On the first of October Maria and I arrived at the seed camp for a hippy gathering, deep in the bushland of the NSW Northern Rivers. We stayed a few nights to see the site then left for the medicine ceremony – mentioned in the previous journal entry – to return four days later.
I parked at the top, near the house – when we left nearly a week ago the welcoming area was rich with activity and conversation, now it was deserted, the fire long gone out and the house locked up. The sun was going down so we began to watch a movie in the van, curiosity of circumstance kindling deep in our minds. Later that evening Duncan, the gathering host arrived unlocking and sliding the steel shed door of his corrugated green galvanised two bedroom home to retire for the night, we caught up with recent events and shared our own experiences before returning to our bedside film.
Next day’s light saw us planning and packing what gear we would take with us for the walk down, the rest would be ferried via the Rainbow Taxi, a bush 4WD ute perfectly suited for courier missions. The track was rough and steep, but I profess nowhere near as precarious as the last gathering in Victoria. Having braved the loose and slippery decline we came upon the camp, below and to our right Juliet was hard at work constructing the kitchen – so far this amazing woman had single-handedly erected the frame from locally felled young eucalypt poles, it had an apex five metres high – another pole acted as a crane to lift these load bearing giants into place with one end pulled downward by a block and tackle system.
Past the kitchen construction site and nestled amongst black wattle trees was an old open hexagonal building that would serve as the chai space, the only pre-existing structure in the area, on one half of the wood framed hut the floor was lower and had a long knee high bench made of stones, at each end an opening large enough to heat pots over a fire. Just outside of the chai space was a wooden veranda overlooking the steep lush slope leading to the river. Cats Claw vine covered the ground showing a green leafy carpet, its beauty however masking a sinister function where it would slowly smother a tree from bottom to top killing its host in vain to reach the sun.
Maria and I ventured down toward the river to find a camp site, I walked not far before a spot fell unto my eyes, curving tree trunks weighed down by Cat Claw, its vines creating drooping vertical screens buffeted by bright yellow flowers. From here I saw a grassy knoll leading to a shimmering expanse of the Rocky River, of each side steep crumbling slopes slowly being overgrown by lush foliage. Standing on the knoll I could see a long beach that would soon become the favourite spot of the gathering, its beautiful white sands calling me forth.
In the distance I heard music, beautiful ceremony style music, excitedly I left the camp set up for later and wandered down toward the sounds, my ears led me along an overgrown but well used cattle path and came out at another camp site. In front of me playing guitar and possessing a voice that would project and echo along the river banks was Heath, his brother Caleb creating a body moving rhythm on the djembe, Bec, Heath’s partner was nearby nursing Wilky their two year old son. I was invited and led to The Cosmic Lounge, a small clearing behind their camp, low overhanging branches formed a canopy barely high enough to stand, on one side hung a hammock, cushions surrounded a flat round tree stump on which stood a shisha pipe – I imagine a scene from Alice In Wonderland – instruments were bought in and a beautiful jam session was formed, this happened every evening for a week and bolstered amazing connections between us all. A few days in we were graced by Wantunga who makes and plays didgeridoos – the didge, added by guitar, djembe and divine singing voices we made music beneath the loving arms of the river bank trees.
The days were blissful, we worked a few hours preparing the camp then spent the rest of the day swimming, exploring, talking and jamming. Before we knew it the official opening of the gathering was here, and so was the rain, it fell hard and fast, for hours I lay in my hammock, the covering tarp barely keeping the rain off, then barely keeping the hail off – yet, I was happy and in love with it all.