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

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 – The beach of the balancing stones

Balancing stones beach cairns 1

It’s like the peace hidden and lying in wait in every person’s heart has emerged, just for a few moments. I wonder if they felt it? And I wonder if they experienced a connection with the other travellers they wandered amongst? And I wonder if any person leaving the beach was changed forever?

There are no directional signs, and it’s not an official tourist attraction, yet the beach is obviously visited by thousands of travellers who contribute to the impromptu art. Balancing towers of rocks and stones against a backdrop of tropical ocean, on the road from Port Douglas in far north Queensland to Cairns. I guess it’s rather unique.

Just picture: all cultures, all religions and all faiths, all political persuasions, all sexual orientations, and a full spectrum of social standings mingling, admiring, and feeling part of something simple that is also something special. And knowing that this simple natural expression of cross-cultural creativity is special. Boundaries have been crossed and walls have come down, and everyone is part of a whole. There are no officials telling dark-skinned people to go there or rich people to go here or heterosexuals to go there. Every person is equal and one with everyone else. A celebration of humanity. That’s how the world should be.

I’m disappointed to find, a few months later, that most of the stone stacks are gone. It doesn’t appear to be an act of wanton destruction by humans, but rather, I think Mother Earth has claimed the stones with boisterous stormy seas. More towers of balancing stones are starting replace those washed away, and I hope the process will be repeated so that people from all over the world and from all walks of life can once again leave their positive energy and creativity for all to enjoy.

I sat on the beach this morning amongst the new art pieces to write, imagining cultures mixing, and all going away with a smile in their hearts.

Balancing stones beach cairns 2


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


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