Byron Bay

You are here

The Weather and Us

Like many parts of Australia right now, the Byron Shire is experiencing its worst drought in many years. Recently, the local community organised a raindance ceremony in Mullumbimby. Various shire identities spoke to the public gathering and everyone participated in ceremonies and rituals led by Sol Farina. Below is the text of a talk I gave at the raindance. Forty-eight hours later, we did receive a generous but brief fall of rain. Coincidence? Read the text and decide for yourself.


As acknowledged in the text below, my views on the link between human consciousness and the weather have been informed and inspired by a number of the Seth/Jane Roberts' books, and most of the concepts presented below have been derived and paraphrased from several of these books, including, for those who may wish to explore further, Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul; The Nature of Personal Reality and The Individual and the Nature of Mass Events, available from all good metaphysical bookshops.]

Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It's a beautiful night for a raindance. Yet I wonder: Do we really, at the levels where it most matters, believe that we can manifest the weather?

The other night in Suffolk Park when we enjoyed a welcome downpour, a friend of mine claimed it was because she had been invoking precipitation by playing her didjeridoo; I claimed it was because intuitively I had mulched my garden the day before, and a bloke I know insisted it was because he'd just put his soft top down. Or maybe it rained because Sol Farina appeared on the front page of "The Byron News", arms akimbo, invoking the rain.

So we jokingly parlay the idea that we can affect the weather, but do we really believe we can? And if we don't believe, why don't we?

I turned to my friend Seth for a few insights into our relationship with the weather and I'd like to share some of his ideas with you.

In Western culture since the Industrial Revolution, around 1760, we've grown to believe that there is little connection between the objects of the world and the individual. Before that time, when we still retained our nature-based agrarian rhythms and identification, we did believe that we could affect matter and the environment through our thoughts.

Today, however, in our highly industrialised societies, our human thoughts no longer seem to have any effect upon nature because in our minds we see ourselves as apart from it. In an ambiguous fashion, while we've concentrated upon nature's exterior aspects in a very conscious manner, we have still ended up denying the conscious powers of our own minds. We've become quite blind to the connection between our thoughts and our physical environment and experience.

These days we think of rain or earthquakes as natural events, yet we don't consider our thoughts or emotions as natural events. Therefore it's difficult for us to see how there can be any valid interactions between our inner emotional states and our outer physical ones.

We might say: "Of course, I realise that the weather affects my mood," yet it will occur to few of us that our moods have any effect on the weather. We have so concentrated upon the categorisation, delineation, and exploration of the objective world that it surely seems to be "the only real one." It seems to exert force or pressure against us, or to impinge upon us, or at least almost to happen by itself, so that we sometimes feel powerless against it. Our contemporary belief systems have given great energy to the outsideness of things.

In exasperation some of us see nature as good and enduring, filled with an innocence and joy, while on the other hand we envision ourselves as a bastard species, a blight upon the face of the earth, as creatures bound to do everything wrong regardless, of our strong and good intent.

This myth we've evolved assigns great value to the larger processes of nature in general, yet sees humankind alone as the villains of an otherwise edifying tale. As long as we believe in this myth, we cannot allow ourselves to trust our own human natures.

Psychically, mentally and physically, I believe we are as much a part of an event such as a drought or flood, as say, the plants that wither on the vine or the water that sweeps through a town. We can utilise the physical catastrophe, as an individual might use a symptom for purposes of challenge, growth or understanding -- but I don't doubt that we will individually and collectively continue to choose our disasters just as we choose our symptoms of physical illness.

A severe illness may be used by a person to put him or her into the most intimate contact with the powers of life and death, to initiate a crisis in order to mobilise buried survival instincts, to vividly portray great points of contact and to summon all of his or her strength.

Similarly, a climatic catastrophe can be used consciously or unconsciously, according to each individual.

We could reason that, just like the floods in previous years in Byron Shire, this drought is physically materialising the inner problems of the region. Each individual involved has his or her own reasons for participating, and through our mass-created framework, each of us works out our private purposes and dilemmas.

So-called natural disasters actually serve many positive purposes. For a start, they remind us that we can't ignore our planet or our creaturehood.

Disasters, such as the current drought, possess the great rousing energy of powers unleashed, of nature escaping humanity's discipline, and by their very characteristics they also remind us of our own psyches; for in their way such profound events always involve creativity being born, rising even from the bowels of the parched or flooded earth, reshaping the land and the lives of women and men.

During times of weather calamities, our taken-for-granted patterns of existence can be effectively ripped away and we can sense our kinship with our local community.

The crisis of our current drought can catalyse our realisation that any permanency of form is an illusion, since all consciousness is in a constant state of change.

More than this, however, each of us can feel the enduring energy of nature. We can be reminded of the great permanent stability upon which normal life is based and the incredible potency from which we spring.

Because we're here at this community rain dance, I'm assuming that many of us believe, on deeper and deeper levels, that we do indeed create our own reality.

And if you're tired of hearing that phrase -- you create your own reality, you create your own reality -- in cafe conversations, workshops, and counselling sessions, in books, Van Morrison lyrics and at Mullumbimby raindances -- I can only say that I personally count on this repetition -- you create your own reality -- to reaffirm my understanding that this underlying spiritual principle applies to the most minute and the most important of the events that I experience.

In my understanding, we do not simply react to the weather. We help form it, even as we breathe the air and then send it outward again. To some extent or another, our human desires and emotions merge with the physical aspects of nature, so that our great storms or droughts are as much the result of psychological activity as they are of weather conditions.

The brain is a nest of electromagnetic relationships that scientists admit we do not yet understand. From our brains spring ideas that are quite as natural as lightning. When lightning strikes the earth, it changes it. There are also changes that come about through the impact of our thoughts upon the atmosphere.

The notion of collective weather-conjuring may be confirmed by the more enlightened of our scientists and quantum physicists, for they are finally learning what philosophers and mystics have known for centuries -- that mind can influence matter. Still, the scientists have yet to discover that mind creates and forms matter.

As certain indigenous people do rain dances and consciously bring about rain through deliberately directing the unconscious forces, so too people like us in different places on the planet do the same thing quite automatically, but mostly we do it with no awareness of the processes involved.

Most of the time, we don't realise that we create our larger environment by propelling our thoughts and emotions into matter. Mostly we don't recognise that the inner self, individually and en masse, sends its psychic energy out, forming tentacles that coalesce into form.

Yet sometimes we do recognise and harness this creative power. For here we are in Mullumbimby, having a go at co-creating a new atmospheric reality.

Here we are, trying to heal the drought, that mass psychic symptom we've projected upon our patch of earth.

Here we stand as a community, participating in our own collective healing process, for we can no more separate ourselves from the body of the earth and its condition than we can from our own bodies.

Here we are, deliberately, mindfully, congregated, learning to be co-creators; learning the responsibility of any individualised consciousness; learning to handle the energy that is ourselves, for creative purposes.

If a thunderstorm is the exteriorised local materialisation of the inner emotional state of the people experiencing the storm, and I believe it is, then how, exactly, will we incite the rain to fall?

As far as I can gather, the overall emotional tone or feeling-level of masses of people, through our body connections with the environment, can create the exterior physical conditions that initiate the onslaught of natural energy we're wanting. According to the mass emotional conditions, various excesses are built up physically; these are then thrown off into the atmosphere in a different form.

The electromagnetic propreties of our emotions will play a big part in our ceremonies today, so if there are any aura readers amongst us, you're likely to see some interesting etherics.

OK, so let's begin now, in our minds and in our hearts, to seed the rain-clouds through our collective conscious intent. Let's focus, let's imagine, let's call on all the higher powers as we prepare to participate in our rituals and ceremonies.

Let's invoke the collective power of the gods and goddesses within ourselves to materialise the blessed physical rain, the rain which, literally and symbolically, will help us to wash away the old and to give birth to the new times for which we are all yearning.

Splendour In The Grass Wraps Up At Belongil Fields For 2008

I had a blast again this year – got a big kick from seeing DEVO. The rest of my family enjoyed The Grates, The Panics, Band of Horses, Operator Please, etc. The weather was warm & dry, the food was great… all up an excellent festival. Read the official Splendour wrap up and we’ll do it all again next year.

Here’s what the organisers had to say… What a weekend! In what has been described as the biggest, best Splendour in the Grass ever, over 17,500 music fans congregated over the weekend in Byron Bay to celebrate a musical and cultural extravaganza featuring the very cream of international and Australia music artists, art, theatre, markets, food and culture. Byron locals The Black Stars kicked off musical proceedings on Saturday and the vibe and the energy never stopped. At the Big Top stage, a cranked up crowd saw Gold Coast teen superstars Operator Please give us a glimpse of our musical future.

Leeds funksters The Music and Scottish melody makers The Fratellis, and the world’s hottest new band US-based The Cold War Kids showed exactly why we should believe the hype, while rock gods Gyroscope and The Galvatrons performed storming sets that kept the Aussie flag flying against the bright blue skies. The Living End capped a comeback year with a set of epic proportions before Devo came, saw and conquered with a set featuring their old hits – complete with yellow jumpsuits and flowerpot heads, as if the eighties were reborn. Over at the Grant McLennan Stage, indie favourites The Drones, powerhouse chanteuse Claire Bowditch and US bearded wonders, The Band of Horses sang songs of breath taking beauty and depth. The Polyphonic Spree with their choir of 18, completed the evening with a hands in the air, hands on your heart spiritual experience. Over at the Mix Up Tent, our socks were rockin’, our buns were shakin’ and our feet never stopped movin’. NZ’s Scribe and Bliss N Eso played music with a message, while Australia’s Pnau, complete with dancing fruit showed us why Elton John had recently become enamoured with their music. The enigma that is Tricky took the crowd on a dark and light musical journey to finish off the night. On Sunday, the great vibe and brilliant weather continued.

At the Big Top, Melbourne’s British India showed why they are Australia’s band to watch, US band Vampire Weekend had the crowd jumping with their afro beat while Liverpool UK’s The Wombats stormed home with a set which made them the most talked about band this weekend. Iceland’s Sigur Ros, whose epic tunes and soaring melodies lifted the audience to a higher place while Wolfmother, held their status as Australia’s top rock band. At The Mix Up Tent, Katalyst lived up to his reputation of rocking the house right, while other highlights were the UK’s New Young Pony Club, and The Presets, who complete with pink tuxes and bowties showed why they are one of the biggest bands in Australia, with a cranking set. The GW McLennan Tent continued to showcase the world’s best songwriters. The crowd gave it up for former Go-Between Robert Forster and home grown favourites The Panics, while Mr Ben Lee, with his quirky charm rounded off the night with a beautiful soulful set of soaring beauty.

This year Splendour upgraded their medical response team by using Queensland’s largest provider of first aid services, Emergency First Aid Services, to provide a comprehensive care package for patrons. Stephen Barnes (Emergency First Aid Services Representative) said, “Most treatments were for minor complaints, such as blisters, cuts and abrasions. A doctor was on hand to care for a few pre-existing medical conditions that presented throughout the weekend, and thanks to this, transports to hospital were well down on last year’s event.” So as the sun sets on Splendour’s final year at Belongil Fields before we move on to our new home at Yelgun for 2009, we say goodbye to another year of amazing music, incredible vibes and the most fun you can cram into a weekend. See you next year & thanks for the memories! Splendour in the Grass Team

Psychic Development Trainings, Courses & Workshops with Rago Dahlsen

Presented by; SCHOOL OF PSYCHIC DEVELOPMENT AND SPIRITUAL ONENESS August 31st till September 5th.

This training is to discover and develop your psychic skills. You will receive your own ‘psychic life reading’ prior to the start of the training and will find out how you can fully use your psychic abilities. Learn about the 7 chakras, the inner man/inner woman, the inner child and about the higher self. Come to understand how you create your own reality. Learn how to give your own psychic reading! Become a scientist of the inner world. Rago Dahlsen has worked internationally as a psychic reader for over 20 years. She has been part of Mystery schools in India and the USA.

Now she is very happy to pass on her gifts to you. Visit their website for more information;  www.byron-bay-health-retreat.com.au

2008 Splendour in the Grass Music Festival

The dates and venue for the 2008 Splendour Festival have just been announced: 2 & 3 August at Belongil Fields, Byron Bay.

Here’s the press release;

OK music lovers. It’s time to dust off your dancing shoes and put these key dates in your calendar for the much-anticipated SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS event for 2008.

SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS will return this winter, Saturday August 2nd and Sunday August 3rd, to be staged in the beautiful sub tropics of Northern NSW’s Byron Bay.

And despite efforts to stage the forthcoming event at the proposed new site of North Byron Shire Parklands, organisers can confirm that SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS will for this year be held at Belongil Fields in Byron Bay, where it has been staged successfully for the past 7 years.

Now in its 8th year, SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS will continue to deliver performances by some of the finest music acts in Australia and around the world.

Tickets for the 2008 SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS will be on sale in May with first artists on the line-up to be announced late April. Watch this space for all this and more.

To keep up to date with festival information visit www.splendourinthegrass.com

For a wide choice of available accommodation visit our Splendour Accommodation Guide

I can’t wait!

Regional Chic and the Power of Place

When I first moved to Byron Bay, some city contemporaries thought I was copping out, dropping out or having a very premature midlife crisis.

In those days, it had not yet become hip to downscale, de-escalate and go back-to-nature, and Byron Bay had not yet reached its current apogee of fashionability for urban escapees.

At that time, happiness for masses of metropolites was, as Wallace Stevens wrote, "an acquisition."

Whereas by the fin de sicle, many of the middle-class (and mostly middle-aged) trendoids, feeling burnt out by working, working working in various Bladerunnerlands, were, as David Brooks wrote, "frantically shopping for the acoutrements of calm." They were fantasising about buying or "building a home where [they] can finally sit still and relax," a place where they could retreat without their ambition tagging along. Although we were all on word processors by the early 90s, business still was conducted primarily by phone and fax. Again, somewhat prematurely, I connected to email in 1985. It was lonely online then as there was virtually no one to talk to, and even the most cool urban entrepreneurial dudes, estranged as they were from the natural world, thought a website was the location of a spider home. Also, there was absolutely no biz cred or personal chic associated with living regionally or rurally.

None of these societal prejudices deterred me from relocation. For even at that time Byron was steadily acquiring its reputation -- as a unique, quality-of-life place to live. Visitors referred to its lush environs as "special", "powerful", "healing" "regenerative" (choose you own magical epithet), a place where people would go for a period of rest, recuperation and reassessment. In my social circles, there was plenty of talk about geomancy, earth magnetism and leylines. Harkening back to a dinner I once shared with two local friends, David and Peter, in a Lawson Street restaurant one balmy evening, I recall David saying he'd heard that a leyline ran through Mullumbimby, one of our neighbouring towns. Peter quipped laconically that a surefire business bet would be to open a new backbackers' hostel in Burringbar Street, Mullum, and publicise it as being built on a leyline.

I've written quite a bit about the power of place (in my book Love Letters from Mother Nature and on my website, www.shelleyneller.com). This subject always raises some incontestable truths (certain places on the planet do appear to affect people benefically) and some intriguing questions (how does this happen?)

For instance, one might reasonably ask: is the power of place inherently in the land, in the very rocks and crystals, dirt, dust and plant matter of a particular patch of the planet? Is there, as they say colloquially, something in the Byron water? And is this, apart from the blindingly obvious -- the gobsmacking subtropical beauty of the Shire, what subliminally attracts people to holiday or live here?

Or do people, gradually, collectively, over time, bring a certain energy and consciousness to the place they call home? And does this consciousness and energy, by some ethereal osmosis, flow out and bestow, imbue, permeate and positively influence the local landscape and atmosphere?

Or are both speculations true? And in which order? It's a chicken and egg conundrum.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the Indian guru who taught the Beatles Transcendental Meditation, claims that if only 0.5 per cent of the world's population meditated, the influence of this would be so positively powerful it would create world peace. Hypothetically this theory makes me feel good, but when I consider that the local Byron population must boast one of the highest incidences of regular meditators in Australia, and when I observe the local political and social scenes with their entrenched and internicine warfare and machiavellian manoeuvres, I can only deduce that we residents are not chanting enough mantras to create local, let alone global peace and goodwill towards people, flora and fauna…

A while back, on one of my beloved beach walks, I ruminated some more over these notions. Trailing a dead branch in the soft Belongil sand behind me, I walked the shoreline pondering:have certain stories, songs, wisdoms, always existed a priori in the earth's landscape or are they the projections, the inventions, of peoples throughout the ages? My instinctive response is that the former is true, a belief which I discovered had been confirmed by James Cowan, an Australian poet and writer who has spent many years in the outback with tribal Aborigines. Cowan maintains that the landscape is imprinted with its own metaphysical data, waiting to be invoked. Even if we are wrong on this score, there are Eastern masters and Western theologians who maintain that projections during one's spiritual journey are essential, that without them the spiritual life (like love affairs) would not generate the heat to get started.

Unfortunately, we've now reached a stage where Byron Bay has become a victim of its own rapidly evolving mythology, its own juggernaut of good, albeit eyebrow-raising press. The rich biodiversity of local life which attracted human transplants here in the 70s, 80s and early 90s -- the residents' full-spectrum individuality (as in hippies, ferals, surfies, star-gazers, tarot readers, goths, vegetarians, musos, healers and organic gardeners, to name a few tribes), funky architecture (yuppies should read this as "unrenovated"), quirky local shops selling locally made wares -- all of these strands of original community life daily grow closer to marginalisation from the town centre or even to annihilation by rampant overdevelopment, escalating rents, trendy citification and homogenising, and an increasing I-want the city-in the country mindset exemplified by the following anecdote.

At the Byron Writers' Festival this year, a black-clad inner-city type declared publicly that one of his crucial criteria for upping stakes and moving to the Far North Coast was that the place should provide him with his requisite weekly hit of films at local cinemas. He appeared to be trying to cultivate local favour by praising the development of a brand new twin cinema in town. Lacking the sensitive antennae of a long-term local, he failed to notice a distinct ripple of audience disquiet around this remark. For a substantial portion of locals who've lived here for many years do not crave - and some actively resist -- this kind of development. So many of us did not come here for an addictive hit of air-conditioned cinemas, shopping malls and the like. We came for the surfing, the pristine environment, the old-fashionedness of the place; in short, we came for the Shire's blessed absence of city trappings.

To use an extended ecological metaphor, many of Byron Bay's unusual and variegated human species are rapidly becoming extinct or rare, due to habitat loss and displacement (See Byron Times Column 4, The Way We Were) by that rampant introduced species, the bobos* (bourgeois bohemians, as David Brooks calls them in his book Bobos in Paradise).

Once established, this alien species often dominates disturbed areas in and around the Bay (hinterland is never as appealing to despoil; the capital gain just can't match that of beachside real estate), and can destroy original habitat systems. Two particularly aggressive invaders - Sydney superannuatii and Yuppie materialis - pose the greatest threat to native species and in particular to long-established but fragile social systems. Regrettably, there is no local government management plan for this onslaught on native species.

Admittedly, defining "native" in human terms can be a real sticking point. Where does one draw the line? Equally contentious is the highly charged question of if and when to pull up the drawbridge? One can't, of course. It's a free country and, within the constraints of current local planning laws, you can move and build where you wish. Still, you might muse on the following paragraph from Salman Rushdie's novel The Moor's Last Sigh for its pertinence to the Bay.

"Have you noticed that Benengeli is defined by what it lacks - that unlike much of the region, certainly unlike the whole Costa, it is devoid of such excrescences as Coca-Loco nightclubs, coach parties on guided tours, burro-taxis, currency cambios ['fraid one of these recently sprouted in Byron Street], and vendors of straw sombreros? Our excellent Sargento, Salvador Medina, drives all such horrors away by administering nocturnal beatings, in the village's many dark alleys, to any entrepreneur who seeks to introduce them. Salvador Medina dislikes me intensely, by the way, as he dislikes all the town's newcomers, but like all well-settled immigrants - like the great majority of the Parasites - I applaud his policy of repulsing the new wave of invaders. Now that we're in, it's only right that somebody should slam the door shut behind us."

In a recent discussion paper produced by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Taking the devil out of development, Byron Shire Council ranked second, after Sydney's Warringah Council, as the most-complained-about council in Australia. It's no coincidence that Byron and Warringah are two coastal councils subject to immense pressure for development and redevelopment.

The ICAC paper stated :"One only has to read the local paper or attend a council planning committee in an area which is subject to development pressure, in order to understand what issues arise in the development assessment process, what emotions are inflamed and what can be at stake.

"For an applicant, a development consent may represent the key to an improved quality of life, a new business, an improved income or a significant profit.

"For residents within the locality of a proposed development, a consent may represent a loss of views or sunlight, overlooking of what was once private open space, more traffic and on-street parking, an increased potential for anti-social behaviour, more noise or an adverse impact on their streetscape…"

On another beachwalk, I caught myself humming, an aimless spill of jaunty notes that filled me up and at the same time made me feel lighter. I scanned the horizon for whales, for as my friend Rod Gibson, the Poet Lorikeet of the Bay, has written: "They sing to each other with eerie noises beneath the membrane of the sea." At one point I became aware that I was expectant, on the alert for something - movement, action, a flicker, a flash, a glimpse, a curiosity or distraction, a heart-expanding display, a defining moment. During my life's long interlude here I have savored the pep-ups, the ephemeral highs of such "trips" (one overcast afternoon on Tallow Beach I was thrilled to see a silver fish leap forward five times in high arcs; one evening, lying on the same sands, I saw a stunning succession of falling stars; one dawn a swarm of cobalt-colored bees blanketed the orange trumpet vine out back, and one sizzling spring high noon on deserted Tyagarah beach I was rivetted by a wallaby in the surf) and occasionally pine for more.

Yes, I told myself after this grateful inventory, forget the cinemas and the retail therapy! In addition to the satisfying pleasures of small-town living, it was the natural world with its marked contradistinction to a sprawling metropolis, which attracted thousands of "immigrants" like me to this place. If you'll indulge me in yet another nature analogy (this time an avian one, for I am a bird lover) -- leylines or no leylines, and twin cinemas notwithstanding, I see clearly in my crystal ball that Byron is in danger of becoming such a trussed-up goose that very soon it may not be able to lay any more golden eggs.

Oh well, I guess golden eggs are not to everyone's taste. And even if they are, there's always the air-conditioned comfort of the twin cinemas in which to guzzle a Coke, watch an American blockbuster and temporarily forget about your significant loss of small-town community amenity, identity and diversity; to turn a blind eye to what must incrementally but surely become the diminution of the power of this place.

Bangalow Music Festival 2008 : 29-31 August

An inspired paradise brimming with blissful music Described by legendary Australian composer Peter Sculthorpe as “the most exciting festival, outside a capital city…” the Bangalow Music Festival combines world-class musicians with captivating programming, delicious food and a festive atmosphere all surrounded by the sub-tropical beauty of the heritage township of Bangalow, NSW.

Opening on Friday 29 August and running through until Sunday 31 August, the program for the Festival comprises a colourful and dramatic range of musical styles, from renaissance song, through the delights of Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin and Schubert, to the drama and electricity of Hartmann and contemporary Australian music by Brett Dean, James Ledger (Southern Cross Soloists’ Composer in Focus for 2008) and Gerard Brophy. The Festival welcomes several top performers making their debut at Bangalow this year, including Ian Munro, piano; Graeme Jennings, violin; Julian Smiles, cello; Kees Boersma, double bass; and young pianist, Denny Liu, from New Zealand.

Also performing at the Festival for the first time will be Southern Cross Soloists2, an initiative of Southern Cross Soloists and the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University. Students of the same instrumentation as Southern Cross Soloists are auditioned to take part in this mentoring program, creating a ‘mini-version’ of the existing music ensemble, with the addition of a flautist. Favourite Bangalow guests returning to the stage this year include guitarist Slava Grigoryan, the renowned Grainger Quartet, violist Patricia Pollett, the Queensland Choir and members of the Bangalow Festival Chamber Orchestra.

BANGALOW MUSIC FESTIVAL 2008 Friday 29 to Sunday 31 August

Concert Venues: Concerts 1 to 8: A&I Hall, Station Street, Bangalow, NSW, Concert 9: St Kevin’s Church, Deacon Street, Bangalow, NSW - Seating is limited to 300.

Tickets range from $45 (single ticket) to $260 (single nine-concert subscription).

The Byron Underwater Festival 2008 – sun, fun & record crowds

The 2nd Byron Underwater Festival was a massive success. Sell out events and activities, glorious weather and calm seas made this an event to remember for everyone.

Almost 60 people from all over Australia came to participate in the annual underwater photo and video shootout competition, making it the biggest event of this kind in the whole Australasia region. Over 20,000 dollars worth of prizes including cameras, underwater housings, dive gear and a dive trip for two to Papua New Guinea were handed over to winning participants in 7 categories. Biggest winner was Ballina resident Mark Gray who scored both first prize in the SLR camera category as well as the Underwater Portfolio. Two local school groups went out with sponsor cameras to take underwater photos for the first time and the winning students walked away with an underwater photography course, diving vouchers and books. The Marine Visions open medium art competition held as part of the Underwater Festival in conjunction with Retrospect Galleries saw over 100 entries including sculptures, photographs and some amazing fine art.

Over 300 people attended the launch event on Friday and it was pushing room only to get close to the works. Winner of the fine art prize was Paul Colby with his work titled “Marine Playground”. Some works can still be seen at Retrospect Galleries this week and will remain on display on the Underwater Festival website – underwaterfestival.com.au Part of this year’s Byron Underwater Festival was also the Australian premiere screening of the anti-JAWS documentary “Sharkwater” by Canadian filmmaker Rob Stewart.

The screening was held as a fund raiser for “Australian Seabird Rescue” in Ballina and organised in collaboration with the BayFM “Generator” program at Byron Cinemas biggest screen on Saturday night. The night was a sell-out and the personal introduction to the film by world renowned underwater cinematographer David Hannan made the screening a huge success. Certainly a film everybody should go and watch when it get released Australia wide on May 15. Other highlights of the festival were the underwater photography clinics by Mathieu Meur, who flew in for this festival all the way from Singapore. His clinics were sold out quickly and participants were putting their new learned skills to test immediately. Mathieu who authored 3 books on digital underwater photography promised to be back next year for more workshops.

Last years guest of honour, Australia’s own underwater pioneer Neville Coleman was back this year to launch his new book the “Nudibranchs Encyclopedia of Asia and Indo-Pacific”. Neville is the author of over 60 books and well known for his passion for the underwater world and the small and unusual critters it contains. Listening to him talk about his many decades of exploration is an inspiration and for those who managed to meet him during the festival or hear his radio interview on BayFM on Friday will realise what an amazing person he is.

The Byron Underwater Festival is an annual event and not just for divers. Aimed at everyone wanting to experience our marine environment for themselves it encourages all to participate – whether you want to learn more about it, dive it, snorkel it, kayak it … or even paint it. Only one year to go to the next one …

2008 Byron Bay Festival & Event Season

May through August each year sees Byron Bay host a wide variety of events & festivals – something for everybody.

30 April – 4 May : Byron Underwater Festival, visit www.underwaterfestival.com.au.

4 May : Winter Whales Ocean Classic, 2.2km Ocean Swim.

10 May : Byron Bay Triathlon, Olympic Distance Triathlon.

May 24 – June 1 : FEHVA, The festival for art lovers and artists.

25-27 July : Byron Bay Writers Festival, visit www.byronbaywritersfestival.com.au.

2 & 3 August : Splendour in the Grass, tickets on sale in May, visit www.splendourinthegrass.com.

So if you’re interested in the ocean, fitness, art &/or music – and looking for an excuse to visit Byron this winter, I suggest you start planning now.

2008 Winter Whales Ocean Classic – Byron Bay

This year is the 20th year for the Winter Whales Ocean Classic and the event will include the 2.2km Wategoes to Main Beach swim as well as ‘the dash for cash’ (500 m sprint) and the new ‘Mini Classic’ (800 m).

Date: First Sunday in May – 4 May 2008

Time: 10:00 am start

Location: Byron Bay Surf Club, Main Beach race starts from Wategoes

Contact: Chris Lowry aquadoctor@gmail.com

Birds, bugs and butterflies at third Brunswick Valley Nature Festival

The 2008 Brunswick Valley Nature Festival will be all about conserving biodiversity in our unique natural environment. The theme “Birds, bugs and butterflies” will highlight the threat of climate change to the region’s biodiversity as increasing numbers of species face extinction, and just what that means for our future.

The Festival will be at the Shearwater Steiner School at Mullumbimby on Sunday 1st June, 2008. You can read more about the Festival at www.brunswickvalleylandcare.org.au The day will include workshops and presentations, bird walks, and lots of hands-on and fun activities for everyone.

Put the date in your calendar now. Volunteers are needed to assist with the organisation and to help out on the day – please offer your services if there is anything you would like to do to make the Festival a success. Volunteers are invited to call Adrian on 6685 1287 or email to brunsvalley@optusnet.com.au Posted by Adrian Begg, Brunswick Valley Landcare.

Pages

Have a question or need help? Please Contact Us