Day 19 – 25 Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast Hinterland

I arrived after 9 pm into Brisbane airport and went to get my rental car – it was a bit of an expense but I decided it was worth it. Renting a car in Australia is not cheap – the rental price may seem reasonable but then they want a deposit of 4000 dollars, that is 2000 pounds, for any damages. I loathe this system, this is how they make money but of course not everybody has 4000 dollars in their account or on a credit card, like me, so you have to buy off the liability for about 39 dollars (20) pounds a day so the total becomes then pretty steep. Anyway, in advance I asked the universe to at least give me a GPS for free, that would be nice.  There were two women at the rental desk and one of them was very pleasant and chatty, asking me were I was going so I told her about my trip and she thought it was great. I think I must have been obvious about my money situation and how I was trying to make this journey work with a small budget. When I asked how to get to my hotel, she offered the GPS to me for free and I was very grateful. In the end it was a good thing to have, because I had to get to several destinations in that week.

The hotel, the Ibis budget hotel in Brisbane, was indeed what the name said ‘Budget’. Because I was arriving after 10 pm they left me instructions how to get I and into my room. That was fine of course, but when I was trying to carry my suitcase up the stairs to the 3rd story, this man came down and asked me who I was, crossed me off the list and let me carry on getting that suitcase up without offering any assistance. I shrugged it off and went to sleep – had a terrible breakfast in the morning – and left to find Mark’s house.

Although tucked away in nature, my GPS did manage to find it. The location was simply beautiful, surrounded by trees, where Koalas live and Walibi’s I heard later, and I felt peace and quiet resonating from the house. I did hear a little girls voice talking, so I proceeded to find her and her mother. Unfortunately I frightened them as they did not hear me coming and the girl said: ‘you scared us’ for which I apologised deeply. It was soon forgotten and I received a warm welcome. Now I was getting anxious to meet Mark after all these years, we must have been about 14 years old when we last saw each other. When we lived in the Netherlands, our parents were good friends and we always went out together to eat at places where they knew us, so it felt familiar. They were happy times. We lost contact when they moved away to Australia but there was always that connection that lingered through our lives, because it was in the beginning of this year that I suddenly thought of Mark and how he was doing. I checked Facebook to see if I could find him and I did…but then I opened a mailbox of Facebook that I had not opened in years, with messages of people who I had not befriended yet, and there was a message from Mark from exactly 2 years earlier. I felt so embarrassed that I had never replied and so I sent him a message with apologies and explaining what happened and that I was so glad he contacted me. It took a few days for him to reply but then he did and we exchanged our life stories on email. At that point I had no plans to go to Australia but the invitation was there from Mark – so when I did decide to do my journey I knew I had to visit him and his family and reconnect. So there it was, the moment of truth, and when he swooped in, we hugged and looked at each other like we could not believe it. Where did those 40 years go… To make a long story short – I had a lovely stay, we even did some music together one evening in the garden with an incredible sound system which gave me the opportunity to practice with my backing tracks. We also visited a animal park so I got to interact with Koalas and Kangaroos, which was very exciting. I think I was more excited than their 3-year-old daughter – who by the way is such a special character. The whole visit felt like I was with a long-lost family and when I left, I cried in the car, as there had been so much love. Luckily, they have promised to visit me in the UK, so I look forward to that.

Gold Coast

The next stretch of my journey was to bridge some days before I was going to head off to my yoga week near Byron Bay, so I booked an Airbnb last minute near the Gold coast but inland. Two reasons for picking this particular Airbnb: it had a pool and they were musicians. This is the trick with finding the right Airbnb, I always start looking at the price first of course, but then I try to see if the hosts are either artists, musicians or spiritual so we have something in common. I also prefer staying with women as they are usually a bit more in my kind of flow, but that is of course a very personal thing. When I arrived at the Airbnb at Jimbooba, love that name, I was met by Jane, who was immediately very welcoming and easy going. She seemed glad to have somebody new arriving as she was still recuperating from an operation and had to stay at home. She upgraded me to a very nice room, as the little nook, as they call it, I booked turned out to be a small alcove between the kitchen and living room separated only with curtains. To tell you the truth, I do not know if that would have been good for me as I like my privacy. Anyway, all good and I settled in. Alvin, her husband and the musician in question, was watching The Ashes, an important cricket tournament, on television and waved hello. Jane explained that he was a big-time cricket fan, which she said had probably to do with him being from the West Indies, Trinidad that is. She also informed me that he was professional steel drum musician and played everywhere. I had told her I was a jazz singer so she hoped we would have the time to play music together and we later did.      

They had a great pool and I decided to just relax the first day and so nothing, it had been an intensive trip in a way so far with lots of travelling and new impressions. In the morning I went to a small local market in the area and got to chat to Brenda, the local tarot reader, who was glad to talk to me as there were not many people about. People at normal local markets did not seem to be very open yet to tarot readings and such activities, but there were some spiritual festivals and markets around where people would come to. She had heard about Glastonbury and was very curious to hear more about this special place. We parted with a big hug, glad to have made that connection from one tarot reader to the other. That afternoon Jane’s friend Jude arrived and she was bubbly and told me that where she lived was not a very female friendly place being in cowboy cattle land. Her family owned a motel and a cattle farm, but they sounded like not the easiest bunch so she needed her break now and then just to recharge her batteries. She had recently started to play the piano again and was very happy having this outlet. We all got on really well and had a lovely dinner together, made by Jude, who loves cooking – another outlet. The next we all promised each other to play some music together and so that was that.

After a nice night of sleep, I went out to meet my friend Terri, who I had met just 2 months earlier at the EarthSpirit Centre where I work and who happened to live very nearby Jimbooba. She took me to Mount Tamborin – a ancient mountain where Aboriginals used to live for a long time. It was seen by them as a sacred site, so I was eager to see it. We went to visit a beautiful waterfall and when we entered the rainforest, it was like we entered a magical realm, the forest radiated something special. Spellbound we walked down to the Curtis waterfall, and it was like in a movie, so enchanting with a little pond in front of it. We just had to sit there and take it in. Nature just is amazing, so often we take it for granted, but when I see places like that it just reminds me how grateful we need to be for what Mother Nature has given us. After the waterfall we decided to do a walk and we found a special place to do a Summer Solstice ritual – to get into the spirit of this new festival. We had found this little pathway and when we returned to the main path, we saw bats hanging from the palm trees high up. They were active and sometimes one would fly off, I was mesmerized as they were such wonderful creatures and I realised that they are a symbol of transformation which right after our ritual seemed like a good omen. And later we encountered two big black lizards on our path, another omen of transformation. We ended later to look at some scenic views from Mount Tamborin – at a special place St Bernard, a Swiss chalet like hotel where they have two big St Bernard dogs. Ooo, but that view, so stunning, it was from a dream. I was very grateful to Terri for showing me those sights, that is what so wonderful to connect with local people.

When I got back, Jude, Alvin and myself geared up for our jam session in Alvin’s studio shed. Jude and I started with some Amy Winehouse and then Alvin joined us and played the steel drum. He is a fantastic musician, as he knows how to play all kinds of music we started on Summertime and after a few tries, it sounded actually pretty good. But the more important thing was that we connected and had fun. After that performance I got ready to sleep and get ready to return the rental car to Brisbane the next day. Yoga Week was coming up – time to retreat.