I was born on January 18,1976, on a full moon night on the banks of Misty Creek, so they called me Mystic Bliss. I am told I greeted the world with a song by wailing in a pitch perfect E. My father cried, my mother orgasmed and laughed, and the tribe cheered and ululated and held my womb-juice covered body high.
I was handed to an Aboriginal elder called Auntie Pearl who said ‘dis one special’ as she cleansed me with smoke and washed me with a special lotion made from rainforest plants.
When the cord was cut people swear they saw a shooting star and said it was a blessing, then they buried the placenta under the tree with their bare hands and celebrated with drumming, dancing and fucking whilst I suckled contentedly on my mother’s breast.
My mother was called Free and my father was called Roar and I became a precocious hippie kid, a pagan brat who grew up in the rainforests of the Rainbow region of New South Wales.
My home is a community that lies nestled in Misty Valley: so-named because the unique microclimate causes mists to creep down the Nightcap ranges in the dead of night, embrace our little valley in the early morning and then, when the sun rises over the eastern escarpment, dissolve quietly back into the dense, moist rainforest.
The only way in is to take a long winding road through rich farmland that gives way to ancient rainforest hills and gullies. You cross over four flood-prone creeks with narrow concrete bridges to where the potholed bitumen eventually turns to dirt, just past the wild bamboo forest. There you take the dead-end Misty Valley Road, turn right and follow a disused logging track that takes you across an old wooden bridge that spans a dark rainforest gully filled with moss covered booyongs, rosewoods, stranglers, ferns and bangalow palms. You turn left after the bridge, come up a rise and there our little valley spreads out before you: lush, rolling dairy pastures that end at Misty Creek, and beyond that the dense rainforest that fights its way up the imposing face of the escarpment to become the Nightcap Ranges National Park.
There an old farmhouse with a wide veranda sits on a hill surrounded by three magnificent jacaranda trees, two flame trees and the wild remains of an English rose garden. To its right sits the old wooden milking shed and to the left the water tank, windmill pump and the old barn covered in bougainvillea. Beyond that pasture gives way to the gradual rise of the land and the steady encroachment of the rainforest. It’s on the sloping edge of the rainforest that people constructed a jumbled collection of wood and mud brick huts, yurts and geodesic domes of eccentric construction that looked out across our verdant, hidden valley.
The locals said the place was jinxed. They said that any man who tried to farm the valley had either died young or went broke. The only person to stay for any length of time was old Mabel Roberts who lived to a hundred and one. A district nurse found her body decaying peacefully in her old rocking chair on the porch, her body covered in the purple petals of her beloved jacarandas.
Her husband had been one of the unlucky ones, killed when a sharp branch pierced his chest after he had slipped on a wet rock. He had lain dead in the rainforest for three days until Mabel found him and dragged his corpse out on a makeshift sled. She kept the farm going by surviving off a few dairy cows and the pension. The only help she had was Molly, one of the last full-blood Widjabal women.
There was a rumour that Molly practiced the old magic.
Others tried to work the land after Mabel, but the land needed major redevelopment and when the regional economy went into decline it was deemed unviable and too remote, so it sat fallow for six years.
It held a secret.
When the word had got around that hippies had settled in the valley an old Widjabal woman called Auntie Pearl appeared. No one saw her arrive and she didn’t announce her arrival. Instead she waited patiently and quietly in the yard until she was seen. She said she was the guardian of the valley and that the Nightcap ranges were her ancestral home.
She told a story.