So, back at Bungan Beach. JJ and Richard, the owners of the homestead, were about to leave to Japan for a month of holidays, leaving me, Chris and Sophie in charge of the place. Sophie took care of their daughters dog Kiko, secretely dressing him in cloths, she just couldnt help herself hahah hilariousWe were volunteering there which meant working a couple of hours in the morning in and around the house, keeping all the plants and animals alive, and enjoying our lives the rest of the time.. 🙂 I really liked the work we were doing and I learned a lot! We took care of the bees,
and all the veggies and plants.
We made compost
and looked after the worms. We helped a little bit in the bush regeneration and I learned there is such a thing as a BioPod fo superfast composting, using larvae. We were planting and maintaining the herbs, vegetables and fruit trees in a completely organic way. Even more than that: in a biodynamic way!, which to me is even one step further where spirituality kicks in and interesting things happen like planting according to the moon cycle but also a bit far-out crazy things like spraying the vegetables once a month with BD500, which is fermented cow dung made by filling a cow’s horn with cow dung from a lactating cow and which are buried in Autumn on a Root day with a descending moon, and then lifted in Spring, also on a Root day. It is then stored. Before using you dilute the mixture in water and spend a couple of hours stirring it first to one side and then to the other. Could be quite meditative. I was happy I wasn’t the one stirring it :p But hey, gotta go with what you believe!
I learned a lot about new species and varieties I didn’t know of before or hardly had experience with. Like cucamelons, who came up with that?! Not my favourite though.. I enjoyed the fresh tomatoes everyday, the delicious little guavas,
the beans and all the greens, we made a lot of baba ganoush from the eggplants,
pesto from the mint and other herbs, we harvested fresh salad from the microgreens,
the salad mixes and the chard and silverbeet everyday for lunch (so lucky!),
I loved the lemon verbena (which we dried and used for tea, my favourite!), the Tulsi (or holy basil) and my alltime favourite: Okra!! Wow, that is one amazing plant! The plant itself is gorgeous, the flowers stunning and it gets even better when these beautiful flowers turn into the most delicious treats; as if the plant descended straight from the heavens…
It grows like crazy though, we could harvest them everyday! So many 😀 And they are great raw, stirfried, grilled, pickled, everything 🙂 We spend a lot of time harvesting and cooking, drying, pickling etc.
The house was heavenly for doing this since it had all the equipment you could wish for, even better than some of the high-class restaurants I used to work for: there was a thermomix that weighs, heaths and mixes, a super state-of-the-art oven (also great for sterilizing jars and canning), gas barbecue, smoke-oven, dehydrator etc. And then there was this kitchen full off all the ingredients you might need. And everything organic. What she didn’t grow herself, she would order. This beautiful cabinet was my best friend and I will miss it..
Full of organic and raw seeds, nuts, grains, spices, dried berries, coconut oil, ghee, raw cacao and carob, Himalaya salt, coconut flakes, black tahini (try it, it’s beautiful!) etc. etc. I made the most healthy and delicious smoothies, avocado-spinach-banana-honey-chocolate-mousse with a hint of chilli (SO GOOD!!!),
mungbeanfalafel, sweet potato crisps, black rice sushi, humus, long squash spaghetti etc. Oh I enjoyed my time in that kitchen 😀 I experimented with some native bush herbs like wattleseed: grown from acacias, very nutty taste and delicious bush tomatoes. I drank Maca coffee and dandelion chai.
I learned a lot about fermentation and made Momo fuku’s, lacto-ferments, hot vinegar pickles, I canned tomato sauces and cucumber relishes, I made kefir (yoghurt like milke-ferment) every couple of days (adding a culture powder and leaving it for two days, easy :p) and I experimented with many different kinds of Jun.
You might know of Kombucha, it’s more renown brother, which is made from black tea and sugar. Jun is made of green tea and honey, though, some people stating it as the champagne of Kombucha. So you cook the water, let the green tea sit for a while, strain it, stir in the honey and add it to your culture, which looks like an old sponge that has been used too much. The mushrooms will ferment the whole things, making a nice fizzly drink. After three days I added flavours (my favourite: tarragon, ginger and lime) and let it sit for a day before bottling up and storing in the fridge. When I get the chance I’d love to give other ferments a try as well like Kvass and ginger ale… So many things to do! Why didn’t I do this at home before? Besides the incredible health benefits of ferments it is supertasty and delicious 😀
Another thing I want to get started once I find a place to settle is getting my own bees, too bad I can’t take them with me on my bike.. :p
The honey we used was from JJ’s own bees and she made sure they were happy bees: Don’t worry, bee happy :D, oh how I love those little creatures! My first acquaintance with beekeeping was in Bulgaria and my fascination had been growing. By now it’s going through the roof! WOW! Bees are the most interesting and beautiful little flying things. I have been learning so much about them by reading books, watching documentaries, working with them at the farms and talking to other beekeepers. I won’t write down all the details, cause by now I can write my own book. There is so much to learn: from how the colony works, the difference between the worker bees, the drones and the queens, the rearing of queens, the swarming, the threats like the hivebeetle (luckily there is no Varoamite in Australia, nowhere..yet..), when to split a hive, how to see what is brood and what is honey, or nectar, or pollen, or propolis, what a healthy hive looks like, how to spot and react to problems, when to harvest etc.etc. Jean-Claude helped JJ with her bees and took me under his wings for a couple of days. He is this older French guy that has been a big-scale commercial beekeeper for many years, packed with a lot of knowledge, but also a bit stirdy in his opinions 😉 We visited different people with different beehives, which thaught me a lot, since every beekeeper has its ways and opinions. The more diversity, the easier to make up your own opinion. Some people prefer good old-fashioned Langstroth-hives, some prefer topbarhives like the Warre, some experiment with the fairly new Flowhive (where you just open the tap at the right time and the honey flows out, sounds pretty good doesn’t it? Curious to see the first results and experiences..) and some keep native bees on the side. JJ had all four of these, wasn’t I lucky! So I got to suit up a fair couple of times 😉
So smart to make windows with a thermometer inside of your hive so you can check on them with minimal disturbance:
Jean-Claude took me and Chris to a field day at the beekeepers association where we harvested honey, yippie!
We cut the comb from the frames with an electrical knife
before extracting the honey by spinning the frames in this machine.
For extracting from the Warre-hive
JJ used an old-fashioned fruit press. We prepared the left-overs to extract the wax, which can be used for all sorts of beneficial products. I’m still using the cream my friends in Bulgaria made from a mix of wax (extracted in a solar still and herbs. Another product is mead: an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey and water which takes three months to turn into an alcoholic drink: too damn tasty! JJ made a really good one. Yummie 😀
So heaps of fresh raw happy-bee honey! One spoon each day will keep the doctor away…. Because it makes you happy! ‘Clap along now if you feel that happiness is the truth..’ 😉
Besides plants and bees, we also took care of a 4000 liter aquaponics system. I told you about this fantastic system in my previous post.
And last, but not least: 11 chickens brighted up our days by singing their songs J Some people would describe it as this horrendous sound that unwillingly wakes you up in the morning and doesn’t stop all day.. I loved it :p By the sound you could make up whether the ladies were just gossiping about all the good-looking surfers passing the place on their way to the beach or they were busy trying to get rid of their eggs. We were collecting way too many eggs from the girls, thinking of all different ways we could eat them (I love them just poached, but we made frittatas, banana pancakes etc.) and ended up giving away a bunch as well. They do keep for months though.. When one of the chickens got sick, JJ cared for her as for her own child: spending shitloads of money at the vets, feeding her, gently trying to get her to take her medications and so on. At the same time JJ was eating chicken she bought from an organic farmer as well, haha, that was just too funny. I didn’t though, I stayed a veggie at the house, there was too much good stuff there!
Activities at the northern beaches
– Music: So, besides the couple of hours of work at the house, there was a lot of free time. And we used it wisely 😀 Every morning we woke up early by the beautiful sight of the sun rising from the waves. Sunrise is my favourite moment of the day and seeing it every morning from my bed is just incredible! Getting up at six everyday was no biggie at all this way 😀 all I wanted to do was go out and greet her, play for her, sing for her, worship her.. And I sang and played a lot, I enjoyed having so much time to play my guitar.
– Surfing: Everyday I would get in the ocean as well, either for just a swim in the ocean
or at the ocean pool just around the headland at Newport beach, finding cute shelters n the scrumble there 🙂(once a whale carcass was swept into the pool, can you imagine?! No whale migrating season right now though);
falling in love with the beautiful stones
and enjoying the beauty of the way back up every time. Where you see the sun is where the house was 🙂
or I’d go into the ocean to get pounded by the waves for hours, I mean learning to surf 😉 We had all these boards and wetsuits we were given permission to use, so nice!
But damn, learning how to surf is just not easy! I was very lucky Chris was there to hold my hands the first couple of times, cause I am scared of that ocean! Scared of the waves, of the rips and the currents, scared of my lack of swimming skills (improving them now in the pools, can you believe I didn’t know how to do freestyle stroke or swim under water? Im starting to find my rhythm now ;)). Once you catch your first waves though, wow! That’s exciting, I want more! I needed the right (beginner) conditions though and I spent a lot of time in the white water trying to stand up. When I actually managed to make it through the breaking waves and tried to catch some unbroken waves, damn…, I needed some help. It is difficult to choose which wave to go for and when and then I lack the strength to build up enough speed and missed a lot of waves because of this. Great work-out though 😉 Chris helped me by trying to push me into waves haha, I was like a little child and loved it! Thank you Chris 😀 But even after a month the ocean still scares me (which might be a good thing) and I am still at superbeginner level but eager to get on the board again once the universe will provide the opportunity for me :p
One of the days I went out surfing people on the way to the beach warned me about a lot of blueys being in the water. Being a local and all I pretended to understand and kept on walking. What the hell are blueys? I figured they might have meant unexperienced surfers, a species the local guys are not very fond of. But I was soon to find out. The little bastards! I mean, they are beautiful but hurt like hell when you have three long stinger of the Portugese man-of-war jellyfish wrapped around your leg! That day I only surfed for half an hour..
– Sailing: one day I was hanging around at the local bikeshop, talking to the mechanics about bike mechanics hihi and nice routes to cycle around the area and ended up talking to one of the customers. He asked me if I had been sailing in Australia yet. I hadn’t but would really love to go though! So he invited me on his son’s boat haha, friendly dad :p I contacted the son a bit reluctantly, but he was very happy to take me out, so we went! Sailing on the incredible beautiful waters of Pittwater bay, you won’t believe your eyes. I wish I took some pictures..
It was just a leisure sailing experience though where I failed my first sailing lesson: bring beer and snacks! After the sailing we returned to his house which was on the other side of the bay where no roads lead to and can only be reached by boat. It looked like a huge treehouse completely surrounded by forest, with a fantastic view of the stunning Pittwater bay.
There were more guests, a barbecue, a fire.. I’d say a proper after-sailing party 🙂 I talked to some very interesting and nice people, one of them being Malcolm. Malcolm was this South-African guy who moved to Australia after spending many years of his young adulthood on different sailingboats going around the world. His young apprentice Manny from Spain sat besides him and they offered me to go sailing with. Hmm, let me think about that… Hell Yeah!! I’m in 😀 And it turned out to be one hell of a ride!! They took me on board of the Greybeard a couple of times, one of them being the Australia day regatta
- australia day is also referred to as invasion day, a more appropriate name..
at Pittwater, apparently the longest running regatta in the world (this was the 180th time) and we won! Incredible! I wasn’t sure why though, cause I wasn’t much of a help. I had to learn all these English terms and sailing theory but the guys were very willing to explain and show everything, so nice! Pull the heliard, ease the sheet, get the kite ready, breeze coming, let’s tack. NOW.. (which means: duck if you wanna stay onboard! :p) etc. 😀 Malcolm would get a bit stressed and tension was building on the boat, I loved it 😀 and the guys were supernice and great fun!
The last time we went sailing we went out of the bay on the open ocean water, that was a cool experience! Malcolm would let me steer the boat and going back in the bay we had fun trying to catch/surf the waves with the boat, yihaa 😀 We sailed three races in a row against around 15 other similar boats: achilles, which made it very busy in the water and especially around the buoys, getting wet from the splashing water everywhere and watching all the kitesurfers down at the beach. It was beautiful! I had to get back in time though, because I was working that night but the guys had come up with a plan :p They had picked me up from the house that morning, left a car up at Palm Beach, drove back to Avalon to get on the boat and after the race we immediately sailed back in the bay, I jumped of the boat and swam to shore, took the car and was in time for work, hahaha so funny! We had great times J and it was obviously way too short.. I really hope to see them again and spend more time together.
– Working: yeah, so did I just mention work? I worked in the kitchen of Mexicanos restaurant for a couple of weeks. Chris left the job and I immediately took over. Always on the bike I was welcomed by pelicans on the bridge or in the water, hi guys!
And beautiful flowers everywhere 🙂 I wish you could smell them!
The work was supereasy and the food not that great, but the colleagues were fantastic. With Derrick, his daughter Leah, Alex, Sam and/or Krishna in the kitchen time flew by 😉 Ok and the ginger or jalapeno margherita, frozen, no sugar, was pretty good too ;p We ended up being a real tight family in only a couple of weeks.
My chef Rafa from Brazil is superfriendly, I might say the nicest chef I ever worked for 😉 and we enjoyed a nice afterparty at his house the day I left, isn’t that amazing!
I will go back to enjoy the Mardi Gras festival with him and his friends in march, yeay!
– Misc: other things we did was snorkling close by the little reef where we saw some beautiful little creatures, a flounder and a stingray. It was a bit of a hassle to get of the ledge and on to the reef with the flippers and the waves smashing in on us hihi that was fun! We cycled through the Kur-in Gai Chase National Park which was just around the corner, stunning! It has this fantastic views in and out Pittwater bay
and we could see the lighthouse at the top of Palm Beach where we cycled and hiked before.We found some aboriginal remnants along the tracks.
The ride there was amazing, with all these houses along the road that looked like out of proportion tree houses, surrounded by forest and looking out over the bay, beautiful 😀 The sounds were amazing too, mostly overwhelmed by the intense sounds of cicadas (tree crickets). You can find their old skins hanging on the trees, which looks like this:
At the house Chris and I practiced some akroyoga together, Id like to get into that more, it’s fun! Chris had some experience so he could fly me pretty confidently and things like shoulderstands, bows, butterfly twirls were easy-peasy :p so enjoyable!
Chris had made some Australian friends while studying in Ecuador and they all come over for a reunion on the Australia day (e.g. invasion day) weekend. With their girlfriends, so we were with 8 in the house, what a party!
We enjoyed surfing at Palm beach, beers from the local brewery (really really good!!), some slacklining and playing guitar/singing, and we went Barefoot bowling hahaha that was fun!
It is this weird bowling game with huge balls that are weighted on one side (make sure you plan the curve on the right side!), trying to get them as close as possible to the white ball. I passed a couple of fields before and it seemed to me like quite the elite sport with lots of elderly rich men dressed in white taking the game way too seriously. But apparently young people enjoy it just as much 😉 At night we played this fun game where we agree on a word (like sun) and each team has to come up and sing as many songs as they know with this word in it, fun guaranteed!
– Blue mountains: The next weekend Chris and I left Sophie to take care of the house by herself and left to explore the Blue mountains, yihaa!! It’s name deriving from the bluey maze the oil from the eucalyptuses give to the sky. We took the train up to Katoomba and started hiking. And hiking and hiking. And more hiking. We hiked different routes (from the famous three sisters to sublime point), making it way down in the valley (on the rodriguez pass to junction rock, passing the beautiful bridal veils); at points feeling like a dinosaur could pop up any moment. The ancientness and humongous stretch of wild forest was intimidating.
With steep sided vales and hazy forests of gum tree, many different warm colours and layers of sandstone mingled perfectly with the many colours of green.The distinctive sound of the bell birds were cheering us up as we went. Gumtrees and tree verns everywhere. Many gumtrees shed their bark.. My favourite being the one that sheds bark going from deep dark red at the bottom to lighter and lighter colours of orange going up. I don’t think it’s because of me being Dutch, I think it’s the warmth and the earthiness of the colour orange that attracts me to it so much (to be fair, pumpkin and sweet potato are one of my favourite veggies, maybe that’s connected :p). And so many beautiful waterfalls along the way! We met Peter on the path. I think at least. He was like a character from a fairy-tale and at some point I had to ask Chris if he saw this beautiful creature as well, to check it wasn’t just a figure of my imagination. Peter was this old man with a stick and a backpack that had been stitched at least 489 times, with a look of bliss and joy but out-of-spaciness as well in his eyes, as if he was seeing things happening behind you, many times losing his words or thoughts halfway along the sentence. I understood he was originally from England but moved to the mountains a long time ago and was to be found in the forest every day. He spends his times taking care of the tracks, cleaning up the forest, destroying fire arrangements, cleaning graffiti and apparently telling his life story to those who care to listen to his very unclear chaotic but fascinating monologues. He started telling us all the beautiful places we should go, drawing ‘maps’ in the sand with his stick. He got a bit too excited though, and I couldn’t follow anymore. Left at this tree, follow the river, cross it, cross it back, then at the second three you don’t go up, no wait that was the other cave, yes you do go up, it doesn’t look like a track and oh many years ago me and my girlfriend we used to go ride our motorbikes in Asia, you know I used to be very shy, I didn’t know how to talk to people, oh look at all these ants etc. etc. Peter was fantastic 😀 We all agreed how amazing it is all the work people have put into making these paths since the first crossing in 1813, thank you!!
We kept going and we camped along the way. The second night we were all the way down in the valley and found this fantastic little shelter!! With a dream catcher!
wow 😀 That was where I wanted to sleep ! We managed to squeeze my tent under it 🙂It was right next to the river and look at this view ❤
It inspired me to start making dreamcatchers myself.Chris and Rafa having the honour of receiving my first ones, may they catch all your bad dreams!
At the train station in Sydney I had started talking to this girl playing her guitar and we ended up chatting all the way up to the Blue Mountains in the train. She played and sang at the Gardeners Inn and we went to see her play, which coincided with the rainfall of that day, meant to be?She was very interesting and spiritual and we shared a lot of thoughts, experiences and book references. Perfect! Daniela, thank you for showing me the five agreements by Ruiz and the 16personalities test. Im usually not into personality test, especially not short ones online, but this one was so spot on and helped me understand myself a lot better, wouldn’t have imagined that, great! For example, it describes the ways I view and struggle with romantic relationship so well, I finally have words to describe what I always tried to tell. And Ruiz’ books added to that, for one by giving us these five agreements, which are to me beautiful guidelines in life:
- “Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love”
- “Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama”
- “Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream”
- “Always Do Your Best. Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse and regret”
- “Be Skeptical but Learn to Listen”.
I meditate on these five agreements now and see how I can incorporate them in my life better and better. It helps me to forgive myself and others. Everyday we start again and try our best. If we fail, that’s ok, that’s life, we gave it our best, and we will do just that again. There is only today. And today the love has to be spread!
We only had three days to enjoy the beautiful mountains before we had to go back to the farm and help Sophie out. The Okra had grown through the roof by now! I knew I had to come back though and spend more time. It would be the first thing on my list after leaving the northern beaches.
Back at the house we spent one more week before the owners would return. After almost a month living at the northern beaches I still hadn’t seen anything of Sydney yet, so I decided I wanted to explore the city for one day and Chris and I visited the two most important things in any city ;): the botanical gardens and the observatory! Haha, both really amazing. The botanical garden are for free and open to anyone and huge, we spent hours enjoying all the plants. Look at these beauties:
-the amazing stevia plant which is supersweet without the negative side-effects of other sweeteners.
Pink bananas 😀 not edible, too pretty!
- the famous tea tree:
- zebra plant
- and the famous romance tree :p
We learned about the magic of verns:
and the edibility of the waterlillies as great bush tucker
The observatory was pretty amazing as well, situated in the middle of the city with a great view over the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.At the observatory a time ball still drops every day at 1 pm to indicate the time.Before the Observatory was built, Sydney didn’t have an accurate time standard. The Observatory’s first function was to calculate the correct time from the movement of the stars.The time ball signalled the time to ships and the post office in Martin Place at 1pm each day, accompanied by a cannon blast to provide an audio as well as visual notification. No more cannon blast these days though
I learned about the transit of venus across the sun, beautiful!!Historically of great scientic importance because it was used as the first realistic estimates of the size of our solar system. From earth it can be seen as a small black disk moving across the face of the Sun. I wrapped my head around the fact that it happened in 2004 and 2012, but wont happen again until 2117. I probably wont be there to see it, but who knows! I will be there to see Mars at opposition on may 31st 2016 (it happens every 1,88 years though): Mars and the Sun will be at directly opposite sides of earth; from our perspective on our spinning world, Mars rises in the east just as the sun sets in the west. Then, after staying up in the sky the entire night, Mars sets in the west just as the sun rises in the east. Funky :p
At the observatory there was a lot of white men history, but I missed the aboriginal stories of the skies. They might not be as scientific but a very important part of Australian history with lots of beautiful stories which show they knew a lot about the sky, which took us thousands of years to discover/confirm. I love stories. For example, every aboriginal tribe has its own version about Orion hunting the Pleiades, explaining the cycles of the stars. Another subject ill have to read/hear more about J
We then walked to along the shore to the opera house, which was unfortunately not running visiting tours at that moment. I would have loved to see the room with the more than 10.000 organ pipes! That’s impressive, it took them ten years to build! Id love to hear a concert played there. I looked at prizes but they were just going through the roof unfortunately one day..
The end of my Bungan experience
So, after a month the owners were returning from their holiday, new volunteers were on their way and Chris had booked a flight back home to the States. I am very grateful for this opportunity, grateful I got to spend time at this fantastic place, grateful for the trust the owners had in us and grateful for Chris to invite me to hop on his tail in this adventure. But. (haha, so many Australians end their sentence with the word ‘but’ without continuing.. strange fellows :p). But, I have to be honest to myself and thus you guys who are reading all my inner thoughts.. I was happy to get moving again. The place drained me a bit, I felt empty and I wasn’t sure why, because everybody kept telling me what a wonderful place I was staying at and what a wonderful set-up I had arranged for myself. Which was all true. But…
I guess I lacked the feeling of making a difference. The owners were so rich, they didn’t need me at all (in comparison to the last place where I volunteerd in Bulgaria where I could really be of great assistance, helping the poor farmers getting ready for the harsh winter). They didn’t farm for any other cause then just for fun and to feed themselves. And there was no social connection whatsoever. The couple of days we did spend together there was no initiative from their side to find out who I was, they had no clue and were not very interested to talk. Makes sense of course with so many volunteers coming and going all the time, so no hard feelings. And they were nice people, absolutely, but I just lacked the love I guess. There was some friction between me and Chris as well, which made me trying to adjust and compromise all the time. Yeah, time for me to move on and find myself again, feels good! Getting excited 😀 All packed up again and ready to go!
One of the first things I did was visit the bird research centre up at the Olympic park in Sydney. Amazing! Nobody knows of it, and it is quite hidden away, but absolutely worth it! At least for me it was 😀 Mark was on duty that day and very happy to be talking to someone as passionate about birds as he was. He taught me a lot about the native birds, showed me around, helped me recognise the sounds and showed me their eagle cam. The camera is directed at an white-belly Eagle’s nest in the park where you can see the couple fly in and out and in the right season see the eggs hatch, amazing! I spent quite some time talking to the volunteers and Judy, the park ranger, took me under her wing for a ride and dropped me off at the station in the end. The diverse varieties of birds in Australia are just magnificent 😀 Well, you’ve read about all that on my previous blog already :p
I spent a couple more days exploring around Sydney, staying at Matt’s place at Maroubra, one of the beautiful beaches of Sydney. He lives quite south, literally scratching against the national parks. The view from his front window was Maroubra beach, at the rear the national park and a 15 minute bike ride into town, isn’t that amazing?! With black cockatoos flying around his house 🙂
Matt took me out on little bike rides around the numerous gorgeous bays, we did some cliff jumping and swimming:
and explored some old fortresses with great graffiti:
And we went to the fantastic Royal National Park! We didn’t make it far there though, because of a tiger….
Ehhmm yeah so when we riding a tiger ran out of the bush, tried to bite Matt’s leg off but he defended fiercly and only had a small injury on his elbow, just a couple stitches there and a completely wrecked front wheel. Could have been much worse I guess. We ate the tiger for dinner, delicious! (Ok, Matt took this fantastic selfie and saw the branch on the road too late and fell.. pretty bad story..)
After spending a couple days with Matt and leaving him wounded and with a broken bicycle (I did buy him cookies he loves so much!) I made my way up to the Blue Mountains to meet Scott, my warmshower host there. Wow!! I was sooooooooo happy to go back to the mountains! I had been super sick and nautious all week in Sydney, I was not digesting something (literally, but I guess it was emotional :p) and when I entered the mountains and felt the fresh air filling my lungs and strated feeling better right away, my nautia was gone the next day and I felt super re-energized! People go on and on about the Australian coastline, the beautiful beaches, their love for the ocean etc. etc. and Yes, I do appreciate it a lot, but I don’t share the same enthousiasm. The mountains though. Damn!! Heel yeah, I am a real mountaingirl, soooooooo gooooooddddd 😀 😀 😀 Really, on the verge of crying to be back up in the fresh air ❤ Daydreaming of moving here. I feel like I belong. This is heaven. Ill tell you all about it on my next blog post. Cause first I need to tell you the story of how my love for Australia is starting to grow.
My love and appreciation
I was never attracted to Australia, never thought I would come here any time soon and didn’t think I would want to spend much time. The culture the English and Dutch have developed here is not at all interesting, everybody dresses the same (you’re either a surfdude or a cowboy, no matter what age; all the kids wear uniforms to school), the towns all look the same to me and it is packed with all sorts of clubs, mostly there to generate excessive amounts of money from drinking (super expensive here) and gambling; Australians are the biggest gamblers on the planet! It seems to me very over-regulated with too many rules and humongous fines. It is comfortable, clean and familiar, everybody is easygoing and approachable. It is safe and well organized and the sun nearly always shines. I do enjoy the fact that I get to walk around everywhere barefooted (even banks and supermarkets don’t mind, in fact I threw away my shoes, joy J) and people are superfriendly all along (’How ya’ going?), but that’s about it. Behind the surface I’m finding more and more beauty though.
The aborigines lived here for thousands and thousands of years, without leaving a trace; being part of nature, not trying to conquer it, realizing the earth owns us, not the other way around (such a contrast to the fact that now most of them have been erased, with only 700.000 left living in sad sad conditions resulting in lots of drinking problems and crime.. unfair and mistreated; they weren’t even classed as citizens until the 1967 referendum!). I wanted to learn more about the old ways, when Australia was glorious, the golden ages! So I started to ask around and I started to read and it fueled my flame. Australia is amazing! Forget about the white people and forget about modern society and ‘civilization’, let’s focus on what’s really important and you’ll find so much beauty!
It is the home of the largest living thing on earth: The Great Barrier Reef (I’m not leaving before I’ve seen it with my own eyes!), and of the largest monolith: Ayers Rock (or Uluru in its more respectful Aboriginal name, unseen by anyone but its Aboriginal caretakers until only a little over a century ago, now a huge tourist attraction). It is wild, it has more things that will kill you than anywhere else in the world, even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip. Australia has more species of venomous snakes than any other continent, 21 of the world’s 25 deadliest in fact. Spiders are the most widely distributed venomous creatures in Australia, with an estimated 10,000 species inhabiting a variety of ecosystems. But even though spiders live all around, from urban centres to the bush, bites are infrequent. An interesting fact is that the most life-threatening creature in Australia is the bee! Beestings have killed more people than snakes, spiders, sharks, crocodiles or any of those things people always warm you about. You have to be careful though of course.
Bill Bryson states it beautifully: ‘if you are not stung or pronged to death in some unexpected matter, you may be fatally chomped by sharks or crocodiles, or carried helplessly out to sea by irresistible currents, or left to stagger to an unhappy death in the baking outback. It’s a tough place’. I think it’s beautiful J Mother nature is the alltime winner, she is in charge, not us! Don’t ever forget that! It’s why I love heavy rainfall and thunderstorms, show your face, mamma! Australia is a place like no other: much of it is still scarcely charted and more than 80 per cent of the plants, mammals, reptiles and frogs are unique to Australia and are found no-where else, amazing!
Even more so: it lives in abundance, which seems incompatible with Australia being the driest, hottest, flattest, most desiccated, infertile and climatically aggressive of all the inhabited continents. Even the soil here is technically speaking a fossil, wow. And yet it teems with life, many species yet to be recorded. It still holds so many mysteries, unexplained discoveries and undiscovered explanations. Im starting to believe this is the place where it all started. I’ve started this trip to ‘get back to basics’, never intended or interested to go to Australia, but I believe now the universe brought me here for a reason. I need to go out and explore.
Australia to me had become the barer of the most ancient wisdom. It is old, very very old with almost 3 million square miles of emptiness. I can’t believe it still has only 24 million people living here (my little country of Holland has 17 million people!). Many of the oldest objects ever found on earth, like rocks and fossils, animal tracks, the first faint signs of life, all originate from Australia. And there is this beautiful people that has been living on the largest island and continent for at least 60.000 years (as we say, they say it’s much longer, since the beginning of all, the Dreamtime). Modern science has trouble explaining their presence here, while they have no clearly evident racial or linguistic kinship to their neighbours in the region. Superinteresting to me, but most histories breeze over it in a small paragraph to start so-called ‘history’ with the arrival of captain Cook in Botany Bay in 1770. Let’s not talk about the fact that Captain Cook didn’t discover Australia and was even yet a captain when he first visited the continent. For most people this is where the story begins, I’m not interested in this story, it is a very very sad story to me (May 26th I will be celebrating Sorry Day with all my heart!). I want to learn about the story before that. I’m ready to Dream, let the Dreamtime come to me.