Flower power land is what my mum kept saying in the lead up to our trip. “That’s what Bellingen is, flower power land”. I’m pretty sure my mum’s never been to Bellingen or anywhere near the area but her opinion was pretty clear, and after spending two weeks in the Bellingen/Dorrigo/Urunga area I can kind of see what she means, but I also think her perception is just that little bit exaggerated. Because yes, sure, Bellingen has its fair share of what my mother would call free-range families doing the hippy-dippy shake but it’s not about that at all. For me, this little pocket of paradise (the Promised Land really is a pocket of paradise I swear) a safe place for people who are really looking at ditching the main frame for something simpler. So this is all about being in defence of small-town charm and making the tree change. (I’m sure a lot of you are nodding in agreement as you are walking around your house, shutting all your windows in an attempt to block out the sound of the 12 jackhammers singing the song of their people day in day out).
Firstly, I think there is this common misconception that uprooting your life and moving somewhere different, is some big giant kerfuffle and will eventually send you around the bend. But all it really takes is simply for you to take one tiny step forward and have faith that things will fall into place. To have faith that all of those gut feelings you have about a certain town or place or space really are right. But I think it’s also about, knowing that if it doesn’t work out, the entire world won’t burn to the ground. Sure, you might lose a bit of money, feel a bit put out or whatever but you need to ask yourself, what have you ‘really’ got to lose?
Every single person I came across whilst staying in Bellingen, seemed to share this subconscious current of connection. They all had this pride, a sense of place because they themselves had created it. They’d created a haven they truly wanted to exist within. And no, it doesn’t take years (or generations in fact) to foster this. Most people I encountered had only been in the area a year or so. And yes Bellingen can be a little new age-y (or as the wonderful gentleman who works at Dorrigo pub bloody left wing homos with an agenda) but so flipping what? Maybe it might be nice to take a proper break from the big smoke, the construction and the controversy for a while.
I’ll be the first to say I love Newcastle, and I’m proud to be a Novocastrian. But I can’t help but think, maybe a tree change really is in order?