Hellena Post - Creatrix

I've tried on so many uniforms and badges that now I'm just me - mother of 8 children and all that entails, flowmad, and human animal parent. Writer of this living book of a blog, philosopher, and creatrix of hand dyed and spun crocheted wearable art. I gave up polite conversation years ago, and now I dive into the big one's.....birth, sex, great wellness, life, passion, death and rebirth.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Coming home.....

So I got this little theory bubbling round.  About doing the geographical, and the nature of the human animal spirit, and a deep wondering about whether being semi-nomadic is actually an essential aspect needed for general peace and equilibrium in my life.....  I’ve been fortunate enough to have lived in many amazing places, and different parts of land on this incredibly alive country, that have rich indigenous heritages of community, or trade, or magic.  And in my experience anyway, they can suck you in as strongly as they can spew you out.  Call it destiny, fate, or dancing the song lines of the earth, but during my life, it’s seemed quite apparent that I’ve needed to be some places at certain times, to meet certain people and get certain lessons.   And then when that time is over, all the attraction and wonder and serendipitous occurrences stop happening, and if the message isn’t received, then bad shit starts happening, until I get the point, and move on to the next place where the land and the people welcome me and my clan with open arms and it seems like everything I do is touched with gold.  And on this recent geographical, I can recognise the elements and the signs, and how often this has happened to me before, and I’m starting to think that the land and the people are indivisible (obviously), and if it’s not the land giving me the message, or if I don’t hear it from the land, then people will start giving it to me, till it gets bad enough that I just have to get out of there.  And I’ve tried to take it personally in the past, but this time, with all the familiar events going on, I reckon I can let go of that perception, and just realise that every place has it’s time, and if I can learn to read the signs a bit better, maybe I can avoid the nasty expulsion altogether. 

But apart from all that, let’s get back to the story.

After hanging out with the illustrious David Birch, and  blissing out in the rainforest at Protestors Falls, we stopped in at the Weave and Mend Festival in Nimbin that I heard about 6 years ago when it very first started, and I was asked to come along, but I couldn’t, and I always wondered what would have happened, and what it would have been like.  (And we wouldn’t have been able to make it if we hadn’t got chicken pox and missed out on the Rainbow Coroborree…) So we rocked up there after our very first night in the Northern Rivers Region at Protestor’s Falls, (which is where I left the story).  After blissing out at the fragrant air, and the amazing semi-tropical rainforest all around, and then telling the kids ‘I told you so’, about how colourful the shops in Nimbin are, and muralled, and totally unlike any of the monocultural shops that we’ve passed through in town after town after town on our thousands of kilometres journey, we totally loved getting to a place that’s obviously run and created by people and community rather than corporations.  And the people walking around are about as eclectic as I reckon you could ever get, from tourists, to backpackers, to skinheads, to hippies, to druggies, to alternative healers, to punks, to tattoed folk, to piercing addicts, to indigenous folk, to just about every other nationality you care to name, to the elders of the area who are still fairly straight and into farming, to artists, to Goths, to wood fairies, to activists, to just about any other minority group you care to mention.  And we wove through the street on our way to the festival, the street full of bright colours and rainbows, and we got to the school behind the street where there was a quiet little sanctuary of tents and tipi’s and rugs and basket weaving materials, and colourful dreadlocked folk sitting in groups learning about basketry and rope making and weaving and mending……….  At first we felt a bit like gate crashers, cause the festival had been going for three days already, and it was very intimate when we got there, but before long, I recognised a woman who’d shown me how to be beautiful to indigenous folk in Alice Springs, and she was making an amazing rug, and we chatted for a bit.  And there were two amazing, empowered, sexy, tattooed, striking elder women, one with dreadlocks and one with leonine hair, who kind of observed us all for a while, and then slowly but surely, started chatting a bit more about stuff, and connecting more, and slowly slowly we became part of the intimate gathering, and eventually got to the point where we were raving about the world and it’s vagaries, and giving each other hugs, and Granny Breath Weaver (what a fantastic name is that!!) who was one of the founders of the group, and an inspirational basket maker, ended up letting us know we were welcome at any time, and that she’d been calling for folk like us to come to Nimbin, and she got into this amazing game with Max.  Ya know that game you play with kids when they’re being held by their parent, and you duck around behind them and play peek-a-boo?  Well Max grabbed her with his eyes, and she started playing that game with him, except he kinda played it back at her, and surprised her around the other side, and played the game back in a way I’ve never seen any other kid do.  And she was totally entranced.  They connected in a human to human way, and it was a delight to behold.  And in our time at the festival, we managed to start some gorgeous new friendships, and meet some powerful people in Nimbin, and have all our kids off and playing and totally embraced, and even had some offers from folk with places for us to camp for as long as we liked. 

And then we headed off for Mullumbimby, where none of us had been before, and as it was a Sunday afternoon, and we didn’t realise that there was a Woolworths tucked away and hidden behind the main shopping centre…….everything was quiet and closed and there was no-one on the streets.  We didn’t realise till later how cool that actually was.  We’re so used to shops shops shops being open 24-7 from Monday to Sunday regardless of holidays and human animal friendliness, that it was quite weird to be in a big town that was closed.  And then we headed up the Main Arm Road and started preparing ourselves to meet Ariad and clan, of Rainbow Love Farm.  Which was quite nerve wracking really.  It’s a wild situation – to have read about someone’s life for over 3 years, and seen photo’s of them and their family, and have had an internet friendship that grew – and then be preparing to meet them in person……I think we were both wondering what the other would really be like, and whether we’d be the same or different to how we’d represented ourselves on our blogs.  So we got there…….and she wasn’t home.  Hadn’t thought of that eventuality!  So we decided to drive down to Uki, and check that place out, and on the way a really kooky thing happened.  We drove over the ridge of Mt Jerusalem National Park, to survey the vista on the other side, and there was Mt Warning, big, and bold, and striking, and obviously a powerful mountain.  We stopped the van to check it out, and Currawong pulled out the camera to take a photo, and we both saw it tracking tracking tracking with Mt Warning in the middle of the screen, and he took the photo………and it was completely white. 

We both went ‘ooooohhh’ and thought that was a bit wild, and then within minutes, Mt Warning was totally shrouded in mist and cloud, and there was no peak left to be seen, and I decided then and there that Mt Warning was an elusive and mysterious mountain, an opinion that has since been played out on our trips around it in the last few weeks.   A very powerful mountain indeed….and in good company with a lot of other amazing rock and mountain formations around here. 

So we kept driving down to Uki, and turned towards Murwillumbah, wondering where we were going to spend the night, and then decided to head back to Uki, doing a big u-turn.  And Currawong saw a van of waving people heading back into town, so he pulled over after they’d done a u-turn to be behind us, and it was Ariad and family who had seen us drive by and chased us!  Ariad came straight up to me and we had a huge hug, and then we stood around for a bit, introducing ourselves, getting eyefuls of how we all looked in person after seeing photo’s of each other for years, and chatting by the side of the road.  We all agreed it was a pretty wild situation, knowing so much about each other without actually knowing each other, and then Ariad invited us back to her place to stay for as long as it was groovy for us all.  Which turned out to be a week and a bit.  And we’re all in her beautiful house right now, house sitting while they’re all in Thailand.  But before they all went, we spent a lot of time hanging out with her and her beautiful clan, talking about our lives, swapping stories and philosophies, and generally all getting to know each other and finding out how much we had in common.  Which is a lot.  There’s something so soul satisfying about coming across other humans who have lived a different life to the mainstream, and come to similar conclusions, and have similar ideals for their children, and where we can all talk and feel heard and acknowledged with a total absence of judgement. We were all so used to apologising, hiding, or glossing over our natural learning or unschooling philosophies, that it was an incredible liberation to be with folk where we could celebrate the bits that were different about our approaches!!  It was also truly inspirational to see her children and their skills and talents so uniquely expressed – a veritable showcase for the Unschooled!!  And so wonderful to have an internet friendship that proved true and grew in person.  And I’m so incredibly greatful that she’s given us this time and grace to be in her space while she’s away, and the time to check the area out without the necessity of finding camps and packing and unpacking……not to mention that this is the first time in 4 years that we’ve been alone as a family and unobserved…… Ariad, you’re beautiful, your family are gorgeous, you’re an amazing woman, I love you, and I’m so glad that we’ve met in person, and will be living in the same areaJ

Have you ever experienced times in your life when you’re in a new place, and everything is fresh and unique, and the people seem all glamorous and interesting, and the world seems full of magical options, and you maybe even think that this time it will be different, and the patterns that you’ve been working on through life will mysteriously fade away, and a whole new life full of loving friends and passionate and fulfilling life will rollercoaster you away to a whole new reality???  And you’re in that open, ‘who know’s WHAT might happen’ kinda space, where every new person you meet might be your next best friend, and any kind of magic might be possible…..

 And all these ‘coincidences’ happen, and stuff like, we have lunch at a park and a woman we’ve never met before walks past three times just to check us out, then stops to chat the fourth time, and asks the whole family to her place for tea and nibbles, to have a peek at a house she conceived, created, and lives in.  And it turns out she’s a Jungian Analyst, and her curvy, rammed earth, stone and wood home, is an enchanted metaphor of a human mind that Jung would be proud to introduce.   Beautifully gracefull doors and windows sat snug in a hill covered with tropical plants, food, and sculpted wrought iron lamps and railings.  Circular staircases with handcarved wooden doorways following the curves flowed round the house filled with treasures and memories.  She and her partner were shiny and happy as they showed us around and received our praise and honest awe with shy smiles.  Huge timber beams and an old and gracefull wood oven, a loft with a tricky ladder and artistry imbued into all the handmade and loved features.  And we all sat and drank tea and ate nibbles, and you would have hardly known there were 6 kids squeezed in the kitchen, cause they were all so engrossed in spotting groovy things and asking questions that got thoughtful answers.  It was a true inspiration to be inside another person’s home.  Real home.  That private sanctuary where you can drop all guises and just be safe and warm and home…….

And there’s this thing that’s been happening, especially in Nimbin, where we’ll stop to talk to someone on the street, or in a shop, and end up having the most amazing deep and meaningfull conversations about life, the universe and everything, as if we’ve been friends for years……I was used to only getting those conversations rarely back where we were, and now they’re a daily occurrence!  There’s no polite chit chat, it’s just down to the essentials of existence, and real life stories, and I just love it.  We’re meeting people every time we go out, mostly new friends, some old acquaintances, and there’s this big thread of déjà vu running alongside the whole time.  And I swear there’s a big convergence happening unconsciously around here, the amount of people that we’re meeting who have only been here for 6 months to a year, and felt pulled here for the same reasons as us (escaping the great monotheistic monoculture that’s swallowing anything different) is astonishing.  There seems to be a subconscious gathering occurring, and I’m real curious as to what’s gonna happen next.

About the only stone in my shoe so far has been the lack of anything regarding homebirth……  I realise now I was in a blissfull homebirthing bubble in SA, with the amount of midwives I was fortunate to count as my friends, and The Birth Place being there as information and referral centre, and a huge group of homebirthing mamma’s and baby’s around that were easy to find……it’s all going underground here!!  One of the best midwives in the area has been de-registered, and apart from 2 other birth workers I’ve heard tell of, (one of which being the lovely Majikfaerie who also has a blog and who I’ll meet someday!!) women are calling themselves doula’s and birth workers, and the scene is very very quiet.  Kinda devestating, since this area was one of the forerunners of homebirth in the 70’s, and there was that amazing book “Birth at Home” by David Miller that so inspired me, that was written about this area.  I was expecting some of our homecoming in this area to involve big mobs of homebirthers and midwives being powerful together, and am a bit heartbroke that it’s not the case.    There’s a very public doula in the area who’s never had a baby and runs a group for first time mothers, and thinking it was for everyone, I went along with only ONE of my babies, and felt very unwelcome and out of place.  I kinda skulked up the back while the woman who’d never had a baby was talking about labour land from what she’d read, and decided that I didn’t need to pop anyone’s bubble, and that gig really wasn’t for me, and ran away!  I was pretty sad that night, and really missing my favourite midwives and their awesomeness, and woke up crying, so the next day Currawong (bless his heart) went up to the first pregnant woman with dreadlocks he saw, and told her we were new to the area and his wife was pregnant too, and needed to connect with other homebirthers.  So we were all going to the same market, and ended up sitting together and talking for hours, and it turns out she knows of a wise crone midwife who’s a grandmother, and we’re gonna meet her soon, and this pregnant woman is also a spinner and crocheter, and her partner is Fries (!!) and there may even be a space to rent in the multiple occupancy that she lives on, so we’re finding a path in the homebirthing direction afterall.  Thanks CurrawongJ

We also went to The Channon market one weekend, and bumped into the beautiful Megg of the Artnomadix Wearable Art blog, who we met in Alice Springs 7 years ago, and who showed us how to live in our van.  And met up with old friends and new and had a blast.  And then the next day happened to be driving through the incredibly beautiful Tyalgum, and happened to bump into Megg again, and her mother, who lo and behold has exactly the same very rare army edition of Toyota Commuter van as us! (There’s three of our ex-army vans in the area that have been turned into hippy vans…what are the chances of that?!) We checked out Meggs gallery, and had a cuppa in their beautiful home on a hill, and had a lovely afternoon in the caldera of the massive volcano that birthed this area. 

And I’m aware that I’m writing a lot now, and there’s a bit of a lack of photo’s cause we’ve all been too busy doing it, to remember to take photo’s of it, but I’ve just gotta finish this thought……   That thing I’ve been talking about in previous post’s about ‘blending’………all I’ve got to say is Nimbin.  I love Nimbin.  In fact we’re all head over heels in love with Nimbin.  It’s bright.  It’s brash.  It’s raw.  It’s real.  It’s colourful.  It’s sweet and friendly.  It’s community living at it’s zenith.  It’s local and honest.  Even the pimply bits are honoured and acknowledged.  There’s a big open gusty wind of  acceptance of diversity that seems to thread it’s way through everything.  I didn’t realise how often we were given the message that we were untrustworthy back where we were, based on our ‘difference’ and how we looked, until I find myself surprised at how unjudged, accepted, and trusted we feel by complete strangers, that we feel we’ve known for years.  It’s awesome.  And always effervescently engaging.  We took Spiral-Moon into the Tattoo and Piercing Studio for her fifth birthday to get her ears pierced, and were totally entranced by the experience.  The gorgeous woman who was going to pierce her ears, sat with her and for ages on the couch, browsing through her box of jewellery to find something ‘bling’ enough for Spiral.  While the rest of us were standing by and chatting with the other friendly tattooists and customer, answering questions about our clan and how they came to be, getting fed fortune cookies and glasses of mango juice, while the other workers were increasingly surprised at how calm and unfussed Spiral was by the process.  They reckoned that adults have been known to cry when they got pierced, and Spiral didn’t even bat an eyelid.  They kept telling us our kids were fairy’s, and we had a mutual friend with one of the women that left us all feeling happy, and another woman gave us a book on alternative parenting that had been written in Nimbin.  It was such a friendly, honourable, and rosy experience, that when we were walking back down the street and I saw the ear piercing sign at the chemist, I just laughed, and was real glad I hadn’t seen it on the way to the studio, cause the experience we had was a special birthday present for our Spiral.  Then we stopped in at the gardening group that was happening at the community gardens, where my favourite crones hang out, and took the groovy kids we’d met there down to the free municipal swimming pool for her birthday lunch!  Coolest pool I’ve ever seen, it’s a big circle, that’s all shallow around the edges, and deep right in the middle, and the locals have got together and put in barbeques, and shade, and seats, and hang out there a lot.  Not to mention the skate park that’s just across the grass, and right next to the kids play park, and also not to mention the Lawn Bowls club that’s right next to the pool, where a whole heap of young folk (compared to the serious white suited prim and propers you see in every other lawn bowl club around the country) play lawn bowls while smoking and drinking beers with their bush beards, listening to the Skyhooks and other groovy music…….did I ever mention that Currawong and I have harboured serious fantasies our whole lives about playing lawn bowls?  And always been put off by the grumpy white clad old folk?  How cool is that.  Remember that post when I was talking about how you never see kids out playing or on the streets anymore, cause they’re all at home on their computers??  Well that’s definitely not the case in Nimbin.  The pool, skate park, kids park and lawn bowl club are always populated and thriving and happily occupied….such a relief!  And folks here don’t even look twice at me in my hand made pregnancy clothes, and Currawong strutting his stuff in his platform sneakers and yellow velvet pants with the leopard spot racing stripes down the side……they’re a bit spun out about how many kids we have, but I think I’ve got to own up to liking being different in some way, and being a bit glad that there’s still something about us that is strikingly unique…….  And just to finish that day of Spiral’s birthday, after getting her ears pierced and hanging with the locals at the pool, the twins fell asleep and we got to choose between the two jam sessions that happen in Nimbin every Friday night – the quiet acoustic and interesting instrumented jam at The Oasis, or the big, loud, amplified jam on the main street of rock and roll and blues and thumping drums……we picked the quiet oneJ  Just a taste of the magic of Nimbin……

There’s more stories to tell, but I’ve run on a lot now, so they’ll have to wait for later…….  And I'll do my best to take some more photos!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The further adventures of the big little mob……

Sofala was absolutely beautiful…..gorgeous river with smooth stones and a long long riverbank to explore, stone skimming skills to be developed, a huge hill behind the camp for the kids to practice their rock climbing skills on, no neighbours (we’ve been really lucky with that aspect so far), and beautiful plants that we hadn’t seen before………..but absolutely freezing! 

Mornings till about 10, and nights from about 6 were hellishly cold.  I reckon hell would have to be freezing if you believed in hell, cause there’s no more intricate punishment than cold fingers and toes and head and that strip of your back between your pants and your top.  But it wasn’t just the cold, it was having 2 crawling babies that woke up at the crack of dawn and wanted to be out, out, OUT! first thing every morning, and my frustrated maternal instinct that wanted to keep them warm and cosy and safe…which led to screaming babies and a very grumpy mum.  And I took it personally!!  The cold, my protesting pregnant body, and the cold were specifically aimed at me!!  I had more than a few tantrums, as I went to sleep with 3 layers of everything, and my woollen hat underneath a ridiculous amount of bedding that I could barely move under.  And as I woke up having to keep two crying babies in and warm till the sun started to unfreeze us.  I told Currawong in no uncertain terms that I wanted a house with walls and a roof, and a fenced yard for the babies to crawl around in safely, and WARMTH!!  Regularly.  Poor fella was so busy feeling happy and free to be away from all the stresses we’ve had around us, that it took him a while to realise that I wasn’t deliberately trying to piss him off by feeling differently. 

We spent three days and nights in Sofala, and then drove out to see the town where I’d spent my first 7 years.  Took some photos of the house where I came after I was born, and it was really weird.  I so wanted to go in, and was about to knock on the door and then lost my bottle, so didn’t. 

Then we headed into Kandos, where I went to school for the first time, and my family shopped, and everyone seemed happy and smiley! We had a pub lunch on a verandah, and the woman gave us a blow up jumpy castle to play with at the same time.  Saw a groovy rainbow clad woman and her daughter in the supermarket, and then we chatted in the op shop, and she tempted us back to her place with an offer off a baby holder, a cup of tea, and a place to camp.  And there was Jules, living in a tiny country town in the land of my birth, totally awesome, living in an amazing space, and we very quickly realised we had a lot in common. 

The place to camp quickly turned into a granny flat to stay in for as long as we needed, and not only did it have walls and a roof, but it also had a fence to keep the boys in, not to mention the most awesome kids toys I’ve come across, as she was a day care mamma!!  She also had two gorgeous daughters who were around the same age as Spiral-Moon and Lilly, and they all set about playing and getting on like they’d known each other since they were born.  And Jules spread light, love, and laughter as a healing balm all round us, like a walk in a springtime forest.  We’d all been through a similarly tough time since about March, and helped, listened and talked to each other in a way that made us all feel better.  You know how good it can be to talk to someone outside of your friends and family about a situation??  Someone with no agenda, and no knowledge about the intricate details?  Not least, in telling someone else about a situation right from the start, it can help you gain some insight, by telling the story in a different way than you would to someone who already knows bits….  And also, to meet someone so groovy must mean that we were back on the groovy train again.  Thanks Jules for all the wonderful things you did for us!  She also has a circle of amazing friends, and we were honoured to get an introduction to the alternative side of the land of my birthJ  Kinda did something really special for me and the little girl inside, to be around the land where I was born, and bumping into awesome colourful folk, having an amazing adventure. 

But after a luscious five day break from the road with Jules, it was time to continue our journey, as the Rainbow Coroborree was calling.  So we drove through Mudgee, stopping to talk to a groover in a wheelchair with the most awesome attitude….he reckons the doctors told him he’d never move, and were totally stumped by his amazing healing – he said it was all in his head.  He said there was never a horse he couldn’t ride, and he had the same kind of attitude towards his healing.  I told him about what my mate Daniel had written on the back of his wheelchair years ago…..”My only disability is your inability to see my ability” and he loved it.  Not far from Mudgee we drove past the largest open cut coal mine in the country……we were all quiet as we drove through the surreal scene of massive vehicles on mountains of black that they’d driven from the huge gashes in the land.   

Then we drove through the incredible land with epic rocks and breathtaking vistas on the way into Scone – the horse capital of Australia – and Currawong made a bizarre little movie about the road we were on.   We stopped that night in Gundy, a little showground up in the hills surrounding Scone, with the most awesome facilities we’d ever seen….and the bathrooms had showers facing each other which meant that we could chat as we showered and washed babies.   We were almost tempted to stay another night, but again, the road was calling. 

After an insanely slow drive with a massive headwind, the next stop was Bendemeer, where there was a free camping spot on gorgeous lawns near the river, and a crappy caravan park in the dirt up the hill….and you can imagine how happy the caravan park owner was about that.  Our first interaction with the town was an elderly fella in a tractor telling us that we had to camp closer to the toilets and away from the lush spot we’d picked, cause of the ‘idiot on the hill’.  He and other volunteers were trying to keep the free camp open, so we didn’t rock the boat, and went back where he said to camp.  And had only been there a short time, when we got a visit from the local constabulary, in the form of a woman with a lady tattooed on her forearm, a rather short haircut, and you’d have to describe her as having a slightly masculine demeanour.  There was obviously not much to do in the tiny town, so she was checking us out (our van does tend to stick out just a tad…), and told Currawong that she would have met us sooner rather than later if we’d parked in our original spot, as the poor ole caravan park owner was watching EVERYTHING that went on by the river.  She turned out to be real friendly, even flashed her lights for the kids as she left.  And afterwards, Currawong was saying he thought she was a dyke but couldn’t be sure, and after a bit of thought, I said “Of course she was!!  Not only was there the short haircut and the butch effect and the tattoo of the chick on her forearm, but on finding out that Currawong was travelling with 6 kids in tow, she said he was a braver man than her!!………..”  She even told me as soon as she met me, that she’d just told my husband that he was a braver man than her to be travelling with the big little mob.  Made us laughJ  There were swooping magpies which the kids hadn’t encountered before, and those caterpillars that clump together in the hundreds and spit at you, so the kids were totally entranced.  Dodging magpies while observing clumps of caterpillars provided entertainment for our entire stay.  There were also some grey-haired nomads in camp, and we kinda kept away from them, and then wished we hadn’t as we chatted just before we left.  A sweet couple who had been chatting to the kids told me that our kids were absolutely delightful, and we should be proud of the job we were doing.  And a Vietnam Veteran that Currawong chatted to said exactly the same thing.  We left with a warm glow…..

And then drove to Armidale, where we set up camp at Dumaresque Dam outside of Armidale that had a fungal bloom in the water so we couldn’t touch it.  Which was another sort of torture.  Cause it was really hot the next day, and Currawong’s back was out, and we could see all this beautiful water around us but not touch it.  Torture. 

Not to mention, it was at this fateful dam that I had to come out of denial and realise that those spots on the kids weren’t mozzie bites, and we really did have a case of Chicken Pox.  We’d hung out with my soul sister and her mate the day before we left, and their big boy was contagious unbeknownst to them, and she’d let me know early on in the trip, and we’d just kept going, hoping that it wasn’t going to become an issue.  But we had em.  And I thought I’d had them before, as my big girl had a mild case and I didn’t show a spot, but I got some spots on my belly that couldn’t have been insect bites and started to freak out.  It was hot, we had spots, we weren’t going to make it to the Rainbow Coroborree, and I was worried about the unknown, and being pregnant, and Currawong’s back was sore, and it was time for another tantrum……

But on the happier side…..I put my spider web up for the first time in the Soul Pad, and it fit amazingly.  Like a vortex leading up to the pinnacle.  After living with it for a day though, and catching hair in it, and dipping down to walk because of it, I decided it was absolutely gorgeous to look at, but a total pain in the arse to live with.  Currawong reckons that could sometimes be a metaphor for our life…….

So off we choofed again, heading towards Tenterfield, and we’d picked a camp in the Basket Swamp National Park in the hills behind.  As we drove up there though, we noticed they were burning off close to where we were going to camp, and there was only one road in and out, and there was also a huge amount of dry wood and grass in between the fire and us.  And the girl inside who grew up in the fire prone Blue Mountains said “Nooooo!!!” very loudly.  Not to mention, when we finally found the campground, it was the most insalubrious camp we’d ever seen, not even remotely baby friendly, and I was paranoid about paralysis ticks…..  So we headed back into Tenterfield and set up camp to much wailing and weeping in the dark, trying hard not to let our tempers fray too much and lose the plot.  Having a family shower first thing in the morning kinda made up for it, but we were all happy to leave Tenterfield. 

And from Tenterfield the land started showing up signs of rainforest, lush green landscape, and the semi-tropical finery of the area of the Northern Rivers that we’d been dreaming about so long.  The air started to smell of ridiculously opulent bouquets of wild flowers, and you could almost FEEL the trees growing.  Through Casino, and on towards Lismore, the kids were checking it all out, and Griffyn was telling me that he was wondering whether the land we were driving towards was really as lush as I’d told them, and whether he’d get there and think it was just like any other place after all.  Until we started driving up the hill to Protestors Falls, into true rainforest, and they had their heads out the windows whooping and sniffing and calling out all the amazing things they were seeing, and were yelling to me that it was BETTER than I’d told them, and amazing, and wonderful, and as many other big happy words they could think of. 

Now, if you’ve never been to pristine rainforest that’s never been logged, at this point I have to stop and tell you that you really really must do it as soon as humanly possible.  Because it’s amazing.  It’s alive, and lush, and splendid, and huge, and puts a human in it’s proper perspective…..as tiny and insignificant.  The majesty of Protestors Falls takes my breath away, and has done ever since I made it’s acquaintance.  If you don’t know the story, way back in the late 60’s, they were going to log the land called Terrania, where Protestors Falls is, and a group of people got together and strongly lobbied and WON!!  They not only protected Protestors Falls (hence the name), but set the precedent for many other rainforests in the area to be protected as well.  And I for one profoundly thank them, for what they saved and their strength.  When we first got to the cool welcome of the Falls, the kids disappeared down to the creek, and as we went to check on them, we saw an amazing family of two elders and two daughters working industriously in the creek, making balancing stone sculptures from the river rocks on the shore, and on ridges, and in the water, and the effect was completely spellbinding. Currawong told me later, that the woman had told him that her squatters camp in the forest had become part of the heritage application.  An archetypally magical rainforest river with stone sculptures scattered throughout became a mystical fairyland…… 

And then I walked over to the fella who looked like he was sleeping in his car, and asked him if it was okay to sleep in our van for the night, and it turns out that he was David Birch, not only one of the original protestors who’d defended the forest, but the fella who wrote the protest song to boot!!!  He pulled out the Terrania magazine from the early 70’s that had been all about their protest efforts, and showed me a picture of him with his guitar, at the head of the pack!  I was blown away, and honoured, and I figured that if that man said it was groovy for us to stay, that was all the permission we neededJ  He went on to tell us stories, and play with our kids, and he couldn’t quite believe that we were all travelling in our van and sleeping in it as well, and reckoned that we came with the most amazing entourage that he’d ever come across.  Which was high praise coming from such a man……  And to my great delight, he came over to eat with us that night, and sung us the song that he’d written for the Falls that they successfully protested about and saved.  What an honour.  And what a spectacular welcome to the country we’d driven so far to be in. 

And the next day was equally amazing, but I’m going to save that story for my next post………