Travelling – Vineyards and orchards, Mallee and saltbush

Blog tractor ploughing dust dry country Riverland

Dry, dusty inland Australia – the sky belongs to raptors and ravens. The land ‘belongs’ to humans to do with as ‘they’ see fit.

I don’t agree with particularly thirsty crops like cotton and rice having a place in Australian agriculture, but, I do appreciate the expertise, employment, and economic value and sense of pride that goes with these industries in rural communities. Travelling west from Hay in the Riverina, vast paddocks of cotton spread across the landscape, giving way to even bigger paddocks of wheat stubble. Not a tree in sight. Wait. There’s one. Just imagine the noisy scuffles in those branches when the whole bird kingdom feels the urge to nest at once.

Murrumbidgee River irrigation gives way to Murray River irrigation as we drive into the Riverland district of Renmark and Berri. Acres of quality vineyards and citrus orchards butt up to parched Mallee and saltbush country. The strategic placement of dripping water produces lush and bountiful fruit crops, not a drop goes elsewhere.

Blog citrus orchard Riverland next to mallee and saltbush country

The might River Murray, according to records, is apparently nowhere as mighty as it once was. Over use and mis-use. I can’t verify that, but to my eyes, the Murray is still a splendid river, running wide and clean, lined with grand River Red Gums and weeping Willows.

Blog Murray River

And, I was overjoyed to see for myself that water is being allocated to maintain wetlands vital to water-birds’ health and wellbeing. What progress it is to see Murray River water diverted into wetlands surrounded by saltbush and sun-baked earth. Governmental view of environmental needs is finally making some slim changes that evoke hope.

Blog wetlands birds Murray River National Park

As we prepare to leave the Murray River, I feel sure we won’t find another that can stand anywhere near its grandeur until we trip around Australia and find ourselves back here.

 

Travelling – Observing the behaviour of shore birds

0218 Osprey catches long tom bait from fisherman - Crowdy Head Harbour 20 Mar 2018 Day 30 - Copy

Shorebirds can be difficult to identify by a shorebird-novice like me. But for someone who appreciates the nuances of animal behaviour, they can be endlessly entertaining, even without names.

Cudgeon Creek estuary at Hastings Point on the north coast of NSW proved to be a great place to watch the comings and goings of sand dwelling birds – our first stop on our around Australia caravanning trip.

Other sand flats and rock walls gave up surprise encounters with fascinating birds too. Like the Osprey, a raptor that generally preys on water-dwelling creatures, but is not immune to opportunism created by humans. I watched a woman catch a garfish and secure it to a bigger fishing rod in the hope of tempting a table fish to her hook. But the Osprey had its name on that garfish. It swooped to steel the live bait from the line and flew off to feed on it from a high perch. Brilliant!

And bath time always provides plenty of amusing antics. Crested terns scooped water up with their bent wings, splashing like children for longer than necessary. They all bath differently. Ospreys stand alone in the shallowest of water, tentatively dipping headfirst, throwing water onto their back, with its mate on patrol in a nearby tree.

A Mangrove Heron skulks among the rock-pools searching out tiny fish, freezing like a statue, then thrusting its bill into the water at such speed that I always miss the catch. The heron did not miss.

Birds with long straight bills like straws, others curved downwards, poking and prodding the sand for morsels of food – birds that have flown halfway around the world. How is that possible? Incredible.

Yes, the bird world is breathtakingly amazing.

Travelling – The people who touch your soul and change you forever

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Having no preconceived expectations when my daughter and I had a 3-day visit to the Mind/Body/Spirit Festival in Brisbane last week was definitely the way to go. We took it as we found it, and we found it exhilarating.

Dressed as a North American Apache, Red Horse danced and told cultural stories, played handmade traditional musical instruments (at least, I’m supposing they were authentic instruments), and wowed audiences with his performances. But more than that, what touched me was his genuine attempt to encourage others to “find your gift, and share it with the world”. He had a meaningful message to spread, and he conveyed it with feeling. His words, his enthusiasm, his natural pride in his ancestry, and his sincerity made an impact on me, touching me deeply.

The second man who reached my soul with his gift to the world was Scott Alexander King from Animal Dreaming Publishing. Initially, I was moved to tears listening to a panel of authors who have been helped and mentored by Scott. This affected me in such a positive way, and at the time I thought that was all there was to his story. But I was in for a real treat the following day as I sat in the audience hearing Scott relate his special gift and share it with others.

Scott sees and communicates with animal spirits, and helps people through life’s troubles and mysteries by ‘reading’ the animal spirits. He was amazing, and that’s an understatement for sure. Tears streamed down my cheeks as he spoke to people about their animal spirits and how they relate to their lives. He has changed my life, and I am so grateful for the impromptu meeting and the sharing of his knowledge and love. He is a special soul.

Then there was Lenore, an elderly woman in the audience who I chatted to waiting for a session to begin. A stranger, an ‘ordinary’ person just like me, and we connected on a soul level for a moment. A beautiful soul.

And I can’t forget the green surprise that was the river precinct at Southbank where we stayed in Brisbane. The city and all involved in the creation and maintenance of this parkland can feel justifiably proud of their contribution to residents and visitors. We swam and relaxed and ate there every day, and again, came away with lovely memories.

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Travelling – The spiritual experience that was Crystal Castle

046 Crystal Castle - Copy

Sharing something special with someone special, makes that something special all the more special.

My daughter and I spent the day at Crystal Castle on the north coast hinterland of NSW, and it’s hard to find a word to describe the experience – beautiful first and foremost, absolutely splendid plants adorning a misty mountain setting surrounded by natural rainforest. And crystals; stunning huge and ancient crystals on paths and clearings. Mossy stone statues, bamboo groves, sacred spaces. Seats amongst the garden for solitude. A truly special place.

We started the day taking part in a ritual offering to deities that are ‘simply’ universal energy. It was moving and enlightening. After tea and cake in the cafe overlooking the forested slopes, we wandered at leisure, taking in the beauty and abundant positive energy.

Group meditation with the hauntingly soothing sounds of Tibetan singing bowls, and a crystal workshop, delicious vegetarian food, and peace and quiet. We both took away wonderful memories, love and warmth, and a new perspective on some very old traditions.

 

053 Crystal Castle - mandala that the meditation class made, including Gaye and Tracy - Copy

Caravanning around Australia in 2018

Blog 001 Leaving Maryborough w van 19 Feb 2018

Settling into retirement in a new location has been tougher than we imagined. After 3 years, we’re still struggling, probably more now than initially.

Joining the Birdwatchers of Hervey Bay, with weekly outings amongst gentle, accepting people with like interests has been our saviour. But the time feels right to realise our dream of caravanning around Australia, so we’re heading off on an adventure – for 9, 10, 12 months, or, maybe we’ll forget to come home. As long as we can get our prescribed medications, we  have no commitments.

I need to re-connect with my self, and with nature. Wandering around the bush and deserted beaches will provide the unpolluted energy I need for reflection: joining the dots. And spending time at length amongst nature with my Old Mate is what we need as a couple. Day 1 has ended with a picnic tea by the beach in the shade, watching birds and enjoying the breeze after a long day travelling.

Blog 002 Hastings Point 12 Feb 2018

There are times when being alone is ideal

River 1

Can spending time alone amongst nature be healing? Can spending time in nature be a spiritual experience? Yes, on both counts.

I was a bit apprehensive about swimming in the river on my own. But at the same time, I was overjoyed that I was on my own. Nature at its most beautiful: a mountain stream, crystal clear, deep, lined by boulders and trees. No man-made sound, no buildings, not even any rubbish. And no other people. Idyllic.

Carefully, I slid into the water, swam to the other side of the river, and sat in shallows above the rapids. Nature chatted amongst itself, with the babbling of the stream a soothing chorus backed by the swishing of eucalypt and she-oak canopy. Occasionally, a bird would add to the song with a musical call. Harmony.

River 3

I lay back watching clouds float by, letting the water trickle over and around me. The sunshine was pleasant. The water was fresh and cool. Mountains upstream towered over the narrow valley. It was a stunning scene, and I was filled with gratitude for my stunning surroundings and the opportunity to immerse myself in Mother Earth’s beauty. Solitude.

At one with nature.

If I’d had to share the experience with a companion, or if strangers were also using the river at that time, the moment would have been something different, not as special, and I would not have been so profoundly touched by the spirit of nature. Often times, experiences are best had alone, and this was one such venture. Bliss.

A soulful experience

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Once-in-a-lifetime friendship

Early morning light paddock dam reflections

To find one person in a lifetime who genuinely understands you deep to your core, totally accepts you for the unique individual you are, and loves you unconditionally, well, you’ve really hit the jackpot. A blessing and gift beyond imagination.

People come and go throughout our lives, even family, and that’s the way it’s meant to be. We don’t meet people accidentally or by ‘coincidence’. Every person in our life is placed on our path for a reason, be it to learn from or to teach, to love us or hurt us, to open our mind or our eyes, to encourage us to question or to discover. And more. We draw these souls to us with the energy we emit and the quality of humanity we exemplify.

I believe our souls choose our family and birth circumstances before reincarnation so that we are placed in a situation and family that will best teach us the soul lessons we need to learn. The worse our birth/family situation is, the better opportunity we have to reap the rewards from the lessons we will be presented with. Nothing comes from an easy ride.

Sometimes we feel the need to leave family members behind, just as we do with friends or lovers, because that relationship has deteriorated beyond repair, and we realise it’s time to let go and move on. Don’t resist this need. It is meant to be. The real tragedy lies, not in the breaking of the union, but in not being open and accepting of the lessons offered by these people who are now also ready to move on.

I have a precious relationship with my daughter. We have a soul connection that is stunning in its strength. It has not always been like this, but as each of us came out the other side of trauma and grew from the challenges that our souls took on individually, we discovered who we were. And we discovered each other.

We’re both aware of this special bond that goes far beyond family ties, and we both nurture our relationship. Our connection transcends all, and we are truly each other’s saviour in times of need. I am so grateful that the Universe has gifted me with this friendship.

Sometimes I also yearn for a friend who is on that same frequency but more my own age. I haven’t found her. I may never find her. But I am living my life in a manner whereby I am open to our energy drawing us together. Meanwhile, I feel blessed beyond words.

It is my hope that every person can make a soul connection as profoundly rich as I have. But be aware that it won’t happen unless you are prepared to go outside of your comfort zone, be open to new knowledge and experiences, and be willing to nurture this relationship like the precious connection of soul energy it is.

Ritual circle paddock early morning light sunrise