Travelling – it’s not just about seeing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For me, a place doesn’t need to be spectacular to have a breathtaking affect upon me.

Wind howled around the caravan yesterday from dawn til dark, forcing me indoors for the day, so I was out walking on the beach first thing this morning in the stillness of the early light. It was spectacular in a simple, ordinary way.

Time enough had not elapsed to putrefy the weedy mat that yesterday’s storms had dumped on the beach. A day of sunshine would bring out the stench, so then the beauty will be much diminished. Strangely, the sound of the waves was muted by the cushion of weed. Although the waves were breaking right at my feet, they sounded way off in the distance.

I walked to the sandy peninsular, free of marine grass where the waves were given free reign to tumble and roll – translucent green falling onto white sand with a scattering of seashell fragments. The sky was grey, but many delicate shades from violet to blue to grey and back to white. Such elegance.

An old man exercised his dog. A young man stood in the water, fishing. Terns and gulls claimed their patch of sand to rest. Rays of sun occasionally cast golden light on the many jagged limestone rocky outcrops in the ocean. And windswept clumps of dune-grass still holding droplets of rain looked, to me, as splendid as any wildflowers.

My connection to the landscape and every component of this scene was automatic and strong. Nature touched my soul, uplifted me, and left me with a feeling of  wholeness and gratitude.

In contrast, we then visited the Pinnacles Desert – a truly spectacular and astounding ancient natural site. And although I was suitably impressed, little emotion was evoked.

Blog cervantes 1

And that’s an integral part of me. It doesn’t take some monumental icon or tourist attraction to wow me. For me, it’s all about what moves me emotionally, what touches my heart and soul, a connection, a feeling of being nurtured and of belonging – not me belonging to a particular place or a place being somehow mine simply because I’m a citizen of this country, but a merging: a feeling of oneness. A beauty and serenity that is within and around me. Something subtle yet obvious, to me. Yes, a feeling, a connection, an awareness.

Often, a fantastic attraction that sees hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of tourists or visitors annually, leaves me dulled, presumably by the massive whirlpool of energy that remains – in comparison, a simple natural place that is only visited by those who are delighted by solitude and understated beauty can be spiritually awesome, for me. Today, the two separate places left me mulling over the unmistakable difference that grand and simple can often affect upon me, and why, and I am more aware of me as a result.

Blog cervantes 2

Travelling – Sitting on a mountain

Blog 0384 East Mount Barren Fitzgerald Riv NP 25 Apr 2018 Day 66 - Copy

A mountain only by Australian standards. Elsewhere in the world it would be classed as a rocky hill. East Mount Barren in Fitzgerald National Park on the southern coast of Western Australia.

And it doesn’t matter that I only made it to the foothills. Size and scale don’t equate to success or notoriety in my world, for my soul has been touched by the magic of nature. That’s a beautiful and all powerful experience.

I’m perched on a chunk of granite with a splendid view of ocean, beach, mountains and bushland, all bathed in brilliant early-morning sunshine. A gentle breeze whispers to me. The solitude is precious. Birdsong, waves rolling in to the beach – no human-made sounds. Sunshine is warm on my back. The moment is perfect, and this moment is all there is.

I put my pen down and soak in the tranquility and beauty. It is now a part of me.

Blog 0382 East Mount Barren Fitzgerald Riv NP 25 Apr 2018 Day 66 - Copy

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

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

River 2

Travelling – A garden to tell the world about

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Travelling – When disturbed by energy, I find peace in nature

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They’re common birds. I see them every day. Yet they still provide interest and delight to a genuine lover of nature. With one wing lifted and spread out, the dove rolls over and appears dead in the midday sun, presumably enlisting the heat to evict parasites. Its mate joins in the ritual. Then they get up, shake, spread the other wing and stretch out on the grass. Finches feed around them. Suddenly, with a whirr of frantic wings, birds large and small move as one, disappearing into the undergrowth. The brown torpedo-shape of a juvenile Black Butcher-bird darts low over the feeding grounds, diving into the undergrowth. The predator emerges empty-billed, and the pray remain silent and still until the clearing is again safe.

Nature plays out extraordinary sequences of well-being and survival, dedication and loss, life and death, everywhere, every day and night. To the human who appreciates and is fascinated by the details of nature, these sequences are always interesting, often entertaining, sometimes laugh-out-loud amusing, and with limitless beauty and wonder.

Atherton tablelands mountains and swamp

Whilst travelling, I meet other birdwatchers/photographers. Some are pleasant company, more are so obsessed with the end result of their hobby (ie: the number of ticks on their species list, or the perfect photo) that they miss the point of nature entirely. They emit stressful, threatening energy that repels the very birds they’re chasing. That self-serving vibration repels me too. I wander off in search of the natural peace that nature IS when nature is left to BE. And because I have no agenda, all I want from nature is to enjoy the beauty and magic of the moment, whatever that moment might produce, PEACE is granted to me.

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