2 October, 2012
Driving along the highway, further and further from Sydney’s structured reach we start to encounter the trees. Soaked and skinny, Australian gum trees start crowding in around, the night air is thick with sweet eucalyptus and a transient spring storm. We’re 4 hours late from our arrival time after taking 3 wrong turns. Yes, we had iPhones with working maps. It didn’t matter, in the presence of good company time slips past like high tides, lost in each others stories we went off map and got lost. It’s adventurous and tiring and memory making.
I met Charmaine studying yoga and like cup of noodles, we were instant friends. Her ebony hair sits day to day in a top knot, with fine wisps falling around her face and shoulders. She is a slender frame, made more androgynous by bouncy cardigans and loose knitted sweaters. A mixture of modern Hong Kong and Sydney’s Northern suburbs, her voice is sweet and poignant and loving. She has kindly offered to drive us down South in her Silver VW Golf, we slip away, further in to the night.
Halfway there and in five times as much time as it should have taken, we stop in Berry, a small village on the South Coast of New South Whales. Branching off one simple high street, littered with craft and second hand snippet shops, ole English pubs and fish & chip takeaway bars. It’s gold mining era Australia, I see a man in black work boots and a cowboy hat with swinging corks and this confirms it.
Ironically Charmaine’s friend Jono comes from Berry and he’s in town there and then visiting. Jono is six foot tall with sandy blonde hair, his pale blue stripped shirt is mostly tucked in, one hand clutching a hanky which polite fully wipes a runny nose. “Jono is an Oxford scholar” Charmaine say’s. “Wow” I gush. Jono seems embarrassed about the attention and makes a joke about “you yogis” in “Yogaland” I try to imagine myself living in ‘Yogaland’ Lululemon uniforms, meditation flying classes, 100% raw diets with no emotional back lash. “Wow” I think.
Continuing on our journey the rain is sleeting down on horizontal axis. The mind starts up “You could of just spent the weekend at home in bed relaxing” “The weather is awful and you’re going to be hold up in a cabin freezing to death” I observe the mind. Drama queen. Creating these alternate realities out of past experiences and projecting it up on the present moment like stickers on posters on wall paper on paint. I remember the wall.
Turning off the Highway, we have arrived. Anna is here with her smile to receive us, the definition of the water element, always in good spirits, looking for the best, cheering us up after our hurly burly journey. Also a yogi, Anna is wrapped up in a navy blue sweater that reads ‘Jeune Amour’ which she tells me is French for ‘Young Love’. Her round hazelnut coloured eyes look tired after hours behind the wheel.
The cabin is what we’ve paid for, a space capsule, tiny, submarine like enclosures. I am at the top of 3 bunks, terrifying memories of falling off a similar bunk as a child breaking my wrist and nose come flooding back like the blood washing down my face. We sleep like logs. In the morning we share seedy toast with cream cheese, smoked salmon and a slice of lemon. How impressive brunch becomes with smoked salmon.
We take a drive down the twisted Southern Coast Highway to Mollymook. It’s the Saturday fair, locals are out selling their goods, fresh produce, home made candles, fuchsia fairy outfits, second hand china and clothes from the 1970’s. An 11 year old boy in skinny ink blank jeans strums an acoustic guitar with wise attention, there’s no vocals just a folky melody that would have George Harrison smiling. He get’s my gold coins. The ladies @ the cake stand are cheerful and joking, which one will you pick, I go for the passionfruit slice, the creamy but sour texture is so good it’s evil. Swiftly the wind channels through us, dimpling up the skin. We’re desperate to get our legs and arms out, but it’s not shorts season, yet.
Searching through the rustic caravan park, down a dried out bush walk we reach Bendalong beach. Sandy wallabies with sleeping joeys stare us down as they munch on a grassy afternoon tea. A long crystal blue beach with small 3-foot waves, gentle and all encompassing. White sand dunes scattered with sparse brown grass stretch in to the horizon. The sun sets in an impressionist periwinkle sky, it’s a photo opportunity and Anna asks some boozing tanned surfers passing by to take the shot. Our photographer has a full sleeved tattoo of god knows what, it’s hard to tell, he takes our picture, with a sad little attempt to flirt and ask where we’re staying, but realising our disinterest, retreats back in to the dune.
Drifting slowly through the surf it laps my calves; the water is as warm as I’ve felt it over the three days. We take a perch on the crumbling grey rocks over looking the bay and settle in for a meditation. The ocean wind whistles through my hair, brisk and alive. I sense a bunch of kids running along the path behind us, squealing short shrieks in an effort to wake the ‘weird ladies praying on the rocks’ My imagination drags me away. The energy of the ocean is almost over whelming; a deep vibration reaches out like a giant hand and swallows me up. Right in the core of my gut, like an opening sunflower exploring the light of day for the first time it radiates out. Any noise drops away. How beautiful it is to be in nature and enjoy my meditation, how much more fulfilling than my box apartment bedroom locked away in the city tower.
Opening my eyes I look out on the horizon, the turquoise water is effervescent, alive and pulsing, breathing me in and out. A light bulb of cognition floods through me; look at the world always through this lenses. My eyes drink in the wild landscape, sparkling, night pushing away the day. I quickly forget.
One more night of dining and gossiping, chin wagging about our yoga teacher, the man behind the mask, if he has a girlfriend and what he’d be like in bed. I wonder how much thought he gives to us when we’re not around. Probably none at all. We arrive home the next day, refreshed and looking forward to our own beds. How grateful I feel to be blessed with a beautiful sangha to experience these adventures with.