Saturday, 10 July 2010

transition back to urbanity

We are in Holbrook. The sky is clear and starry. The air is crisp and cold. We are 800 kms down the road from Taree where we slept last night. For most of the trip we have travelled in silence ... thinking about everything and nothing. As we creep beyond Sydney and venture closer to life in Brunswick we start talking about life; work, money, yurting, dreams ...

We stopped at Gundagai for dinner. I stood and waited for our order to be filled and looked out the window. Pat and the caravan stood there waiting for us to return ... they represent so much more than being a car and a caravan. My overwhelming sense is of thankfulness and pride. We are immensely privileged. We appreciate the unique opportunities we have, and are also conscious of the decisions we have made that have allowed these opportunities. We dream of much more, but at the same time are satisfied with today.

We are sitting in the warm. Maria and Johanna are playing cards and talking about Harry Potter. (Johanna has been listening to the ebook on the way south.) I have been checking emails, a very long list since I've only dealt with urgent ones the last two weeks ... and as I do so the other realities of life come rushing back in.

Home tomorrow. Time to embrace other challenges and opportunities. I return with greater clarity and clearer goals for the next 6 months than I have had for some time ... the work and discipline starts Monday.

Friday, 9 July 2010

people like us ...

Maria finished her last post with a reference to 'people like us', a reference to a previous post about the kinds of people who typically inhabit caravan parks. It truly has been a different park experience.

We met some wonderful people, Johanna commented it was strange driving out this morning and having people come out of the tents to wave as we passed, as we had done to others who had left earlier.

T & K across from us and their 4 kids from Alexandra have had their camper trailer tent on the same site for about 5 years. Their outgoing son O, was either surfing, standing on the deck looking at the surf, or hanging out with our teenagers. Beside them, were their good friends B & R, who they meet at Byron Bay a few years back and really hit it off. B & R and their 2 young daughters are keen cyclists, and B's bongo drums could often be heard ... a soothing background soundtrack. Beside us were J & L, surfing enthusiasts from Torquay who's power we plugged into. They were always gone at the crack of dawn and we rarely saw them until evening, they surfed all day every day at the best breaks they could find. I loved their exhausted and happy banter when they were around. Beside them was an older bloke and his wife from Sydney. I stood on the deck with him a couple of days back and we talked about his regular surf spot at Manly and the wonder of the Byron Bay Pass wave machine that just pumps out the most amazing waves hour after hour.

J & L are friends with N, also from Torquay, who has also been coming to Byron Bay this time of year for ever. His son is a sponsored surfer who competes in pro events. Over the years N has got to know G & J, our friends from Coffs who invited us back to BB. The old caravan beside G & J's belongs to G and his wife from Croydon, who have been on that spot since Noah was a boy.

And then we spent most of our time with S & J and M & J and their kids. I guess, as with most good experiences, sharing it with good people makes it special beyond the event itself. Such was our return to Byron Bay 2010.

Sand in my Shoes

Today was spent unpacking and getting back into normal life. Although it was nice being back home in familiarity, I couldn't help but miss being on holiday at the beach. Today I had a shower with the water pressure and surroundings I am used to, but it just didn't have the same satisfied, post-surf feeling as the last 15 I've had; no physical exhaustion, no thongs, and no struggling to get a wet suit off. This trip was slightly different to previous ones, our sociable family had made friends with some "regulars" at the caravan park last year after I had left so this time instead of being with just the family we spent alot of time with other people. I wasn't sure whether it would be better or worse or just different but luckily the people there were very friendly and fun to be with. It was also great to know other people in the water while surfing, almost all of whom were better than I am. I can't really complain too much; tomorrow I head down to Phillip Island with some friends for a few days although I somehow feel it won't be quite as beach based with 12 degree water and no wet suits (except mine). The surf is actually meant to be pretty good though, so I might take the short board out one morning and see what happens.

Trekking South

We have begun the long trek back South. We began packing up yesterday afternoon to keep the tarp and tent dry from the rain forecast later in the day. We also said goodbye to Zac and Rachel at Coolangatta where they caught their flight home. We returned to Byron Bay in time to have dinner and watch the state of origin match at the local Services Club with our Queensland friends. Needless to say we barracked for the maroons.

This morning we finished packing up in drizzle and drove through some wet and wintry patches as we headed South. Johanna listened to the third Harry Potter book on her mp3 player – we didn’t hear a peep out of her. We called it a day at Taree and since the caravan park is not near any shops Colin worked some magic with the odds and ends in the cupboard and fridge.

As we said goodbye this morning to some old friends and some new we consoled ourselves with plans to return next year (powered site a must) There are quite a number of families that make the pilgrimage at the same time each year – looks like we have joined the throng. Not surprisingly quite a few are Victorians.

Despite the ordinary weather, there was some great surfing and we all enjoyed being part of a community of likeminded enthusiasts. Finally we have found ‘the people like us’. Byron Bay in the middle of the year will be a fixture in the diary for a while I think!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Surfs Up

We have found a certain rhythm and ritual to our days here. In keeping with our yurting tradition ‘what happens happens’, we take each day as it comes. The state of the surf is a dominant factor – all else fitting around when and where. After a few flat days the last couple have seen some great surfing conditions. The kid’s have all made the most of it. They join a steady stream of wetsuit clad bodies hefting boards headed for the sea from the first light to the last rays. All day the surfers come and go, excitement and anticipation at the beginning replaced by a contented weary at the end. The lure of one more fantastic ride keeping them going – some for as long as 5 hours!

Another ritual is to watch the sun set each afternoon. Here at the caravan park there is a deck right on the foreshore overlooking the sea and distant mountains. Many people gather to sit, sip, photograph and contemplate as the sun sinks to the horizon often casting a spectacular light and colour show.

Heidi is gone, Zac and Rachel leave on Wednesday and then Colin, Johanna and I begin the long trek back south on Thursday. The last few days are precious and the kid’s are hoping that the surf stays good….

Monday, 5 July 2010

to market

Today we went to the Byron Bay Market. It was full of life and an exciting place to be. I wished to be in no other place, looking around the stalls with the three other kids from one of the other families we’re camping with, Teagan, Chris and Ben was great fun. I bought two t-shirts, one for my friend, who’s birthday is coming up and one for myself, three little wrist and bracelet things and two packets of little jelly crystal things, which Teagan, Chris, Ben and I had fun playing with this afternoon.  We bought organic doughnuts, which were extremely nice and listened to some music a man called Juzzie Smith was playing. His music was catchy and very “Yurty”.

When we got back from the market we went down to the beach with the family with three kids. Rachel and Zac surfed for three and a half hours and I went in the water for half an hour with Ben, the oldest of the three, the same age as me, we played in the waves. Then it started to rain and it was fun to watch everyone on the beach grab their belongings and head for the showers. The beach was practically empty but we stayed in the water for a bit. Then we got cold and went to have a shower like lots of other people in the park were doing.

We had leftovers for tea and now we’re sitting down writing our blogs.


There are no waves. The sea stretches out in front of us, smooth and glassy with miniature movie-like waves peeling off the surface. Mum and Dad are taking Heidi to the airport, so Johanna, Zac and I head down to the beach to wait and see if the surf picks up. Predictably, it doesn’t, but the water looks too perfect to simply observe. Zac and Johanna, not yet brave enough (or stupid enough) to feel the bite of the near freezing water, sit on the sand and watch me stumble into the ocean. I sit on my board, just deep enough that my feet can't touch the bottom, and the water is so crystal clear that I can literally see the grains of sand beneath me. The sun sinks lower in the sky and Zac and Johanna come splashing into the water, interrupting the silence, but bringing with them a sense of familiarity, so different to the unknown of the sea. While Zac attempts to catch the barely formed waves, I sit on the board and watch Johanna dancing in the shallows. When the cold gets too much for her, she stands on the shore line and watches us drifting with the waves, before heading home with numb toes. Zac, still admiring the grommies who manage to surf the tiny waves, outlasts me, so I sit on the beach until the sand turns purple, and the last light of the day is swallowed by the sky.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

No surf

It has been a cold and dreary day devoid of surf. After a slow morning and a hot breakfast we set out in hope with the boards on top of the Patrol. Everywhere around here is flat; the sea is lake like – the same as yesterday. Zac was keen to surf today so we headed to Ballina where supposedly there might be some surfable waves. They were small but he had fun anyway. Once again we were graced by the presence of dolphins and whales.

It is after six now, cold, dark and drizzly. Colin and I have returned from sitting on the deck watching a non existent sunset chatting with some neighbours. Our caravan is full of teenagers (ours and some others) playing 500, music blaring. The kid’s have enjoyed the company of other campers. They went to a midnight premier screening of the latest twilight movie the other night with some friends and a group of us went to the local services club last night to watch Carlton play. I think Group Pictionary is on the cards tonight. Although the weather and surf has been disappointing the last couple of days we have all enjoyed the community aspect of being here.

Colin has just finished peeling the prawns, the caravan has emptied of non Duthies for the moment and dinner is on the way – stir fried prawns and vegies in a peanut and lime sauce. And best of all – we have plugged into our neighbours power outlet (with their permission) and we have lights, all power points working and the heater on! (the lack of sun meant that we were struggling to keep the battery charged)

Thursday, 1 July 2010

taking in Bryon Bay in June

One of our favourite yurting soundtracks is the Waifs ‘Take it in’, a tune about savouring the moments. It is one of the disciplines we have developed in the times when we are enjoying the good things in life.

When we began thinking about yurting and how it would add a dimension of life we desired, it was days like today that we imagined. We are truly privileged. We try not to take for granted the joys we experience, which is one of the reasons why savouring each moment and expecting no more is part of the yurting discipline …

It was a chilly morning. There was little movement in the park until about 8 o’clock. I made a coffee and Maria, Johanna and I wandered down to ‘the deck’ a platform overlooking the beach. The clear pure water and clean lines of the waves pealing off the point were a wonderful sight. Our friends Gavin and Julie had been out early and were on their way back for breakfast, they confirmed that the conditions were near perfect for beginners.

The normally sluggish teenage Duthies (Zac and Rachel at least) were quick to forego the comforts of bed for the wetsuits and the prospect of some rides. Two and half hours later they returned to our site for brunch pleased with their sessions which includes some of the best waves they had ever caught. Maria, Johanna and I had sat on the beach in the warm morning sun watching them … I couldn’t have imagined wanting to be anywhere else.

After pancakes I took Johanna out and pushed her onto some great little waves as well. She caught some good rides until getting bonked on the head for the second time with her board.

Maria and I went shopping for food for dinner and then we sat outdoors at a cafĂ© and with a few other couples in the late afternoon until the sun started to disappear. That was Maria’s trigger to head back home, grab the camera and head back down to the deck where we again sat with friends, enjoyed an afternoon drink while the photographers (there are a few among our group) tried to capture the beauty of the setting sun.

Back in the yurt, I then filled the space with Mexican smells as I prepared some tortillas for dinner. The kids are now clearing up and washing the dishes as we contemplate the evening ahead. The older kids are planning to go to the movies for a midnight session, not sure what will happen between now and then, but I am looking forward to letting it unfold.

“Take it in, take it all in. Now is the time that will not come again, take it in, take it all in. This is the day and its here for the living.” The Waifs