On the road again | Catherine Hill | Jes

Back on the beautiful road in this beautiful country, its beautiful beaches and beautiful forests and more of its beautiful inhabitants.

Two weeks after a stay at Mum’s we all drove down to Newcastle, the van was fixed and I happily parted with the cash in exchange for repairs. Strange to be behind the wheel again, first order of business was to find a spot to camp while still in daylight. After migrating my stuff the entire inside looked like a bomb site – as mum might say – and I spent the afternoon organising and cleaning then at last relishing that satisfactory feeling of having everything in its right place.

The next day I cruised back through Newcastle, travelling South, I was on my way to visit Jess whom I travelled with in Victoria. I attempted to visit her the day I broke down two weeks ago and was glad to have the chance again, what a blessing to have the freedom to pursue such opportunities. That afternoon I stopped at Catherine Hill to camp the night and went for a walk around the town. This place had an ancient eerie feel to it, almost all the houses were of the same weatherboard construction, it felt like I had been transported back a few decades, some of the properties like a  hilltop mansion had been abandoned which added to the sleepy horror story backdrop – naturally I jumped the mansion fence to explore and found myself walking through a ruin of what must have been a grand abode, the driveway ended at a large garage with a long since used workshop and undercar pit, above it were crumbling paths intersecting where beautiful gardens would have stood, palm trees, still growing despite their blackened trunks where a fire had passed through and domestic shrubs left to run wild among the long grass.

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The house itself was leveled except for a few pillars and steps, its location now used only for teenage parties, graffiti awash over the red brick and concrete, I walked through and found myself on terraced grass ending at a sharp cliff, the view was magnificent, I could see the entire bay, its white tipped waves making crescents inward to meet the beach.

The next day I refreshed myself with an early morning swim, the water was warmer than I anticipated and I was daunted by the large waves approaching, none the less I walked onward, foamy water crashing around my midsection – I was often unprepared as I stood gawking at the glass like curve of perfect wave lurching toward me, at the last second the tip broke and a roar filled my ears as the wave threw me back rejecting the offer of my body to the sea.

Later that day I met Jess and her brother Jackson at their place in hillside forest an hour south of Newcastle – rich green foliage all around, they have a thriving garden and orchard. A banana grove sits central to free sprawling vegetables and bees fancy the abundant flowers. A variety of herbs litter the area, their fragrance intoxicating and I am given handfuls of Mugwort and Catnip to take with me. Jackson has just begun to package these herbs for sale at the local markets, Jess is printing her designs on tshirts, I love to see this sort of thing, folk building on their talents and developing it toward a living. Later that day and we went for a walk through beautiful rainforest, the peak of the journey opening up to a secluded rocky bay, some surfers had taken to braving the rocks in favour of some good swell (man), we instead sat and talked and took photos.

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That night I returned to Catherine Hill, it is such a beautiful place and I had the luxury of a free grassy spot with a toilet a short walk away. All the next day it rained, I read books and completed some sewing projects, the main project was to extend the front curtain, enveloping the seats giving me more space. It feels good, the entire interior of the van can now be curtained, creating a mobile hermitage.

I now travel northward (finally), stopping at Mum’s place and getting some solar panels fitted to the roof, not by mum (but I’m sure she would do a great job). I just missed out on sitting in another Vipassana retreat in Queensland so have applied for the next going, I am continuing my daily practice but would love to experience another retreat. This and next month I would like to find some work over the next few weeks so am going to seek out some farms and orchards, failing that I may discover a place to do some WWOOFing.

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