Blessed to be a witness

Thursday, 11th August

Finally, a place I like

The view from the campsite

Oh thank goodness. Finally we've arrived somewhere that doesn't insult the traveller, or deny him or her much-needed services.

We spent the previous night in Toowoomba, a hill station town in the hills near Brisbane (well, near in Australian terms - 128km from the city in actuality) that provides a cool atmosphere in the summer, and spectacular views, 700 metres above a valley below, none of which we appreciated while there, as the lovely coolness the place provides during the summer gave us a winter night temperature of less that 0C, and our thin sleeping bags and unheated van provided scant protection. One consequence of the enforced sedentary nature of our evenings is that our body clocks have altered, and so I am now ready for bed around 9, and up at 6.30. Thus we ate dinner, then felt sleepy, so didn't explore the town, and instead shivered our way through the night.

We caught sight of the valley the next day as we headed down to the much warmer Gold Coast. Here we passed through Surfers Paradise, a beach resort with high-rise hotels everywhere, and then along the coast to Byron Bay. And Byron Bay is absolutely lovely. A gorgeous sweep of sand with a small town attached, with good food, some nice bars, a great atmosphere, warm(er) weather, and we are paying slightly more than normal to be in a gorgeous campsite right in the middle of town, right on the beautiful beach.

For some reason, the place is also absolutely full of new-age health shops, with their pick-n-mix brand of spirituality and unproven healing techniques. Look here, I spent a few weeks in Tibet, and I can assure you that, in my observation, the Tibetans wouldn't be seen dead putting crystals anywhere near their chakras. (Something I never get about alternative therapies - who says they are so? Perusing the books here, they all repeat as 'fact' various properties of substances and techniques, but rarely back it up with citation, leading me to believe that half of the stuff is just made up on the spot, cynically, as a money-making venture. Also, while I'm on a rant, what is so wrong with proving stuff? Why should this simple request be seen as the crushing "sausage-maker of Western science", as someone once said to me? I'm sure plenty of 'mystical' Eastern types ask for proof too - my experience is that oriental people are pretty wise with money. If you say such-and-such a technique works, merely demonstrate that it does before asking people to part with cash. I'm quite prepared to try alternative therapies, but I'd like to know a little bit about what they actually claim to do, and if they can actually be shown to work. And don't get me started on homeopathy... Sorry.)

It's an unfortunate consequence of having spent time in a tsunami zone that I now see all coastal areas in terms of their robustness. The largely metal construction of the two-and-three-storey buildings here would probably withstand enough to support the upper stories, though the beachfront properties would probably be wiped out. Our campsite is right on the waterfront, and we would be swept away instantly. The very loud crashing of surf doesn't help these irrational thoughts either; I'm sure they'll wear off eventually. Perhaps I should get my aura cleansed.

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