A physical journey consists of the movement from one place to another, whereby the individual undergoes a process of change and development, becomes endowed with experiences, goals are achieved culminating in an overall transformation. Journeys often contain elements such as a lack of choice, uncertainty, danger, and obstacles. Such journeys are explored in Peter Skrzynecki's poems Immigrants at Central station and 'Crossing the Red Sea', Alan Moir's political cartoon MV Cormo Express (SMH 28/10/03), about the stranded sheep in the middle of the ocean, and also the bookcover for Victor Kelleher's Ivory Trail.
Often journeys have an element of a lack of choice. In 'Immigrants at Central station', Skrzynecki uses simile to describe their restricted freedom writing, 'like a word of command'. There is a sense of irony here, that having escaped their oppressive homeland, their destination still limits their freedom. They are forced to endure poor weather conditions, but nonetheless endure it as shown by 'but we ate it all'.
The train tracks are also symbolic of this lack of choice. They are set on one course, one destination, and cannot deviate from their journey. 'Crossing the Red Sea also describes their feelings of not being in control, 'Neither masters nor slave'. While their freedom has not been physically restricted, like in the war, they are still being commanded by external bodies, such as the Australian Government. Similarly in 'MV Cormo Express', the sheep are of a journey of the unwilling. Their fate has been decided by external bodies. One sheep says 'Some say Eritrean fields....' This is also suggestive that they are not in control and that they must accept their determined fate. The ship is also surrounded by a vast expanse of water, so there is no escape and they must go where the ship takes them. The immigrants must go where the train takes them. 'Time ran ahead along tracks of glistening steel' suggests that their future lies on this path and there is no alternative. While the immigrants chose to go on this journey, to Australia, it seems that they have found themselves once again without the freedom to make their own choices. However the sheep, most likely, did not choose to go on this journey that will end in their deaths. In these texts the journey contains a restriction ion their freedom to decide their future.
There is also an uncertainty of the future in many journeys. In 'MV Cormo Express' the sheep say 'Some say Eritrean fields, some say the slaughterhouse, some say Wentworth to boost branch numbers'. These rumours show the lack of information regarding their fate that the sheep, and indeed the general public, have about their intended fate. Truncated sentences also reflect this uncertainty and restlessness. Moir uses monochromatic colours to convey the overall negative atmosphere. Black and white is symbolic of their bleak futures. The cartoon is also void of any landmass, which suggests that they're destination and fate is yet to be decided. Moir uses irony, with the ship boldly bearing the word 'Express' that further emphasises their plight "like cattle left for slaughter, uses simile to convey their sense of abandonment and neglect the migrants feel in this new land. The sheep also experience this abandonment and are left with little knowledge or hope. . This is a reflection to the government bureaucracy, which can also be seen in Skrzynecki's poem where the immigrants feel that the government has left them alone, and that the oppression they had sought to escape was waiting for them in Australia.
'The Ivory Trail' also conveys the message about the uncertainty of the future. The
bookcover uses shadows, which are suggestive of concealment and 'the unknown'. Darkness represent a lack of understanding and knowledge, whereas the light cast upon the Sphinx suggests ht opposite which we thus perceive to be omniscient. This contrast represents the conflict between truth and what is hidden. The Sphinx alludes to the legend of 'The Riddle of the Sphinx', which suggests that here, there will also be a revelation, and an uncovering of truth. The shadows appear to encroach upon the main focal points of the bookcover. It suggests that this will be a journey of discovery, that is, to uncover what has been hidden. The image is also pixilated; suggesting that nothing is clear and defined. At the top of the text is the statement, 'Not all journeys have an ending'. Interestingly 'ending' is in the darkest part of the shadow, suggesting that the conclusion of journey is unclear, if at all there is one. The sand dunes also reflect the cyclical, repetition of journeys. Thus 'The Ivory Trail also refers to the uncertainty of journeys.
Journeys also have an element of danger, in some; danger is an inherent quality. The red imagery in Skrzynecki's poems is evident references to danger. In 'Immigrants at Central Station' he writes 'the signal turned red and dropped like a guillotine', this reference to death and danger shows that although the immigrants have escaped the war, it still continues to torment them, with everyday occurrences reminding them of bloodshed. In 'Crossing the red Sea', there are numerous references to red. 'Blood leaves similar dark stains when it runs for a long time', here the immigrants realise that the memories of bloodshed will haunt them forever. In 'The Ivory trail', the text is dominated by vibrant reds. The colour red not only symbolises danger, but it serves as a warning. This generates suspense and intrigue, and also prepares the reader for what is to be expected in the imaginative journey they are about to go on. The purple colour is synonymous with mystery, and the sense of danger is heightened by this mystery 'Immigrants at central station' refers to them feeling 'like cattle left for slaughter'. This also has connotations with death. It is ironic that having escaped the 'slaughter' in WWII, that they feel like this in the 'Promised Land'. Slaughter has a direct reference to 'MV Cormo Express', where the sheep know that they are to be killed at the end of their journey.
There is also a danger in losing hope. . Journeys need hope, in order for goals to be achieved and for a journey to be beneficial to the individual. In 'Crossing the Red Sea' Skrzynecki's talks of the importance of hope writing ' had we talked of death perhaps something more than time would have been lost'. The previous quote has a solemn tone, and we, the responders, almost feel the despondency in his words. He writes of 'a blood rimmed horizon', which comments of the ambivalence they are experiencing. The horizon is a symbol of hope, but in being 'blood rimmed', there is some sadness mingled with their happiness. But despite their future having remnants of the past, they realise that they must not lose hope. In 'MV Cormo Express' there are heavy, ominous, foreboding smoke rings emanating from the sheep suggesting a loss of hope. Hope is the motivation that keeps an individual and their journey so that they may achieve desired outcomes.
Obstacles are also synonymous with journeys and serve as a test for the individual's resolve to complete their journey. There is no simple journey and Skrzynecki writes of 'storms and exiles'. The immigrants experience both physical and emotional hardship. The shining spots from the 'Ivory Trail' are reminiscent of 'the winding road' and suggest that a journey is not straightforward. The significant use of diagonal lines shows that this journey deviates from the norm, and that is not a simple one.
Through the employment of a variety of techniques, Scrzynecki and Moir have explored the concept of the physical journey. As the Taoists say 'The journey is the reward'.