Tuesday, July 28, 2009
In 1990 I began to feel a very strong connection with what I called “aboriginal consciousness.” It was at this time that some of my art began to have that sort of feel to it. Only when I travelled to central Australia earlier this year, however, did I realize the depth of the connection.
For years I felt there was a connection between “aboriginal consciousness” and “dolphin consciousness.” Ever since the late 70’s I had been keen on understanding the whales and dolphins, large-brained mammals like ourselves, who have lived harmoniously on the Earth for tens of millions of years. Dr. John C. Lilly had speculated that the whales and dolphins were “repeater stations” for signals from other water-based life-forms elsewhere in the galaxy (signals that are far weaker than those of the electronic SSE, or “solid-state entity” which is vying for control of the Earth) [see Lilly’s The Scientist: A Novel Autobiography]
I knew that dolphins figured heavily into the dream-time cosmologies of almost every coastal aboriginal tribe in Australia; I guessed that the aborigines and the dolphins were conveying similar information about nature herself and how she works. People had told me for years that a lot of my paintings contained images that reminded them of cellular structures, mitochondria, chromosomes, ribosomes, membranes, nuclei; this made sense in light of my background in biology.
Now it gets even freakier. My friend Moira Timms (Egyptologist, archaekonicist [someone who studies ancient symbols], author of Beyond Prophecies and Predictions] had sent me a copy of a book called The Cosmic Serpent: DNA and the Origins of Knowledge, which she said she thought was one of the most important books of the (20th) century! In it, Jeremy Narby relates his hypothesis that shamans, medicine men and indigenous minds in general are in direct communication with the global network of DNA-based life, that this intelligence directly imparts knowledge that mainstream science cannot explain.
When I was in central Australia near Alice Springs I connected with some extremely wonderful aboriginal women artists who form the Keringke group. It was like we are doing the same thing only in different parts of the world. They are going beyond traditional aboriginal art, using a full spectrum of colors and creating their own stories, just like I do. I look forward to spending more time with my Australian art sisters!
But when I returned to New Zealand and was examining in depth the Keringke art book, I was totally blown away when I saw Serena Haye’s painting. It was extremely similar to one I had done around the same time in America. Both of us were working directly from within, and neither of us had seen the other’s art.
Further, Huddersfield University geneticist Martin Richards has shown that the origin of ALL humans can be traced back to a single family tree, even an original “Eve” 7000 generations ago. These studies are based on mitochondrial DNA, of which the aborigines of Australia have the oldest of any human beings. In quantum physics a “non-local connection” is a sort of bridge or continuum which simultaneously links people, places or events from different spatio-temporal coordinates; Jung called this synchronicity.
My mind boggles at the meanings of all these connections. We truly ARE all a part of the same web of life, even beyond the Earth…inter-galactic Gaia? It’s as if life herself is non-local, synchronistic, and highly intelligent, and she’s helping us to paint pictures of her!!! I am honoured to be a participant in this process!!!!
SOUTH ISLAND NZ
Top photo: "Elohim Photon Dreaming", Jeff Phillips, NC-usa, 1999
Center photo: untitled painting, Serena Hayes, NT-aus, 1998
Bottom photo: "Solstice Tree Dreaming", Jeff Phillips, NC-usa, 1999
“The Ghoulest and the Coolest” (A Real Hitch-hiking Experience)
(People always ask me if anything “bad” ever happened…?)
The experience described in this story is singularly the wickedest and most intensely cryo of my entire life.
I would estimate that I’ve hitch-hiked well over 300,000 kilometers (roughly the distance to the moon) since 1981, in 47 states in America, several provinces of Canada (including Newfoundland), in Ireland, and comprehensively all over New Zealand, as well as in eastern, southern and central Australia, including Tasmania.
I’ve had many thousands of rides with as many thousands of people over more than 20 years “on the road”, and if there’s one conclusion I’ve reached, it’s that the REAL world truly is a very friendly place, filled with nice people who don’t mind going out of their way to help you. I have learned first-hand that the violence-soaked, venom-spewing mind-raping atrocity which contemporary America is portrayed as exists only on TV. Maybe on the radio and in the papers, but mainly on TV. You know…television…the ultimate instrument of psychological warfare and the biggest weapon in use by far. The boob tube. The glass teate. The idiot box. And most importantly…the modern technology which brings us Amerika, Inc. and the puppet-regime serial killers in the Blight House! OK, enough already…I’ve graduated from America and on my way to becoming a planetary citizen.
Back to the story. I’ve hitched quite a bit – supposedly pretty risky these days, or so I’m told. It’s funny – somehow people seem to expect the worst. I don’t know if it’s just mind conditioning or cognitional inbreeding from watching the evening news for generations, or if it’s an expression of a deep-seated desire for direness. I still haven’t figured it out. I just find it amusing…and perhaps a little sad…that quite often, when I meet someone new and I tell them that I hitch-hike everywhere, they say something like “Hey, did anything BAD ever happen to you?” This always bugs me. Why the fuck don’t they want to know about the millions of GOOD things that continually occur? If people are always expecting BAD stuff, they can help it to materialize, right? Are their lives so shitty and miserable that they can’t conceive of someone successfully hitching all around for fun, meeting cool people and having a blast?
Well, I don’t know about all that, but what I always do when people ask me this is tell them the story I am about to relate. This story is absolutely true and is verifiable by any number of people. Was this something BAD that happened to me? You be the judge.
On the evening of July 13, 2001 (a Friday) I took the ferry from Melbourne to Tasmania. This was my first visit to Tassie and even though it was mid-winter I was looking forward to getting there. After living in Colorado for several years, and hitching all through the Rockies in temperatures as low as minus 5 degrees Farenheit (with no wind), I wasn’t likely to be uncomfortable there.
I spent several weeks hitching around, meeting people, learning about Tasmania as the unique gem she it – a Gondwanaland remnant island with a very unique geology as well as indigenous vegetation that is the culmination of 65 million years of “evolution”, for example, the Dr. Seuss-looking pandanus trees and the old-growth stands of eucalyptus regnans (the world’s tallest hardwood tree and flowering plant), particularly in the Tarkine region, which at this moment in time are being rapidly decimated by the Gunns Timber Corporation, who are chopping these ancient giants as fast as they can, then grinding them up into wood chips and exporting them to Asia, primarily to Nippon Paper Industries of Japan. This is one of the absolute worst things happening in all of Australia now ( I would say second only to the brutal and on-going low-intensity genocide being waged against indigenous populations all over the continent).
I learned that Tasmania used to be connected to Tierra del Fuego in the days of Gondwanaland. I traveled to south Bruny Island and met some hallucinogenic fluorescent orange lichens. I went to Freycinet Peninsula and photographed Wineglass Bay. Just like in the post cards. I learned about the “hydro” company and how they dammed up Lake Pedder. I fell in love with the photography of Peter Dombrovskii and saw some “devils” at a petting zoo. I frolicked in 6 inches of snow on Mount Wellington – still the only snow I’ve been in since I left America.
I was having a great time exploring a new place, while at the same time absorbing the down side: the indiscriminate logging and damming, the residual vibrations from the slaughter of thousands of aboriginal peoples…which wasn’t all that long ago, and worst of all…the almost complete indifference to all this of the people in general.
Overall, though, I was meeting heaps of cool folks, seeing a lot of “little Tassie” and having a lot of fun.
I was about ready to return to “Australia”, as they refer to the mainland down there. I figured I’d take one more week and head over to the west coast to check out the scene there. I knew it was very rocky and inaccessible but I wanted to check it out.
Jason and Naomi, a couple I’d met in Maydena, dropped me off in New Norfolk, on their way to a logging protest event in Hobart. It was a beautiful sunny day and I was in a very happy mood. Now here’s where the story really starts. I’d been standing there maybe 20 minutes or so, completely unstressed, as it wasn’t late in the day – maybe one or two pm, beautiful weather. The date was August 9 – second anniversary of the day I first met Sarah McLachlan in Columbus, Ohio! I kind of wanted to get over to the coast – probably a 3-4 hour drive – as there was nowhere of interest in between. Except for Ouse (pronounced “ooze”) – the town where people told me all the “six-fingers” live! See, Tassie is like the Appalachia of Australia – the mainlanders all think it’s inhabited by inbred hillbillies feuding and distilling white lightning!
All of a sudden this Holden Jackaroo pulls up. By Jove, it was being driven by the first person to give me a ride in Tasmania, Michael J. Broadneck. He had given me a ride from Devonport to New Norfolk several weeks before. He even had his little painted rock I’d given him hanging from his rear-view mirror!
I was sincerely happy to see him. What luck – to get picked up a second time by the same person! This had only happened to me once before in all of my hitch-hiking, around Atlanta.
“Bro, what’s up? Good to see ya, mate…”
“Hey, I saw your sign that said ‘Queenstown’ so I went had a word with the missus. She said I could have the afternoon off so I figured if you could kick down some money for petrol I’d carry you all the way across the island.”
“Excellent. Let’s do it.”
We went to the petrol station and I gave him $20 for fuel. And off we went, out of town and into the green Tasmanian country-side, reknowned for its resemblance to parts of England.
Let me give you a little background on Michael J. This is what I remembered from our first journey together. He was a pretty good sized dude, maybe six feet and 200 pounds (90 kgs). He seemed a little dodgy, maybe. Especially when he told me about his uncle whose ‘ultimate fantasy’ was to shoot a fawn…a little Bambi…but he had never been able to find one because the mothers were too good at hiding them! Or when he was boasting that his “30 cousins in Tasmania” would help him take care of the guy who his girlfriend had been fooling around with. Or when he showed me a new video camera he had. He said that someone had left it at a rest-stop, and even though he tried to locate the owner, he couldn’t, so he took it. I even looked at some of the footage on there – it was of a young woman doing gymnastics. I felt bad that she or whomever had lost their camera, and was trying to think of ways to find out who she was…so he could get it back to her!
Or when he insisted that I NOT video-tape him, when I got my camera out to film some scenery. “I’m a member of the Tasmanian Defence Force and we aren’t allowed to be photographed.” OK. Rodger-dodger. Or…now get this…even when we stopped to get a coffee, and he went out to his vehicle (which was out of my view) “to have a smoke”…and was taking a long time to come back in…so long that I went to make sure he hadn’t split with all my gear! See, I was safe because he had left his new video camera with me in the coffee shop! Right!
Enough. The point is, he was somewhat of a shady-seeming individual. But, on that trip we did have some intelligent conversation about stuff. He informed me, for example, that if anyone was out in the wilderness in Tasmania and “something happened to them”…like I’m not sure what?…there’d never be any proof they ever existed, because the “devils” would eat them all up, bones and hair included. If there was a metal belt-buckle that might be left uneaten. Interesting stuff like that. And, he was heavily into raptors…birds of prey…and even gave me a couple of raptor books to read when he dropped me off.
Nonetheless, I considered him a mate. So it was with genuine sincerity and appreciation that I greeted him the second time we met. He had my little rock hanging there.
OK, so we’re off down the road through the countryside near Ouse.
“Hey, Jeff, I was just thinking…there’s this really cool spot over the hill there where I used to go hunting when I was a kid. I bet you could get some great photos there.”
Now, I’m sure there’s heaps of tucked-away beauty spots in Tassie, but my goal now was to get across the island, as it would be getting dark around the time we would arrive.
“Thanks anyway, bro. I think I’ll pass. I want to get on down the road. Is that cool?”
But he persisted in insisting. “It’s really pretty there, mate. You’d be sorry you almost
passed it up if we check it out. Whaddaya say?”
After about fifteen minutes of this, I said, “Hey, so you’re taking me all the way across, right?”
“OK, let’s do it.” I basically agreed to go just shut him up. But I figured, I’m there…what’s a little longer going to mean?
Instantly we slowed down and pulled a u-ey. We then stopped by the roadside. Michael looked at me and said “Hey, the back door is loose…do you mind getting out to check it?”
Much to my credit-that-didn’t-matter, I responded, “Why don’t you do it?”
“I’m the driver. I’m having a smoke” he replied, slightly nervously.
I thought, “What the fuck?” so I jumped out and stepped back to re-close the door. Little did I know that he had more than likely left the door ajar at the servo intentionally, just so he could legitimately ask me, unsuspiciously, at this exact moment in time, to get out and check it for him. While he…the driver…had a smoke. I didn’t pause to reflect on why having a cigarette could in any way present an impediment to getting out of a vehicle and walking a few meters. I mean, if he had been paraplegic or something, it would have made sense. But no, it didn’t matter. It was a beautiful day and I was hitching in an unknown but wonderful place. I had just been picked up by a dude who had given me a ride before, and who had offered to take me all the way to where I was going! What excellent luck!
Now, he seemed insistent on showing me this place where used to go hunting. I didn’t really want to go, but in order to shut him up about it…in other words, to mollify the ride-provider (this means going along with stuff they want to do that isn’t part of your plan. The reason hitch-hiking works is because driver and hitcher are both going the same way. When desynchronizations from this itinerary occur, it’s either time…in the words of Fleetwood Mac…”Go your own way…” or renavigate the plan. Usually this would be something like, for example, someone who is giving me a ride wants to stop off and see a friend of theirs for a while. If I am invited, which I usually am, I can either come with and hang, or get dropped off to continue hitching, possibly even to get re-picked up by the same person. It’s not a drama…not usually!)…I did it.
Now, think about it. There I was, hitching in the middle of a quasi-remote area of Tasmania – just about as far away as it’s possible to get from America (and still be on Earth) – and getting out of the vehicle to check the rear door. All of my gear was in the vehicle – the sum total of everything I traveled with. If you know me, you know that this is at least one full heap not much short of my own body weight.
What would you have done? Well, I’m guessing that most of you would never even consider hitch-hiking anywhere, much less in Tasmania, and even less with almost everything you owned.
But there I was. On purpose. Voluntarily. By choice. No one made me. After all, I was riding with someone who had given me a ride before. He even had my little hand-painted rock hanging from his rear-view mirror. I trusted him. My usual highly-sensitive vibe detectors were off, or at least turned way down. Or maybe I just wasn’t listening to them. I had been happy to see Mr. Broadneck, and my guard was down. But I was about to have a rude awakening to the fact that I was now in the grips of an insidious MASTER PLAN.
No sooner than I had gotten out, Michael J. floored the accelerator. The vehicle was still running and probably already in gear. As he sped away, he waved “bye-bye” to me over his shoulder. I stood there watching as his Holden Jackaroo (1985, dark blue) disappeared over the ridge. At first I thought he was joking around and was going to come back. Rednecks like to do that kind of thing. But no…he was gone with the wind. And there stood I, all alone, to wonder why.
I have to tell you, as I sit here writing this now, that I’ve told this story at various levels of resolution dozens of times. But as I write this now, for the first time, it’s quite intense. It’s finally making me re-live this thing. Freaky.
Imagine what it was like. Standing in the road in rural Tasmania, having just watched the vehicle you were riding in disappear over the hill, with all your gear.
My first thought was, “Wow, this is really happening.” As the severity of the situation gradually dawned on me, I started to feel really upset, in a way I’d never felt before in my life. I felt totally betrayed, sold out, up the creek without a paddle [footnote: they made a film in Tassie recently, a piss-take version of Deliverance called Without a Paddle]. But I also felt an immensely powerful aura of intense positive energy all around me, more powerful than I’d ever experienced before. It was as if I was surrounded by an army of guardian angels, holding me up. This was quite literally real, as real as my stuff having been stolen.
I started to cry. Very rapidly, in my mind, I wondered if I was being punished for something, if this was some kind of karmic experience. But then I realized, after intense reflection and evaluation of my whole life, that I live my life on very positive wavelengths, and that the current of my life had always invariably been that impossibly good stuff always happened to me.
Then at that moment, I knew that one of two things was true: that, if I was at the point in my life where I didn’t need my gear any more, I was ready. But as I stood there, I started to realize that the sun was going down and that it was getting cold. At that moment I knew that I was going to get all my stuff back. With absolute certainty I knew this. I was emotionally distraught, rocked to the core. But when I was watching him disappear, I remember thinking, “He’s got all my stuff. But THIS is me.” All my stuff is just that. It was empowering in a way, to be completely alone with nothing except the clothes I was wearing, in the middle of nowhere at sunset, and know deep down that somehow this was all good. I realized that I am not attached to my possessions, that what I own is cool and useful stuff, for living and doing all the things that I have been blessed with the abilities to do. I NEED my gear to do my life, and I was going to get it all back. This whole thing made no rational sense. I was completely freaked out. Well, not completely. But I was upset.
I flagged down a passing vehicle and explained what happened and asked if they would take me in pursuit of him. This was only about 10 minutes or less since he took off. They wouldn’t do it. There was bound to be sport of some sort on the tube at their house.
So I ran to the nearest house. I can’t remember their names, but they were very nice people. They let me use the phone to call the police, made me a cup of tea and even gave me a really nice wool sweater to keep warm. This was Ouse – the “six-finger” area I had been warned about!
In about 45 minutes a policeman arrived. Now, if this was going to be the horror-story version, when I told him the guy’s name who ripped me off, he would’ve said “My cousin Michael would NEVER do something like that…”
But no, this was not to be. I was greeted by the happy smiling face of Doug Graham, a very nice person from England originally who had been a policeman in Tasmania for about ten years. When I met Doug I somehow knew I was in good hands. He had a very bright, clear aura. He seemed like someone who was already a friend of mine!
I explained what had happened. He told me that this was highly unusual for Tasmania, that not a lot of crime occurs at all, outside of domestic disputes and the occasional drunk driver. He had never seen anything like this in his ten years in Tasmania.
As we rode through the now-darkening countryside, we took a route that Doug reckoned Broadneck might have taken – a back way. At this point we didn’t know where he was going, only the direction he was heading when he disappeared from my view. I explained exactly what had happened, that I had ridden with him before, that I knew his name. Doug was so good that he even correctly predicted the neighborhood where Broadneck lived.
We got to the police station at Shrubby View and looked him up on the computer. There he was. “Michael J. Broadneck, 1985 Holden Jackaroo, dark blue.” He had a few minor offenses but nothing serious. They immediately dispatched an officer from New Norfolk to go to his house.
Doug was giving me a ride back to where I’d been staying in Maydena when we get a call saying that Broadneck had dropped off my gear at the police station! Doug said that this was turning into the craziest thing he’d ever seen!
What happened is that the officer went to Broadneck’s house. He wasn’t there, but the old lady who claimed she wasn’t his mother must HAVE been, and she must’ve informed Michael J. that we were onto him.
Doug again accurately predicted that Broadneck would say something like “Hey, I picked up this hitch-hiker and he touched me on the leg, so I put him out. And here’s his stuff…I don’t want it…” That’s exactly what he said!
When we arrived I saw my gear there. It had obviously been all rifled through. Everything was there…except my cameras and a case containing around 40 really valuable cd’s and cd player. Several thousand dollars worth of easily-marketable hot goods.
The cops go “Jeff, we know you’re telling us the truth. But we’re only going to give you maybe a 5% chance of ever seeing that stuff again. See, now it’s your word against his that the missing stuff even exists. Our hands are tied. The law is actually written in favor of the criminal. He’s probably already sold it all to his drug-dealer or someone. We can question him, we can charge him…but we can’t actually DO anything unless we find him with the stolen property. It’s fucked but that’s how it is.”
At least I had my most essential stuff back, like my clothes and passport. But deep down inside I knew that I was going to get it ALL back. I have my cameras for a reason; they aren’t just idle possessions. I use them all the time, to share what I see and do with my friends who aren’t there with me. And my cd’s – I had another hundred or so down in my pack that he didn’t find, but the ones he had were my most often listened to! Many were very rare and would have been very difficult to replace.
You see, when Broadneck saw me hitching that day, he hatched himself a plan. He knew I had the cameras and cd’s from our first ride together. Remember, he wouldn’t let me photograph him! Wanting to be the “predator” he loved so much (but failing to realize that true predators hunt only what they need for food), he had wanted to get me off the road so that…I would become “devil food”? Who knows what had lurked in his mind? But looking back on it, it all made sense. Before we did the u-turn, I noticed he kept looking at his watch. He supposedly wasn’t in a hurry! And his insistence on going “way back yonder” to get some photos! Then asking me to check the door, when he could easily have done so.
Was I being stupid? No…it’s just that I somehow trusted him. Even though he was somewhat sketchy, he had given me a ride and had picked me up again. He had his little “good luck” rock! But even though my guard was down, I distinctly remember that my gut instinct was telling me all along that something was fishy! My trust over-rode this feeling.
Over the next few days I put out the word on what had happened. I put together a list of the stolen stuff and disseminated it to pawn shops in the area. I told people I’d met. Jason and Naomi, who had dropped me off that day to hitch, invited me to come and stay with them near Launceston. They lived on a hilltop overlooking a really nice valley. I hung out, tending the fire, listening to music and painting rocks. In the evenings we’d drink some wine and watch videos. I’d go for walks in the countryside that reminded me a lot of my native North Carolina. I was being well-taken care of and meeting lots of nice people.
One day I was hitching from Hobart back to Launceston when…guess who? came slowly driving by…Michael J. Broadneck. He hung his head out the window and said to me, in a most sarcastic voice, “So…you’re missing your cameras, mate?” It was as if I was actually seeing this person for the first time; his eyes looked completely black, as if he’d been dead for days. His aura was gray-to-absent. He looked like a flesh-eating ghoul!
But I laughed to myself. Doug the cop had commented that this guy was pretty smart; he knew the law and he knew he was sweet as, as long as they never found him with my stolen gear. He was pretty smart, alright. Too smart! Little did he know what was getting ready to transpire.
Back in Maydena, when this first happened, I happened to speak with the mother of another guy who gave me a ride hitching in Tasmania, Matt Eastwood. He was a very cool dude. We had stopped by a river and he helped me gather up some rocks to paint. I went to his house and helped him unload a truck-load of wood, and went in and met his girlfriend and his son, and played him some of a cd I did with a drummer, because he was a drummer, too! It was a good-vibe connection.
Matt’s mom said, “You know, Matt is somebody that would like to know this happened.” He was a good dude, and had told me his dream was to have a “hobby farm” there in Tasmania. I called up to tell him, but he was gone, so I told my story to his girlfriend.
Now, here’s where the story gets really good. Matt happened to be the postman of Michael J. Broadneck. He already knew the house!
As well, Matt was a hard-core kick-boxer studying moo thai, who was in top condition and doing regular competitions. Kick-boxing is like regular boxing, but even more full-on, if you can imagine that.
Before I could even talk to him myself, Matt and his mate had gone to Broadneck’s house. Matt told me later that he wished I had been there to see what happened. Being bikers, they rocked up to Broadneck’s on their Harley’s. He comes to the door and says “What do you want?” They casually said, “We hear you’ve been having a little fun with our mate Jeff…” When they mentioned my name they said he turned white and started shaking, then went and hid behind his girlfriend and kid! Too funny…especially for such a smart guy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That was all they said. They didn’t threaten him. They didn’t need to. We’ll never know exactly what he was seeing or experiencing when they dropped my name, but I’m quite certain that the experience of having two bad-ass shaven-head Harley-riding bikers showing up on your door-step questioning you about someone whose entire load of gear you had just stolen and then left him standing in the middle of the road in the middle of nowhere…I’m sure this spoke to him in a deeply fundamental way.
Two days later Matt told me that Broadneck had returned all my stuff. He had been giving it out to his “thirty cousins”; when they found out what happened, they made him come and get it immediately! My friends Bruce and Louise gave me a ride over to pick it up. Matt told me that he had asked Broadneck why he did it. “He was too happy”, he responded, referring to my state of mind on that fateful day.
To top it all off, I was looking through all my stuff, and everything was there, all the cd’s, everything. I opened one of the film cans and inside was a little note from Broadneck. It said “Jeff, drop hex and charges. You got your cameras back. You are an easy target. Keep your cameras close.” Torn off was the corner where he had signed his name!!!! (he’s smart, remember?)
Apparently what he was experiencing or expecting was so diabolical that he actually believed I had put a hex on him! I’m not into that kind of thing. All through this thing I did my best NOT to wish bad stuff on this person…this was one of the biggest lessons in it for me. I kept repeating the golden rule over and over again. But if there was a hex on him, it was being created by his own guilt-driven fear and the knowledge of goddess-knows what other atrocities he may have committed.
He never knew this, but if he hadn’t brought my stuff back in a couple days, he would have had more tangible reasons for believing in a hex. Matt had said that if my stuff wasn’t returned in a day or two, that he and his brother, also a biker, were going to go and get him, put a sign on him that said “thief”, and drag him through town with their Harleys! I told this to the cops and they said “Well, we’d make sure we were on the other side of town that day!” The police applauded what went down as “old-school community justice”, the way things used to get done before their hands were tied by the law.
So there you have it. Was this something BAD that happened to me while I was hitch-hiking? It was intense, to say the least. It was by far the most multi-dimensionally full-on thing that’s ever happened to me. But it was all GOOD. It was a profound lesson in trusting chaos, in non-attachment to possessions, in knowing that I AM surrounded by an army of guardian angels, and that the highest guidance is operating at all times. I made friends and became bonded with several really wonderful people; Matt and his mate got to flex a little muscle (I don’t think Broadneck ever DID learn about Matt’s kick-boxing!), and one of the scummiest elements in Tasmania was identified and exposed to the light.
I returned to Melbourne a few days after I got my stuff back, in late August of 2001, where I began work on a unique piece of art entitled “The Ultimate Technology” (which is what we each are!) and vj-ed for New Zealand band Salmonella Dub in early September. I seemed to be fully on-line in a big way. Which was good, because…
The week after that, the World Trade Center towers were destroyed, which was a major “wake-up” call event for the whole world, especially America. Only then did I learn that in the Great Pyramid in Egypt is a time-scale on which a month corresponding to September 2001 is indicated as the date of a major “initiation event for humanity.” I was ahead of the game.
I can fully say that this episode was indeed a life-time spiritual initiation event for me. It made me see that a higher divine consciousness is fully in control, and that the solutions exist before the question or problem appears, as long as we are wide awake, on our toes, staying centered in our hearts and doing our absolute best to live the highest knowledge we already have. That is what I did throughout this time, and it ended up being supernaturally wonderful, improbably amazing, intensely empowering, and good for everyone involved…especially Michael J. Broadneck. After that I felt like I was ready for anything.
The next year I returned to Tasmania and caught up with everyone who had been so nice to me. Doug invited me over, and I listened to some of the music he had recorded at his home studio, and turned me onto some DVD’s by his favorite muso, Mike Oldfield. Bruce got me to do a large mandala painting for his meditation center in Hobart, and Louise had me over to the lodge where she grew up in Bronte, near Lake Sinclair. Matt had split up with his girlfriend; he said that when his friends heard about what had happened, some of them tried to enlist his “vigilante” services, unsuccessfully. And as for Michael J. Broadneck, no one had seen hide nor hair from him in over a year. We figured he had to relocate after all that. Or perhaps he, through inexplicable synchronicities, had entered the local food chain, courtesy of those hungry little ‘devils.
Speaking of the “devil”, when Doug was going to interrogate Broadneck the first time, I asked if I could write him a note that Doug would let him read but not keep. He said sure.
In the note I said something like, “Michael, I don’t know what you think you’re doing but it ain’t going to work. I trusted you bro. I even gave you one of my painted stones. I will stay in Tasmania as long as it takes. See you in court. And justice will be done. By the way, sometimes the Great Spirit uses demons to do his work.”
I thought of this as a “psychological implant” at the time, a sort of Djedi mind tactic. But looking back on it, I think this might actually be true. Broadneck seemed like a demon to me, at first, anyway; no doubt Matt and his mate looked like demons to Broadneck as they stood in his front door the day they paid him a neighborly visit.
And since September 2001 America appears to be under attack by…demons? Who knows? Regardless of the true nature of “terrorism” – which is in reality far more of a state-sponsored and media-based psychological activity than it is a product of who we are told is behind it. The “all-purpose bogey” of Al-Qaeda is really just an apparatus of the White House, the CIA and the New World Order. If a demonic spirit is at work, it is only working through people; it is probably nothing more than a manifestation of collective fear and dominant tendencies.
I think the solution to the problems besetting America now can be resolved and come to be seen as somehow ALL GOOD eventually, just like it did with me…but only if a majority of the people wake up to who and what we really are…spiritual co-creators…and actually LIVE the highest knowledge we already possess.
And this experience only increased my enthusiasm for hitch-hiking. Since September of 2001 I’ve hitched several tens of thousands of kilometers more…and to this date, nothing “bad” has ever happened to me. Just in case anyone asks! See ya on the road.
Greetings from Western Australia! We’ve covered a lot of ground in the past month since we left Tasmania and it’s been quite an adventure.
For the first time since Deloraine, we’ve got our own little place again for a while, courtesy of Gus and Julie here in Albany. They have a nice “hobby farm” on the increasingly less rural outskirts of town; their place is buffered by 30 acres of paddock and wetland, but the “devel” of development is encroaching from every direction. Three years ago, when I first visited, this area felt remote and quiet; now, noise from construction machines and traffic is pretty much a constant, even as I write at 7am. And when you look out back, what used to be a distant tree-line has been replaced by roof-tops of the ubiquitous and unecological “paddock-turned-development” box houses; these almost cancerous growths seem to be popping up everywhere we go.
But, for now, we have a place to work on our creative projects and we are very thankful. After a week resting up, cleaning our gear, resizing photos and painting rocks, we’re almost ready to start on our second film, “The Chronicles of Balarnia”, about our adventures at Arni’s place on Flinders Island.
ECHOES OF TASMANIA
Since we left Balarnia, we house-sat for our friend Jo in Deloraine, Tasmania, for about a month, where we did massive amounts of art and created a second medicine wheel, using four kinds of culinary thyme in the corners. Jo’s living room has awesome natural light and made a fantastic temporary studio space. Deloraine is a quiet little community and is the original “alternative” (= “hippy”) center of Tasmania. At Jo’s we ironed out the final technical details of our first film, “Cryo 2008” and started burning copies for everyone.
Before returning to Melbourne we did a little visiting, including Roger and Katherine Scholes in Hobart. They are an interesting and creative couple; she is an internationally-known author and he is a film-maker whose projects include a documentary about Arni for the ABC a few years ago, as well as being a master house-builder. Roger’s current video gear, which he will upgrade with his next film gig, is what I hope to have in the near future; he showed me a mike that costs more than my D700! I was impressed when Roger told me that he has 14 terabytes of hard-drive to use for his projects…I’ve only got 2! He told me about one thing he’s working on based on a book called The Singing Neanderthals which involves the paleontology of communication using sound; this has a lot in common with my interest in cetacean communication. And it was cool to learn that Roger knew photographer Peter Dombrovskis quite well and that it was Roger who shot the footage of Peter in the wilderness for the ABC doco Wildness.
While in Hobart we visited the top of Mt. Wellington, a massive mountain that looms over the city. It’s a huge presence and home of many parks, rivers, water-falls and walking tracks, but at the top are two huge microwave antennas, one of which looks exactly like a colossal albino penis or rocket. At the top we felt as if we were being irradiated, probably because we were. There are even signs at the parking lot telling you that the extremely powerful microwaves may cause malfunctioning of your door-locks…but no word concerning it’s effects on YOU. See, that would open a window of liability. This is why all corporations categorically deny any negative health effects of their products or services: even the tiniest acknowledgement of a problem could open the door to a flood of litigation.
We took the Spirit of Tasmania across Bass Strait to Melbourne, on what was the roughest crossing I’ve had in 9 years of visiting Tassie. The Spirit is bigger than a lot of towns in Australia but she was heaving on 5 meter seas which, according to boat personnel, were just “ripples.” Yachtees in the “roaring 40’s” have experienced 30+ meter swells in the Sydney to Hobart race but I don’t know how the Spirit would handle those conditions!
I’ve always loved Melbourne as the special and friendly place that she is, but after four months in Tasmania, of which seven weeks were on Flinders Island, even Melbourne seemed alien and smelly. We had a nice little visit with John and Liz in Williamstown, an upscale coastal suburb, before beginning our westward journey along the Great Ocean Road.
THE GREAT OCEAN ROAD
I travelled the Great Ocean Road frequently a few years ago, when I was spending some time in Apollo Bay, which back then felt wild, remote, distant from Melbourne. Not the case any more. We took the V-line to Anglesea, and at first considered staying at a caravan park there, until we learned that they wanted $32 for an unpowered tent site. Twice what it should be…but this was the OFF-season rate. “No thanks. By the way,” I inquired, “so what do you charge during the season?” I cringed when the officer, I mean, attendant, revealed the extent of extortion: $54 for one night of unpowered tent site. We hitched on to the next town, reflecting on the fact that out of four months in Tasmania, we had only one night where we had to pay to stay anywhere. And now this…the good old mainland! What kind of people, we wondered, would pay $54 for an unpowered tent site? NOT anyone we could relate to.
But our spirits lifted when a cool chick named Nettie stopped and gave us a lift. She was almost done working for the day and was going to pick up Moses, a couch-surfer from Germany whom she had inherited for a couple days. She was going to drive him along the Great Ocean Road, then leave him to hitch west. She brought us along, which was fantastic, as this way we got to make lots of stops and see a lot of views that are often hard to do when you’re hitching. We stayed at a caravan park in Port Campbell for $22, which was reasonable. We could hear the pounding surf, and we camped right by the river, right next to pipes dumping something into it. We were bombarded first thing in the morning by the delicate sounds of edger and weed-eater; even though our site was directly beneath the brightest street-light in the place, my crankiness abated upon Liesbet’s discovery of a switch on the pole! Joy of joys…even though it was about 3 or 4 meters up, I was able to stand on a rubbish bin and extinguish the beast! Alas, if only edgers and weed-eaters had remote “off” switches…I remember doing that kind of work manually, that is, “by hand.” Sure it took a little longer, but you got to enjoy the silence of being outside…and you weren’t inflicting sonic agony on any beings within say 200 meters.
I’ve come up with a new side-project to our travels. It’s called “investigative tourism”, or “IT.” Somebody’s got to do it. There’s heaps of “information technologists” out there, just waiting for their chance to “re-boot” your system…yikes!...and Bill Bryson only stays in fancy hotels! Without front-line reporting from the trenches, I mean, tent-sites, themselves, all we’ve got is banal and misleading propaganda from the tourism industry. It’s the same crock of shite no matter where you go…web-sites, posters and pamphlets advertising identical table-cloths and cutlery. Sure, the views might vary slightly as do the brands of wine, but what’s being marketed is the same everywhere: it amounts to the sum total of everything you DON’T need when you’re supposedly experiencing “the great outdoors.” It’s all the stuff that people fill their over-sized caravans with, burning up astronomical amounts of fuel to tow them with their SUV’s to distant national parks, then sit there watching tv, oblivious to the sounds of edger and weed-eater, of kookie and corella. “The Game” has got ‘em by the balls…eye, that is! I’ve even been thinking of contacting Lonely Planet and Rough Guide, to see if they’d like some feed-back from here on the road! Monty Python might be interested, too! Just imagine the respect with which we might be treated when we rock up flashing our official Lonely Planet “Investigative Tourism Division” ID card…laminated, of course? [note: the caravan park price quotes and comments are part of the “IT” thing]
We must thank Nettie for a fantastic effort to counter the adverse effects of the tourism industry! Thanks to her enthusiasm, we were able to see a lot of cool stuff, as well as to stay at her friend Gary’s place the next night, although we did end up at the (currently fewer than) Twelve Apostles at 2pm on a Saturday arvo, with non-stop chopper flights to and fro and wall-to-wall view-seekers. I laughed when Gary wanted to put on my fully loaded back-pack. He’s a pretty stocky dude but after he had hoisted the monsta all he could say was “Incredible.” On Sunday she dropped us on the far side of Warrnambool to hitch to the Grampians. Warrnambool, like Apollo Bay, seemed very different from the last time I was there. Now it seems like a long strip-mall…but it’s still my favourite Australian place-name to pronounce backwards: “Loob man raw.” I also heard that Lisa Gerard of Dead Can Dance lives there now. If these items of note are related, fill me in.
We almost got out to hitch on the wrong road…or, a less-direct one anyway. But as soon as we were on the right road, another cool chick stopped within about five minutes, Dani from Port Fairy. She’s a Melbournian who left years ago, and was on her way to do a walk in the Grampians. She dropped us first at the turn-off where her walk began, but when we were still there two hours later, she picked us up again and returned us to the caravan park in Dunkeld, the southern gateway to the Grampians. This two hour period of almost complete silence was actually quite nice, sort of like our introduction to the spirit of the Grampians.
Neither Liesbet nor I had been here before. We felt very powerful good vibes here, and it was if we were being kept in a really nice spot for a while, to get in tune with where we were. This caravan park was nice, right by the road but not much traffic. This plus the rain is why we stayed for two nights! We had our own little picnic table beneath our own little deciduous tree, with a view of Mt. Sturgeon, or Wuragarri. And it was $15 per night, which is about what an unpowered site should be these days. We enjoyed the novelty of being at a caravan park which we not only weren’t in a hurry to get out of, but actually liked! Off the top of my head, I can think of only one other caravan park experience I can say this about…a small family-owned campground in a forest near Yallingup WA where we stayed in 2007…which was on the verge of being taken over by some corporate entity like Big 4.
The rain persisted so we took a bus to Hall’s Gap, the tourism hub of the Grampians. Despite being a bit over-developed, the vibe there was quite nice. The caravan park had a really nice grassy shaded area, but it had been closed off for the winter; consequently we were crowded in like cattle amongst the mega-caravans with identical SUV’s. It is not an exaggeration to say they are identical. Even the people are almost exclusively retired couples, with the occasional “foreign tourist” in the mix. The tourism industry calls them the “gray army” because they come in droves from the wintery south…most have Victoria tags…headed for balmier pastures to the north.
Despite the population density at the caravan park, our Hall’s Gap experience was wonderful. The ancient beauty and gentle power of the Grampians, or Gariwerd as the indigenous Australians call them, was undiminished by the human constructs. The people at the caravan park were quite friendly; after we gave them some rocks our third night was free. We visited the Brambuk Cultural Heritage centre, and discovered a little arts studio where they were doing rock-painting with kids, so we gave a painted rock to Jeremy, one of the rock-painting “instructors”. The next day we did an 11 km walk along the river up to the Pinnacles, the highest point in Gariwerd. The rock formations are extremely prehistoric looking, resembling the Lost City in the Territory, as well as the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley. Because of low traffic volume, we hopped on the shuttle bus again which dropped us at Stawell, a little town to the north of the Grampians, on the main highway from Melbourne to Adelaide. There we spent the night at Grampians Gate caravan park, which was $16 for the night…it was pretty good, with $2 washing machines. Our days in Gariwerd, from Dunkeld to Halls Gap to Stawell, were quite enchanted…a very lovely place where the dream-time is alive and well. Next time we’d like to check out some of the more remote camping areas.
The next morning we took a cab out to a good hitching spot on the edge of town, and got a ride in about 45 minutes with Wayne, a truck-driver going to Adelaide. He was pretty cool, a huge chunk of dude about half again as big as me, who had been a sniper in the Army, had damaged his knee para-trooping, had spent time in prison for bashing people (he said it was his “other” self who he named “William!), and, most interestingly, he knew how to crochet, as his mum had taught him when he was young! He dropped us safe and sound in Adelaide several hours later, and we spent the night with our friend Leanne and her girls. After an evening of metaphysical ramblings with friends, she offered to drive us up to Crystal Brook to see my old friend, cosmic researcher John McGovern. We spent a day hanging out with John, who for years has been engaged in extensive explorations of indigenous cosmologies and high-energy physics.
I’m not at liberty to divulge very much about his current research; it’s not “top secret” or anything but they are keeping a low profile on it until their “data sets” are complete. He is working with a plasma physicist from the US who has been cataloguing ancient rock-art from around the world. What seems to be emerging is that many of these glyphs depict the fundamental patterns that are formed as plasma discharges, whether at the micro-level in the laboratory or at the macro-level between planets, stars or galaxies. John and his fellow researchers are somewhat neo-Velikovskian in their belief that humans from tens of thousands of years ago witnessed energetic celestial phenomena in the skies, recorded them in stone, and stored the memories of awe and catastrophe in mythologies about dragons, thunderbolts, and theomachy, or “war between the gods” in the heavens. If they can derive a periodicity for such phenomena, we might know when to expect such displays again. And could they be more than just a “light show”?
After 24 hours of intensive “down-loading” from John, he and his wife Mira kindly drove us up to Quorn, at the southern edge of the Flinders Ranges, to the home of Bob and Sue Tulloch. On the way John showed us where we crossed the Goider Line. You might think this has to do with regions where your thyroid gland may become inactive, but no, it demarks the boundary of a zone north of which you are unlikely to be able to conduct agriculture due to low rainfall.
THE FLINDERS RANGES
I’ve visited the Flinders Ranges numerous times in my years “down under” and it remains one of my favourite places in Australia. It’s a relatively high desert area similar in many ways to northern New Mexico or southern Colorado…awesome landscapes, sparsely vegetated, lots of rocks and dust, sparkling stars and a clear spiritual energy. This was my first real visit in around five years.
Bob and Sue are classic Aussies in that they are conservative yet progressive (they don’t smoke weed but are into alternative energy, for example) entrepreneur-farmers who can do just about anything themselves. When I first met them, they were selling their enterprise in Copley, the Quandong Café (“quandongs” are an indigenous bush tucker similar to a small peach); since then they closed their quandong preserve business in Quorn to focus exclusively on building their “dream house” that’s been in the works for decades. They are now only months away from moving in; they’re doing almost all the work themselves. They chose a pole structure to minimize the local ecological foot-print, and it’s a huge powerful environment with lots of good energy and two-story windows! Sue is working part-time working with prison inmates in Port Augusta and studying banjo, while Bob is in the planning stages of a serious active solar energy installation that will be their next project when the house is finished. They are lovely people with 3 nice hounds and limitless reserves of hospitality; and Bob makes the wickedest cup of coffee this side of the Restaurant at the End of the Universe! We camped out in their back yard for a few nights before making our way to Wilpena Pound, and again for a night before heading across the Nullarbor.
Bob dropped us to hitch on the far side of Quorn in the middle of the afternoon. Traffic was almost nil, but a little piece of rainbow told me that we’d get a ride, and we did! After about two hours, two young Adnyamanthaha (indigenous tribe from Flinders ranges) guys en route to Leigh Creek, Duncan and Edwin, dropped us in Hawker. They even know Uncle Ron (Coulthard), an elder who has a rock and painting I did for him years ago, and who is active in the anti-uranium mining movement. The hour was late and we stayed the night at the Hawker caravan park, which was right where we were hitching. Here the rate was $24…high but not for Big 4!!! The kitchen was like a closet, but the people were friendly…and, once again, the light next to our tent had a switch! Praise the Lord!!!
The next day we were standing there hitching, making fun of all the identically ridiculous SUV-caravan combos passing us by, when all of a sudden, one of them stopped! Well, not exactly an SUV-caravan combo, but close: a Coaster pulling an SUV on a trailer! This was only our second ride ever with someone pulling another vehicle. But just like the special connection with the Adnyamanthaha guys who knew my friend, Bob, who was now giving us a lift, turned out to be a very lovely person, and a Tasmanian. And that’s not all: he was very close friends with a guy called Olegas Truchenas, an icon in environmental circles in Tassie. Olegas was a pioneer outdoor adventurer, environmental activist and photographer long before the Green party existed. He laboured long and hard to preserve the special Tasmanian Gondwana-remnant landscape, and mentored Peter Dombrovskis, who became an outspoken activist as well as the finest nature photographer in Australia.
Wilpena Pound is one of my absolute favourite places in Australia. Termed “pound” because in the earlier days of European Australia, cattle were kept in it, this unique geological feature resembles a huge meteor crater from the air, but is actually formed from tectonic upliftment. This region is quite dry overall, as is much of Australia, but when we came the land was aglow with the effects of plenty of recent rainfall. To the Adnyamanthaha, Wilpena is the heads of two huge lizards, or akkura, whose torsos form the Gammon ranges to the north.
We set up camp near my favourite site, in the south-east corner of the camping area, as far away from anyone else as you can get there, and close to huge “grandmother” river gums. Here we paid $20 per night, which was ok for a couple nights; after that, when you add up the $20 per night and realize that all you’ve done is take a shower every other day, those become expensive showers! The shower facilities there are progressive, but hey…! The universe, however, stepped in and helped us out, like she always does! Unlike in previous visits, some of the picnic areas had been taken over by huge over-sized caravans that had backed up and claimed them as their own site.
We did walks to Olsen-Bagge; a 16 km walk to St. Mary’s peak, the highest point in the ranges, at around 1700 meters; and the lookouts inside the pound. The weather was overcast most of the time; the grass trees were sprouting and flowering more than I’d ever seen, signifying aqueous abundance. And we hitched to Arkaroo rock, a very sacred site, whose rock images, according to John McGovern, have to do with “angelic visitations.” I did some photography for John, then we went further to a little-known secondary site which has a neat “birthing chamber” in the rock. We spent a couple hours here, just sitting in silence, feeling the immense good vibes and the dream-time connection, the presence of the ancestors, the tranquillity of the land, honouring the continuity of aboriginal culture and the suffering they endure even now.
On our last night at Wilpena Pound, we went into the “Captain Starlight Lounge” where I’d sat and painted rocks on almost every previous visit. I showed Liesbet my “magic corner” where I’d painted, drank Coopers and hung out with the employees there over the years. I also showed her the largest rock I’ve ever done, a slab weighing probably 50 kilos or more, on which I painted Wilpena Pound at night, with Milky Way. This rock never made it to its originally-conceived location, outside the visitor center, but was tucked away outside the back door of the bistro, a testament to the bye-gone days before Anthology took over the resort. The restaurant manager had been wondering who had painted that rock; when she met us, they were very happy with the painted rocks we shared and they made us an awesome dinner!!!
After five days we decided not to continue further north this trip, even though Arkaroola has some spectacular scenery, and Lake Eyre had massive amounts of water for the first time in over 30 years. You can’t do everything on one trip…but you can make notes for next time! We headed back to Bob and Sue’s, to prepare for our westward journey.
We walked almost the entire 5 kms from the resort out to the main road; finally, the weather had cleared on the day we were leaving and it was great to have a light enough load to walk comfortably and see the mountains as we walked. Almost to the main road, we got a ride with a cool dude named “Con” who was the maintenance guy at the resort. He took us to Hawker, where we caught another ride with Grant, the local mail/delivery person. He told us about the new horror movie they’ve been filming in the area, called Road Train. Several people told us that roads had been blocked while they were shooting. We passed the film set and saw “the truck” with the cameras attached to the passenger door. Supposedly they were filming it running over a caravan and a Pajero! And, just as you might suspect, “the murders” all take place in Adelaide! Good old Adelaide…city of churches!!! Hearing about this made me think of that early Steven Spielberg film Duel about the driverless tractor-trailer truck that hunted people down. Who knows what this one will be like, but I seriously doubt that we’ll ever see it. To me, a much scarier horror film could be made in the form of a documentary about what’s really happening in Australia, in terms of, for example, the nuclear scenario, the overall ecological scenario, or the not-inconceivable on-going “reality orchestration” experiments involving fires, floods, diseases, bank failures and public violence impaling the Aussie brain with the psychic taser called tv. Let’s see, what’s missing…some pestilence? You’ve got your cane toads up north and the Ruddites in the ACT. But who would go to see a movie like that when the Murdoch/Aus Tourism/Luhrman block-buster Australia is now out on dvd? Speaking of which…Leanne loaned it to me but we didn’t watch it until Albany mainly because I refuse to reset the region on my laptop dvd player. Why do laptops and desktop computers, mac or pc, all have the “you can change your region four more times” thing, but dvd players for your television play all regions?
CROSSING THE NULLARBOR
Back at Bob and Sue’s we launched into preparation for the long hitching trip across the Nullarbor to Albany, a distance of well over 2000 kms. We were there only about 18 hours; Sue dropped us on the near side of Port Augusta on her way to work, around 9am on Friday morning. We were enjoying standing there in the perfect weather, filming each other talking about being there, wondering how many hours we’d be there for. We watched the coal trains from Leigh Creek coming and going from the Port Augusta power station. Sue was going to come and check on us around 4pm and possibly take us back to Quorn for the night if need be. I remember hitching from that spot once for well over 24 hours with no ride; I bailed out and rode the bus to Alice Springs. Another time I stood there hitching in the dark and rain, so desperate to get out of there that I actually taped large rubbish bags to my legs to stay dry in the downpour. I finally managed a ride to Alice by talking to people at the pumps. So my memories of hitching out of Port Augusta were tinged with challenge.
Our time hitching there brought a new “first” to our hitching experience: it was the first time that any cops ever stopped and talked to us. In my 9-plus years of hitching in Australia NEVER once have cops stopped to talk to me. When these guys pulled over, I wasn’t particularly concerned; they were young guys and actually quite friendly. They were genuinely curious and nice. And certainly they were checking out (sexy, fresh and young) Liesbet. The first question was “Are you having any luck?” I should have said “Hey we’re getting to meet YOU aren’t we?” but I just gave them a run-down of what we were doing, where we’d come from, where we were heading. I almost wanted to ask them if they wanted to be in the film…but then I thought better of it and just let them get on with their real job of locking up drunken indigenous people. No worries, mates…
After almost 3 hours we had a ride. What a surprise, as I was prepared to stand there all day if necessary and into the next to get one ride all the way across. I mean, it’s not likely that you’re going to get anyone going part of the way, as there’s literally nothing of human creation after Ceduna SA except a series of roadhouses and tiny townships and the old telegraph station buried in a sand dune at Eucla. We did have one offer of a ride with a bloke going to Streaky Bay, but that was way off the main route; and when he mentioned that the main reason he stopped was to have a crap, then he saw us, well, the name “Streaky Bay” took on a whole new significance!
Simon is a cool young guy from Clare, near where John McGovern lives north of Adelaide. After years of running amuk he had gotten it together and was on his way to Kalgourlie, a major mining center, to be with his girl-friend and see if he could find more work in the mining industry. He had been employed there as an explosives detonator, but had been laid off and was enjoying several weeks of termination pay without having to work!
We got off to a great start first by over-heating, then by going almost 70 kms down the wrong road, before we realized the upcoming town was not on the way to Perth! It was funny, on a trip like that, you’d kind of assume that the driver would have plenty of water, not only for drinking but for the radiator, as well as extra oil, fan belts, etc, in case of the dreaded breakdown in the middle of the Nullarbor plain…one of the largest, least populated and most desolate places on the planet.
When we over-heated the second time, I suggested that he drive more slowly as well as turning off the air-conditioning to lessen the load on the engine. This worked fine until we were actually in the exact center of the notorious Nullarbor plain itself…about 500 kms of nothing but flat terrain devoid of vegetation except for small bushes.
Here we over-heated for the third time…and this time the radiator cap was blown off and all the water was gone! Plus, “Simo” checked the oil, and concluded that it was all gone, too! Not a good report there in the middle of absolutely nowhere! We had almost no water, and I was beginning to wonder about this guy…and what was going to happen with all this. Watching what happened when Simo tried to flag down passing vehicles was interesting. Some kept going. Some stopped and talked but no one had extra oil, or so they said. A guy with a porno magazine open on the passenger seat stopped. I’m not sure why, but I should have filmed him! Luckily, after about 30 minutes or less a guy stopped and was nice enough to take Simon the 14 kms back to Madura to get oil and water; after the engine cooled down a bit I checked the oil, and it was fine. Whew! If the oil was gone, it likely meant that the block was cracked and that we weren’t going anywhere for days…not with him, anyway. He got back with several liters of oil, water, and coolant and soon we were on our merry way. From then on, my eyes darted to the temperature gauge about every five minutes, and I was just praying that we’d make it to Norseman without further drama. We’d already been warned three times, and I was certain if a fourth over-heating occurred, it would be more than just a warning. Perhaps a message at the cosmic level here, too, eh?
We made it. We pulled into the caravan park in Norseman around dark on Saturday, after riding with Simon for probably 1700 kms, including the detour! We had stopped to spend the night in Ceduna, and probably spent about 10 hours there altogether.
RETURN TO WESTERN AUSTRALIA
The last time we were in Norseman (named after a legendary horse from the bye-gone days) was the spring of 2007 when we caught a ride with Gary the trucker all the way to Adelaide after “hitching” for 15 minutes. That time we made it in around 25 hours. Norseman isn’t the kind of place you’d want to raise a family…or spend more than a night or two if you weren’t waiting on car parts. The next day we took our time getting ready in the morning, and weren’t actually hitching until after noon. We stood in front of the post office hitching to the negligible stream of traffic all afternoon, being scrutinized by everyone in Norseman it seemed, from kids on bikes to mothers with babies to people walking dogs to dodgy dudes in hooned Holdens. When we were still there at 4pm with no ride, we remembered our first lesson about hitching in WA: if you don’t have a ride by noon, you aren’t likely to get one. In other words, you have to get a very early start, as that’s when most of the traffic goes. We translocated to the visitors center and hitched until almost dark, then returned to the caravan park, which was not so bad. The tent area had grass and the kitchen had a jug. A jug is useful because this means you don’t have to crank up the Whisperlite to make your coffee, and you can pre-boil your spaghetti water. The management accepted a nice painted rock for our second night’s stay, and, most impressively, the showers actually had curtains…something rarely glimpsed in caravan parks!
Next morning we got a ride before we could even stick our thumbs out, with a guy called Doug, who was coming from Kalgourlie and headed to the other side of Esperance. He was a likable and jovial bloke, kind of like one of the seven dwarves from Snow White. He dropped us at a tiny little place about 70 kms west of Esperance, where he had to turn off. We felt kind of creepy vibes there, but after about an hour got a ride with a dude named Warik, who took us to Ravensthorpe.
There we hitched until the sun was low, but the caravan park was right there, and beckoned to us with seeming good vibes. It had trees and possibly grass…what more could we ask for. We made our way there, found a nice spot without having to walk too far, and set up camp. I went and paid…$16…not too bad. The chick working there, probably the owner/wife of owner, had tattoos coming out onto her hands and feet, probably covering most of her body. She seemed pretty cool. The caravan park was a lot like Balarnia…lots of flowers growing out of pieces of junk, metal sculpture thingies, flowers hanging in the toilets, some nice art-work on the outside of the “ablutions block.” This expression which we come across occasionally sounds like something from either the military or meat-packing industry, eh? We thought it would be nice to have a camp-fire, as it had recently rained; others had them going. I went and asked the chick if a little fire at our site would be ok, and she said fine.
Little did we know that the evening would bring some of the strangest happenings we ever experienced in a caravan park…something that might really freak some people out. It didn’t really phase us too much, but was more just anomalous entertainment, another ring in the huge human circus.
We had just lain down to go to sleep and were talking quietly in the tent, having enjoyed a nice dinner, beer, doobie and sunset. I made sure the fire was almost out…all the wood was burned up and it was just smoldering. I didn’t pour water on it as there was no wind, we were right there, and we would probably re-stoke it in the morning for a little plasma-thermal enhancement.
As we were talking, we began to hear another voice talking, that of a man. As it came closer we noticed that it was talking to us…in our tents and invisible to him. He said he had come to enjoy our fire and that it’s too bad we’d gone to bed because he had brought “drinks and smokes.”
I have nothing against people, being one myself; yet, I cannot say that I am a fan of what is passing for “person-hood” these days. We meet lots of people in our travels; indeed, the choice of hitch-hiking invites encounters of all kinds, which are invariably positive. Liesbet and I both like to avoid “people stuff” as much as we can in general, though, for many reasons. Low-grade insanity, noise and diseased vibes are three main reasons we like to keep to ourselves, not to mention that we often feel like we are a television screen being watched by zombie-like “reality spectators.” You know, we’re actually doing something and they’re watching. We witness and experience a wide spectrum of human behaviour, and I am a firm believer that most people, though they may not be proverbial “saints”, are not criminals, either. I think most people mean well in their own way. The bottom line, pragmatically speaking for us, is that, almost without exception, the people we meet on the road are pretty cool people.
With all this in mind, I listened intently to the voice talking to us. We had no idea whatsoever who this guy was. We had neither seen nor talked to anyone there except the chick in the office. We were in a really nice state of being, and this voice seemed more like an annoyance than a threat to life or limb. But another part of my brain, the “special forces” lobe trained by decades on the road, whispered, “…but you never know.” Logistically speaking, when you are lying down in a tent you actually are quite vulnerable relative to someone standing over you outside. You can’t see them, and your tent…even my Mountain Hardware Trango 2 expedition model designed to withstand over a meter of snow on top of you...isn’t going to stop a cinder block, sledge hammer or bullet (the Road-Train production company tried to hire my “special forces” lobe as a consultant but it was too busy…maybe I can help with their sequel Caravan Park or at least recommend that Road Train 2 have the driver transporting nuclear waste and threatening to crash it in Canberra).
I said hardly anything to him, but paid close attention to incoming information. When you don’t have any visuals, the acoustics become lucid. I didn’t detect any malice or “bad vibe” signatures in his vocal spectrum; he seemed to be at the fire, and “mucking about” with it.
What would you think if someone came onto your site after you’d bedded down for the night, uninvited and unknown to you, started talking to you and mucking about with your fire. Then you asked him to leave and he didn’t. What you think and feel?
This is exactly what happened. Basically all I said to him was “Do you mind getting off our site?” But when he didn’t comply, the tone in my voice changed. I think I then said, “Do you mind getting THE FUCK off our site?” but with a completely different vibration component that somehow spelled business.
He then says “OK. But I’m not your mate…my name is Paul. And I LIVE here…you’re a strange man. I’ll be back…”
By now I figured that this person was obviously missing a quid or three, or at least his meds had run out. He didn’t sound particularly threatening but the simple fact of what he was doing made it perfectly clear. I never called him “mate.” That he LIVED there made me feel uneasy. And I did feel strange in a place where he LIVED and might in fact be “normal.”
He left without visual contact and I didn’t get out of the tent or even look at him. I really just didn’t want to be bothered; he was like a huge mozzie in the tent. We finally got rid of him and could now rest peacefully after a long day of hitch-hiking and riding on uncomfortable seats. But the window of anomaly had not yet closed.
About an hour later, after we were fully asleep, we awaken to hear the “chug-chugging” of one of those four-wheeled buggy things that farmers use. This one was somewhat out of tune. It chugged up near our tent and its head-lights shown on us. Then I hear a man’s voice, not Paul but someone else. This voice was one I’d heard before…not a specific person but the voice of a particular kind of person: someone in their late 50’s who drinks heavily, smokes cigarettes, probably shoots smack, possibly molests their grand-children, with an IQ of around 60. The voice of someone probably on glue at this very moment.
In a very stupidly aggressive tone he identified himself as the “park ranger” (this was a caravan park, not a national or state park) and started verbally attacking us for having a fire. I told him that I asked the chick in the office and she said it was ok. Then I remembered that the fire was essentially out when we went to bed. He asked if I was going to put it out or was he going to have to put it out with his fire extinguisher. I said “I’ll do it” and started putting my pants on. Before I could even get my pants on he says “You’ve already been really rude to one of our residents. If you don’t put this fire out you can just FUCK OFF out of the caravan park.” I got out of the tent, basically ready for anything at this point, and stood up right in this dude’s face. His eyes were at my chin level as I glared at him. Yes, the face matched the voice. I took my water bottle and dumped it onto the fire. Without a word I went to go back into the tent when he said, “Don’t you want to shake my hand?” What the fuck! What kind of place was this, a loony bin? “Not really” I replied, in total honesty. But dude just stood there. Instead of going to the next level with it all, I simply shook his hand just to get rid of him. It worked. Off he went on his chug-a-buggy. I could hear the sound as he went around the caravan park, saying who knows what to who knows whom? Our only concern at this point was that he might come back.
My “special forces” lobe had come fully on-line there for a bit, but had now returned to “idle” mode. I had been not been so much rattled or even annoyed by all this as much as bemused. It was actually funny in a way, except that we really didn’t know anything about these people whatsoever. We managed to get a good night’s sleep but awoke well before the sun and got out to hitch before 8am so we could get out of lovely Ravensthorpe.
Now the clincher. The next morning I went to move the remains of the fire out of the way, as we had constructed a small stone circle for it; it was in the way of a vehicle that might want to park where we had camped. I suddenly noticed that two medium-sized logs had been placed on the fire after we went to bed…logs we never saw or knew were there. Good old “not your mate” Paul had rekindled our almost-dead fire before he bid us good-night. It was this Paul-re-kindled fire that drew the attention of Dick “park ranger”, or that Paul had pointed out to him; he had come to our site uninvited, rekindled our fire, was disturbed because we so rudely asked him to leave us alone, then went and talked to Dick… who then came and attacked us for having a fire that we had put out but that Paul had rekindled.
When I was using the jug to make coffee the next morning, I struck up a conversation with a couple at the “kitchen.” I noticed that they were travelling in a car but camping in a tent; I complimented them on their seldom-seen sensible approach, and related the previous evening’s anomalies. After hearing about this, the woman asked me if I’d seen the “Barbies” in the office of the caravan park. I hadn’t noticed, but apparently on a back wall were dozens of Barbie and Ken dolls in various stages of mutilation and dismemberment; she said there was even a kettle with two legs sticking out!
It was all becoming crystal clear now…we had stumbled into an “insanity vortex” just like an old episode of the Twilight Zone…hosted not by Rod Serling but by Monty Python, of course.
To be on the safe side with getting out of there, we made arrangements to catch the 10:15am bus to Albany, in case we didn’t have a ride by then. We hitched until the very last minute. If we kept on hitching we surely would have gotten a ride sooner or later…but we’d had our fill of (One Flew Over the) Ravensthorpe for the time being. Albany and our little room were calling us, and the Trans WA bus rates are quite reasonable, so we exercised our occasional option NOT to hitch; it’s not an option you always have, as in a lot of Australia there may be no buses, or the next one might be in 3 days…but sometimes it seems like the best decision.
And here we are. We are well-rested from several weeks and close to 4000 kms on the road. We’re almost caught up on maintenance activities…my sleeping bag got washed today for the first time in four years and I learned how to get dust particles off the D700 sensor. Arni’s returning from Bali soon and headed back to Flinders Island after visiting the Snowy Mountains just as we launch into making “The Chronicles of Balarnia.” After two or three weeks here of painting and film-making, we’ll make our way around the southwest and then head north up the coast, eventually returning to the areas in the Kimberley where we “rubbed localities” with none other than Nicole Kidman who was filming Australia at the time.
AUSTRALIA the film
In Darwin, Kununurra, and El Questro we found ourselves in the midst of block-bustage and celebrititis. We may even have glimpsed Nicole Kidman’s underwear on a clothes-line at El Questro, thanks to a bloke who was driving us around the area. We always found it amusing that this film was supposed to be such a big deal. I always made fun of it for being so ill-conceived: Rupert Murdoch and Australia Tourism’s “answer” to Lord of the Rings. What was the question again?
As I’ve written earlier, we heard only negative reports on the film, with problems ranging from Kidman’s fake English accent to “drover” not actually having a name to dis-locations to an excess of “cgi” (computer graphics imaging). In St. Kilda we even went to the theatre and were getting ready to buy our tickets when the guy working there talked us out of blowing money on such a “crap film.” We read that instead of “doing for Australia what Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand” the film portrayed white Australians as ignorant racists and bombed in the global cinema market.
We figured that eventually we’d see it when it became available on dvd. Leanne loaned it to us in Adelaide, and finally, after much adieu, we got to watch it last week here with Gus and Julie.
After seeing it, I can say that part of the problem is that everyone has been taking this film too seriously. It’s really more of a fantasy-adventure and somewhat of a comedy than any kind of serious epic or docu-drama; although elements of the story may be factual, this film is by no means grounded in imaginative literary masterpiece.
I think what they meant by “doing for Australia what Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand” was “enhancing Australia’s image as a global tourist destination.” Australia is a whimsical film, probably moreso than intended, and the only actual points of comparison to Lord of the Rings are Nulla (Frodo) and King George (Gandalf). They are engulfed in larger scenarios of scandal, drama and war, but they are really the central characters of the film to me. All the other characters are exaggerated, almost to comic book extremes. There are a few scenes of cool Australian landscapes, but it’s all heavily laced with computer graphics and it loses any “tourism potential” impact it might have had.
I won’t tell you too much about it, except that I actually liked it a lot more than I thought I would; my disbelief suspenders are quite flexible. It does seem stupid and cheesy most of the time, but it’s also funny; there are heaps of “racist” comments but they are being made by outlandishly exaggerated characters who sometimes made me think of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. The relationship between Lady Ashley (Kidman) and “drover” (Jackman) is the overt story, but Nulla and King George are the main characters to me.
“Blackfella magic” gets them through, and in the end, all is well, we are told. King George bids them farewell, and welcomes them to “our country”, meaning black and white together in harmony. I wish this bore some semblance to reality. To me, the thread of indigenous culture is the only real life-blood of this film; unfortunately, the happy notes on which the film ends in no way do justice to the abject horror that black Australians…the REAL Australians…have experienced and continue to experience even now in the 21st century.
THE “LAWLOR PARADOX”
I leave you now with what I am calling the “Lawlor Paradox.” Robert Lawlor is a highly-respected author, translator, metaphysical researcher, mathematician and philosopher who founded what is known as “sacred geometry.” In his 1992 book Voices of the First Day: Awakening in the Aboriginal Dreamtime he summarizes the human condition today:
“We are blinded by the delusions that rise from our hollow and rotting social order. It is vain pomposity to believe that humanity can advance while the Earth and its native peoples, plants and animals are enslaved, desecrated, and destroyed.”
In truth, how CAN we hope to advance as a species while we are so deeply engaged in spiritually and ecologically destructive practices and worldviews? Our civilization at its core is based on an unquestioned paradigm of warfare against nature.
BEYOND “FICTION ADDICTION”
And why are we so unable to face this reality? A big part of the problem is our fiction addiction; on the whole, mass-media not only provides no exploration of this paradox but functions as a weapon of psychological imperialism unprecedented in scope and power.
Why is someone blowing millions of dollars filming schlock like Road-train when they could be documenting the real horror of uranium mining or old-growth logging? Why can’t Peter Jackson, Baz Luhrman, Australia Tourism and the Rudd administration get REAL for once and get behind some film projects…in the spirit of John Pilger…that actually MEAN something in the REAL WORLD? Because no one is interested in “reality” any more? Truth doesn’t really sell very well these days…unless it’s Al Gore’s brand of “truth.”
It’s a mystery to me. But this is why Liesbet and I have embarked on a path of reality-film-making…to share our REAL adventures here in the REAL Australia of here and now today.
She’s a fantastic land of awe and wonder and the dream-time is alive and well in us. Won’t you join us?
Cheers for now.
3 June 2009