Our first stop on the way south is at the home of our good friends Hellena and Currawong. The girls love returning to this house because they’re such good friends with the kids, and I appreciate the opportunity to catch up with Hellena and Currawong’s lives in a much deeper way than online-voyeurism permits.

Hellena playing the cello while Currawong bangs on drums, January 2015
With Currawong's accompanying her on two djembes, Hellena gives us a cello mini-concert. The girls have been particularly intrigued with this instrument lately, and so I sweet-talked Hellena into a live demonstration for their benefit.

We’ve discovered that the most welcoming homes are often the busiest, and another couple was camping alongside the driveway when I drove up last night. It’s wonderful to make new acquaintances through established friends because it feels like the vetting procedure has already been completed. (If they’re good friends to you, I can be confident that they’ll be good friends for us too!)

The girls alternated their games between a bedroom in the house and the bus before pulling out our pop-up tent so they could play with our plastic toys. The dynamics between the kids were a bit different today as Calista played with 8yo Spiral instead of her companion from previous visits: 6yo Balthazar. All the animals — the kitten, the dog, the rabbit and the rat — moved in and out of the girls’ interactions. Our own rats didn’t survive our absence, but now that we’ve collected our cage, we’ll be replacing them after we locate a reputable breeder in the right location with babies of the right age.

Our girls playing with Lilly and Spiral at their home, Mountain Top, NSW, January 2015
Brioni finishes off a portrait of Hellena as Calista and Spiral play with toys on the top bunk, and Aisha and Lilly collaborate on a movie.

I drank copious cups of Currawong’s home-made ginger tea as I listened to the events of the last four months and the current philosophies that Hellena’s wanting to pursue. This family is continuing to put a lot of energy into the monthly Nimbin Market and are feeling amply rewarded by the relationships and support that the greater Nimbin community have offered in return.

The relationships that we value are those that allow us to feel safe — even in our differences. Hellena’s support for me last year extended into her friendship with Sæþór (Ben) in Iceland, and in coming back to her and reporting on our time there, I am honouring her loving interest in our relationship. I appreciate the online- and real-life-networking of friends that means I am covered by a woven web of loving people regardless of my location.

The only difficulty in visiting this home is leaving! I explained our itinerary and appointments to the girls and only managed to talk them into the bus by promising that we’ll return sooner rather than later. One challenge with travel is that our friends are scattered across the country, across the world! But friends like this become a priority, and I look forward to our return.

Wallaby, Mountain Top, NSW, January 2015
Yes, it's good to be back in the Australian bush, surrounded by our very distinctive wildlife!