Australia—Coast to Coast
You attract the same energy that you put out into the world.
The universe is very literal in reflecting back to us our own energies.
Preparing for this trip, I knew it was going to be good. Planning snippets of adventures,
every two weeks or so, with different friends in different parts of the country, it was bound to be
a good time. I had no fucking clue just how good it was going to be though. Here's to the
second half of the trip being as wildy fun and beautiful as this first half has been.
So what have I been up to? Here's a recap of October and November.
On the 19th of October I flew from Denver to LAX, then LAX to Sydney direct on standby after convincing the pilot to change the weight limit on the plane to accomodate my body, but not my bag, which was delivered free of charge to my buddy Steve's house in Wollongong, south of Sydney. I was happily greeted at the airport, after 30-some hours of travel, by my good friend Lyn with a gigantic hug as we dropped our life packs and went in for the embrace. She had been traveling in New Zealand for the previous two months and came to meet up with me for her last ten days in this hemisphere. Steve picked us up and we went to his house in Albion Park outside of Wollongong.
We spent a few days around the area exploring Macquarie Pass and Belmore Falls, both rather short, easy hikes ending in breathtaking views of falling water. Lyn and I both got our own leech in the same spot on our ankle to comemorate our first Aussie adventure together. We walked through the Wollongong Botanical Gardens one afternoon and saw some neat trees and flowers and some eels in the pond. On our third night we went into the city to meet up with and watch our good friend Jonny play some live music with his band Dusty Boots.
A day later we hopped into Jonny's van to explore a bit of the Central Coast. We got take away Indian food in Long Jetty and ate it at the top of Catherine Hill Bay overlooking the water. This was the first of many van sleepovers on this trip as we snuggled up playing card games and telling stories. He showed us around Frazer Beach and Norah Head where we met Emily one afternoon, who invited us to come dancing with her in Newcastle, which we did of course, and then spent a lazy morning lounging around her pool.
Then it was into the next van and onto the next adventure. Our good friends Jared and Ash picked us up in Newcastle and, after a massive supply quest at the grocery/liquor store, we took off north toward Crescent Head for the weekend. And what a weekend it was. Their group of friends from the last ten years gets together once a year and rents a home for a weekend of catching up, good times, late nights and delicious family dinners. Lyn and I felt extremely blessed that they let us come crash the party and be a part of their special family weekend. You'll hear the word 'family' a lot when I talk about my time here.
After a truly special couple of days in Crescent Head we left early in the morning with Tennille for Sydney. Lyn and I were set to meet up with good friends Jim and Lynnette; Jim is the film producer for 'The Meaning of Vanlife' documentary that we played a part in over the summer. But first, Tennille dropped us at Manly Beach to grab a coffee and hop on the ferry across Sydney Harbour. We saw dolphins and the Opera House, where we met Jim and Lynnette for a beer and tapas, then sat in the park for an hour before Lyn had to catch a train to the airport to head back to the States. After saying goodbye with our dance moves across train platforms, we each went our separate ways and I headed back to Steve's in Wollongong for a day and night to get my shit together and plan my next moves...
...which were the purchase of a one-way ticket down to Melbourne and a couple of nights in a hostel before a train ride up to Benalla, Victoria for the Happy Wanderer Festival. Another special weekend too good for words...and apparently photos, as I did not take one single picture the entire weekend (there were plenty of photographers documenting that I can snag some from). Happy Wanderer is a music festival put on by the housemates of my good friend Sam, who helped with setting up and stage management. This was by far the best festival I've ever been to. It was set on a family farm; 1200 acres of vineyards, orchards and other farmland on the Broken River. The musicians are carefully curated and perfectly placed in the mellow schedule throughout the weekend at one of three stages. The main stage is on the bed of an old farm truck that the boys construct just for the weekend. The Bower Stage is a fort of fallen, dead branches and tree trunks nestled up against a turn in the river. This was my favorite stage as all of the acts played there were mellow tunes and beautiful voices that I wanted to jar up and take with me everywhere. The meat for the food trucks and family dinner Monday night was all from the farm itself. I had the pleasure of helping pick up all of the meat from the butcher Friday afternoon, driving around with new friends running errands...errands that consisted of food and booze, random plugs and cords, two toilets on a trailer, 30 bags of ice, and just as much freshly butchered meat to fill the entire back of the pickup. I volunteered for the weekend, working the gate and helping with traffic to campsites, which was a fantastic way to meet the artists and make new friends. There was a rubber duck race on Sunday with all proceeds from the duck auction going to charity, free workshops throughout the weekend, meditation circles and getaways, a farm walk, so much good food and drink, tons of dancing, amazing musicians, and a gathering of some of the most beautiful and genuine people I've ever spent a weekend with in my life. I went knowing one person and left with over a hundred new friends.
After Happy Wanderer I rode with Sam down to Torquay and Jan Juc where they live right down the road from Bells Beach, a National Surfing Reserve. I spent a little over a week at the boys' place exploring the beaches and shopping the thrift stores and outlets in Torquay. One day we went into town and walked into a bookstore to find Foster Huntington's new 'Van Life' book, that was published the week before I came down here, on display right in front of me. The boys thought I was joking when I said I was in it and hadn't seen it in print yet...until I flipped to the American vans section and found my old van, Tatanka, on a two-page spread.
That night Sam and I drove ol' Wally down to catch the sunset and ran out of fuel; always an adventure. A few days later Sam's friend Mikey came to visit and the three of us took two vans down the Great Ocean Road for some short hikes and a night of camping and bonding, laughing our asses off the entire time, playing chess, beach hopping and getting delicious ice cream in Lorne. Back in Torquay we had a Sunday Funday playing beach volleyball and a lovely family dinner with a bunch of friends that were all at Happy Wanderer. Then we headed to Melbourne to celebrate the YES vote on equality Wednesday night before I flew over to Perth the following morning, running on two hours of sleep and the rainbow glitter still on my face.
The next adventure began right away with Jonny and his friend Sian picking me up at the Perth airport early Thursday morning. Jonny and another buddy Adam, both of whom I met at the Vanlife Gathering in Colorado in July, had a 10-day tour planned playing music together from Perth to Margaret River. After seeing an Instagram post I had made months ago in the planning stages of this trip, Sian, who didn't know me at all besides being a friend of Jonny's, had reached out inviting me to tag along with the three of them in her van for the boys' tour and then continue on together on a massive road trip back to the east coast for the Vanlife Diaries Gathering in mid-December in Byron Bay. Of course I said yes.
It's funny how the universe puts people into our lives. Within 24 hours the four of us went from friends to family. It's not always easy living in such close quarters with more than one person, and there were four of us in one van for 10 days. But as I said, sometimes the universe puts us into the most beautiful situations with the most special people, and this time together was the epitome of that. We laughed, we cried, we danced and sang, and we talked about every aspect of life, sharing our honest stories and the truths we've learned throughout life. We took a lot of naps, ate a lot of hummus, went to a lot of beautiful beaches, and made sure we did a lot of nothing each day. The time I spent with these three humans I will never forget; it has been one of the most special trips of my life. The boys played a variety of shows ranging from bars and backyard parties to warehouse jams, a foodtruck gathering and a 7:30am set outside of a hoppin' cafe. The friends we've all met over here in Western Australia have become family, and I know I always have a home here whenever I return. Today I find myself sitting in the back of the van with the cerulean blue waves sprawling out infinitely in front of me, finishing up this recap of the first half of my trip. This is our last day together in Sian's van as a family; tomorrow we drop the boys off at the airport in Perth, and Sian and I continue our 16-day road trip to the east coast, across the Nullarbor and up to Byron Bay for the Vanlife Gathering where we'll reunite with friends from all over the fucking place. Cheers to infinity...and beyond.
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