Journals of Voyages in Conscious Travel & Lifestyle

Category: Australia (page 1 of 4)

Sydney share bikes

All of a sudden over the last month or two, hundreds of dockless share bikes have appeared around Sydney. They’re super easy to use and a great way to do small trips as they tend to be free or very cheap. In fact we haven’t spent a cent on them so far cycling to the beach and back in Bondi. I’m all about the sharing economy so think it’s great share bikes have become so widespread and accessible.

Share bikes at Bondi Beach

Share bikes at Bondi Beach

I’d encourage anyone visiting Sydney to use them to explore where it’s not too hilly or busy. Cycling is a great speed to see things by, and all the bike brands have baskets on the front to chuck your bag in. I’m so excited about them it’s prompted me to blog for the first time in 2018 after ages of silence!!

The four key companies for share bikes in Sydney


This is my favourite brand by far and they have the most bikes from what we’ve seen. They ride well, the seat height is adjustable (Bobby still finds them too small) Somehow we’ve never paid for a ride so far. The app is super simple to use with no deposit.

How to use Ofo

1. Download Ofo app
2. Find a bike on the map
3. Unlock & ride!

An Ofo bike on the streets of Bondi

An Ofo bike on the streets of Bondi

Reddy Go

These were the first we tried in Sydney. We cycled to the city from Bondi (not advisable!) and found them too slow and hard to ride for such a distance, with bad brakes.They’re also very small even with the seat raised. I’m 5.8” and Bobby is 6.3” and we both found them small. They also rarely have helmets, and the $69 deposit is off-putting.


There aren’t so many of these around the eastern suburbs and I haven’t tried them yet.


I haven’t used these in Sydney but the ones in Melbourne worked fine. I rarely see them with helmets.

Ofo bikes collecting outside our house

Ofo bikes collecting outside our house in North Bondi

The fact the bikes don’t need docking allows so much freedom as you just leave them anywhere there’s space. Some hooligans have hurled bikes off cliffs but this is very rare, and most are parked sensibly. Melbourne has had O Bike for a while now, but when I lived there in 2014 they had to be docked in racks, like the share bikes in London. This was a bit limiting as you had to find a rack to return them. Not great if you don’t live near one.

Share bike helmets should be lockable, duh!

One issue with all the bike sharing companies is that the bikes are often missing the helmets. They need to find a way to make fixing the helmets mandatory, eg requiring the helmet to be re-attached to end the ride, using some sort of clip. The Ofo brand tend to have the most bikes with helmets.

One of the few things I don’t like about Sydney is it’s not very bike-friendly. This is partly due to the hills, and some driver’s attitude towards cyclists. So the share bikes are a step in the right direction making cycling easier in short trips, and taking pressure off the transport system.

Lady Musgrave Island

One of the highlights of sailing the East Coast of Australia was Lady Musgrave Island, a coral cay on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, about 2.5 hours out from Bundaberg, Queensland by boat. We reached the island towards the end of our trip.

I’d wangled a free month-long sailing trip via Gumtree after posting to see if anyone needed crew or to find other travellers to team up with to hire a boat.

Approaching the idyllic flat white sand of Lady Musgrave island and seeing the crystal clear blue water with turquoise patches was so exciting! Sea water always seems such an amazing colour on coral reefs. The variation in the different colours of the water is incredible with stripes of pure turquoise then every depth of blue you can imagine.

Rick had been telling me about this island very enthusiastically, and from someone who had done so much sailing to be so excited about somewhere made me think it must be pretty special.

We anchored quite far out so as not to damage the coral, and kayaked to the shore rather than taking the tender boat.

Lady Musgrave Beach

Wandering along the hot sand felt strange after rocking up in just a bikini with no bag, when everyone else was kitted out with backpacks and sandals etc. I’d only brought my camera in a waterproof bag. (check out Rick’s wonky photography skills below!)

Wandering through the middle of Lady Musgrave island it’s shaded by pisonia trees; unusual scrubby tangled trees. There were hundreds of pretty smooth-looking black and white birds I’d never seen before called ‘Noddies’ nesting in the branches.

Noddie Lady Musgrave Island

The ground was covered with bird shit there were so many of them! One of the signs said the poor birds sometimes get stuck in the sticky pisonia branches and die!!

Pisonia trees Lady Musgrave Beach

The island had a few people wandering around but not many. I always found it a strange feeling when sailing, after not seeing other people for days or weeks, to suddenly be in some sort of civilisation. I often felt like some kind of pirate invading the island.

Lady Musgrave Lighthouse

It didn’t take long to walk to the other side of the island where there was a lighthouse!

Climbing Lady Musgrave Lighthouse

After much persuasion from Rick and wobbliness from fear of heights I climbed to the top and the view was incredible!

Lady Musgrave Island Turtle


Looking out over the turquoise waters of Lady Musgrave beach we could see huge sea turtles and rays swimming through the crystal clear water below.

View Lady Musgrave Lighthouse

We walked back to the other side of Lady Musgrave Island before the sun set. After swimming back to the boat, I rushed in to the water with a snorkel and fins to see the amazing coral and tropical coloured fish before it got too late. It was the second-best snorkelling I remember ever (after Minicoy on the Lakshadweep islands) with an abundance of coral and fish.

Lady Musgrave Beach

Something about the colours of the coral – mustard, mauve and coral pink (of course) – reminded me of a Bond film. The palette was very 1950s, reminiscent of the Bond films where they’re diving, and the enormous fish tank of Dr No on his underwater island. I made a mental note to make a painting of the colours, which I still must do!

Eagle Lady Musgrave

At dusk we saw jumping fish just off the island, which is apparently a sign of sharks, as the fish are trying to escape being eaten. A little worrying after I’d been snorkelling for hours. But apparently, they’d only be reef sharks which aren’t dangerous. I always felt fairly confident in Rick’s judgement of these things given he’d done so many years of diving and sailing.

This was the last island we visited before a very long stretch to our final stop of Fraser Island. It sounds ungrateful but by that stage I was over it. Sick of being on a boat with Rick, of long stretches with nothing to do but look out over the sea or lie on the deck. I was craving an art gallery, a frappe and some intellectual conversation with people who knew and understood me. So I pushed Rick to continue sailing so we’d get to Hervey Bay, and ultimately Brisbane where my friends were, sooner.

Lady Musgrave sunset

It turned out to be a bad move, as we were long beyond phone signal, and very, very far out at sea. There was a severe weather warning and we saw a dark threatening cloud rolling in on the horizon. I was scared and regretted rushing. After sundown, we ended up having to drop anchor out at sea. I would have continued steering while Rick went to sleep, but he wasn’t confident leaving me to navigate (god knows where we may have ended up!)

It was a different anchor with a long rope instead of a chain for this exposed situation. I hadn’t fully understood that once we set off we were very far from any land on this last stretch, so anchoring was different. I remember letting the anchor down and it just kept on going and going and going into the dark depths of the ocean. The thought of how far the seabed was below us was pretty sobering. I got very little sleep that night as there was a violent storm. By this point I’d given up fearing the boat would capsize, but being that far out at sea alone was daunting. The next morning, I was emotional and tired. I remember a pod of dolphins appeared and jumped in front of the boat for ages. In my emotional state, I thought they knew we were in danger and were guiding us to safety. More storms were forecast with severe weather warnings.



Worrowing Eco Hut Jervis Bay

Worrowing eco hut is a set amongst eucalyptus trees a five minute drive from Jervis Bay. It’s part of a collection of eco accommodation in partially cleared bush land.


I’ve been craving some time in nature for a while. I want to visit more eco accommodation near Sydney on weekends to get inspiration for my own future eco house and accommodation. I’m still not decided on the materials or location so I figured the more I visit the more I’ll get an idea of what I’d like. Bobby looked online for eco accommodation near Sydney and found Worrowing Eco Hut near Jervis Bay, which seemed like a good location for both beach and bush. We drove over from Sydney after work on Friday in about 3 hours.

Worrowing Eco Hut

It was so nice to be somewhere quiet surrounded by nature. Tame kangaroos hang out in groups all around the hut and seem super chilled out. We saw cute little birds outside while sitting in the spa bath.  The hut is surrounded by woods and we went for a walk through one afternoon and found some strange abandoned items among the trees including a creepy clown mask, a burned out car, an old washing machine, office chair and other obscure stuff!

One night in the hut we were cooking dinner and the windows got pretty steamed up, so I opened the sliding doors and a possum ran in from the deck! He’d obviously been waiting right outside the door as he’d smelled dinner cooking. He took a quick look around, saw my toe and thought it might be dinner then took a bite to see!! Luckily it wasn’t a hard bite.

Possum Worrowing

After dinner we lit a fire in the fire pit in front of the deck and sat and drank wine and listened to music with the sketchy wifi. The stars were amazing against the clear dark country sky. It was fairly chilly outside but inside the hut it stayed warm!

Worrowing Eco Hut View

I’m not sure what warrants the name ‘eco’ hut. There were no obvious eco features other than the reclaimed door. It’s certainly surrounded by nature though. The hut seemed fairly well insulated which was good given its getting chilly now. It’s odd that the eco hut has an electric heater while other huts had wood fires… Wood is renewable whereas electric generally isn’t.

Eco hut kitchen

The location is great being in the woods so close to the amazing blue waters of Jervis Bay, an ideal weekend getaway from Sydney. The website describes the hut as “Crafted from recycled and natural timbers, corrugated iron and fitted with full panel glass slide away doors, the Eco Hut blends into it’s surrounds. Listen for the Yellow Belly Gliders, Barking and rare Powerful Owls that often pay a visit from neighbouring Jervis Bay National Park and Booderee National Park.”

Jervis Bay


When my friend Rach told me about Confest I knew I had to go. It’s a hippie festival out in the Australian countryside with no phone reception. Confest is like a lost society that values fun, collaboration, nature and spiritual growth. Rach talked so enthusiastically about her experience naked in a mud pit and joining the ‘spontaneous choir’ I just couldn’t miss it.

That was in Easter 2014, not long after I moved to Melbourne. I’d only been in Australia a couple of months and was very open to new experiences so I said yes to as much as possible, especially anything with a spiritual, alternative or eco slant. I’ve been strongly drawn to go to Confest again this year. However the ten hour road trip from Sydney is putting me off. If you’re considering going, it’s definitely worth it. It’s a really unique experience. I’ve been reflecting my first Confest trip lately and felt compelled to write it up as it’s such a special festival. Warning; this is a long one.

The long drive almost put me off but a friend assured me it was worth it, and said it’s a great thing to do when you’re at a crossroads in life as I was (in the process of deciding to stay in Australia or return home as planned)

Confest ended up one of the craziest adventures of my life which changed me forever, and wound up in Melbourne hospital days later. I’ll write about that part separately at a later date; I wanted to write up the Confest experience first. It was a pivotal time in my life for many reasons and really catapulted my personal development with some huge personal and spiritual breakthroughs. I haven’t been able to bring myself to write about it until now as part of it was both traumatising and illuminating, terrifying and fascinating at the same time.

Confest landscape


What is Confest?

In a nutshell Confest is a ‘clothing optional’ alternative lifestyle camp festival surrounded by kangaroos and bush, with a creek running through it. It’s built on co-operative principles and has been running since the 70s. There’s a mud pit, chai tent, drum circles, classes in everything from tantra to permaculture, massage and cuddle puddles. The whole festival and all classes are run by volunteers. Huge fire-fed spas and steam tents, community kitchens and campfires are everywhere. So many absurd characters! There’s no phone signal so it’s a chance to unplug and do a digital detox. Confest was instrumental in making me more open, loving and accepting of people and I really believe part of what helped me become far happier than I had been living in London.

In my opinion Confest is a lot more authentic and in keeping with it’s roots than some other festivals which seem to have become too big, commercial and attract too many hedonists, narcissists and people getting wrecked. People speak of the ‘spirit of Confest’ and there really is a powerful feeling of being part of something.

Confest choir

Image: Carl Power

Easter Confest 2014: The long version…..guts and all! (almost!)

The journey to Confest is part of the whole experience. As you leave the city behind and drive into country Australia you start to relax and excitement builds. The journey from Melbourne seemed fairly long but was easy and enjoyable. It took us around 5 hours including stopping for lunch in a strange dusty town that seemed like it was from another era.

As we neared the Confest site we were stopped and breath-checked by police. Apparently Confest causes a big stir in Moolamein, the remote little country town near the site where it’s held each year, and the police are on high alert for drugs.

It’s a ‘clothing optional’ festival, which quickly becomes apparent as you drive through the gates into the dusty road to be welcomed by happy naked ticket collectors waving. The sign ‘welcome home’ had a strange kind of resonance with me and I had the feeling that this was the start of something significant.

It felt like suddenly being in a 70s film! There were various absurd outfits and characters wandering round such as fairies and people in tu-tus.

Somehow we arrived as it was getting dark. We pitched our tents in the ‘Adelaide Camp’ as it looked like a good quiet spot amongst the trees. However in the morning we got woken by screaming kids very early, so I decided to up sticks and move my tent miles away, behind some bushes just beyond the carpark. I’m a light sleeper and like my own space!

There are lots of classes in all things spiritual, green, healthy, alternative and some just plain weird. I seem to remember one about ‘marrying the earth’!! People offer their time for free to impart their knowledge and skills in free classes. There were a few clashes in classes I wanted to see. The class timetable was a chalk board where people had written classes in free slots. Interesting to see how some made theirs stand out, and different styles and methods of describing them.

Confest gathering


The classes I did, as far as I remember, were:


This was a disheveled hippyish guy talking about tantra as a general philosophy. Since being in Australia I’d met loads of people who were into tantra, but nobody that great at explaining it. Suddenly after moving to Melbourne it was all I heard about. It seemed to be this strange intangible thing nobody quite agreed on. So I joined the class to learn more….I struggled to concentrate as I was tired, then when it spiralled into wild conspiracy theories he lost me and I wandered off. I remember somebody had written ‘Tantric Nose-picking’ as a spoof class on the chalk board, and the ironic humour reflected some of the unquestioning enthusiasm for this seemingly undefinable philosophy.

Tapping your potential

One of the most interesting classes was about conscious living and wellness. I found this class when I decided to walk through the forest and go towards whichever class drew me in. The teacher was an older guy with white hair, and the the things he was talking about coupled with his tone and enthusiasm really engaged me. He described how certain ‘highs’ and states could be experienced without drugs. Any state you can achieve through drugs, you can achieve naturally! Great! Sign me up, I thought! I memorised the name they gave themselves and now they’ve finally created a (terribly designed) website which says “Laceweb is a New Social Movement supporting people going beyond existing to Living in ways tapping the fullness of potential.” Still on the ‘to research further’ list!

Cuddle puddle

I had been to a cuddle puddle before, at sex camp (aka ‘Celebrating Sexuality’ – another blog post waiting to happen!!) It’s all about physical contact, consent and, obviously cuddling. Everyone was generally warm and welcoming with just a couple of people reserved and unsure. We got in partners and practiced different interactions including saying no in different ways, with and without justification for example. At one point someone got their iPhone out, and a guy I’d been chatting to and I stared at it like it was obscene. It seemed so strange to see a shiny phone in this setting where people generally weren’t using any technology, and everything was rustic and muddy. Like something from another world.


I’ve been really interested in permaculture since reading about it years ago and realising it’s a far more sensible and sustainable alternative to agriculture. It’s defined as “the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems.” by  I started the class but it was fairly advanced and assumed some prior knowledge so I got distracted by something else and left. It’s still something I’m keen to learn more about.

To give a flavour of the type of classes on offer, here are some from previous years which sound interesting from the official website:

  • Flexibility & Habit
  • Awareness Through Moving
  • Joint Strengthening Gymnastics
  • Karate breathing and Wellness
  • Light Energy
  • Moving and Emotional Flexibility
  • Emotional Flexibility and Choice
  • Partner Gymnastics
  • Pilates and Emotional Healing
  • Relating Well with Others
  • Healing Arts in Storytelling
River Confest


The river

Early afternoon I decided to check out the infamous mud pit. As I walked through the trees with my friends we heard shrieking and laughter echoing around the creek which was full of naked people of all ages and backgrounds frolicking. Next to the mud pit there were a few fires with naked people gathered round, and a large temporary steam room made from a sort of plastic tent fed by a pipe with steam heated by a fire.
I am fairly prudish in some ways and was hesitant to get naked at first. I had bumped into Dan, a guy I’d been seeing previously in Melbourne who had introduced me to many mind expanding things! He was happy and naked and lured me into the river. He was surprised and impressed when I stripped and ran in, shouting “you’re a superstar!” I didn’t know he’d be there but I wasn’t surprised to see him as it’s his kind of thing. I was glad we could be friendly and chilled with each other. Funny given I’d been pretty much in love with him a few weeks prior. But lots had happened since then!

Naked eco sauna tent

The muddy creek water seemed cold at first but it was good fun and felt freeing to be naked amongst nature, if a little awkward at times. We splashed each other and mucked around for a while. After the river Dan and I went into the sauna tent. We jammed ourselves in amongst at least fifty wet naked bodies, some muddy. We made a couple of random connections and I got into a really nice conversation with a guy about health and age. Funny to meet someone while butt naked in a steam room and chat like that.

Fires by the river

After another quick splash in the river I wandered over to the fires and bumped into a hot American guy I’d met at sex camp. He was also naked. We’d done a tantra class together there which had been kind of awkward. He was there with his new polyamorous girlfriend and I felt suddenly self conscious and exposed to be naked around him. (“Don’t look down, look at his face, look at his face”) He’s now a good friend and we later laughed about it!

The mud pit

Next, the highlight of the festival: the mud pit, and mud tribe!!! I left my clothes and stuff near a tree and slid into the big mud pit on my own as my friends weren’t keen. It felt so bizarre to sink into the cool wet mud naked. It was great fun and I got into some banter with people in there. After about ten minutes wallowing in mud some excited people announced that the ‘mud tribe’ was about to start.

Confest mud pit

Image: Carl Power

Mud Tribe. Again, naked. Covered in mud.

Mud tribe is a big group of people who get covered in mud, paint, leaves and sticks, led by a man wearing a big crazy hat. He told us to act like we were part of a remote tribe that had never seen modern technology. (being at Confest makes this easier to imagine!) Everybody was to speak in tongues only. I’ve rarely laughed so much for so long. We ran through the camp terrorizing unsuspecting people and storming classes in progress. Imagine being mid-way through a tantric yoga class and thirty-odd mud-covered naked people run in, speaking in tongues and inspecting things like they’d never anything like it before. People generally looked alarmed initially, then either laughed hysterically, looked annoyed, confused, shocked or scared! One guy ran up to a bike and circled round it staring, acting fascinated and spinning the wheels like he’d never seen anything like it before in his life. By the end my cheeks ached from laughing!

Where are my clothes?

When mud tribe had disbanded I wandered back to where I’d left my clothes and stuff (including valuables) to find that they were gone. In a past life I’d have panicked. But I decided to trust that they’d turn up, and figured Iz and Rach had taken them and kept them safe for me. I was kind of glad to be free of them. In the mean time I had the issue of finding them…naked. I still had crusted mud all over me. I felt happy and free but very naked, with no phone, clothes or anything. Not that phones are much use with no network. I walked back into the the main part of the festival where people are generally clothed so I stuck out a bit more being naked at this stage. (the river and mud pit are in a wooded area, and the main festival is mainly cleared land.)

I bumped into Mark, another guy I’d met at sex camp. The crew that go there tend to go to a lot of festivals, particularly this kind. I’d only met this guy fairly briefly but we’d connected and he seemed cool. He offered to lend me some thongs (flip flops) and clothes. His van was only a few metres away, he said….

Mark had a properly kitted out campervan and gave me some food and a chilled can of fizzy coconut water with vodka which seemed like an amazing luxury treat at this festival with no modern technology.He lent me a poncho to wear over my mud-encrusted naked body! The registration plate of his van was ‘Trippy’. I asked why, and he said people called him Trippy but said he wasn’t sure why. (I would later find out!) We chatted about eco houses and alternative living.

Massage class amongst the trees

We decided to go to a massage class together. There was an area with massage tables set up surrounded by trees. You need to get in early as it’s understandably popular. Mark had some great massage experience and taught me a few tricks. I remember looking over to see a naked couple sitting in the grass nearby, gazing into each others eyes and thinking how kind and open and beautiful and natural the girl looked, then realising it was my friend Sarah! It looked like a scene from a 70s hippy festival! At this stage I got the vibe that Mark was expecting something would happen between us and I wasn’t sure that’s what I wanted. The stuff about knowing what you want and consent from the cuddle puddle was running through my head… ‘maybe means no’.

After the massage class we hung out for the rest of the day. Walking through the festival practically everyone we passed knew Mark, and said hi with smiles.

Awesome kitchen

The ‘awesome kitchen’ is a community kitchen where everyone helps and contributes in some way, but people are free to come and share the food. It’s run by some amazing open friendly Israelis who taught me how to make some flat bread on hot stones. I helped to make and stir a huge pot of aromatic rich spiced coffee with cardamom.

Next we went to the main clearing (I think I was still wearing only Mark’s mud encrusted poncho at this stage!) I finally saw my friends again and chatted for a while. They seemed a bit flat…probably because their airbed had gone flat the previous night!!

Spontaneous choir

Mark introduced me to an old guy with a huge white beard called Peter Gleeson who runs the ‘spontaneous choir’ which was about to start. It’s like a flash mob choir where everyone joins in, directed by Peter. There’s real interaction and people move and arrange themselves in different ways from sitting in a circle to making a human tunnel where you walk through and everyone whispers loving things to the people walking through. It was amazing to see so many open loving faces, and some people in tears of joy! Everyone moves and makes sounds together and the energy builds and drops and takes you on a journey.

Spontaneous choir Confest

Image: Carl Power

We went to the chai tent and chatted to some people we knew, then got some food from one of the few stalls dotted around. As it became dark I remember people (some naked) dancing round fires, and drumming. Fire has a such a hypnotic timeless power.

Chai tent confest

Image: cow don’t sleep

The rest of my Confest experience was a crazy, scary but illuminating experience which I’ll go into in separate post. But even without that experience Confest really helped me to open up, trust and see the best in people. As well as introducing me to lots of ideas and helping me to realise things about myself and life which I continue to explore today.

Fire spinning Confest


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