#collection-54db9d48e4b00a5e4b12004b, #collection-548f3926e4b0e65c683fd230 .page-title { color: #00000; }

Vanlife Gathering #6: Bellbrook

@haydenseyes haydenwarner1@me.com @girlinhercar

@haydenseyes haydenwarner1@me.com @girlinhercar

This unique VANLIFE GATHERING started in Bellbrook with a welcome to country from the Thungutti elders, Organised through YARN Australia and Sixty Thousand. Elders shared stories of the history of the land and growing up, scratching the surface of our written history, both good and bad. Vanderaa also played an awesome set of music! We left and headed an hour west, following a trail of vans and dust, swerving pot holes, cows and fallen trees, ever sweaty palms gripped the steering wheel in faith of a safe arrival or possibly because I'm just a sweaty guy. 

Lunch & a Yarn with the Elders pic by @haydenseyes haydenwarner1@me.com

Lunch & a Yarn with the Elders pic by @haydenseyes haydenwarner1@me.com

( We now pass the vanlife quill to fellow scribe Monsieur David Anunda )

Anunda pic by @haydenseyes haydenwarner1@me.com

Anunda pic by @haydenseyes haydenwarner1@me.com

5/9/2016

I drove through Bellbrook, a sleepy town inland from the NSW coast and a marker for my first Vanlife gathering – a drawing of van folk for a weekend in nature. The gathering itself was another hour west following the Macleay River. I stuck to the windy cliff side road and drove ever onward in excitement, the imagination urging images of collective wheeled homes and their smiling occupants, while the bumpy drive shook loose cups and cutlery from their supposed secure compartments inside.

I was closing in to the map marker on my phone, a corner turned and a green expanse filled my front window, bright grassy flats bordered by ancient eucalypts and a shallow river glistening in the sun as it weaved through the green rocky mountains beyond.

The event said eleven am and I drove in the late afternoon, uncertainty hit as I turned down the furrowed yellow driveway onto the plateau – what I saw was one other man in one other van. Joshua seemed as confused as I am and this was definitely the spot on the map, we shrugged in unison and I positioned myself overlooking the river. Not long after did Michael arrive in his four wheel drive, he was one of the sponsors with Goal Zero for the event so I felt more confident that this was the place, or at least I had company to share in the confusion. Michael explained that everyone was still in Bellbrook after the Thungutti Welcome to Country ceremony.

Soon after this explanation I heard a smooth roar of engines singing in symphony and gazed over to see a trundling convoy of white vans along the road – the passenger’s faces spread wide with grin as they lined up along the edge of the plateau one after the other. Introductions, I walked from home to home, meeting the residents and sharing in their setups, stories and passions. Some of us ventured into the woods to drag fallen logs back to a pre-shaped fire pit, fit perfect for an evening gathering.

Of the wheel’d procession was a green combi – The Grassy Bowl typed across its side. This particular van was customised into a kitchen and housed on tap homemade kombucha, toasted banana bread and delicious granola all lovingly prepared by Olivia and Hiromi. The roof, instead of a pop top flipped on one side to produce a blackboard menu and space for the chef to stand, the side window folded down into a wooden bar on which elbows were rested.

As the night fell and probiotics consumed the gathering gathered round yonder fire and revelled in music and speech, Aaron and Levi from VanderAa played sweet rhythms and some of the Vanlife focalisers gave welcomes and encouragements. I felt the group begin to synchronise and settle after the long day of movement, some from Sydney, some from Brisbane, Canberra and even as far as Melbourne flung the passionate campers.

A slight breeze touched my skin, which demonstrated its courage and became a strong wind, a murmur in the crowd as spots of moisture carried with. The wind now gale force and a down pour – side pour – hit the camp. The group dispersing in a star pattern as the van residents ran to their homes to protect whatever lay vulnerable to the earth bound torrents. I returned in time to catch my awning which was now comically flapping around like a flag on a motorcade, more comic were my attempts to hold the thing down. With one hand grasping the bucking frame while winding it in with the other – the wind strong enough to lift me off my feet – I eventually tamed the savage beast. That was my end, I tucked away for the night snug under blanket as the wind rocked the van and I to sleep.

It was good to have daylight to see the smiling faces all around, some made the long journey straight after work and arrived late at night. I walked from van to van, meeting new friends, the common theme – what’s your setup like? Each van was different, bed layout, kitchen space, some designed their home from scratch where once an empty shell now housed slide out sinks and fridges, one van boasted a gas heated hot water system for a shower, luxury.

A group of us went for a swim in the river, walking carefully barefoot over hard river rocks to a wide opening, a deep pool as advertised by one who had swum earlier, I stripped my top and waded in, my ankles numb before the water touched my knees. Before I could listen to the complaints of mind I dove under, many words came to me after I surfaced, refreshing was one of them – I saw others dive under with similar reactions and O shaped mouths. The sun came out and we basked on the rocks like lizards, easy conversation bought on by the good feeling after such an icy plunge.

As the sun began to lower and the rich evening colours came out the fire was kindled into life and became an attraction to the gatherers. Some yoga sessions were hosted, some music was shared and ideas were discussed. What I really love about gatherings like these – well any gathering of any folk really – is that we have the opportunity to realise that everybody is really good at something and to share with our brothers and sisters is so important. Personally I drink in the learnings with such gratitude for the one who has the passion inside them to learn and teach. Together we know everything and can do anything.

That night elders from the Thunghutti mob visited to share stories and talk about the land, the meeting facilitated by Warren who with his YARN initiative bridges the gap between indigenous and western folk. Aunty Esther and Aunty Gladys yarned with us, telling of the massacres that had happened here and stories behind the town, Aunty Esther’s great grandfather being the sole survivor of one such barbarity by so acclaimed civilised humans. Aunty Gladys made delicious damper and scones for the group and we shared jokes, questions and later music, a talent show of creative gifts to the fire and surrounds.

Toby from Desert Pea Media was set to show some films the night before but all was lost to the rain and wind. Tonight an announcement and a white van positioned near the fire, the backdrop for projected image. A fancy portable battery system designed by Goal Zero, charged by the sun, sat waiting while a laptop was set up and connected to projector.

Desert Pea go from community to community making and showing films to instil pride to young indigenous, to reverse the suppression and shame that has been so prevalent in their people. Among the hundreds he and his team have made we saw three such screenings all starred by locals giving their wisdom in song to fat beats. The next day Toby and crew would be enroute to Wilcannia for another shoot and show. The night then slowed down by the amber glow of the fire and I eventually slunk to bed.

Sunday morning, last day of the gathering, I drew back the curtains and slid the door open, smiling in front of me was Warren and Tim, they were both about to leave for Bellbrook to rouse Warren’s mob and prepare a farewell meal for the gathering in town, rumour had it that fish were caught in the river and would be the centre of the feast today. I got out and stretched, the air wafted with brewed coffee and fried eggs, enough to move the senses toward nourishment.

The morning was slow, folk took it easy, sharing words and hot drink, a film crew from USYD Update wandered from van to van taking photos and interviews – What is it like to live in a van? How long have you been doing it? What misconceptions do people have about van bound nomads? – That last question struck me as the most interesting, in the underlying currents of mind the idea that van folk take drugs, drink and are generally loud seems to have solidified in popular understanding. In my opinion the diversity of experience that occurs with constant movement and challenge negate the need for any substance based distractions, I am in awe of my surroundings naturally and always grateful of the people I come in contact with. This, I could see in others around the gathering, the happiness, the freedom, the absence of fear. More and more I see that the clinging of stature and possessions begets a wasteful life. The lesson here? Create with all your heart using that which you have, do not wait for better circumstances.

I packed up, my routine becoming so efficient I am able to go from fully set up to ready to drive in around ten minutes. I met Elle and Hayden, two strangers now travelling companions met among themselves to come to this gathering, they spoke of bingo fuel and a fear of being stranded. I would drive with them back to Bellbrook for fuel and a fish cook up.

We made it. Back at the town a few were gathered under a park shelter, flags from our two nations hung from one side and after a bit of a yarn the food was displayed on a long table, we ate and spoke of future travels – at the end a big thank you, a big photo and long farewell. In uncertainty of direction I spoke to a few and eventually decided on a swim in the ocean and a sleep at Crescent Head, I felt somewhat better with direction but that old feeling of leaving such a loving group once again sat with me as I got behind the wheel.

Hanging at @thegrassybowl Kombi Cafe pic by @haydenseyes haydenwarner1@me.com

Hanging at @thegrassybowl Kombi Cafe pic by @haydenseyes haydenwarner1@me.com

Photo gallery from Joe @H2coco

Photos from @take3 beach clean up & @onewave fluro surf pics by Michael @goalzero

Photos of the gathering camp site by @rebelonarainbow

Vanlife Gathering #5 Colorado

Meeting everyone there reminded me that the folks going out and hitting the road aren’t running from something, but searching.
— Colby Thompson

Vanlife Diaries and Tiny House, Tiny Footprint hosted an incredible gathering Aug. 26-28 tucked away in Colorado national forest. Around 60-70 people arrived for a weekend without service, but with plenty of other distractions.

Some of the wonderful people that attended with their vans.

In the mornings, we had coffee provided by Jane of Rock Meets Soil and Bonfire Coffee.

And we enjoyed beer during the day and through the night, compliments of Ratio Beerworks.

Friday night, Stevey Ertl performed an amazing solo set for us around the campfire.

On Saturday morning, Lynelle of A Life on Land led the group in morning yoga.

Jennifer and Derek of GalliVANTing Roses whipped up an amazing pasta in their Dutch ovens for the crew.

In the evening, we listened to some good jams by Sophie & the Midway Tanglers.

These beautiful photos below come from Ashton Ray Hansen Photography. While he doesn't live in a van, he came out to find out what vanlife was all about.

And Jane of Rock Meets Soil didn't disappoint with her lovely captures as well. Jane and her boyfriend Casey live in a 1995 Ford Econoline Sportsmobile package.

All in all, it was one of the best weekends we have ever experienced. We feel such a void from missing these people all in one place.

Luckily, Enigmatic Nomadics took a video to capture the weekend. Give him a follow to see more of his videos.

Special thanks to Kathleen and Greg Plus These wonderful sponsors! Vanlife Diaries, Native Campervans, Mountain Standard, Rumpl, Bonfire Coffee, Rock Meets Soil, Go-Van, Ratio Beerworks, BioLite, Bohemian Island, Lifestyle Over Luxury, Folk Rebellion, Colorado Aromatics, feejays, Coalatree, GalliVANTing Roses, Stevey Ertl, Sophie & the Midway Tanglers Music By: Stevey Ertl & Sophie & the Midway Tanglers If you know someone who would like this video, please SHARE this video with a friend!

We're already dreaming of our next gathering. Miss you all already! Catch you on the road.

Vanlife Gathering #4 Treachery Campground. Biripi Country.

Photo by Nicky Akehurst

Photo by Nicky Akehurst

The 4th Vanlife Gathering was held at Treachery Camp, Bungwahl, New South Wales, Australia.

People are fantastic.

The sun was shining brightly as we rounded the headland from seal rocks down to Treachery Camp. Sally, from management, directed us to the secluded paperbark riddled lagoon area, which they had reserved us. Finding your nook can take some time and many others had already set up camp. Racing the growing shadows, we chatted, hugged, helped and nourished before calling it an early evening in anticipation for the day to break.

Photo By Mick Ross

Photo By Mick Ross

Spilling out of bed and splashing on some clothes, strangers met and nattered. One's curiosity for another vanlifer's setup was happening everywhere and with the infusion of fresh coffee you have a bubbly conversation in the making. The fluro zink started doing the rounds at 9 and within the hour we were all down on the beach for the ONEWAVE crew to show their colours and beat the drum for mental health and awareness. 

Photo by Mick Ross

Photo by Mick Ross

(ONEWAVE is a non-profit surf community tackling funks like depression, anxiety and bipolar with a simple recipe; salt water, surfing, good mates and Fluro Fridays) Grant shared some personal history which ignited the rhetoric for the weekend. Hearing someone make themselves vulnerable to you, encourages trust, boldness and allows us to feel accepted in what we can consider flaws. After the waves had thrown us out of the ocean we tracked back to camp. Some blankets and pillows were laid out and with the ambient music settling on our ears, Rick took a love and compassion meditation.

Photo by Jonny Dustow

Photo by Jonny Dustow

Feeling as relaxed as cats in the sun Nat of, Second Hand Love and Ash, A Light By Which To Dance sold clothes from their mobile homes.

Photo by Jared Melrose

Photo by Jared Melrose

Photo by Mick Ross

Photo by Mick Ross

Photo by Jonny Dustow

Photo by Jonny Dustow

Wilde Beer rocked up and shared some drinks to the parched then satisfied and content the evening approached and the fire sparked. Warren, from YARN, (YARN Australia is an organisation that works to create a safe spaces for all Australians to come together using the power of stories to build relationships between Non-indigenous Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) is such a beautifully spoken man, a natural disarmer of social iniquity. He guided and we poured into discussion of our relationships with our indigenous people. As the dialogue spread amongst us we became like dry ground taking in the rain. After Warren sung us some tunes, Sam premiered his debut movie on travelling Tasmania then late into the night we heard songs from Dusty Boots, Rick, Maxime, Jamie Isaac, Nio and more. Dancing Singing and laughing late into the night the smell of fire and smoke filled our eyes and hair. Sunday we dusted ourselves off and headed to the beach for a swim and beach clean, courtesy of TAKE3FORTHESEA. (Take 3' is a not-for-profit orgnaisation formed in Australia 2009 that aims to raise awareness of plastic pollution by encouraging each visitor to the beach, waterway or ... anywhere to simply take 3 pieces of rubbish with them when they leave and dispose of it thoughtfully) 

Photo by Jonny Dustow

Photo by Jonny Dustow

So many amazing people to meet and thank, so many fantastic projects to get involved in, support and appreciate. More photos and galleries below by Nicky Akehurst, Mick Ross, Jonny Dustow & Kyle Bishop

Photo by Nicky Akehurst

Photo by Nicky Akehurst

The nomadic tide of vanlife is coming. Thankyou to all who are on the wave and those that are paddling for it. We cannot wait to ride it with you . Maybe the next one?

Photo by Jonny Dustow

Photo by Jonny Dustow

Photo by Kyle Bishop

Photo by Kyle Bishop

Photo by Mick Ross

Photo by Mick Ross

Photo by Kyle Bishop

Photo by Kyle Bishop

Photo by Mick Ross

Photo by Mick Ross

Photo by Mick Ross

Photo by Mick Ross

Mick Ross from @wehacksydney instagram photo gallery below of this Vanlife Gathering.

Nicky Akehurst Gallery of images below from this gathering.

Jonny Dustow photo gallery of this gathering below.

 

 

Vanlife Gathering #3 Crescent Head

The 3rd Vanlife Gathering was held at Delicate Nobby, Cresent Head, New South Wales, Australia.

Some things are just meant to be.

As soon as we set foot on Waves Campground, we knew we were in the right place. Firstly, Kit, from management was so incredibly helpful. (They had a fire already burning from felled trees and logs to sit on and burn throughout the weekend) We set up camp in a wonderful natural ampitheatre. After a night filled with introductions, reunions and laughter we woke to beautiful clear skies and it was time to hit the Cresent Head beach with the ONEWAVE crew. (ONEWAVE is a non-profit surf community tackling funks like depression, anxiety and bipolar with a simple recipe; salt water, surfing, good mates and Fluro Fridays) The ocean was sparkling under the bright fluorescent surf costumes and smiling faces and the sweet little 2 footers kept rolling through. Before anyone considered paddling in, mother nature cranked up the wonder. A pod of about 30 dolphins came around the headland followed by a pod of 3 whales, riding the waves and breaching some 50 metres from those out in the brimey blue. The smell of salt water was joined with that of a barbeque that ONEWAVE put on for locals and anyone needing some sustenance. On returning to camp, the fire was still ablaze and the vanlife community came together again. The sun hung on the horizon for what seemed an age as Nick and Warren, from YarnSixty Thousand Years introduced us to Auntie Ester and Auntie Gladies for the Dunghutti tribes. (YARN Australia is an organisation that works to create a safe spaces for all Australians to come together using the power of stories to build relationships between Non-indigenous Australians and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people) The Aunties offered freshly baked homemade damper and scones. Graciously digesting we heard stories of heartbreak, joy, Dreamtime and a history not long past. Warren then played us a song and after some group discussion, the Aunties left us feeling enriched, blessed and honoured to have crossed paths. It really is hard to put into words what was shared around the fire that night. We were all changed, is as close as i can get. The moon rose high and while Dusty boots played some chilled tunes, folk danced or chilled by the fire sipping Koala beer. He was then joined onstage by Sam and Jared from The Evening Son and Alistair, Kate, Joel and Jamie got up and had a jam.  The fire burned on and when day broke we made our farewells. Such an amazing weekend. Thanks to all who contributed and collaborated in some way. Your presence is wonderfully valued. We love the growing vanlife community and look forward to our next encounter at the crossroad.

Jared 

Pictures Below from The Blonde Nomads 

Pictures below from Rebel on a Rainbow

Vanlife Gathering #2 Melbourne Region

The 2nd Vanlife Gathering was held at Mt Franklin Reserve Daylesford, Victoria, Australia.

With an abundance of like minded creatives the good times rolled. There were people who drove for hours to be there and a couple from opposite corners of the world travelling through. Catherine cooked up a ridiculously tasty bush nachos. Koala beer kept the drinks flowing. Plenty of frisby action occurred whilst an experimental kup murri was laid as the night crept in. Dusty boots kicked off a chilled musical session followed by the beautiful voice of songstress Shanna Watson. Everyone present was enriched by those who spoke of their journey. We were then treated to some projected image; short film and music clips, compliments of Toby Finaslay at Desert Pea Media. A couple of the guys from The Evening Son then sung a few numbers and when we thought we were full of stimulation, the kup murri (4 times cooked) was ready. Warren Roberts from Yarn & Sixty Thousand Years sent through some awesome stories of the history of the region and it was great to share it with folk at the gathering. Thanks to everyone who contributed in some way. So grateful to meet such amazing people making a difference in everyday life. Keep being your fantastic selves. See you down the road soon! Check some of the fun that went down with the clip and pics below.

Vanlife Gathering #1 Byron Bay Region

Check out this clip from our first Vanlife Gathering in the Byron Bay Region, NSW, Australia. Thanks to everyone involved and for supporting such a beautiful evening. We had Hiromi from Hiromix Kitchen take an awesome Japanese/Australian cooking workshop, Sarah from Soulfuel Creations take a great interactive art workshop, Niki, Barry, Matt, Josh, Bohdi and Dusty Boots shared some fun music. We had the most amazing bonfire thanks to Kelvin and Chantelle. We had a sweet setup of tarps and tents from Graeme. Thanks to Mathew, Becky and Rachel for their amazing property! Thank you to Chrystal for her photography which is in a gallery below the clip with her photography link, and everyone else who just came to hangout and share their story. The song we put to this clip is by Ziggy Alberts 'Hands I can hold' purchase on Ziggy's website.