One thing I love about the bush is everyone helps everyone else. There’s always someone on the end of the phone for when you’re trying to deal with the mysteries of portable solar panels or electrical or plumbing things (Does plastic screw into metal, into 5/8ths pipe or half inch, does it need a washer?), or a bull to borrow, or a helping hand and chain to get a bogged cow out of the dam, or a tractor to save 2 weeks of hand shovelling, or a flat tyre on a truck loaded with cows, or advice about everything and anything. Help is only an ask away. I feel it is one of the real “glues” of my community here at Coolatai – and the rest of the Australian rural communities.
Not having many country skills has left me not being able to contribute to helping others really. I always seem to be the Damsel in Distress. Until this weekend!! I turned into the rescuer and had a fabulous little set of adventures as a consequence!!
I was sitting quietly at home on Saturday morning. I had the whole Universe to myself. I’d got up before sunrise and gone down to the wonderful grasstrees. I was a bit late – I’d “urban camped” i.e. I’d slept in my swag in front of the fire – I just love watching the flickering fire as my eyelids close. It’s so hypnotic. Being snuggled in my swag on the lounge floor was snugly so I actually didn’t get to the grass trees until the sun was just up – but it was fabulous anyway.
I spent a couple of hours walking around the grasstrees (Xanthorrhoea) and the cows and the erosion controls I’d done months ago with Tuggy, the dog. It was so nice to be out – kangaroos hopping everywhere, the cows feeding, birds zooming from tree to grass to air, dew sparkling on the grass, frost underfoot in places, nothing but natural sounds, clear cold morning, frozen fingers, hat pulled down tight over my ears……. Perfect start to a day of writing and being productive and being alone on The GO! (Or so I thought!!)
After my breakfast of yummies harvested from the garden and paddock, I was just settling into some serious writing when an email came through:
“I hit a kangaroo before Ebor and have bent my radiator. I am stopped and waiting for a tow truck to bring me back to Inverell.”
One good thing: there was an email – this meant my friend was okay – I didn’t like the chances of the roo. Always so sad when they get hit, when any wildlife gets killed by vehicles. But that’s how it is out here. A reality which makes driving a hazard especially early morning and dusk. Nothing you can do as the roos especially just appear out of nowhere.
We spoke not long after this email. My friend had planned to be away for 1.5 weeks and had offered to be the chauffeur for interstate biodynamics workshop participants. A car was obviously essential for this. This plan of helpfulness seemed to be out the door except – taaaadum…. I can finally rescue someone – actually a “tribe” of very independent men!
Ha – role reversal for once – the usual Damsel in Distress can become Boadicea in Shining Armour!! I can offer my skills of (I wish I could now write something really amazing here – a skill that as you read it you would go “Wow – she can do that? Isn’t she awesome!” but alas – my skill is…) driving a car!!!
Technology to the rescue as well. A few phone calls and off I went on my 800kms rescue mission. My friend was about 260kms away from Coolatai so I shoved some clothes in a bag, secured Tuggy, made sure the fire was ok, wrote a quick email to my housemate, grabbed some rice cakes (my around the world gluten free survival food) and off I went.
The plan was I collect my friend from a tiny town called Ebor where the tow truck driver has deposited them, I would take them to their board meeting in Coffs, then I would hitch a ride back with some other friends to Inverell then pick up a ute and drive home. This way my friend could have my car and could still be the chauffeur for the anxious visitors!! I didn’t realise just what a great time I would have doing this.
One hitch was that my return trip friends are a family of 5 and although their car has 6 seats, they had taken one seat out. I had to pick up my own seat from their house on the way through – kind of funny hitching a lift but having to bring your own carseat along!!
I’d never driven part of the road – the Guyra to Ebor section. Wow – it was so picturesque. I couldn’t believe my luck at “having” to drive hours on a perfect day – the sky had magical, wispy clouds and it was sunny and not too cold. I drove through groves of stringy bark eucalypts (for non-Aussies, these are eucalyptus trees where the outside bark comes off in narrow strips. The peeling off bark is usually a dark brown or grey – wonderful hues – leaving exposed a clear, almost white skin. They are called stringy bark because of the bark peeling off like string), passed ruminating cows (it was about 11am by this stage – ruminating time for cows!!), passed wood ducks on dams, passed windmills whirring, passed a Saturday morning soccer match with parents all yelling encouragement to their kids………..
At Ebor I found my friend at the pub – there was a choice of the coffee shop, the petrol station or the pub – the post office and school were closed on Saturday. The population of Ebor is about 160 I think – huge compared to my home town of Coolatai at 32!! I was nervous in a town 5 times as big as my home town!!
We quickly went to see Ebor Falls as it had been over a decade since I’d taken time to drive the 1km off the main road to go there. (I really DO need to take time to bother over these side trips. I miss so much when I just drive from A to B.). The falls are not huge like the last waterfalls I’ve visited; Cataratas del Iguazú (Iguazu Falls on the border of Argentina and Brazil – put these on your Bucket List – totally awesome) and Victoria Falls on the border Zambia and Zimbabwe, but they are pretty with great viewing points and in beautiful basalt country – and no crowds and no one trying to sell you anything!! There are basalt columns everywhere – I love the structured formation of these columns and was excited to see a whole escarpment of them – perfect columns are not that common.
Then it was off down through Dorrigo to Bellingen. This drive is beautiful too. Deeply undulating dairy country – looking lush but I know there is an underlying sadness of erosion and chemical toxicity from production pushing the land too hard. The signs of breaking are appearing – but if you don’t look too closely you see wonderful green pastures with blotting paper cows – I love white cows with big black splodges on them. It looks lush and verdant and stunning. The sun was getting a little lower so the colours were rich. We had to cross lots of sparkly streamlets – they all look so fresh and clean and inviting – shame they are polluted by invisible chemical toxins.
BIG bonus of this rescue mission for me was we ended up at Coffs Harbour – which is on the beach. Wow – I got to walk on the beach at sunset AND sunrise. Sunrise on the beach has got to be one of the best experiences ever. I never tire of this and although getting up when its only just light, in time to get to the beach well BEFORE the sun breaches the horizon – I know the reward of seeing the sun rise over the sea is worth the effort. I’ll post photos instead of trying to describe it – the clouds were so changing and with the light changing the kaleidoscope of motion and colour and splendour was awesome.
Another bonus was I caught up with a friend in Bellingen. Text on Sunday morning: “Unexpectedly in Coffs. Breakfast at your place now?”. Reply: “Yes. Great to see you. Come now.”. So off I went to talk as fast as possible for 2 hours – squeezing in thoughts and ideas about alternative energy sources and innovations and stories of kids and food and bioarchitecture and crotched rugs (not me!) and homeopathics for mould and……. time always disappears too fast with friends.
I also was lucky enough to end up at the BAA (Biodynamic Agriculture of Australia) Board’s dinner!! It makes me laugh sometimes where I end up these days. I had a lovely evening meeting new innovative people who are producing food biodynamically and/or organically – always innovatively and without toxic sprays. They are all so keen to support and grow community. What a great bunch of people working for free to change our landscapes.
My trip home was fun. A car filled with people – an exciting change from just me! Lots of interesting conversations. I found out about spacial imagery for agricultural purposes. Wow – technology can be applied so creatively. We also considered the side effects of technology on the rural communities and how nature is fighting back against biocides such as herbicides and insecticides by “simply” making biocide resistant insects and plants. Better to work WITH Mother Nature than against. Thanks BDs for the lift. xx
Sometimes I wonder about my whole tree change experience. A few years ago I was in a concrete office day after day. Now I’m whizzing all over the place, seeing endless beautiful landscapes, meeting interesting people who are changing the ways of food production to include the nurturing of the earth and the community, always learning.
I love my life!! It’s so fun. I never quite know what is going to happen! I’m so glad I trusted and jumped out of the concrete jungle into the unknown! The unknown is so exciting and changeable and it just keeps getting better and better.
That’s all from Boadicea in Shining Armour today. Tomorrow I’ll probably be back to being the Damsel in Distress. Oh – well!! Thanks goodness for Knights in Shining Armour (who occasionally break down!!). It’s nice to live in fairy tales!!
Hasta pronto……. (Until soon….)