“I’m going to see Buddha if it kills me! It should be right around here.”
It’s a bit of a cliché to start off a sentence with “It’s a bit of a cliché…” but…
It’s a bit of a cliché to call a hill “rolling”, but the bubbling green mounds around Sellick’s Beach’s Nan Hai Pu Tuo Buddhist Temple really do roll. They roll softly and surely down, down, down to the sea, breaking off in sheer cliffs at the edge of grey water. A small, red farm house sits in the middle of one of these grassy cushions. No doubt, a black and white sheep dog bounds around there on sunny days, happy as Larry.
Between the sea-side Temple and Victor Harbor, across the breadth of the Fleurieu Peninsula, there is a long, winding road. It cuts through great swathes of barely contained country-side; an almost pre-colonial bubble of Australia. It’s a road I’d never driven before this past week, and one that felt like a path to a whole new world. I was “travelling” again, feeling that same pulse of adventurous exhilaration that I felt almost a year ago as I bounced from train to train, town to town and country to country. This little word was less than a forty minute drive from my own home.
A Good Excuse for an Adventure
The Spanish mystery woman (who has been part of the romantic subplot behind this blog since its inception) has just arrived. Two weeks ago I welcomed her to Adelaide Airport, beating back the clouds of uncertainty, doubt and dreaminess. “How can this be real? How can I be so lucky?” After leaving the south of Spain in January, it was really up in the air as to whether or not our paths would cross again… until she was up in the air and flying to my rainy city Down-Under. There ya’ go, kiddies. Nothing is hopeless. Don’t forget.
After an anxious six month wait, her arrival has given me the excuse I needed to get off my ass, leave the home-office and go travelling again. Sure, I’m not going as far afield as I did last year, but with a foreign set of eyes at my side, and the eyes in my own head still not totally re-adjusted to Australia, every little outing has felt novel, exciting. Even places like Hahndorf or Stirling, where I’ve lived most of my life, appear as flashy tourist spots worthy of cheesy photos. Places I’ve never visited before, such as the eerily empty Hindmarsh Island, seem completely alien, even if I’ve lived an hour or so away for years.
It’s all to easy to feel trapped, all to easy to repeat the same cycle and same path day in and day out. In fact, our industrial world demands it. But even with the briefest escape from the cyclical drudgery of every day, you can be recharged, refreshed and even shocked at what you might find.
Further is a Place
In a fuelled up Toyota Yaris, we set out on Saturday morning from the Hills. “We’re going to go see the Buddha.” I said. The deep sounds of Voices From the Lake played out of the stereo speakers. The grey sky thrummed along to the beat.
Our first stop, which we reached around the time S.T started to play, was Strathalbyn. Once rumoured to be the suicide capital of South Australia, the town was cheery with bleating cockatoos. We didn’t stop at the river, but I had enough fond memories of the duck-filled water to give my companion the low-down.
We hit Goolwa, a small sea-side town, not long after to find a craft fair in the works. With a vanilla-scented candle now in hand, we rushed across the oddly thin and spine-like bridge to Hindmarsh Island, the huge, land-locked island and home to the mighty Murray Mouth. There, among cows, trees and eery silence, we watched fisherman unload sacks of catch from the steel-coloured sea.
Port Elliot and Victor Harbor crept past silently and without much trouble. The two towns were full, yet empty at the same time, with a dull melancholy hanging over both. The gaudy lights of the Victor Harbor fair rides glittered as we left for brighter corners.
And this is where the adventure really started for me. We took one long road out from Victor to cut straight across the Peninsula. Like a hot knife, we slid surprisingly quickly through the land.
We drove through dramatic hills and dark gum shrub. Somehow, we’d found ourselves in a time before mass-development and farming. Even a few minutes out of a highly populated town, we’d wandered into perfect wilderness, free from poison.
Like all good adventures we soon took a wrong turn, which landed us in Myponga, a lake-side town which is the home of the world’s cutest brewery. The Smiling Samoyed greeted us with mucho fluff and tasty, cold brews. It took a while to rip our hands free from the soft, white fur, but eventually we moved on and found the Buddha.
Well, at least we saw its butt.
The giant Buddha of Sellick’s Hill is a beautiful work of craftsmanship and faith. It stands, overlooking the wide sea and beaches below, holding out a peaceful hand to let us all now that things will be alright. Someday. Construction around the site prevented us from getting a good look at its face, but just knowing that we’d made it, circled the Peninsula to see a giant marble butt, was worth it. It was beautiful.
On the Road Again
So I’ll admit to being a bit slack lately. A bit of toxin has seeped into my brain and my habits over the past month. Even though I’ve never been more busy with professional writing, I also feel as if I’ve never been more lazy in my craft. I’ve let life take over a bit too much, which is important at times, but definitely damages the flow of writing.
In fact, writing this has been a bit of a struggle. Normally, I can blast these sort of stories out in an hour or so, but here I am, still umming and ahhing and trying to get my fingers to tap out a decent rhythm. But I’m glad to be back on the road after this creative hiatus. I’m glad to be back on the writing road and the driving road, writing out fiction and screaming ’round bends. I’m kicking the cyclical drudgery. It all starts with one step after all.
It helps to have a goal of course. You have to find your Buddha butt before you can begin travelling towards it.
And so on I go, back on the road again and ready for more adventure!