Sian left early for work, I awoke, had a shower, packed the van and went about my final business in Sale before heading off in search of adventure. Near Taralgon I took a detour on recommendation from my lovely host – The Den Of Nargun, a dreamtime story of a giant lizard that ate children who went near his waterhole. A steep descent over moss covered rocks into a dimly lit creek bed opened into a large lagoon fronting caves with big stalagmites protruding from the earth like the jaws of a great creature, Nargun. Water cascaded over the caves into the pool creating a continuous white field of ripples, the light reflected and splashed morphing colour over the rear of the cave – a beautiful sight.
I return to my previous journal entry where I mentioned that it would be nice to meet up with likeminded folk. Well, passing through Bairnsdale I found two guys, thumbs out looking for a ride. I pulled over without thought in mind and the three of us journeyed onwards. I note the divine timing in this, Luke and Dean had just gotten out from another hitch and for no apparent reason I stopped into Bairnsdale for five minutes to go into a shop to not buy a thing, although I prefer to not dwell on these things I can not help but note that without the stopping these following events may not have happened.
On the way we got to discussing psychology and spirituality and I found an ease in the conversation that only comes with similar interests and passions. Down the road they gave the reason for their Omeo destination, there was a festival in the bush nearby, I mentioned that I would drop them off at the doorstep and in reply they said I should join the gathering, I gave coy non-committal answers while the mind screamed to say no so I could reach my destination, whatever that was.
We got to Omeo and met up with a few of their friends, bags were being put in a Toyota Landcruiser for the trip deep into the bush, apparently further than my van would travel. My decision was made (and most probably was 30km ago), I stuffed my sleeping bag and items of need into a backpack and tossed it into the stranger’s 4WD – the three of us then followed another van thirty minutes up narrow dirt roads to a peak inhabited by a few cars. My mental picture (read expectation) was being continuously proven astray. There were about eight of us at the top, awaiting a ride down the hill and when it arrived we all piled in along with the bags and a supply of apples found from a nearby tree (mental note: find out where this tree is). A rough ride down an intensely steep rocky track led us to a grand grassy opening in the valley, scattered around the treeline edge were tents, teepees and a viking longhouse style tarp shelter. I dropped my bag in the shelter and went into introductions and a tour from my spontaneous passengers.
It was dusk when I arrived and by now it was dark, I had met enough folk for familiarity and wandered around meeting more voices and shapes in the dark. Everyone had gathered at the central fireplace and began in song, hands held in a circle of smiling faces, joining in on the playful , vocal, meal time blessing I discovered how important it is to have an inclusive exchange of expression when eating in a large group, for without, there would be a feeling of separation which is not akin to the nourishment being taken in.
The night progressed into song and dance, banjos, flutes, drums, feet stomping, hands clapping and for me ended in amazing riddles and storytelling by the fire, a hot cup of chai in my hands – bliss.
To brave the frigid cold that night I had in my hastily stuffed pack a sleeping bag, a rolled up towel for a pillow, and thermals. I edged myself as close as safe would allow to the fire and snuggled in to a dreamy sleep.
It was good to see the camp in the morning, the mist lifting as golden rays of sunlight kissed the clearing of soft long grass. Few were up so I sat in quiet meditation allowing the present bliss to trickle through.
One of the guys I met up the top asked if I wanted to join a group meditation in the tepee over yonder and my enthusiastic reply saw me collecting a cushion and incense from my sleeping area. This was a Vipassana style sitting which bought insight to a multitude of thoughts that could be bouncing around in the mind, of them the desire to do a Vipassana retreat in the future. Afterwards we sat around the warm tepee fire and discussed metaphysics – bliss.
I wandered through to another tent and found breakfast being made for the group, this lovingly prepared nourishment was then taken to the central fire and the meal was called, same fashion as the evening before. I write ‘breakfast’ but it was around the early afternoon when everyone ate. Earlier this morning I had reluctantly decided to leave and communicated this with my new friends. I had formed many beautiful connections, indeed so many that It took an hour for goodbyes before I shouldered pack for the hike up to the van.
I had inherited a travelling companion, Jess, who as it turned out, overheard my intent toward the next destination of Bright and wanted to join me. We got back into Omeo as the evening sun poured its golden colour over the rolling hills then bravely took on the gales of mist storming over the peaks of the Great Alpine Road.
The plan was to pick up goods at Bright Organics in the morning then part ways, we pulled into a caravan park for the night and enjoyed the luxury of laundry services and hot running water. The morning came and we both found the desire to enjoy the beautiful sun down by the river, the crystal clear flow of the Ovens met by vibrant reds, oranges and yellows of falling autumn leaves and an aural backdrop of a brass groove band playing old timey classics made for sensory delights – adding to this was the sharing of rich organic chocolate – ahhhhhh.
I began my mission at the organic store, I was searching for a clairvoyant I knew as a boy who at that age planted a seed of spiritual interest deep within this being. I knew her first name, Di, and had a visual memory of her front driveway in Wandiligong, I had hoped that she still lived there. The store owner did not know Di but she knew of someone that might, Roz a manager of a group of cottages nearby, I excitedly left with Jess in search of the first marker on this grand quest.
From Roz I obtained that Di usually had a market stall with her friend on Sunday, this day, in a small outlying town called Freeburg. The next lead was underway and we piled into the van to drive back across the shire to the nearby village. By the time we arrived the market looked to have ended as vendors were packing their goods and folding their marquees. I got hold of Pat who knew Di and told me that she had left five minutes before I arrived, dismay aside Pat had given me Di’s home phone number and address.
Knowing that the culmination of this quest was near, my wonderful travelling companion and I parted ways with smiles and hugs and I set course for Wandiligong. Trying to call her phone was proving unsuccessful and doubt crept in – ‘what if she isn’t home and this amazing story leads to an empty ending?’ – I had to know either way and decided to just show up at the doorstep. As I turned down the road that was given, my experience was awash with memory, the chestnut trees lined the dirt road with deep eucalypt forest making up the background and a knowing joy filled my heart as my eyes laid upon her house, her front gate, the sheds and the garden. All doubt disappeared as I saw a car parked in the drive. I pulled in behind it, got out and went to her front door.
There was Di, we sat with tea in the cathedral ceiling wooden alpine house, colour from stain glass window splashing the lounge where shrines and images of her guru gave silent smiling blessings. We spoke of past, present and future experiences, of her beautiful craft – mosaics –, and of her work. She devotes much time in India and the US to a charity that she had founded, the most prominent being a hospice centre in India, caring for those who would otherwise be in the street dying with no food or shelter. As we said goodbye and I rolled back down the drive I bathed in the good feeling that comes with childhood reminiscence and a reunited old friend.
That night I camped along the river, its bubbling, gurgling sound giving me a pleasant rest before I set off on my next encounter of childhood memory.
Passing through Beechworth I set wheels on the Chiltern-Beechworth Road, the bush changed to granite outcroppings contrasted by sgraggily looking pine and stringy bark eucalypt instantly identified by the area I grew up in. The first stop along this road was Woolshed Falls, the water hole we used to swim in when the summer became unbearable, a huge expanse of rock poured over by the same crystal clear water flow from whence I came, I danced over the smooth stone and sat by the stream, watching it pour over the cliff into the pool below.
My childhood farm was next, Pilot View has had new owners for decades and I was somewhat nervous about showing up, yet again, unannounced. The front driveway was lined with tall gum trees, those of which I had once planted were now towering above me. Up the drive further saw the old dairy and stockyards shaded by a huge Currajong tree, to my right was the Wisteria vine that covered the length of the fence and carport which gave such beautiful colour when it flowered. I pulled up in front of the grand shearing shed and laid eyes on the house where I spent my primary school years, boarding the bus that stopped at the front of the long drive.
There were a pack of dogs inside, barking loudly as I walked up the steps to the old wooden verandah which faced the grassy front garden and gazed down to the rolling valley. A cacophony of barking and no apparent human sound or activity for some time led me to believe that no-one was home. I descended the steps and walked back to the van.
I heard the back door close, was this a dog that had gotten out or a human? The latter revealed itself as Wendy inquisitively walked out from around the corner. I gave introduction as we had not met and delighted in a tour of the once lived on property. Oh how it had changed but still remained the same, Wendy and Jim were keen environmentalists and had spent their time here creating forests and natural waterholes, the young but tall acacia and eucalypt stood where once was empty farmland. We walked around the hill behind the house and I told story of childhood exploits and what had been, I met their beautiful horses and then shared in a delicious lunch inside the house which gave so many memories, the ceiling, the walls, the kitchen and the loungeroom oh what a joy it is to not just let these memories stagnate in the mind but refresh them to the ever present moment.
The five remaining days in this journal entry are spent in Wodonga, with my dad. After the past two years clearing and purifying my being with intense meditative training I am able to see myself from perspective and to also see the similarities of persona in my father, once bought irritation now brings total love. The majority of the time we worked on the campervan, giving it a service and completing other constructional projects, to speak and be with him in person is such a joy and I am grateful to take longer than just a fly by night to visit.
This makes up the week, adventure and emotion, friendship and family, thankyou for taking the time to read this extended entry.