Australia 8 May: Melbourne, Vic - Werribee, Vic

A very special side-trip to Uluru

While the team has been in Tasmania for the past few days, Varunavi made an unplanned trip to the very heart of Australia to visit “Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park“. Uluru is also known under its western name “Ayers Rock“ or “Rock of changing colours“ and is considered one of the top wonders of Australia. It is a World Heritage site since 1987 (note: the same year when the Peace Run started) for its spectacular geological formations, rare plants, animals and exceptional natural phenomena. It is one of the few properties in the world to be dual-listed by UNESCO for outstanding natural values and cultural significance.

Uluru is featured in every Australian tourist guide, postcards, souvenirs... but no matter how many pictures you have seen, nothing can describe the overwhelming power of its ancient spirit. For an outer eye it is the world’s biggest and most famous monolith but it has definitely a deeper spiritual meaning and is regarded as sacred by the traditional owners, the Anagu. The profundity is felt best when you take a moment to stop and let the strong and peaceful energy fill you up.

I was deeply honoured to be able to bring the Peace Torch to this sacred place and with such a gesture connect this year’s Peace Run around Australia with the heart of this continent.

And not only did I bring the torch with a prayer for peace but I did run around one part of Uluru with it, happily spreading the Peace Run message among other tourists.

Travelling east of Uluru you will see the enormous and awe-inspiring domes of Kata Tjuta (“many heads”) rising out of the sand. There are 36 separate domes and the reflection of the sun’s light on their red surface provides an ever-changing landscape during the day and during the year.

Without doubt, the Lonely Planet editing house knew what they were doing when they listed this walk among the top 10 nicest walks in the world. Bringing the Peace Torch there and sharing it with other admirers filled me with joy.

And last but not least – I also visited King’s Canyon in the Watarrka National Park in central Australia which offers an incredible range of sights and experiences within such a concentrated area. (Note: As the guide explained, King’s Canyon is in reality bigger than Grand Canyon in Arizona... because the latter is in fact not a “canyon” (=a big crack) but a “gorge” (sculpted by a river...)

The pictures won’t do any justice to the King’s Canyon fascinating views. And again, bringing the Peace Torch there made the visit even more special.

I am truly grateful that I could participate in such an exceptionally uplifting trip connecting the inner and outer beauty of Australia. I would have only one tip for future visitors: To get the most of your trip, do your walks in silence and a respectful/peaceful/meditative mood. Then reserve some time in the evening and morning to assimilate this special energy. Guaranteed, you will feel something 'higher' which I’m unable to put into words but will treasure in your heart for the years to come.

Enriched with this new experience, I joined the main Peace Run team again in Melbourne and handed over the torch filled with many new wishes for peace to continue the onward journey...

Melbourne turned on its most glorious weather for us today...

We started by gathering for a team briefing at the Victorian Arts Centre, which happens to be one of several hundred significant places around the world dedicated to peace as part of the 'Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossoms' program. The plaque at the Arts Centre can be seen alongside our Peace Torch.

We eased into the day by welcoming some new team members – Salil Wilson, an Australian now living in New York (the Executive Director of the Peace Run worldwide) ...

... Oyungerel and Bayarkhuu, who both arrived at midnight last night from Mongolia via 24 hours on the train to Beijing and then flights to Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne ...

... Prasasta Armstrong (far right, holding the banner) from Christchurch, New Zealand ...

... Stefano Bellantonio from Milano, Italia ...

... and Noivedya Juddery from Canberra.

Then we were very kindly taken on a boat ride by Melbourne River Cruises.

Thank you so much to Megan of the Melbourne River cruises, for generously hosting us: we all thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

Pete, the Captain of the boat, and Tazz, a boat crew member, held the torch and made their wishes for peace, as well as some of the passing tourists.

The cruise took us along the Yarra River – another of Melbourne's Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossoms ...

... and out to the old marine seaport of Williamstown.

From Williamstown we commenced our running for the day towards Altona.

The run along the oceanfront was particularly significant for our new Mongolian team member Bayarkhuu, because – like his compatriot Oyungerel –

... this is the first time in his life he had ever seen the ocean.

Our first school for the day was Altona Green Primary School. The run there took us a little longer than expected, but the students very patiently waited for us.

During the ceremony we usually ask the kids to tell us what they feel peace means, to tell us some other words for peace.

It always gives us so much joy and encouragement when we hear their answers – because they do know what peace is.

We performed a few skits demonstrating the difference between 'peace' and 'not peace'...

... and the verdicts were clear-cut ...

... the Peace Run song with actions ...

... and presentation of our Certificate of Appreciation ...

At the end when the kids were waiting for their turn to hold the peace torch and make their wishes for peace, the team members walked around and they could ask them questions.

It is so nice for us to interact with children and to be able to talk about what peace means to us and also hear what they have to say.

Final group photo...

Part of the team then continued running towards Werribee, while the rest of us went on to another school, Altona Primary.

There the kids were all dressed in Japanese style and had Japanese flags with Japanese characters for peace.

They had just had an ‘incursion’ (that’s like an excursion, without going anywhere) about Japanese culture.

During the question time at the end we also taught them how to say peace in other languages.

This was our most colourful school visit yet!