This photo is one of my favourites from my trip to Lismore. Bernard and I took turns looking pensively at the great Pacific Ocean while we were in Evan’s Head, and we actually ended up taking some pretty good snaps. We accomplished a lot in two days, and I’m really grateful that the Bernman took the time to show me around this beautiful part of the world, sharing his knowledge and his stories with me. We did so much, that I’m breaking this blog down into two parts with sub-headings- enjoy!
The first stop on our tour was Brunswick Heads. Out of all the beaches and spots I’ve seen in Australia so far, this one tops them all. The water is beautifully crystal clear and still, with a beautiful walk up to the headland that passes a river perfect for paddle-boarding, and a rock barrier cove that’s perfect for swimming. Don’t even get me started on the white sand beach.
While I was busy being fascinated by the obvious attractions, Bernard was admiring the geology. He showed me the sandstone boulders and explained that the early houses and government buildings would have been built using these. Rich in iron ore, these stones would have also been used by aboriginals in making spear-heads and other iron-based tools and weaponry. Brunswick Heads and Australia in general have a huge amount of iron ore and is to this day one of the country’s cornerstone exports.
We went into town for some snapper and chips, which is by far one of the nicest pieces of fish I’ve eaten here, so if you are visiting then pop into the local chippy and get your teeth into that. We sat under a pine tree by the river and reminisced a bit more about his friendship with my Dad, but not before another lesson- this time in history. He told me the pine trees we sat under would have been used by ship builders as the straight trunks made perfect ores, masts and all sorts of other apparatus for boat building. It made me realise just how much history is staring us in the face, without us even noticing most of the time.
The picture above is of Bernard and an English fisherman/comedian who told us a few jokes before making his way back into town. As much as I admired his jokes, I do wish these bloody English tourists would go home already!
This is the parallel to the featured image of this blog post. Bernard and I taking turns looking introspectively at the ocean, telling me about sharks, surfers and how easy it would be to camp on the hillside if you didn’t mind the odd snake.
The view up here was beautiful, as it always is, but Evan’s Head holds special significance for Bernard who used to take his sons fishing in the river here when they were kids. He showed me around the area and where to get some of the freshest fish in the region. A place where fisherman can sell their catches and locals can get some grub straight from the river.
You can imagine that this is the perfect place to raise kids. A safe place to teach them how to fish and swim, with the sand banks at low tide and the gentle current meaning there’s little danger in getting caught out. It’s no wonder there’s very little juvenile crime in these areas, when there is so much to do and so much to learn.
Bangalow & Op Shopping
The next day we visited the little village of Bangalow. In the drive up, we were talking about poets and our influences, and when we popped into the local Op Shop (Charity Shop for my UK friends and Thrift Shop for my US followers), a book on English Verse was the first thing I noticed.
Bernard and my Dad called this ‘The Rule of Proximity’, that is the universe’s way of either preparing us or influencing us that something nearby is significant and will present itself to us. Being the cynic I am, I’m more of a ‘Law of Confirmation’ sort of guy, but it is fascinating that this book was filled with poems by Edgar Allen Poe, Emily Dickenson, John Donne, and John Keats, all of whom we were talking about an hour or so before. The rest of the books I picked up from other Op Shops were great finds, and I’m going to spend some time working through them over the next couple of months.
Bangalow is a great little town with a volunteer run tea-shop in a house that would have been built in the early 1800’s- on stilts of course as many houses here are on flood plains. It was here that Bernard showed me the Camphor Laurel trees, native to China, but introduced to Australia a couple of hundred years ago. What they didn’t know was that the tree was an invasive species with an extraordinary and resilient root structure and thick base trunk that sprouts multiple smaller trunks. You’ll recognise the smell of these trees as well if you’ve ever been congested or had a really bad cold. The sap from the leaves is used to make Vapour Rub and when these trees are cut down, the smell lingers on for weeks and months afterwards in the mulch. Another great bit of trivia to have, and I’ve already got another idea for a poem out of it. Cheers Bernard!
I’m going to leave this post here for now, and I’ll post Part 2 either tonight or tomorrow. The next post I’ll be talking about Eltham, Lismore and the wonderfully creative people I met in Bernard’s music scene.
Thanks for reading!
This isn’t goodbye, it’s just farewell.