Cramming a couple of months worth of blog into one entry... Ain't easy. Think of this as a short story...
See ya Narrandera!!!
It's strange to think that this time last year... I was galavanting around New Zealand. How time flies! Bloody hell...
So what's the new? I'll tell you... I've just accidentally deleted my whole blog entry, which I was rounding off nicely... So please excuse me if my writing is slightly sharp, or abrupt. In plain English, I'm pissed off.
I'm just going to take myself to a happy place now... a colourful, skippy, jumpy, happy place... An ideal world if you please... With good food, good company, music, laughter... Maybe some free booze... Is there such a place? Of course there is! If you stay in Australia long enough, and tough out the crappiness of farm work and underpaid, pond scum backpacker jobs, you learn about the cool hideouts to visit... One of those being Burning Seed. A festival... unlike any other I've been to. A festival where you combine the ideal, secluded camp grounds, and a scoop of the world's best people ever.
I'm going to take you back to lil ol' Narrandera... The tiny town, in which we were finishing off our farm work. I had been busy with my new 'painting the van project', which was bloody brilliant! It took a while for me to finally collect all the right enamel paints for it, and tape up the bloody wheels, mirrors and what not, but my God! It was fun. A giant doodle canvas... Just for my hands... Or rather HAND. That's right... I was still splinted up, with nerve damage in my lefty, from the crash... slightly s*** news there. But hey! It's not all doom and gloom, when you're raking in fat stacks (workers comp) for sitting on your arse all day! Ching ching...
Anyway so there I was... Whilst the big boys were at work, I spent my last few days turning the van into a knock off version of 'The Great Wave of Kanagawa' (the Japanese waves painting, which Alex had kindly requested).
It soon rolled into the weekend, the weekend before the festival, I was running out of time to get the bloody thing finished. There was a function kicking off at the pub. A bunch of Aussies strolled in, and decorated the place with balloons and ribbons. It was a BIG party bash for someone... And that can only mean one thing... KIDS.
It wasn't long before the pub garden was sprinkled with the little b*****s. Kiddy winks, no older than 5, running about the joint with sticks as weapons... I tried not to make eye contact as I proceeded to paint the van.
The van was now becoming even more colourful. Kids like colour. They also like paint. They also like to get involved. You guessed it... Like tiny raindrops, these critters, pattered into my work space...
"Hi lady, what're you doing?"
"Painting a van..." I tried to give short answers, and not enter conversation with the children... You know what happens then... Either you get branded as a Paedo, or worse, you turn into a day care center.
"What is it going to be?" a collection of children began swarming the van...
"Waves"... I lowered my paintbrush and looked around. I could sense it... That God awful question that children are compelled to ask, whenever there is paint or colourful fun things around...
"Can we have a go?!"
NOOOOOOO!!!!!! (Dramatic theatre style...)
I 'Ermed' a few times, as the todlets, popped out like daisies. Their chubby cheeks, smuttered with brown gunk, and grinning from ear to ear, with big, sparkling eyes. Children of the age of 5 (or younger) tend to be very capable of painting... WITH THEIR HANDS. The last thing we would want, is to have a big, bearded man driving a white van, smearded with toddler's, hand prints. He'd get banged up by the cops for sure!
The thing is, I'm too, bloody soft for my own good... And sure enough, I set up a sodding Day Care Center for them. I found a small, old table, and let them loose with my pencilcase, paints and sketch book... Was that enough? Oh no! Of course not... Next I was holding 'Fairy Drawing Workshops'... Whilst the parents were sitting, guzzling there beverages, I'm sitting in a pool of children, ejaculating umpteen sketches of fairies... With 'Mug' written across my forehead.
I felt like a factory.
My hard, child caring efforts were appreciated, and I was later rewarded with their paintings, and money from the parents (to replace the gallons of paint squirted around the garden).
Burning Seed Festival
Skip forward a couple of days. We were now down to our last bag, squeezed into the van... Which had now turned into a glorified luggage trolley. Alex had kindly offered to load up with everyone's luggage for the festival... Oophs.
So, off we trotted. Me, Alex and Swedish Sam were in the front of the van, followed by a jungle of bags, riding in the back. Mo and Emily offered a lift to Alex (curly, English boy) and Jess (Scottish lass). We stocked up on food, alcohol and a bag of *unknown herby goods*, and chugged 40mins down the road, passing a village, which was even smaller than Narrandera!
We finally reached the enterance to 'Burning Seed', to find a beautifully coloured wooden archway. We were faced by a group of 'Wooing!' minions. They had decorated themselves with colourful, funky, dreadlocks and baggy, tie dye cloth. They waved and 'Wooed!' as we slowly cruised by... This was clearly not their first time.
We proceeded down the crumbley, dusty road towards the festival grounds. The road was lined with trees, which were peppered with these happy, inspirational signs. We read them out loud, each tree we passed.
'Try Something New!'
I guess if you get caught doing something mildly inappropriate, you can give them the old 'The sign told me to!' line.
We carried on until we reached the wrist band booth to pick up a schedule for the week. Soon after, we came to a halt! We waited patiently whilst the people in front stopped to hug another group of people. My word, they were really going to town on these hugs. A couple of ladies bolted towards our van, banging on the bonnet and doors, we hopped out, and BAM! We recieved a good squeezing too!
'Welcome! Welcome!' They sung in our ears! 'Is this your first burn?!'
They were genuinely interested in where we were from and if we'd ever been to a burning festival before.
Awesome people... Awesome way to enter an event. Why don't we hug each other more often?!
We decided to do a lap of the grounds before setting up our camp. We were immediately bombarded with fairies shaking our hands through the van window, offering us cookies and sweets. AWESOME.
I was blown away with it all. Our eyes followed the array of different theme camps that were being set up on the grounds.
- Mint Green Country Club
- The Narghil Temple
- Trash Mansion
- Swing Dog Circus
- Beta Stage
- Purple Turtle
One morning we made an effort to get up and visit the 'Smoothie Camp'. Jess and I queued up, slowly approaching a table packed full of yummy, fresh fruits, syrups, spices, milks and BOOZE. There were no rules at this festival, so I thought it would be rude not to take advantage of an indulgent cocktail in the hours of AM. I stocked up on bananas, maple syrup, berries, nutmeg, soy milk and Irish Cream. Oh my.
The dude then strapped this jug to a smoothie blender, which was attached on to an exercise bike. I fancied myself a nice, smooth smoothie, so I hopped on, and span my little legs as fast as they would go!
Delicious... And an absolutely genious invention!
In the centre of the festival grounds , there was a huge Effigy, a gigantic, wooden chicken, covered in beautiful patterns. The festival was centred around the big BURN... And that meant a few things... Praising the fire gods, getting as high as a kite, galloping everywhere, and losing your s***.
What an incredible sight.
There were two big burns, one being the flaming chicken, the other was 'The Temple'. Now, the Temple was a wooden structure, built in the form of a maze. We went to check it out, walked through this huge, wooden, spiral, to find the walls thick with messages.
On the inside there were a handful of fresh Sharpie pens, ready for anyone to freely write whatever they feel. The Temple was mainly used for people who wish to let go of traumatic events, which they may currently be tackling, or previously battled in the past.
Alex and I trudged through the Temple, engulfed in the messages and stories which were written up on the walls. Some messages were light hearted things, like favourite foods, or expressing their love for certain people or objects... Others were slightly darker. One lady had written a message, asking for her children to be safe and protected, whilst she was dying of cancer. In the centre someone had created a shrine for a beautiful lady in a wedding dress, who had sadly passed away soon after getting married. Tugged on all my heart strings. We had to swallow hard as we exited the maze.
The Temple was torched a day or two after the flaming chicken. The sea of 3000 stood silent whilst the Temple was crackling on fire. It was an absolutely stunning sight. All these hard times, bad memories and traumatic events were swallowed by the flames. For many people this was an emotional time. For some it was a breath of fresh air, a celebration of life. I could feel my eyes glaze over. What better way to cut loose those insecurities?
An awesome dude from the audience shouted at the top of his lungs, "I LOVE YOU ALL!!"
A huge roar erupted throughout the crowd and the Temple finally crumbled and collapsed.
Everyone went nuts! As did we... The drums and bells started jingling, and we were getting itchy feet. Now, surrounding a huge, warm fire in the middle of nowhere, whilst dosed up on stimulants, entices you to do one thing. GET NAKED. And BAM, off came the clothes. Before long a small percentage of the crowd were BUTT ASS NAYKED, and we exploded into a run around the huge bonfire! We skipped around high fiving the surrounding crowd. I've never felt so alive!!
Gave us such a buzz! Like we had all been electrocuted by the Naked God. It was hilarious!
And that's how we remained for the rest of the night. After that, it felt silly to be wearing any clothes at all!
It was time for the INVASION. An army, 20 strong, boobs and balls thudding up and down, towards Trash Mansion. We received a huge welcoming cheer from the crowd inside the tent. We attacked full force at the heart of this doof pad, and decided to pick on people at random. Collectively as a group, fingers aimed at one poor soul chanting "NAKED NAKED NAKED" As loud as possible, until they finally gave in, and stripped. NAKED PEOPLE - 1 TRASH MANSION - 0
It was such a fun night. But it did get a little chilly towards the end.
Our antics escalated to whole new levels each day. The fun and weirdness is contagious at Burning Seed. You only had to make a trip to the toilet, and KAPOW! You've made yourself 5 New friends. I had a lot of people asking about my arm, and laughing at my consistent pointy finger.
After a long day partying, exploring and playing catch we decided to venture out in the evening. Soon me, Alex (Canadian bearded man) and Ben (French dude) were invited to watch a performance at Swing Dog Circus. It was mental. There were, little, pretty cupcake, dolly people dancing with hoops, a sexy beast of a lady, wiggling around with fibre optic lights, swishing them round her body, clowns, jokers... You name it! But the one act that stood out to me was this small guy, with a huge moustache... Wearing nothing but a green feather behind his ear, and these tiny green pants. He put on a Burlesque style performance. And oh my! It was incredible. I was speechless. The audience were dumbfounded, and all eyes were locked on this gentleman, fluttering, his huge green, bird like feathers around his body. If I wasn't so flabbergasted, I would've taken a picture. But even then, that wouldn't have done the performance any justice.
Trying to sum the festival up in a blog entry is ridiculous. This really is the half-baked version. A tiny lick of what the event is really about. You have to get your arse to a Burn! No matter what your age! Whether it's Australia, Sweden, America! The smaller the better. It's a weird, freaky few days, but it is by far the MOST amount of fun you can have whilst being an adult. The possibilities and opportunities are endless! My God... What a fantastic excuse to be alive.
I'll stop before you guys back home get too depressed, looking outside your window at grotty England. I've got my own mission on the go now... Hippy hopping around festivals.
To Sydney to Sydney we go!!
Anywho! So this beautiful, exciting week very quickly rolled to an end... We said our goodbyes, took down some contacts and went Our separate ways. Alex (Curly English chap) hitched a ride, a few others left early and others stayed even longer (which I can understand)... I personally wouldn't mind living there forever. We soon found ourselves back in Narrandera to wash and brush up before heading to Sydney. We loaded up the van again with our clan' s luggage... Which ended up slowing the van down a fair bit.
Mo and Emily offered Sam and Jess a ride to Sydney, as we lead the way as the glorified luggage trolley again. Chug chug chug. We did alright for timing, and arrived around 9pm that day.
Alex had a collection of friends he had accumulated whilst hopping about festivals and ski seasons in Canada and New Zealand... So he was very excited an keen to hang out with some old friends.
Mo and Emily by this point had taken a financial beating, and were in desperado need of a job. They lived like pirates, and camped in the streets of Sydney, within their trusty wagon, 'Captain Cheeky Horn', job seeking in the library. They decided their best bet was to head to Mildura. As a send off, we visited the posh posh ice cream parlour in Sydney. That's not the name of it, I just wanted to emphasise how POSH this joint was. I've never seen or tasted so many delicious flavours of ice cream. They offered you tasters of any ice cream you fancied! It was hard, but I finally went for a 3scoopa! It all ended up swirling into one, big, fat, sweet, creamy mess anyway. But I do remember the Ferrero chocolate one being f***ing exquisite on the pallet! (Almost as good as that popcorn in LA).
We treated Mo and Emily to some mega scoops too... $40 on ice cream. I think they would have preferred us to just give them the money... Desperate times.
Alex's friends let us park outside their houses, so we could comfortably sleep in the van in peace and use their showers when we got funky on the pits.
He really has made some awesome mates whilst travelling... They all shared some of the funniest stories I've ever heard too. A real good crack.
We stayed with some Australians, Steve (a friend Alex had met on a ski season), and his share house chums Scordy and James. Party animals. They were beering it up nearly every night! A year travelling, and I'm still incapable of guzzling a bottle of beer. What's wrong with me? I had trouble keeping up.
Very nice guys though. Scordy inspired me to buy a tattoo gun... As he told us about his friend who was really awesome at art, and is now a professional tattooist! I like art, I don't mind people... Why not?!
I later discovered it was a pain in the arse to pack a briefcase full of chunky metal into your bag...
My first time round Sydney, was a big stressful mash up of days, staying in the CBD in some smelly, grotty hostel on Pitt Street. This time round was very different. Alex and I went for a drive and we decided to check out some of the northern beaches. It was perfect, the whether was blooming marvellous! And bloody hell... We saw some sexy coast. Palm beach was incredible. We took some breathtaking piccies from the clifftops, and enjoyed a picnic on the shore., Alex rustled up some grub. (Shakshuka - a dish with poached eggs in a reduced tomato, chilli, peppery sauce - AKA - f***ing delicious munch.)
"We Ride North Beardy Man!!"
Through juggling the van sell, the road worthy certificate, my physio and orthopaedic appointments, we eventually figured it was a good idea to leave Sydney and head north towards Brisbane.
We spent our last night chilling with Steve and the clan, and left early the next day. In one day, we drove from Sydney to Coffs Harbour.
Coffs Harbour was a beautiful, little fisherman town. There were a bunch of Avocado and Banana farms around the area too. Apparently it's well known for snakes, so we had to keep a beady out for the slithery critters! We saw a couple of big dead ones smeared across the road! Icky...
Alex had been driving all day, so we tried to find a quiet, happy area to chill together. We drove up this cliffy mountain, to where the look out point was. Someone had left the gates unlocked, which meant we had full access to the look out point. No one was due to check the area until 8am the next morning... CHING CHING! Cushty, secluded camp spot for us to hang out.
We set the buzzer on for 5.45am. Oh my, it was so worth it waking up that early. We watched the most beautiful sunrise. Full on Lion King style. AHHH SAVENYA BAH BAH BEE BAH BAH BO! (Circle of Life intro).
We hopped back into bed, kipped for another hour or so, then hit the road again. We took a detour to Nimbin, grabbed some hippy gifts then chugged up to Surfers Paradise. We chilled out in Surfers Paradise, scoffed some sushi, and hung out on the beaches whilst we waited to see an American dude and his girlfriend, about selling the van. They were interested! WINNER WINNER, CHICKEN DINNER! The whole time we were driving, and praying that the bloody thing didn't break down before we met up with them. Nimbin absolutely raped the van's engine, as it strained to climb the huge hills in the area.
We met the couple at 7pm. They seemed really impressed with the inside... Until they glanced down the pink, shiney dildo gear shifter... Not sure they saw the funny side.
Anyways, he took it out for a spin, and seemed really happy with it... Even as a mechanic, he was happy chugging this busted vanerino around... SWEET.
They had agreed on a price... $4000 (that's $3000 more than what Alex paid for it! *EVIL LAUGH*) hehehehe! (So that sweet paint job paid off!)
And that was that. The guy organised a pick up from Alex's mate's house in Brisbane (where we hung out to sort the road worthy, and waited for this sodding referral letter from the Sydney orthopaedics, which never arrived anyway).
Jacek was Alex's Australian friend who let us crash at his pad whilst he was away. Pretty nice crib too! We got super comfy, binged out on curries, beer, wine and enjoyed some good company whilst staying there. As a thanks, I painted Jacek a picture, and Alex left him a crate of beer.
Days flew by, and it was time for the van to be collected! The Day before the pick up, we decided to go for a quick drive to the post office. We rolled down this slope to an underground staff car park... The van choked a little, spluttered then stopped working.
Me and Alex looked at each other and frowned.
He turned the keys to restart the van. DER-JIJIJIJI-FLUMP. Nothing. He tried countless times. We then hopped out and tried to push start it with a couple of helpers. Still, nothing. We had just bought a brand new battery for the chug monster, so it couldn't have been that?!
It was bad enough being stuck in an underground staff car park, but THE DAY BEFORE THE PICK UP? No. No way. The big man in the clouds must've been very angry with us for this to happen. Now, me being a dippy blonde, English twit (who doesn't drive)... Didn't have a bloody clue what to do... I just kept repeating myself "Maybe it's overheated?..."
I knew I wasn't helping matters, as I looked up at Alex, his face drowned in sweat... He was really counting on the van money, and wouldn't be able to afford a mechanic without the extra dough. I waddled around in circles... the only mechanic I knew was my dad (who was asleep at 3am - Grennich mean time), and this dude who was picking up the van tomorrow... s*** s*** s***, f*** f*** f***. What do we do?!
I offered to pay for a mechanic to come and help us. It was about $100 just for a call out, let alone spunking cash on the things that needed fixing. We were in trouble.
Whilst waiting for the mechanic to arrive, I hopped up to the cafe to buy us some happy coffees to cheer us up...
I was s***ting it for Alex. I waited for the coffees above the car park, still no sign of the mechanic...
Next, I hear this chug chug chug, and the purr of a vehicle engine... I turn around to find Alex, sitting in the driver's seat of the van, waving me in. I ran to the van and we scurried away as quick as possible! Jesus Christ, that was close!!! The sweat was still rolling down Alex's forehead. Thank Jesus for that one! Bloody hell.
We didn't touch the van ever again after that until the guy came to pick it up the next day... Definitely kept our pie holes closed about that one.
All was well. That was a huge weight off our shoulders, and Alex had pocketed himself $4000!!! SAWEET!
So, that pretty much rounds off our trip in Australia. I can honestly say... It's been f***ing stressful to say the least. BUT, (here comes the soppy message...) I have met some incredible people here. The people have shaped my strange Australian experience into a hilarious, wading journey. I've been a bit of a flappy moo, and have fallen into some strange situations... Learnt a little more about myself, met some scary, freaks, but also made some insane life long friends.
Minus the arm break... It's been a pleasure Australia. So until I'm a professional tattoo artist, lapping up the swish, Northern beaches of Sydney, in my fancy cliff side mansion... See you when I see you.
Next stop... Indonesia!
Quotes of the Day
Burning Seed Festival - (Whilst we're all losing our minds around the camp...)
Sam - "Hey everyone try to put you're shoes on... It's really hard..."
Moses - "Why are we putting our shoes on again?"
Jess - "The WEDDING!!! The bloody Wedding!"
(Still losing our minds around the camp)
Me - "DON'T TELL MUM!"
Moses - "Oh f***ing hell..."
Curly Alex - "What is this? It tastes really good!"
Canadian dude - "It's water... "
Alex launches cup into the air like a rocket.
(Whilst everyone is standing silent at the Temple)
Gentlemen starts calling for his friend...
We all hollar back...
"ALAN!!! ALANNNNN!!! ALAN!!!" ... this went on for far too long...