where they produce and distribute the monographs, publications and other items, and administer the Grand Lodge. We visited their Council of Solace Temple Room, which was very peaceful and of high vibratory energy. It was a wonderful visit, capped off by a delicious lunch at one of their favorite Italian places in town, where they have know the owners and their parents for many years, fanatical devotés of Milan Soccer.

I have found out that Soccer is also called soccer here, as Football means Australian Rules Football. Rugby is hugely popular in NZ and very popular in Australia. Cricket is also well followed. Both nations are very outdoors-oriented and athletic endeavors are wide-spread.

After a fond farewell, I returned to the Australian Museum near Hyde Park to complete my visit. The Museum itself is well put together, with many interactive features and engaging learning activities for children and youth.

In particular today, my first focus was the traveling exhibit about Alexander the Great from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

The exhibit chronicles Alexander’s rise to power, and his conquests in the Middle East, Egypt, Persia, Afghanistan and India. The artifacts are impressive, and the timeline is well presented.

The signage for the exhibit does not seek to excessively glorify Alexander, or vilify him, but paints a realistic picture of his strengths and weaknesses. More than anything else, it presents the world-changing effects of the spread of Hellenism and its fusion with other cultures.

A considerable portion of the exhibit demonstrated the profound and lasting effect that this Hellenistic and diverse society has had on the world.

As this exhibit appears to be exclusively for Sydney, I encourage you to visit their site at

After spending quite a bit of time in the Alexander Exhibit, I then continued with the Native Australians galleries. These galleries not only celebrate the beauties of Aboriginal and Torres Straits cultures and spiritualities, but also to face head-on the tragic near-destruction of these ancient communities by the invading Europeans, and the efforts to make amends.

Anthropologists suggest that humans may have inhabited Australia as early as 65 million years ago, and as such the Aboriginal and Torres Straits cultures would be the oldest surviving continuous human cultures on the planet. As such, they have incalculable things to teach us.

In addition to epidemics and massacres and substance abuse, the Europeans took the children away from their families to “assimilate” them, now known as the Lost Generations. This is, of course, all too sadly familiar to North Americans.

Australia is working to right these wrongs, insofar as this is possible. The Aboriginal peoples did fight back and tried to resist the incursions, but they did not have the warrior culture of the Maoris of New Zealand, who forced the British to sign treaties (not always honored).

It was sobering, and also a strangely appropriate juxtaposition with the Alexander exhibit. Two cases of conquest, with different times and different cultures.

The final gallery I visited was a fabulous dreaming through the Aboriginal animal art: stunning, spiritual, moving, and sometimes funny. We cannot afford to lose this Ur-human culture from our Planet.

Back to the hotel I went, and drank in the rich architecture of this bustling city.

If I can get Wi-Fi on the plane, I’ll try to write some concluding thoughts about this South Pacific Odyssey tomorrow!

… Sorry for the brevity and typos: Sent from remote on the phone.

Thank you!

Steven A. Armstrong
Tutor, Editor, Consultant, Member and Customer Services

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