Friday, December 09, 2011

Australian Rainbow Gathering

We recently returned from a somewhat epic camping adventure to the Australian Rainbow Gathering in the Hunter Valley region of NSW.  We had to travel to Sydney to get documentation of Ari's American citizenship and to apply for his passport (both of which involve lots of paperwork and an incredibly annoying trip to downtown Sydney) so we decided to drive the two hours north out of Sydney to get to our first Gathering in about six years!  The site was on private land and about 130 people came together to camp, eat, swim, workshop, converse, make music, relax, retreat and rejuvenate.  It was good fun as usual and we ended up camping for nine days, in part because the road out became impassable in a two wheel drive vehicle for the last few days of our stay due to heavy rains!  I didn't take very many photos but here are a few of the best:

A camp chair makes a great improv bassinet!

It was a beautiful site and we spent lots of time by the river to keep cool and splash with the other kids in camp.  Brian and Ari enjoy a swing in our hammock. 

Our little mimic washes his shirt in the river.

Wirunga, an aboriginal elder, kindly led a children's ritual similar to one he experienced as a small boy.  The children all sat together on a blanket while parents daubed dots of red, yellow and white ochre on their faces representing earth, sun and spirit.  When he finished he gave a gift to each child, boomerangs for the boys and small paintings for the girls.  Very special!

The youngest child at the Gathering, Ari slept through the ritual but was painted just the same. 

Dad has a cuddle while mama has a swim

Sleepy smiles in mama's lap

All tuckered out in the tent.  Thanks to Beth for loaning us a family sized tent and toddler gear for our first family camping experience!

Going to a Gathering with children was a very different experience to what I've known previously. Normally I'd get out and about a lot more (working in the kitchen, drumming, socializing and dancing after the evening meal circle) but I spent a lot of time at our camp nursing babies and getting them to sleep. There were good things about that too though in that we really connected with the other families and enjoyed making new friends.  It wasn't an easy nine days though - some extreme heat (for my Minnesota blood anyway) and some rainy days stuck in the tent proved difficult for me.  Not to mention the fact that I had two little people glued to me almost nonstop including a toddler who was ultra clingy, presumably from being in a new environment and still adjusting to life with a sibling. People keep commenting on how brave we are to have taken a newborn backcountry camping but at least at a Gathering, all necessities are taken care of - yummy food twice a day and filtered water for example, so it wasn't as difficult as going it alone would be.  Nonetheless, it's good to be home! 


  1. Taking Teagan at 9-months was one of the most challenging and rewarding things I have done and could not have done without your loving support and presencea and the kind generous Rainbow family. Can't wait for our next gathering together. Spoiled. Want you there! June 2012 is looking good ;)

  2. WOW! What an adventure ;-)

  3. Was so great to see you there!

  4. Yes West Virginia was awesome with you there Heather - can't wait to do it again! Now I understand how challenging it must have been for you! Ela, great to see you and Sequoia again too!