Posts tagged Bluesfest

Snakes, spirits and wicked music in Northern NSW

 Just over two months into our trip, and we’re still no further north than Byron Bay – boy we really are taking this trip at a cruisy pace!

We are still hanging around in Northern NSW for Bluesfest, of course, but when we arrived in Mullumbimby a few weeks ago, and realised that our funds were getting low, we decided to do another stint of WWOOFing to try and save a bit of money.

We ended up going to a rainforest retreat, where we helped out with all sorts of work like cleaning and preparing the accommodation for guests, helping with catering for one small group, and lots of gardening and brushcutting (whipper snipping) for Oli. It was a real pleasure to stay and work at Sine Cera; the hosts were lovely and really welcoming, and the other WWOOFers were great company.

The retreat is on a gorgeous piece of property, nestled between dry eucalypt forest on one side, and on the other side of the river, dense and lush rainforest (part of the Border Ranges National Park). The accommodation for WWOOFers here was great – plenty of room, comfy beds, heaps of DVD’s to watch in the evening, and yummy food. The hosts had mentioned to us that some people had sensed or seen spirits around the place, and sure enough, a couple of nights later Oli had his first ghost encounter. And no, he was not on drugs!

It was so special to be able to have a coffee on the veranda in the morning before our shift, and watch the wallabies and their joeys hopping around the place, or just enjoy the spectacular view of the ranges. It was also kind of cool to see a couple of snakes there too, especially Monty, a beautiful python who sometimes lives on the hosts veranda, soaking up the sun and catching the odd mouse or rat.

Anyway, after eight or nine days at the retreat it was time to come back to Byron Bay for our shifts as volunteers at Bluesfest. We applied for this way back in early January, and with each lineup announcement we have been looking forward to the festival more and more.

Doing pre-festival shifts was definitely the way to go – we got to see the whole festival come together, see some of the stages go up, help put up countless market stalls, set up the dining hall, work on decorating the artists dressing rooms, and meet some other really cool vollies. We even jumped up on one of the big stages and had a wander around, checking out the view and imagining we were entertaining the masses. It was weird to know that in a few short days, some of our favourite musicians would be on these stages doing their thing, and the tent filled to the brim with punters.

Now that we’ve clocked up our 30 hours work, we have been given our tickets to the festival and are free to enjoy the whole thing. If the opening night’s performances last night were anything to go by, this is going to be one really memorable festival.

Already, we’ve seen some amazing talent, including Ruthie Foster, Ray Beadle, Michael Franti and Spearhead, and Los Lobos. And to top it off, a super long set by Ben Harper and the Relentless Seven, packed with all his old good stuff – including Gold To Me, Burn One Down, Walk Away, Morning Yearning, Glory and Consequence, and heaps more.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – there’s so much more good music to come over the next five days. I feel so lucky to be here, enjoying all of this!

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One mother of a to-do list

Only 18 more days until we leave Sydney and begin our adventure.   It’s a weird stage actually; we both keep alternating between being ridiculously excited about our imminent departure,  and freaking out about a) how much we still have to do to get ourselves and the van ready, b) whether we have saved enough money for this trip and c) having to go through the tedious and time consuming process of packing up our house and putting it into storage.

But there is light at the end of the tunnel. Soon, the house will be all packed up, and we’ll be on the road down to Canberra, to settle the monkey-cat into his new foster home (that is, my parent’s place). From there, we’ll either head down to Victoria, or possibly down to the south coast of NSW and bum around for 3 weeks. Then we need to come back up to Sydney for a wedding, before we begin our trip proper, heading north and hopefully doing some volunteering at Bluesfest in Byron Bay over Easter.

It feels amazing to have no real plans set in stone, but to instead be able to take things as they come and set our course as we go along. Who knows where this year may take us!

At this point, I’m enjoying the reactions we’ve been getting from friends, colleagues and family when we tell them we’re taking a year of to do this trip around the country. Quite a few seem surprised it’s not all idle threats. I loved the reaction of one friend (hi Simmo!) who said “Holy shit, it’s actually happening! When Oli told me I thought it was just one of those things people say, like ‘we’re gonna stop drinking’.”

Other people seem slightly perplexed – you can tell they’re wondering to themselves why a young couple would bother joining the grey nomads when they could instead go jetsetting across the world, or use that money on a house deposit. Different strokes for different folks.

But the best is when we tell people what we’re planning and they get all excited for us. We’ve had heaps of hot tips from others who have done the trip or spent some time on the road.

“Get a CB radio” said my brother, “so when you come up behind a big truck that’s just cruising you can have a chat and ask him if it’s ok to overtake.”

“Take fishing rods – it’s great fun, and you might even save a bit of money catching your own dinner,” said a young couple who’d just returned home from a three month stint. “And watch out for those emus!”

“Go mustering – it’s a shitload of fun and you’ll earn some money too!”

One west-coast based friend advised “Make sure you go to Broome, but don’t get stuck in Broome-time. So many people just fall in love with the place and never move on!”

Have you got any hot tips or advice to add to the list? If so, please enlighten us  – leave a comment below.

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