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My Life in the Outback – A Contemplation on New Year’s Eve

New Year’s is a time of renewal and contemplation. To celebrate, I’ve meditated on a few items that are truly meaningful to me. Aside from family, friends, and loved ones, I’ve taken a voyage back to my teens to remember when one of my lifelong passions – ancient cultures and archaeology – started. Despite the 3-D age we live in, when I could have donned a headset to take a virtual tour, I opted to use the same tool ancient people employed – memory banks in the human brain.

Since my early teens, when I was growing up in Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, in northern Mexico, I shared my

mother’s passion for the history and beauty of our early Mesoamerican cultures. We visited archaeological sites, and explored petroglyph locations and cave art, which seemed far more striking to me at the time than the art of Picasso (whose painting ‘Woman Seated Near a Window’ portraying his mistress Marie Thére̍se, sold at Christie’s during 2021 for $103.4 million). I confess I still prefer ancient cave art to ‘modern’ works.

Then, in true Mexican fashion of the day, I married in my late teens and moved to the Australian Outback. The isolation of St. Vigeon’s Station was difficult. When I discovered Aboriginal cave art, thinking it might be three or four thousand years old, I took several trips to see the hidden treasures given to Australia by its original inhabitants. Only years later, I realized the cave art I visited was 40,000 years old, and older in some cases.

The cave excursions included sleeping in a swag on the ground or on the flatbed of a Land Rover. The experience outweighed the inconveniences of cooking over a campfire and not having a bathroom.

During the intervening years since my Outback days, so many discoveries have been made on the island-continent that it’s dizzying to contemplate them, discoveries I wish had been made during my time there.

For one, DNA studies provide credible research that Australian Aboriginals are descendants of the oldest culture on our planet. Rising sea levels ten thousand years ago isolated not only the island-continent, but also kept Aboriginals genetically isolated. The indigenous cave art I saw was a drop in the proverbial bucket to the findings attesting to Australia’s unique and ancient history.

Geological discoveries are also an important aspect of research. The best known ones, like Ayers Rock, though magnificent, do not seem as dazzling as Bungle Bungle Range, which was probably formed by an ancient impact meteorite that crumpled the surrounding geography. Wind, water, and sand have eroded the range for

approximately 350 million years, creating the beehive structures seen at Bungle Bungle today. For Australia’s Aboriginal people, this is a sacred spot, just as Ayers Rock is too.

During my years in Australia, Bungle Bungle Range had been there for millions of years, but I’d returned to the Americas before I learned about Bungle Bungle so I’ve never visited it.

Australia is a wonderous laboratory of scientific findings. If only time machines existed and if I could take a wormhole trip to Australia 500 years in the future, I’d tour the discoveries found through the year 2522.


Did you observe any New Year rituals for personal renewal? Prepare special New Year’s foods? Set out achievable resolutions?


Next installment: Adventures in the Outback

Visit me at I love hearing from readers. Ask a question, suggest an idea, or comment about this blog or a previous one. (All blogs are on my website.)

This series of My Life in the Outback is based on recollections of my life in Australia many years ago. My own photographs of Australia are not only limited, but they are also old 35mm film in dismal condition. To make the series more appealing to the reader, I supplement with photographs that are similar to the experiences and locations I’ve described. I’m often dependent on pictures from the public domain and Creative Commons.

Note: Names of a few people have been changed to protect their identity since this is not a memoir, but merely my recollections of Australia. The name of the cattle station where I lived was known as either St. Vidgeon’s or St. Vigeon. I have used both spellings.

All photographs are used in an editorial or educational manner.

Photo credits:

Purnululu National Park and Bungle Bungle Range – Australian government tourism

‘Woman Seated Near a Window’ by Picasso, portraying his mistress Marie Thére̍se – Reuters

Aboriginal Australian – Australian government tourism

Ayres Rock – Australian government tourism.


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