Tag Archives: Religion and Spirituality

Have you ever swum in a tea tree lake?

Until last week, I hadn’t either. I don’t think I ever actually knew that they existed. There are a few dotted around the Byron Shire area of New South Wales in Australia, so after a busy morning working and sweating in high humidity, I decided that I would wash away the day with a dip in a nearby tea tree lake. I also hoped that it might give my skin a bit of a treat.


Edges of the tea tree lake, NSW, Australia


On the banks of the tea tree lake, NSW, Australia

The previous night had brought with it a storm straight out of the movies; sheet lightning blinding the sky, building thunder rumbles. And lots of rain. The tea tree lake was bound to be full.

Off I set along the beach, a wide and perfectly sandy stretch of seashore. I scuffed my feet along the fine grains, never tiring of the squeaking sound. Such simple things.

The first post-storm sign was at the mouth of the lake-to-sea-stream; often running dry or as a gentle trickle, today this bubbling cola mix that I had mistaken for sewerage when I first arrived was ripping apart the sandbanks as it surged and blended with the warm, blue ocean. Not that the sea gulls cared: they clustered and bobbed around, seemingly enjoying the frothy, health-giving mixture.


Gone swimming! By the tea tree lake, NSW

‘It’s the best time to be out here’, said a local guy who showed up just as I was chilling out by myself in the shallow depths of an area that is often empty. His lips were zinced white. ‘Tide’s going out so it pulls away all the algae’ he added.

It made me wonder: if algae was best avoided, what else should I be aware of in this place? I’d already asked some friends whether there was anything to watch out for and they had been pretty blasé. Sure there were snakes in the bush, but just don’t trample around into the bush.

When I’d arrived at the river and headed up towards the lake, I basically got stuck. Levels were too high not to go into the bush. So I had paddled up river and settled on a spot just short of the main lake.

So is there anything in the water that I should look out for?’ I asked Mr. White Lips. It turns out not. He ducked under, splashed around a bit, we chatted and then he left me once again to my solitude.


Taking a moment to observe, think and be

Warmer waters skimmed the surface, cooler currents pushed through underneath. I submerged myself, assured that all the little fish were harmless and that no nasties were going to interrupt my Zen state of play.

I sat in the shallows and listened and watched. The sound of the ocean was less audible, even the bird song seemed to melt into the distance as the splendour of the sun shining through clear red and yellow and green tinted waters dominated. A visual treat. And so peaceful.


Colours and reflection in the tea tree lake, NSW


Colours and reflection in the tea tree lake, NSW

I expected, no, hoped to emerge an oil covered, beautifully skinned being. Neither happened.


Filed under activity & sport, australia, beaches, health

Guest Session: The Spirit Festival liberates more than just the yogi

Featured writer: Chad Kolcze

Whatever your perception of the Spirit Festival, whatever your inhibitions or expectations were, the weekend long multi-venue event in Mullumbimby left spirits high for all involved.

As your common Byron Shire surfer, teacher and beer drinker, I wouldn’t class myself as a devoted spiritual guru or devoted yogi by any means. And as a regular guy, that includes the odd yoga class every now and then. I was pleasantly surprised and grateful for experiences I was offered and the diversity of classes that made me look inward rather than out for a change.

There were 22 different sessions offered on the half day Friday (not including the high-spirited good times had during the evening concerts). Plus, 43 sessions on the programme for Saturday and equal number on the Sunday. A third in attendance were beautiful men and the rest were radiating females exploring their divine feminine.

Filled with caring compassionate everyday people, I was amazed at the lack of hippy-trippy patchouli oil smelling folk I thought I would see there. Instead it was genuine, bright-eyed, smiling faces dressed in modern colourful sport wear and talking excitedly about the experience they just had at one of the many sessions on offer. Mix in the colour of the peace flags, the Tee-Pee’s, the colour of the graceful skies and the opposing healthy green grass or the many rugs and cushions that were on offer for all and I found a truly well decorated and catered for event.

Of course the expectations of great tasting, super nutritious food was met. There were also stall holders selling their products, others offering various therapies or spiritual readings etc. However they weren’t the focus. The focus was very much on the programmed sessions, the entertainment and the gurus who made them a reality. The level of professionalism and knowledge shown by these teachers/spiritual practitioners was very deep, very much like a university professor or TED speaker. They offered very informative and well lead journeys for the punter to embrace through mind, body and consciousness.

I was one for one, after experiencing Darpan’s ‘Shamanic Sound Journey’ class. This was the very first class I under took and I had my first positive journey for the weekend. He was able to tap into this body that I carry around day-to-day and predominately use only for external use, looking, seeing, touching and so forth. And open me up to expose the beauty of looking inside my exo-skeleton and the senses/ power/ energy within. And since doing so, it may have helped me find the love in my heart that’s been missing for many years.

Another highlight for many who packed the venue, beyond its capacity, was ‘The Future Sound of Yoga’. A modern yoga delivery that combines a DJ  like character offering wicked symphonic and electro sounds, combined with the gorgeous passionate smiling Angel as facilitator. They offered yoga poses and dance steps to be conducted with free expression yet offering a basis of directed movement. And so the list of amazing classes went on; the renowned yoga guru’s educated in ancient languages such as Sanskrit doing their bit, Tigress yoga aimed at empowering the feminine, Women’s only Tantra or mixed Tantra sessions,  yoga in the public pool, belly dancing in the Drill Hall, Kirtan in the open, Goyto Monks humming their mantras and chai tea everywhere.

However, it was the Mullum High School Hall that was the focal point once the sun went down. Saturday’s headlining act, Deva Premal, exposed me to Kirtan and the empowerment of vocalizing mantras. All good stuff, but the more familiar all out dance sessions on Friday and Sunday nights was more my cup of tea. Thanks to OKA, Deya Dova and Future Sound of Yoga, the transformed school hall was alive with a packed house moving like perfect swell hitting a reef break. Perhaps high on chai tea, or whatever, undisputedly the dance floor was absolutely pumping yet no one was inebriated.

The Spirit Festival, as participated by a regular Byron local like myself, was one of the best festivals I have experienced in my life. I met so many genuinely gorgeous people, experienced new things, expanded my perceptions and explored my conscious being.

I also spoke with the festival organizers and they indicated it was a successful first year, on many levels. They were exceptionally pleased that they could offer several volunteer performers, part of proceeds that were raised from high ticket sales after all.

The Spirit Festival was a positive result for more than just the yoga community it perceived to target. It offered an abundance of joy and experience to the broader community for all walks of life who bought a ticket, the teachers and performers, the organizers and the town of  Mullumbimby itself…



Chad is a keen surfer and skater and a good guy all the way. And open minded enough to open up to the Spirit Festival. Chad is also an Australian writer and the founder of Active Kids Books. He draws inspiration from his interesting and varied life as a sponsored snowboarder, footballer, fitness instructor, business owner, PDHPE teacher and father. His books aim to challenge the lack of sports related picture books for children. Currently available: Skate Session and Surf Safari. Check out the website and video on the front page for more info.

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Filed under australia, culture, dancing, festivals, guest posts