int(125932) Oceania | Smithsonian Journeys - Part 2

Archive for the ‘Oceania’ Category

Off the Coast of Australia

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Did you know that kangaroos are the only large animals that move by hopping? In fact, they can go more than 40 miles per hour! Their sharp ears help them listen for predators while they dine on a wide variety of vegetation.

Endemic to Australia, Kangaroos share Australia’s stunning coastal landscape with a number of other unusual creatures. Learn more about the land animals living near the Great Barrier Reef in this video from the Smithsonian Channel, part of the Undersea Edens series.

Ready to see the Great Barrier Reef and its surroundings for yourself? Travel to Australia and New Zealand with Smithsonian Journeys in this fall or next spring.

The Indigenous People of Australia

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
The mysterious Ayers Rock in the heart of the Outback

The mysterious Ayers Rock in the heart of the Outback

The Aborigines of Australia have a long and fascinating history that has been connected to the Australian landscape for thousands of years. Believed to have arrived in the region about 40,000 years ago, the indigenous tribes are actually full of diversity. There are over 500 distinct groups, each with their own culture and belief systems. Indigenous people make up 2% of Australia’s population – about 400,000 souls.

While each Aboriginal group is unique, they share a unified connection to the land and to their spirituality. Their sense of the creation of the world begins with “The Dreamtime” era. This sacred moment in time was when the animal and human spirits rose from the land to create the world we know today. These ”Dreaming” beliefs explain how and why humans behave in certain ways, why the birds in western Australia have different colors than the ones in the southern region, or how the soul resides outside a human body as a spirit-child until it is initiated to human form and birthed by a mother. These creation stories connect the physical world to the human world to the spiritual world in a holistic worldview that cannot be divided.

Every world culture has its own spiritual beliefs that help create social structures, common laws, and even food taboos to keep balance in the natural environment. The Aborigines are no different in that respect, but they have retained their belief systems through traumatic colonial rule and devastating disease that decimated their populations. Despite these formidable obstacles, their strong sense of spirituality and cultural continuity has allowed their Dreaming traditions to be passed from generation to generation.

Meet the indigenous people of Australia and hear their Dreamtime stories and legends on our Exploring Australia and New Zealand experience.

What was your most spiritual moment while traveling the world? Share Below.

New Year's Eve in Sydney, Australia

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

One of the first places in the world to celebrate the arrival of 2010 is Sydney, in eastern Australia. In honor of the occassion, they host a huge fireworks celebration, illuminating the entire city. Check out this video from last year. Happy New Year to all!

Video: Natural Wonders of Australia and New Zealand

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Home to thousands of rare creatures in one of the most treasured (and vulnerable) ecosystems in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is on all of our life-lists. Check out some video of what’s in store for visitors to the region, stretching some 1,600 miles through the Coral Sea.

Don’t miss your chance to get to the Great Barrier Reef. Click here for travel options with Smithsonian.

What great natural wonder have you always wanted to visit? Share below.

World Heritage Sites: Borobudur

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009
Borobudur has 92 Buddha statues and more than 1,400 stone panels.

Borobudur has 92 Buddha statues and more than 1,400 stone panels.

Borobudur, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, is a Buddhist monument dating back to the 9th century. Located in Magelang, Central Java in Indonesia, the monument is decorated with 2,672 bas relief panels and 504 Buddhist statues. Borobudur serves as both a shrine and a pilgrimage site.

The structure of Borobudur lends itself to the telling of a story as visitors follow a path circumnavigating the monument while viewing the scenes of the relief panels found in the system of stairways and corridors. The path consists of six square platforms topped by three circular levels, which parallel the three levels of Buddhist cosmologyKamadhatu (the world of desire), Rupadhatu (the world of forms), and Arupadhatu (the world of formlessness). (more…)