Category Archives: Memories


In the wild: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve Part 3

Wednesday Morning

On Wednesday morning after their sleep out, Oliver and Peter got to go and meet a colony of Meerkats. They walked in on foot and got incredibly close to these delightful little guys (and girls).

A Meerkat at Tswalu

A colony of curious Meerkats

Oliver got close to the Meerkats

Wednesday Afternoon

On Wednesday afternoon I treated myself to a Rejuvenating Facial in the beautiful and relaxing Tswalu Kalahari Spa. This award winning spa has a menu of delicious spa experiences. I enjoyed my hour chatting with Spa Manager and Beauty Therapist, Corli, as she cleansed and moisturised my face, which had been exposed to a fair bit of sun and wind on the game drives.

All four of us then joined a game drive to a pack of African Wild Dogs. These animals also are extremely endangered and rare in the wild. This pack was made up of five adult dogs and nine quite young pups. When we arrived the dogs were sleeping and yawning in the shade of some trees. But after a while the adult dogs got up, kissed the pups goodbye (literally) and then organised themselves to hunt for dinner. We followed them as they trotted in formation through the bush, stopped to look and listen for prey, and then fanned out and sprinted when they targeted prey to chase. It was a thrilling sight to see these beautiful animals showing us their true nature. Again, before this we only had seen them behind fences at the Cheetah Rescue Centre.

An African Wild Dog stretching after an afternoon nap and preparing to hunt

African Wild Dog pups

The African Wild Dog Alpha male leading the hunt

Thursday Morning

On Thursday morning, our last morning in this paradise, we did some horseback riding. It was extremely cold and windy so Oliver and Louisa rode in the Stable’s arena, although a rather naughty orphan Zebra kept running at Louisa’s horse and making it shy. Meanwhile I took a ride with Juan and Patrick, the horse guide, out across the bush and saw Baboons running away from the horses. Because it was quite windy the horses were very skittish. So we stayed relatively close to the Stables, looping out into the bush for a kilometre or two at a sedate pace. I didn’t want to be thrown off onto any of the many Tswalu plants that have huge sharp thorns if my horse got a fright in the wind.

Bush riding

Comfortable in the saddle!

On our way back to pack up our Lodge, we asked Juan and Ben if there was a chance we could see some Giraffes. In our four days we had not yet seen any although apparently they are a reasonably common sight. Sure enough, Ben spotted some Giraffes on the horizon as if conjuring them by magic. When we got closer we found two beautiful male Giraffes engaged in a display of dominance called “necking”. They circled one another and banged each other on the neck or body with their heads. Juan said that people hardly ever get to see this display!

So in just four days we managed to see rare Cheetahs and African Wild dogs, an endangered Desert Black Rhino, a Leopard, Giraffes, Lions, countless other African wild animals, birds, snakes (including a deadly Cape Cobra), lizards, insects, trees, plants and on and on. As Louisa said when we were planning this trip: lots of animals but no fences!


“Necking” giraffes at Tswalu

From This Country to Our Country

Tomorrow we fly home to Australia. South Africa and Australia seem to have a lot in common in the uncommon beauty of their landscapes, fauna and flora: sunburnt countries both, lands of sweeping plains … Although we have loved the animals during our stay at Tswalu, we perhaps have loved just as much, maybe more, the landscape itself. What a glorious, glorious part of the world!

From one divine sunrise …

… to another

As a farewell, the kind people at Tswalu gave each of us a small bottle of red Kalahari Desert sand to take home. In a parting note, the Tswalu team wrote:

People say that if you leave with the red sand of the dunes in your shoes, the desert will call you back. So take a few grains with you — this will always be your home in the Kalahari.

Will we be back? We hope so. Meanwhile we will keep in touch via the Tswalu blog. But our visit may benefit the Kalahari as it has benefited us. In the same farewell note we read:

As you have seen, the southern Kalahari is a precious environment. Your visit will contribute to the conservation and care of what may be South Africa’s last great wilderness.

Ready to fly home. Farewell magical Tswalu.

What a rare privilege it has been to experience this final and elemental face of South Africa!

Go back to “In the wild: Tswalu Kalahari Reserve Part 1 or Part 2” 

“On the rim of the world I am dancing!”

The Huchiun Tribe of Native American Ohlones first settled along the shores of Richmond and the East Bay, across the water from present day San Francisco, 4000 years ago.

One Ohlone song translates in English as:

“See! I am dancing!

On the rim of the world I am dancing!”


It certainly feels as if Rochelle and I have been riding our bikes on the (glorious) rim of the world! On Sunday afternoon, after the conference finished, we rode North West from the Berkeley Marina, hugging the coast along the Marina Bay Trail (part of the San Francisco Bay Trail). We cycled past Point Isabel to the Richmond Marina and on to Ford Point.

We passed marshlands.


We stopped for lunch at Richmond Marina.


We then rode around Richmond's industrial waterfront. In the early years of the 20th century, the Santa Fe Railroad made its way to Richmond. Richmond's first port was built in 1915 (Terminal #1), with two new port terminals added in the late 1920s. By 1930, Richmond Port was home also to the Filice and Perrelli Cannery and the Ford Assembly Plant. In the 1940s, Henry J Kaiser built four giant shipyards. The Marina, completed in 1981, stands on the site of the former Kaiser Shipyard #2.


The Richmond Ford Motor Co Assembly Plant was the largest assembly plant on the West Coast. During World War II it rolled out combat vehicles rather than motor cars. In recent times, the beautiful building, designed by Albert Kahn in a distinctive 20th century industrial style, fell into disrepair and was scheduled for demolition. But it has been rescued and renovated.


The Bay Trail is beautiful, although it seemed strangely deserted. A local man, a Native American who grew up in the East Bay, rode with us for a time and told stories of playing as a boy in the coastal salt marshes that the Trail now passes through. Near the Marina, we stopped to buy and drink home made lemonade at a lemonade stand set up by some local children: 50 cents for a cup, 75 cents for two cups. I paid $5 for 4 cups and waited for change, but they were quite little kids and perhaps had not yet learned in their math class about subtraction and making change. But $5 seemed a small price to pay to pump prime the American (children's) economy during a week of budget crisis and government shutdown!

My daughter Louisa and her Balloon Stand


You can find out more about riding the 500 miles of planned bike paths around San Francisco and the East Bay here:


Memories of Berkeley and International House

This morning Rochelle, Vince, Maja and I caught the shuttle to downtown Berkeley (Rochelle Cox and Vince Polito are two of my former PhD students, now Postdoctoral Fellows at Macquarie University; Maja is Vince’s partner). We walked through the UC Berkeley campus and then up Bancroft Way, which serves as the southern boundary of the University. At the top of Bancroft Way on Piedmont Avenue, looking west, is International House.


International House opened its doors to international and US students and scholars in 1930. It was built and paid for by John D Rockefeller Jr and Harry Edmonds, who also built International House in New York. I learned today that Berkeley's International House was built facing west over the Pacific to mirror New York's International House, which was built first and faces east over the Atlantic.

I lived at International House for 6 months from January 1998. I was lucky to have a Bay View room. When the weather was fine I could see all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge.

Here is a photo of Rochelle, Vince and Maja today in front of I-House with the window of my old room circled.


International House was built in Spanish Colonial Revivial style, with enormous black wrought iron chandeliers in the Great Hall, beautiful tiles everywhere, elaborate ceilings, and the large white dome that sits atop the building. The Great Hall (pictured below) was the place where we could sink into oversized leather sofas, watch basketball on a giant TV (first there got to choose the channel), dress up for the Winter Ball, or play a game of Cleudo that might go on for days.

The Great Hall, International House


In April of 1998, during the Spring Break, I joined an International House trip to Redding in Northern California. We were hosted by members of Redding's Rotary Club and their families. I stayed with a lovely family (whose name escapes me now although I can picture their house and garden in my mind's eye). I learned today, wandering through a display on the history of I-House, that these trips to Redding started in 1952! I read this:


Just like scholars and students since 1952, I visited the local newspaper, took a boat ride on the amazing Shasta Dam, walked through a pulp mill, and was treated to a BB King concert (which, unfortunately I slept through because I was so tired, dreaming the whole time of plates crashing on the floor; the drums and guitars must have filtered into my subconscious as I slept in my seat). I learned what a pot luck dinner was and discovered a flair for bowling. Most importantly I was treated like a part of my host's family when I was far from home and very homesick.

As I read the words of the Indian student in the photo above, memories of my homesickness as well as gratitude for the care of strangers came flooding back. I hadn't thought of that trip to Redding in probably 15 years.

An earlier generation of I-House residents visiting the Redding Newspaper and Shasta Dam


Every day I lived in Berkeley I walked onto the campus through historic Sather Gate (below), past Sather Tower (below; a clock and bell tower nicknamed “the Campanile” after its architectural inspiration, St Mark's Campanile in Venice), and over to Tolman Hall, home of the Psychology Department and of the sponsor of my visit, Professor John Kihlstrom. You can read more about the history of UC Berkeley here and about its architecture here. It was lovely retracing those steps and remembering my days in Berkeley: days that often challenged me, sometimes delighted me, and definitely changed me. Berkeley has changed too it seems, with Telegraph Avenue more run down that I remember; Shattuck Avenue more built up; and a lovely new shopping and restaurant area way down on Fourth Street.

Sather Gate, UC Berkeley


Sather Tower


Tomorrow will be another chance to revisit the past (and hopefully point to some possible futures) when our hypnosis conference starts. Until then I leave you with this quote from John D Rockerfeller Jr on his vision for International House (from a fascinating history):

The idea of the establishment of this institution on the Pacific Coast was suggested by the success of a similar one on the Atlantic Coast, in New York City, which has become well and favorably known throughout the world. By bringing together in unfettered cooperation the educated young people of all lands, many of whom will in years to come be leaders in their several countries, and by giving them the full opportunity for frank discussion on terms of equality, there is being performed, I believe, a service for the well-being of the world, the importance of which it is difficult to over-value. International House is a laboratory for a new kind of experiment – the day-to-day practice of international fellowship among men and women.

Tonight I am thinking of you, my long ago friends from I-House: Dimitar from Bulgaria (who taught me how to say “epiphany” in Bulgarian) and Shigeru from Japan.