Australia

Australia Part Five: “So much of who we are, is where we have been”

The love of field and coppice,

Of green and shaded lanes

Of ordered woods and gardens

Is running in your veins.

 

Raindrops pearl down the car window. Some slower, some slide down like if they were in a race, trying to “(b)eat” all the others on their way. They appear like hundreds of little portholes, their curvy shape having the same effect as hundreds of little fisheye lenses.

Drive to Lismore

Strong love of grey-blue disdance

Brown streams and soft, dim skies,

I know, but cannot share it,

My love is otherwise.

We (my hostfamily and me) are on the way to the Lismore Farmers Market. I’m sitting in the car, passengers seat. Left side – still weird. My face leans sidewards on the headrest, and I observe the landscape. I enjoy this saturday morning routine: the drive to Lismore is just beautiful, gives me time to rest and let my thoughts flow.

I love a sunburnt country,

A land of sweeping plains,

Of ragged mountain ranges,

Of droughts and flooding rains.

I love her far horizons,

I love her jewel-sea,

Her beauty and her terror

The wide brown land for me! 

>It’s crazy, how different the landscape looks on such a rainy, cloudy day, compared to the sunny golden view I normally get on this drive. The clouds hang deep and in many swollen dark grey layers over the fields, like a curtain to dim the lights. We pass through saturated green hills, yellowish fields and this imposant, dark green bamboo trees, of which each itself looks like a little, mysterious forest. The morning dust still lingers between the round, dark green crowns of the trees. Some birds slide elegantly but busy through the air. Bushes pass faster, than my eyes are able to process and like that, their silhouettes become blurry.

My favourite: The bamboo tree

The stark white ring-barked forests,

All tragic to the moon,

The sapphire-misted mountains,

The hot gold hush of noon,

Green tangle of the brushes

Where lithe lianas coil,

And orchids deck the tree-tops,

And ferns the warm dark soil. 

I think about how fast time has passed in Rileys Hill, during my volunteering time. How intense it was, how much I’ve learned (for me, for life), how many lovely people I’ve met. How settled and good I feel here.

Core of my heart, my country!

Her pitiless blue sky,

When, sick at heart, around us

We see the cattle die

But then the grey clouds gather,

And we can bless again

The drumming of an army,

The steady soaking rain. 

The Farmers Market is a nice place to get fresh local food, to enjoy a good coffee and just to hang and observe the bustle of the day. I enjoy my french omelette and look around: people walk around, choose their groceries. It’s kind of busy, but relaxed. Little toddlers ran around. It’s always time for a smile and a chat. Someone plays the guitar. It smells incredibly good, a mixture of all different kinds of flavours and spices.

This mix comes close to how I would describe my time as a volunteer: Every day has just been an adventure itself, always fun (OK, till the dishwasher broke :D), offering new challenges, learnings and lovely people. I think, I’ve never seen the beach (and the ocean, la mer) so regularly. The wallabees are hopping through our garden, and sometimes, if I am lucky, I might spot a koala in the big tree on the way to the busstop, where I pick up the kids.

Core of my heart, my country!

Land of the rainbow gold,

For flood and fire and famine

She pays us back threefold.

Over the thirsty paddocks,

Watch, after many days,

The filmy veil of greenness

That thickens as we gaze … 

 

I’ve learned to drive on the left side, to craft dreamcatchers and some guitar chords. I painted water colour for the first time since ages, again. I’ve definitely developed some nanny skills 😉 I visited a local coffee roasting and learned about the roasting processes, enjoying the explosion of smells with every single time the beans fell out of the roaster.

Can you smell it?

Sometimes it’s been quiet, sometimes we had “full house”, sometimes we went on bushwalks or explored markets, waterfalls or new beaches. There was just always something fun to do.

“So much of who we are, is where we have been”, says a quote by William Langewiesche. As I read it I thought, that this simple sentence is one of the few true ones out there. At least, for me personally.  My travelling and volunteering time has indeed a big impact on me – it would be a pity if it didn’t. But it’s not just about becoming more relaxed, about becoming more self-confident while traveling, and about seeing the most amazing places.

One of the biggest changes for me, is one thing of which I didn’t even knew that I had lost it over all my office work: The way I feel nature, again. The ocean, the waves, the jungle, the mountains, the animals…nature happens, here and now. It goes on it’s cycle. In nature, it is not important if you’re just in the middle of a life crisis or don’t know what to do or whatever. In nature, you are part of it just by existing.

Welcome to the jungle!

 

All in all,

I would even dare to say that the travelling and volunteering made me grow up a bit. But, instead of giving me wrinkles, like my former jobs often did, this kind of growing up, put a smile on my face.

Thank you so much Corinne and Dan (and Nani and Clovis and Willpa and Lee and all the other lovely people…), for welcoming me with open arms, for taking care of me and for integrating me in your family. My time here couldn’t have been a better one.

An opal-hearted country,

A wilful, lavish land

All you who have not loved her,

You will not understand

though Earth holds many splendours,

Wherever I may die,

I know to what brown country

My homing thoughts will fly. *

 

*Poem “My Country” by Dorothea Mackellar

 

Places to visit

Byron Bay

Evans Head

Lennox Head

Mullumbimby

Lismore

People to know

Norval Watson

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