A light hearted yet real article highlighting that the experience of grief can and does arise in various ways. For many our football clubs are like family. The highs and lows we learn to ride.
How is it that with every kilometre that we drove deeper and deeper into the country, the more suffocated and claustrophobic I felt? This land is ancient, untamed and uniquely stunning. She stands still. Unwavering. She moves for no one.
Any preconceived ideas I had that this would be a short drive down a dirt road were quickly thrown out the window. Very quickly when you begin travelling in this remote area you realise that this region commands respect. The land is rugged and we must respect where we are and to honour the opportunity to be here, experiencing the gift and that this is not a quick trip to the shops.
I have travelled to ‘the Centre’ many times and find that area to be abundantly beautiful, vast and expansive. It pulls you deeper into yourself, and in doing so results in a connection with self and the land in a mesmerisingly, delicious and embracing way. The colours at ‘the Centre’ are richly stunning. Anyone who has tried to paint knows how bloody challenging it is to recreate the red earth, the purple pink hue of the sunset and the ever changing colours of the landscape.
I wondered as we prepared for this trip ‘up north’ how the land would be. Would it be the same? What would my experience be? Would I connect with ‘her’ in a similar way in which I connect and resonate strongly with ‘the Centre’? Would it match up so to speak. How foolish for me to think that the land would need to compete. She knows no such thing, it is merely us mortals that engage in such games.
So here I am at the turn off onto Gibbs Road, in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. I had heard many stories, read many blogs, seen many pictures yet I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. Here we were literally in the middle of nowhere. To the north rugged land, to the south rugged land, to the east and the west. A dirt road that seemed to disappear into nowhere.
We had done what we could to prepare for this trip. The back of the car was full of food, water and other things we thought we would need as we ventured ‘outback’ for a few days. There would be no phone, no internet or shops. In the few days when we ventured back out most items were still there – all those things we thought we needed – we really didn’t need at all.
One thing for sure that I needed which I didn’t know going in was courage. A willingness to confront my fears head on and to know that I was safe.
On reflection I can see how there really is that sense of ‘going in’, going into a whole different reality model. What I know now is that if you are willing to be present and to surrender who you are going in will be totally different to who you are coming out. It is like you cross into a whole new time space continuum. What you had – you don’t need, what you think you want in life – you realise you don’t really, what you think is important – isn’t, who you are – isn’t real either. She can strip you bare simply through her presence and your willingness to be present and to engage.
I didn’t see this coming. Being stripped bare. Bloody uncomfortable and didn’t exactly fit my preconceived notion of a few days immersed in El Questro Wilderness Park. She was pulling me so deeply I became blinded. Who would I be when I came out?
Richmond, is a place.
Richmond, is a footy team.
Richmond, is family.
Richmond, is home.
Richmond, Tiger town. Is in my blood, it is cursing through my veins, moving in and out of my heart.
Bridge Rd, Swan St, Punt Rd, Church St.
Richmond, ancestral ground. How many others before me? A place where my grandmother was born, where my great grandparents lived. Maternal and paternal. Both sides. Genetics. Influence of place. Richmond. Cell resonance. Known by my physical body. Where there is an innate knowing, yes this is where I arrived ‘here’. Richmond, Bethesda Hospital. Birth place. Richmond, home. Comfortable. Safe. Refuge.
Richmond, brings a lump to my throat, tear to my eye. Richmond is home. Home of my ancestors, my birth place, my safe place, its where we gathered, its where I was loved.
Richmond, history. Before my time, after I am gone. Continuation. Tradition. Passing the baton. Connection. Shared experience. Family. Walking up Bridge Rd, MCG car park, walking into the ‘G’.
Richmond, loved, love.
Richmond Football Club
Richmond, football, passion, connection, belonging, my religion, joy, anxiety, family time, yelling, screaming, cathartic, my weekly purge, time away from her, let me out of the home, give me some breath space. Fresh air. Stadium. Family time. Hot chips. Tea at half time.
Going to the footy, my escape, my refuge from the rules, from the masks, from the parameters, free from the shackles. The ‘G’ a place where I could let it all out and no one told me off. A time each week, where I could yell, scream, jump up and down, escape from a life of fear.
Richmond Football Club, torture, passion, pain, joy. 80%. Leave at the 20 minute mark of the last quarter if we are losing. Pulling out. Not following through, dynamic established unconsciously. Leave before you witness the loss. Don’t want to lose, don’t want to see other in pain. Not following through. Pulling out if things are not going well. It’s a strong pull. It’s so deeply imbedded within my cells, my genetic makeup. When they lose, I lose. When they win, I win. My cells respond. Reflected glory.
Richmond. Legacy. Blood. Connection.
Influenced my view of life. Financial, cultural, familial and social.
Richmond, the one constant through the vein of my life.
My trip to Scotland through March and July 2020 was cancelled due to covid19.
During this time I reallocated my energy to finalise my family history studies at the University of Tasmania.
One of my assignments included a photo essay. I had not done one of these before. A photo essay is a collection of images and short captions that strung together tell a story.
I hope you enjoy my photo essay which shares my personal experience of the impact covid-19 has had on my personal life.
Enlightened travel is travel that illuminates. It is conscious, aligned and attuned to you as a spiritual being. It gives one the opportunity to gain insight into ones true self. It is a process that provides growth, experience and expansion for the whole being. It goes beyond travelling purely for the humanness and drops the traveller deeper into themselves, showing them more of who they are.
It is travel with soul purpose. Through travel we are exposed to new experiences. With soul awareness we become aware of how we feel in a place. Have you as a soul lived ‘here’ before? How do you feel in a place. There will be places that may remind you of other moments in your souls journey – some pleasant, others not so. You could be given the opportunity to heal wounds you didn’t know existed that have been carried through lifetimes.
It is a portal, a pathway to accelerate ones healing and self-actualisation process. It results in greater awareness of self, a deepening connectedness with oneself and of the land. A releasing of limiting and harmful personality and egoic behaviours, patterns and programs.
At Kincardine by Duone, Scotland my four times great grandparents John Junkine and Johanna Stewart Graham were married on the 16th Nov 1816. Whilst one of many great grandparents I have traced, this particular marriage took my attention. Why? Because of the place. Duone, Scotland.
8 months prior;
Duone Castle has a commanding presence. Sitting majestically atop a small rise it dominates the skyline. I arrived here late in the afternoon as part of a one-day Outlander tour. Yes, I am a bonafide Outlander tragic. For those fellow Outlander fans, Duone Castle was the filming location for Castle Leoch. If you aren’t an Outlander tragic, this castle was also the filming location for Game of Thrones Winterfell (in the pilot) and used in one of the Monty Python movies.
I digress. Having undertaken the audio tour within the Castle, I found myself standing outside now taking in the surrounds. The wind was chilly and what was left of the sun was setting, the day was coming to a close. My gaze wandered attempting to take it all in. To the right of the Castle, my eyes came upon an opening. The explorer in me wanted to follow the path. The little girl within me was frightened, fearful of being told off for going where she shouldn’t. There was no sign to indicate I could or couldn’t follow the track. I had time. Others were still inside the castle. Like the girls at Hanging Rock, something pulled me towards the opening. Even if I wanted to stay still I couldn’t. My legs had their agenda. They were at the whimsy of a force that I couldn’t see yet could feel. Hesitantly I took the first few steps and started up the small incline. Trees framed the castle to the right. The path went along the wall of the castle. I couldn’t see what was on the other side. It didn’t matter. I was being called by the land. I followed.
My heartbeat increased. My palms were sweaty. I felt excited and scared simultaneously.
My pace quickened. The closer I got to the top I could hear water. Yet I couldn’t see. As I reached the top and walked through the opening, I saw a river to the right. It was barely visible through the trees and was a far drop from where I stood. One false step and I would be tumbling down into the river. This river swept alongside the perimeter of this Castle on a hill. It was moving quickly. It had an energy of its own. In rhythm, the winds swept through the trees. The sounds enticing. The wind through the trees, the sound of the icy cold water currents making music. Music that my heart connected to.
Whilst the path continued further alongside the Castle, I didn’t move. I stood transfixed. Taking it all in. My heart rate increasing, my arms sweaty. I became aware of my emotions. Something was stirring within me, deep out of sight. Like a train coming through the tunnel, these emotions roared towards me. I closed my eyes in an attempt to block the noise and feelings. It was no use. I was at its mercy. A part of me yelled “Move, get out of here,” but I couldn’t. I was engulfed. Tears began trickling down my cheeks. Like waves crashing the shore, emotions of grief, of loss a rage and anger tossed me. Tears continued to fall. What the hell was happening? I had not been here before. Logically this made no sense whatsoever “get a grip” I told myself. It was pointless. I was at its mercy. Whatever drew me towards the small opening wanted me here, now. To feel this, to release. I surrendered to my experience and allowed the tears to flow without trying to work it all out.
As quickly as this began , it stopped. The wind ceased. The trees became still. The river became calmer. Their dance, their music had slowed. Calm surrounded me. My breath returned to its normal pace and air entered my lungs. I became aware of myself within the surroundings once more. I was completely alone. No one or nothing was in sight. My legs were heavy and planted firmly in place. How long had I been here? What just happened? I allowed the questions to move through my mind. Knowing answers would not come. It was pointless. I sat down and felt the coolness of the grass on my legs and buttocks. This took the heat out of my body. As much as I wanted to get up and run away. I knew something had occurred, a transformation, a release or recognition of what was. Something had happened at this place not to me as Libby, but along the time line. There was a recognising beyond the physicalness of self. I had made myself available, I placed myself here and the opening presented. Healing had begun, transformation occurring. What was locked up was now released.
As I carefully made my way back around to the front of the Castle I stood and looked back. Was this a portal? A path to another time? Logically it doesn’t make sense yet the experience was real and profound.
Duone, the place, the River was now firmly entrenched in me. I knew I had to research this place further. What had happened historically? What went on in this castle that could have left such an imprint of grief and loss? Were my ancestors connected to this land? I was curious and the exploration would continue.
Whilst part of the Outlander tour, I didn’t realise that my casual visit to the Castle would result in such a profound experience.
On my return to Australia, I tagged Duone as a place to explore further. One day casually reviewing ancestry tips I was going ‘down the rabbit hole’ with my fourth great grandparents. As you do, you open tips and see what they reveal. Most times they are insignificant. Yet this day, Duone was looking straight back at me through the search records. I squealed with delight when I saw they were married here. I had connected the place and my profound experience with my ancestors. It wasn’t just some random experience. Two of the dots connected.
In regards to the grief I felt, I discovered that the Castle was used as a Jacobite prison and a dower house for widowed Queens. One can only imagine the sense of grief that was imprinted on the land from its previous use.
Doune Castle (pronounced ‘doon’)
- The castle is sited on a wooded bend where the Ardoch Burn flows into the River Teith.
- It lies 8 miles north-west of Stirling, where the Teith flows into the River Forth.
- 14th-century courtyard castle
- Built for the Regent Albany
- Substitutes for the fictional Castle Leoch in Outlander was used in the pilot series of Game of Thrones (Winterfell) and in Monty Python
- Later was a royal residence, dower house for widowed queens and a Jacobite prison
Stirling Castle sits high atop Castle Esplanade in Stirling, Scotland overlooking surrounding lands as far as one can see. Its commanding presence indicative of its historical imprint in Scotland. From here you can see the National Wallace Monument on the edge of the Ochil Hills. Towards the north-east, you can view the mountain peaks of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park. Simply stunning. Rendering one feeling quite small in a land of grandeur and natural beauty.
I arrived here one cold windy blistering March day, part of a one day tour through Loch Lomond with our end destination Stirling Castle. Towards the end of our time at the Castle, quite late in the afternoon, I found myself resting at the back of my tour bus. Having spent a couple of hours exploring the Castle and soaking up its stories of Scotland’s Renaissance Kings and Queens, I was weary. My head full of Robert the Bruce, King Edward, William Wallace, Queen Mary of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie.
The inclement weather taking its toll, the warmth of the bus was enticing. As I started to settle in and wait for my fellow travellers to return my tour guide turned to me and said. “Weren’t you the one who mentioned your ancestors came from Clackmannanshire?” Yes, I replied. Earlier that day I struck up a conversation with him. Explaining that part of my reason for being in Scotland was to explore my ancestral lands. I rattled off some towns, foreign to me, only as names appearing on ancestry.com. A friendly guy who paid attention to his guests. He remembered our brief chat. “Well come with me”. Putting my coat and beanie back on I stumbled out of the bus. The blustery winds shook out any weariness. He walked me over to the edge of the car park. “There” here said pointing towards the base of the mountains, “There, that is the land where your ancestors lived.” It was so far away I couldn’t see detail, yet I saw where. Where they lived and worked.
To some, it was a speck on the sprawling landscape to me though, a weary wanderer from Oz, a seeker of connection… it was gold. I hadn’t come ‘here’ on this tour with this expectation. I was merely spending a day exploring a loch and a castle. Never did I expect to be shown, to see and to feel the land of my ancestors. I stood transfixed and he continued to share with me about the type of life they would have had and experienced. I was given an insight into them. Who they were and why they would have left. It was deeply profound. Whilst the trip was loosely ancestral focussed I didn’t have the fortitude to arrange to hire a car and exploring small Scottish villages on my own. However, it wasn’t needed. I was here, I was seeing and I was learning.
It felt full circle.
In the late 1850s my great grandparents 3 times removed left Scotland. Embarking on a journey many Scots had taken to a land far, far away. A land so foreign nothing they were prepared for.
They left perhaps seeking a better life. One can only imagine how different my life would have been if they had travelled to the Americas instead. They left in an attempt to improve.
Their choices gave me the life I have now. It provided me with freedom. Freedom that resulted in me travelling here to Scotland. Their land, my land. They didn’t get to return. I have done that for them and with them. I felt this strongly standing on this hilltop at Stirling Castle. As the winds continued to howl and a slight drizzle of rain moved through, a tear trickled down my cheek. A tear of gratitude and belonging.
No longer was Scotland just another tourist destination. Something happened at that moment. It was my home too. Through the DNA pumping through this body, there was a recognition and remembrance of those that came before me.
My tour guide sensing this internal shift, left me to be. To be with them, to be with me.
This is the magic of ancestral travel.
I didn’t set out looking for this place. Yet the land found me. It drew me towards it. It wasn’t planned or expected. Yet it found me. Pulled etherically.
I stood as long as I could. Until the others had returned to the tour bus. Until I was called. It was time to leave the car park at Stirling Castle. I had arrived a tourist. I was becoming an explorer. I was connecting to place in a way previously unknown. My journey had only now begun.
Interested in finding out more? These sites are worth a visit:
I highly recommend the 1-day Loch Lomond and Stirling Castle tour with Rabbie’s Tour Company. https://www.rabbies.com/en/scotland-tours/from-edinburgh/day-tours/loch-lomond-national-park-stirling-castle-day-tour . I am not receiving any financial incentive to say this.
#enlightenedtraveller #ancestraltraveller #ancestry
No two journeys are ever the same. Yet how many of us return to a particular place seeking to re-experience what we once did? We all have a favourite place to travel back to, a reminder of precious moments that left us feeling connected and enlivened. Experiences such as a great dinner in a restaurant, the view from a mountain top or sunset at a beach, walking through a forest, taking in the sights of a historic town or sporting event.
These experiences leave such a mark that we yearn to return, to re-experience the delight and re-activation of our senses. Its imprint can be so strong that we make that moment mean something. This place becomes a symbol of that moment. Regardless of what it was, there is a part of you that identifies that place and moment as special; it is an anchor of happiness, of joy.
The imprint of this can be so strong that when we seek to re-experience happiness, we can go looking for that once more. It can become a longing, a yearning for something that was. This doesn’t even need to be related to travel. Even a local restaurant, or going to the football, a social gathering can have the same impact. It is the association of place with experience.
For me that place is Melbourne. It is home. The place I was born, lived for over 40 years and have raised my young family within. Living interstate now for just on ten years, I still need to travel ‘home’ to Melbourne, usually once or twice a year. As I say to many I need my ‘Melbourne fix’. You don’t realise the energy of a city until you no longer live within it. There is something about your home city, a physical connection to land and place that engenders a sense of belonging.
I love watching my footy team play at the MCG, going to the Theatre, visiting the National Gallery, shopping, eating and walking along some of my favourite streets and parks.
Chapel St, South Yarra is a place I associate with fun times and warm hearted memories. It is a lively street full of cafes, boutique shops, trams bustling along, people immersing themselves in life, Channel 10, apartment buildings…. the list goes on. It wasn’t a place I lived in when I was in Melbourne, but as a tourist it is a fab place to base yourself. This recent trip was my fourth and I was keen to eat cake at my favourite patisserie, browse the shops (that I don’t have access to in Perth) and soak up the atmosphere. Super excited once more for these experiences.
On this most recent trip, when I started to walk up Chapel St it was different. My favourite cake shop was gone, the clothing boutique I loved had closed, many shops were ‘for let’ and a huge apartment block had been developed completely changing the landscape of the street. It was such a disorienting experience. Everything I was looking for, that I associated with joy was gone. My expectations weren’t being met. I felt deflated and sad for what was and no longer is. It became just another street.
The same can occur when you return home to visit family. We can take a snapshot of our time together and put it in a photo frame etched in our mind. We can assume that when we go back that we are all the same, that we can pick up from where the photo was taken. It is not often the case though. People change. You change. The place changes. Attempting to reinvent or assuming it is the same can be naive. It can be confronting.
“But places change; they go on without you…For the truth is that you can never simply “go back”, to home or to anywhere else. When you get “there” the place will have moved on just as you yourself will have changed”A Thin Place: a narratives of space and place, Celtic spirituality and meaning’ Laura Beres
I have had a similar experience travelling to Central Australia. I first travelled to Uluru in the mid 2000’s. My husband and I took our three kids there twice, once in a campervan ( yes we drove from Melbourne to Central Australia with three kids in a campervan! ) the other in a motorhome (not much better actually!) . Exploring this land with my family was special, introducing them to our Indigneous culture, watching a sunrise at Uluru and walking the valley at Kata Tjuta. It did have a profound effect on me. The imprint is so strong that I returned there on two other occasions on my own; once in 2011 and again in 2012. These journeys were different. As I should have expected them to be because I was on my own.
Uluru became a symbol of vastness, expansiveness and stillness. Something I experience ‘there’ but often nowhere else. It is a deeply spiritual place and the connection to land seeps up through the souls of your feet and into your bloodstream. You become one with all that is. There is no separateness. This was a feeling I didn’t always have in a city. Uluru became a place I thought I needed to be ‘in’ to feel this way.
Six years later I returned to this magical place, alone, with fond memories and seeking. Not sure what for but I was returning looking for something I previously had. When I arrived, nothing happened. The ‘wow’ didn’t occur. The tears didn’t trickle out of my eye and my breath didn’t get taken away. Uluru was there with its incredible strong and steady presence and the domes of Kata Tjuta still embraced me in her warmth. Yet it wasn’t the same as before. Clearly I was looking for something ‘that was’. I was yearning for a past experience in the present moment. Once more I was shown that time moves, change is the constant and experiences can not be re-created.
Which brings me to presentness. What my recent experiences travelling back to Melbourne and Central Australia have shown was the beauty of being in the moment. Accepting that this moment is the only one. You need to fully immerse yourself in it. Because you don’t know what will come next. It is accepting that you will change, the place itself may not physically change (in its structure) but it changes in its own unique way. The trees change, animals evolve and the landscape adapts. The wind will be different, the heat of the sun is more intense, the air is different, there are new native flowers blooming, the scent of the gum tree unique, the she oak trees aged … it all changes. So fully immerse yourself in where you are now. Take it in deeply to your heart core and relish every miniscule of it.
Looking for what was, creates expectations.
Expectations, if not fulfilled lead to disappointment. It also strips you from the wondrous gift of being fully present in the moment and to what is offered there and then. Spending time seeking for what was, denies what is.
Travel with an open mind and heart.
#enlightenedtraveller #melbourne #richmond #centralaustralia
Scotland may be small geographically yet it is rich in offering for your ancestral pilgrimage. Don’t be fooled into thinking a few hours driving and a couple of visits to small villages and your ancestral journey is done!
This land is ancient and seeped with historical offerings. Whilst our Scottish ancestors initially immigrated here in the 1800’s their stories go back hundreds of years. Many left through an ‘assisted passage’ scheme with dreams of establishing a new, abundant and healthy life.
Here are some sites you can start exploring BEFORE you leave Australia.
Planning your Scottish ancestral journey
Finding your Scottish Ancestors
www.nts.org.uk (National Trust Scotland)
Family History Federation www.ffhs.org.uk