I am in Australia!
Usually, people get all excited when they’re in a new town, in a new country, on a new continent. But, basically, it’s all the same. If you don’t change while you change your environment, then all the travelling is in vain. Better yet – it would be in vain in my case, I don’t know about the rest of you guys. However, if you decide to change who you are, then every moment will be exhilarating, despite the fact that you’re in the same country, in the same town, in the same neighborhood.
For an example, during my first couple of weeks in Australia I was pretty lazy. I felt the same way I felt when I was in Zagreb, Istanbul or Kuala Lumpur. Chloe and I stayed at her parents’ place in a beautiful town on the east coast, just a few minutes of walk to a gorgeous sand beach. The place is quite small and everybody knew everybody, but me, so I had a lot of things to catch on. I started meeting people, subtly making them know that, among other reasons, I’d also come in Australia to find a job, no matter what.
One night I was asked a question: “what would you like to see in Australia?” – I told them that I didn’t know since places as such weren’t that appealing to me anymore and that what I begun to appreciate I care about most on my journeys were – people. One of my interlocutors didn’t seem to understand the fact that I could come to Australia and not care about the places I would eventually visit because, as a travel writer, which is usually the title I use to present myself to the people who ask me what my occupation is, my obligation was to think about what my readers would like to see, experience, learn.
With all due respect to the people who read the texts and watch the photos from my journeys, I don’t want to live my life following other people’s expectations, but simply follow my own path: write, take photos, record and give you my thoughts and feelings and that’s it. If I happen to find myself in a place I wanted to stay for a month, I’ll do it. If I don’t feel like travelling, I won’t travel. Travelling isn’t the best thing in the world, you know? Also, I’m not travelling to see all the beautiful things that are out there, but to do what I want to do, do something with myself, to learn. I don’t want any time or space limitations. So, the next time when someone asks me what my occupation is I will simply answer that I’m a “travel writer”, with the quotation marks, since I’m not either writing or travelling in the way I’m supposed to, at least not if I consider other people’s standards.
Almost every person I’d met on this journey taught me something. A certain person during the dinner taught me that, sometimes, you should give up making your point, smile and confirm that they’re right. Save your energy for the people whom understand your argument. That was an important lesson for a stubborn Aries like me.
I didn’t find a job. Maybe I didn’t try as much as I should have. Some time passed while I was in that state, and I was in the same place, I was bored and I felt a bit stupid. And when you think of it, I was on the other part of the world, in amazing Australia. Big deal.
And then, for the I-don’t know-which time, my priorities changed. I gave up looking for a job believing that job would, eventually, find me. Chloe went south-ward to work in a ski-resort. I, on the other hand, went to the road and lifted my thumb. That had always solved all my difficulties so; maybe it would help me even now.
I went to Byron Bay, a famous tourist resort. The place was nice with a beautiful lighthouse and there were bunch of young backpackers. I saw the whales in the distance and some dolphins a bit closer. It was okay, but I got bored after observing them for 14 minutes.
And then, the Universe, like always, had to interfere so I headed for Nimbin, a nearby town which is known as the Rainbow capital. As soon as I arrived there I realized why. Hardly did I get out of the car of a young couple who gave me a lift, when a cheerful and smiling local man offered me marijuana. I heard it’s a plant that grows in nature, and it’s known for the fact that people after consummating it transform in werewolves, and then, once in that state they kill their closest ones. I pushed him aside forming a cross with my fingers in front of his face explaining him that weed was illegal and that I would rather smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol that were both legal.
He started explaining to me that in one year almost 6 million people die of smoking, nearly 2 and a half millions of drinking alcohol, and not one of smoking pot.
I didn’t listen to the messenger of Satan so I carried on with a smile on my face when I realized the misconception in which the man was living – he thought that almost all governments in the world were wrong when they prohibit pot without any valid reason. After all, the politics do everything for our own good, right?
Let put the sarcasm and all stupid laws that exist in the world aside and consider that Nimbin is wonderful. It’s so colorful. The ticket for the museum was 2$ but there was a sign that you didn’t have to pay if you didn’t have enough money. The passer-by were all smiling and saying hello. The guys were playing different instruments on the streets. Nobody wore suits. Nobody was in a hurry. Aborigines and the white new-comers were all living in harmony. There are alternative stores on every corner, starting from a pharmacy store which reminded me of a witchcraft store, to vegetarian restaurants and bars.
7 kilometers east-ward there is Star Earth Sanctuary, a hundred hectare state I’d discovered across CouchSurfing, of course. Hardly did I enter the property when I realize that it felt like home. Two big tipis were rising in the air, reminding me of old movies about Indians, two sheep were browsing, and you could hear the gurgle of the river arriving from the left. There were many trees on the whole property, and only one brass little house.
Pauly lived in that brass house, the owner of the estate, with his wife Fabi and their 9-month-old son Atlan. They welcomed me with a hug and suggested that I head for the river where I could spend some time and return when I’m ready. I did exactly as I’d been told. I sat on a rock and let my senses wander freely. Instantly, they told me that this place was magical. After a while, I took a few deep breaths, smiled at the greenery which surrounded me and got back to the house, just in time to pull up my sleeves and give a hand around changing the roof tiles.
We spent our times working around the house and the estate – we changed the roof tiles, set up a fence around what was meant to be a garden; I dug up a canal around the house to drain the rain, chopped some wood and things like that. There were certain rules which were applied on the estate: no chemical products were to be used, which included soaps, shampoos, detergents, tooth pastes. We had electricity thanks to solar panels, just like warm water so we had to be very careful with the supplies.
However, the nights were what made the whole experience worth while. Pauly was full of stories about the history of the place, since he’d spent most of the last twenty years of his life there. He’d bought the property along with his late mother and both of them had decided to live in harmony with nature so they had founded a tribe – Star Earth Tribe. They started off with one tipi, and ended up with twenty of them, with more than thirty people living there full time. Men, women, children, older people – everyone lived there as one big and happy family.
Every person who would accept their lifestyle was more than welcome. Whenever someone arrived there, they would show him/her the way to the river, just to spend some time there felling the energy of the place. Moreover, they had a guide with a detailed description of their lifestyle and they would share it with anyone who wanted to share their lifestyle. Someone would show the newcomer around the estate, explain how the kitchen and toilet functioned, what the daily activities and chores were, and if they liked it and if they decided to respect the rules the whole tribe would make them feel welcome.
During the first three days of the stay on the estate no one was obliged to participate in the activities of the tribe, so they could make use of the period to adjust to the conditions of life on the estate, rest a bit and simply observe the environment. After three days, they would join the rest of the tribe and help with the works on the estate, or better yet with the game on the estate. That was, in fact, the name used for all the works that had to be done. The game. What shall we play today? Let’s pick up fruit in the woods! Let’s play cooking! Chopping woods! Etc, etc. The work as such, in reality didn’t exist and no one had to do anything. The people were even encouraged not to ask if they could do anything, but instead to listen, observe and learn. Look, listen, learn. Instead of asking, observe the way how the things were functioning and join in. Only if you’re not sure about something, don’t hesitate to ask.
I liked the fact how they respected one’s privacy, despite not having any walls or strict boundaries between whose is what. Everyone, upon the arrival on the farm, had the possibility to chose the sound of their bird call, which was used when you were approaching space of another person, or when approaching a group of people who were in the middle of a conversation. Once you let other people know you were approaching, and they let you join them, you were finally free to do so. If you don’t get an answer, you could make another sound and try once more. In the case you don’t get an answer, no matter the reason is, after the second attempt you don’t go there.
Also, if there are two crossed sticks in front of the entrance to someone’s tipi you aren’t supposed to make any sound because – two sticks are an universal sign of not to be disturbed. A person could be meditating, or working on something important and needs to be concentrated; or a couple could be making love. Love is always above all. Number one. Love.
There was a rule about not to be woken up – everyone was free to sleep as long as one wants/needs to. You only wake other people up if there was any emergency. In that way you are always prepared if someone wakes you up because you know that there is something going on.
Moreover, each member of the community shared his/her own talents with the rest of the group – one would do the morning yoga or the meditation. Someone else would cook, others would do the dishes, or collect the macadamia nuts on the estate, someone would chop the woods, do the laundry, while others would play with the kids and teach them or, every now and then go to pick up the groceries in Nimbin, or go to the spring to get the water.
As far as the finances are concerned, each member would contribute to the budget by giving a fixed amount of money every week. The majority either had a part-time job, or they sold their hand-made things, sometimes even the fruits grown on the estate (there were more than 2,500 macadamia trees on the estate); anyway, they got by. The purpose of the farm to be self-sustainable, that is not to be dependent upon anyone or anything.
Before and after each meal, people would play the drums and sing. Everyone would eat together, gathered in a circle and everyone would start eating together once every person was served. The moment everyone was done eating, the remains, if there were any left, would be distributed equally. Nobody would do anything during the hottest period of the day – that was the time reserved for the siesta. The members of the community were spiritual, but not religious. They didn’t worship any god, but themselves, each other and Mother Nature.
They were grateful: to the Sun for having risen; to the moon that shone their way through the night; to the water from the spring; to the food.
All the decisions were taken in the circle, and all the problems were solved in the same way. Everyone was free, in fact encouraged to express their opinion through a non-violent communication. Also, all the problems, if there were any, were solved inside a family circle. Everyone was given a second chance, but not the third one.
What follows are the examples and the stories I remember; you can only imagine the number of stories there were.
Judy, Pauly’s late mother, is a special story. She was one of the founders of the MardiGrass, a movement that fought for the legalisation of cannabis. Moreover, she was the first person who handed to the Australian government the tax of the marijuana sales. She was a political activist: every year she would hand the business plans to the politicians and try to show them the ways to make a profit from legalising an innocent plant like cannabis, instead of treating it as a Satan’s plant.
Stories, stories, stories. Stories that I could have listened to for days, and still I would under a spell.
Pauly’s friend Deck, a single father of three girls made a great impression on me with his crazy experiences during his hitchhiking all over Australia. However, I’m not going to tell you these stories because you wouldn’t believe it, and I simply prefer keep something to myself. You should visit a village and discover similar stories on your own!
If I wanted to I could’ve stayed in Nimbin a bit longer and earn some money. Since the town is the hippy centre of Australia there is always something to do. However, there was a tiny catch: I would’ve had to sell marijuana. Even though I was explained how the things worked out, and I’d been told that you could easily make more than thousand dollars per day, and that there was hardly any risk, I decided to not to accept the offer.
Nimbin was magical: both the town and people. Surely, I preferred the people. I learnt a lot, got some new ideas on which I will ponder once I return home, wherever my home was. I could easily picture myself settling somewhere similar to that place one day.
Also, while I was babysitting Atlan I realized I wasn’t that clumsy a father as I used to think, and that I had what it takes to be a father in a near future.
Bite your tongue.