Tuesday 13th october 2009 - Byron Bay
Here i sit, munching on almonds and drinking what i think may be contaminated water, in what can only be described at this point as Wwoofing hell.
Let me explain. After a short but satisfying holiday back to the greyish gloom they call England, we headed back to oz. London was lovely, staying with the infectiously insane Arabella (olivers stepmother) who always has a room, bed and chocolate biscuit cake with our name on it, ready as we swoop thru the door. My sisters wedding was wonderfully magical with plenty of old faces who came bearing tales of a younger version of said sibling and i persuading the local kiddy winks to swap explicably expensive toys, with our rather sad and bedraggled boot sale bargains, adding that the missing foot or wonky eye "added character and charm that cannot be bought". and of course not forgetting my old school chum Gemmas brilliantly brassy day of vow swapping, scotch eggs and a good ol knees up 'proper shropshire style' (said with deep country accent)
After scraping together just enough cash to perform, we hoped on a plane and jetted back to Byronshire.
After spending a hectic 3 days in Sydney trying to buy a van, we decided that 3 days is definitely not long enough. Alas, we did not back down but merely downgraded our expectations and decided to buy a station wagon (or 'shaggin wagon' as ollie so elliquently put it) instead. Upon purchasing our bright white fridge of a 1994 ford falcon station wagon, we packed up our worldly possessions and 'hauled ass' up the east coast eager to make it to our Wwoofing farm in 2 days time.
We then spent an amazing 2 days pottering along in the newly decorated and newly named wagon. As soon as we had gotten the beast home we had pounced upon 'Mr Australia '94' (the new name ingeniously conjured up from the number plate AU 94 MR) covering the seats with old curtains, sticking candles to the dashboard, coloured beads hung from the rear view mirror, attempting in a swift 5 mins to imitate the indian Dala dala, a success i felt.
So anyway after our glorious journey we hit Byron. Our town, our home.
Oh how good it felt to be back.
We grinned at each other as we sailed into town in our barge of a vehicle and headed straight for the beach. We met up with Renate, a good friend of ours who was also suitably pleased that we had returned with tales of weddings, exhibitions and new ideas for the next creative explosion.
We hot footed it over to 'Fundies' for freshly squeezed fruit juices with spiralina and a wheat grass shot to follow, the 'welcome home' of byron bay.
We dicided we should probably get going and head out of town up into the hills to our wwoofing farm where we would be spending the next 2 weeks. Woofing, or 'willing workers on organic farms' was an idea sold to us by 2 friends of ours who have been 'wwoofers' for the past year and loved it. Working thier way around australia spending very little money, and learning in the process how to farm and become self sufficient, an idea that my beloved boy and i are very much a fan of. i contacted one of these farms that sounded like a paradise for those wanting to learn.
oh how deceptive a website can be......
We arrived via, what i presume, was trying to disguise itslef as a road...badly. Car parked safely teetering on the edge of a crumbling crevice, we jumped out and made our way up to the main house, a beautifull old building built in the 1900's and apparently was one of the first settlers houses to be built. Children were running about giggling and screaming while thier parents sat happily smoking and chatting about that day spent planting new crops, weeding and what should be done tomorrow. An out door kitchen built into the trees showed signs of freshly baked bread, avocados plucked from the branch that day and half chopped herbs waiting to be kneaded or sprinkled, like the magic ingredient into some culinary potion. We introduced ourselves to Michael and his wife, and took a seat on the bench next to them as they explained how the farm works. A little overwhelmed but excited we followed them past the second beautifully bedraggled wooden house, down the field, past the compost toilet (a story for another day) to The Dome which is where we would be staying. The Dome is a building that is indescribable. The closest i can get is comparing it to some sort of 1970's shrine/ cult meeting hall, crossed with a wooden circus tent. The kind of place you can imagine mass suicides occuring. It is completely empty with a rope trapese hanging right in the middle from its glass domed roof. 3 bedrooms come off this main room that are equally as wierd. The room we plumped for has a double bed attatched to the wall and also wooden bunk beds, of which i live in fear of one day being told, are to be occupied by two new 'wwoofers' creating the mother of all awkward situations which may end in mass suicide.
Outside is an enornous fire surrounded by old car seats dug into the dirt, and about 1000 empty beer bottles rolling around in the dust. i must also tell you that while we are seeing this for the first time hardcore drum and bass music is blasting out of a laptop in the middle of the hall like room, and as we head out to the fire area we find two very unwashed guys and a girl slumped in the racing bucket seats, each smoking a rather enormous joint, beer in hand, and looking like they have just crawled out from under a stone. It took me a moment to realise that they were in actual fact the workers of this permaculture paradise, and not the residents.
I took a deep breath, swallowed the enormous lump of judgemental juice that filled me to my core, and plopped down in the seat next to the said ferrals, chirping 'Hi im sally nice to meet you". i was peered at by 3 beady sets of dilated pupils, looked up and down several times before one of the creatures offered me his mud caked paw to shake replying, "Joel."
After the longest 10 minutes of my life watching my beloved boy try to conjure up some sort of common ground with these crusty cretins, i suggested we retrieve our belongings from the car and unpack. Once safely in our hidey hole i ceremonially and predicatably burst into tears wailing "i dont want to be here" while my boy in a desperate bit to hush his gibbering girlie, ran about creating make shift curtains, whisking away dirty cups and finally announcing 'there much better...see".
After a night on our surprisingly comfy bed, listening to the rats in the wall completeing their mini marathons we woke at 6am an hour before work. Ollie kindly escorted and held my hand thru my first compost toilet experience which not surprisingly involved more tears and much squealing. we dressed, (without a shower) brushed teeth, and made our way to the communal kitchen ready to be informed of our impeding doom of work that day. After everyone had arrived and had at least two cups of tea with powdered milk, it was decided that ollie and i, along with 2 of the ferrals would be weeding the garlic paddock. a destinct groan from the ruffians told us this was not going to be glamourus. We made our way to the field and plonked ourselves down on upturned buckets, in between the rows of fat green sprouts and began "pulling out everything that isnt garlic".
"this is easy!" i thought, "i even kind of like this", but 5 hours later with red raw hands, horse flies permanently attached to every inch of bare skin, sun burnt and faint, i was about ready to leave.
And this is where you find me now dear readers, my only saviour has been an icey cold swim in the creek with my boy to cheer me up, and sooth my aching body. and so i bid you a deu as i lie down ready to sleep and dream of toilet paper, thermostatic showers and rat free walls.