Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Leaving Melbourne

The time has come, weeks have morphed in to days and then hours and now I’m counting minutes. It seemed for so long like it was standing still it’s hard to belive that now I’m out of time.

So many last minute things fell by the wayside. In the end it was spending time with the friends that I made here that was more important. I leave Melbourne to journey onwards, this time to home and I stand here on a threshold of a major transition. From here to home will take a week first flying to Darwin to do an assignment for GoNomad and then I will sojourn to Bangkok where I will spend some quality time shopping like it’s my job.

To Melbourne, this is goodbye. I don’t know when I will be back again, maybe never, the world is large and Australia is far away. But I hope that somehow the people that I met here will continue to be part of my life. My friendships and conversations over the last three months in the city have helped me see life in new ways, grow as a person and come to have a deeper appreciation for the unique gifts I bring to the world.

I won’t lie, it’s been hard as hell sometimes.

My roommate said to me the other day “ Kathleen you’re love tank is empty, you need to go home and fill up your love tank.” He’s right.

I may be running on fumes but I feel reborn in some way. It’s a travel cliché I know but there is truth behind it.

I don’t have time to be as thorough as I would like to be in this post. I’m running late already. I’m not going to make it to Green’s for one last pie, but that’s ok. Here’s a cliff note:

Saying farewells to Melbourne
My suitcase is out again
Hugging new old friends
Just one more time
Simple things
Premix, dried milk, tea
That have become dear
Will be out of sight
On the other side
Of the world

Goodbye my friends, goodluck, and until we meet again may God hold you in the hallow of his hand.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

William Ricketts Sanctuary

As my time in Melbourne, and Australia, draws to a close I have been making the most of my days with those close friends who's company I am soon to be separated from. R and I took to the hills this weekend as she showed me a magical place in the Dandenongs full of art and nature and wonder.

The William Ricketts Sanctuary is about an hours drive from Melbourne up winding country roads and small towns. The sanctuary itself is not large but its impact is huge. nestled amongst giant gum trees and ferns that look like something out of Jurassic park are sculptures that embody the essence of Aboriginal spirituality and Australian nature.

William Ricketts was himself something of an eccentric and an amateur mystic who lived as a part time hermit, full time artist in the woods. Early in his life he spent much of his time integrating himself with the local aboriginal people and had come to respect and revere their way of life. It was his duty, as he saw it, to help their philosophy of being live on and to make it accessible to others. To this end he was inspired to create sculptures that meld man and trees, woman and rock, plant and animal.

The sanctuary is not just a place to view art but to experience it. The pathways, the water ways, the little nooks are all thought out. I felt like I was walking around a permaculture art installation until I realized that I was. William may have passed on before the word came into vogue but the idea behind it, sensing and mimicking patterns in nature, incorporating the land and animals all into one system could well be applied to his sanctuary.

It was raining and cold but the gums soaring upwards i the mists were a good reward for braving the late autumn weather and the undergrowth of ferns acted as a kind of giant ferny umbrella. We took our time, and froze our fingers off taking photos and enjoying the energy. Staggering half frozen back to the car only when our memory cards were full and are hands no longer functional.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Royal Doof


Doof n. an electronic- pystrace party in the bush, lasting in duration from 1 to 4 nights. Sometimes small and invite only sometimes large with tickets sold. origin an onomatopoeia from the noise the bass makes 

 Royal Doof is the king of the Doof, taking place in the waning light of autumn it is a Melbourne based Doof that just barely manages to get its shit together for Queen’s Birthday weekend. Sometimes its doesn’t and there’s just a big warehouse party. This year the site was moved three times, the last of those times being on the opening day of the festival. So I wasn’t the only one feeling a bit curfluffled and in need of some relaxation by the time we arrived.

My friend K had flown over form New Zealand and in her best up for anything attitude, accepted my invitation to come to Royal. She had no idea what she was in for and as we drove into the bush I began to wonder if this was really such a great idea. It was cold, for one, and wet for another. I had scrounged a sleeping bag and tent form my roommate and pegs and food from T and R. It was a last minuet decision to go and as we scrambled into T’s truck with the psy-trance already blasting I looked at my ashram going permaculture friend and hoped she wouldn’t hate me by Monday.

There was traffic, there was road rage, there was pulling an old van halfway to the site up dirt hills in the dense bush. But we arrived.

The weekend was a beautiful one, despite the cold and sometimes dreary weather. Most things were covered in mud but there was a fire and a dance floor and friends and music. It was I realized, my last real party in Australia.

It was a full circle moment. We met T and R at Rainbow Serpent back in January. They were out camp neighbors and T loaned us an axe. “ He seems cool,” I told Fiz, “ He has an axe.” We all became friends, faster than I would have imagined. When Rainbow ended I stayed in touch, we ended up visiting a few times over the course of our stay I Tatura and when Fiz went back to the States I lived on T and R’s floor for 16 days or so. It was wonderful.

Where Rainbow was hot, Royal was cold, where Rainbow was big, Royal was small, where Rainbow was a high budget production with sound and lights and 6 dance floors, Royal had about as much money as ten people could throw at making and awesome weekend, there was one stage. Where Rainbow started right on time Royal didn’t even get the main stage up until Saturday night. Yet, there was a closeness and a warmth at Royal that rainbow in it’s massiveness lacked. It was a small gathering of 500 where people wandered freely into each others camps for a smoke and a chat. Where we made new friends every day. K loved it. She danced like a mystic in rapture and brought joy to the campfire.

I danced out all the stress of the last few weeks, let got of all my expectations and just floated on the sound and swam in the rhythm. Sound can cleanse and music can heal and as I stood in the waves of the beats I couldn’t help but feel purified by the pulsating, like all my chakras and all my cells were getting sandblasted, the gunk getting flushed out, the rot falling off.

These are Jaffles, they are a "traditional Australian camping food"
I wrote and took photos and was surrounded by big gums and pines. I smelt their heady mixture, so like home so like Australia. I felt in balance with both. I didn’t realize how long I had been here until I realized I had stopped smelling the gum trees. When I first got here I smelled them all the time and then somehow I stopped noticing.

It was my first time out of the city since I arrived and I came to the woods shattered by the urban energy.  I have come to love the sleek and cold beauty of the city, it is intriguing and inspiring and frustratingly unknowable but it is also a place that is covered I concrete and as the bush approached I couldn't help but feel a sense of ease, a presence of something distinctly other that is utterly lacking in the city.

Trees! Trees! How could I have ever thought I could live without you? How could I have traded the stars and moon for neon signs and lights? The sound of the breeze and the river for the train and tram?

Seductive though you may be Melbourne, you are not for me, at least not all the time. Let us visit from time to time, but let me go, away from this urbanity, this concrete insanity, back to the place where fireflies glow.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Party Animal

By Kathleen

When life gives you lemons sometimes the only thing to do is swallow the bitter shit, realize you’re the one who grew the damn lemons in the first place, and then shoot things with nerf guns.

It’s the only sane thing to do.

And so this weekend, in order to process some of my own lemons I teamed up with a friend and hit Melbourne’s party scene.

Stop One: Nerf Core
Don’t think about what it is, you know what it is. Nerf guns, music, disco lights, fog. It was Cambodia’s Heart of Darkness meets tiki torches and Apocalypse Now. The first thing of course, the essential thing in any Nerf based war game is to have a Nerf gun. 

My friend armed me with a sleek steam-punk nerf gun that made me look and feel like a guerrilla out of the Congo/Venezuela/Iraq. With my purple  keffiyeh tied around my face and my hood up I felt truly revolutionary. I’d post pictures but you never know who would accuse me of being involved with some sort of underground Occupy training program.

The Nerf gun was light in my hand, the lights spinning out of control, then through the fog, gorillas! No! Man down, back to the line, “we need more ammo! My gun is jammed! Medic!”.

I strutted around the bar like I was back form assignment in Hanoi recovering in Phnom Phen. It was rad.

Stop Two: Warehouse Party
Ah the mythical warehouse party. Often alluded to, religiously talked up, surprisingly elusive. I’ve been to four warehouses since being in Brunswick, the whole area is rent with them, they fill the lane ways and have funny names. They have themes and décor and better sound systems then some clubs I’ve been to. Of course, when I was invited to one, one where the location and date and time were known, I accepted.

Fabulous letdown. From the jungles of South East Asia/ Congo to the Frat boy jungle full of drunk bros in animal print togas it took about point three seconds for me and my friends to realize "this is so not our scene".

Then the cops showed up.

So much for wild rave party it was more like drunken dorm party, freshman year.

Stop Three: My Aeon
Never heard of a pys-trance club? Well don’t worry I didn’t realize they existed either. For those urbanites who can’t make it to the woods for a doof or just can’t wait until the net one, My Aeon fills a needed hole. Nothing like a friendly not grope crowd that just wants to hang and dance and has a fireplace outside.

It was at this point in the evening that conversation turned serious and I began to look at some of the major issues in my life. Namely I’m exactly where I said I wanted to be and it’s not what I want at all. Be careful what you wish for and be careful what you say.

I took a cab home, drunk and alone, thinking about how my life has changed in the last year and seriously questioning what I wanted to come in the next year. Despite all my friends here, and all that is going on, it’s just not worth anything without my love. It’s just not home.

Travel can take you many places, there is always someplace new on the horizon. The world is so huge that it is impossible to see every place or every time. When I was a child I dreamed of having a watch that would show me what was happening all around the world at any given moment so I would never miss anything.

My favorite place to go is always the place I haven’t been yet. I realize now that travel is a way of life but it is also an addiction. There will never be enough time or money to see it all. There will always be one more place. You need to know when to stop, when to set the course for home.

That isn’t to say I have sworn travel off, but I need to find a way to travel that is more sustainable for the three bottom lines (emotional, financial, social). I need to find a way to integrate myself into this world without losing what I love.

Keep your heart at the center and set sail.