Harvest Moon

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dsc_0642dsc_0656Two thousand kilometres and twenty-four hours of driving to transfer our lush life in Port Douglas out west for work in Narrabri. Arriving a few days before work began, exploring the area was a given. Sawn Rocks was the closest option and was an amazing sight to visit.dsc_0658dsc_0660dsc_0681

Saturday, Andy and I moved in on the best spot in the caravan park after it was vacated. As we began to set up we watched this storm morph into a cell, before we knew it we were seperated and running from one hundred and twenty-five kilometre winds. Andy moving Nessy into the open and me trying to keep my camera dry.dsc_0690dsc_0694dsc_0696dsc_0698dsc_0701

It felt like a miracle that no one in the park got hurt, and all the vehicles got out with only minor scratches. The power was out and the aftermath brought everyone together to make friends. A few put in for a carton of beer and we ventured into town to inspect the damage.

dsc_0706dsc_0719dsc_0723dsc_0726dsc_0727dsc_0734Work began and we settled into a routine. Next day off and we went to Mount Kaputar in hope to watch the super moon rise. Apparently on a clear day you can see ten percent of New South Wales from the top. It was as cloudy as miso soup, but still offering amazing walks and wildlife at one and a half thousand metres above sea level.dsc_0737dsc_0742dsc_0747dsc_0750dsc_0756dsc_0769dsc_0773dsc_0794dsc_0808dsc_0811Sky turns to fire behind a happy sunflower.

Golden fields of wheat and a rising moon.dsc_0843dsc_0859dsc_0894BUNKER BOREDOM
Heat of the day, start work at one,
All covered up, out in the sun.
Ventured west to Narrabri,
You ask yourself why?
For harvest is here,
At this time of year.
Its chickpea and wheat,
Saving money sounds neat.

Birds hang around,
And peck at the mound.
Pigeions, Gala, Kites and Magpie geese,
Stuff them selves full with this mighty feast.
Unloading these trailors,
Twenty tonne at a time.
Lined up for hours,
While we sit and we wait.
Finally arrive, “How are ya mate?”
Sweeping up husk
Avoiding the dust.
Watching the pile slowly grow,
Falling grain, a picture we all know.
Sun begins to fall,
As the work begins to stall.
Breeze blows away the heat of the day,
Cool of the night, here to stay.
Work site rumbles on,
Like its own consistant song…
img_1311Finally our first full weekend off in a month of slogging it out in the sun at the bunkers. As Friday evening brought a temperature drop to thirteen degrees, we enjoyed the chill of the night that had been missed of late. It helped us decide to explore Pilliga for a camp out and a hot bath. We took Nessy off road to see the salt cave and lookout over Pilliga State Forest. Then travelled along more dry, red clay and sand toward the sculptures in the scrub, narrowly missing an mu that bolted head down straight across the road. The bush walk through the gorge was beautiful, we saw an Echidna off the path and a hive of native bees. There were carvings in the rock from Aboriginal people, showing animal tracks and also areas where axe heads were sharpened. The sculptures themselves were fantastic, a great community project to showcase some incredible Indigenous art out in the scrub. I especially liked the father teaching his son about hunting; a figure made from steel, looking out over the valley. A magical moment caught in time.

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dsc_0951 The bore bath was well deserved after a few hours bush walking getting grubby… I realized it was the first bath since hitting the road 8 months ago, a delightful thirty-seven degrees, and straight from the Earth. We met a man who was eager to chat, to tell us about all of his expensive earth moving equiptment, his double life on the farm in Pilliga and in the City. He was friendly enough, but as the conversation continued, he told us more and more about girls, and where to pick them up, dancing girls, model girls, which girls go to which bars, who he knows and what they own… You get the picture, I was bored..

Another woman arrived and after I couldn’t take it any longer I left Andy with old mate and swam over to her, she was a local Aboriginal woman. I told her about the lovely day we’d had exploring the area, and before long we were talking about the latest mining threat that has consumed their community for the last few years. I had heard about this back in Byron, as the issue was close to home for a lot of people. Drilling for coal seam gas was proved impossible for the prospecters in the Northern Rivers Region, with an amazing movement at Bently; a protesters camp set up for months. People dedicating their lives to protect the Water and the Earth. (I look forward to see the movie when it becomes more accessible, The Bently Effect). It was a huge breakthrough for the community to stand with such power that the miners had to look somewhere else.

Unfortunately that somewhere else included the Pilliga forest. Cheryl told me of her fears for the earth, for this clean artesian water that we bathed in, for all of the creeks and waterways that were threatened. I have seen footage of the dangers of this gas leaking into the water, not only does it become undrinkable and irritable to the skin, but also highly flammable… I laughed at the peculiar thought of the two elements, fire and water who seem like opposites merging into one.

We locked into conversation, both inspired by the possibility of change, to change away from materialism and greed into humble earth protectors. It was ironic, the two characters we bathed with that night, and I secretly hoped that old mate heard our concern, giving him something more deep to consider. We went on chatting, the last two in the water, and I left with both my heart and my hope full.

A reminder that these earth warriors are spread far and wide and will put their work, homes, family and friends aside to camp in the bush and protect water, our life-force.dsc_0953dsc_0963dsc_0988

WATER IS LIFE

One night at Saunders beach a big friendly smile popped into the back of the van while we were cooking mussel laksa. After a long chat, a connection was made. We were thrilled to find the same happy face at a free camp behind a pub near Ingham. Dinner was shared with Nils at our van camp, where we decided to venture to Wallaman falls together the next morning. The highest single drop waterfall in all of Australia, what a powerful place.

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dsc_0225dsc_0174The waterfall circuit is just divine, many rainforest walks were enjoyed, stopping to cool off in the fresh clear water.

dsc_0241Running low on funds,  it was time to find some work. With no luck  ringing around for farm work, we decided to head for Port Douglas and try our luck in hospitality.

Arrived at Deb’s place soon after making the decision, for sunset beers on the beach. An old friend of Andy’s and a new friend of mine.dsc_0259Mossman Gorge is one of the most impressive water ways I have ever visited.  It feeds the entire region with delicious drinking water and swimming all year round.

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dsc_0330dsc_0350dsc_0371Within the first week of living at Cooya beach we were blessed with not only finding jobs, but also with rain. Waking one day after constant downpour throughout the the early hours of the morning, I thought, to live somewhere with this much water falling from the sky offers a rich life.dsc_0381dsc_0373Discovering the Daintree; where the rainforest meets the sea.dsc_0385dsc_0390dsc_0406dsc_0403dsc_0411The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.                                                                            

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Diving on the Great Barrier Reef was certainly a treat for us, especially after Magnetic. I was happily surprised at how much colour still remains in the beautiful underwater gardens. Swimming over some sections was heartbreaking and shocking, reminiscent of rubble after a bomb strike. I highly urge everyone to listen to the following interview and light the spark in conversation. Maybe this issue is not as simple as rising sea temperatures.

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dsc_0424dsc_0427dsc_0477dsc_0481Life was full. Andy and I shared the van into Port to work cleaning hotels and waitressing, waiting for each other at the beach. Free hours were spent at home on the deck, reading, drinking tea and watching the sunbirds create a masterpiece on top of a hanging crystal.dsc_0523dsc_0564dsc_0601dsc_0606I settled into the Mossman community, enjoying life drawing and belle dancing classes, yoghurt soft serve from the health food shop and local swimming holes. I have a feeling I will live here again one day.

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East Coast Sailing

After the festival had been packed up, we enjoyed relaxing in Yeppoon for a week while we waited the arrival of my nephew. Leaving on a high after meeting him; little Muralo, we were heading for Eungella. I savoured memories of a family trip there when I was about eight, I had brought along a doll of mine that was as big as me to squish in the back seat with my brothers. My only other memory is peering over the bridge to see Platypi.

First night back on the road and we stayed at sandy point, made a fire, cooked dinner, hid from the mozzies and were gifted a salmon in the morning.
dsc_0139It was early afternoon and we made a quick decision to detour into Finch Hatton Gorge for the evening. We found a bush camp (the most expensive one yet, mind you it was right next to the water) and went straight to the creek to explore the gorge. dsc_0148As we are both bush at heart, we ventured off the track at the first opportunity to enter the water, thinking we would walk up the creek instead of the path. It was beautiful to be back in the rainforest, with ferns and palms shading the cool fresh waterways. dsc_0163dsc_0169dsc_0187After a two-hour trot up stream we came to a beautiful waterfall, to the left was a steep flat face, the right was a maze of jaggered rock face that housed thick scrub. Not being able to go up the waterfall of ten metres itself, we chose right with a mantra of ‘don’t look down’. Coming out the other side with only a few scratches felt like a massive accomplishment, until we stumbled upon a fork in the stream. Light of the day was beginning to fade in the thick forest and not really having any idea of the destination itself, we accepted that we were lost and the only secure option to see us home by dark would be to turn around, so we did.

Back at camp, we shared our salmon fillets with our American neighbors, and enjoyed sleeping to the song of gushing water. In the morning we walked out to the creek and spotted Platypi on the distant bank, as if we wern’t already thrilled enough, walking back a lovely couple gifted us a few handfuls of fresh prawns. We were impressed to see the immediate effect of karma going full circle, and pleased to have the luxury of seafood in the rainforest.dsc_0201dsc_0220We climbed up the misty mountain in Nessy, had a poke around in the cool wet weather and then decided to drive out to Eungella dam to camp the night. It is an amazing little spot that’s secluded and spacious, with an amazing dam that wraps around the headland, stretching into the distance. There were boats and fishermen and plenty of firewood to keep us warm in the cool chill of the wind. Cooking dinner on the fire is always a treat, especially when it is chili tomato prawns.

We were up early to drive back to the river to spot some Platypi. It was raining so we sat in the comfort of bed, drinking coffee and getting cosy reading to each other. We ventured out to join other wildlife watchers, photographers and curious folk to huddle on the banks in silence. It wasn’t long before they were spotted, reminiscent to a beaver in some ways, swimming cheekily on their backs, and then diving deep like ducks. They were out and about, cruising through the water and back and forth between their burrows in the banks. Absolutely beautiful to watch, they have such a fresh and playful nature.
dsc_0226dsc_0249We sailed straight up the coastal highway, headed for Townsville. A few rainy overcast days on the road, sleeping at free camps along the way.dsc_0272The Townsville Cultural Festival was heaps of fun, as was catching up with Andy’s good mate and his family. We camped around the area for a good long week, finding beautiful free camps within 50km north of Townsville. Thanking WikiCamps app everyday for making it so easy. Free camping right on the beach, with black cockatoos feeding from the native almond, waking up to beach swims, yoga sessions and fishing (with no luck). Having the luxury of a cold fresh water shower and a toilet block made life simple and full. In and out of town to enjoy all that the festival had to offer, fabulous live music, art installations and an art maze, empowerment workshops, and a huge array of beautiful food. I was thrilled to sit down with some local aunties to some womens business, learning how to weave a little basket out of natural fibres.

The palmeterrian offered solace as a natural escape to soothe a wine induced hangover, and we agreed that botanical gardens should be at the top of the list when visiting cities.dsc_0278dsc_0333

MAGNETIC ISLAND

dsc_0344We were off to Magnetic Island next, took Nessy on the barge to travel the short 8km off the coast of Townsville. It was such a wonderful week, what amazing landscape this little island holds, volcanic granite boulders explode out of the earth and lie pilled all over the hills and bushland, meeting beautiful coast lines. There were heaps of fantastic bush walks to go on, and we met locals who advised us on the least suspicious places to park up and free camp for the night.dsc_0351

dsc_0356We bought a kg of bait and struggled to get rid of any of it, a part from a few little rock cods we didnt have any luck. I imagined that on this trip I would be offered the oppourtunity to catch and kill a fish to eat for the first time. As I do enjoy eating seafood and do believe you should be prepared to take the life to eat it, I was ready to face this idea first hand, and then decide whether or not to keep eating fish. Unfortunately it wasnt meant to be, and we began to understand why we hadnt had any bites when we did some diving. It was all a little sad really, two dives over two days, both at low tide under a measly 8m, very turbulent with low visibility under the water and a huge lack of anything interesting to look at (apart from the remains of a small ship wreck and a couple of coral trout). As fun as it was, it was also pretty dissapointing and after that we gave up on the fishing, realising that the eco system had a lot of regenerating to do. However, it was exciting to get back into all of the dive equiptment and experience breatheing under water again, I hadnt realised how much I had missed it.dsc_0377

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dsc_0405We ended our island holiday with a beautiful day trip to a beach that we had to ourselves in horseshoe bay. We spent the day completely relaxed, and enjoyed watching a family of osprey above us, the mother or the father caught more fish in a few hours then we did in a few days, we watched it pull them apart and then regurgatate the fresh catch to their young. When night arrived, we made a little fire under the star filled sky and left a crock pot full of pumpkin, sweet potato, left over veg, coconut cream, herbs and spices on the coals. A local photographer arrived to capture the glowing milky way of a dark moon and showed us some of his impressive wildlife shots. Andy played the guitar and I pulled out the beautiful meal to find it had slowly dissolved into a chunky soup.dsc_0423

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dsc_0446dsc_0455Another relaxing day. We walked over the bushy headland for a swim at the nude beach and cracked a cider on the barge home(mainland), wondering where to pull up next…