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Saturday, June 27, 2009

A crazy place called Laura

Friday the 19th of June. We left the tropics and were bound for Cooktown. This would be the furthest north we would get on this roadtrip. Seeing as though a 4-wheel-drive is needed to get up anywhere near the top of Cape York (most northerly point of Queensland). Little old Myvan wouldn't be capable of driving on unsealed roads, well not for a great distance anyhow.

But back to Friday, the craziest day by far. We had planned to reach Cooktown, but the coarse of action changed, as we stopped randomly at a scenic look-out on the top of a hill, and got chatting to a French couple. They were heading to the Laura Dance Festival. We didn't know what it was about, but it seemed like an amazing event, in an extremely deserted place called Laura, that's only accessible with a 4-wheel-drive. We thought that it would be far too risky to try driving the van to such a remote place on extremely bad and unsealed roads. But it was only 60 km's off the track from where we were heading.. It was a once in a lifetime chance, mainly due to the fact that this festival is only held once every 2 years and it's extremely popular and it was starting on that very same day! Oh god.. we were so torn. We didn't know what was best to do.. To take a risk of having some problems with the van, be stuck somewhere remote without any coverage on our phones and spend quite a lot money getting there, with fuel and the tickets too? Or just be sensible and head to Cooktown, knowing we'd get there in one piece and still have money in the end?
Well, we aren't ones to shy away from a challenge, and thought it was far too much of a coincidence for us to be so close to such an event and not go. So we took a big risk, and took the turn-off to Laura.. We were just going with the fancy of the moment..!

And what a moment it was.. or momentsssss I mean. The road was unsealed for most of the way, the van was rattling like crazy, the dust was hurrendous, the sun was setting, we had to speed along to make it before sunset because the fuses in the van kept on going, which meant we wouldn't have had any lights, and the kangaroos were about the make their appearance too.. We were flung from one end of the van to the other.. and were totally strung out.. BUT WE MADE IT!!! And you never guess what.. when we got there, we couldn't get in because we didn't have any cash.. There was nowhere for another 15 km's, for us to get money from an ATM. Oh my god. I really thought, whilst driving along more dirtroads and being thrown about just a little bit more, that that was the time we were either going to breakdown or run over a kangaroo and get thrown off the road ourselves. But it wasn't. Halleluja!! Instead we seen the most remote little place, we had ever been. We were in search of the gasstation for this atm machine, and before we knew what was happening, the road got dark and seemed to vanish and we were driving along a creekbed, just hoping we were heading in the right direction. It freaked me out massively. But around the corner, there actually was a gas station and an ATM.. Thank the lord once more... It was the weirdest drive I've had in all my life. And one of the craziest. But we managed to get money out, and made it back to the festival and we couldn't have been happier..

The festival was amazing. It was something I've never experienced before. It was an indigenous festival, with dance competitions. The competitors were Aboriginal tribes from all over Queensland. It was like ceremonies from way back when. They performed these acts, and actually looked like the aborignal people everybody thinks of, when thinking of Australia. It was so special. And the idea behind it was so inspiring. It basically was an event to support these tribes and for them to show others what it means to be apart of a tribe. They are so proud and are proper bush people and they aim to keep their traditions alive, just like any culture does. The moral behind it was beautiful. And I couldn't quite believe I was there, seeing how these Aboriginal people keep their culture going, from one generation to the next. Here in Australia so many people have a certain opinion of them, but seeing them and hearing them speak over the microphone about their culture and what it means to them, and how they seek support and how proud they are, even when so often being treated like foreigners in their own land, really struck a cord. Not only to see these performances and these people and to hear their words, but also the vibe of the festival. It was drug and alcohol free, which was so great. There were around 4000 people camping and there was so much togetherness there. I'd never been apart of something like that before. And it opened my eyes in so many ways.

It lasted 3 days, Sunday afternoon it was all over. It went by so fast, we met some great and inspiring people and the whole experience just overwhelmed us both. So much so, that at one stage I could hardly take it anymore. I was so effected by where we were and by what was going on that it all got a bit too much. As well as the heat, there were so many mixed emotions. But nothing that a jump in the river and a time-out wouldn't fix. What a trip.. that's all I can say..
We left on Sunday afternoon (21st) on a massive high, and pretty drained.. But so grateful for having met that French couple at the scenice look-out who gave us the idea of going.. So so grateful..

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