Friday 1st April 2016
Today I walked along the squeaky white sand of Tallow Beach to Broken Head, south of Byron Bay. It is one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline I have ever seen, made magical by the complete absence of seafront buildings.
There is no promenade or piers, nor any form of towering, manmade eyesore to spoil the view, just a thin strip of sand dunes and rainforest hiding the residences of the lucky locals who have the fortune (or good sense) to live so close to this outstanding beach.
We’ve been in Byron Bay for five days now, but most of the time we’ve been focused on work, both promoting Jakkie’s new book and planning the Stop Male Suicide Seminars. So a walk along the shore at 4pm on Friday was the perfect end to a busy working week.
The last time I was here was in 2008, when Jakkie introduced me to the magical tea tree lakes in the Arakwal wetlands that border the beach. We swam naked together in the warm, healing waters as dozens of dragonflies danced around our heads along the surface of the lake. It was an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life.
According to the Thursday Plantation, which we passed on the way to Alstonville, tea tree leaves have been used for thousands of years by the indigenous people of New South Wales for their healing properties. Since the 1970s, the plantation has pioneered the use of tea tree oil worldwide and unlike the Victorian pioneers who de-forested Australia, claim to be re-foresting the country by planting millions of native of tea trees.
I was reminded of our skinny dipping adventures when I arrived at the narrow estuary where the warm, brown waters of the lake meet the constant flow of the sea. I also remembered that I have since learnt of the sacred importance of men’s and women’s places in Aboriginal culture.
According to one blogging nomadaholic, called Ida:
“These lakes are actually surrounded by tea trees which in turn create an oasis of magical tea tree water that is so beneficial to swim in. People pay for this and it’s just there in all it anti-fungal glory! In the past, Aboriginal women of the region used the lakes as a maternity wing. With the tea tree being nature’s antiseptic, it is an ideal environment to give birth and some people still do it today!”
I hadn’t realised, eight years ago, that the lakes were a sacred woman’s place where men were not allowed and certainly weren’t welcome to splash about with their willies out.I paused to apologise to the Arakwal people, asked the elders for forgiveness and decided not to visit the lake as a mark of respect.
Here To Stay?
I feel a deep emotional connection to this part of the world both through Jakkie, who lived here for many years and through the personal relationship I have built up with the country in and around Byron Bay.
As I walked along the beach today I felt my mind and body relax and a voice inside me kept saying one word over and over……….“STAY!”
I met up with Jakkie who’d headed to the beach before me and she suggested we take a walk over the headline.
“But I want to stay here,” I said.
“What stay here now or stay here for good?” she asked.
“I not sure, I just know I need to stay.”
So while Jakkie took a walk, I stayed and enjoyed the sand and the sea and just being here in this magical place with no particular agenda other than to simply stay…………for now.
Jakkie heads “home” as the sun sets on our trip to the beach in Byron Bay.