24-Aug-2017 -- As I was in Australia conducting workshops, presentations, and meetings for the purpose of fostering spatial thinking and the use of geotechnologies at all levels of communications, and as many of these workshops included a field data gathering component, I felt compelled to get out into the field myself during these events. And I knew that I would have only a very small window of a chance to do so. I had been teaching in a school at the foot of the north end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge with about the most spectacular view I have seen from any school--the bridge, the Opera House, the Ocean, and most of the harbour itself. When we completed our workshop at the school with about 2 hours of daylight remaining, I seized the opportunity.
I knew it would eventually happen: I took Uber to the confluence point. Well, not actually to the exact spot, but the nearest road to the west. This was the second time I had done so, and the first, interestingly enough, was during the previous week, also in Australia. When the Uber driver picked me up, he seemed to like the adventure involved with finding a latitude-longitude address rather than a physical street address. So, we set out from city centre Sydney, with I thought plenty of time before dark, even though it was winter and the sun would be setting rather early. However, the longer we sat in traffic, with much stop and go even on the M5 freeway, the more concerned I became. We had to navigate past the Sydney Airport, for one thing. On this trip, I also listened to more hip hop music in the two hours total to and from the confluence point than I ever had in my life, which was 1 hour and 55 minutes more than I had ever listened to it before, owing to what the driver was listening to. I shouldn't have worried, for despite the heavy traffic, we eventually left our western route along the M5, and then were driving southeast along Heathcote road with some daylight left. As I suspected, there was nowhere to leave this very busy road, but we did find a place to pull over. After telling the driver to please wait for me, I set out in a haste into the shrubs and trees.
As previous visitors have noted, this was hardly pristine Australia outback wilderness--in fact, quite the opposite: A place where illegal rubbish dumping had long been occurring. Being a geographer I could not resist filming some videos that I could use someday to teach environmental science and geography. Fortunately, I suppose, there were no leaking barrels of unknown liquids--it seemed to be entirely large items, including baby carriages, sofas, and an enormous mountain of tires. Still, it was a bit depressing, particularly under the gray skies all around that day. I was glad that nobody was out camping or wandering around, because that would have been a bit creepy. Also, I was very thankful on this trip for Google Maps, for I was able to make the best time possible while tracking my position on the satellite image, and therefore knew which trails to take to lead me to the trail just 15 meters south of the confluence point. I only had to do a fair amount of thrashing amongst the shrubs, and fortunately no thorns or snakes were present. After five minutes, I was even able to zero out the GPS receiver. The confluence point lay under a stand of young trees on level ground that actually made a fairly nice picnic spot, if one did not mind picnicking in an area full of trash. The temperature stood at about 63 F (17 C) under cloudy skies. The drizzle had fortunately stopped. This was my first confluence in New South Wales and my second in Australia. I was thankful to be here, trash dump notwithstanding.
I ran back to the road and rejoiced to find the driver there. I showed him my zero-zero photo. Then what followed was: More driving through Sydney traffic and more hip hop music. We continued south along Heathcote Road and eventually got on the M1 for a different way back to the city centre. This ended up being my most expensive confluence ever, upon seeing the Uber bill, even more so than my payment to the boat captains to take me to 51 North 1 East on the English Channel. But we were all safe and sound, and the Centered Goal had been achieved. I did some work to prepare for the next day's workshops and reflected that it had been a great day of teaching and field work.