Seven Island Sojourn

Back on the island continent of Australia (well actually it is an archipelago of over 8000 islands) we realize our journey this year has taken us to seven islands: Manhattan, Newfoundland, Fogo Island, Gaultois on Long Island, Montreal, Beqa Island in Fiji and Terra Australis.

From the Southern to the Northern Hemispheres we have delighted in the warmth and fellowship of these small and large, very diverse island communities. From the soul stirring Harlem Baptist gospel to the gentle harmonies of a Fijian Methodist choir, from Atlantic Ocean outports to villages in the South Pacific reached only by ferry and boat – we marveled at the similarities and differences across this beautiful planet.

After passing through Los Angeles, finishing our 3 month sojourn in Fiji was a restful way to transit back. We discovered the joys of kayaking – paddling in perfect synchronicity and snorkeling the Beqa coral reefs floating through hundreds of multi-coloured fish and corals and even coming eye to eye with a turtle! Kulu Bay Resort is a small, non commercial village of 7 solar powered beach front bures – no shops, phone, TV or internet and run by the residents of the local village from the next cove. The villagers were very generous in the sharing of their culture and we attended the church service and were greeted at the village school with a concert by the children.

Whatever the reason that brought one of these women to our bure they always took the time to flop down into a chair and have a chat, curious of the world away from their ocean locked island. It was encouraging to hear that the minimalist nature of this low impact ‘resort’ was enabling the village to bring in septic systems, build a community hall and in general enable them to maintain houses and boats and therefore maintain an intact village culture in a modern world. Every performance and sharing of their culture was earmarked to fund a village project. It is challenging to travel as a relatively wealthy Australian in low income countries but this was the closest to a win-win you could hope for.

Beqa (pronounced “Benga”) Island is where the gift of fire walking was given to the local tribe by the giant eel many generations ago. Former cannibals, the custom was to cook the hapless person who had broken ‘the rules’ and after feasting the nominated members of the tribe would walk on the hot coals…We were treated to a fire walking ceremony without the prior feasting! Some locals say this is what evolved the Fijians into such polite and hospitable folk. Sharon, a wonderfully gracious and regal woman, took it upon herself to lay healing hands on our snorkeling sunburn, which healed remarkably. This capacity to remove the fire from burns was given to the people at the same time as the firewalking. What a touch! Sharon strongly recommends finding a Beqan Islander in the event of a major burn where ever you may be…

After 6 nights on this idyllic island we were farewelled with songs and leis and after a 30 minute boat ride, 2 hour taxi ride to airport and 5 hour flight we find ourselves back on terra firma in Springtime Melbourne.

Wonderful to be home on this the seventh island of our journeying, sharing time with our precious family and loving friends. Crow Kiah is green and lush with spring in her step. We have shared Lucius’s ninth birthday and attended the ‘Concert for the Kimberley’, the culmination of Jaxon’s project of the last four months. Blessed we are indeed!

Thanks to you all for travelling with us. It makes the adventure all the more richer. Nettie and Fran xxx

Take heed all who enter here

For this little place has been chosen to represent

A hallowed site.

My people say all things have a Spirit.

I say that Spirit is only separated by a heartbeat.

No Spirit can be given life here on Monther Earth and not

Leave behind some trace of that life when it is done here.

So it is with the Beothuk.

Listen to that part of you that is still Spirit……….

 First verse of poem written by Marie Eastman from Exploits Native Women’s Drummers and Singers Group for the Beothuk Archeological Site on Newfoundland (this is an hour’s drive north from our cabin)



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