We spent a day in Brisbane with family and the next day we got up at 4am to catch the train from Brisbane to Grafton. It’s a beautifully scenic ride, especially the part that takes you through the mountains. Our neighbours picked us up from the station at Grafton and drove us back to Nymboida, which is about 45min south of Grafton.
We said hello to Peg, the orphaned wallaby our neighbours adopted after the fires, and ended up spending the afternoon covered in mud, digging a trench! This is the kind of work I love doing when I come here. Mucky hard yakka. We were searching for a leak in the water pipes and we found it! I love the sore muscles that come later, and the delicious contrast between cold muddy work and the reward that comes at the end of the day: hot-tub, warm fire, delicious food and good conversation.
Our neighbours have an incredible vege patch and I’ve had a lot of fun gathering food to create delicious meals. I made a salad featuring lots of colourful flowers, such as nasturtium, broccoli, and borage. And today I helped them cut up lots of limes from their orchard to make lime marmalade.
Now we’re kicking back enjoying the silence on our neighbouring block of land, affectionately dubbed “Lorien Valley” in honour of Lothlorian. Lothlorian was the 200 acres of Tasmanian old growth forest my parents co-purchased with about 7 other people in the early seventies to protect it from logging. I spent my early childhood there, living in a tent. Needless to say, living on the land, in a simple way, feels like home to me.
I love walking, rather than driving, the road into Lorien Valley. It’s always such an adventure. It takes about 15-25 minutes depending on how many flowers you stop to say hello to along the way… and how fit you are! Our block is higher than our neighbours, but you’ve got to dip down into the valley quite a way before you start climbing up again, and cross two creeks. Our bridges were destroyed in the fire and part of our road has been completely re-routed in the re-building process. Now, instead of bridges, we have little creek crossings with lots of rock under them. Fire-proof. They still flow during seasonal rain, but you don’t get bogged going over them… and during big rains you just wait it out because it doesn’t take long for the water to subside.
This mornings walk was wonderful because we discovered treasure troves of flowers and we met a tree snake sunbathing in the middle of the road and had to creep past without disturbing them (her/him).
This purple flower was my favourite native vine in this area. It’s called the happy wanderer, which I love because my name (Omanisa) means wanderer! I’ve never seen so much of this flower before. The entire ecosystem has changed after the fire, and now it seems prolific. I say “was” my favourite because we found a new vine and I’ve fallen madly in love. It’s like the Sturt desert peas I’m so familiar with in my home country (birth place), central Australia, but in vine form!
We’re going to be hosting small retreats here at Lorien Valley for our “Shadows into Light” students next year. During this visit, we’re hoping to get a roof up over the container, and a water-tank set up.