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Waltz My Matilda All Over Pt. 7

26 Aug

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Byron to me represented connections. The issue of the blue teepee was solved. I’d seen that my friend on Facebook, Chelsea was staying in it as recently as THAT very morning. She’d checked out and left. Gone back south. Ships in the night we were. I messaged her a photo of the teepee. She was pissed we didn’t meet up. But she courteously said I should find her friends later in the afternoon! Wicked. Here 10 minutes and magic was already afoot.

So Byron and me were finally face to face. It was probably about halfway through my Aussie tour. I’d planned to stay here the longest, pre-embarkation. I booked four days at first. I felt a haircut was in due order. This was a grand excuse to suss the town out, as well.

My first impression of Byron: This place was thronging with folk from else where. It was campervan city. There were more dreadlocks than one could hope to see in any given town. It was all interesting. A young guy asked me on the street.

” Hey mate, do you know where the Coles is?” ( typical supermarket in Australia).

” Nah mate sorry, I’m not from here either!”

There was a mutual acknowledgement. Who was from here?

Returning with supplies, planning to cook dinner and find these “new friends” I ran into my busking buddies. Again. We chopped up some food and chatted. And I chatted to anyone else around. Everyone was chilled. There seemed to be an array of characters here. Some like me, staying a few days. Others living at the edge of the camp, holed up for years. It was certainly more than your average backpackers.

As I relaxed and smoked, Chelsea’s friend, Kirsten, found me and I was swept into a crew. We, 2 weeks later were still travelling together. I called them the Byron Family. We were all in Byron for different reasons. They all seemed to meet in the teepee. And thus beautiful connections were birthed. Kirsten, Dave, Chris and later Katie-May ( with Kelly, Annie, Alex and Jason) all were a part of my life. Brief but intimate connections. We knew each other and laughed with each other. We spoke about life. We all had similar philosophies. By the end I saw parts of me in all of them. From here on, it became our adventure not just mine. We were all on the one wave.

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The day after this I sat with Minna for breakfast. An English pixie, a delight to hang with. She wanted an adventure. She wanted to find a waterfall nearby. So me, having the car, drove to Killen Falls, a hidden gem. A cave with cascading water, flowing beautifully. I took her down to the coastal walk with some ciders and we sat and watched the sunset as dolphins leapt in pods. I couldn’t even word my contentment. I was falling in love with my own country. Attenborough documentaries were never this nice.

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Having a guitar handy proved to be an asset. I could bring it out, strum a tune, hand my axe around to others and relish the joys of music. There was one night I strolled past some strangers singing some accapella soul. Sam Cooke would have to be my favourite singer ever. I ran over and joined the chorus:

“Baaaaaby, bring it to me, bring Your sweet loving! bring it on home to me!”

Cam, my soul singing soul brother invited me into his clique and we basically jammed out and shared our music tastes, which were essentially the same. The connections just kept happening. We shared turns on my guitar. That’s when Rod joined us. A big burly Welshman that cut an intimidating figure of 6 ft 7″, he simply wanted to play and sing. I offered it and he sat away from the group. We were still chatting when I heard his singing voice to which I shut EVERYBODY up. It was one of those talent show moments when someone you wouldn’t expect to blow you away sits down and does that. He was chilling everyone out with Wicked Game by Chris Isaack, closely followed by a Britney Spears cover which we got raucous too, till we were asked to leave the common area. Far too much noise.

It was certainly a place of change. For 6 months I’d sported a beard. Come Byron, I was as close to a lumberjack as I’d ever been. It drew comments which I enjoyed. But I was being asked what I looked like, sans beard. One day I joined a crew for coffee:

“Hey Adam, you swore you’d shave your beard last night.”

” Bullshit. Shaving it is not an option!”

Truthfully, I was feeling the trim for a while. All things must pass. Indeed the beard too. I feigned a toilet trip, grabbed a razor and shore it all off. Who was this cat in the mirror!? I returned and sat as if nothing had happened. The reactions were gold!

The next few days were alcohol fuelled, dope inspired fun. I got to karaoke for free beer at the brewery ( singing Gloria and Voodoo Child I believe). Rod one the night which I was rapt about. That way everyone got to hear his pipes. I had awesome chats with many people. But I felt the energy was winding up. My body wanted reprieve. I hadn’t supplied it with enough water and nutrition. Skipping meals. Eating crap. Getting drunk before I could cook a decent meal. I couldn’t keep extending my stay. I was nearly up to a full week of Byron. There was more adventuring to be had beyond here. The last night I was there I was stone cold sober. Dave said him and a few people ( the subsequent Family) were shipping north the next day. I said I’d follow them. No idea where. I stupidly had a joint before bed. It’s fair to say I had a waking nightmare, trying to sleep. Facing my demons. Why was I trashing my body, wasting money, when I had new environs to explore each day? The answer I concluded on,was that I was trying to get lucky. Thinking with my manhood instead of nurturing my soul. For the real kick in Oz and what I wanted was to see were things that I couldn’t just experience on any night out. Nature! Fuck it! I’m not up here to sleaze about. Relinquishing that urge to party, would increase as I went north. I wanted something else. I was happy I had that introspective moment. I dozed off. Uneasily.

The next day was tough. Packing. Goodbyes. Laundry. All on a shitty nights sleep. The self dialogue of the night before thrust me forward. Happier than the last few days, I was finally leaving the Arts Factory. It was turning into a circus. A personal one. That place has magic in it. It was a delight. There was nuances in very moment there that I’d reflect on. The best part of it was being ones self. Most folk were that, there. Individuality reigned supreme. But like a river I had to keep rolling.

” Oi Dave, where are we actually going today?”

” Surfers Paradise man, hours drive. You ready?”

Sure I was. The adventure had stagnated. I was ready for more. In an hour I’d cross the state border and I’d be well back on track.

Waltz My Matilda All Over Pt. 6

25 Aug

Coffs Harbour is a gem on the northern coast of New South Wales. Pristine beaches, rimmed with high mountains that hosted heritage listed rain forests. And Australia’s most famous pit stop – The Big Banana. Myself and Clement would enjoy the finest banana smoothie the next day and climb through the banana plantations to one of the best lookouts you could see on our way out of Coffs.

The day of arrival we did as much as we could in the sunlight hours, having only one day in Coffs. ( I would return on the way home which was a pivotal choice. That to come) We climbed Mutton Bird Island next to the Jetty.

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We looked for whales. I swear I saw a spout! It was nice to just sit and watch the blue Pacific. We traversed beaches where no one was around. It was serene. That night we the enjoyed the company of familiar faces from Port Macquarie which was some 3 hours behind us. Yes we had travellers from all parts that we’d seen one place or the other. The German Girls. The Italian Girls. The English couple. There was my two Melbourne brothers George and Josh. I recognised George’s face in Newcastle, he being a friend of a friend ( a further synchronous SYNC) Him and Josh were driving the coast . According to their Facebook.
“The duo ‘Drifters Fiesta’ travelling the world to busk the streets and compile all our learnings, experiences for our web series ‘The Buskers Guide”

( Like them please, it’s a wicked idea and I know they’d love the support)

The Buskers Guide

These lads kept bobbing up. Newcastle, Port Macquarie and then Coffs. They were on the same ride as me. The same wave. And their still at it. It was always a pleasure to say g’day. I would see them again in Byron 😉

So after a brief stay, myself and Clement departed for that strange town called Byron Bay. Like I aforementioned we stopped for banana smoothies, went up and observed something truly spectacular at Sealy Lookout then, burnt rubber all the way to Byron.

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Clement was a great companion. We laughed all the way. He practiced his English, I practiced my Spanish ( typical European. Trilingual. Pffft).

You could slowly notice the change in climate, affecting the surrounding greenery. This was a different Australia to Victoria. It was thrilling to see. I loved how after a while the plants were unfamiliar. The air a bit denser. It was all part of the ride. Driving made all changes gradual. Nothing stark and shocking. I’ve departed Melbourne in years gone by and landed smack bang in tropical climes. Going from a 12 C day at home to 30 C day and extreme
humidty in Saigon affects the body. It’s not supposed to be transplanted like that. Maybe this is why I felt so good. A natural high was emerging. Or maybe it needed room to emerge. Organic highs are the best kind.

I have fond memories of Byron. Particularly the backpackers I chose ( suggested by my earlier companion Luke). I arrived at this place, wondering what it was. It was called The Arts Factory. Probably the coolest place you’d could ever wish to stay at. Set away from the main strip of Byron, It was it’s own Byron away from Byron. It was in the Jungle practically. It WAS a jungle in hindsight. It was appropriated next to a Brewery. It had a large car park full of campers with the strange and wild folk wandering around. I’d have to wait a while in the car park for Clement to be picked up so I sat and observed it. I wandered in to check it out. Dorms to my left edged around a pool/ spa area. And outside was a giant space to do what one wanted. Beach volleyball. A dance/arts space. A bridge that lead over into a wilderland of tents.nThose pesky turkeys were abundant in this place as well. And then there was the giant blue teepee! Seeing the teepee triggered something and I had to work out why so I went back to my car to wait with Clement. I had a good feeling about it all.

Half an hour later I was saying ” au revoir” to Clement. We promised to meet up for a drink and all the rest. It never occurred. Byron was a Jungle that invited me in and I certainly got lost for a week or so.