Living the High Life
It's hard not to get a contact high here in Nimbin, even if you didn't partake in the good herb
Mel and I left Byron Bay a little reluctantly, but found we had little choice given that our time was already under pressure. It helped that it was threatening to rain and made good of that threat little more than 5 minutes after we piled into the G-Force van, sporting on the back:
A van after my own heart, and my wallet. I have decided that the van must be a woman
Just kidding, that's a little cynical, there are some women out there that aren't out for money, and those that are are certainly not chasing after me, or they, my friends are dumb as posts and I'm not out for them. Besides, for these two weeks I have the loveliest of women at my side.
Blowing out of Byron Bay, we decided to travel to the self-professed (and realistically true) pot capital of Australia to visit the famed Hemp Embassy - the educational centre for the legalization of pot. I was offered pot cookies, which were very tempting, as I love cookies and don't mind a little bit of a pot buzz, but I had to say no. I'm very readily running over budget,
Mel fell in love with the mushroom wall, enough to make a sidetrip over to it for a photo op.
and the 3 for $10 price, while probably a reasonable reflection of the ingredients, was not good value for money, as I would have to pay a good deal more for chips, pizza, chocolate - and I might add my newfound fondness for all things caramelly. So I passed them up and wander off down the street to see what other interesting things I could find.
I was fondly reminded of the fact that hemp has great economic potential, which also threatens well placed industrial giants in the textiles and lumber-based industries. The shame of it is I cannot shake the conviction that big business has it out for us, and that we're all under the thumb of the Man at some level. It's a shame that it's always the stoners that are taking this torch, because it's easy for people to dismiss them, even when they speak truths impossible to reasonably deny.
I have to say, I have never been offered pot so many times in such a diminutive period of time and space, but that is part of what makes Nimbin what it is. It would not, I think, be a place I would like to
I wouldn't raise a family here, but the arts are certainly thriving.
raise a family, but it is a beautiful little town, full of beautiful art, an active community, and wonderfully friendly people who apparently subscribe to the very simple code of conduct of the Aborigine natives who lived here centuries ago:
Don't Fight, Don't Steal, and Don't Be Greedy
Although we were not sure about the latter, as prices seemed to be rather inflated for a bunch of hippies who eschew profit. It's hard to say, but it does leave me with a question-mark cloud hanging above my head. Nimbin hasn't seen the last of us, I assure you of that - just you wait.
After feeding the grumbling and impatient little man that appears to live in my stomach, we were able to carry on to the World Heritage listed Border Ranges National Park
, a beautiful track of land straddling the border between New South Wales and Queensland. Around the edge of the park you can see the magnificent remnants of a long since dead shield volcano, Mt. Warning, and the verdant valley nestled into the ridges that ring it. When we drove in on the rough and unsealed road, it was a very bumpy road on the shockingly shockless G-Force. Coupled with the fact that only
The Hemp Embassy was the reason we came to Nimbin in the first place. A Place of education and resistance.
one headlight works when we don't have the high beams on, it made for an interesting drive. After a series of wrong turns, misleading signs, and roads that appeared to have been created after the publication of this year's map, we found the appropriate route to the campground.
Part of the way up we came across an obstinate crew of cows who were loath to move for us, when they eventually did, a couple of calves became confused and ran in front of the vehicle. The problem was not so much that we hit them, or mad burgers out of them; We didn't, although the thought crossed my mind as they continued to run wildly up the road, darting to the right than the left, then back up the road trying to figure out why the giant cow with the headlights wouldn't let them be. Eventually we were spared by a large cliff which they happily dove from. Again I jest, it was a mini ridge that trapped them behind some bushes that prevented their running back onto the road.
We slept after feasting on our meager canned supplies and slept well, only to be awakened by a
Wallabies in Action
Here at the Permaforest Trust, the wallabies spring into high action. Fortunately not onto the grill of our van.
tapping on the car. I woke up, thinking "Now what? We paid our fees." Only to find that the tapping didn't have a body connected to it. The disembodied tapping could have been frightening, but I decided to conclude it was a bird feasting on splattered bugs and went back to sleep. Just then our car was thrown into the air by a terrible force - oh, wait, sorry that didn't happen either. We awoke only to full bladders, and lazily made our breakfast before heading out into an enjoyable, if cobwebby, rain forest walk.
My camera refused to take a decent picture because it wasn't full sunlight conditions. I really hate and resnt the camera for its failings. I'm much more forgiving with people, but cameras earn my full wrath. Unlike my Canon, which was a brilliant camera (buy Canon - seriously), this camera is useless in anything by the brightest conditions and insists on using the flash, which could not take more away from the natural beauty of, let's say a rain forest, if it lit it on fire with the flash. Okay - maybe that might do a little more damage, and be a little more
Here I stand at the source of my calling, to dig in the dirt and to educate about sustainability. I'll be back.
scary, but you get my point. If I were less of a person, I would tell you that my camera is a Nikon Coolpix, and that I think Nikon cameras suck, but I won't do that. Thus we decided to give up the picture taking and concentrated on our walk.
The next day we went to check out the school I am hoping to attend next year in a little tiny township called Barkers Vale. The Permaforest Trust
, is an educational program focusing on sustainability education, and is transitioning to education in an urban and suburban setting, which sounds perfect for my needs. The beautiful local was exciting for me to look at as a possibility. I was really anxious before arriving, and I think it was stressing me out to think that if it didn't work out as I had imagined, my idea of what my future held would once again be thrown up in the air. Fortunately, it felt right. Now it's only the timeline that leaves me with questions, but that's not a factor that concerns me mightily.
With that sorted, we headed out n the direction of Surfers Paradise, with the intermediary goal of visiting
A Great ViewTropical Fruit World
Overlooking the Border Ranges Park, it's hard not to be wowed by the greenery and the rolling landscape.
which I discovered by way of our map, and a vague memory of Ben's having raved about it upon his return from Australia last time. Excitedly we drove up there. Not only is Tropical Fruit World the home of Tropical Fruit World, but it also sports the Big Avocado, yet another installment in the Big Things Tour of Australia we seem to find ourselves haplessly upon. The moment we saw the entry prices, however, our mood changed. $32 to see a world of tropical fruit. Not happy - I may have mumbled something about the edibility of my posterior at this point, but that is neither here, nor there. Crestfallen (is that overly dramatic), I fell into a swoon and when I was revived, we decided to buy some interesting fruits. One called an abiu, which tastes like caramel was chosen - guess who picked that one, and a couple of pepinos were tossed in the mix; I haven't as yet indulged in them. In truth, I haven't tasted the abiu either, but there is a promise of caramel taste, and that is enough for me. Fruit and caramel, without the guilt. Let's be honest, there's never much guilt
The Big Avacado
I was terribly frightened when I heard it plotting to fall on me.
for me - but I can indulge myself knowing I'm eating fruit and not ice cream - bully for me.
We took some photos of the Big Avocado and decided we'd
Been There, Done That
. So we drove off to check out the over-developed Surfer's Paradise. As we drove into town, I thought, "Wow this looks like Miami." Then I though, "I really shouldn't keep making comparisons between Australian and American cities." Then not even a minute later, I kid you not, we drove past a sign which pleaded with us to turn right to visit Miami Beach. I chuckled to myself quietly as Mel slept. The afternoon was beginning to wane, but it was still nice enough for us to take a dip and spend an hour on the body-strewn beach (many of which I appreciated mightily). It's nice having Mel around - we have an agreement, she doesn't mind if I check out other women, and I don't mind if she checks out other guys. Not that either of us have claim to the other, but the sentiment is mutually appreciated all the same.
Mel went for a swim in the heavy cross-current, while I decided that the ocean,
Mel trying to dodge my paparazzi style photograph in Surfers Paradise
coupled with my inadequate skills as a swimmer were not a good pairing and played in the waves and later read my book instead. In truth, the ocean kind of scares me. It's not so much what's in it that bothers me, so much as knowing that I am helpless to its whims and I'd rather not be on the receiving end of one of its more whimsical ploys. Ever since I took on the sea mano-et-mano, so to speak, in San Sabastian, Spain, and found myself pummeled in the surf so violently that I was shaking sand out of my foreskin, I decided it was the better of the combatants, and I was not to taunt it again. So I happily waited for her to return, whereupon we went for a walk and came here to this internet cafe in the center of town.
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