“We three kings of Orient are …”

Up north in Queensland the floods continue to drown towns and the occasional person, but the rain here has eased for the moment.

We just had the Doctor Who Christmas Special, “A Christmas Carol” on TV. I saw it in company with my buddy Cath and her husband. They live 30 minutes’ drive west of Woody Head, a National Park on the coast about one and a half hours’ drive from home. We were camping at ‘Woody’ for 7 days with about 20 of our Celtic/Australian music, singing and dancing friends and their kids. Andrew did not “do Who” as Cath has 2 cats and he is mucho allergic.

Kitchen area at Woody Head campground

The clearing in the forest where the "Three Wise Men" were entertained. The harp in the foreground was made by Geoff.

A peculiar thing happened when I arrived back in camp in the dark and the wind and the rain about 9 pm. I was followed in by a big white van, out of which emerged three young men with strong Russian accents. They were travelling around Australia and looking for a tent site – but Woody Head is all booked out, and because it’s Christmas everywhere else on the coast is, too.

Then I had a brainwave – because it was so rainy (170 mL in 3 days, over six and a half inches), some of our folks had not arrived yet, and there was tent space in our group camping site. So we invited them to stay as our guests. They pitched their tent, made their dinner on our fire and brought out some wine bottles to share. They said it was like a fairy tale – they were driving in the dark forest in the rain, then found themselves in a bright camp with people singing and dancing! We played our best Russian dance tune – and Alexei said it reminded him of Irish music – which of course couldn’t be helped, as that is what our people most often play.

The Russians headed off towards Sydney the next day. We later dubbed them “the Three Wise Men from the east”, as they came from eastern Russia (near Japan).

Eroding Woody Head beach
Woody Head beach erosion

The rain subsided after three days and the hordes who had postponed their trip descended. It was great getting up early and walking on the beach with my camera with nobody else there. Other activities were exploring the rock platform, swimming, reading and hanging out with friends.

The Woody Head beach is advancing into the littoral rainforest at a rate of 2 metres (6 feet) a year. The melaleucas are creating a bone yard as their roots are undermined by the waves. By 2025, the water’s edge is predicted to reach the campground, kiosk and shower block. The administration has already built an artificial dune to protect the campground until then.

Mummer's play performance (an ancient pagan British midwinter ritual)

I wrote a piece for Cath and me to sing, using the tune of the Spooky Men’s Chorale theme song, which won us 3rd place at the Chorus Cup – an event where teams get together to put on a (usually hilarious) performance for the rest of the group. That was New Year’s Eve and we were up till 2.30 am! (The Spooky Men’s Chorale are an all-male 12-piece “a capella” choir, who do their own songs and clever interpretations of others – check them out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vElZMz5DYPw )

We spent a day off site visiting Iluka Bluff (another pretty rock platform and beach) and the small towns of MacLean and Yamba.

Six White Boomers

This Christmas triptych adorned the front of the local supermarket in Maclean. This first photo shows the six albino kangaroos, or “white boomers” as they are called in a Christmas song made famous by Rolf Harris.



“Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
Racing Santa Claus through the blazing sun.
Six white boomers, snow white boomers,
On his Australian run.”



Sweet-toothed possums and boozy koalas

In the middle panel, two possums have their hearts set on a cupcake (though when we lived in Sydney we had a friend who used to feed Basmati rice to wild possums who climbed up to his windowsill). The koalas in the background are enjoying their cold fermented beverages of the sort not offered to children.

Santy Claus and mag-piper

In the right-hand panel, we see Father Xmas on his boomer-drawn sleigh full of native animals, led, we think, by a magpie playing the Highland bagpipes.

Maclean is enthusiastically Scottish, so that’s probably the inspiration for the mag-piper.

I have to say that, although I enjoyed the 7 days away, it’s nice to sleep in a bigger bed with no sand in it! I miss the sea breezes, though.

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3 Responses to “We three kings of Orient are …”

  1. Cath Clark says:

    Brilliant title and story to go with, Joy. Christmastime, for all the steamy weather and rain, can bring such magical moments if we’re ready to see them. New Years Eve at Woody was really special, and of course seeing WHO wit YOU!

  2. Alan says:

    I have to be careful when I see references to Dr Who these days since we’re concerned about spoilers. We have only just started into the 11th Doctor series of course. I do see that you didn’t have any spoilers in there.

    That photo of the beach at Woody Head reminds me of some of the Georgia Barrier Island Beaches that have been subjected to similar types of erosion.

  3. Joy Window says:

    My thoughts, too. I remember you and Jane taking me to Cumberland Island off the south coast of Georgia (USA, not Russia) – a fascinating place in terms of natural history. The American Chronicle website has a summary:

    “Once a favorite hiding place of pirates, such as Blackbeard, the Barrier Islands have played an active role in history, and yet are still languid, quiet islands, pristine in their beauty, while providing an active ocean barrier for the southern state coastlines of Georgia and South Carolina.

    “Life moves slowly on these islands and still is reminiscent of the past. Tall live oaks draped in Spanish moss gently blowing in the breeze, and the polished beauty of large magnolia trees mark these islands with their southern heritage. … Also unique and unexpected in the Barrier Islands are the herds of wild horses … introduced at the end of the 16th century. …

    Cumberland Island is the largest of the Georgia Barrier Islands. … In many ways, Cumberland Island is the crown jewel of Georgia’s Barrier Islands. But it certainly is not the most visited island, as the National Park Service limits how many people can be on the island at any one time. Due to this guest restriction, the island retains its wild natural beauty. Much in evidence here are the herds of wild horses that move from the beaches to the inland areas foraging for food.”

    Jane said the place where the old dead trees lie on the beaches, as at Woody Head, is called the “boneyard”, and that’s what comes to mind when I see those dead melaleucas at Woody Head.

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