One Up For The Factory

My ally and fellow journeyman Philip, who has trodded this trail before me, said of a place unlike most. Where warriers and wanderers and wanters of wisdom will wade in weed and wonderful awakenings. T’was indeed…

I arrived at the Arts Factory late at night and stepped right out of the bus and into the jew-bear Brad’s calm and collected cigarette break. Night security & all round solid boss, twinkle in the eye, good fella. Pulled my leg. “Sold out tonight” he said with a grave face, looking me up and down. Caught his bluff, but shrugged and lit one too. Got talking about my mandola. “Don’t fret” he finally said, breaking a laugh and a puff, “let’s go set you up”.

Next morning I came down to reception. “Oh yeah, you’re that Danish guy. You can drive the night bus.” Easy peasy. Drive a beat up 10 seater van between the Factory and the Rails for a star lit 6 hour shift. A simple 1 minute and 26 seconds drive, back and forth about 32 times. Pays for 4 nights of accomodation. I’d mentioned to Brad that I needed work asap, and he had already set me up. Good omen I say.

In this case accomodation means squatting a patch of sand in a rain forest garden together with possums, bush turkeys, dragons and a crew of young and enthusiastic travellers and roustabouts. Good toilets, great showers, functional kitchen – bring your own shelter and food. So off I went to the local Byron Bay Camping Disposals and, more reluctantly, the nearest supermarket. Holy stools this place is expensive.

Byron Bay is a tourist town with a strong alternative flavour. Drinking, surfing and relaxing is what this place is about for the passer-by. A hedonistic haunt some would say. Like a minuscule San Fransisco where a 2 week stay gets you a ticket to the long-termer’s club and where everyone is looking out for each other.

At the Arts Factory a straight forawrd “yes I can” is all you need for a ticket to the jungle. So here I am. Writing a song on the beach. Loading up on Australia’s abundance of natural medicine. Slowly and joyfully understanding the nature here. Laughing like a 6 year old when I look up at the night sky and my 32 years of subconscious star-mapping suddenly doesn’t match anymore.

Everyone I know here is looking for a job. Any job. It’s the early beginnings of the summer, cold gusts of wind still linger and traders have yet to hire this season’s hungry hands. About half of us serve at the Factory in exchange for her hospitality. Old lady she is; from the early 70’s onwards, the Arts Factory has delivered her promise of a refuge for the odd-outs and the creatives on the road to more roads. Lord knows how many before me…

Here’s a song I wrote for her…


I’ll tell you a story
G                    D
and I’ll tell it today
A                 D
about all the folks i met
G          D
in Byron Bay

Arriving one evening
to where it was at
I had my leg pulled
by a fella named Brad

He did put me up though
‘said “come stay with us”
and before I knew it
I was driving the bus


And it’s one up for the Factory
D          G      D
and her crazy crew
G                C           G
you know, it could be you!

I moved to the jungle
t’was a bungle of tents
and within the hour
I had a hundred friends

There were all sorts of Hippies
and Travelling Types
playing their music
and smoking their pipes

They took me around
for a magical ride
with star-studded eyes
to the beaches at night

And it’s…

It’s like a big family
of Nutheads & Grinners
Lovers & Sinners
and Pro’s and Beginners

‘Got Bushturkeys and
a Bushman on the site
with a bird on his shoulder
and a mouth full of shite!

The Gal’s at the desk
they’re always a pleasure
if I was a Pirate
they’d be in my treasure

And it’s…

I spoke to a fellow
one day over tea
I asked him his job
and he said this to me

“It would be a shame now
although I’m in need
to look for a job
while I’ve got all this weed!”

And it’s…

So the days roll by
in peaceful bliss
t’will be a time
that I’m going to miss

‘Cause I’m going to Nimbin
where the weeds grow tall
to work on a farm
but I’ll think of you all

And if you pass by at
the Arts Factory
could you check for my mail
I’d be grateful to thee…

And it’s…

Repeat Ad Lib




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