Old Friends In New Places

I barely made it back to Nimbin before I got a message from my old friend Kristian – or Madsen as he is known to friends. He was on his way to Byron Bay only a few hours from Ponyland. What are the odds? I quickly made my way back to Byron…

Madsen has landed a job as a tour guide for Danish students. His itinerary includes Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Thailand in the next 6 months. Sounds like a dream job if you ask me.

Now where did that image go?

And Suddenly Australia Became very Familiar

So here we are, hanging out in Australia together. It always feels great to have friends from home who knows what you have experienced in foreign lands.

On top of that, my good friend Tash wrote to tell me that she will be joining my other friend Anton and myself at the Eclipse Festival in North Queensland in a few weeks!

And then Anton called and said he might drive all the way there from Perth and pick me up on the way. I mean, that would be fantastic, but I don’t blame him if he changes his mind. It’s a 5500km drive…

This country is huge and would easily fit in all of my friends, so by all means, do come visit!

 

 

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Pickin’ Coffee

Let me tell you this: If I had to pick all my morning coffee beans myself, I would be drinking a lot less coffee… I’ve just spent 8 days working 11-12 hours daily, picking coffee berries all day long. It’s not really that hard a job to be honest, but it takes a long time. From now on, I will always send a kind thought to the person who hand-picked the coffee that I drink!

Now where did that image go?

This is about 8-9 hours worth of picking…

I had been told by my saviour Andrew, that I could make up to $200 a day, which sounded like an incredibly good deal to me. I guess that it was indeed possible to make that kind of money, but I sure didn’t…

When I got dropped off at the farm by one of the ponies, I went up to the owners house to present myself. He reassuringly said; “oh yes, you must be Andrew’s mate”, but then not so reassuringly continued; “you are here for a day or two right?”. Wrong. I was thinking more like a month! What had happened? I looked at him very puzzled and said that I had been told there’d be work for at least a few weeks… “Well, thing is, we’ve nearly spent all the money we can afford on wages for the pickers, so there really isn’t much work for you… But let’s see how it goes and then perhaps there’ll be 4 days of work…”

“I’m happy to work for you in whatever capacity you may find fit” I replied, feeling like a desperate man, pleading his bank-advisor for yet another loan. But there were no other capacities – only picking – so picking it was…

That first night, I was the only picker on the farm – the others had gone to town for a day off. I barely pitched my tent before a great big storm of rain and wind came rolling in over the beautiful hills of the Bangalow area, and as the nature showed off its muscles outside I took refuge in the old rickety dairy barn where the other pickers had set up a manky make-shift kitchen space.

At least I had brought lots of food and a good cooker, so I carved out a space for myself among all the trash and sacks of coffee beans, and sat down to enjoy myself with a meal and my mandola.

“I ain’t got no money, but I’ve got a soul! And I wouldn’t trade my life or death, for anybody’s gold!” I sang to an improvised blues-riff. One of those evenings where you don’t know if you’re bought or sold and whether you should have perhaps done something completely different with yourself… “Ah well”, I thought to myself after a long time feeling a mixture of disappointment and frustration; “I might as well make the most of it!”.

Now where did that image go?

Believe It Or Not, This Machine Actually Works Just Perfect

It turned out that Andrew had thought that the farmer would end up giving me at least a weeks work and that I wouldn’t have come if I hadn’t been sure of more than a couple of days. Quite rightly so and good on him for not telling me: The farmer did hire me for 8 days, which was sufficient to make it all worthwhile for me.

The next morning, I set out to pick as much coffee as I possibly could, and surprisingly I did quite well. 58 kg I picked, and even the farmer was quite impressed, when he weighed my crates on the old and battered bathroom scale. The whole operation was a bit “ram-shackle” in his own words.

That’s one way to put it. Another is “charming”. You see, in Denmark, there would have been a whole hangar full of hi-tech machines and state-of-the-art equipment to handle the processing of the beans. Every picker would have been issued with matching work-clothes, ergonomic buckets for carrying the pickings, digital scales weighing every gram of coffee-berries, big and shiny new tractors to drive around the farm with and so on and so forth. Here at Bangalow Coffee, it seemed that a wheelbarrow and a 1950’s Massey Ferguson would do the trick. I loved it!

The only thing that made the next 8 days different to each other, was the slight variation in how many kg I picked and how tired I felt. The two things kind of went together, and towards the end I was picking minimal amounts with progressively heavier arms. Oh yes, there was one other difference. I only got a tick-bite 5 out of the 8 days.

Now where did that image go again?

A Huntsman Spider On The Roll…

Those little fuckers, can’t believe how strong their jaws are. It took my co-worker three strong pulls to pry one out of my hair and it felt like my skin would come off too. Not to mention the one I pulled off my left testicle… But beyond that (plus a few snakes, wallabys, laughing birds and giant spiders), nothing much to write home about really – although we did have lots of laughs in the evenings.

Basically, it was me and 3 other pickers who were there full-time. Interestingly, we represented 4 different continents gathered in a 5th; Andrew from South Africa, Xavier from Canada, Fumi from Japan and myself from Denmark. Not that it mattered much; we all had stiff necks and cramped fingers by the end of the day, regardless of our nationality.

Now where did that image go?

My Temporary Paradise In The Himalayas

Another thing we had in common was India. Many a conversation revolved around this incredible country (litterally; hard to believe) and its enigmatic citizens. And for the first time since I left my temporary paradise in the Himalayas in June this year, I actually felt like I might return to India – one day. Definitely not soon. Maybe never. Argh, who knows..?

Anyway, in my last post I wondered how much coffee I would have to pick in order to earn $1000 dollars. The answer is 465 kg. And guess what? As the coffee farmer weighed my very last bucket of beans, I triumphantly threw my hands in the air, happy and proud that I had picked 468 kg in total, thus making just over a thousand bucks in little more than a week!

What next? Well, I’m heading back to Ponyland to rest my arms and enjoy the exquisite company. Hopefully I can find some more work around Nimbin (no ginger-planting!!!) but as it is, I have enough dough to see me through the next month at least. Come what may, I’m ready!

Now where did that image go?

Kicking Back In The Sunset After A Long Day’s Work

Meanwhile, you will perhaps enjoy reading the song that I wrote in my head while picking picking picking away. Whenever I came up with a verse, I would sing it out loud, much to the joy of my fellow pickers. One day, however, I realised the farmer himself was picking away in the row right next to me… So, dear coffee-farmer, if you are reading this, please understand that it was a joyful way of passing time, not some kind of criticism of my job. I am very happy indeed that I got this opportunity!

Imagine a slow and rusty blues melody sung by someone like this guy and with a whole choir of coffee-pickers singing the chorus for him:

Pickin’ Coffee Blues

Chorus: Pickin’ cofffee, pickin’ coffee all day long, pickin’ coffee

I got a job on a farm (chorus)
I got a job on a farm (chorus)
I got a job on a farm,
lost my lucky charm, pickin’ coffee all day (chorus)

My arms they feel like lead (chorus)
My arms they feel like lead (chorus)
My arms they feel like lead,
I’m like a living dead, pickin’ coffee all day (chorus)

I got a tick on my ball (chorus)
I got a tick on my ball (chorus)
I got a tick on my ball,
yeah it’s no fun at all, pickin’ coffee all day (chorus)

I got no money on my pocket (chorus)
I got no money on my pocket (chorus)
I got no money on my pocket,
gotta be a hole in my bucket, pickin’ coffee all day (chorus)

If I was paid by the hour (chorus)
If I was paid by the hour (chorus)
If I was paid by the hour,
I would’ve had time for a shower, pickin’ coffee all day (chorus)

Instead I’m paid by the tonne (chorus)
Instead I’m paid by the tonne (chorus)
Instead I’m paid by the tonne,
ain’t got no where to run, pickin’ coffee all day (chorus)

I might just drink me a cup! (chorus)
Oh yeah, just pour me a cup! (chorus)
Goddammit, pour me a cup,
so I can wake my ass up, for pickin’ coffee all day

BREAK – then triple tempo

Pickin’ coffee, pickin’ coffee all day long, pickin’ coffee!
Pickin’ coffee, pickin’ coffee all day long, pickin’ coffee!
Pickin’ coffee, pickin’ coffee all day long, pickin’ coffee!
Pickin’ coffee, pickin’ coffee all day long, pickin’ coffee!

repeat and fade out…

 

 

The Great Guruman

Now where did that image go?

First time I saw a Guruman he was skinned, gutted and cut up in a bucket. I was serving a young man, with Aboriginal paint-marks on his face, a piece of chocolate cake and a cup of chai, and I asked him how his day had been. As I spotted the long and powerful tail hanging out of his bucket, he replied; “ah, great mate, we just went hunting and caught a roo, yes please two sugars.”

That evening I had my first taste of kangaroo meat (splendid taste!) before I’d even seen a live one. I am not sure how that fits into the Aboriginal practice of taking on the spirit of Guruman – as he is called among the Aboriginals of New South Wales – but for what it’s worth I had a wonderful spring night.

To the Aboriginals, guruman is a powerful creature and a much revered and respected ancestor. But apparently a dead guruman isn’t above the need for food as they have been eating roos since they first threw spears. More interestingly, perhaps, they also used to stuff the scrotum (ball-sack) of the male guruman and play football with it!

It was the famous explorer James Cook who, in 1770, first recorded the name “kangooroo” and legend has it that when he pointed to one of these large hopping creatures and asked an aboriginal man what it was called, the man replied “kangooroo” which apparently meant “I don’t have a clue what you are saying mate”. In any case, the name caught on and in the typical Asutralian fashion of abbreviating nearly every word, this magnificent animal is now commonly known as a “roo”.

For the first two weeks I was looking everywhere for guruman with no luck. Not even on the long drive to remote Tabulam did I see one and I was getting really impatient. I guess I had thought they would be hopping around on the tarmac already as I got out of the airplane, knowing that guruman is an endemic species on the continent. Alas, there were only uptight customs officers to greet me, also an endemic species according to some of the travellers I have met here.

Roos live in flocks also known as “mobs” or “troops” with 10 or more individuals in them. This provides safety for some of the weaker members of the mob, for instance the little ones which are known as “joeys”. A grown female guruman is called a “doe”, a “flyer” or a “jill” while a male guruman can be called a “buck”, a “boomer”, a “jack” or simply “old man”. As we say in Denmark; “cherished children have many names…”

It wasn’t until the third morning of my stay here in Ponyland (a newly formed community near Nimbin of which you will hear more later) that I saw the next guruman. I was slumbering in my tent in the wee hours of budding daylight when I felt the earth beneath me vibrate from the impact of large feet. Still not quite used to the extravagant assortment of wildlife in Australia, I admit that I was a bit worried despite my half-conscious, half-sleeping state of mind. The thundering thuds ended abruptly right in front of my tent, but before I could even spell the word panic, I heard a friendly voice call out; “Cornelius, come and join us in the shed, we’re skinning a roo, you’ll love it!”

It was Dave, the multi-talented and incredibly energetic guy who is a founding member of the Pony-Club. He had just returned from Sydney and late in the evening as he was approaching home, he’d found a dead roo on the road. Roadkill, as they call it. True to his conservationist ideals, he’d thrown it in the back of his car and as soon as the sun shone on the land he got up to rip the skin off of the unfortunate bugger and proceeded to separate the good meat from the bad. He’d been hopping out of joy over his find when he went to get me so I could wittness the butchering. It seemed a bit early for me to have my first lesson in skinning a roo, but hey, how often do you get that kind of opportunity? I immediately got up and had a go at ripping the furry skin off with a sharp knife.

Now where did that image go?

Dave the Butcher

When we got to the tricky part around the anus, however, I left it for Dave to finish the job while I cooked up a healthy porridge, just as my soul mate Isabelle has taught me. But even the lovely smell of cinnamon and cardamom couldn’t mask the pungent odour that the dead animal gave off as the process of decay slowly kicked in. I always fancied myself as a would-be hunter and butcher if the need arose, but as I helped Dave with the skinning and gutting, I started to have my doubts as my porridge began edging its way back up through my throat…

Truth be told, it wasn’t even a real roo, but a specimen of guruman’s smaller cousin, the wallaby. Wallabys look very much like kangaroos, and for every practical aspect of the animal, the two are almost identical if not for the difference in size. So the following morning, when I awoke to finally see what I thought was a real living guruman hopping about on the cow-field where I have pitched my modest tent, it was merely a local wallaby in pursuit of whatever food it could find. Beautiful as it was, and impressed as I was, it still wasn’t the real deal. I wanted to see a genuine (or as they say here; “fair dinkum”) guruman, and I still do.

The wallaby I had seen was little more than a meter tall and it was rather scared of me as I rose from my bedding in the metallic-grey igloo, so out of place in the natural setting. A real guruman wouldn’t have batted an eyelid at my strange appearance; they grow to be 2 metres tall and weigh up to 90 kg. Throw in some pretty good boxing skills, a maximum speed of 70 km/h and the ability to swim, and you have one mean opponent staring you right in the face. Maybe it’s a good thing that I haven’t seen one up close yet..?

The first Europeans to describe a guruman explained that it was an animal with the head of a deer (without the antlers) which stood upright like a man, jumped like a frog and sometimes had a second head sticking out of the belly. Needless to say, no one believed in these crazy tales from the end of the world. Of course, the head on the belly is just a tiny guruman in his/her mother’s pouch into which they crawl immediately after birth to continue growing until they can do the jumping by themselves. Possibly one of the cutest images from the animal kingdom if you ask me. Most of us know about the “baby in the bag” but I was quite surprised to find out that a female guruman can put her pregnancy on pause if the first joey hasn’t left the sack yet or if there isn’t enough food or water to grow the embryo. The wonders of nature…

In this day and age the guruman has become subject of a very curious study; how to eliminate the methane gasses released into the atmsophere by farting cows, thus posing a threat to our life-sustaining atmosphere. Thing is, roos don’t fart! Instead they have a bacteria in their intestines which breaks down the methane and converts it into more energy for jumping around. This is of great interests to a group of dedicated scientists, who wants to introduce guruman’s helpful bacterias into the stomachs of cows all over the world. Oh science… At this point my frantic imagination is feeding my mind with some great images of jumping cows and supermarket shelves stocked with kangaroo-milk.

I’d better stop here before it all gets too strange. Thank you for showing interest in guruman, Australia’s finest national animal, found on everything from coins and emblems to the twisted bull-bars of roaring road-trains, plowing through mobs of roos in the desolate deserts of this weird and wonderful country. I hope that I get to see a real and living guruman some day, and I promise that I will take a picture of him and show it to you as soon as I do!

 

 

The Art Of Applying

 

I’ve come across a most interesting position as a fencer in the remote areas around Broome in Western Australia. No, not the sword-sport, but putting up cattle fences out in the bush, sleeping under the sky and working in the sun all day. Like some western movie. And the guy’s name was Kurt Finger! He grew up on the land, probably an outback legend. Why not?

On behalf of my dear friend Anton and myself, I sent the following mail to the man with the great name. I believe job applications are art pieces in their own right. This is really one of my better applications if I may say so myself. So if you’re into that sort of thing, here’s one for the gallery:

G’Day Sir,

We are two mates – from Ireland and Denmark – who have come to Australia to look for work. We saw your ad on the Internet and thought this would be just the kind of thing we are looking for. Below you will find a brief resume from us both.

We are both hard workers from rural backgrounds and we have worked as a contracting team on numerous occasions throughout the last 7 years in Copenhagen and Europe. We enjoy camping out and self-reliant lifestyles and between the two of us we have been roughing it in nearly half of the world, working and travelling. Make no mistake, we know that this is hard work in a different and difficult environment, but we are up for the challenge!

Being on our 1st Working Holiday Visa, we are looking to do at least 3 months of regional work to enable us a 2nd year visa and from there on possibly a sponsorship. Under this scheme, we can, unfortunately, only work for any one company for up to 6 months at a time, but we are looking into how that works if we are ABN registered. In any case, the time frame for us at the moment, would be 3-6 months, but we would be happy to extend that if possible.

We are ready to start from the 5th of October, but would need about 10 days off from November 8-18 as we have prior engagements in North Cairns at that time.

We’ll be honest with you; we came here to make some bucks, so we’d like to ask you how much we are looking at salary-wise?

Here are two brief summaries on us both:

Anton White Orbaek
Age: 28
Nationality: Irish/Danish
Qualifications: Mechanical Engineer Technician (Dublin), Master in Sustainable Technologies (Copenhagen),
Relevant Work Experience: Construction (carpentry, concrete-work, welding etc.); Farming; Maintenance; Casual Labouring and more.
Extra: Hard Worker; Self-motivated; Experienced Arc-Welder; Knows his way around a number of heavy duty machines i.e. tractors, diggers, bobcats etc.

Cornelius Lundsgaard
Age: 32
Nationality: Danish
Qualifications: Jack-of-all-Trades (school of life)
Relevant Work Experience: Construction (carpentry, concrete-work, flooring, plumbing); Farming; Maintenance; Casual Labouring and much much more.
Extra: Hard Worker; Self-motivated; Danish Fork-Lift Certificate; Has worked on ships; Fluent English; Knows his way around a number of heavy duty machines i.e. tractors, diggers, bobcats etc.

We hope to hear from you in the near future!

Sincerely,

Anton and Cornelius

Mr. Finger got back to us very quickly, but it turned out the wages were much too small to make it worth the relocation to tropical Broome. I hope to get there eventually though, sounds like a beautiful place in a rough sort of way…

Keep dreaming out there folks, thanks for checking in!

 

 

Getting A Paint-Job

On the magnificent Gum Tree website  I came across a job as a house painter. Sure, I have painted houses before, but how to apply..? I came up with this:

Hi there,

We’ve just spoken on the phone and so this is just for you to have my details etc. on “paper”. (Read: I really need the money)

My name is Cornelius, I am a Danish man – 32 years of age – who is looking for temp jobs in Byron Bay Area. (I’m probably leaving soon)

I hold a Working Holiday Visa and I am eager to earn some cash before heading North to look for a more permanent position. (Bogus excuse that sounds respectable but really is a festival)

I have substantial experience with house-painting and other tasks pertaining to building and renovation. (Now there’s a nice ambiguous word – substantial)

I am used to working on my own and I am a reliable and hard worker (never been fired) with experience in many different sectors, i.e. a Jack-Of-All-Trades. (Just trust me, I can do it. Anything. Please.)

I am known to be a very sociable and service-minded person who gets the job done without delay or quarrel. (Ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it!)

If you hire me I can guarantee you that I will be doing my very best to make your customers happy with your services. (Exactly what kind of guarantee am I on about?)

You can contact me on my mobile or alternatively on my email.

Thank you for your time and looking forward to hearing from you!

All the best

Cornelius

I actually got the job (good omen) but opted for going to Nimbin instead to try my luck there. Seems like Australia is the place to be for a Jack-Of-All-Trades with not a single paper to prove my skills – wish me luck!

Dream Time Dancing

Bunjalung Dancers Taking Us All Into The Dream Time

I had been in the country for 8 days but had yet to experience anything beyond Byron Bay and I was itching to see the country side. My time had been spent figuring out how to join official Australia by registering with the tax office, setting up a bank account and genereally just figuring out how the System worked in this part of the world. But now the time had finally come to get my shirt dirty and go into the bush.

My amazing new friend Rad (see  Remarkable Encounters) had asked me if I wanted to join her in going to a so-called Rainbow Corroboree where Aboriginals from the region would be sharing some of their sacred dances with whoever felt like joining the event. Having always been fascinated with Aboriginal culture, and knowing how rare it was for white folks to be included in their ceremonies, I obviously jumped at the opportunity with great excitement, even without really knowing what I was getting into.

Into The Bush

When Rad pulled into the parking lot at the Arts Factory, it was the first time we had seen each other since we had initally met in India, some 5 months before. I was thrilled to be able to thank her in person with a great big hug for the support she had given me in Australia already.

I was also thrilled to see her daughters again, the lovely Saisha and Pad, who are among the wisest and most grounded kids I have ever met. After a good long hugging session, we all climbed into Rad’s ancient and beautifully decorated campervan, cranked up some mellow reggae and got rolling into the hinterland of Northern New South Wales – on the way to a most unusual meeting of cultures.

Climbing up and down the steep hills towards the heartland of Bunjalung culture, the tiny village of Tabulam, Rad told me more about the Rainbow Corroboree – also called “Julinbah Yowarl” by the indigenous Bunjalung Nation who refer to their land as the Rainbow Region.

It turned out that this was more than just a display of Aboriginal culture to uninitiated spectators: This festival was going to be a gathering of people who were eager and willing to share their arts and their beliefs across the vast gap between Aboriginal and White Australia. Not only was I going to experience the Bunjalung’s sacred dances first hand, I was also going to meet hundreds of hippies, travellers and like-minded people. It seemed that I had struck a golden ore less than two weeks into my trip!

Prophecy Come True

The Julinbah Yowarl was started 4 years ago by a group of white Australians – who were more than just sympathetic towards the rights of Aboriginals – and a group of Bunjalung Elders and their much respected prodigy Uncle Lewis.

To my understanding, Uncle Lewis has been chosen as the keeper and custodian of the local Bunjalung myths and legends, also known as songlines, and according to a Bunjalung Rainbow profecy the time has now come for the Bunjalung People to share their ancient wisdom with the rest of the world.

As we drove through the gate to Uncle Lewis’ huge property outside of Tabulam, 5-year-old Padma took over the wheel, sitting on her mother’s lap, while we tried to figure out which of the handful of dirt tracks in front of us would lead to the festival-site.

I’ve never seen a 5-year-old steer a car so competently (and stubbornly), and with everybody’s eyes on the road we found our way over a broad field and through the forest to a gorgeous meadow bordering a clear and sparkling river: We had finally arrived at the forefront of the ongoing reconciliation process between white and black Australians.

Far from the bushy-faced, Santa-Claus-bodied image I had conjured, Uncle Lewis was as lean a warrior as I’ve ever seen, with a sharply defined and designed beard, long shiny black hair and rope-like muscles bulging under his deep brown skin as he hammered in the last peg of the Children’s Tent.

“Jingiwala brother, heuw ya goin?” he addressed me as I rocked up to the site to offer my help. When he heard I’d come from the other side of the planet, he shook my hand and thanked me with a “booglebare” and his dark and intense eyes. He told me to start doing whatever I felt like doing.

Setting Up With The Go-To-Guys

We’d arrived a day early and on the main site you could hardly tell there was going to be a festival happening only 24 hours later. But just a 3-minute walk down the riverside there were already a small temporary village of elaborate camper vans, home-made teepees, tents and improvised shelters.

These were all full-time modern Australian hippie-gypsies it seemed, humans whose nomadic lifestyles and spiritual searches had brought them here several days early and most likely would only leave several days after the event was over.

I quickly got head-hunted to rig up a sun-shelter for the Elders of the local Bunjalung tribe. It was the gentle and hard-working Sky who gave me the honourable task. Sky is a Polish force of nature who immigrated to Australia more than 30 years ago, protesting the Communist regime in his native land and dodging the compulsary military service that would have sent him fighting into Afghanistan.

Some years ago, Sky and a few others had gotten to know some of the Bunjalung Elders of the area as well as Uncle Lewis. Together they had envisioned the Rainbow Corroboree which is now taking place twice a year at the time of equinox.

Somehow I had managed to get to know the main organizers of the Rainbow Corroboree within a few hours of arriving at the event, and I was feeling grateful to the point where I hardly knew where to channel my emotions.

After a long, hot and happy day, working away with the dedicated crew, I returned to the spot where Rad had put her van next to the river. On the way I enjoyed the setting sun behind the rolling hills and the eucalyptus and iron-bark forest, and the rising smoke from the many bonfires with laughing, cooking, singing and sleeping people sprawled around them – life was good!

Family Is All Around

The next morning I decided to give the guys from the Rainbow Chai Tent a hand. As soon as they heard I was from Christiania they treated me like a long lost friend. One had been there and loved it, another one had heard about it and was curious to know more and a third one used be with the girl who painted the famous mural by the entrance of Christiania: “She must be an old woman by now” he laughed and tried to imagine if she would be as beautiful as he remembered her. There was no doubt, I was among family.

As I made my way around the small festival area, lending a hand to whoever needed it, I rapidly made new friends from all over the world. With the scorching sun baking down on us from a clear blue sky, more and more camper vans and 4-wheel-drives came cravling over the hill and eventually the first band started playing from the main stage (the only one) and finally the festival was on.

Whenever one felt drained from the heat, the refreshing river was only a short change of clothes away. It was so clean that many of us drank straight from it, enjoying the beneficial effects of the water which apparently contains a small amount of colloidal gold!

Dancing In Dream Time

By sunset, most of us gathered around a great big bunfire where the festival’s daily highlight was about to commence for the first time: A corroboree is an indigenous Australian word for a performance which lies somewhere in between theatre and ceremony. I had heard that it was quite difficult to join a corroboree if you weren’t Aboriginal, so it was with immense anticipation that I watched my first corroboree unfold.

Now where did that image go?

These kids just spontaneously walked into the circle and created a small but powerful moment in Australia’s history.

Once a big circle of people had formed and a hush had fell over the crowd, Uncle Lewis stood up in the middle and welcomed us all, clearly moved by the interest and diversity of everyone there. Then the dances began, all accompanied by a didjeridoo-player (I thought I’d heard good didj-players before…).

Then came a series of dances dedicated to the various totem-animals of the Bunjalung People with the most prominent being the “Guruman” – or as we know it – the kangaroo. So life-like were the performances that the dancers seemed taken over by the spirit of the Guruman and its fellow creatures.

There were also dances that re-enacted different everyday practices such as collecting mussles and picking berries, not to mention a heart-wrenching performance showing us the first encounter between Bunjalung People and European Settlers.

It is said that during a corroboree, the dancers interact with the “Dreamtime”. I can safely say that during the corroborees, which took place every evening of the festival, everyone present seemed transported into a living dream.

During the very last dance of the very last corroboree, Uncle Lewis invited everyone to join in for a final cleansing dance. Needless to say, I jumped at the opportunity to become a part of Aboriginal culture, if only for a single dance. Afterwards I felt both elated and proud and it was definitely a highlight on my Australian journey so far!

Corroboree Connections

Throughout the festival – the biggest one held so far – I made friends with too many great humans to mention here, but I’m sure you will hear of many of them later on, as I made enough connections to keep me busy for a good while as I explore the area around Nimbin, a hub for Australia’s counter-culture and home to thousands of like-minded hippies, artists, gypsies and wisdom-seekers.

I had so many golden moments that I am even struggling to remember them all as I write this. I cannot possibly thank my angel-friend Rad enough for inviting me to this incredibly beautiful festival – an event that started my journey through the spiritual realms of Australia and which I am sure will keep returning to me both in memory and through all the connections I made there.

Thank you Uncle Lewis and your crew and thank you Australia!!!