Burning Seed 2015: Where ‘I’ became ‘we’

These are just perspectives and interpretations of events as they occurred at Australia’s Burning Seed experimental community and arts festival, Red Earth City, or Matong State Forest, NSW, Sept. 30 – Oct. 5, 2015. This is not how things happen there. There is no way to complete with words, photos or any other kind of media the fullness and spontaneity of a burn. Any ideas above and below are arguable from infinite other perspectives.

The commonest element among those at Burning Seed was a burning desire to express. Ideas, I guess, at the core of these expressions’ manifestations, emanating in all to be considered a gesture. Smiles, greetings, hugs, discussions, music, drawing, painting, fire, nudity, coffee, beer, etc. (‘etc.’ being the keyword, because there was a lot of different stuff happening.) I, along with other ‘virgins’, quickly deduced that a primary motivation to continually express is through others, making yourself and everyone around you feel good enough to keep giving. Kind of like a glowing, pulsing circle, with colours like the sun.

We got there on Wednesday, the first official festival day. Others with early entry passes had been there for days already, assisting the establishment of theme camps and facilities. It was about 17.30 when we assumed our position in the line of campers, vans, utes, sedans, hatchbacks, 4WD etc. which eventually extended almost to the gate, two kilometres down the road from the gate. The virgins were the hold-up: just before entering, we were filtered into a left lane where we were greeted with a glowing “WELCOME HOME!” from the volunteer gate crew, then directed to the bell, which we had to hit with a stick to lose our virginity.


That first night I wandered off only for a short while, probably until only 21.30. I hadn’t slept much the night before. We’d camped just outside of Goulburn, arriving too late for me to be bothered to set up my tent but also because I wanted to try out my sleeping bag in the potential rain, because its outer shell was meant to be able to withstand a certain density of moisture. I rolled it out, the to-a-certain-degree-water-proof Carinthia Defence 4, comfortable until many degrees below zero Celsius. It was a personal purchase that reached that gift-level excitement, a kid-like kind, which is only exhausted from testing the limits of this new toy, probably or inevitably until it breaks. But after a few tens-of-minutes lying outside alone with an icy moonlight shimmering about me, I quickly decided that I would wake up wet. Early my new Polish friend Sara had offered me a space in her tent, which she was bothered to set up. I hopped across the campsite in my sleeping bag to her tent and felt a silent admiration for her initiative setting it up in the dark and not just sleeping in the car.

I didn’t sleep well, for some reason, so woke first the Wednesday morning. At sleepover parties I was one of those kids who woke up first and sat around wondering what to do in this strange, quiet place. In this case, the strange, quiet place was Sara’s tent. Even though I couldn’t work out exactly why, it felt kind of weird lying next to someone I had only met yesterday sleeping. So I rolled out onto the dewy, but not wet, grass.

“Booph,” was probably like the noise I made. That exhale of amazement and surprise at stuff that’s big. I’d slept on ocean vistas before, but never across a landscape that extends so far it begins to look like the ocean, or at least a painting. For about one-and-a-half hours I watched the fogs whirl in the wind and gaps in the clouds make gold on the ground between the greys and greens. The below photo was taken about one-and-a-half hours beyond the described sight, because my camera was in the car, the keys to which were with Angus, sleeping. I didn’t want to wake him up, so I didn’t ask him for my camera. But I showed my companions that salt, pepper and lemon juice on black rye bread goes very okay for breakfast indeed.


Goulburn vista.

Then we went through Yass where I got an apple turnover so good I texted my friend about it, and Angus and Marius from Berlin together bought probably six $0.49 pea-and-zucchini soups from IGA. Hightailed it to Wagga Wagga where we bought all the supplies we thought we’d need until Sunday. The idea we operated on was that underpreparation was inexcusable and we should always have enough to feed us four. Any food we get given to us for free at the Seed we’d return to the community from our own stash to keep the economy of goodwill wheels turning.

We went a roundabout way there, but arrived with sunset to spare. People realised the line was gonna go for a while so everyone got out of their vehicles and started walking up and down the road, mingling. I met people in this line – guys like Brian, a local landowner supporting the vent, Shae, a graphic design student from Melbourne with an Olympus-and-a-half-of-a-camera, and many others offering everyone all kinds of goodies – that I’d meet again inside the gates over the next five days and remember where I met them, something about them, and most of their names.


More entry.

I went to bed that night after standing there with a smile on my face inside the Trash Mansion, a bar where people were dancing in a way I came to understand. Yes, at this festival, I learned how to fucking love dancing.

But it was time to go to bed. Too much recently sitting alone in dark rooms doing uni work had screwed with my social competency, so I was standing around not really doing much, smiling alone, watching the dancers.

I don’t think that’s a weird thing to say, either. Any inordinate amount of time spent doing anything, work or play, in front of bright blue LCD screens, is gonna fuck with anyone’s mood. For some reason, my screen time had increased toward the end of the first half of my final semester and I’d just spent a night and day with people and landscapes on the way to Burning Seed, not staring at any screens at all. Melodrama unintended, but my mind was beginning to heal, a processed enhanced by watching people have fun. When you see people having fun – not nightclub kinda fun – dancing, it is a most joyous sight.

Bed. Tent. Set-up earlier. World’s cosiest sleeping bag to nestle into. Comfy. Music in the air and underneath, through and out me. I’d never tried sleeping to such boom before. It was loud, but somehow relaxing. It didn’t reverberate in a tin can, marble auditorium or acoustically sound-material anything – the music pounded through the air and earth, a glitter of voices and frogs on the edge of the swamp where the tent was, whatever other echoes of the night, too, and because I was exhausted and it wasn’t such an unpleasant sound, I fell asleep before and knowing it…

… awoke. “How long did I sleep?” was a hard question, because there was still pounding music, chatter and frogs croaking. It felt like no time had passed, because those same sounds were still all there. In my dark little sleeping bag away from the cold I convinced myself I’d had no sleep at all and tonight and every other night would be the same, at least until I lost consciousness. Dread crept my psyche when I realised that I was basically stuck here without nights to call sleep. Every day during semester I’d severely grasped for sleep – bed by 21.30, awake by6.30 because that’s when you catch just a good a’nuf amount of genuine sunrise, that premium, unvarnished sight. It was never healthy to stay up late, I somehow believed, even though one of the happiest times in my life was during an extended period of consistently staying up later with an international bunch of students in Nice, France for four months. To those of that bunch, I thank you for your friendship and community.

But I digress. Waking up: sunrise, which is strange, because that means – surely I couldn’t have slept all the way through that? Maybe they’ve turned their big fat lights on to match their big fat sounds –and other irrational semi-fugue-state early-morning thoughts – no, sunrise. I get up, walk around, try remember an instance where I woke up during the evening, but I couldn’t think of one. One of my best sleeps in a long time.


Camp life.

Teeth-brushing didn’t feel bad. It was the first time I’d done it since Tuesday morning, it now being Thursday morning. Many times I’d gone 24 hours without brushing my teeth, but 48 hours? Man, your mouth is a sphincter.

Teeth clean, thongs on. Lights? Check. Camera? Check. Action!

I walked left down Gandhi Rd from Theme Camp #22, Music, Medicine, Magic. Those were the guys I was bunking with. It was recommended to me sometime during the lead-up to Burning Seed to get involved in a theme camp. It assisted first-timers’ introduction to the ethos of the community-at-large, but also became a sort of refuge, like home. It was a place to make friends and learn from them, cook and share meals together. I, on the other hand, missed breakfast so many mornings and dinner so many nights, because I decided on these breezy morning walks as soon as I woke up every morning and always came back when all the food was gone. There weren’t many days I ate a lot. It’s not that I decided to fast or anything, just forgot to eat because the spritely energy about the place was enough that food rarely crossed my mind.

No matter. But back on the matter of brushing my teeth, I didn’t have a shower from Wednesday to Monday. There were a few early days, like Thursday and Friday where I wondered when that greasy full-bodied exidermal layer would form and hellbent psychological clamour for soapy cleanliness would set in, but those things didn’t happen.

So I walked left down Gandhi and right onto Franklin across the field with Saturday’s effigy to be burned at my left. It was there assembled when we arrived and remained assembled until it burned. People hung around it for closer looks all the time and I always almost walked over to join them, but always told myself I’d do it later. It would be the first of many things I said I’d do later during the next few days, all while they ticked closer to the week’s and Burning Seed’s end. The inevitable dissipation of its expanding and densifying, warm and cloudy atmosphere I expect haunted some, but – I know it’s a wretched cliché – for most, the beginning wasn’t about the end, but the destinations in between.

Down Franklin and right onto Mandela, walked past Theme Camp #12 Hampsters Without Borders. Someone from within smiled at me so I smiled back and that’d happened a few times so far, it occurred to me. The next few hours are hazy because I don’t have photos of them. Life and times there got that way. There’s plenty I’ve forgotten, but the notion of forgetting seems second to that of thinking of what I remember. It’s impossible to expect even the most photographic of memories to exhaustively detail such an energetic environment.

But the next burst of photos I took were of some musicians back at the Chai Tent, our informal name for Theme Camp #22 Music, Medicine, Magic. Some rhythmic chanting encircled by a variety of handstruck percussion, before a girl comes around and asks if she can fit her cello in the mix.


Wandering cellist’s cello obscured at far left.

Then a wander to ‘The Consent Tree’, Artery Site #8. There were 47 art installations about Red Earth City, a healthy most of them being interactive, or at least active, like in terms of explosions of fire etc. Here are #8’s instructions:

The Consent Tree
Welcome to the Consent Tree, you’re here to make communicating about ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ is) fun and cheeky and playful. Feel free to leave your offerings to the tree, and don’t forget to visit her at night and make use of one of her glasses.
Step 1: Seek your questions on the leaves of the branches.
(If you don’t find them there, create your own)
Step 2: Take your partner(s) to the question, and see if they ring the bell with a FUCK YES!
Step 3: If it’s not a FUCK YES! Let them chose [sic] an alternative, rinse and repeat till you’ve found your way (“can I please escape this game” is an option)
Step 4: Please remember this is a game, and consent is a bell that can be un-rung at any point in time. Have fun- and remember, it’s heaps more fun if we can talk about it.
Consent is NECESSARY, let’s work on making it sexy too.

I walked up to the tree. ‘Can you forgive Tony Abbott?’, with an illustration of the former prime minister at the bottom of the purple felt love heart, amused me. I appreciated the bluntness of ‘Can we take our clothes off please?’, the childish: ‘Can I blow you a raspberry?’ and the tender: ‘Can I see you again?’

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Then further along Mandela to Theme Camp #48, Wombat Manor, which I was drawn toward for its bookcase within. The top and bottom two shelves were full of books like Brave New World and The God Delusion, but also Siddhartha and Wuthering Heights. On the shelf second-from-the-top were bottles of alcohol – red, white, champagne and 55% French liqueur called Chartreuse. It was enshrouded by a probably 4x8m marquee tent, the kind like at outdoor weddings to put food under. Within its left was a coffee table surrounded by lounge chairs, bookshelf in the centre on the far wall, on the right multi-coloured cushions on mats and a loveseat. Speckled with people seated as I approached, they arose in chorus – “Welcome, welcome, WELCOOOOME!!!” – before bubbling down to chuckle. “We’re still working on it,” one tells me as I sit down.

“You got a cup?” I’m asked, as the Chartreuse is produced. I didn’t, I said, because I was still getting used to remembering my cup. That’s one thing you’ve gotta make sure you have there, because nobody will be able to pour you drinks without it. It’s kind of like a staple of personal responsibility there, bringing a cup around. It’s part of ensuring you don’t rely on others. I was happy not to drink because I forgot my cup, but that would not do, they said, so they poured me some of the little green drink in a shot glass. (But always bring your cup.)

Sat around for a while talking with molecular biologist and philosopher Shane. He’d contributed Brave New World to the bookshelf and we got onto which is more correct in its hypotheses: 1984 or Brave New World? In the context of why you’d put Brave New World on the shelf and not 1984. It was his contention that neither one hits any nail on the head better than the other – they weren’t penned from perspectives of the same class or culture, so they can’t quite ever be fully compared. George Orwell wasn’t going to view systems of authority and power the same Aldous Huxley did. The ideas of Burning Seed as they were spawned and discussed would be great to follow indeed.

To my right was Maria, the mind behind The Manor. I asked her what led to the production of this tent? Where did the idea come from? So related the story of her father’s passing a number of years ago, signalling the beginning of a trialling grief for her. Sharing his memory, she realised, was a curative process, so recalling his interests, lifestyle and persona, she designed The Wombat Manor as a testament to his character, a place where as many curious people as possible could share in her memories of him.

The cops pulled around in a station wagon, but it fazed no one. “I don’t think they’re doing much,” said one man, wearing a sailor jacket. Said another, “Last year they took a picture of me and my unicorn,” a statement of a nature that became less and less surprising. I left The Manor as Cards Against Humanity was played in a circle on the floor.

Headed back to the Chai Tent via a sweet-smelling Wiradjuri smoking ceremony. The smoke was not of the harsh kind that dries the eyes, sears the nostrils and parches the throat. A revolving, spiralling circle of people moved closer to and away from the fire, fanned and maintained by the Wiradjuri. Back at the tent I heard a drum circle across the sunset to my right as I faced the marshes, so I walked over.

The Wiradjuri smoking ceremony. PHOTO by Alfred Pek.

The Wiradjuri smoking ceremony. PHOTO by Alfred Pek.

The drummers were a crescent, a boundary for the dancers. They formed half the ring of the circle, the dancers the rest and all in between. There was a dude I met earlier, Ike, a fellow-first timer, bangles on both arms rattling and a ring of rings from a belt-loop, bouncing about and occasionally shrieking about the circle. Initially I’d took him as timid, kinda like me here, except he was studying to become a librarian.

I photodocumented a bit of this, before turning to face the sunset. Trees both dead and alive silhouetting before a horizon of scrubby bush verging on farmland, a dusky purple-green-purple gradient shift until the white line beginning the sky, through orange and sky blue and the darker blue above you. The sun’s there, too, saying goodbye, making it – the sunset – happen.


More sunset.

The next morning

“So Tim… I mean Pete,” was how I began my interview with Pete from The Junk Float, a fellow Novocastrian and just next door to Music, Medicine, Magic. He and his mates weren’t on the map as a theme camp or art installation, but they had signs out the front:

“So Tim… I mean Pete,” was how I began my interview with Pete from The Junk Float, a fellow Novocastrian and just next door to Music, Medicine, Magic. He and his mates weren’t on the map as a theme camp or art installation, but they had signs out the front:

“This here … I suppose it’s a little project, a brainchild of ours,” Pete said. “Our friends just got back in the country after being in India and [it got us] low-budget thinking.”

“It got us back into looking at our food waste and just saying alright, we’ve got some stuff growing in the garden, we could also get some stuff out of the dumpsters. Often you just get huge hauls of stuff at a time.”

Dumpster-dove food from Newcastle they prepared every morning and evening. Fruit, coffee, bread, cake, vegetables, etc. Every day they were calling people over to eat more. They’d serve it up platter-style in big bowls or plates on the counter, behind which they’d be preparing more by also making discussion with the people eating.

“It’s just a bunch of friends that would do this normally in the kitchen,” Pete said, “so you just do it in the kitchen for Burning Seed. It’s kind of just opening up your house, your way of life, to other people.”

“And being political without being political, you know? I think it’s just really important to start thinking of novel ways to look at our society … This is all thrown away and how bad a system is that? It just throws away stuff, but it’s an opportunity. Living the way we want to live our lives, start looking at how we can balance it out, or make some sense of the world.”

“It’s like a biomimicry of what nature does – every bit of waste is turned into food.”

“Burning Seed has just been the perfect opportunity for us to do this. I didn’t know much about Burning Man, the main festival, but I knew enough just to expect that it was a bit more open to people’s expression and just doing something.”

“We were putting it together in the morning and serving coffees at the same time, chatting with people coming past … Burning Seed brings those sorts of things happening fast and people can see that.”

But he’s cautious of new ideas: if there are enough, you can work with them, but if there are too many, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, almost addicted to the production of new ones.

“There’s too many niches to fill … There are so many opportunities to do things in different ways and bring lots of different things together.”

“This was an idea that came to fruition in a two week time period, from start to finish. I feel like that has been really refreshing because there are lots of ideas that can sit around, or float around, in your head for years and years.”

Suddenly you’ve got a goal, a tool with which to work towards an endpoint.

“For ideas I think it’s about removing any sense of an ego, because an idea is worth nothing. It’s an idea-and-action that has some merit.”

“At least this [Burning Seed] is an opportunity where people have had ideas and they’ve put [them] to some use, straight away. I think that’s really empowering and encouraging because often, in our society, an idea, the steps it has to take from beginning to end, shut down a lot of really good ideas. Especially when money is the considered factor. There’s no money being transferred here, which means that changes a large, considerable thing about ideas and ownership of ideas.”

Any money spent is a gamble.

“But any idea that’s presented here isn’t done in any business or marketing sense. Like, you go to any festival, and yeah – there’s a really cool set-up, they’ve made really awesome gardens, pallet furniture, whatever you wanna call it – but really, at the end of the day, they’re selling a product and have provided an imagine to attract people to selling that product. I think that can’t help but make an idea something that’s owned and corporatized, whereas, I suppose, here is about free-flowing ideas. And free-flowing ideas are more powerful, because everything builds on upon that idea. If you think about where we are in history, where we can communicate readily, the most important thing is making sure that we protect the right to freely share ideas. I hope people here can start to realise that.”

“It’d be good for people to start doing more community-based projects, and they could make a business out of it, do a social enterprise … But it could start at Burning Seed – lots of good things could start here, because as I said, there are no barriers to that initial test case. In this sense, this [The Junk Float] would never be [of] food safety standard because it’s full of gaps – full of places for cockroaches to breed, all the various things that would happen – or wouldn’t necessarily happen, but would be the inhibiting factor having this in a commercial situation. Commercial-grade things are completely different. But I think we live in a country that’s very strict bureaucratically. There’s lots of safety, lots of liability. So much liability. Here [at Burning Seed] we’re not thinking of those things. We’re thinking about safety – that’s still important – but it’s safety that’s done in a way that allows the person to make intelligent choices … We live like we’re children where we have to protect children everywhere. In this circumstance … you kind of just do it and have respect for people, and as a result of having respect, the environment’s safe and ideas are free.”

Alfred Pek, another fellow first-timer and Burning Seed media colleague, and I had teamed up for this interview; I was behind the camera and he was with the Zoom recorder. He was doing a short piece for Hijacked and also asked Pete a question:

“I guess, when you mentioned … you know when you mentioned ideas, how a lot of things can come [to fruition] through Burning Seed and things like that, do you yourself have anything that you can take away from here, being involved in the making of this cart? Is there any sort of vision that you want to put back into the society?”

Pete’s response: “There’s a lot really … Just creating more opportunities for these kinds of things to exist, with different emphasis on even extending that idea to action – that’s really important to me – and I kind of got excited about food, living on a big farm where I worked alongside a lot of amazing people. We worked really hard and we played really hard. That’s where I got into music and jamming out on different instruments after hours and the early hours of the morning. But also work a hard day in the field … to produce organic vegetables for food boxes to feed people. And the end of the week was so satisfying: I was burnt out, but so energised. People kind of have that experience here, but it’s not through hard labour, necessarily. You can create the same euphoric experiences and same outcomes and actually have a project. As long as you can create an environment and community around you, you can have a lot of fun doing many different things.”

“When I think about doing agricultural projects, the inhibiting factor for me doing that, since I’ve been back in Australia, is basically I wouldn’t want to do away with the community element and having a large group of young, excited, energetic party people. You go out into a rural area, a rural town, you’re not necessarily finding those people. The young people often fit in a very different mindset. They’re either trying to get away from it or they’re swept into, kinda like, mining jobs – just not being all that creative, whereas the cities are creative centres … People love coming out into the bush and coming to Burning Seed. Why not create spaces for people to come for a few months, go into a different sort of life, work hard but do something meaningful and beneficial, such as feeding people?”

“I’d like to have some smaller gatherings of artists and energy and maybe think of a way to make that a self-supporting thing … Just collaboration is a big thing for here … Every tent is just a collaboration of so many people, different camps are a collaboration of so many different ideas coming together freely.”

“In the ‘real’ world, The Other World, somebody [some one] is driving it … whereas that is definitely not the case here. Everything is everyone’s ideas – no specialists.”


Later that day…

I got naked and swam here:


It was on the edge of here, which looked like Finland:


But I didn’t swim before toying around on the dam shores with the ukulele of a fellow named Max, who Sunday told me how he’d chanced on some magic mushrooms and went a’wandering like that girl in the photo above. He was on a path which eventually forked and because he didn’t know what exactly he was doing aside from exploring, which way he went didn’t matter. But if it didn’t matter, he mused, which way does he go?

An answer would result only of study and meditation. Both paths were similar – trees, green, grass, wood, sky, birds – but a dead split-trunk tree at left caught his eye. Poking through the hollow and rotted wood were shoots of new grass. “Death begets life,” he said he said, but it is more entertaining to imagine he bellowed. He went left and made it out of the forest alive.

Saturday’s Effigy Burn

On Saturday evening this began burning to the ground:


People gathered around in a circular perimeter of about 20m, because it got real hot. The Red Earth City volunteer crew kept things safe. Like the smoking ceremony though, it didn’t smell at all bad, choke your orifices, wasn’t unpleasant. And on warmth, I believe there are grades of it, certain sources preferable to others. Fire’s up near, if not at, the top.


Maybe that’s why everyone got their kit off and started running around naked. Ever felt the sun on your ass? It’s just as good as fire across your entire body. I got naked and felt it with everyone else. Burning Seed was a place to try new things, but if you’re not sure of what to do or how to do the new things you want to try, get naked and run in a big men-and-women-alike circle around a big, burning, crumbling effigy. It means whatever you want it to mean. Being naked is a good basepoint for getting creative.

Lots more things cool things happened that night and I didn’t get much sleep. Odd guilt I’d felt evenings before going for going to bed between 22.00 and 00.00 because I was missing out on another world by night. Whatever was worth shining light on was and it wasn’t hard to get around, but there was still enough dark around to remind you it was night. That is, it wasn’t a house where you’d come home after a long hard day at work and immediately turn every light in the house on.

And the next morning and into the day

Woke up in my sleeping bag next to a campfire (there were only a few of these around because of safety and restrictions) and remembered how I got there: after being in my tent, we decided on someplace warmer and closer to the sunrise, because it became obvious we’d stay up all night. The person who accompanied me was gone now, but I was certain I would see them again. And there were plenty of people drifting in and out of sleep about me and the fire anyway.

There was a lemon in my sleeping bag. I couldn’t work out exactly why. I have feeling it was from some girl who was walking around handing out lemons the day before, but I can only vaguely remember that happening and have severe doubt whether it happened at all. Someone pointed it out, the lemon in my sleeping bag, like, “You have a lemon in your sleeping bag!” as though I should’ve been concerned. To this exclamation I didn’t initially reply, but wonder what about the lemon was to be so exclaimed about. (Cue more semi-fugue-state early-morning and sleep-deprived thoughts.) I picked up the lemon, studied it, and asked them if they wanted it, which they didn’t, so I put it back in my sleeping bag.

Not much sleep last night. Could recall dreaming a lot though and often tried to determine whether the things I thought I dreamed actually happened or not. I did this most mornings. Whether I dreamed the girl handing out lemons the day before or did it actually happen. I still don’t know that and could easily but I haven’t unpacked my sleeping bag yet to tell.

Past Chai Tent. Walked past Sara and Angus platonically asleep next to each other facing the sun. If I were in either of their positions I’d be awake and would’ve been feeling weird about it four or five days ago, but now maybe not so much. They probably danced all night together and it was something to see, them dancing. It was like nothing other than two people having fun dancing. If I had my camera I would’ve photo’d it, but I didn’t, but I remembered it instead. Maybe one day I could paint all those things I didn’t have my camera for, I recall thinking.

This day, Sunday, was the dustiest of days. Little of moisture in the air. Dust billowed in the dry wind and was coloured by transparent brown. Peering beyond the veil, people of all, mostly young, ages lounged about, or paddled their feet along the flooded streets; lounging about on cushions, mats, beanbags, mattresses, everyone had a big one; walking about in boots, skate shoes, double pluggers, anything or nothing at all. In the Seed’s collective outer epidermal layer, literal tonnes of dust would be extracted.

Sitting around the Chai Tent. Musicians come and go across the midday. “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child” sings a guy, 20-21 y.o.a., black curly hair, lip ring, olive skin and eyes. He whispers a lot about the ocean, water and sea, laughs like “heh-heh” to the applause he receives on finishing a song before starting the next.

A guy named Jaspar comes along with his mate; they’d played at the Chai Tent a few days before. He always smiled the kind of smile that kids do. So did a girl named Miranda who carried a wooden ornamental duck around everywhere. The best thing about that was she was always sober.

Miranda and duck

Miranda and duck

Never had met a Miranda before but it sounded like a great Australian name. Not etymologically owing anything to Australia, though. But it sounded like still water in a kind of lemon-lime-and-bitter-haze sunset. Do you know what I mean?

Shit – this article’s getting big. Monday morning before 9am and still writing but have other stuff to do. Prose simplifying. How best to wrap this up?

Rowan, met at Chai Tent on Friday. Owns the Butter Factory in Bermagui. Daughters Holly and Harmony; Harmony accompanying Rowan to Burning Seed. Was told I would have gotten on well with his nephew, George Stirling, who had passed away in the weeks before the festival. They’d been through a great many adversities, Rowan said, to be there at Burning Seed. Rowan – a strong name, not just for its aural connotation with ‘rowing’: it made me think of an Irish rugby unioner back in the 2007 World Cup I considered and admirable competitor. And Harmony – is there any name more immediately musical?

I bumped into them at a campfire that Sunday evening. They produced a bottle of gin and slice of lime and made one in my cup, a crude one from the bottom of a 1L bottle of water. It scrunched in my pocket well though, and unscrunched back to cup form at will. I can’t remember what we talked about, but we hung around for well over five hours, dancing barefoot in the dust at Dirty Birds. Harmony made someone flip her around in the air and she fell face-first into the ground, which she didn’t seem to mind. I’m at a loss at to how to conclude this, but I hadn’t included these two people anywhere and I really liked hanging out with them and it felt right to include them somewhere. Here’s something a vegan fellow named Jake told us at the campfire:

“Spread the love, but make sure you bring the love back home.”

That’ll do.

[1] Man.

Images: Samuel Rayfield


  1. Haley V 14 October, 2015 at 08:45 Reply

    Re-reading your “open-mic nights” I noticed a connection to this blog and thought I’d give it a read as well. Sounds like such an excellent time, Sam. They have something very similar here in the US called Burning Man. They hold it annually in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. It is usually in August/September I think. I have never been there myself, although I have heard quite a lot about it (and would really love to go one day).
    Also, beautiful photos as usual.

    • Samuel V. Rayfield 15 October, 2015 at 13:49

      Thanks Haley 🙂 It already ranks high among the best times of my life. Not that there’s little to compare to it, or anything. It’s just a lot of pleasant things – music, hugs, kisses, fire, forest, food, company, creativity, collaboration, discussion – rolled into a timeless and spontaneous place. Definitely check out Burning Man as soon as you can.
      And a reply to your letter will be sent soon. Uni’s a time- and energy-sapping thing.

  2. Haley V 22 October, 2015 at 08:52 Reply

    I most definitely will Sam. I have wanted to go ever since hearing about it, just needing to collect cronies to go with.
    I was actually getting worried it had been lost in postal chaos. That is excellent and I eagerly look forward to mail arriving from you soon. 🙂

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