The Silence

Byron Bay

The silence isn’t designed to let you brood.

It is to give you space to listen, look into your heart and listen.

~

wise words by Tess Evans ‘The Book of Lost Threads’

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Chillagoe Queensland

 

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we seek a new adventure in the West country 200km  from Cairns, some warm and dry and open bush. dry out our lungs and explore the limestone caves in the Chillagoe Mungana national park. 

 A retrospective post.

Remembering Chillagoe region, inland, tablelands, North Queensland; August 2013

castles of stone

caves, crevices, dust, marble bones

choking dust

bleak heat

dreamtime vista

turquoise mineral spring bathing sancturary

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there are long bumpy stretches of dirt road which we have to take at 10-20km an hour as we are heavily loaded with extra timber, 100lt water and 80 ltr of fuel, never mind the brain splitting rattling of our 4 tonne home… it’s torturous for me as driver on this hot hot day, and i rage internally {and a little externally} and finally retreat to the bed with sunglasses on as Jesse takes over the wheel. it is my least favorite endurance of this adventurous life. hot travel with no swimming respite in sight, cranky tired hot and bothered children… {be forewarned, i am going to bang on alot about how hot this trip was!}IMG_2422

gathering firewood roadside on the trip in. I am stunned by the dry midday heat, the starkness of sky and and bleached colors after weeks in the lush coastal regions. it is familiar from my childhood in WA and a little part of me also relishes the crackle of crisped leaves and bark underfoot and the open bush and ant trails. epic sky and thin shade kissed by eucalypt breeze

we fill the floor space with perfect dry hardwood for campfires, it’s awkward sweaty hauling but we focus on the enjoyment of fire gazing and cooking. Jesse finds some perfect straight Mulga for making rhythm sticks.

and then we are arriving into tiny Chillagoe township looking for the Eco Lodge as we hear it boasts a small observatory and resident astronomer {part of our attraction to come to this open sky country} a population of about 250. with fluctuating tourism nodded to by the 4 campgrounds. there is a more private camp ground on a property right on the creek near the airport, but the caretaker is ill.

we are simply  heat shocked and wondering what the hell we are doing here!

im ecstatic to here there’s a swimming hole near town.

turns out to be a lovely shady deep spring fed hole. phew. everyone is refreshed quickly and it all seems worthwhile and copeable. is that a word? the rocks are amazing!

IMG_2414 IMG_2413the swimming hole becomes our base for half of each day we spend in the area. i sit by the water and understand how the indigenous mob survived out here, in the shade by water is the only place to be in a lot of Australia on the hot days. if there’s water…

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we visit some caves and do some short walks. we skip the guided tours in to the deeper caves. {i’m quietly glad the children give me the excuse for this as it frightens me just a little} finding ourselves alone in some huge caverns, sitting on besmoothed stones and watching captured sunlight glittering the dust moats is surprising and awe-some. singing and didging and echoing in the tumbled caves, it’s good to be together in a cave. a new experience.

the rock formations and the self guided caves are striking enough to fulfill our rocky quest.

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i awake on the second day better adapted to the climate and find gradually heating with the rising sun easier than driving into the hot midday from the coast.

we monkey around at the old train station near the campground in the twilight. there are great mobs of wallabies. this was a rare campground stay. we usually find independant camping or stay on properties. we want to experience the astronomy session in the evening however, and it’s simply so appealing to have access to water. we claim the little patch of grass out the front of the Eco lodge. Cedar declares the sprinkler his truck wash.

the session at the observatory is inspirational and full of facts and numbers and anecdotes. i saw Saturn and it’s rings! and two of it’s twenty something moons! it really does look like those funny colour drawings from school books! it sparks many wonder-full conversations about life, other life, gallaxies, stars, moons, space travel, wonderment, constellations, feeling small, feeling big, feeling like a speck, how time and space move and are measured….

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Have you ever roasted a whole pumpkin in the coals?IMG_0009

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before you go to bed, make a nest in the coals and ashes and plop in a really great pumpkin; cover it with a good blanket of ash and coals and you’re all ready for bed; uncover your golden treasure in the morning! we used a Japanese variety here; the more ripe and good your pumpkin the better caramelized result you will have!

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Enjoy your roast pumpkin in many attitudes; here a savory delight but previously it’s been breakfast on pancakes with maple syrup and cream! decadence!

and here is a proof I’m not some super unrealistic lady who can’t do wrong. {just in case anyone wondered; as Jesse pointed out it’s easy to falsely represent myself here on an edited blog}  burnt food is one of my occasional talents! i am a bit dreamy{creative} at times and become absorbed in other activities, than watching the meal cook!! oops. still good. just cut off the charcoal…. I have been banned from using the toaster and cooking rice in a previous life…IMG_0024

Lily spent the first morning engaged in making a flower fairy palace from bark, sticks, marble chunks and flowers. unfortunately she built her house on the sand {the mat} and it had to go down with the packup tide. rebuilt in the bushes and a learning about how to choose a safe site to build…IMG_0022

our last night, we left the township of Chillagoe and visited a more secluded cave with relatively intact Indigenous paintings. The energy of this place was strong and beautiful. We spent the afternoon and gloaming in the cave watching the changing light and dreaming of life as a tribe in the caves, in this remarkable landscape.

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Discussing how and where and what and why was a rich experience. The children chose their rock beds and imagined where the fire was and how we would use the cave and how many people would share it and so on. I realised how little i know of the nomadic tribal culture in Australia, how disconnected i feel at times from the cultural history of this land I was born in. Sadness arising for what is lost now. the questions i’ll never know answers to.  noticing the discomfort i can experience when I am in company of people of culture because i don’t have many reference points. and ultimately I’m a white fella and there is a massive burden of racism and tragedy between us. at other times it just naturally is and I’m connecting with ease and humour. often the children break the ice and connecting through play is a gift.IMG_0090

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the open verandah effect of the cave creates an empowering view over vast land. a safe standpoint.IMG_0094 IMG_0109 IMG_0102 IMG_0113

i awoke to didgeridoo echoes across the land from the cave above at sunrise. when i return from my solo adventure to the cave i am met by singing and music. thankyou Jesse you bring melody to my life.IMG_0133

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there are many old marble quarries in the Chillagoe area. many massive blocks have been lifted out and left on the red dust like a giant’s play blocks. We stop at one of the quarries on the way back East. {some conspiracy about bleeding away private money…} we met an epic conspir-ollogist our here! wowzers.IMG_0156 IMG_0153 IMG_0175 IMG_0166

the bush is open with tall ironbarks and malga among the trees. their thin canopy offers little shade in the oven hot morning. with termite mounds being the bush furniture. the spindly crisp grasses remind me of country up near Katherine and Darwin.
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quirky old machine installations IMG_0181i certainly left with a puzzled feeling from Chillagoe, its been great to reflect on it from my midnight table here in Bellingen.

i hope you enjoyed the story and the photographs.

Roselinde

So far.. away…

on departure the morning mist cloaks the hillsidesIMG_0024

departing the fertile valleys of the mid north coast and headin south… it’s a beautiful perspective of the folds and crests of the land hearabouts from up sky..
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the big smoke… a fleeting stopover…IMG_1761

on the plane i listen with empathy to the crying babes

and turn back to my book with glee… it’s not me with puking kids, this time…

at the airport Sydney I am famished as the few mouthfuls of breakfast I distractedly inhaled have worn off, i seek the noodle bar my mama described to me and am so enjoying my broth and reading and then the $2 massage chairs…

i forget to check in for my next flight…

oops, lucky i got a self proclaimed ‘nice’ man at the counter who lets me on anyway…

{feeling abit country mouse at this point but enjoying myself…}IMG_1702

arriving into a babble of easy banter with my oldest young friend, we join her friends inner city for lounging, ethiopian eating and dancing! wow feeling so bold and dashing in my red wool coat and that new wool skirt i made… {details one day. maybe}

in between i had a stroll in the road and delighted in my find of this Pincushion Hakea a favorite from Western Australia. What a quirky flower and great name. Some aspects of the medicine of this flower is

to have an open mind and be open to new ideas and interested in the world. {can you see how the flower reaches out in every direction confidently?}

Think that might come in handy this week for me?IMG_1755 IMG_1711

dinner, Ethiopian flavours astound me, smoky paprika or warm cumin or slightly vinegar pickle or sweet beet or queer fermented pancake bread… mmmm new things to experience

and 5 other lovely ladies to enjoy with…IMG_1760 IMG_1759

and then and then there was more at The SubstationIMG_1704

Dead Quarry Mountain Rats play high speed twanging tunes, handsome talented lads with flying fingers

{but i snobbishly think they could do with some articulation assistance…}

I cannot keep up and go out for a breather and a cuddle with the radiator

enjoying people watching and trying to digest the days stimulation!

until the highly quirky and amusing Perch Creek Family jug band step up and have me soon in stitchesIMG_1757

four siblings and a partner, all beautifully talented musicians and a couple sporting magnificent vocal range! harmonies to soar in this great hall and hilarious almost embaressing banter betwixt.

when did dorky become cool? i think i could really fit into this scene in Melbourne…

In another life I played double bass and when i see the instrument hopping and jiving in this folk/bluegrass/soul context i long to be there thumping out the bass line. it really wasn’t so much fun at the back of the orchestra…IMG_1718

this sign greets me in my dear friends kitchen. I say YES yes yes!IMG_1736

being idle in the sunroom for hours… luxury… my thoughts can come to a natural completion with no interruption! hoorah! i can think any think i can think…

and then such a long long invigorating seaside stroll with a myriad of greys and mauves and silver sheening water for companyIMG_1763 IMG_1770

and pressing my face into WA wildflowers growing happily in the garden

Geraldton wax my favorite since ever has taken me on a great healing journey {still on it actually}

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in another life i spent a year working on an artwork of this flower and a dear friend put it onto my skin. daily reminders of the medicine of this flower…

have you ever crushed some of the leaf and smelt the divine aroma?

and then check out these enormous pillars of Banksia. Im not sure which variety but so striking.

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and then later…

IMG_1753my daily victual awaits…

ahhhh so full of gratitude to all who have made this a possibility and to myself, yippee you’ve given yourself a mini sabbatical… xx

what would you do if you could run away from life for a few days?

Wooden Boat Festival 2013

A day in the market fringes at the wooden boat festival held in Hobarts city waterfront.
A children’s festival is happening in the neighboring parliament lawns as part of the Wooden Boat Festival. Lush grass, gorgeous shade, beanbags for all, circus toys, plays and puppets, a statue, balloons and singing sea shanties, making huon pine/king billy pine boats with old fellas and being grateful for a grandfathers gnarled well storied hands helping my littlies, perusing the display of detailed model ships and admiring the handwork on a myriad of beautiful boats afloat filled the day for us. The nearby fires make for a splendid sunset aglisten with masts, despite the worry in the air.

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