16-Aug-2017 -- As I had just arrived that very day in Australia to promote spatial thinking and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) at all levels of education, to support the good work by colleague Tash is doing there, a confluence trek seemed like the perfect way to begin. So, after our meetings at Landgate to prepare for the HackED event that would attract 200 secondary school students the next day, we were left with a few hours of daylight, this being only a month before spring in Australia. I was in one of those modes where I had been awake for nearly 48 hours at this point, on the airplane, and needed something to keep occupied so I could sleep when the rest of the new country I was in sleep and thus be ready to work the next day. My colleague was keen to try confluence hunting as it would be an opportunity for us to see a new part of Perth, though admittedly it was a part that few tourists would visit--a golf course southeast of the airport.
It was also fitting given the times we are living in that we take Uber to the neighborhood of the confluence, which I had never done before. However, our Uber driver seemed amused when we told him of our mission and showed him our hand-drawn signs. We wound our way through traffic and in awhile had arrived on Hale Road, heading northeast, and turned right on a lane through an athletic center. My heart sank a bit to see the substantial but not wholly unexpected fence that blocked our way into the golf course, but in a moment we got out and thanked the driver. We walked into Hartfield Park and skirted the small lake there, looking for a break in the fence. We found none - in fact, it looked electrified - and thus kept walking southeast. This was my first time in Australia and my first day in the country, so everything was new to me. We might have been wandering in ordinary fields, but the tree and plant and grass species were all delightful to behold and there was a surprising amount of species diversity even in this field. Finding no fence break, we eventually walked to Hartfield Road and into the main entrance of the golf course. The golf course sign said something about a friendly community and we took this as a good "sign" for us too that we would be welcomed.
Once on the golf course, we passed a bandicoot sign and sure enough, about 10 minutes later, found one in the bush there. We walked at a brisk pace, passing the clubhouse, not particularly wanting to call attention to ourselves but being perfectly willing to explain our mission and show the landowner permission letter if asked. Fortunately, it was late in the day, and in winter, so not many golfers were out, though the weather was pleasant enough. We simultaneously followed our GPS receiver and our position on the Google satellite image, and when we arrived on the fairway where the confluence would be located, our anticipation rose to fever pitch.
Inexplicably, we had a more challenging time finding the point than I had anticipated. I am not sure if it was because of my brain being used to the northern-and-western hemisphere, but I've been to numerous points in New Zealand and never had encountered such a challenge.
I thought for a moment that the confluence might be in the small pond to the north of the fairway, or "water hazard" as it is referred to in golfer terms. But, upon skirting it and reaching the other side, we still were not at our goal. Then, a curious thing happened, and I can only attribute it to us now being under some incredibly tall gum trees: No matter which way we walked, east or west, we were walking AWAY from 116 East. After wandering around in the "rough" between two golf fairways, we finally got to 116, and then backed up until we were close to the middle of our original fairway. Now things became much more exciting. After about 5 more minutes, adding to our 15 minutes of wandering in the rough, were able to snap a photo of centered bliss. And just in time, too, because a golfer had arrived at the tee box to the west. We waved and set out at a brisk pace the way we had come in.
The confluence lies therefore - at least on this particular day - almost in the middle of this particular fairway at the golf course, on flat ground covered by manicured golf grass. The temperature stood at about 18 C (64 F) under clear skies and only a slight breeze. This was my first confluence point in Australia and Tash's first confluence of her life, but I made a prediction that she would be emailing me in the future, "Joseph, guess where I am?" and thrashing around in the outback somewhere in the future. I have visited other confluence points on golf courses before, most notably the point at 40 North 75 West in New Jersey. I was already excited just thinking about my confluence map showing a point way out here in Western Australia, at least 5,000 km from my nearest confluence over in New Zealand. I was sure that after being awake and on the plane for the past 48 hours, that I would look pretty rumpled in the photographs, but no matter - it was a moment of centered peace. I was glad to be here and it was a beautiful spot that I hated to leave. But we did depart the way we had walked in, and en route, found a family of 17 baby ducks and parents taking a brisk stroll. Since we had some work to do for the following day, caught another Uber at the entrance to the golf course. We followed this adventure up with a walk at the beautiful Kings Park and preparations for the Landgate Hack-a-Thon (HackED) the following day.
It was indeed a great way to spend my first day in Australia! And I appreciated Tash's willingness to go on this adventure.