Northward once more, I could feel the difference in temperature, my world was turning into a pleasant spring time sensation. The air was sweet and gave me sweeter memories. I fuelled up at a service station at the beginning of sugar cane fields and watched as two trucks played a delicate ballet with a harvester – the empty picking up where the full left off as the latter delivered its bounty to a nearby shipping container. Noticing my gaze, a local approached and explained how the whole thing works, notably the burning off done the night before to crystalise the sugary sap ready for collection – they had deck chairs on the side of the road to watch the spectacle the night before.
No stopping in mind, my path led me to the Rainbow Belt, I travelled the resort speckled main road into Byron Bay, sometimes passing a long haired man driving a campervan, every time thus a nod and wave were exchanged, a knowing recognition of elk, the lifestyle and respect. HAHA or perhaps just a subtle display of pride.
I walked around Byron, biding time and trying to get hold of a friend who was in and out of mobile reception. I found myself at a bar surprisingly, what sold me was padded seats just off the sidewalk, I drank a beer and had good conversation with the two identical bartenders who laughed after my double take – brother A took my order initially, I turned around and brother B had served the beer – jovial confusion resulted.
I caught hold of my friend, Jean-Eric, hopped in the van and headed to his place in the nearby area of Wilsons Creek, beauty surrounded my drive through hilly rainforest oft crossing a bubbling waterway. Colours passed my eye, rainbow banners and Tibetan prayer flags adorned some front fences as I trundled by making such a beautiful contrast to the deep green forest all around. Then down the discovered winding driveway to the front steps where Jean-Eric stood with a smile on his face. I have only known Jean-Eric for a short time, met at a festival in Victoria mid May but we saw each other and formed a wonderful connection. This night enjoyed dialogue and were soon joined by his housemate Kai and his daughter Chilli for dinner.
The day following I drove a short distance to Sachamamma, where a dear friend Emmanuel was staying. Down the paved driveway I led the van, stopping at the teacher’s abode – Darpan came out to greet me and told me where to find Mani. I paused atop the grassy knoll viewed from the house and gazed at the opposite hill, the sierra created by a sudden landslide long ago made a feature from the dense foliage. My feet took me down the steep but manicured tropical lawn, the tree line partially concealing several huts appearing to be for meditation retreat or workshops. I reached the bubbling creek that caught my eye on the drive over, its water passing over large rocks and in between long grasses, ferns and broad leafed plants – the theme, green was abundance and bliss.
I caught Mani down in the nursery, it had been many months since we hung out and it was a pleasure to be in his presence again. I joined in on the work and relished in the opportunity to do some gardening, the sharp smell of fertiliser, the sensation of soil pouring through my fingers, the miniature rainbows created as the jungle filtered sunlight hit the fine mist bursting through the sprinklers. We finished our task and headed to his place on the other side of the property, we passed a great white tepee nestled at the bottom of a slope, looking in place against the thick natural backdrop. Mani and his partner Catlin live in a beautiful hut on the edge of Sachamamma, rustic wood was the theme, it felt like such a home, the narrow winding staircase centred by a large cured tree trunk led to the bedroom loft, you could wake from such a bed, roll over and look out a small window to the forest below, its glass beaming with the afternoon light.
We spent the sunny afternoon walking around in a haze of existentialism, in the glee of childhood swinging from a rope into the lagoon or lying in bliss on the grass with a beer, it was good to see such a wonderful brother again.
Jean-Eric and I spent the next day visiting the Rainbow Temple, he had been a part of this collective for many years and I listened to his precursive descriptions excitedly. Upon arriving I revelled in the magic – on a mildly sloping hill a wonderful community – coming and going – had constructed a huge rotunda, so far four stories high, known as the temple. The intent was for seven stories to make up the colours of the rainbow (amongst other representations of this powerful number). The bottom level was the temple space for ceremonies and the like, the two levels up was accommodation – beds with mosquito nets hung over lined the circular wall, the top floor was that of a balcony and preparatory scaffolding for the next level.
There were neighbouring buildings presenting a stage, a dancefloor and a kitchen/dining/chillout area, we sat in the latter and I met the current residents. We sat on lounges circling a fire pit, guitars hung on the wall, artwork was everywhere I looked, from majestic portraits to abstract colours to written inspiration – this was a shared conscious community and I could see myself staying here at some point. Jean-Eric’s friend Tahnee and I were told of an underground tunnel and we left to investigate, we found the entrance and ventured in, it was pitch black and my only light source was the camera flash, but Tahnee bought along her phone to light the way. The tunnel ran the entire length of the temple with spaced wells reaching to the surface, ferns rooted underground had sprouted and filtered the sunlight pouring from the sky creating a golden green glow lighting up the parts of the cavern. Along the way I looked up, surprisingly presented with a galaxy of stars, wait, not stars but glow worms! Hundreds of pixel sized blue lights spread out and moving ever so slowly along the rocky ceiling, coming in and out of existence as the worms moved among their holes. We made noises of awe, pausing every so often to gaze into the moving spread of pinprick lights. We walked until the end was apparent and we could go no further, bats had taken residence at the furthest point and flapped about acknowledging our presence, we returned the way we came.
I enjoyed more time with Jean-Eric, two more added to the gathering, Emmanuel and Shannon who were hitchhiking in no particular direction and loving it, that night we shared home made sushi and engaging conversation.
The next morning we all left in separate cars and met at the Mullumbimby markets, this was my parting from the group and my heart was full of love as I drove off into the day in search of my next adventure – Mount Warning.