Monthly Archives: April 2004

Futon for sale

Double futon, wooden base, deluxe mattress, AAA+++ condition, $280 ono. Brunswick. Ph 934*****.

Yep, that’s my ad in the next edition of Melbourne’s Trading Post. I’m moving out, packing up, going on the road.

There’s a lump at the back of my throat as I write this.

Anyway, if you know anyone who wants a futon, get in touch. Or if you want a room in a comfortable, semi-detached, vegetarian household with two kind and generous housemates, get in touch.

Cheap eats 2004

A shortage of basics like bread, cereal and milk means I’m eating breakfast out for the second day running. I’m sitting here at Mule in Sydney Road listing to Radiohead, Verve and some other britpop bands. The whoosh of the espresso machine interrupts madly. There has been heavy rain over night so the gutters are overflowing, and the street busy with traffic. Mule’s really comfortable: a retro feel happening with school chairs, exposed brick and cyclindrical lampshades. It’s going to be hard to drag myself off to work. Ah, here come the homemade bake beans, stacked high with an Italian parsley flourish…… Yum!

I’m being brave, stepping outside my comfort zone: eating in a cafe not given the seal of approval by The Age’s annual Cheap Eats Guide. I’m not really a slave to lists or guidebooks but I’ve found the guide reliable so far. So, give me any excuse and I’ll try somewhere new.

Last night was a balmy, 25 degrees or something, so I dined at an outside table at the Chocolate Buddha in Federation Square with Kathy, who was here on official, government business from Wellington. For madam, ika yaki don (marinated squid with overshio leaves on a bed of rice; and for sir, namatake don (steamed okra, enoki mushrooms and lotus root with rice). Miso soup and local beer as accompaniments. The lights of the city, Fed Square’s giant screen and bustling Flinders Station served as a vibrant backdrop. A digestive stroll along the Yarra River, followed by both a fire and water show at the Crown Casino capped off a very enjoyable evening.

I’d be happy to loan anyone my copy of the Cheap Eats Guide, let me know.

Easter jaunt

Barmah Forest, Murray River, VictoriaAll the way up to Confest at Gulpa Creek, near Echuca on the Murray River, we expected to see a line of slow moving Combi vans and housebuses. But there was no sign of either a queue nor many hippy vehicles. Rattly, mobile wrecks were outnumbered by new Holdens, suburban assault vehicles (SAVs) and the odd Mercedes Benz. Clearly the face of alternative lifestylers is not what we expected.

Confest has been going since 1976. It’s all about providing a space for “… healing, personal growth event; a sharing of ideas about what it means to be a ‘happy’, ‘whole’ human (from humus meaning earth) being.” The alternative lifestyle festival attracts thousands of spiritual healers, drummers, naturists, hippies, cranks, and the odd straight person at both easter and new year.

There is no set programme. Instead the volunteer organisers provide venues for workshops, and participants offer something if they feel inclined, all for free. Most of the workshops didn’t appeal to me, but there was no pressure to do anything so I rested and read a lot. I attended a feldenkrais session, and participated in the spontaneous choir – more a fluid, mass performance experimenting with sound than a traditional choir with its focus on songs.

The swimming hole, mud bath and massage tent were constantly busy, as was the marketplace. As well as selling food, chai and tie-dies, the marketplace was a place for interaction, spontaneous dancing, music and drumming. The food was cheap and healthy, served without tomato sauce, cancer cola or a neon sign in sight.

The incessant drumming did get on my nerves – strange how tolerance was a one way street for some of the drummers: the need for loud self expression over-rode other people’s desire for quiet. Another little irritant was the lack of privacy in the pit toilets. Apart from that, I’ve got to admit it was great being close to nature, camping simply beneath the stars and gums, and being in a non-judgemental environment, with no boorish or aggressive behaviour. Not sure if I’ll follow in Dave’s footsteps and come back, but you never know.

As we were in the vicinity of the mighty Murray River, we went for a walk in the Barmah State Park which winds beside the river. The area was subject to an unsuccessful claim by the Yorta Yorta people for native title, and home to numerous sites of importance nation/ tribe. Away from the river there was nary a sign of any water. The red gum forest through which we walked relies on episodic flooding to survive, something which is infrequent as the water is largely taken for farming and horticulture. Despite the sparseness and aridity there was a quiet beauty about the area.

Homeward bound, we travelled far out of our way to visit the Jamieson Brewery. See the beer hunting photo album for a brief description.