The final week of 2015 saw me at the Monastery of Eleven Strings hanging out with Victoria, Dave, Dan, cats, ducks and butterflies. We all (minus cats and ducks) spent a day down at the creek running through the bottom of the land – soft green grass littered with daisy flowers, shaded by casuarina trees along clear running water – a fairy tale scene made manifest as we explored like Hansel and Gretel leaving only the crumbs of awe with nary an evil witch to see.
I stayed in the sun room for some of the time and the magic bus for the rest, the former was scattered with glass terrariums, hanging bottles of succulent plants and 1950’s newspaper ads and articles pasted to the wall. The light fixture was surrounded by twigs giving the room an amazing woodland feel at night, an alchemist would feel right at home. The magic bus held me in its steel embrace for the last four nights, having a comfortable bed with a view and solar power to charge the technology I could stretch out and claim the space.
Eventually I made my way to Melbourne, around three gentle days of travel, a peaceful camp by the Murray River for NYE and a stop to visit Dad on the way.
The day after the New Year I step into a beautiful house in Eltham. My hosts and travelling companions were awaiting my arrival including Tess who had just finished a ten day personal Vipassana retreat in the house served by Lauren and Daniel. Tess came out as we were in the lounge and perhaps unwilling to break her vow of silence gave the signal for sleep, and smiled a smile of tranquillity before leaving for her bedroom.
Next morning we shared a breakfast smoothie, packed the van and ventured forth on but little sleep and strong coffee. The ferry terminal littered with attendants and quarantine officers guiding our van and staying our confusion as we entered the steel belly of the hulking leviathan. Nine hours later, nine hours of books, cards and stimulating conversation and we kissed the shores of Devonport, Tasmania. Our first night would be a 15 minute drive to the beach on recommendation of a fellow ferry passenger and new friend, we set up and slept.
I dove under the crystal clear ocean waters along the Devonport shoreline, an electric sensation on my skin, I had not felt this from any other salt water swim – like an arctic blast on my body, but not cold – I felt accepted.
We journeyed southward, winding, rolling highway cutting through multitudinous landscapes, farmland, forest, village, lake and river all promoting sighs of awe from the travelling quartet. For hours we rolled along the blacktop, talking, listening, singing and in silence to eventually arrive at Barbara’s place, friends were staying here, working on a nearby cherry farm creating capital for their journeys, most of which would be going to another gathering, aligning to the focus of my Tasmania adventure.
This place was set on the side of a gradual hill leading to a crystal brook then up again to mountainous woodland. Long heads of soft golden grass tickling my ankles as I tread on the lush carpet like ground. Wind gently teasing the expanse making the field’s fragrant foliage dance in unison like the waves in an ocean. From the top of the sloping field I gazed toward the hills and valleys, an alpine wonderland set place with shades of green and grey, the blue sky bringing more colour to the already tear pouring view.
Across the creek a small path guided me toward the kitchen, alive with food preparation, music, smiles and talk. Shelves and benches, all built from the forest – thick and sturdy – made up the walls while a large wooden table – the central attraction was in activity of chopping and mixing. Just outside of the kitchen entrance was a large clay made oven, the door was opened showing the glowing red of hot coals illuminating tonight’s meal – lasagne.
Outside was a fire surrounded by a ring of stones, we circled this in gathering style and enjoyed our meal. The day after was a day of rest and rejuvenation, the four of us spent most of the time in siesta.
Did I mention that Barb had a firebath?
I drove to Hobart the next day, intently looking to have the camera repaired, no such luck, a replacement will be required, this expenditure will need to be thought out as I investigate the internet for cheaper options. The rest of the day was spent frolicking fancy free among the streets of the CBD with Miguel, Sari, Hannah and Tess.
We intended to go to Cygnet for the weekend, there was a folk festival playing Friday through Sunday so we took the adventure a day early and drove the two hours to get to the seaside town. As we trundled down the main street colours flooded in, trees and signposts covered in knitted yarn, shops painted dreamy seaside hues and the odd campervan parked on the street as the owner perused the alternative stores displaying rainbow clothing on racks out front.
Of the three local campgrounds we found, two were $10 per person, per night, more than we wished to pay so we searched for something well within our price range – free. After a few hours our options were an abandoned fruit and vegetable packing warehouse, which in my opinion would make a great horror set or a strip of dense bushland just out of view from the main road. A third consideration was talked about, we would knock on somebodies door and see if they would host us for the weekend. The property we walked into was something we collectively noted as we passed it the first time, Tess and I walked up the driveway, I was wearing a mustard yellow cotton shirt and red beret and Tess was wrapped in a blanket, mala beads hanging around her neck, we were set to make an impression.
We met Ellie and Peter at the back door, a semi retired couple who had moved from Mullumbimby, Ellie was a naturopath who was looking to start her business up again in Cygnet after two years in hiatus. After pleasant yet initially nervous conversation we agreed on $5 per night and set up on their large front lawn. The next morning we joined our hosts in qi gong on their front lawn before exploring Cygnet, the town that would come alive in joy and music.