This was a proper hippy festival and had a real buzz in the air. People from all over the globe-Japan, UK, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Bahrain etc. Lots of new-age hippies, crusties, backpackers, ravers, dreadlocks, flowing clothes, feathers, bare feet and good vibes. Perhaps it was the heat or the fact that everyone was so lovely-it made me want to dance around in the dirt and hug trees abandon civilization altogether!
People were friendly and would actually talk to you and not want anything in return, spray you with cold water if you looked hot -which was all the time and even hand out food. I had offers to go and stay with people during my travels. Complete with talks about permaculture, spirituality and the end of the Mayan calendar, there were many interesting topics to learn more about in the Eclipse village to counter balance the massacre of brain cells. One could do yoga in the mornings and take part in workshops all day. I decided to get in touch with my Turkish roots and partake in a spot of belly dancing. The music never stopped and would play though the whole night into the next day. The whole place was a pulsating hive of hot energy, and had a musical epicenter that never slept- I would be woken up by big beats and psychedelic-trance every morning just before the sun turned the tent into a sauna!
Bam Bam the Eclipse chaser
I went to all of the Coco Poco Loco parties. They were organized by a cool, Melbourne ‘crew’ who volunteered behind the bar and all drinks were donated. They were the only bar that served booze at the festival. At the ‘Freaky Tiki’ party, I was introduced to an extraordinary looking chap with white hair, day-glow face paint and a zebra print outfit. To my delight he turned out to be an Eclipse chaser-I was hoping to meet one. I was just as pleased to learn that he is called ‘Bam Bam’ -my nickname to a few close friends. Bam Bam had witnessed twelve eclipses and literally-as it says on the tin, chased them from his home in the USA around the world from Madagascar to Peru. He told me he was hooked after his first one and the rest is history. I wondered if I would feel the same after my first Eclipse. Bam Bam tipped me that the best place to watch the Eclipse was fro behind the sun stage and then danced off into the night-what a man!
The real star of the show-the sun!
To avoid the potential pitfall of falling asleep and missing the whole point of this amazing and mental journey, I stayed up and partied all night on eclipse eve -it would be rude not to! I felt a bit dazed, confused and worse for wear (like most people) but that didn’t stop the determination so find the perfect spot. Luckily it was a clear sunny morning with very few clouds in sight. I was with Xenia a friend of a friend from the UK and her friends. The tribes of festivalgoers congregated upon the hill above the sun stage. It was like a scene from Star Wars as various tribes roamed around the desert landscape. A man with long hair and a grey beard sat to my left behind a circle of feathers (photo 2131). Japanese people in feather headdresses, people in Santa costumes, even the Messiah made an appearance. So just your average Wednesday in Australia then we all sat down armed with our Eclipse viewing glasses ready for he greatest real-life movie on earth at Mother Nature’s cinema in the sky. It seemed like a normal morning except the birds were going crazy and children were crying. There was definitely an edgy shift in atmosphere as we waited for the alignment. We started watching the moon slowly but surely blocking out the mighty sun-through the safe specs of course! It took around twenty-five minutes to complete. It started getting gradually darker as the morning quickly turned into twilight. It was eerie as the sky turned darker and the temperature dropped rapidly. As the Moon was about to completely obscure the sun, everyone gasped as they removed their glasses. For the first time in my life it was safe to look directly at the sun. I slowly removed my glasses and my jaw dropped. The moon made the sun look like a diamond ring as it’s edges burnt a hot circumference around the moons perfect black Centre. It looked unreal and was honestly the most beautiful and amazing sight I have ever witnessed. I could understand why Bam Bam chased Eclipses around the globe. It gave me an incredible buzz and sense of humility that we are so tiny and inferior compare to the mighty elements. Everyone clapped and cheered and it felt like a celebration of life at its purest form. There were people crying all around me -may have been real emotion or possibly the herbal highs. I felt mesmerized by this union of light and dark. It lasted two minutes but in some ways felt longer as I savored the moment. The glasses were back on and we all watched the moon slowly move away leaving the sun alone again. This sight blew my mind and I couldn’t sleep afterwards so wondered around soaking up the post-eclipse atmosphere. I ended up watching OKA on the Earth stage as everyone went crazy and danced under water sprinklers to the sound of the didgeridoo. There was something very tribal and earthy about dancing and hearing it in the outback under the rejuvenated burning sun.
I bumped into Bam Bam again twice. Once at the third Coco (Bollywood Ninja) party and again at the final daytime party at the Sky stage. This man has boundless energy -perhaps he gets it from all the eclipses!. Bam Bam rated the Eclipse as one of the best he has seen.
So hippy festival-check, outback-check, total solar eclipse -check! Not bad going for the first week in Australia. The tornado that was the party didn?t want to stop as it continued swirling right up until the last minute as he crowds made the most of the festival. A highlight was the Sky stage in the woods on the last day as everyone had a final surge of energy in this amazing temporary village. I sat on a log and was introduced to British DJ Mortisville who had played a blinding Electro Swing set during the festival. He told me about how much he loves Australia and invited me to see his set at rainbow Serpent in Melbourne. http://www.mixcloud.com/Mortisville/mortisville-live-eclipse-2012/
I ended up hanging out quite a bit with Poncho Anna, Ben and Scotty and I was supposed to go to the Daintree with the boys-Scotty used to be a tour guide! But the plan fell to the wayside when I got the meeting time wrong-oh the pitfalls of lacking phones and memory!
After seven days of partying and camping in the boiling bush I was sad for the colorful whirlwind of fun to end but also ready for some five star action as I headed straight to the Shangri-la hotel in Cairns. What an epic time I have had! I will update you with the next chapter of my travel book shortly-when I recovered from the festival!