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August 15, 2001

Overland Australia - Update 21

Day 23: Wednesday the 15th of August.

Today, from the very start of our day at 4:30 am, the expedition group was to key on the major importance of community, and how each individual plays a valuable role in the stability of a community. It was to be a common theme for all of us throughout the day, because one of our members was leaving this morning. We did not decide this as a group in the morning by proxy, but at the end of the day we came together to find all of our observations revolved around communities. As we discussed these observations, along with an agreed feeling of sadness at losing one of our members, the group came to the conclusion that perhaps the loss of a member, or the gain of a new member, can create a very unstable environment for the whole of the community. These are some of our observations.


The small communities in Australia seem to be the most fragile at first glance. Such as the two neighbouring families in Palmerville, who have chosen not to speak to one another for over 30 years - they have completely rejected the community around them. Can a community survive more than 30 years this way?

The small families who work hard in stations without much contact outside the station except by radio. How would the family react if the children went away to school?


The small towns such as Julia Creek, which are communities born out of necessity to help weary travellers get to where they’re going by supplying fuel, water, and food. What would happen to Julia Creek if the fuel stop owner pulled out of town?
Even the free range cattle and sheep have a unique community relationship with the native animals such as the kangaroo and the introduced species of the wild pig. Many tragic examples of the introduction of a new species into an existing community can be found here in Australia, but we have seen first hand how some of these communities are willing to run with one another. Can you imagine wild pigs running willingly with Brahmans through the Australian Outback?

The Expo 360 team is a community. In twenty-two days all of its members had found their function in the group, and knew how best to organise a full twenty-four hour period. It had taken a lot of trial and error but we had become synchronous. A great example of this synchronicity is the time it took the group to load the equipment into the truck each morning. We went from five hours to thirty minutes! A well-oiled machine to say the least.

To lose just one of us meant a huge dynamic shift in the group. It meant we had to divvy up his lot among the rest of us. We also decided that this was better than wishing for a newcomer to take over his allotted chores. Why? Maybe because Jim was not just a drone, but an individual that added flavour to our community. That flavour can really never be recreated - thus the feeling of loss as a community and the resentment of someone who tries to take his place.

We will miss Jim in our little community, and we will brace ourselves with great enthusiasm for what dynamic he has left us in his absence.


Environmental Studies

Posted on August 15, 2001 6:34 PM