When your home is your vehicle and your vehicle is your home, your worst nightmare is a break down! Well kid’s, hate to tell you this but nightmares do come true. This last week I noticed our 1978 Toyota Chinook was starting to act up on a daily basis. Of course it’s normal to have […]
Recapping on our road trip to Queensland last weekend, we had driven up to my in-laws place at Nureybar in Byron Bay’s hinterland on Friday. On Saturday, we’d driven across the border into Queensland for a birthday picnic in a park in Surfers Paradise and went back to our niece’s hotel with breathtaking views across the beach and nightlife (or was that wildlife?)This takes us through to Sunday morning, when we had a fleeting visit to Bangalow Markets before we headed back over the Queensland border for high tea at the Old Teahouse Gallery in Mudgeeraba.
Bangalow is a quaint historic village, located near Byron Bay in the Byron Shire with a population of 1,902.The town is 765 kilometres (475 mi) north of Sydney and 167 kilometres (104 mi) south of Brisbane, just off the Pacific Highway. The town’s name appears to have been derived from an Aboriginal word, “Bangalla”, said to mean ‘a low hill’ or ‘a kind of palm tree’- Wikipaedia.
Every time we visit my in-laws, I escape to Bangalow and after I’ve meandered through the numerous arty, fashion and food shops, I usually set up camp and write in my journal. I love each and every nook and cranny in Bangalow and if we’re really lucky, our trip coincides with the Bangalow Markets, an ecclectic fusion of Nimbin counter-culture and hippies, produce stalls, music, fashion as well as massage and other so-called “alternative therapies”. Bangalow Markets are held on the 4th Sunday each month at Bangalow Showground.
Fortunately, our trip coincided with the Bangalow Markets but unfortunately we only had half an hour up our sleeve before we had hit the road driving North. While 30 minutes was better than nothing, such a fleeting sprint-by could only be described as sacrilege. How could I possibly see anything in a measly half-an-hour?
Well, I’m a fast mover and I even surprised myself. While the rest of the crowd was chugging along on “Byron Time”, I flew past the stalls posed for photos in front of a Kombi and that was when I was greeted by a very friendly familiar face…our friend Kathy who is a local jewelry artisan. It was so good to see her and share a spontaneous and embracing hug. Wow! it was so good to see her again!! Of course, we bought more jewelry. Kathy has designed and manufactured most of my jewelry and it was really good that I was wearing one of her pieces at the time.
Although our visit was incredibly rushed and fleeting, Bangalow Markets is a place for chilling out, relaxing and immersing yourself in the region’s hippy counter-culture. However, don’t mistake it for a free ride. I go through buckets of money whenever I go to the markets. With so much creativity in one location, it’s hard not to.
Speaking of buckets, there was one trip to the markets when the heavens suddenly opened up and drowned the stalls in metres of water. Indeed, the markets were overtaken by raging torrents and I remember seeing tables and chairs buried by the heavy deluge.
I think this could be why we seemingly visit my in-laws when the markets aren’t on. Of course, we could and have visited the other local markets, especially the Byron Bay Markets, but these are a little further away.
As we leave the markets to return to the open road, I thought you’d enjoy losing yourself in these mesmerising bubbles.
Do you have a favourite market? Please share.
PS I couldn’t resist adding a photo of a little lemonade stand being run by a couple of young kids and their dog.
As soon as you exit the Pacific Highway and take the Byron Bay exit, throw your watch out the window and prepare to slow down. You’re now on Byron Bay time. Not only that, you’re about to enter another world where it’s more or less assumed that you’re at least somewhat lateral, alternative, creatively inspired or just plain mad. Well, not quite everyone. Byron Bay is no longer the hippy mecca it once was but despite the yuppie blow-ins, it’s retained much of it’s original character. You might just need to look further afield to find it.
As we have family living in the Byron Bay hinterland, we tend to head up to Byron at least once a year and Cape Byron Lighthouse has become something of a yardstick of our kids’ growth over the years as I force them through another round of photos against it’s glowing white fascade. You really do need a good pair of sunnies out there.
Of course, Byron i also renowned for it’s many gorgeous beaches and great surf. However, rather than giving you a picture postcard view of Byron Bay, in keeping with the spirit of Byron, I thought I’d share some of the ephemeral sights we’ve uncovered over the years. You see, when it comes to Byron Bay, anything is possible and you certainly don’t need a permit to be a little different.
Starting off at the beach, we came across a sand sculptor who was building the most amazing creations in the sand. He created this fire breathing dragon, which I’ve photographed here. You’ll notice he’s having a cup of tea and that’s my Royal Albert teacup which I photographed around Byron Bay on a few visits. I’m not ashamed of stepping out beyon dthe flow myself.
We also stumbled across this medley of musos and dancers who met up around sunset each evening just as the Rainbow Lorrikeets were churping away in the Norfolk Pine Trees beside the beach. They sure showed me you’re never too old to boogie!
In January 2011, we had a wonderful surprise when a group of French backpackers set themselves up just off the beach doing a roaring trade selling crepes…just like you’d see on a footpath in Paris. We felt absolutely spoilt indulging in scrumptious Nutella crepes or lemon and sugar after emerging from the surf. As you could imagine, this thriving little enterprise was operating without Council approval or any form of insurance. That is Byron Bay.
As much as we love the beach, the sun demands respect and so we stay off the beach much of the day. One of our other favourite hangouts in Byron Bay is the park beside the railway. This park has the most fabulous climbing tree, which is a type of fig. It got damaged in a storm I believe and it’s fallen over and now grows along the ground like a caterpillar. This makes for fabulous climbing, especially for really little kids who can reach the branches.
This tree has become something of a magic wishing tree and every time we go there, somebody has stuck something different in the branches and we can’t wait to see what’s there. We’re only talking about simple things like ribbons tied in the branches, a milk crate suspended by a rope but on one visit we came across a very touching artistic tribute by a grieving mother whose son had died in the park and she wants to help young people feel good about htemselves and help all of us feel more love.
She decorated the climbing tree with bright yellow flowers and painted the park benches with all sorts of messgaes and graphics. I was still wandering around with my tea cup and photographed it wioth her artworks.
Unfortunately, even paradise has it’s underbelly and Byron Bay is no exception. Unfortunately, our beloved park attracts some heavy drinkers who can get quite narky and obviously, this isn’t a suitable environment for the kids. I’ve also heard that there are quite a few rapes.
Thje photo below was taken at the old railway station where I’ve sure homeless people must doss down. Sadly, Byron Bay isn’t just all beautiful beaches, peace, love and serenity.
On a more poitive note, of course, no tour of Byron Bay is complete without going Kombi spotting. Back in the day, Kombis were all lined up prked along the beachfront with boards on their backs. You can still spot Kombis around town these days but they are obviously thinning out. Here’s one I spotted by the railway station:
This is by no means a comprehenive tour of Byron Bay. I haven’t evn covered Byron Bay’s famous markets, which sell the very best chocolate donuts that ever walked this planet. They’re more of a cross between a jam donut and a chocolate croissant and just thinking about them is making me feel like getting in the car and driving North.
While it’s a bit of a thing to climb Mt Warning or to the lighthouse to watch the sunrise, we are better equiped for watching the sunset and this is the prfect way to exit Byron Bay.
This is my second contribution to the Blogging From A to Z Challenge. Bis for Byron Bay.
I don’t know whether I would call it procrastination, avoidance, hyperactivity or just too much prednisone because today I actually managed to clean the fridge.
There has to be some psychological term to explain my latest cleaning frenzy…a category all of its own in DSM IV or whatever the good book is called. I am quite ideologically opposed to cleaning and I only do it when I really have to. That said, I have also realised that now I’m a grown up, I can’t just throw all my crap in my cupboard, force the door shut and believe it’s all just going to magically self-sort. These days, it turns out, I have become the proverbial fairy, wielding my not so magic wand…clunk!
I think I might just blame the prednisone. I’m blaming it for everything right now! It’s a bit like being pregnant!
Anyway, before you get all excited about what rotten remains I’ve “discovered” in the fridge, I haven’t reached the inside of the fridge yet. I’m just talking about the fridge door.
So I’ll get you to sit down with your cup of tea and just think about fridge doors for a few minutes…
The more I think about it, the fridge door is actually something of a canvas. It’s blank. It’s white. You can let your imagination run totally wild. Sure, like any canvas, of course there are boundaries…limits…a frame. Yet within that space, anything is possible although I would just advise against a completely literal interpretation of my “fridge door as canvas” concept. I strongly advise against painting on the fridge door itself. My daughter has written on our fridge door in permanent marker which at this point of time, is looking way too permanent. After all, the whole point is to be ephemeral. Your canvas is constantly changing, evolving…a melting pot of things past, present and maybe even future.
However, this “fridge door as canvas” concept is a long way from where I started out this morning. This morning my fridge door was looking something in between a dog’s breakfast and a very chaotic whirlwind. As I looked at everything stuck on top of it, I’m sure I could even detect whirly patterns. It was rather disconcerting as I wondered what the state of the fridge door actually said about me? Was this my reflection?
Then I got a bit stuck. I didn’t quite know how you are supposed to arrange all those fridge magnet thingys. It seems a bit anal having them all lined up in neat little rows like Monopoly houses but my ephemera was looking like it had been in a whirlwind. You know how it is. The magnets fall off and you just put them back anywhere before they get stamped on by the hoardes.
In an act which could only be described as desperation, I pulled absolutely everything off the fridge until it was completely and utterly naked…bare. It was actually quite a strange sight and all that white actually looked pretty glary. I needed my snow goggles on to deal with such vast expanse of white. I was in very unfamiliar territory. I, as you will come to know, am the Clutter Queen!
As much as my fridge door might be messy, it is also glamorously eclectic and bursting with meaning, history…just like me! My entire life story is on that fridge door much of it preserved in the actual fridge magnets themselves. Not that I officially collect fridge magnets but maybe I do after all.
Perhaps, the oldest fridge magnet I have, is a hand-painted ceramic painting of a border collie. I bought that at Glebe Markets about 15 years ago when I was living in a converted warehouse apartment just off Broadway and I thought anywhere beyond the inner city was the outback and to avoided at all costs. We are now onto our second real Border Collie.
There is another series of fridge magnets, also from Glebe Markets by artist Liza Paizis. They are heavenly inspired. I love, love, love her work. She has subsequently moved back to South Africa but she is online. I was seriously distracted looking her up!! You can check her work out at http://www.zhibit.org/lizapaizis
Last year, I discovered the Flower Fairies by Cicely May Barker. You can see that I live in my imagination but her illustrations of local village children as flowers as so beautiful…more superlatives! See: http://www.flowerfairies.com/ I have a series of flower fairy fridge magnets which I picked up in Sandford, Brisbane when visiting my cousins.
I also have not one but three Kombi magnets. I have very fond memories of my first visit to Byron Bay back in 1995 and seeing rows of Kombis parked beside the beach. I had sold my artistic soul out to the corporate sector back then and had found visiting Byron so liberating!! Byron was still fairly hippy.
I have been dreaming of running away in a Kombi ever since. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the ultimate midlife crisis vehicle. I mean if you’re really going to run away from it all, you can’t fit everything into a teeny red convertible. Moreover, a sports car towing a trailer just isn’t a good look! You could literally fit the kitchen sink in the back of a Kombi. It’s my kind of vehicle!
Back when I was still breastfeeding and an active member of the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA), we made our own fridge magnets as a fundraiser. We brought in photos, which were turned into fridge magnets in much the same way you’d make badges. That was about 8 years ago and I thought they were so cool. There’s one with my son and aunty posing in front of the laughing clowns at the Marburg Show when he was only weeks old.
Just like getting married, there’s something old and something new…
It seems I have added quite substantially to the fridge magnet collection this year. You know that fabulous feeling when you’re on holidays and buying a fridge magnet has been my way of letting that moment extend… or even last forever.
In January, on our way to Byron Bay, we visited the Pet Porpoise Pool at Coffs Harbour. I just had to buy a couple of magnets there so I could look at the seals and dolphins when I got home. We’d been so up close and personal that we could almost smell their fishy breath from the stands. We all enjoyed seal and dolphin kisses as well although I can assure you, we all washed our faces thoroughly afterwards.
There are also some postcards from Nelson Bay. I went there on an adventure camp with Muscular Dystrophy NSW and went parasailing, quad-bike riding, dolphin watching and chatted and chatted with an inspirational group of people.
Lastly, just a few weeks ago, I bought a couple of fridge magnets from the National Gallery in Canberra, on our way back from the snow. There’s The Rose 1958 by Salvador Dali. I really liked this painting with a huge reddish rose hovering in the sky. I have always been a fan of Keats whose Ode to Melancholy suggests:
“But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud…
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose…”
I particularly liked Dali’s less conventional take on the classic rose. I stuck that on the fridge as a reminder to bounce back when the going gets tough (which it inevitably does for everyone eventually).
I also couldn’t resist Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly 1946. This painting shows a rear-view of Ned riding a horse and there’s a “window” cut into his helmet and you see the clouds in his head. This surrealist image has always appealed to me, as my own head is often in the clouds. We took the kids to see the Ned Kelly Series while we were at the gallery and our son tripped over the protective gutter and literally crashed into Constable Fitzpatrick and Kate Kelly. Fortunately, no alarms bells went off but a copy of painting is also plastered on the side of the fridge. I’m a bad mother!
There is also a magnet from Questacon. We all loved Questacon!!
I also have a few magnets with motivational sayings. There’s the Footprints poem. “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well. – Joe Ancis and a photo of an elephant’s foot about to step on a mouse with the caption: “It could always get worse!”
I did throw a few magnets out today but even though our son is 8 and Thomas the Tank Engine isn’t quite so cool anymore, I couldn’t throw poor Thomas out. He stays.
I also added a photo of our family taken down at the snow as few weeks ago.
But no fridge door is complete without artwork…especially when you have young kids. Our daughter loves drawing rainbows and they really are very good at turning your mood around. How could you ever look at a rainbow and feel sad? I have a self-portrait by our son up as well as something he calls the never-starting never-ending picture. He ended up putting a bloodshot eyeball in it. He’s rubbed dirt in his eye that day and ended up off at the doctor and returning looking like Pirate Pete.
As much as I’ve been steadily collecting these fridge magnets over the years, I’ve never thought about them like this before. Done an inventory and joined all the dots. It’s quite amazing really when you consider what a simple fridge door can say about who you really are.
Well, just one last word about what isn’t on my fridge door.
I have a magnetic whiteboard beside the fridge and it is the organiser albeit with a huge paper sunflower made by our daughter stuck to one side. I just can’t seem to stick to the straight and narrow!
What do you have stuck on your fridge door? I’d love to hear your stories too!