Look, I’m a big fan of Jesus (the Jewish radical, not the Spanish soccer player). I still dig his message of social reform and human compassion, despite my having been brought up in Catholic weirdness, and despite having to suffer the phlegm of born-again naffness that desperation sometimes coughs up. But I’m a bit over it.
Wooyung. Friday, 12.25pm. Just south of Pottsville, where the Tweed Coast Road turns away from the coast and heads inland to the Pacific Highway, is a long stretch of beach, less touched by the wheeze of espresso and more still echoing to the ancient songs of the Midjungbal people.
Is there anything more beautiful than a 1962 Holden EK Special Station Wagon? Especially when it’s painted the pale blue of a perfect day and its chrome is so polished I am momentarily blinded as I negotiate my Subaru through crowded Coolangatta.
Winter has come. I’m not ready. I haven’t even got any firewood. And I still have a curtain across the main doorway, which creates a pretty serious draft situation. It’s on my list though – ‘Ring firewood woman’ and ‘Fix door’– but I haven’t done it.
'The big picture is pretty bloody obvious to me,' the Feisty One says. A finger plucks at the violin on the table. A scratchy note hangs like a quote mark starting a new sentence.
‘I think it’s really presumptuous of people to say the world is f***ed, when this is the only reality we have. How can it be f***ed?’ I ask.
Her dad walks next to her, his shoulders stooped under an invisible weight. He smiles but it's a melancholy one. The future is uncertain. And the future is all we have for the kids. The pair disappears into the general store.
These are the end days of this civilisation. The signs are here: packs of police wander the streets looking for drug dealing; mobile ATMs facilitate drug dealing; and a zombie beat pulses, like the ticking of a bomb, from a shop doorway.
Camping ain’t what it used to be. Camping used to be an escape from all the stuff that clutters our lives, mental and physical. Now it’s a marketing opportunity.
I like festivals. In a world where contact with other humans is increasingly replaced by cyber-contact with computers, festivals are orgies of real human contact.
I live in a shack under the cliffs – not too far from Kyogle, not far enough from the proposed gas wells at Bentley.
It’s quiet out here among the fields of sorghum that flood these fertile flatlands. Occasional hills dot this broadacre sea like islands. Here and there, a farmhouse marks its turf with a shade tree and sheds. It’s lovely. But there’s a coal mine, so farmers are being forced to move off their land as the mines grow.
Bentley. Monday, 9.40am. Mud. Mud everywhere. The protectors' camp at Bentley, where more than a thousand people are congregated, is a bog. The roads are wide mud rivers, while narrower walking paths flow into them.
Murwillumbah. Tuesday, 12.25pm, Despite power steering, the Subaru didn't want to turn. The car felt like a rock, and the intersection near the post office in Murwillumbah was no place to be driving a rock. Especially in lunchtime traffic.
Lismore. Saturday, 1.10pm. A bloke with a Tibetan bronze trumpet that looks about a hundred years old blows a fat note over the march. It's a sound that resonates deep in the collective psyche.
It's early morning. I'm lying under the mossie net in bed in my shack under the cliffs, alone in a tumble of sheet and doona. And I'm running my hand down my inner thigh.
There are many indicators of health. Some are obvious (like blood rushing from a stump where a limb used to be) and some are subtle (metallic taste in the mouth, gas rig in distance).
She shrieks as she slips off the little rock and into an incoming wave. She is not used to playing in oceans. The seas near her home far away are not clear or clean and you don't want to play there.
The teenagers are weaving through the tables, a plate of food in each hand, delivering meals. They're dressed in black and wear serious faces – not because the world we're handing to them is in such bad shape.
There's something about how Kooris sit in a car. They look so comfortable, like they belong. Kooris do belonging well. It looks like they could sit there forever.
The girl stands, stock still, in front of the stage at the Beach Hotel. She is about eight or nine years old. People are spinning around her like planets around a dwarf sun, dancing to the funky disco of Lisa Hunt.
Leard Forest provides some shady relief against a sun that still burns like an open fire despite the late hour. The sunlight fingers the forest and the green drips gold. Australia.
S Sorrensen, Tamworth. She sails into the bar, half a dozen people surfing her wake. A grand entrance. Having been banned from the hotel last night for unacceptable behaviour on stage, three tough-looking women in blue shirts emblazoned with 'security' escort her.
There are 300 billion stars in our galaxy; and there are more than 200 billion galaxies in the universe. Don't say anything, just think about that for a minute while I pour us a wine...
Like most Australians, I own a lot of stuff but my favourite thing is my tiffin tin, a stainless steel container of Asian origin for carrying your tucker around.