Plotinus in the Jungle

April Birthdays

I’ve been buried alive by administrative work, but I’ll try to put up some new posts as a break from marking papers and course selection.

Annie turned 8 and Tabitha 5 on April 16 and 22 respectively.  Like last year, we had their party at Adventure Park, a little nature/amusement part just down the road from CTI’s backside.

The main events were cake and waterslides.


Waiting for Cake . . . Guests were a mixture of neighbors and school friends


Still waiting for cake . . .


Happy to have cake.


Happy to have eaten cake. The lady in the middle is Dalus, our neighbor and CTI’s Registrar


Fr. Marcin (our Scripture lecturer) and neighbor girls Bernadette and Morrisa


The blue is a leisurely trip. The yellow is a free fall. I don’t like the yellow, because I feel it’s like psyching myself up to jump off a cliff. All my kids (sans Pippi) went down it multiple times.


Annie and her friend and neighbor Rebecca


The two boys are Zan (Annie’s classmate) and Bo (Tabitha’s classmate). They are brothers from Australia. They also played soccer with the girls.


Tabby and Bo.


Tobiah is airborne!  

It was a great day.  The kids could play on these slides forever.



Cairn 3

[Dear faithful reader, I had this post mostly ready to go, but then Perpetua was born and I forgot to finish it!  This is the last installment of our Cairns trip last year.]

Friday, 14 December, 2018

We took it easy this day and only planned to go to the Botanical Gardens and hang out at the resort.  The Gardens themselves were huge with lots of different sections, so we spent most of the day there.


Where’s Anastasia?

A highlight was the conservatory which featured orchids and carnivorous plants.

Zimmermans under conservation



It will eat you . . .

We had sushi for lunch, which was a real treat.  Anastasia loves sushi and tends to eat it all while Rebecca and I tend to Tabby and Toby.

Annie is thinking about whether she can sneak some sushi while everyone is looking at the camera.

Another highlight was a boardwalk through different kinds of mangrove swamps.  We even saw some mudskippers!


This vine is a straggler fig. It climbs its host to get to sunlight and then kills it. It’s fruit is essential for the life cycle of a wasp.

Pregnant and fit!


The resort has a small salt water pool, and really, the kids could have probably spent a whole day just romping around in it.

Saturday, 15 December was supposed to be a Cairns city day, but there was supposed to be a topical cyclone coming through, so we simply went to morning mass at the cathedral and then prepared to return to PNG.  The Cathedral at Cairns had lovely stained glass windows which depicted the creation and destruction of the world from contemporary cosmological perspective: cosmic dust swirling to form the Earth, the gradual emergence of life, humans in a cloud rainforest . . .  We put the best of the pictures (from CC’s phone) on Facebook; unfortunately, I did not bring the camera.

We’ll probably go back to Cairns after Christmas this year.  Want to join us?

Against Religiously Motivated Violence

As the Secretary for Ecumenical and Inter-faith Dialogue for the PNG and Solomon Islands Catholic Bishops Conference, I was asked to draft the local Catholic Church’s response to the Christchurch mosque shootings.  I enclose what the Bishops Conference approved.  The statement is to be read and the prayers are to be prayed in all the Catholic dioceses in PNG and the Solomons this Palm Sunday.

I note that I wrote these under demanding time restraints, but I am very happy to do my part to promote peace.



14 APRIL 2019

On 15 March this year, a tragedy happened in New Zealand.  A man claiming to be Christian attacked Muslims during their lotu service.  He killed 50 people and wounded another 50 people, including women, children, and the elderly.  In response, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands has asked us to think about and pray for peace today.

History is full of examples of people using religion as a reason for hurting and killing others.  In today’s Passion story, the Jewish leaders sentence Jesus to death because he challenges their religious beliefs.  In the history of Christianity, there are too many examples of Jews, Christians, and Muslims attacking each other in the name of God.  On 4 February this year, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb (a Muslim leader) published a statement on Human Brotherhood.  The Pope said that God is the author of life, not the author of death.  Life is a gift that all have the responsibility to protect.  It is never right to take away someone else’s life.

According to Pope Francis and Imam Ahmad, religions should never cause and support war, hatred, and violence.  Anyone who claims that God teaches that we should hate or kill another human being is corrupting the true message of the Gospel for personal gain.  The way of Jesus Christ is peace, dialogue, charity, prayer, and humble service, especially for non-believers and those that we think are our enemies.  As Jesus said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who seek to harm you.”

In the name of Christ Jesus who died to bring us peace, we pray, saying “Lord, grant us your peace”:

L: Father, we confess that often we do not work for peace.  Out of our fears and desires come hateful words and actions.  We ask you to please forgive us and bring peace to our troubled hearts and minds.

A: Lord, grant us your peace.

L: Father, we confess that in our family lives often we do not work for peace.  We ask and expect our family members to serve us and meet our needs, while we dislike serving and suffering for them.  We ask you to please forgive us and bring peace to our families.

A: Lord, grant us your peace.

L: Father, we confess that in our communities we often we do not work for peace.  We often are only kind to our friends and relatives.  We can be suspicious of strangers and those who are different.  We can ignore and fail to protect those whom we do not like.  We ask you to please forgive us and bring peace to our communities.

A: Lord, grant us your peace.

L: Father, we confess that our nation does not often work for peace.  In politics we often promote our own interests and not what is good for all Papua New Guineans and members of Solomon Islands.  We neglect to protect the poor and the helpless; we often are not good stewards of the environment.  We ask you to please forgive us and bring peace and justice to our nations.

A: Lord, grant us your peace.

L: Father, we confess that peace is often missing in our world.  Nations compete with each other and exploit and neglect the poor and the powerless.  People claiming to act in your name encourage hatred and violence.  We confess our own part in the evils of our time.  We ask you to please forgive us and bring peace and justice to our world.

A: Lord, grant us your peace.

L: Father, today we remember in a special way the death of your son Jesus Christ.  We ask you to please put to death our own sinful desires, thoughts and actions.  By your grace, may we be made like Christ and, alive in Him, may we lovingly work for peace and justice in our families, communities, nations and world.

A: Lord, grant us your peace.



[Translated by Bp. William Fey OFM Cap of Kimbe]


14 APRIL 2019

Long de 15 bilong mun Mas 2019, wanpela samting nogut tru i kamap long Niu Zilan. Wanpela man, husat i tok em i Kristen, i wokim pait long ol Muslim long taim ol i lotu.  Displa man i kilim indai 50pela manmeri na givim bikpla bagarap long narapla 50 manmeri. Planti meri na pikinini na lapun i kisim bagarap.

Olsem tude, Katolik Bisops Konferens bilong PNG na Solomon Ailans i singaut long yumi olgeta i tingting na pre bai pasin bel isi i kamap.  Taim yumi lukluk i go bek, planti taim sampela manmeri i yusim lotu bilong bagarapim na kilim ol arapla manmeri.

Tude insait long stori bilong pen na dai bilong Jesus, ol bikman i kotim Jesus na tok em i mas dai bikos Jesus i no bihainim gut pasin bilong bilip bilong ol.  Long taim bipo na nau, planti pait na bagarap i kamap namel long ol Juda, Kristen na Muslim.    Ol i wok long pait namel long ol yet na ol i mekim olsem long nem bilong God.

Long de namba 4 bilong mun Februeri insait long dispela yia, Pop Fransis na wanpela  bikman bilong ol Muslim, Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, i autim strongpela tok  olsem: yumi olgeta manmeri i bratasusa.  Pop yet i tok: God i kamapim lait na em yet i as bilong lait tru, tasol God i no laik wanpela man i kilim narapela.  Pop i tok moa olsem: lait em i presen God i givim long yumi na yumi mas lukautim gut na save:  kilim i dai narapela manmeri em i no stret tru.

Pop Frensis na Imam Ahmad i tok: ol lotu na bilip i no stret sapos ol  i sapotim ol bikpela pait na pasin bilong daunim ol birua na pasin bilong pait nating. Sapos wanpela man o meri i tok God i laik bai yumi kilim ol birua, dispela skul i kranki olgeta.  Dispela tok i no trupels tok bilong Gutnius.

Trupela rot bilong bihainim Jisas Krais em pasin bilong bel isi, toktok gut wantaim, givim nating samting, pre wantaim daunpasin na helpim narapela.   Jisas i tok “Laikim tru ol birua bilong yu na helpim ol lain i wok long bagarapim yu.”

Long nem bilong Jisas Krais husat i bin dai bilong givim yumi bel isi, yumi pre nau na bekim olsem: “Bikpela givim mipela Bel Isi”

L:  God Papa, mipela i tokaut nau olsem, planti taim mipela i no save strong long kamapim bel isi, ol laik nogut bilong mipela i daunim mipela long mekim tok nogut na kamapim birua  long ol narapela. Nau mipela i askim yu, plis porgivim mipela na givim bel isi long hat na tingting bilong mipela.

A: “Bikpela givim mipela Bel Isi”

L: God Papa, mipela i tokaut nau olsem, planti taim insait long famili laip mipela no save wok bilong kamapim bel isi.  Mipela i no laik karim pen na hevi bilong helpim ol bratasusa bilong mipela insait long famili bilong mipela. Nau mipela i askim yu, plis porgivim mipela na givim bel isi long ol famili bilong mipela.

A: “Bikpela givim mipela Bel Isi”

L: God Papa, mipela i tokaut nau olsem, planti taim mipela no save wok bilong kamapim bel isi insait long ol komuniti bilong mipela. Mipela i no save lukautim gut ol arapela.   Planti taim mipela i lukautim ol poroman na wanblut na lusim long tingting long ol narapela lain.  Nau mipela i askim yu, plis porgivim mipela na givim bel isi long ol komuniti bilong mipela

A: “Bikpela givim mipela Bel Isi”

L: God Papa, mipela i tokaut nau olsem, planti taim mipela no save wok bilong kamapim bel isi insait long ol kantri bilong mipela. Planti manmeri bilong PNG na Solomon Ailans i no save kisim gutpela sevis na helpim ol arapela.  Mipela i no lukautim gut ol tarangu na mipela i no save lukautim gut environment bilong mipela.  Nau mipela i askim yu, plis porgivim mipela na givim bel isi na stretpela pasin long ol kantri bilong mipela.

A: “Bikpela givim mipela Bel Isi”

L: God Papa, mipela i tokaut nau olsem, planti hap long olgeta ples bilong graun i nogat bel isi. Sampela kantri i wok tasol long bagarapim narapela kantri.  Ol turangu na ol lain i no gat namba, painim bikpela bagarap na sampela ol lain i yusim nem bilong yu long sapotim pasin birua na pait.  Mipela tu i mekim dispela olgeta bagarap.  Nau mipela i askim yu, plis porgivim mipela na givim bel isi na wanbel pasin long olgeta hap bilong graun.

A: “Bikpela givim mipela Bel Isi”

L: God Papa,tude mipela i tingim dai bilong pikinini bilong yu, Jisas Krais.  Mipela askim yu rausim olgeta laik na tingting na pasin nogut long mipela. Long grasia bilong yu, mipela i ken kamap olsem lait bilong Krais na stap laip insait long Krais na wok strong bilong kamapim bel isi na stretpela pasin insait long ol famili, komuniti, kantri na laip bilong graun.

A: “Bikpela givim mipela Bel Isi”


Perpetua’s Baptism

Pippi was baptized on March 3 at Holy Spirit Seminary’s chapel by Archbishop Douglas W. Young, SVD of Mt. Hagen.

HSS chapel 

Our neighbors Dalus and Raymond were proxy godparents, Perpetua’s godparents being in Vermont.

What do you ask of the church? Baptism!

In his homily, Abp. Doug recounted some of the story of St. Perpetua and Felicity, and how they stood up for their faith, even under pressure from both civil authorities and family members. Giving your child a Christian name, he said, was the first step in raising them in the faith.

Anastasia read the intercessions, and then a seminarian sang a litany of the saints.

She did very well.

in the name of the Father… and of the Son… and of the Holy Spirit

Fresh from the fount

clothed in the white garment, to remind her to bring her dignity unstained into the everlasting life of Heaven

I always get a shiver at the words in the post-baptismal prayer, “May she go out to meet Him when He comes, with all the saints in the heavenly kingdom.” This is the job description: to prepare this tiny person for a life in Glory.

Final blessing over the parents, we need it 

The Rite 1 liturgy, chosen especially because the Eucharist prayers mention Anastasia and Perpetua, was beautiful.

Music provided by the seminarians

Afterwards we served cake and ice cream in the student dining hall. I brought Pippi over to the Archbishop to hold, and he held up his hands and said “Ah, yes! Come into the arms of the Church!”


A little smile for +Doug

Welcome to the Christian family, Perpetua, we love you.

Perpetua’s birth story

Or, an unplanned, unassisted home birth.

It’s a Saturday. I’m home with my three kids. I’m 39 weeks pregnant. I’m having on-and-off contractions, but just tightening, not painful ones. No big deal, just Braxton-Hicks, I say. They continue variably throughout the day but stop when I lay down to go to bed.

I wake up to use the bathroom like you do in the 3rd trimester. I have a contraction, but this time it’s more on the painful side. But there aren’t any more within 10 minutes, so I lay down to go to sleep again. This happens multiple times in the night. I give the baby some pep talks about how the grandparents are coming in 4 days and to stay inside just a bit longer. I don’t have any contractions lying down, just when I get up and move around. I tell myself I’ll wait until 5 am to tell my husband they’re getting painful. They’re still not falling in a pattern, and while they hurt, they’re nothing I have to vocalize through or really breathe that much through, either.

I’m laying down in bed again and I feel a pop. Oh no.  My water has broken. I am both confused and suddenly in a hurry — in all my other labors my water has broken when I’m in transition. (But I can’t be in transition, that’s absurd.) Anyhow I wake up Brandon and we get dressed -it’s 3 am, Sunday, February 3rd. I’m putting last minute things in the Hospital bag and Brandon goes to wake up our neighbor to come stay with the children. She comes in, asks for a rosary, and we say a prayer. Brandon heads off to go get the car from the garage, about a 10 minute walk. The contractions are coming stronger now. I hang on to the kitchen table and breathe, then walk to the kitchen sink to fill up a water bottle to go in the bag. I am standing there when suddenly the contractions begin to come one right after another, on top of each other, one long contraction. “JesusMaryJoseph” I pray and clutch the kitchen counter. No,No, this can’t be happening…

Brandon arrives with the car and finds that I have ditched my skirt and am on my hands and knees on the kitchen floor, head downward. He urges me to get up and get in the car. I tell him I can’t, I’m having a contraction, that I am not going to make it. He tells me again to get up and I say that the baby’s head is right there.  Our neighbor goes to get some towels. Brandon makes some frantic phone calls asking for guidance and I try not to push.

I am pushing anyway. The head is out, then the rest of the body in that satisfying slithery whoosh. “My baby-my precious baby!” Brandon has the baby in the towel, there is an umbilical cord all confused with everything, and Brandon is saying “It’s a- it’s a girl!”  I manage to sit up, sort of on a towel, and Brandon passes me the baby, and she wants to nurse almost right away. I am so happy and relieved that it is all over, and that the baby is pinking up, and that I don’t have to have a nightmare ride to the hospital not pushing. Brandon is back on the phone with a nun who is a nurse, who says not to get in the car with the placenta still inside, and is trying to ring up the hospital where I was supposed to deliver. It is 4 am.

My four year old wakes up and comes into the kitchen. She doesn’t seem weirded out at all by the situation, unlike me. When she starts trying to help clean up we send her back to bed with strict instructions not to wake up the other children.

The baby is done nursing; I am trying to sit on a chair, but it is tricky with an umbilical cord in the way. Nursing has given me contractions so I stand up to try to push the placenta out. I squat and bear down and it comes out with a squishy thump on the floor, also much easier than my other births. Brandon puts it in a plastic bag to take to the hospital so they can check it’s all there. I contemplate the bizarre-ness  of having one of your internal organs sitting on your lap in a bag. After consulting a birth book, Brandon ties a shoelace around the umbilical cord in two places, boils some water and pours it on the kitchen scissors, and cuts the umbilical cord. That done, the baby and I get dressed so we can go to the hospital.

Our faithful neighbor

I wolf down some dates, which are probably responsible for the whole situation (multiple studies confirm that eating 60 g of dates daily for the last month of pregnancy results in better birth outcomes and shorter labors) and we get in the car.

It is extremely strange to drive to the hospital with a newborn. The baby is weighed, measured, given a vitamin K shot – she is 3.2kg, 50 cm long. I am examined and I did not tear, glory to God. Brandon looks at a chart of blood-stain sizes and confirms that I didn’t lose copious amounts.

The nurses escort us to a room and we spend the next 11 hours dozing, nursing, debating name choices, eating egg sandwiches, drinking copious amounts of water so that I don’t have to get a rehydration IV, and debating name choices. The doctor and various nurses came in and listen to my tale in mixed astonishment and amusement.

First bath

We’re released from the hospital and we’re back at home introducing Perpetua Carolyn to her siblings by dinnertime.

Perpetua is the name of the patron saint of expectant mothers, who was a martyr, an African woman and one of the first female Christian authors.

Sts. Perpetua and Felicity

Carolyn is my Grandmother’s name, a model of faith and good humor.

While it is only later that I reflect on all the things that could have gone wrong, I am filled with gratitude from the moment she’s born. Thank you, Jesus.

Quilt by Susan Crites Price, my former boss in long-ago, far-away Dupont Circle


Chapter 4 Table of Contents

I may not be in the jungle any more, but here is an update on Plotinus.


Chapter 4:

The Development of Monism with the Platonic Tradition


4.1 Setting the Stage for the Doctrine of Creation

4.1.1 Non-being is said in many ways                                    2

4.1.2 Does Philo of Alexandria teach creation?                     8

4.1.3 Do the early Apologists teach creation?                        20

4.1.4 Parallel developments of the doctrine of creation         29

4.2 Plato’s Riddles                                                                              38

4.2.1 Plato on what is and what is not                                    41

4.2.2 Plato’s challenge: the way up and the way down         62

4.3 Disputed Answers in the Academy                                              68

4.3.1 Aristotle and the rejection of primal dualism                72

4.3.2 What is Aristotle’s Alternative?                                    79

4.3.3 The dualisms of Speusippus and Xenocrates                 95

4.3.4 Hermodorus and the possibility of Platonic monism     103

4.3.5 The unresolved riddles                                                   106

4.4 Neopythagorean attempts at monism                                           111

4.4.1 A typology of cosmogonies                                           114

4.4.2 Aristotelian beginnings of the Pythagorean tradition    121

4.4.3 The rediscovery of Plato’s project in the Pythagorean

Pseudepigrapha                                                           124

4.4.4 How from the One does the Many come?                     129

4.5 Conclusion                                                                                    136

Greet the new students of CTI

February 11 was the opening day for the 2019 school year.  We had mass at 8:30 with the bishop of Kerema as the main celebrant.  Then there was an academic assembly at 10:30, which was opened with a prayer by the Anglican bishop of Port Moresby (who is sending us two students this year).  The President and I gave encouraging speeches, I reviewed academic policies, and then the students when to their classrooms to meet each other.  Here are pictures of the classes.  The first is the serious picture; the second is the ‘freestyle’ picture.  Which class has the best freestyle?

Philosophy 1 – Our largest class. All together, 38 students.

Subdued freestyle.

I teach the PH1s ancient philosophy.  This will be my largest class ever.  I know that some of my colleagues in the US regularly have 100+ students in a semester, but at Good Shepherd, one year I was only teaching classes of 4 and 10 students each.  The man in the orange shirt is an Anglican priest.

The man in blue with glasses in the back left is Fr. Peter Silong, a PNG priest from Kimbe.  He is one of the few national priests on CTI’s teaching staff.  I strongly desire to have more national priests on our staff in the future.

Philosophy year 2.

I like the heart in the upper left.

I will be guiding this class through writing a philosophy research paper – only 3,000 words.  Already students have asked to write on Proclus, Dionysius’s mystical theology, Aristotle’s epistemology, and Aquinas on the soul.  The man in the lower right is George, a seminarian from Madang.  He was my student at Good Shepherd two years ago.  His bishop moved all his seminarians down to CTI this year.

Theology 1 – our smallest class.

The main difference is that Caspar on the left woke up.

The friar in the middle is our old friend from Sacred Heart, Fr. Al Carver.  He was doing his priestly studies at Catholic University while I was in my graduate classes.  It is great to have him with us.  He’s been waiting to come to PNG for years.  He’ll be teaching philosophy also.

Theology year 2. A little unsure about CTI . . .

Now they’re happy to be here.

The lady in the front is Karen.  She completed legal studies at University at PNG.  Now she’s taking some units in moral theology and canon law to increase her credits in law related subjects so that she can go to law school.  The man to her right is also an external student, James, who was with me at Good Shepherd when he was a seminarian.  The man with the sunglasses is Bernard, a seminarian I taught at Good Shepherd.

The man in the black shirt in the back is the other philosophy teacher, Fr. Modest OFM Cap, from Tanzania.

Theology three. Meek and humble.

Best freestyle?

The man in gray in the bottom left who is not freestylin’ is Peter.  Somewhat sadly for me, he is one of the two Good Shepherd seminarians in theology studies this year.  Another three are finishing their studies in Rome, but most of the Good Shepherd students are no longer on the road to the priesthood . . .

Theology four students. Ready to graduate?

Ready to party?

The whiteskin is our friend Fr. Marcin Wrobel, a scripture lecturer.  He is my hiking buddy.


All together we have 116 students.  The most promising sign is the large Philosophy class.  If those numbers hold up, then we may end up with 180 students in a few years.


A unique feature of CTI is that we act as tertiary education for the Anglicans in PNG.  The Anglican seminary in Popendetta only has a diploma program.  By a long standing arrangement, their better students come to CTI to earn their Bachelor degree.  I hope to design a four year program for the Anglicans so that they can graduate sooner.

Cairns II

Thursday, December 13 – Waterfall Tour

We rented a minivan from the resort and left around 7:15 for an epic waterfall tour.

The first destination was Clamshell Falls which is located on the backside of Walsh’s Pyramid, which will be a potential hiking destination for me next time.

The pyramid from the car. Alas, we did not take any pictures when we were right behind it.

It was a 3 km walk one way to the falls, along a sometimes steep forest-service only road.  The girls and Rebecca were champs!

A tremendous series of cascades with big falls in the back.

They were quite happy to be done walking!

I tried to swim to the base of the falls, but the current was strong and the water was too rough.

A bit down from the falls we found an clear, circular swimming hole fed by a small off-shoot of the many cascade.  We had a great time.

A private pool of sparkling mineral water

Then we drove to Josephine Falls, which is one of the more popular waterfalls. This one was only a .75 km walk one way.  The Falls is divided into three cascades with viewing platforms for each.

Tabitha with the upper and middle cascades

The lower cascades are the main attraction.  You can slide down the rocks and ride the cascade into a deep pool.


Better than an amusement park!

So I ferried the kids one by one on my back to rock slide.  Then I lay down at the very bottom of slide at the edge of the cascade.  Annie and Tabby came down one by one and my bulk absorbed their momentum.  Meanwhile Tobiah made his own slide simply by walking up a dry section of rocks and then sliding down into little pool.

The two downsides of this amusement were ripped bathing suits and small leeches on the kids.  Josephine Falls is also the starting point for Bartle Frere, the Queensland Highpoint, but I decided to save it for next time because it is supposed to be a 14 hour hike.

The next two waterfalls were off the beaten tourist track.  We basically pulled over on the side of the highway and then did a 4 km walk to

Tchupala Falls

and Wallicher Falls.

The Falls themselves were great, but we had a lot of small leeches to deal with once we got back to the car . . . so I’m not sure if I can recommend them.

At this point, we were starting to lose daylight, so we cut out Mangalli Falls.  Our next stop was Ellinjaa Falls, where two honeymooning Americans took our picture.


Blurry due to fading light.

We skipped Zillie Falls too, and arrived at Milla Milla Falls just as the sun was setting and heavy rains were starting!

Yay Team Zimmerman! Very blurry due to darkness.

The drive back was quite the adventure (we skipped Malanda Falls).  The ‘highway’ was a twisting and turning mountain road in heavy fog.  Thankfully, we made it back around 9:30 pm!

Cairns Vacation I

Our family was fortunate to be able to take a vacation in Cairns back between 9-16 December.  We stayed at Treetops – a small resort that serves Christian missionaries working in PNG.  Here are some of the highlights of our trip.  I note that except for one day, we got around via Cairns public transit.

Monday, December 10 – We walked to a local farmers market and bought food for the week.  Then, I took the kids to a playground that had a splash park.  The kids had fun, but I forgot the camera.

Tuesday, December 11 – We were out the door before 7 to catch a bus to downtown so we could walk to the wharf to catch our 8 am boat to Fitzroy Island.

The kids, especially Tobiah, really enjoyed watching the waves that the boat made.

Fitzroy Island is a mountainous island.  One part has an upscale hotel/resort.  The north part has hiking trails up to the highpoint and along the coast to an old lighthouse.  The south part is an untouched nature preserve, but there is a trail to a beach.  When we first got there, the kids and I decided to hike the highpoint trail to the lighthouse while Rebecca went on the coast road.

Our destination

The views on the way up were nice!

There was a torrential downpour near the top, so I have no photos of us at the viewing platform.  Annie and Tabby did well, though the elevation gain was only 375 m.

Annie near the lighthouse.

Unfortunately, due to asbestos, we could not go in the lighthouse, but we read the historical plaques through the windows.  We had a nice walk back, seeing lots of lizards and some colorful birds.

Looking good at Nudey Beach.

Then we took a rocky trail from the resort to Nudey Beach – not what you think, public nudity is illegal in Queensland!  The kids enjoyed sitting on the rocks and being pounded by the surf.

Next was a trip on a glass bottomed boat.

Not as good as snorkeling, but the whole family can do it.

Last, the kids and Rebecca waited for the ferry to return while Brandon did the final hiking trail at double time.

We got back to the lodge, but the tired kids to bed and Rebecca and I had Thai carryout.  We highly recommend Fitzroy to our fit and active friends.

Wednesday, Dec 11

Today’s adventure was to the mountain town of Kuranda.

We had another early start in order to travel to Kuranda by sky gondola

The cabins were completely enclosed – no chance of losing Tobiah.

Looking towards the coast

The gondalas go over the Wet Tropics World Heritage Site, with two stops in the rainforest, so that you can get out, see exhibits about natural history, and walk among the trees.  Due to its geographical isolation, Australia has a number of primitive forms of flora and fauna which date back to when Pangaea broke apart, which is why Australia customs is so tough!

Kuranda itself is a funny town.  Its economy is based almost entirely on the day-tourists that come by sky gondola and train, so it is full of different kinds of shops and tourist attractions.  There is an old market section that is stuck in the 1970’s with aging hippies hawking their wares in booths and then lots of more respectable looking booths and stores.  We avoided the tourist tram and instead walked up to town along the river.  Among the stores we browsed was a honey store.  We bought 2kg of fine honey (only to have it taken by PNG customs because PNG has stuck a deal with two big Australian honey producers and only lets their products in!).  The only super-touristy attraction we did was an aviary in which the birds will eat out of your hands:

Tobiah was the only family member not to have a bird land on him.

It’s good that Tabby developed her arm strength by climbing trees . . .

I’m not sure that I ever made this face before . . .

The birds generally enjoyed my hair and my Hawaiian shirt.  I only realized afterwards that the birds slit the back of my shirt, such that this trip was its last hurrah.

Annie was very determined to get a bird, but the first couple of times one landed on her, she screamed and frightened it away.

Happy Tabby

After feeding birds, Rebecca and the girls went chocolate shopping.  Tobiah and I walked a rainforest trail at double-time, covering 5 km in less than an hour.  We met back up at the train station.  The railroad track was built about a hundred years ago and is an engineering marvel.  The story of its building was narrated to us, complete with tales of workers rappelling cliff faces in order to chisel away a cleft for the train to run on.  I think there were 18 tunnels.

Barron River Falls

We had a brief stop at a lookout for Barron River Falls, which is supposed to be spectacular when there is lots of water.  The train most hugs the edge of the Barron River Gorge.

Hairpin turns enabled these pictures of the train.

Waiting for the public bus at the train station was a bit of a low point, but all in all it was a fantastic day.

Mt. Lalokea with Annie

At the end of October, I finally got a serious hike in with my friend, Fr. Marcin Wrobel, our Scripture lecturer.  From CTI, one can see a mountain rising out of the flatlands to the north.  Marcin celebrates mass regularly with a community near the base and he was kind enough to organize a hike for us one Sunday.


Lalokea is the mountain on the left in the distance.

We picked up some parishioners, parked the car at a family compound, and started the walk.  The bottom of the mountain has a police shooting range, so there was a checkpoint:


Locals say that the police use this area for illegal exchanges . . .

The way up was a gravel road to a large radio tower.  I, in a brilliant parenting move, forbade Annie from bringing her shoes because she wanted to go barefoot (and often hikes better barefoot).  Well, the road hurt her feet so our going was a little slow.


See the rock formations at the top?

The view from the top was great:


Annie was really happy to off roading!


Free Style!


I’m happy to be on top of a mountain with Annie again.

Sadly, my camera ran out of power. . .

It took us about an hour to go up the road.  We then spent about four hours bush-whacking through the top of the mountain.  There was no trail, we were just hiking in front, behind, through, and atop the rock formations pictured earlier.  There was one natural rock bridge framing a great view that was simply breathtaking.  Marcin said that he plans on returning and building a hermitage.

Annie did great – until she cut her foot on a rock – but even then, she walked until we started going down and one of our guides was kind enough to carry her.  I had been feeling epicly stressed by my work at CTI and an afternoon on a mountain gave me the peace and energy to make it through the next week.

I see this as a warm-up for Marcin and I doing the Kokoda Tract next year.  I will need some serious conditioning . . .