Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Headed Down Under (or Up Top?) Australia is the Destination

I thought I could describe our planned trip to Australia and New Zealand very simply. We are going "down under." Then I thought, what makes it so? Who decided that north was "up" and south was "down?" After all, we are just spinning in space.

Through the history of cartography, or map making, it turns out that "up" and "down" decisions have been made by the map maker. Usually the map maker put their city or country in the middle of the map and the rest of the worlds places, once they were discovered, filled in around the edges.

Additionally, since most of the early cartographers were Greek, Roman or European those areas tended to be "up" and everything else was over or down. It appears that, because Australia wasn't viewed as important by the "northerners" until late in the 18th Century, they picked up the label "down under" and it stuck. Since no one seems to mind the moniker I will just accept it.

We are going down under for a few weeks of travel. It should be interesting, with just 16 people and a guide in our group we should be able to move around and cover some ground. It should be fun.

I suspect our poor grand kids are in for kangaroo Christmas with lots of kitschy souvenirs under the tree. Perhaps someday they will appreciate them!

For now we are off to Melbourne and on to Tasmania, where the trek will begin.

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