On the day there were workshops, activities, bands, canoe races, lantern making, krathong workshops, weaving, story telling, tree planting and a lantern parade that was simply amazing, but more about that later.
I started the day slowly by going for a massage (not at the festival) and while I was lying face down and trying to still my brain, Scott, Poe and Ilo went busking (also not at the festival), apparently it was amazing with both Poe and Ilo getting right into it. Some favourite tunes amongst the passer-bys were "Spoon full of Sugar", Scott's "Holy Water" and "Chim Chimeree". They made a whooping $25 big ones and then donated half to the Bellingen River Festival and Animal Welfare.
We then rode down to the river and were so excited to see the bridge decorated with lanterns and flags, it looked so beautiful. We met up with friends, laid out the picnic blanket and then went for a little paddle in the river. We ate homemade (not by us) sushi and rice paper rolls, planted a few trees, watched the canoe races, met lots of people we knew and generally enjoyed the beautiful day.
Poe spied an inflatable water slide and after a little jump on the jumping castle got his wetsuit on and went for it. Scott and I were watching and both held our breath as he reached the top, we were so sure he would back out but no, down he went, oh what a thrill. Not sure whether you can see it but his face looks totally terrified as he heads down the slide.
At a certain point we thought it would be a great idea to go home for some dinner and a little rest, before we headed back to the festival for the lantern parade. As we walked in through our gates Scott spied a water dragon near our garden (at the end of our street is a creek, where they usually hang out, but we have never seen one in our backyard before), as we didn't want to freak it out we gave it a wide berth and headed inside. But then Scott, called out "it's laying eggs" YES, can you believe it, it was laying eggs in our garden. So amazing. It then buried the eggs and camouflaged it with some leaves and then scooted under the house for a rest. Apparently the incubation period is a couple of months and then the little dragons (!) hang around for a while before heading to the creek. Has anyone ever experienced this before?
From one magical event to another, The Lantern Parade. As we cross the bridge we watch as the krathongs, made out of banana leaves, flowers and candles were placed onto the water.
A little aside: anyone who knows Scott well, knows that he is not a fan of tribal drums, due largely to five years spent in Byron, where at every party, at every gathering there were tribal drums and fire twirlers. But and yes, it's a big one, these drums worked, they unified people, they created momentum and excitement, they sounded great and what's more they were fun. Scott has amended his dislike of tribal drums to something along the lines of 'they are amazing on the right occasion'. (ie please use sparingly).
A friend of ours, Soli (gorgeous looking human to the left in the picture), astounded us with her drumming prowess.
Then the dancers arrived, which gave everyone even more energy and created even more excitement.
Lanterns were being lit all around us and slowly we began to dance across the bridge following the dancers and the drummers.
Oh my goodness it was like a group hug, everywhere you looked you saw different people from the community, some we recognised, some we didn't. But there was everyone and they were all beaming.
The truly wonderful thing about this festival was that it was just for the Bellingen community, the celebration of our river, us. It wasn't about making money, selling merchandise, it was about celebrating. In the past week we have had countless chats with people about town who have commented on the beauty of the festival and as they talk you can see the pride in their faces, what a town!