Australia part 3: from the blue mountains to the kangaroo valley

And so I started dreaming.. my songlines started to form 😀

Aaaahhhhhhhhhhhhh the moment I breathed in the fresh air of the mountains again! Take a deep breath with me! This is my place. I am a mountain girl. I feel like you can divide a big part of the world into coast lovers and mountain lovers. I’ve been around coastal lovers for many weeks by now and couldn’t quite share their enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong, the coast is absolutely stunning and I enjoyed a lot, but it’s just not the same kind of emotional happiness and tranquility the mountains give me. It was a lot cooler and drizzling when Scott picked me up from the train station (barefooted, yeay!) to invite me to his sharehouse in Wentworth falls. What a beautiful place! From the porch and the rooftop J they have this amazing view over the mountains and the city, far far away 😉 He lives with great housemates and two cats. There’s a garden where Lisa is starting to grow her vegetables and medicinal plants. The house is never locked and I felt very welcomed by all of them. Scott is a teacher with a beautiful mind and we could spend hours and hours talking about, well, basically everything! Im very interested in his gnosis classes and waking up to this beautiful sunrise every morning I very soon started imagining myself moving in 😀 My body agreed. The strange thing was that on the way to the mountains my belly started to move and rumble and when I woke up the next morning my sickness was gone and I felt incredibly strong and energized again. Also, my knee problems started to disappear very quickly. Had I just been sick from the city?

The next days I spent hiking, cycling, climbing and exploring the beautiful surroundings.

imageI still laugh out loud every time my friend the Kookoobura does the same :p

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I smell and taste the flowers of the mountain devil, also known as honeyflower (just a slight little contrast isnt it :p)image

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and enjoy the authenticity of things in the mountains. The guy actually comes and changes the board with every train, a pleasure to watch 🙂image

The mountains hold lots of jurrasic park like scenery,image

lots of waterfalls,image

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beautifully coloured layers of sandstone.image

and fantastic views everywhere.image

Even from Scotts porch! Unbelievable 🙂

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imageThis is Scott (middle) with his housemates Felix (left) and Thom (right) in their beautiful kitchen which is a good representation of the whole house, made of wood 😀

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I hiked the Wenthworth falls track, where I saw my first real live red-belly snake, beautiful creature! And Felix, one of the housemates that comes and goes throughout the year, joined me on a trip with Bera, my beautiful Italian friend Mario’s uncle. He took us on a fantastic hike to the ruined castle which is this awesome rock formation with an incredible 360 degree view!

 

 

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This is the view from their rooftop, perfect place to spend your evenings and nights, well and mornings and afternoons to be fair :pimage

and this is the view from the bathtub.. damn.. it got me thinking of moving in. Im on the waitlist!image

I had sent a request on couchsurfing whether someone wanted to take me rockclimbing and I was lucky to spend a couple days with Dave, this very relaxed laidback guy who truly enjoys living in the mountains, works at the outdoor education centre and was happy to find someone to climb with. We went climbing at the Dam Cliffs which gave us the opportunity to swim in this superidyllic place as well, climbing the rocks and jumping back in the water.

 

 

 

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Another day he took me up to Mount York where the first crossing of the mountains is celebrated and from where we had a fantastic view over the valley, where I had moved into in the meantime. This is his farm, right at the base of mount York 🙂

imageI stayed there with Andy, this fantastic independent, nature-loving, ever-smiling hippie with a piece of land in the Hartley valley, where the Kangaroos hop by in his garden every night. He’s got some fantastic Chinese Silky chickens (aren’t they the fluffiest?!),

imagehe keeps a wild pig as a pet (Miss Piggie is a fun fun pig :D),

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and started his orchard and veggie gardens: fresh raspberries for breakfast, yum! He lived in a treehouse for a year (great stories) and is thinking of building one in his trees, building a tipi, a greenhouse, many great dreams. His little collection of books are all books I would like to read (that usually doesnt happen) and his ideas of enjoying life very much coincide with mine. We were so much thinking alike that it was becoming a bit weird. Many times it happened he wanted to do something and I already did it or the other way around, or we stole the words from each others mouths. We completely agreed on so many things and especially on what is a good life and what is a good way to spend time together. His favourite sentence : ‘that’s a Sagittarius thing too’ :p. I never really got into astrology, because my twin brother with the same genes, the same upbringing and the same star signs is so very different from me. But apparently I am a very typical Sagittarius, I never knew!

A couple of traits that describe me very well are the following:

– Apparently Sagittarius-born are driven by an unbound curiosity, longing to learn anything and everything. Always seeking truth and wisdom, most Sagittarius do not take things at their face value. They take their own sweet time to form their opinions, and would not hesitate in asking embarrassing questions. They make good listeners. Usually they are impulsive and up for anything ‘new’, not afraid to take risks. They thrive on changes. And I just love change, that’s why I’m still travelling, never a boring day 😀 Sagittarius favours different tasks and dynamic atmosphere. Even in relationships Im always happy to meet new people, but when it comes to friends and family or when truly in love, I’m very loyal, faithful, dedicated (and romantic :D).

 

– It makes the Sagittarius one of the biggest travelers among all zodiac signs. Their open mind and philosophical view motivates them to wander around the world in search of the meaning of life. The philosopher and explorer within will go as far as road will go and explore every corner thoroughly in their ever eternal search for wisdom. Isn’t that exactly what I am doing?

 

– The Sagittarius understands Eckhardt Tolle’s message of the power of now very well (he was not Sagittarius though). Life is all about living in the moment. I don’t dwell in the past and learned this year not to plan too much for the future. I am here now and that’s all that counts. I used to live in the future, thinking about all the wonderful things to come, but I found they will come anyway and I have way more pleasure in enjoying what’s right here right now.

– Free as a bird. Freedom is my greatest treasure. Sagittarius are very independent. I really love to share, but I cannot be contained. Please don’t try to clip my wings. I have to feel like I have options. That’s why I have problems in relationships: I don’t do well with clingy people, feeling constraint, I have problems with commitment, really live in the here and now. Can’t I just love you now? Can’t we just enjoy today to the fullest, whatever happens tomorrow?

– We are known to be very optimistic and positive. Well, that describes me very very well. Always smiling! Sagittarius seem to be blessed with “natural good luck.”. Ive written about this before, I cannot believe how many good things are happening to me! Good fortune on my shoulder always somehow.. I also learned how to see hardships as positive things, teaching me lessons or having faith it is happening for a reason, which I will later understand. I learned to have huge faith that good things will happen tomorrow and the future carries good luck. And I try to spread this optimism and faith. I just love to smile, and make people smile and be happy. It’s contagious!

– Sagittarius are not emotional people and don’t like to talk about their emotions. It’s something I am always working on. They are easily hurt by a careless selfish action, they will be blue but turn it around pretty quickly with their naturally sunny disposition. They don’t dwell on hurt because it is a waste of their energy. So true! It is very very hard to upset me. But if you do I’m pretty good at forgiving and moving on.

 

– Apparently Sagittarius are very sincere. I sure am. I hold no secrets (see this blog) and find honesty very very important. I see no reason ever to be dishonest, waiste of my time. What I say is what I mean, I do not like mind games. I like straightforwardness and expect it in return. The clue is to be honest in a respectful way. I treat others the way I want to be treated and live life based on a ‘live and let live’ policy which makes me capable of getting along with just about anybody. Even though I have my opinions for my own life, I really try to be non-judgmental.

 

– And then there’s the idealistic part of the Sagittarius: They like to do their best to make the world a better place and a career that will do that is well suited for Sagittarius; they do not however like the fine details and mundane day to day routine; this bores them so they tend to procrastinate and let someone else deal with the details. Sagittarius are known to perform their best under pressure. This is all 100% me!

 

I find it intriguing how these traits describe me so well and intriguing how Andy has the same personality traits. Can we blame it on the moon? On the planets? I will have to start reading more about this (that’s my unbound curiousity talking :p) and ask people for their zodiac signs. Experiment started!

Since we are so similar Andy knew exactly how to fill the days to make them all perfect, one by one, just being, one with nature.

He took me on a couple of trips, one of which into the Megalong Valley (fantastic name!). Driving down there was like entering Jurassic Park again and I just hoped and prayed a dinosaur would show up. I kinda suspected Andy to secretely be a dinosaur in his heart.. He is so connected with the forest. He’s superknowledgable about all the plants and creatures and taught me a lot. One thing I learned is that Emus not only look like dinosaurs but sound like sounds from the past as well. There is this deep drumming from their chests I never heared before.

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It was fantastic to walk and cycle around with this happy smiling enjoying encyclopedia, I felt very privileged. I read and ask and experience and step by step Im gaining so incredible much information about the surroundings. Its fascinating and makes me so so happy! Time seemed to warp and run on another dimension up here. Every day was a feast and a perfect day again.

One of the days in the mountains, my sailing buddy Malcom even came up one day to share lunch and a little hike, so nice! There are so many wonderful hikes around that this area needs many years to explore, everyday there are so many possibilities, I wont be bored for a while 😉 And as I learn more about the nature, the natives, the plants, the trees, the wildlife I start to see more too! More details, more changes, more beauty.

The Blue Mountains only have one bicycle shop, which I would highly recommend anyone! The owner Tristan is a supernice guy who really took the time to listen, to advise me and in the end saved me a lot of money. I was told before and now under pressure of Matt and Scott I was convinced I wanted some clipless pedals to help me cycle over more and higher mountains. Sing with me: *Aint no mountain high enough!!* 😀 When Tristan showed up with a last pair of cycling shoes, so on sale, from the brand Tahoe (Scott was born and raised at lake Tahoe) I had to trust the signs and go for it. And Im happy I did! It makes cycling a lot easier! I still don’t really like the sensation of wearing shoes, but allright. So I bought some pedals too with clicks on the one side and Tristan shaved off the medal on the other side for me to ride barefooted (although he doesn’t agree with that :p). He even brought the pedals to the farm! It was on his way from his kids school to the shop, he said. Somehow he runs this great shop, he’s got a wife and two kids and he’s building a house, while setting the property up to one day become self-sustainable. Pretty amazing! I wish you all the best, Tristan.

 

Another day with Andy, after watering the plants and feeding the chooks and miss piggy we were off to our next adventure. This time we would drive down to Wollomi national park for a beautiful hike up to this old railway tunnel, which is now occupied by thousands of glowworms! It was absolutely incredible! I had never seen such a thing before. It was like looking at the stars, the little creatures forming constellations of their own. Unfortunately my camera was not equiped to capture this.. :/

imageCloser to the tunnel everything was more wet and the landscape changed drastically. First we were welcomed by these beautifully coloured gum trees.

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some with crazy scribbly patterns on them

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imageWho left their kids unattended in the forest with a pencil?!! Oh wait, its the scribbly gum moth.. These zigzag tracks are apparently made by moth larvae moving under the skin of tree, revealing the tracks as the old bark falls from the tree. Its like a lifeline in fact! Where the track starts the egg hatched and where it ends it pupated, sweet!

We found this absolutely amazingly curved cave, resembling an ocean wave barrel. Fascinating how nature makes these beauties.

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And slowly the dry gum tree forest started to change into a rainforest. I just love love love these wet rainforests and the tree ferns are my favourite! So beautiful! But to be fair, there are a lot of competitors out there 😉

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We found the perfect picnic spot to drink one of our many cups of tea (still an Englishman in heart), which reminds me of his teacup stating: You can cut all the flowers, but you cant stop spring from coming.. Thank you, Pablo Neruda 🙂 That day we ticked a lot of boxes of wildlife I had never seen before, but Andy managed to point them all out to me, it was another perfect day ❤ We snacked at this beautiful view

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and walked back with another perfect sunset

imageI feel so at home in the nature, so at peace, so one with her. And the signs all confirm we are exactly where we should be. When I asked Andy about his spirit animal he without hesitation told me it is the black cockatoo, isn’t she pretty?!.imageAt that same moment two black cockatoos crossed our path, that’s one hell of a confirmation! I love it when these things happen 😀 Another day when we were talking about them we saw a flock of seven cockatoos flying through the valley beneath us, seven being the divine number. Believe what you believe, I just think it’s magically beautiful and choose to be believe that all things happen for a reason and see beautiful signs out in nature everywhere. You just have to wear the right glasses and be aware of your surroundings to see them 😀

The drive to the park had taken us through the town of Lithgow which is basically pretty much a shithole with a lot of social problems and a big prison. Maybe I can find a job there?

Andy is making his money as a tree surgeon now and I got the opportunity to see him at work, high up in the deceased tree, taking it down. Pretty kickass!

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We shared lunch at the bottom, hoping it wouldn’t fall on our heads and I went out for a walk after.imageI made it to Witches Leap which is amazing.imageSee her face in the waterfall? Just before there was a big boulder with nice soft moss growing on it. I sat there for hours trying to talk to her 😀 On the path I saw my first lyrebirds,

imagewhich are pretty amazing creatures. Named after the greek instrument lyre, they are equipped to sing the most diverse songs, imitating other birds (and even car alarms and chainsaws!). They are beautiful too, with their long elegant tail feathers.

At Andys place I saw a lot of shooting stars and we spent a night outside by the fire; that’s life for me. He also has a bathtub outside, ready to be filled with hot water and essential oils, surrounded by some candles, to watch the (shooting) stars above you and hear the songs of the wind and the animals around. I started dreaming. Dreaming about living here and setting up a treehouse camping. Customers can lower down a basket with their wishes for breakfast and Ill be able to provide them with my own produce: honey from my bees, eggs, from my chickens, fermented drinks, preservatives, jams, veggies and fruit from the garden and orchard etc. I could take them out to explore the area, start a repair café, an outdoor cinema, a band stage, bicycle workshop, art classes etc. etc. My mind was superbusy with all these ideas, excitement and adrenalin pumping all the time! So far I had been living in the here and now, but I started to think of the future again. I felt so at home in the mountains 😀 Also, because Katoomba is a transition town, with lots of projects happening on sustainable living. There is a great music scene and lots of spirituality around. There are a couple of observatories and lots of climbing areas. I’ll find everything I’m looking for just around the corner! And if I really really want to go to the city, it will just take me two hours by train.

 

And I wanted to go to the city that weekend. It was time for Mardi Gras! I was going to celebrate the big gay and lesbian parade in the city with my chef Rafa. See if it’s any different from Amsterdam 😉 I cycled the hills down to Penrith (great ride!), past a bush fire (there are many here), and took the train into the city, where everybody was getting ready to party, all dressed up and all! It was a bit different from what I expected though since alcohol was not allowed and after the parade finished there were no parties in the streets whatsoever. You had to stand in long lines and pay huge entrance fees if you wanted to party. My friends were off to this party they payed 160 dollars for, I declined their invitation. Which meant we just watched the parade and walked the empty streets afterwards back home. We had a good view though and I enjoyed all the customs, the music, the dancing and the being with my friends.

 

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But I learned something I already knew, which is that these kind of events are not really my thing, especially when im just a spectator. I like small gatherings and festivals I guess. I was glad I came to the city though because the next day I spent all day at Bare Island which was hosting the Blak Market to support aboriginal culture, it was great! It started out with a traditional fire ceremony led by the Simmons family and traditional dancing by a couple of city boys that are thought to reconnect to their heritage, great!

 

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The sound of the didgeridoo (we should say Yidaki) is incredible and I was told superprecise. From experience I know the circular breathing is very hard (I tried it on the saxophone), but there is much more to it (even though many of us might not hear the subtle differences). Aboriginals sold beautiful art, books and very interesting to me: products of bush food! I learned about the highly nutritious pepperberry, lemon myrtle, bush tomato, wattleseed, cinnamon myrtle, aniseed myrtle, rosella, salt bush and finger lime. I talked hours with Vic Sherikoff, who is a professor in nutrition and just released a book about nutrition and the wild foods of Australia (highly recommended!).

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I also attended a native bee workshop and a plant workshop where Drew Roberts taught us about the multiple usages of some plants around the area.imageIt was a fascinating day and again already dark before I made it back to the mountains.

 

I was supposed to go on a gold and gemstone fossiking trip with Bill, this aboriginal guy who lives in the mountains. We were gonna do body painting, ceremonies and dreamtime story telling. And was very very excited for that! Unfortunately Bill got sick.. We kept in touch and I offered him my assistance if possible but he didn’t recover well enough in time to meet. So ill have to come back to see Bill!!

 

It meant I had a couple more days in the mountains though. Not so bad 😉 The first day both Andy and Scott had to work and Dave wasn’t available, so I contacted Maca who had offered to take me climbing up at mount York. This is him:

imageI didn’t know much about Maca but soon found out that he had been climbing these mountains for years and had become a real legend. At 53 years of age he ran up those cliffs, sometimes barefooted, like a mountaincat. When he took me up Mount York he introduced me to this whole community of climbers campjng up at the mountain, climbing, slacklining, getting most food from dumpsterdiving. Fantastic people! We had a wonderful day together, lots of laughs, great climbing and enjoyment all around. Maca told me he hadn’t had such a wonderful day in a long time, isn’t that beautiful? He really touched me and I was happy the universe had given me this chance to meet him.

 

The next days I spent with Andy. He took me to the botanic garden on Mount Tomah, where we enjoyed our home made lunch right in front of the famous Wollemi pine,

imagepreviously only known through fossil records, the oldest dated to 200 and the youngest to 2 million years ago. It was unexpectedly discovered right here in the temperate rainforest of Wollemi national park in 1994! It was exciting for the whole botanist community, a dinosaur tree, a living fossil! To protect it, the location is still undisclosed to the public. There’s magic in the mountains all around!

Time got warped again and we suddenly realized we had to be quick to be back in town in time for Andy to get to the bank. Maybe it was the energy of the Wollemi pine, but we succeeded in an experiment in the law of attraction. Andy worried he wasn’t gonna make it, and to be fair, all odds were against us. But I told him to have faith. If you focus on not making it, we might as well have stayed in the park a little longer. So we chose to assume and accept that we would be in time or something would happen for the bank to close later today. This positive attitude worked! When we got the bank the sign said closed, but the lady was willing to help Andy anyways! And the story didn’t stop here. We drove back to the farm and decided we would have to stop at one of the beautiful lookouts to see the sunset (never miss it if you don’t have to 😉 ). Driving there it started raining. Something we had been wishing for in days, it had been too dry and hot. Miss Piggy wasn’t happy, the plants weren’t happy, the mountains needed some rain. And finally the clouds broke open! I excitedly opened the window, stuck my head out and thanked the clouds by yelling yoohooooooo! All wet but too excited to be cold we rushed to the lookout, again not sure if we were gonna make it in time, but full of faith. All of a sudden I screamed and Andy anxiously turned his head. There was a beautiful, colourful, amazing, DOUBLE rainbow! We just had to stop and enjoy this crazy wonder of nature!

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Quick, back in the car! And of course we made it in time for the most beautiful sunset.

imageimageWe couldn’t believe this was all happening and we joked that it could only be more perfect if we would see some lighting. So that’s what happened…. Say what??!!! Yeah, it really happened! Standing in the rain on this boulder at the edge of the colourful sandstone cliffs the blue mountains are made of, the rainbows on the east, the sunset on the west and just one strike of perfect lightning right in front of us in the south. Couldn’t be more perfect. Wealth is not in possessions, wealth is in nature, in being alive. Natura non tlincitur nisi parendo – nature is not to be commanded except by obeying. And we should be humble, thankful that she gives us all we need. We need to honor and celebrate that. Party! This is God, this is perfection, this is pure happiness for me.

This law of attraction I call “Fake it until you make it!”. Very easy, just pretend you already have what you wish for and you increase your chances of it actually happening 😀 I love it!

 

Unfortunately I met many many people who seem to have lots the faith they had as carefree children and now focus on the negative. It’s a very human tendency, but it is so destructive. Out of all the people I met I can only name a handful that seemed to be truly happy with their lives, not complaining. I am who I am and hopefully inspire some to send out more positive vibes. Take responsibility for what you created in your life and always aim for the moon, for even if you fail, you will land among the stars 🙂 Acknowledge how you might have influenced some bad things in your life, learn to crawl and be prepared to walk, humble but with your back straight. For everything is connected. That what you think impacts how you feel, which impacts how your body reacts, which impacts how others react to you etc. Every time we experience an emotion we not only affect every part of our own body, we also affect everyone around us, some believe even the entire planet, the entire universe. And to some level the effect things have on us whether negative or positive, is a matter of choice, how we choose to perceive the situation.

That doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. There are perfectly good reasons for negative emotions. Like when survival is at stake fear and anger are appropriate. But unfortunately many people feel fear and anger in situations when it is neither useful nor appropriate. In fact fear and especially fear of change is a big problem among mankind, which also runs in my family..

 

The next day I put all my trust in Andy as he walked me through the forests of Mount York where I would have been completely lost without his guidance. We encountered many amazing natural structures, like these humonguous ant hills almost as big as I am. Isn’t it amazing the little guys make them out of dirt, their own saliva and castings?

We also encountered some wombat holes which can go as deep as 30 meters and contain several chambers, quite the structures! Sometimes children crawl in them and get trapped or killed by the wombats.. :/ so be careful! And the coolest thing in the forest were all these gigantic vines reaching meters up in the air to hold on to the canopy, providing us fantastic swings 😀

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So we swung. We pushed each other and were four year old again. I felt like bushfairy and could have kept swinging all day. But we were on a mission! We were on our way to this beautiful dam where many birds showed up to welcome us, where a leach gave me a good strong kiss when we swam with him and where we caught our dinner for that night 😀

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I had been digging for worms in Andy’s compost pile that morning and the carps just loved them :p I feel very uncomfortable killing animals, but when it is to eat them Im quite ok. It made me think about starting to fish more on my travels. It would be a good surplus to my vegetarian diet. At home we made our own version of the fish and chips you see advertised everywhere in Australia. Carp with fingerlime and roasted sweet potato from the oven. Delicious!

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We could have kept going enjoying beautiful days like these, but it was time for me to move on. The kangaroo valley was waiting for me. I made good friends though and it felt heartwarming to know that I would see all of them again once I would return to the mountains. I would just leave them for a short little while, that was all J Andy bought a ticket for the Folk Festival I would attend in Canberra two weeks later and Scott I would see that night at the celebration of the Twelve Tribe community down in Picton. I had met them in their common ground in Katoomba where they run the Yellow Deli café, which looks like a treehouse from the inside with all different little corners to sit and enjoy the delicious healthy homegrown foods. The tribe tells the world to be kind and gentle, to love and show compassion. They seem to me a mix between Christianity and Judaism and I seem to agree with a lot of their beliefs. The community invites anyone interested to come and celebrate the beginning of Sabbath with them. It involved speeches, singing, dancing, music and more delicious food 🙂 By the examples they told us it seemed to me they really practiced what they preach and I felt very warmly welcomed and I saw the kindness expressed by everyone. Scott and I camped that night and joined them for the morning celebration and breakfast at their beautiful farm down the road, apparently home to many many many many waterdragons, hello guys! :D.

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I ended up staying almost all day talking to different members and some volunteers, discovering what their community is all about. And I was pleasantly surprised. I would be interested to come back and spend some more time with them. Of course I discovered some beliefs I didn’t quite agree with as well and I am in no means interested to join them, or for that fact any other kind of community, it’s not what I believe in 😉 I want to be part of the outer world, not retreat from it. The fact that they answered all my questions by saying ‘we believe’ instead of ‘I believe’ scares me, there seems to be no room for individuality or the slightest difference in opinion. But I was grateful for their welcome and it boosted my faith that more people believe and spread the word that we should be kind and gentle and forgiving and loving and helping, even in the worst situations. I left the farm with warmth in my heart and made my way down to Kangaroo Valley where I would arrive two days later.

Back on the bike again, yeay 😀 It felt so good, so natural, so free. I was superhappy to get my wheels rolling again. I guess I missed this me-time. There was some good amount of adrenalin pumping through my veins once I had said goodbye and headed south for new adventures. I enjoy this way of travelling without polluting my environment, the slow pace, the living outside, the not really knowing what’s to come, not caring what day it is or what time even, the trust I have gained by now that difficult situations always dovetail into good things, the physical exercise, the mental liberation, the oneness with everything around you, the beauties around each corner and in every persons eyes, the understanding that possessions equal complications, the un-selfconsciousness of travelling without clean clothes, without a mirror.. I finally threw out the last piece of make-up I was carrying: mascara, but didn’t use in so many months. Im not carrying shampoo, creams, or any off the stuff marketing makes you believe you need. Just a bit of soap (organic!) is enough. Im (not fanatically, dont worry) avoiding all chemicals inside my body, but also on the outside (have you read the labels on your beauty products lately, terrifying isn’t it?). The natural way of living is becoming more and more natural to me. Makes so much sense and feels so good. So uncomplicated and liberating. The next step is to learn how to get my food and medicine from nature as well, or at least part of it. So Im learning all the names of the plants and the animals and their possible purpose. I feel the oneness in everything again. And was once again pleasantly surprised by this couple who offered me a bed and shower in the house after I had asked them to pitch my tent in their garden 🙂

After visiting the beautiful Fitzroy falls area

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after being warned about wombats

imageI pushed my bike up a steep hill, welcomed by two curious alpacas and a horse,imageimageto find Peter waiting for me. We were meant to meet. I was meant to be here at exactly this time. I was supposed to arrive hours later but somehow Peter had sensed I would be there soon. It was the first of many similarities we would discover. From the first second I felt at peace at the beautiful farm overlooking the valley in the midst of nothing but nature. My body was happy to be here. And collapsed. There was an illness in me waiting to come out and this was the time..

Peter had been feeling pain and discomfort in his left jaw for the last week and that was exactly where my pain went crazy. The whole left side of my face blew up like a balloon and the pain was unbearable. I couldnt eat or talk, but the worst thing was, I couldnt smile!imageMy educated guess was that the growing of my wisdom tooth (in the wrong direction) was pushing against my gums which had allowed bacteria to enter and inflammate. Peters pain vanished the moment I arrived. Our spiritual diagnose was that I needed to rest some time and this was my body telling me to do just that. Peter was supernice and told me many times he was happy to have me, that I was at the right place and that he actually enjoyed taking care of me. And it wasn’t just words, I felt it. There is so much kindness in the world!

Peter is a superwarm, gentle ex-professor who now lives from his biodynamic farm with some vegetables, macadamias, green tea and approx. 100 cows.imageimageHe has always been involved in the aboriginal communities and I was lucky to meet this amazing woman from Arnhemland – Badunbil- with her two grandsons, staying with Peter. Badunbil is a weaving master

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and many more things. Her two twelve year old grandsons (twins) are pretty amazing as well. I’ll tell you all about it in my next blog once I figured out what is ok to share and what is just for me..

 

 

 

Australia part 2: farming at the northern beaches

 

Farming

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 hilariousimageWe 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,

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chickens,

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the fish

imageand all the veggies and plants.

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imagecorn:

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Passionfruit:

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peppers:

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We made compost

imageand 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,

imagethe beans and all the greens, we made a lot of baba ganoush from the eggplants,

imagepesto from the mint and other herbs, we harvested fresh salad from the microgreens,

imagethe salad mixes and the chard and silverbeet everyday for lunch (so lucky!),

imageI 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…

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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.

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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..

imageFull 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!!!),

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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.

imageYou 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

Bees

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 😉

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imageSo smart to make windows with a thermometer inside of your hive so you can check on them with minimal disturbance:

imageimageJean-Claude took me and Chris to a field day at the beekeepers association where we harvested honey, yippie!

imageWe cut the comb from the frames with an electrical knife

imagebefore extracting the honey by spinning the frames in this machine.

imageFor extracting from the Warre-hive

imageJJ 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..’ 😉

Aquaponics

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.

 

Chickens

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

imageor at the ocean pool just around the headland at Newport beach, finding cute shelters n the scrumble there 🙂image(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

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and enjoying the beauty of the way back up every time. Where you see the sun is where the house was 🙂

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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!

imageBut 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..image

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.image

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imageThere 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..image

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!

image 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!

imageAnd beautiful flowers everywhere 🙂 I wish you could smell them!

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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.image

imageMy 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! imageimage

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

imageand we could see the lighthouse at the top of Palm Beach where we cycled and hiked before.imageimageWe found some aboriginal remnants along the tracks.

imageimageThe 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:

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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!

imageWe 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!

imageIt 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.

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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.imageThe 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!

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wow 😀 That was where I wanted to sleep ! We managed to squeeze my tent under it 🙂imageIt was right next to the river and look at this view ❤

imageIt inspired me to start making dreamcatchers myself.imageChris 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?imageShe 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:

  1. 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”
  2. 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”
  3. 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”
  4. 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
  5. 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!

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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.

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Pink bananas 😀 not edible, too pretty!

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  • the famous tea tree:
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  • zebra plant
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  • and the famous romance tree :p
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We learned about the magic of verns:

imageand the edibility of the waterlillies as great bush tucker

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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.imageAt the observatory a time ball still drops every day at 1 pm to indicate the time.imageBefore 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.imageThe 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!!imageHistorically 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!

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Sydney

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 🙂

imageMatt took me out on little bike rides around the numerous gorgeous bays, we did some cliff jumping and swimming:

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imageimageand explored some old fortresses with great graffiti:

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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.