The Sonoran Desert is an arid region covering approximately 100,000 square miles in southwestern Arizona and southeastern California, as well as most of Baja California and the western half of the state of Sonora, Mexico. Subdivisions of this hot, dry region include the Colorado and Yuma deserts. Irrigation has produced many fertile agricultural areas, including the Coachella and Imperial valleys of California. Warm winters attract tourists to Sonora Desert resorts in Palm Springs, California, and Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona.

Cactus 002

Prickly pear cactus are found in all of the deserts of the American Southwest, with different species having adapted to different locale and elevation ranges. Most require course, well-drained soil in dry, rocky flats or slopes. But some prefer mountain pinyon/juniper forests, while others require steep, rocky slopes in mountain foothills.

Cactus 001

Like other cactus, most prickly pears and chollas have large spines — actually modified leaves — growing from tubercles — small, wart-like projections — on their stems. But members of the Opuntia genus are unique because of their clusters of fine, tiny, barbed spines called glochids. Found just above the cluster of regular spines, glochids are yellow or red in color and detach easily from the pads. Glochids are often difficult to see and more difficult to remove, once lodged in the skin.

Cactus 008

Tucson Mountain Park 001

Tucson Mountain Park 003

The trip across Arizona is just one oasis after another. You can just throw anything out and it will grow there, I like Arizona.

~Will Rogers

Tucson Mountain Park 004

Crash landed on Earth, an alien stepped out onto an arid, rocky bajada and found himself dwarfed by gigantic, grotesque, green figures with arms reaching toward the sky. Feeling at home in this weird landscape, he approached one fiercely armoured mammoth, which he estimated to be 35 feet tall and weighing several tons. “Where am I on your planet?” he questioned the giant. The strange green figure remained silent.

Where was the alien? By the distinctive characteristics of the peculiarly human-like plant, he could have only been in the Sonoran Desert. His geographical location could be pinpointed to be either in extreme southeastern California near the Colorado River, in southern and western Arizona, or south of the border in northwestern Mexico. These are the only places on earth where the saguaro cactus — grand symbol of the Sonoran Desert, the West and arguably the United States — grows.

Sabino Canyon 031

If the stately 20-to 50-foot saguaro could have talked to the alien, it would have had tales of the Old West to tell. Some have been around since Teddy Roosevelt became president in 1901. A few still living today were tiny young upstarts, perhaps growing under the shelter of a paloverde tree, when Thomas Jefferson was elected President in 1801.

Cactus 011

The saguaro can grow only in narrow environmental niches within the Sonoran Desert, usually below elevations of 3,500 feet. Freezing temperatures and frosts can kill or damage the delicate plant. Wild arms and drooping limbs may indicate that a particular plant survived a bitter winter.

Tucson Mountain Park 005

These distinctive human-like arms begin to grow only in middle age, about 75 years, after achieving a height of 14 to 16 feet. The oldest, with dozens or more branches, have marked the passage of many years.

Cactus 003

When the pleats are more deeply shadowed, more defined, drought has shaped the cactus. The plant can lose up to 82 percent of its moisture before it dies of dehydration. In times of little rain, shallow roots near the soil’s surface can capture the moisture of even the lightest rainfall. The downward-pointing spines, “drip tips,” also help by directing rainwater toward the base of the plant. These clusters of spines also play a role in cooling the outer skin; they help deflect wind and provide insulation from freezing as well.

Cactus 010

Another feature of the saguaro, the many holes on its body, makes one wonder if the Gila woodpeckers inflict much damage as they hammer into the tissues used to store water. Often, these meticulous birds drill 2 or 3 holes before they are satisfied. But the plant quickly minimizes damage by sealing off the wound with callous scar tissue to stop water loss. Conserving water loss is essential to the survival of the saguaro. When the sun beats unmercifully on its waxy, watertight, outer surfaces, microscopic pores close. At night, when temperatures are lower, the pores open, allowing for the entry of carbon dioxide, necessary for photosynthesis and the manufacture of carbohydrates.

Tucson Mountain Park 010

“Even the plants in Arizona wanted to hurt you.”

Author: Janette Rallison

“He’d always had a quickening of the heart when he crossed into Arizona and beheld the cactus country. This was as the desert should be, this was the desert of the picture books, with the land unrolled to the farthest distant horizon hills, with saguaro standing sentinel in their strange chessboard pattern, towering supinely above the fans of ocotillo and brushy mesquite.”

Author: Dorothy B. Hughes

Tucson Mountain Park 013

“If you don’t die of thirst, there are blessings in the desert. You can be pulled into limitlessness, which we all yearn for, or you can do the beauty of minutiae, the scrimshaw of tiny and precise. The sky is your ocean, and the crystal silence will uplift you like great gospel music, or Neil Young.”

-Anne Lamott

Tucson Mountain Park 011

Sabino Canyon 032

Land of extremes. Land of contrasts. Land of surprises. Land of contradictions…. That is Arizona.

~Federal Writers Project, Arizona: The Grand Canyon State, 1956

Sabino Canyon 043

I live in the dry dusty desert

Where we’re always short on water

And even if the sun fell upon us

It couldn’t get any hotter.

~Terri Guillemets

Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne 4

Melbourne is wonderfully altered since I last saw it. There are some very fair buildings in it now, and things are a little cheaper than they used to be.

– William John Wills
Melbourne 1
Melbourne’s sensational cityscape is dotted with interesting architecture, including statuesque Art Deco buildings, neoclassical facades and contemporary towers.
Melbourne 2
Melbourne 3

Since 1840 to today, Melbourne has taken form from a small settlement to a vibrant city.

Just Hangin' Around...

Cruising Down The Yarra River

The Yarra River is not big by world standards. It runs for just 242 kilometres from its source on the flanks of Mt Baw Baw in the Yarra Ranges National Park to its mouth at the head of Port Phillip Bay in Newport. It is not very long, very wide, nor very deep. It is not even very clear. But this sepia-coloured river has had a big impact on shaping Melbourne – the city that grew up on its banks.

Melbourne 5

Melbourne 7

The Eureka Tower: This building – with 91 stories – is the tallest in the Southern hemisphere. There are historically significant symbols incorporated into its facade, including the red stripe – representing the blood that was spilt during the Eureka Stockade – and the gold crown at the very top – symbolizing the 1850’s gold rush (during which the Eureka Stockade revolt took place).

Melbourne 8

The Yarra River banks in Central Melbourne are are great place for a bum-around. The river is 242 kilometres long. It flows from the Yarra Ranges through the Yarra Valley through the city of Melbourne and then out to the sea. I enjoy tramping along these banks on the many hiking and biking paths available to happy wanderers like myself!

Melbourne 9

Melbourne’s first electric tram began operation on 14 October 1889 between Box Hill and Doncaster. The service was abandoned less than seven years later and it took until October 1906 for another electric service to begin, this time operated by the private North Melbourne Electric Tramway and Lighting Company.

n July 1983 the State Government decided to integrate the City’s three major forms of public transport – trams, buses and suburban trains – to create a coordinated public transport network. The operations of the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board were taken over by the Tram & Bus Division of a new government body, the Metropolitan Transit Authority.

The Met’s Tram & Bus Division consisted of 684 trams, 220km of track and some 5000 employees. ‘Tram green’ was developed into a distinctive dark green and bold yellow colour scheme for the new entity’s rolling stock and uniforms. The Met logo, symbolizing the three modes of transport, began to appear on all vehicles and uniforms in place of the M&MTB logo.

Flinders Street Station

Melbourne 10

Melbourne 12

Queen Victoria Market is much more than the city’s fresh-food shopping mecca – it’s a historic landmark, a tourist attraction and a Melbourne institution. Spread over several city blocks, with more than 600 retailers, Vic Market is a true reflection of Melbourne’s cosmopolitan makeup. Shoppers can find everything from fruit and vegetables to local and imported gourmet foods, fashion and general merchandise.

Melbourne 13

Al fresco eateries, one-off shops and cosy litte bars all nestle side-by-side in laneways and arcades threading throughout the city. Each arcade has its own individual character and charm.

“I think Melbourne is by far and away the most interesting place in Australia, and I thought if I ever wrote a novel or crime novel of any kind, I had to set it here.”

– Peter Temple


136 Noosa 1 copy

Some of South East Queensland’s most picturesque coastline can be seen in Noosa National Park. The park is home to vulnerable and endangered wildlife such as the glossy black-cockatoo, ground parrot, koala, red goshawk, wallum froglet, swamp orchid and Christmas bells.

152 Australia Zoo 5 copy

Open woodlands with a heath understorey and low wallum heath cover most of the park. Hoop and kauri pines tower above small rainforest pockets growing on sand in sheltered sites away from the sea breezes.

137 Noosa 2 copy

To overcome severe beach erosion at Noosa’s main beach a sand pumping system has been built. It operates when necessary during off peak hours, supplying sand via a pipeline built underneath the boardwalk.

138 Noosa 3 copy

Looking out from the headland at the southern end of Alexandria Bay there are excellent views of the coastline to Coolum and beyond. The rocky outcrop is known as the devils kitchen which can have spectacular waves breaking in rough weather.

141 Noosa 5 copy

140  copy

147 Noosa 7 copy

Noosa National Park was first created in 1939, and opened in 1949 by Sir John Laverack. There are a number of hiking trails throughout the Park which offer a chance to enjoy some of the stunning beaches that Noosa has to offer, along with local wildlife such as Koalas and sometimes black cockatoos. Just another Dharma Bum photographer’s paradise!

143 Noosa 6 copy

156 Australia Zoo 9 copy

Noosa Heads hosts a population of koalas, which are often seen in and around Noosa National Park. The koala population in Noosa is in decline.

159 Australia Zoo 12 copy

Australian lizards are probably one of the most common creatures you’ll see when you’re visiting Noosa and the surrounding area. They’re all harmless so don’t panic if you find one in your path or on a nearby wall.

 160 Sunshine Coast 1 copy

From the right-hand point breaks of the southern Gold Coast all the way up to Fraser Island, some of the best waves on earth will be coming your way.

163 Sunshine Coast 4 copy

Noosa Heads’ main attraction is its beaches. Its main beach and its small bays around the headland are common surfing locations which are known on world surfing circuits. Enjoy the miles of quiet, pristine coastline – walk from one beach to the next.

161 Sunshine Coast 2 copy

Late afternoon surfing lessons.

One of its major surfing contests involves the Noosa Festival of Surfing. This festival attracts large numbers of longboarders. A fatal shark attack of a 22-year-old surfer was recorded at Noosa in 1961.


165 Sunshine Coast 6 copy

The end of another absolutely spectacular day! There are not too many places in the world with interesting beaches to bum around on that also have trails leading off into the rain forest. You can hike around the heads to Alexandra beach, or wind your way back and wander down to Hastings Street and eat the best gelato while meandering through the elegant streets of Noosa, with a beach on one side and a river and hills on the other.

Noosa: A truly beautiful part of Australia.


“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.”
― Jack Kerouac

Balina SunriseThe Sunshine Coast stretches along the Coral Sea in Australia’s Queensland state., starting roughly 50 miles north of Brisbane. The area is famous for its unbelievably gorgeous beaches, surfing culture, eco-parks and nature reserves. We found a virtual treasure trove of sculpted sand dunes, mangrove forests and rivers, magnificent coastal scenery, rare birds, critters, and quaint towns and villages to explore and photograph.

128 Balina 2 copy

129 Balina 3 copy

130 Balina 4 copy

131 Balina 5 copy

A Superb Fairy-wren

With its gleaming, velvety blue-and-black plumage, the male Superb Fairy-wren is easily distinguished. These ‘coloured’ males are often accompanied by a band of brown ‘jenny wrens’, often assumed to be a harem of females, but a proportion of them are males which have not yet attained their breeding plumage. The contents of these birds’ untidy nests — a clutch of three or four eggs — are not necessarily the progeny of the ‘coloured’ male, as there is much infidelity among female fairy-wrens, with many eggs resulting from extra-pair liaisons.

132 Balina 5A copy

“Better to sleep in an uncomfortable bed free, than sleep in a comfortable bed unfree.”
The Dharma Bums

133 Balina 6 copy

An estuary flowing in from the Pacific ocean.

134 Balina 7 copy

Originally at home in North America, the Wanderer Butterfly arrived in Australia as recently as 1871, and once its host plant, the Milkweed of the genus Asclepias, arrived as well, the butterflies began to flourish.

Heading to Noosa!

“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”—J.K., On the Road

More Sunshine Coast on the next post.

Rainforest of Australia

“I think it’s a lovely hallucination but I love it sorta.”
― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

97 Kuranda 2 copy

The tropical rainforest is home to the most diverse range of plants and animals on earth. The Daintree Cape Tribulation region supports species of plants and animals that have existed for millions of years and are integral to the ecosystem not just of the Daintree Rainforest, but of other areas around the world too. As difficult as it may be to imagine, what happens in the Daintree Rainforest affects what happens on the other side of the planet.

98 Kuranda 3 copy

Musky Rat Kangaroo – the most primitive of the kangaroos, it is also the smallest and the only one with five toes. The Musky Rat Kangaroo is restricted to the floor of the rainforest in north east Australia. A similar size to a bandicoot, but with an upright posture and with dark reddish-brown fur. It feeds during the day on the rainforest floor on fruit, fungi and insects.

100 Kuranda 5 copy

In the far north of Australia the cassowary plays a central role in shaping the rain forest.

Queensland’s own big bird hails from the era of the dinosaurs and still roams the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area today. Often spotted from Mission Beach to the Daintree Rainforest lowlands, these stocky birds serve an important role in conservation.

The cassowary swallows seeds whole and as they travel long distances across the rainforest, these seeds are dispersed in other areas with its own built-in fertilizer.

 Cassowaries are large, flightless birds related to emus and (more distantly) to ostriches, rheas, and kiwis. Today there are three species. Two are confined to the rain forests of New Guinea and nearby islands. The third and largest—the southern cassowary—also lives in the Wet Tropics of northern Queensland, in the part of Australia that sticks up at New Guinea like a spike. Some live deep in tracts of rain forest, such as the Daintree; others live on the forest edge and may wander through people’s backyards.


A cassowary is not your regular garden bird. If an adult male stretches up to his full height, he can look down on someone five feet five—i.e., me—and he may weigh more than 110 pounds. Adult females are even taller, and can weigh more than 160 pounds. Among living birds, only ostriches are more massive. Most of the time, however, cassowaries seem smaller than they are, because they don’t walk in the stretched-up position but slouch along with their backs parallel to the ground.

Their feathers are glossy black; their legs are scaly. Their feet have just three toes—and the inside toe of each foot has evolved into a formidable spike. Their wings are tiny, having shrunk almost to the point of nonexistence. But their necks are long, and bare of all but the lightest coating of short, hairlike feathers. Instead the skin is coloured with amazing hues of reds and oranges, purples and blues. At the base of the neck in the front, a couple of long folds of colourful skin, known as wattles, hang down. Cassowaries have large brown eyes and a long, curved beak. On their heads they wear a tall, hornlike casque.

101 Kuranda 6 copy

The Daintree Cape Tribulation Rainforest in North Queensland Australia is one of the most diverse and beautiful examples of Mother Natures work in the world. This ecologically unique rainforest is home to the most extensive range of rare plants and animals on earth, and all are found within an area of approximately 1200 square kilometres – the largest chunk of protected tropical rainforest in Australia.

102 Kuranda 7 copy

104 Kuranda 9 copy

“Who can leap the world’s ties and sit with me among white clouds?”
― Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

106 Kuranda 11 copy

The trademark of all rainforests is their canopy – a thick layer of leaves and branches that shades the forest floor. This forces the plants into a super competitive state as they fight their way up towards the sun. The individual plants of the forest each have their own unique tricks for surviving in what many botanists refer to as ‘the battlefied’. Some are soldiers in the war for sun, some have good homeland security and some become good at finding allies.  107 Kuranda 12 copy

109 Kuranda 14 copy

110 Kuranda 15 copy

The Daintree Cape Tribulation rainforest is a World Heritage Listed area and contains the highest number of plant and animal species that are rare, or threatened with near extinction, anywhere in the world. The Daintree Cape Tribulation Rainforest is a unique area, precariously balanced between the advances of development and the warnings of environmentalists.

112 Kuranda 17 copy

118 Daintree 5 copy

Found mainly in the mangrove swamps, the Salt Water Crocodile is one not to mess with. A male can be measured as long as 6.7 metres and weigh in at over 500 kg! While they are busy being humongous, the female Salt Water Crocodile is much smaller. Measuring only 3 metres in length and weighing in at 150 kg, the lady of the swamp is petite compared to her male version.

117 Daintree 4 copy

119 Daintree 6 copy

These crocs are very territorial and will munch on anything that may be a threat to them and their area. This includes fish, mammals, other reptiles, and the occasional human. Yes human! Think of the Salt Water Croc as the ’T-Rex’ of the Daintree-the biggest and baddest of them all.

121 Daintree 8 copy

This extraordinary World Heritage Site is filled with species which have been swept into the rainforest ecosystem over 100 million years of advance and retreat as climate changed.

123 Daintree 10 copy

Located in the heart of the ‘Wet Tropics’ of North Qld, the climate is warm all year round. From December to March it is also very wet – some years the Daintree has been known to receive more than 6 metres of rain during the summer wet season. As a result the flora: plants, trees, bushes, ferns, vines, creepers etc is very lush and often referred to as ‘jungle’.

122 Daintree 9 copy

The vegetation of the area is the most diverse in Australia both floristically and structurally. There have been 13 different rainforest types identified.

124 Daintree 11 copy

The peppermint stick insect has a very small and patchy distribution along some beach areas in Cape Tribulation, Innisfail and Mission Beach. It feeds only on a few species of pandanus and these spiky-leaved palms also provide some shelter from predators. The peppermint stick insect spends all its time on the pandanus leaf, feeding, sheltering, mating and laying its eggs on the leaves where they roll down to the tight-fitting leaf axil to ‘incubate’. Why is it called the peppermint stick insect? As a defence mechanism, it sprays an irritating fluid at any predators (which include curious tourists) and this fluid smells like peppermint. This is a strenuous act for the frightened stick insect so, if you are lucky enough to find one in your travels through the Wet Tropics, please don’t try to touch it.

125 Daintree 12 copy

Looking up into a fan palm forest canopy – as the sunlight filters through the leaves it creates an ethereal feel to the rainforest.

126 Daintree 13 copy

The beaches of the Cape Tribulation Daintree Rainforest region are rated among the most spectacular in the world. The tropical warmth combined with dazzling sunshine and crystal clear calm water makes you wonder if this is what heaven could be like. One of the most wonderful features of Daintree beaches is the lack of people. Stretching for miles, you can cast your eyes along the golden sand and not see a single soul, just the trees waving at you in the breeze.

Under the Sea – The Great Barrier Reef

“Captain James Cook’s ship, The Endeavour, hit a coral outcrop in the Great Barrier Reef in 1770. Cook and his crew camped in what is now called Cooktown for nearly two months while making repairs. Then they sailed south, where Cook claimed the east coast of Australia as British territory.”

― Julie Murphy, Great Barrier Reef Under Threat83-gbr-1

The Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland in northeastern Australia, is the largest living thing on Earth, and even visible from outer space. The 2,300km-long ecosystem comprises thousands of reefs and hundreds of islands made of over 600 types of hard and soft coral. It’s home to countless species of colourful fish, molluscs and starfish, plus turtles, dolphins and sharks.

86 GBR 4

Sea Bum

The breathtaking array of marine creatures includes 600 types of soft and hard corals, more than 100 species of jellyfish, 3000 varieties of molluscs, 500 species of worms, 1625 types of fish, 133 varieties of sharks and rays, and more than 30 species of whales and dolphins.

88 GBR 6

“To make the sea your own, to watch over it, to brood your very soul into it, to accept it and love it as though only it mattered and existed.”

― Jack Kerouac, The Sea is My Brother

89 GBR 7

“My soul is full of longing for the secrets of the sea, and the heart of the great ocean sends a thrilling pulse through me.”

– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

90 GBR 8

“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came…”

– John F. Kennedy

91 GBR 10

Healthy coral reefs are among the most biologically diverse and economically valuable ecosystems on earth, providing valuable and vital ecosystem services. Coral ecosystems are a source of food for millions; protect coastlines from storms and erosion; provide habitat, spawning and nursery grounds for economically important fish species; provide jobs and income to local economies from fishing, recreation, and tourism; are a source of new medicines, and are hotspots of marine biodiversity.

87 GBR 5

Dharma Wife



Enlightenment in the Australian Outback

64 Outback 12A

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.

 – Australian Aboriginal Proverb

54 Outback 4

52 Outback 253 Outback 3

There are about 750,000 roaming wild in the outback and they cause a host of problems. Camels were imported to Australia in the 19th century from Arabia, India and Afghanistan for transport and heavy work in the outback.


I'm too sexy for my love Too sexy for my love Love's going to leave me I'm too sexy for my shirt Too sexy for my shirt So sexy it hurts

56 Outback 5A

58 Outback 6AAlice Springs is a remote town in Australia’s Northern Territory, situated some 1,500km from the nearest major city. It’s a popular gateway for exploring the Red Centre, the country’s interior desert region.

59 Outback 7

Australia is the home of the largest living thing on earth, the Great Barrier Reef, and of the largest monolith, Ayers Rock (or Uluru to use its now-official, more respectful Aboriginal name). It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world’s ten most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures – the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick, and stonefish – are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you. … If you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected manner, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback. It’s a tough place.
 – Bill Bryson

57 Outback 6

60 Outback 861 Outback 962 Outback 10

74 Outback 21

63 Outback 1164 Outback 1267 Outback 14Uluru, or Ayers Rock, is a massive sandstone monolith in the heart of the Northern Territory’s Red Centre desert, 450km from the nearest large town, Alice Springs. It’s sacred to indigenous Australians and believed to be about 700 million years old. It’s within Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, which also encompasses the 36 red-rock domes of the Kata Tjuta, colloquially known as “The Olgas” formation.

70 Outback 17

71 Outback 1872 Outback 1973 Outback 20

Kings Canyon is part of the Watarrka National Park in the Northern Territory, Australia. Sitting at the western end of the George Gill Range, it is 323 km southwest of Alice Springs. We hiked it on a rainy day, which afforded us the opportunity to experience the spontaneous rushing rivers and waterfalls activated by the natural drainage system handling the rainfall.

75 Outback 2276 Outback 2377 Outback 23A78 Outback 2479 Outback 24A80 Outback 2581 Outback 2682 Outback 27

It brought me a new understanding of how, unless you’re connected with the land, you’re not really connected with yourself or the nation. And Australians, I think, are slowly beginning to realise that the land owns us, we don’t own the land. It’s taken climate change to achieve that. And you get this sense of forces which are outside your control.”
– Joan Kirner, on the Immensity of Outback Australia
Enlightenment in the Australian Outback!
Satori roughly translates into individual Enlightenment, or a flash of sudden awareness.
69-outback-16lightning0Satori is the spiritual goal of Zen Buddhism. It is a key concept in Zen. Whether it comes to you suddenly seemingly out of nowhere, or after an undetermined passage of time centred around years of intense study and meditation, or after forty unrelenting years as with the Buddha’s brother Ananda, there can be no Zen without that which has come to be called Satori. As long as there is Satori, then Zen will continue to exist in the world.