I have spent some years touring around staying in some interesting and not so interesting places. I had just finished a six month stint at looking after a quarter horse stud (that’s another story) when I had the opportunity that probably comes once in a lifetime, and once in a lifetime would be more than enough.
My sister said that there was a vacancy ‘out the back of Mullumbimby’ – for those who don’t know where that is, inland from the coast between Byron Bay and Brunswick Heads. Mullumbimby was, and still is the mecca of alternative ‘hippy’ living. Well after leaving my dog with my niece my sister and I headed off to find the accommodation she had told me about.
Ok so we get to Mullum and head out the back road. This is nice pretty country nice houses. So we start looking for the address. Half an hour later and still driving I was starting to panic. The road was down to one lane and the sides of the road which were nice and flat had given rise to steep mountains. Where the hell was the place we wanted?
Just as I was about to give up and think that maybe a tent on the beach might be nice, we found a group of mailboxes and the number we were looking for. Now one look at the entrance should have warned me. Ok, I turn the car onto the road (and I use that word loosely) and start climbing up the hill, no rephrase that – up the mountain side. Yes it was steep and yes it was only a one way road. As I am driving up I wonder what on earth would happen if I meet someone coming down the mountain and prayed that did not happen.
We get to the top and turn into a grassed area. Out we get and walk up the track to one of the houses. Yes, there were several which I will tell you about shortly. Anyway, we reach this very alternative style house, no door, so I yell out and a woman answered. Yes, she had a dwelling vacant. That should have also warned me! We follow her across the grass to a one room ‘cabin’ with a small verandah out the front and a drop straight down the mountain to a stream at the bottom. Did I tell you I hate heights? On the verandah was a two burner gas stove and a sink – but the water is only for washing – drinking water is 500 meters down the track at a large water tank. So where is the toilet and bathroom? “Oh we have a bath house here and we share”. Ok I could handle that, turned out that the ‘bath house’ was built on stilts and consisted of one shower and one drop toilet.
There were 11 other people scattered around and about the place. At this stage I was just stunned. My sister turned to me and said ‘Oh isn’t it beautiful you will love it here” I will? Well the long and short of it was that I – a very conservative person not in the least given to ‘roughing it’ wound up staying there for six months, through two cyclone’s, nearly stepping on a brown snake outside my door, which promptly went to snake heaven, huge spiders – which I also hate, very large pythons which I actually love and a lifestyle that was so completely different and dare I say it, the most enjoyable time I have spent in my entire life. I meet some amazing people.
One lady had been to Tibet several times and met the Dalai Lama and was a brilliant artist so we had a common interest. And yes the smell of pot permeated the area, but hey – each to their own. I learned so much about myself – all I had thought I wanted ceased to exist. Life was simple and peaceful. I came to realise that material possessions are just that, simply possessions and that people are more important and most of all I finally looked into my soul and found the peace that had eluded me for so long. I have a lot to thank the people and the time I spent there for I learnt so much about myself and hopefully am a better person for the experience.