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

Travelling – A garden to tell the world about


Grand. Awesome. Immaculately groomed tropical plant collections from here and other tropical countries, obviously lovingly and expertly maintained.

Flecker Botanic Gardens, Cairns, far north Queensland, Australia. I’ve explored arid-lands botanic gardens, high-country botanic gardens, city and country, native and exotic, and always immersed myself in the beauty and fascination of the plants displayed. But really, this tropical garden tops them all.

Amazing ferns and palms are features. Stunning foliage plants. Mysterious carnivorous plants. Gorgeous blooms and odd seed capsules. Relatives of the grotesquely beautiful Corpse flower. Bromeliads, gingers, bamboos, and creepers. Orchids and strange fruit trees. Lush lawns and waterways. And tucked away in little leafy nooks are seats (themselves works of art) for contemplation and rest.


What a truly inspiring piece of natural paradise. After wandering in wonderment, and sitting in silence, we enjoyed delicious food at the outdoor cafe. And then it rained, as it does in the tropics.



Travelling – An impressive spider catches a bird in the rainforest

Golden Orb spider huge queensland rainforest caught bird in web

She was hanging in the garden in a huge web tinged with gold. A BIG spider. A scarily BIG spider.  I first saw her while I was having breakfast outdoors. She darted to the bottom of the web pouncing on a brilliant blue butterfly. The butterfly escaped, and Mrs spider returned to the centre of her web, awaiting another hapless insect.

How do I know it was Mrs? Because in the spider kingdom, the female is usually hundreds of times larger than the male. At a close inspection, two tiny spiders were hanging out in the outskirts of the web, presumably waiting for a chance to impregnate the impressive mama, and probably get eaten in the process. It’s tough being a male spider.

During a late afternoon tropical shower, a dove flew through the web, leaving half the silky net in tatters. And then to make matters worse for the spider, the clumsy bird flew straight back again, almost taking out the spider.

More rain through the night, and when I checked out the spider in the garden, I was amazed to find a finch caught in the web. Now, the finch was only a little smaller than a House Sparrow, so that’s really some achievement for the spider’s silk – known to be stronger than steel of equal size. Nature is awesome.

The bird was still alive, and the spider showed no interest in the potential meal, so the owner of the Park rescued the bird and carefully plucked off all the silk fibres connected to its wings and legs. After a stumble, the bird flew off.

Bird caught in spider web queensland rainforest 2
I’ve turned this photo on it’s side so that the spider and captured bird are both more clear

This is what I love about nature. All the little details. All the daily behaviour and mystery. And that’s why I notice Mother Nature’s subtle, yet wondrous stories. Because I don’t just look, I experience. Yes, nature is awesome.

Bird caught in spider web queensland rainforest 1


Travelling – Serenity in a garden

Lake barrine garden 1

Natural perfume wafted through the air, subtle and secretive, unwilling to reveal its source. Grass, laden with dew, soaked my pants as I sat cross-legged on the lawn, as close to Mother Earth as I could. Waterfowl paddled the lake’s edge frantic for a meal, and the mountains beyond the lake stood sentry to the rainforest and all its creatures. Early morning sunshine touched my skin. I breathed deep and slow, cleared the chatter from my mind and felt the essence of air and water and fire and earth, for just a moment. A beautiful connection.

Lake barrine garden 3

Every time we visit Lake Barrine in the Atherton Tablelands, the gardens are more amazing than last time – and different. I guess it’s because new plants are flowering according to the seasons, and it’s obvious that maintenance and improvement is ongoing.

Lake barrine garden 2

There’s something really special about spending time in a garden. We work in our own gardens, which is satisfying and (for me) therapeutic, but to have the opportunity to simply BE in a garden is so gratifying. Enjoying the fruits of someone else’s labour, different plants and creative designs capture our attention and delight our senses.

Wonderful memories.

Lake barrine garden 4