As we headed north towards Bellingen to attend the annual Camp Creative week, we left behind the palette of colours that cities and towns provide and started to absorb the calm that comes with the blues and greens of the countryside. I noticed that conversations became less hurried and there were longer quiet spaces between those conversations.
The sometimes “dreaded” ring of a mobile phone echoed through the car disturbing that peace, however, when voice on the other end of the line said “We should have done this years ago”. No pleasantries or greetings just that incredibly excited opening sentence. It was a member of the other car group we were intending to share accommodation with for the duration of the camp. And they had already arrived.
As I am new to this travelling group, who incidentally have been to Camp Creative for the last 9 or 10 years, I waited patiently to hear the rest of the conversation. “Wait until you see the view from this cottage verandah”. Followed by “We will be very comfortable here”. I was then intrigued. But not for long.We drove through the town of Bellingen, we checked in to the Camp and familiarised ourselves with the venues for our chosen subjects. As my previous visit to this colourful town was 10 years ago, I was surprised that I remembered so much of it. The colours were still outstanding. Time to find our accommodation and have a much-needed quiet afternoon drink.
As we continued on 5 kms out-of-town and entered the lengthy driveway leading to Fernridge Farm Cottage, I was seeing a world of lush greens in various shades and the browns of the many different tree barks. And at the top of that driveway, there it was, sitting on the hill. It rested among surrounding garden and botanical trees, a manicured lawn as the immediate border, with cattle fences beyond and paddocks down into the valley. And it didn’t appear to be complaining about any of that. It was a white clap-board cottage with a tin roof, an extremely generous verandah on three sides and it seemed to be waiting to welcome us.
There was a time in my earlier years when I lived in the top end of the Blue Mountains and had made friends in nearby Megalong Valley. What I was now seeing on the drive up to the cottage and beyond, took me straight back to those years. It was where I started to focus on the colours of our land.
We parked at the back of the house and approached the house without our bags. Such was the pull. Instinctively and without any words we all took our shoes off as we entered. I was wondering if we all did that for the same reasons. It was welcoming to feel the timber floors with the soles of our feet. No concern with dirty shoes or even tired feet. We walked straight through the centre of the cottage to the front verandah. And there was part of the world, just waiting to absorb us. And there, also, was a wonderful reason to open that bottle and celebrate the start our week.
It was a week filled with a choice of lessons in musical instruments, singing, photography, writing, cooking, lead lighting, yoga and much more besides. It seemed Bellingen was prepared to shared their culture with us all. They were full days where most participants were challenged as they immersed themselves in their chosen area of interest. And Bellingen sat quietly and catered for us all.
I continued to enjoy everything about this rural wonderland we called home for that week. We shared breakfast with the cows who simply meandered up to the verandah reminding us we were in their space. Each day we arrived home after a full day of activity and, while relaxing, we listened to the cicadas, who seem to sing differently here. Every morning as we prepared for the day, a cheeky blue wren perched on a branch just outside the bathroom window putting his reflection in the mirror, almost as though he wanted to come inside with us. In the far distance we noticed, through a break in the trees, passing trucks going about their busy lives. And we let them.
It was a delightful week when we borrowed Bellingen, with its surrounding tall mountains and plush coloured valleys, with its background music coming from all the trees. It is a great reminder that “Blue and Green can be see and there is no need for a colour in between”.