Estuaries that melt into the turquoise coastline, escarpments adorned in ancient flora and waterfalls that cascade into alluring oases. Such picturesque words barely skim the surface of the magic that flows in the Northern Rivers.
Honouring The Bundjalung people; traditional owners and custodians of this land. Paying respects to elders past, present and future. The indigenous nation of the Northern Rivers comprises many different tribes within the region. I encourage readers set to journey to this part of the world to send out a blessing on arrival, acknowledge the native peoples, their ancestors, the land and open to the nourishment and healing it in turn provides.
Magic in The Water
If you listen deeply in nature, tribal songs can still be heard in the winds currents, the spirit of the land felt on the ancient stone beneath bare feet. The essence of healing, running ever-present in the depths of its waters. The dreaming of The Rainbow Serpent and Goanna emerge along the coastline, awakening magic within those who walk with care and respect country. Indigenous ways very much alive and tended to, a culture that offers much for the blue print of our ecological relations.
This Land – Jagun
They speak of energies here that attract the masses; Byron Bay, known by its custodians ‘The Arakwal people’ as Cavanbah – ‘Meeting Place’ carries beneath its Earth a ‘charge’ from the 23+ million year old crystalline volcanic rock cradling the region. It’s ‘vibe’, respectfully a culturally significant gathering place, attracted indigenous tribes from across the country. To The Nyangbul people, Byron Bay is known as Gubenbah – ‘Big Scrub’. The area was once home to what could be described as Australia’s Botanic Gardens, take a moment to visualise forests of Red Cedar Trees at an average height of 60 meters high and you’re just catching a glimpse of the terrains ancestry. Clans would journey from afar to tend to the bounty of seeds and soils, gather seasonal foods, exchange goods and to celebrate the diversity and abundance of this country.
A rich cultural ancestry married into these lands by the peoples who have dwelled here for well over 40’000 years, a land which plays host to a transitory energy that has much to teach those who wander, on remembrance of ones own genealogical roots.
A Warm Welcome – Jingi Walla
Set along The East Coast of Australia, The Northern Rivers extends from Tweed Heads down to an area between Grafton and Coffs Harbour. It is all encompassing of localities such as Bangalow, Federal, Brunswick Heads, Ballina, Lennox Head, Mullumbimby, Murwillumbah, Yaamba, Nimbin, New Brighton, Kingscliff and Lismore to name a few. As you journey inland beyond the well renown turquoise coastline and estuaries, the outskirts of Byron Bay embodies a unique village feel, woven together by a strong sense of community, founded on principles of connection and freedom. Tucked amongst the hinterlands, side-scapes of subtropical and sclerophyll rainforest melt alongside scenic routes and waterfalls cascade into alluring oases. Such paradises, contribute to the World Heritage listed UNESCO site of the Gondwana Rainforest. A bio-diverse eco system comprised of 50 Rainforests, an ancient plateau rightfully recognised as its own subcontinent.
Song of The Ancient Ones
Sacred cliffs and mountains weave their way throughout the precinct, tales of messengers enveloped within the dreamtime taking shape mythologically through spirit beings. Guardians of these lands in the form of animals, sharing stories through their symbolism. In a video of Delta Kay, an Arakwal custodian of Byron Bay, she refers to Julian Rocks as being the resting place of the creator. She shares of the Carpet Snake representing her people, the medicine of the Dolphin carrying the spirits of her maternal line and the Sea Eagle embodying the totemic nature of her peoples masculine ancestors.
Mount Wollumbin, a traditional mens mountain is extremely significant to native peoples and all life that dwells here. It is a fundamental piece of the grid that sustains these lands, with connections to other sacred sites on a world wide level. Fertility sites, waterholes used for birthing ceremonies, songlines, initiation sites, middens, caves, bora rings, scar trees and ochre art still exist today, most of this knowledge is protected by lore keepers, yet there are sites open to the public or that can be accessed with permission or with an indigenous guide.
Scale across the ridges of the Widjabul peoples Nightcap National Park, or weave your way out to Tintenbar’s Killen Falls. Journey into The Channon toward Nimbin home of the Whiyabul clan or travel north into Minjungbal country to Tweed Heads, no matter the direction, you will find the stories of the indigenous ways preserved within the heart of your surroundings if you listen deeply – Dadirri. When going wandering, take the time to drop into the unique energetic signature of that land, explore your senses, open your awareness, walk kindly and stay to the tracks. Research or connect with the traditional peoples where possible, often there are signs with information in national parks and walking trails detailing the native flora, fauna and the custodians descendant of that land.
The Rainbow Region
With its potent cultural milieu and a vibrant atmosphere playing host to a plethora of tours, community events, markets, activities, workshops, gatherings and festivities. It’s no wonder the area has been deemed ‘the hub of wellness and heart of wellbeing’ along Australia’s East Coast. In a setting where modern spirituality meets ancient wisdom, people of all walks of life follow the calling here to experience healing at the hands of these lands and the magic elixir running in the veins of its waters.
A Guiding Spirit
Now I’m sure you were hoping for me to give away all the local spots, I have mostly withheld locations as a way of preserving that which is sacred, this will give you an opportunity to learn first hand from the indigenous peoples and tours they offer. You can also purchase a ‘Spirit of The Rocks Bundjalung land map’ from Byron Bay Tourist and Information Centre or invest in a copy of Byron Trails ‘50 Walking Adventures in Byron Bay and Beyond’ by Mairéad Cleary.
My intention is for this to ignite your own internal compass, as a guide to accompany your spirit and open your inner vision to follow the omen of your own dreaming. I share this article with integrity and respect for the indigenous peoples and those that are still deeply weaving magic and rejuvenating the lands from the shadow history and current threads of colonialism still at play in the structure of society. I encourage readers to follow your intuition, feel into places that resonate with you, offer a blessing in presence, prayer and gratitude. When you are approaching land, tune into any sensations within the physical body. If you are feeling called to connect to the culture, there are a variety of tours available with independent indigenous groups, traditional owners and cultural centres that can guide you on your journey.