Australia part 5: adventures between Sydney to Dignams creek

 

I left Andy behind in Sydney, I needed to get to my appointment with my cartoon-figure-like surgeon Dr. Vickers.

 

In the hassle of getting up very very early in the big city to catch a train to Nowra I left my helmet and bikelock behind. Shit! Cycling without a helmet is dangerous, mostly because of the heavy fines. And the bike lock I needed if I was to go to the doctors office, not wanting to leave my bike and all my gear outside for anyone to grab. I usually do that anywhere, but not in city centres. I didn’t think about it too much, trusting the universe would work something out, as she always does. And again, bam! She sent me a man on the train who started to talk to me about my bike and the journey I was on. Alan happened to be a criminal lawyer, running a back forest retreat north of Nowra and invited me to come spend the night at one of his cottages for free, amazing! When he heared about my helmet he decided to drive me to the doctor and back to his place, lending me an old helmet for my onwards journey, so nice :D. There was no arguing. Wow, was I glad he invited me! He told me stories about the aboriginals around, and I discovered all the town along my way mean something in aboriginal language. For instance, Nowra means black cockatoo, which explains to me the huge amount of she-oaks I had seen around: it is their favourite tree 🙂 He showed me this beautiful painting on the side of the library and then took me home.
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He lives beautifully on the north side of the river with distant views over country and forest.
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Beautiful flowers in his yard! I helped him harvest feijoas (pineapple guavas) and strawberry guavas, delicious!! I was so caught up in the harvesting though that I didn’t see the redbelly black snake I stepped upon with my bare feet. I felt something wet crawling over my foot and when I looked down and lifted my foot it quickly moved away. It was more afraid of me then the other way around, I was just amazed by this beautiful creature! I had seen many of them around but never from this close 🙂 Again, privileged to be able to feel the animal on my skin. We fed the sheep and said hi to the alpaca, went on a little bikeride around the beautiful area and spend a lovely night with him and his wife Naomi, who was very kind and lovely. Very open-hearted warm people. What a pleasure to be there! The cottage I was staying in was build with passive solar design. The first of many I was to see in Australia. It is such an incredibly simple and smart concept, that it made me realize that besides the food industry the building industry is an area we went completely wrong and where there is much to gain in the world. The passive solar principle is a way of building to maximize sustainable design. The front window faces north to let in the winter sun and wide eaves block the summer heat. The cottages are constructed of mud brick and there is woolen insulation in the ceilings. Mud bricks provide a high thermal mass to store heat and smooth out the day-night temperature variation. The posts and beams were built out of termite-resistant native cypress and the ceiling was plantation pine. There are obviously other ways to build sustainably but this was a good start of my knowledge. It’s not just about building with natural materials, preferably from onsite (mud or rammed earth) and using native timbre but also about designing the house in such a way that you hardly need resources to sustain it: a clever design to let in winter sun and block summer heat, allow for natural ventilation and air conditioning and run the house on solar power, including solar heated water; water being harvested from the rooftop. Off-grid and very comfortable and beautiful. Grow your own food and be kind to the world and there you go, that’s all you need! Everything else is extra 🙂 Music for example.. He got me onto this beautiful song by Scott Cook, called Pass it along. He sings about how we don’t own anything in this world, we just borrow it and it will pass on to other hands after us. So better take good care of it. That’s what I’m trying to do 😉

 

The next day I was free as a bird again. No more appointments with doctors. I was declared healthy and dr. Vickers assured me my energy would slowly come back. I just had to take it easy. So after delicious feijoa and celery juice and an elaborate breakfast with smoked salmon and eggs on toast, I got on my heavy loaded bicycle to cycle down south to make it to the Crossing outdoor education centre to assist at their permaculture course :p I was so exhausted I wasn’t sure I was going to make it, but off I went. Adventure awaiting me again! Oh the wind in my hair and my feet on the pedals again out into the unknown, sooooooo nice 😀 😀

Even though I realize cycling in Australia is not quite as enjoyable as cycling in Europe: it’s much harder to keep off the highways, there’s less mountains, there are long stretches of similar surroundings (although I’m learning to see more and more detail and thus differences in microclimates) and always lots of cars on the roads. In this part of Australia that is of course, since I haven’t seen any other areas yet. But I enjoy the bicycle as a means of transport anyways and sing out loud and smile and wave 🙂 When I rest I play my guitar and sing, so happy I bought and brought it!

I arranged a warmshower host down at Conjola lake and was welcomed very warmly by Saul and his parents, after I had gotten excited when seeing the lake and rode past the house directly to the water to jump in, whoohoooooo I’m Aliiiiiivvveeee 😀 Beautiful pristine blue water with green forest surrounding it, no one on it. Well, that’s what I thought, until a fishermens boat came around the corner while I was just drying my naked body in the sun, ‘Hi guys’ :p Isnt it great to jump in the cold water naked? I ditched my swimmers and find myself still jumping in the ocean in winter, so reviving! Whoohoo!!

 

Anyways, after a bit of chilling there with PIP magazine (great stuff!)
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I cycled back to Saul’s house and rang the doorbell after admiring the beautiful flowers on his tree in the front yard, it’s the flower of new south wales, the waratah, what a beauty! A big man with bright shining blue eyes opened the door and we hugged. Some people are a bit distant when you meet them but some just have this incredible positive energy around them, ‘hug me’ written on their forehead. Saul was one of them. He was in the midst of rebuilding his house and working on a veggie patch in the backyard with his amazing parents. It was inspiring to see how well he got along with his parents, they love and respect each other so much. I felt privileged again to be part of this beautiful life for two days. Again it made me miss my dad. He is such a beautiful person and I have so much love to give him in ways I wasn’t able to before, distracted by life, I would like to make up for that and enjoy every second we could still be together. But then again, the universe directed me here and I have another path to follow right now. Im sending him my love through the stars every night though. Im on a journey travelling closer to the essence of life everyday, getting inspired by everyone I meet. Now it is Saul. He is a passionate mountainbiker and was just about to head off for an adventure taking a couple of kids on a couple day trip around Kangaroo Valley and getting paid for it, what a job! good on you, Saul 😀

Walking back after a nice dinner with Saul’s parents that night we strolled down this little warfh at the lake and put our feet in the water, and wow, magic, the water lit up! As I moved my feet all these little fluorescent glow in the dark spots appeared on the surface. I was flabbergasted and amazed. Never had I seen such beauty. It was like constellations in the water. I had seen stars in the sky, I had seen them in the glowwormtunnel and now in the water. Whoohoo! I think they are called Sylica (but Im not sure, if you know, tell me please ;)). I could have spent all night right there at that spot, it was beautiful 😀

Eventually we headed back though getting a good nights rest to get ready for another beautiful day, which started amazing. Sauls parents (in their seventies!) brought out the boat to go wakeboarding with us at the lake. Hahahahaha can you believe it? What a way to start the day! It had been a while since I had been on a wakeboard and I never did it behind a boat, I had a blast! Took me a bit to be able to stand up, but once I had that figured out it was absolutely incredible. My legs supersore and tired, but I didn’t want to stop 😀 It was amazing to see his parents enjoy it too and on the way back Saul and I each grabbed a rope and wakeboarded back home splashing each other and sometimes even holding hands.
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Whahahahaaaaaaaaaa screaming from the depths of my longs, life is gooooood 😀 There was no-one else on these beautiful waters except some pelicans coming to greet us: good morning fellows 😀

That day Saul showed me the beach,
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the cute little town of Milton (loved it) and took me hiking up Pigeonhouse mountain, wow! It was incredible, absolutely stunning.
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Enjoying the sunset on the way back, thank you grandfather son!
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I just love love love hiking , especially up mountains. Look at this view, almost unbelievable 😉 I should get rid of that word from my vocabulary though, because Im starting to believe more and more in the beauty of this planet, it is real and Im part of it and so very grateful for that! Or maybe it is not real, I don’t care, it would be a beautiful dream..

There is still lots of beautiful nature and adventure to discover around this area and to enjoy with bright-eyed Saul, but I had to move on. Ill be back 😀 I managed to squeeze in just one more little adventure the next morning though :p Sauls parents were besides wakeboarders also go-kart racers, travelling around the whole country with their little go kart in the trialer, amazing! But they also were part of the moruya dragonboat racers. I never heared of such a thing and they invited me to come along for the training the next morning. Of course I said Yes to that 🙂

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Wow, that was though! I was the youngest but had a hard time keeping up with the twenty people in the boat rowing their lungs out up and down the river. Hihi, it’s not something I aspire to do more often but it was a fun experience for sure! On the way back they dropped me at Batemans Bay so I could cycle along the coast down south. It was only ten o’clock in the morning but I was already exhausted so I decided to just take it slooowwwww like a slug and see how far my legs would carry me. The coastline was beautiful. Quiet roads and amazing beaches and forests all along the way.

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At some point, close to Broulee, I stopped to admire this beautiful old tree, gated and with a sign.
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A huge piece was taken out of the tree and I read that all along the coast you will find trees like this, for the aboriginals cut out the bark to make canoes. I started to notice them more and more, but never as big as this one, what a beauty! A black raven had landed right next to me while I was admiring the tree and it kept hopping around me for more than ten minutes, as if it was trying to tell me something. I tried to listen but couldn’t work it out. I started talking to my new flying friend when a car pulled over to ask me if I ask was allright. Hahaha I said yes, but opinions might differ 😉

 

I told the suited man in his old ute I was just admiring this amazing tree, which started a conversation. This ex-buddhist, now Jehova’s witness apparently just got back from the Kingdom hall and I was interested to hear what he had to tell. After talking for about ten minutes on the side of the road he invited me to this house to use his shower and maybe sleep in the garden if I wanted. I was exhausted and welcomed that offer. Marc was a bit reluctant at first (because of his religion) but we got along so well that I ended up staying another day. At home he got out of his suit and into his old wrecked working clothes and turned out to be a humble gardener into permaculture, building beautiful rustic design furniture, growing veggies, cooking all meals over the open fire outside,
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enjoying the stars and very much enjoying the simple life. We went for a walk to the beach
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and he took me on a daytrip through the beautiful mountains out west. It was amazing!
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imageEye to eye with a wombat

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and even a wild pig came to visit us! Ran off as soon as he saw us though :p

We had lots to talk about. I told him about the Back to Eden projects in the states (http://www.backtoedenfilm.com/): great permaculturist gardeners using bible verses to back up their believes, very inspiring: God is a gardener! One subject I always find very interesting and want to hear everybody’s opinion about is love. He showed me a beautiful verse from the bible:

 

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag, does not get puffed up, does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (Corithians 13:4-13:7)

This is what love is about. Unconditionally. Unlimited. It’s not easy to live by, but sure worth trying. No matter how dark things sometimes seem to be, there is hope always; as Leonard Cohen says: “There is a crack in everything….that’s how the light gets in.” And we’re spreading that light!

 

The next day we loaded up the kayaks and went for a paddle on Congo river. Haha I’d seen the victoria falls in the blue mountains, they were nothing like the ones I have seen in Zimbabwe! And now the Congo river.. what to expect? We arrived at a little campsite close to the beach, where we let the kayak enter the water. We paddled all the way upstream as far as we could go. It was beautiful.
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Seeing the forest around you from the water is a beautiful experience. We saw the landscape change and appreciated all microclimates we encountered. There were lots of gums, she-oaks, native cherries, ferns etc. Sometimes an eagle flew over our heads and all the way these incredibly beautiful bright blue kingfishers flew ahead of us, as if they were leading our way. They are pretty rare and absolutely stunning, it was the highlight of the trip for me 😉 Where we couldn’t go any further
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the kingfisher flew into a tree and I climbed it to get closer
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Paddling in these areas, with the occasional obstacle to overcome was very peaceful and joy filled my heart once again. Life is great! Such luck that this man stopped his car and shared this journey with me. And it kept getting better J When we finally made it back to the inlet we discovered the estuary was full of oysters. We harvested a couple and enjoyed them on the beach, while enjoying the sunset.

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Can a day be more perfect? Very magical. Marc dropped me off at my next host, a couchsurfer. I know I’m cheating but I was just too exhausted to cycle long distances so this help was welcomed very warmly. Seb, working for national parks and wanting to be a firefighter hosted me in his apartment in Narooma the next day although he was at work himself. I got to explore the surroundings by myself without luggage, yeay 😀 I cycled to the pier
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where I admired Australia rock
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and watched a couple seals dancing in the waters.
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The beautiful waters also hosted lots of pelicans, drawn to the fish guts and skins the fishermen threw back in the water.
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Lots of animal activity to watch and enjoy 😀 I cycled this amazing bridge and the boardwalk around the headland
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and the cyclepath all the way to Dalmeny, which just opened last year after begin completed solely by volunteers, incredible! Well done, guys. I enjoyed the headlands, the beaches, the eagles, the wannabe eagle (paramotor), the wetland birds, the kangaroo grass (never knew I could be attracted to a kind of grass :p), singing out loud and wishing everyone a wonderful day. I slowly made it back to Narooma and spend some time on the west side of town in the stunning Forsters bay.
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Clear blue waters as far as the eye can see. Peaceful serenity. I spent a bit of time at the shops where there was free wifi to catch up with some friends and family and discussed the practice of deliberate bush burnings with my host Seb. Im learning more and more about the way aboriginals were managing the forest, about what they once looked like and what is the best way to manage: thinning out the regrowth and letting the big mama trees florish, occasional controlled burning on cold days in mosaic patterns to reduce fire hazards (a big problem in this country!), ringbarking and using the wood for local practices (which strangly is not a habit at all at the moment). We humans have the power to improve these forests tremendously and I feel like we have the obligation to do just that. Let them thrive! It’s too beautiful J Im very much in love with all the treeferns around, they seem to me like guardians, like sisters, like warm guides on my journey. I take off my imaginary hat and greet them with poise and grace, as they deserve.

From the wonderful town of Narooma (great holiday destination) I started my last day on the bicycle to arrive at the Crossing outdoor education centre that night.
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Passing the cute little town of Tilba, which is absolutely worth a visit.

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I cycled into Bermagui and passed a hippie/regae kindof café which looked great, so I stepped in and had a little chat with the owner Matt. Not knowing we would become friends and go on great adventures later. He told me about the open mic nights on Fridays and invited me to come, I was looking forward to that! I cycled onwards to the visitor information centre when a lady came running out of the Gelato shop. Simone is a longdistance cyclist and saw me and just wanted to come and say hello J We chatted for a bit and she gave me her number to maybe go on cycling adventures after the course had finished. She told me how to get to the Crossing and I cycled up and down the dirtroads, into the forests, not sure I was on the right path, occasionally choking on the dirt after a car had passed. I arrived though and immediately fell in love. A beautiful permaculture property in the middle of the bush,
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vegetable gardens, orchards, pastures, a river, chooks and a goose (Henrietta, isn’t that a great name for a goose?!), a train carriage for the guests to sleep in, an old bus turned into the owners house
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and a big structure to host all events, including a big kitchen with everything you might need. Yeay! I like it 😀 Dean and Annette just came home when I was strawling around and welcomed me with a hug. Annette and I hit it off right away (she’s clearly a sagitarius too) and we had a great time cooking for the students. I got to sit in on a couple of the classes,
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went on a field day with the group
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and helped Dean prepare the things to make no dig gardening beds. The students were amazing, just like I remember my permaculture design course in Bulgaria, like a family and even though I had not been there for the first week I was part of the family right away. I learned so much again! And felt like I was redirected. This is the path I want to walk, this is the way I want to go, Together with beautiful people who all want to make the world an even better place through love and harmony, through working together and sharing, through appreciating the simple things in life and striving for the best. We are not just surviving, we are thriving and want everybody to thrive with us!

 

I learned heaps of practical stuff like how to collect water through building dams, collecting from rivers and rooftops, how to filter greywater through reedbeds, how to build houses with natural materials, how to improve soils, which plants acoompany which, how to save seeds, how to deal with weeds etc. etc. The list is endless. And I realize that I have been on the right path all along. I have no desire at the moment to run my own place, to build a self-sustainable living. I enjoy very much going around to peoples properties, helping out wehre I can. In a reciprocal relationship where I learn a lot and share my knowledge, my love and hard work where I can. Spreading the seeds I’d say. And through the reactions from all the people I met I know I’m doing the right thing, changing lives for the better. Better of the earth and better of themselves. Go organic, start growing food or support those who do it organically, live simpler, let go of possessions (they’ll posess you), be kind and loving always and to everyone, work together, build community, enjoy nature etc. It’s easy to have a fuller and richer life if you cut out the bullshit and find your way back to your essence, to your heart. And share that joy. Life is beautiful and I celebrate it everyday, being extremely grateful to be part of another perfect day 😀

At the crossing I met many interesting wonderful people I would go and visit in the next weeks. The first one would be Nick. I heared the students all being very impressed with his lush and abundant property, his exciting energized cheerful personality and his incredible Kenian topbar beehives. I was on a mission to get myself on top of the list to come WWOOF at his place. Well, it was a fairly easy mission, since Annette decided I would be perfect for the job and praised me to Nick 😉 I just had to bring my new dear beautiful half-Maori friend Shardae with me as well. A drink by the fire and Nick was convinced 🙂 We were off! I could write an entire book about the happenings at the crossing that one week I was there, but Ill leave it to this saying it was beautiful and incredible and mostly very inspiring. I would highly recommend everyone to do a permaculture course, it will change your life forever. Every step you take will be weighted on three ethics: earth care, people care, fair share. So important, and so often forgotten. There is so much love in it though, and positive energy. People are warm and welcoming and willing to share all to make everybodys life better. So beautiful ❤ I’m in!

 

So after the final party, representing all the permaculture gurus from the area Shardae and I were off to Nicks paradise. And wow, all the praise I had heared before was justified. I’ll tell you about it in the next post!

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