14 January 11
We were sad to say goodbye to our new friends the Sommervilles in Bellingen, but it seems that new friends are around every corner! On our next stop at Thora, we met up with inspiringly thrifty travellers and also a lovely unschooler who shared her story with us.
In what has become our usual style, we didn’t travel very far. We drove away from Bellingen, but only about ten kilometres down the road.
And after arranging a tentative meet-up with another unschooler at the “picnic area after the Thora store”, we drove off down the road, hoping that the place would be easy to find. It was.
When we pulled in, a couple of uni students were cooking breakfast — banana pancakes — so we started chatting. Most travellers we meet are happy to talk, and we never cease to be amazed at the variety of demographic representations we meet while on the road. At home we seem to be stuck in a very middle-class rut of acquaintances, but while we’re away, this is definitely not the case!
The two university students were travelling quickly up from Victoria and back again. Esther was a German exchange student studying gender studies, and Elle was a member of the Melbourne Uni juggling club.
After offering us some bulk food, the girls revealed to us that they go dumpster diving — digging around in the waste bins at the back of supermarkets. Esther said that they often find a six-pack of tins where one tin is damaged, and other times they pull out fresh fruit and vegetables that are considered past their prime.
We were fascinated to hear about this. I’ve known that supermarkets throw food away, but I never before considered the bins as a free food source. Before they left, the girls loaded us up with blocks of parmesan cheese, bananas, broccoli and tomatoes — all in perfect condition but still discarded by the big supermarket chains.
When our pre-arranged new friend arrived, we all shared stories together. Alice is a talented clothing designer who sells one-off items of clothes for children and adults. She is just transitioning into the practice of unschooling, because although she has long converted to the philosophy of it, she’s had her 8yo daughter in a local Steiner school for a couple years.
We found it very easy to talk with Alice. She is passionate about so many good things and yet non-judgemental on areas where we differ. It was great to share our beliefs, sharing how we see the Bible as holy scripture and finding a way to relate authentically on spiritual matters.
We were also inspired to hear that later this year, Alice and her two daughters will be moving onto a property with another unschooling family. Together, they will form a small village — with multiple ways to inspire, encourage and raise their children together. It sounds like a great idea — almost as good as travelling!
When it was time to go, we all drove off in our separate directions. We’re heading up the Waterfall Way to see … waterfalls! I hope to see rainbows too!