Leaving Port Douglas in early November 1997, I wondered if my life could become any more interesting. My time there felt like a waking dream. Reality seemed malleable, a thought or feeling able to change an experience in any given moment, and it often did, instantly. Port Douglas was a playground for me in 1997, where I honed my skill set to achieve with greater confidence all that I wanted to create. I could have stayed in that small resort town for the summer if I wanted. The humidity and the summer rains would come, lashings of tropical weather fronts and mosquito swarms would follow, so I decided to head south with three Canadian friends and an Englishman in ‘Annalise’ the crimson log, a Holden station wagon. Eventually, after many hours of driving and wild adventures, we arrived in Byron Bay, and I instantly knew I would be staying. The town had swelled in size, backpackers and travellers from Port Douglas and other parts of the country and world had moved there for the spring/summer. The weather was more conducive to minimal clothing, swimming, and partying. The days were becoming longer, more sunshine hours brought more outdoor activities, and a palatable joy was present wherever you went.
We all had our agendas when we arrived in Byron Bay, some making it clear that Sydney was their destination. Others like me knew that they wanted to stop moving and assimilate with the effervescence that bubbled up everywhere you went in Byron. I fell in love with that town in 1997. I know from friends who live in the region today that those glory days I knew are gone. Gentrification and modernisation of the township would make it unrecognisable to me now if I moved there. In 2020 I had the feeling to do just that. Not move to Byron, but the region, somewhere near the border with Queensland. Yet, as I write this totalitarianism is lurching up from Sydney under the guise of the health crisis. Byron region hasn’t been affected by the despotism taking place in the major cities of Australia, and the freedoms that people enjoy in this region cannot be tolerated by those who crave to enslave humanity. If these people remain unaffected by the encroaching tyranny, then people will move out of the cities and into areas like Byron where they can be free. If a government’s agenda is one of greater control, you have to take action against those who wield their freedoms, often through force or coercion. All of this makes the time I was there even more magical to me. It was like being in another world, another time, a Golden Age.
In late 1997 I moved into the Bunkhouse, living there for the duration of my time in Byron. The dormitory I was in had twenty bunks. South Africans, English, Latin Americans, Australians were my roommates and new compadres. Almost all the people living in my dorm were permanent residents working in the township, long-term stayers and I created some fond memories with them (some of which I will share in another blog). The confidence that came with my ability to create that I had discovered in Port Douglas soon saw me making friends with many restaurant owners, and workers in hospitality. I didn’t have to work, my time on the movie had been profitable and had enough money to travel for another few months, but my heart opened and blossomed in that scene. Hospitality had been my jam for five years before I began to work on film, so I understood the long hours, the stressors, and the machinations of the industry. I provided welcome relief to those that I connected within this environment. Meeting them after work so we would go on random adventures. The most willing fellow adventurer being a waitress named Michelle Davis, who I got to know well over my time in Byron. Saying farewell to her when I left for Sydney created a vacuum in my heart. Her authenticity inspired me to find mine, and it’s no stretch to say that I considered staying to be with her even when I was involved with someone else. Fleeting travel romances were what fuelled my fire for so long. My childhood woundings kept me afraid of abandonment and rejection, so my relationships generally would be short. Michelle’s calmness and realness made my feel safe in my vulnerability, and looking back, I wonder what my life would have been like had I made a different choice. Feeling into that flow between us with the consciousness I have now it feels like we could have built something powerful together. I had found someone patient, compassionate and strong enough to hear me, and see my frightened inner child and coax him out of his hiding place to heal.
I had left Byron Bay in a late winter conscious of the spiritual nature of my existence, but my return to Byron had come with the trappings of a rampant ego. The troupe of gorgeous and hilarious men I was travelling with meant that we were always the centre of attention wherever we went. Everything fell at our feet and it was easy to be grateful and hard to be humble. It was the appearance of two remarkable and wondrous women that arrived at the bunkhouse who would hold a mirror up to me, showing me all that I had forgotten about my true nature, who would magnetise me back to my lodgings. Kirsten and Daniela arrived around the same time, but it was Kirsten’s placement in my dormitory that caught my immediate attention. Acting with the bravado of fearlessness, I made a ridiculous and humorous play for her attention. Getting it, I told her that if she wanted to join me at Magnums (nightclub) later that night, she would be welcome. When she walked into the club I hid in the corner of the dance floor with my South African surfer friends, anticipating that she had come along unimpressed with my ‘peanut butter’ request (don’t ask). She found me, asked me to honour my solicitation, thankfully I didn’t have to… and we became lovers for six uplifting weeks. Kirsten would be instrumental in triggering some big questions in me. She spellbound me in with her grace, fearlessness, and capacity to open her mind and heart. She would be at my side and I at hers when I came to understand and acknowledge the most profound realisation about energetic sexual connection. Learning where the sacred and divine coalesced in the human form and how to honour this union propelled me into enlightened sex and deep vulnerability. It would take an old friend from Port Douglas and someone I had written a letter to in Byron during the winter of 1997 to align me with an essential truth that would change my life completely.