Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.


24 May

Today was a day that could have gone like expected. We did a very touristy circuit out of Cairns, taking the Kuranda Scenic Railway up from the coast to the mountain town after which the railway is named, walking around the town, and then taking the Skyrail back down. The prices are a little higher than they should be since it has become one of those things you have to do when you’re here.

The ride up was fairly pretty. A slow climb through forested mountains, into rainforests, past waterfalls and through tunnels. The town itself was a small mountain town, not looking quite like expected but also not providing anything visually unexpected. And the ride down was impressive in a different sense. When floating 50 meters in the air above impressively tall trees, it is hard not to be somewhat awed by the perspective and view. And when doing it in a thick cloud where the cable you are on disappears into white nothingness with no visible structure holding it up, it is that much more ominous.

The weather didn’t help anything. Cloudy. Rain intermittently. It has been that way for the whole time we’ve been up here in Port Douglas. And this is the dry season. And while I’m okay with rain in general, and in specific instances, rain and clouds in the mountains from which we are trying to enjoy a scenic view don’t help anything. It was still a pretty day, and I would have felt satisfied with it all had we just experienced the above.

But one place stuck out unexpectedly amongst the shops and shacks in Kuranda. A place called Emu Ridge Gallery. Having been let down by Crystal Caves the day prior, it was that much more fantastic to walk into a free museum, unaware what was on exhibit, to find minerals. Well laid out in a coherent order, clearly labeled with facts about the visual properties, the chemical structures, the atomic arrangement, the uses, and the history of each. What’s more, whereas yesterday’s exhibit featured many minerals from around the world, Australian mined pieces represented a large portion of this display, giving us something I haven’t really seen in the museums back home.

The museum itself was a gem, but the attached jewelry store and the owners thereof were even better. I’m not one to window-shop. Or really shop in general. But I spent a long time perusing the cases and admiring the pendants and earrings on display. They had been worked not just by someone who had a good eye for shape and the best way to display every mineral, but the displays pointed to someone who also had a love for what he was doing. These weren’t just works done by someone trying to make money; the owners clearly were excited about the natural beauty of the under-the-surface landscape and wanted to share that beauty with anyone who entered.

I had a question about one of the more distinctive composites, and received an answer from a manager that didn’t treat me like a simpleton. He then pulled out a mineralogical directory to confirm his answer and to show me additional information. We bantered. I lamented that their collection wasn’t online since it would be harder to get them customers back in the US (and I know a few people who I think would really love the artistry of their works). And we asked about Crystal Caves.

We got an answer that was unsurprising, one that caused the blood to boil just a bit, one that really begged more questions than it answered. I would love to sit down and get the full story over a beer. But unfortunately the Skyrail only runs so late, and we had to run along home. Fortunately for us, we did so a little lighter in the wallet and a little heavier in style.

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This entry was posted on May 27, 2012 by in Queensland (Brisbane) and tagged .

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