Rain stops play

My bus left Byron this morning at half six am, so I decided it wasn’t much more effort to get up slightly earlier and try and catch sunrise on the beach – it seemed a fitting end to my time in Australia’s spiritual epicentre.

However, I was ironically thwarted by Mother Nature herself. As I trogged down the road with my backpack in the indigo pre-dawn light, I witnessed the awesome spectacle of a deluge approaching me at high speed. It started with an ominous rumble of thunder, followed by a crescendoing roar. It took me a moment to realise the noise was from an oncoming torrent of rain – I watched a belt of thrashing drops bouncing off tarmac sweep towards me, until the wall of sound hit me and I was engulfed within a downpour of biblical proportions – spectacular. However, it did mean that my experience of sunrise generated goose-bumps from the chill rather than from wonder, as I watched it from the less-romantic-than-hoped-for setting of a bus shelter in a car park, hiding from the cold rain.

Oh well, I did make it to the beach after the downpour and, funnily enough, was the only person crazy enough to be there on such a miserable morning. It was lovely to have the sound of the surf to myself for a while. That is until ‘Beautiful’ joined me, a Byron local character who I had read about in an information pamphlet about the town. He is an old man who wears a garland of flowers and psychadelic boardie shorts and walks around the town complimenting people and paying respects to the beautiful landscape. I had seen him in action a couple of days earlier; he was chatting to a lady, and broke off to swing round and address a passing backpacker with, “You’re a very handsome fellow. Great board-shorts” and then turned back to resume his conversation. It was almost as if he had a tic or a strange form of tourettes that compelled him to compliment –  but what a lovely contribution to the world. The recipient looked bemused but sheepishly happy. I slowed my pace, hoping for my own ego-boost, but unfortunately it never came. However, I still felt the warmth generated from the passing of good spirits from one to another. Anyway, this morning Beautiful made his way to the water’s edge and drew his palms together in a prayer and started whispering to himself, no doubt in gratitude to the ocean. Beautiful indeed.

I’m now back in Brisbane for a couple of nights, and have already broken my detox by going out for a coffee and cake with Abi – it tasted divine, as things do when they are treats rather than the daily expectation. My plan worked… 🙂

I will leave you with a bruise-update, a few photos of my underwhelming sunrise experience and a poem about Byron (to debunk a common misconception, the town is not named after the poet, rather some military luminary). On my bruise, now the pain of my injuries has receded, I am enjoying the novelty of having such a spectacular conversation-starter on my arm, and am wearing my colours with pride. On the poem, it was written by a long-time resident of Byron. It’s quite long, but easy to read, so stick with it if you can as it offers a rather novel insider’s viewpoint on the downsides of the the huge success of Byron as a tourist destination (although, I can’t help pointing out the obvious flaw, in that the guy confesses to having been drawn to the place as an outsider, himself, in the same way that many of the sources of his disquiet are doing now…). I’ve added my own edit, whereby I’ve highlighted all the tourist ‘crimes’ that I’m guilty of – interesting to know how I’ve been perceived by some during my short stay, although I can’t help thinking that many of the residents are less bah-humbug and more welcoming to visitors. But I do very much agree with his sentiments, particularly regarding avoiding the mainstream and resisting the aggressive chains/franchises that pollute most towns’ high streets. Long may Byron’s resistance against the corporate bullies last…


Bedraggled and cold in a carpark – not the spiritual sunrise I’d hoped for (but amused at the irony).

Early morning beach to myself (before Beautiful joined me).

Uncle Bob’s Byron Bay Blues (by Robert Gilson)

The world
The world
The world is on my doorstep
They won’t leave me alone
But then a ‘global destination’
is the place that I call home
They want what we have got here
They want to play in Byron Bay
They are crowding out the beaches (ed – GUILTY)
They are making plans to stay
They stream down from the borders
For a lazy Sunday drive
They bus in with their backpacks (ed – GUILTY)
And a Lonely Planet Guide (ed – GUILTY)
Or in a Wicked camper
With their European friends
They just keep on coming
I wonder where it all will end?
They fly in from Melbourne
To escape the winter chill
They trip out from Sydney
With a bag of bitter pills
Some come here for yoga (ed – GUILTY)
Some come here for the surf (ed – GUILTY)
Some come here for the magic
of this corner of Earth (ed – GUILTY)
Some come here for the healing (ed – GUILTY)
Some come here for the dance
Some come here just to party (ed – DORM MATES DEFINITELY GUILTY)
Some of them leave here in a trance
Some come here for the music
Some come here for the vibe (ed – GUILTY)
Some come here for the Schoolies
Some come here to scuba dive.
In a muddy campground
seeking Spendour in the Grass
Some came here for
the festival of broken glass

They are jamming up the traffic
And the line-up at The Pass (ed – GUILTY)
It’s hard to get  drink down at
my local friendly bar
They are bunking at a hostel (ed – GUILTY)
Or sleeping in the dunes
Or in the lap of luxury (ed – SADLY NOT GUILTY)
In a room with a view
At a beachside boutique hotel
Where the rich and famous stay
Seems like it’s always party season
These days in Byron Bay

The world is at our doorstep
I just wish they’d leave us alone
They are driving up the prices
They are bringing down the tone
With their market speculation
real estate.com
What do you think we came here
To get away from?
Don’t bring your profit-driven living
And your franchise stores
Why the hell you want to bring
That shit here for?
Don’t bring your mainstream values
And your circumscribed minds
Then it’s gonna be
A matter of time
This place won’t be any different
It will be just the same
Like the Gold Coast
Only by another name
Soon the colour and the magic
Will be lost to folklore
You won’t find it out
Running wild any more
But you can get it all on disc
Down at the digital media store

The world is on my doorstep
They won’t leave me alone
Last night a big yellow taxi
Pulled up outside my home
Some of us came here for the culture
Some came here for the surf
Some came here because it was
The last best place on Earth

(NB lack of punctuation is as original.)

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4 Responses to Rain stops play

  1. Sus says:

    like like like. It made me laugh a lot that you had to tell us that the lack of punctuation is as the original….OGD anyone (Obsessive Grammar Disorder, I am, like you, a long term sufferer). Am looking out for Skype signs from you. Lots of love xxxx

    • beckymayhem says:

      Tee hee, sprung! Yes, indeed, the lack of punctuation pretty much gave me a nervous twitch, but I felt it was wrong to start re-writing someone’s poem. \Anyway, it takes one to know one, Susie!! Skype soon xxxx

  2. Pru says:

    Wow Becks, a most impressive bruise!! (but also OUCH!). You probably will have done your phone thing by the time you read this but am sending thoughts of GOOD LUCK and on a very selfish note, I hope to see you in Warwick in the summer!!! xx

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