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October Stories in the Club: Getting Here: Migration

Written on September 18, 2018


Jan Olley

‘Getting Here: Tales on the Wing’

On Sunday, October 14, ‘Stories in the Club’ people will gather to hear tales of bird and human migration. Tellers will be Jan Olley, John Imbrogno, Alicia Vella, Luis Santos and Jenni Cargill-Strong. Two weeks later, it will be followed by a ‘Story Circle’ on the theme of Sanctuary at Wild Space on Sunday, October 28.

Jan Olley is the coordinator of Byron Bird Buddies and sits on the Regional Advisory Committee for National Parks. She grew up in the Northern Rivers and trained as an Intensive Care nurse. At a young age, she became inspired by nature and especially our wonderful birds. Her story tells not only of her own discoveries in nature, but of the astounding journeys of thousands of migrating shorebirds that visit our coasts and wetlands each year.

Bobbi Allan has a long involvement with social and environmental organisations, was a founding member and facilitator of the Heart Politics Conferences, the Social Change Training & Resource Centre, and Buddhist teacher at Stillness in Action meditation retreats. Bobbi now teaches mindfulness to school teachers and students. She has been active in support of refugees in Australian detention centres since 2001 and will read from a new book by Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish Australian Journalist and filmmaker, with a background in political science and geopolitics. He came to Australia as a refugee and has been indefinitely detained on Manus Island for 6 years. He wrote his book, No Friend but the Mountains, on a smuggled mobile phone, laboriously typed out in Farsi, and sent in small messages to a translator. It is a first-hand account of the horrors of Manus Island detention.

John Imbrogno is a passionate storyteller and was a member of the ‘Byron Circle of Tellers’. He has been working with young men and men for over 10 years and uses story as therapy in his work. He is a senior facilitator for a variety of rites of passage programs as well as men’s behaviour change programs and is father to two boys and a girl. John grew up in Melbourne and as a boy, his heritage seemed like something to hide. He will tell of his recent journey to Italy and meeting his extended family for the first time.

Alicia Vella’s passion is co-creating and facilitating interactive experiences inviting people to deeply connect into their heart centre through wellness, creativity and nature. Alicia’s creatively expressed story encapsulates her ancestral lineage’s migration journey to Australia and what it means for her to create roots on the sacred land of Australia.

Alicia Vella

Luis Santos was born in Lisbon – Portugal. He’s been a Mullumbimby dweller for over 15 years, is married to Tracy and the father of 5 children and has been active in the local men’s movement. Luis says, ‘I love my life as it’s bursting with potential and full of beauty, but that hasn’t always been the case. What I’ll share with you is how life events conspired to bring me to Australia. This turned out to be the most challenging time of my life and on occasions, I thought I was going to die. Depressed and disoriented, I needed to find a way out of my misery. ‘

Curator of the event, storyteller and singer, Jenni Cargill-Strong will sing the original ballad of her great-grandmother, Emily Jane who sailed here with her husband and child in 1884 and endured many hardships on the journey and after arrival.

WHEN: Sunday, Oct 14, 4- 5.30pm
WHERE: Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club
ENTRY by suggested donation: $10.
WHO: 14 years and up

Celebrating a year of community storytelling

Written on August 22, 2018

‘Stories in the Club’ did already turn one in August, but as we were at the Byron Theatre, we didn’t eat birthday cake. However, on September 9, this will be rectified as we celebrate a year of community storytelling at our beloved home venue of the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club with delicious birthday cake made by Sarah Wheeler of PureMelt Chocolate! You are invited!!

The theme will be ‘It’s a Mad Mad World’. If you were in any doubt about this being true, the shenanigans going on during the spill in Canberra may have reminded you of it’s veracity! Yet again, some wonderful community members have agreed or volunteered to tell a tale on the theme, which was inspired by a panel at Renew Fest called “Is Insanity a Sane Response to an Insane World?”

Shirley Nelson arrived in Byron Bay in 1970, an English-trained nursing Sister was appointed as Matron of Byron Hospital. She immediately began transforming the hospital and health care across the region. Her story is about an old man who had a wish and a dream. It is also about the people and processes involved in the fulfillment of both. It is a story of tenacity and how, when people can get together many, even great things are achievable in this “Mad Mad World.”

Byron Bay local, George Feros, will be a part of Shirley Nelsen’s story. He collected money for what became Feros Care.

Gabby Le Brun has a Masters in Drama, majoring in Contemporary Performance and has been performing since she was 8 years old. She is currently a member of the Cassettes Flashmob Troupe. Her most recent role was in Bangalow Theatre Company ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. Gabby spun a great tale in October last year about her escapades on roller skates.

Cyd Crossman has lived for 19 years in the Byron Shire. She is a visual/performance artist, a certified sexological bodyworker, a somatic sex educator, realist, workshop facilitator, speaker and MC. Cyd is also an avid writer and researcher, with a BA in Journalism and is the mother of two sons. Her story engages with the way unexpected events can be the catalyst for extraordinary creative expression to manage madness.

Dan Sanderson, who was one of the presenters on popular Men’s Show on Bay FM. He describes himself as ‘a 45-year-old straight white male, with a university degree, no kids to support, lives by himself in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, has plenty of free time, is talented and has plenty to offer, and yet… he gets depressed, and struggles with anxiety and has impressive powers of procrastination.’

Louise Harrison is the President of Toastmasters and coaches young speakers in the Gavalier’s Club and will share a snippet of her journey through some dark post-natal days.

Jenni Cargill-Strong, curator of the event will tell her sexy adaptation of an Italio Calvino tale ‘Silvernase’, a tale of Lucy, the brave young trickster who thoroughly outwitted the devil!

So mark your diary to join us for community stories from the heart, celebration and the consumption of sumptuous birthday cake.

FB Event here:

WHEN: Sunday, Sep 9, 4.00 -5.30pm
WHERE: Mullum Ex-Services Club
WHO: Over 14 years
COST: Suggested donation $10


Thanks to all those who supported our ‘Live Storytelling: Tales of Place’ event for the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival at the Byron Theatre last Saturday! Our sponsors were Brookfarm, really wonderful ethical and environmentally oriented local family business with a delicious, quality products range! It was especially heartwarming to see so many hands go up when I asked, ‘Who has been to Stories in the Club before?’ (The lighting was so dim, I could only recognise a few faces!) It was also rather exciting to be recorded by ABC Radio National for ‘Tall Tales and True’. Photo’s kindly taken by Mala Norris and my friend, Georgia Whiley. More images here on FB.

If you would like to share a story at ‘Stories in the Club’, please read about the event at our page and then if you feel your story might fit, contact Jenni at


Live Storytelling: Stories of Place at Byron Theatre as Feature Event for the 2018 Byron Bay Writer’s Festival



Written on July 26, 2018

In August, ‘Stories in the Club’ celebrates our first birthday. Excitingly, on Saturday, August 4, we are a Feature Event of The Byron Bay Writer’s Festival as ‘Live Storytelling: Stories of Place’. (NB: NOT the second Sunday and NOT at the Club!) Please join us!! Book HERE.

Tales from Arakwal woman Delta Kaye, Dr Mary Gardner, Mayor Simon Richardson, Sothern Cross University VC Adam Shoemaker and storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong.

Delta Kaye’s life is all about her family, a big family. She was raised on her traditional homelands. She has a performance background and for some years toured schools, telling tales and teaching culture. Now, Delta not only engages children in a fun and hands-on cultural program called Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming, but leads a cultural tour for adults within the Arakwal National Park. Delta will give Welcome to Country and tell a story.

Since 2007, Mary Gardner (right) is that biologist and photographer who writes articles about local ecology for the Byron Shire Echo. During her PhD research into the historical marine ecology of the subtropics, she found the most astonishing histories of local marine animals, starting with oysters.

Our Mayor, Simon Richardson was once a fire-twirling, dreadlocked environmentalist. He then became a high school teacher at Shearwater. He will tell ‘The Chant that Calmed the Mob’- the tale of the power of the circle and the power of nature.

Shortly after arriving in Australia as a young Canadian PhD student, Adam Shoemaker began traveling the countryside to speak with traditional lore-keepers. Since then, he has become a specialist in Indigenous literature and culture and has written eight books on the topic.

Event curator and professional storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong will tell an original story, ‘The Mulberry Tree’.

Please join us as we celebrate our first birthday!

ABC RN plan to record the stories for ‘Tall Tales and True’ and the event is being supported by Brookfarm. See you there!

Join the FB Event here.


WHEN: 8.00-9.15pm Saturday, August 4

WHERE: Byron Theatre

COST: $15

Book HERE.

(In September, we’ll back at our home venue, The Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club for ‘It’s a Mad Mad World’.)

July ‘Stories in the Club: Back to the Garden’

Written on June 26, 2018

Our July theme for ‘Stories in the Club: Drawn from Life’ is ‘Back to the Garden’, and was partly inspired by Joni Mitchell’s classic song ‘Woodstock’, which has become a bit of a theme song for ‘Stories in the Club’, as well as the understanding that gardening and eating local food is a significant contribution to environmental outcomes, as well as a healing practice.

As usual, I am very excited about the extraordinarily diverse and inspiring members of our community who have volunteered to tell a story and this month we will also have a special treat with live music from Cass Curran (above). Tellers are empowered to interpret the theme in their own way. It was a bit touch and go this month about whether we could go ahead, as a key teller had to pull out, but luckily Philip and Greer stepped in at the last minute!

Philip McLaren is an Aboriginal Australian from the Kamilaroi Nation. He’s a multi-prize-winning author and an Adjunct Professor at Southern Cross University. Philip will tell a story about early European settlement of his ancestral lands and how it impacted on communities and vast expanses of pristine lands. And he will read from his prize-winning novel –‘Sweet Water Stolen Land’ that was based on historical accounts and set in 1836.

Jacquelina Wills is a local artist and community worker, partly known for the beautiful earth mandalas she makes. She and Jenni also make labyrinths together. She has had a connection to the Mullumbimby Community Gardens since it’s earliest days and will share a tale of her experiences.

Stephen Nugent grew up in Sydney, surrounded by nature and girt by sea on one side. He worked as a gardener for 10 years when he left school and has since then wandered wide-eyed through the worlds of movement, rhythm, music, ritual and social art. He will share the East African folktale of Chinamakwati, the boy ‘dressed in bark cloth’.

Greer Dokmanovic is a local Uniting Church Minister, an InterPlay facilitator, labyrinth facilitator and lover of stories and of course, I will also tell a tale.

If you would like to be nourished and lit up by the rich soul food of stories, while gathering in community, please put in your calendar, Sunday, July 8. 

You can also read a short post on my thoughts on the Winter Solstice and the proposed Espionage Bill at my blog here.

  • Sunday, July 8, Stories in the Club: Back to the Garden, 4- 5.30pm
         WHERE: Mullum Ex-Services Club
ENTRY by suggested donation: $10.
WHO: 14 years and up
  • NO ‘Stories in a Circle’ for July as it’s school holidays
  • Saturday, August 4, Stories of Place, Byron Theatre. A version of ‘Stories in the Club’ is a Feature Event of the Byron Bay Writer’s Festival. Woohoo!!
  • Sunday, August 12, Stories in the Club: It’s a Mad Mad World and our 1st Birthday!


The chorus of WOODSTOCK
Joni Mitchell

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

Winter Solstice and the rekindling of the light

Written on June 24, 2018

“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

As we passed through the darkest night of the Winter Solstice, there was some pretty dark political news gathering on the horizon overseas and here in Oz. I found myself saddened but also a bit panicked about a triple bill that could greatly reduce our civil liberties. I had some time, so I took the actions suggested and made multiple posts on FB.

In an effort to calm and ground myself, I used a few Joyality techniques. I also pondered that draconian laws can ignite mass action and wake us from our collective, comfortable, complacent slumber. We can be the ones we have been waiting for, dream up and build the world we want to live in and get ourselves back to the garden.

In Scandinavia, at the Winter Solstice or the longest night, the rekindling of the sun is celebrated with candlelit processions and a maiden wears a crown of candles, evoking the ancient Goddess of the Light. 

As slowly, the days grow longer and the nights grow shorter, I also pondered that as well as resisting, I have the opportunity to rekindle hope and build that world Arundhati Roy talks about. In Sweden, Winter Solstice celebrations still feature a maiden wearing a crown of candles known as Lucibruden, or Lucy Bride to represent the rekindling of the light, evoking the ancient Goddess of Light. She is a symbol of the journey out of all kinds of darkness: both literal and metaphorical.

My way of helping people connect to eachother in comunity and to the stories that can noursih is to create that world is by putting on monthly community storytelling ‘Stories in the Club’. July 8, the theme is ‘Back to the Garden’. Read more at the next blogpost.

Here is a previous blogpost on the winter solstice:

JUNE ‘Stories in the Club’ Earth Love 

Written on May 28, 2018

Athol Compton

Northern Rivers story lovers are invited to gather on Sunday, June 10 for ‘Stories in the Club: Drawn from Life’ on a theme of ‘Earth Love’, as it falls a week after World Environment Day. Ten minute oral stories will be shared by Athol Compton, Dr Eshana Bragg, Maximo Bottaro, Hanna Nevarra, Henry Coleman and event curator, Jenni Cargill-Strong.

Athol Compton is a Minyunbul traditional custodian and has also acted in several feature films. ‘Stories in the Club’ regulars have often heard Athol give Welcome to Country and as usual this month he will also share a story on the theme.

Dr Eshana Bragg, doctor of ecopsychology, is an energetic, passionate environmentalist and co-creator of ‘The Joyality Program for Empowering Conscious Changemakers’. Eshana is also director of the Sustainable Futures Australia and teaches university courses in social change at the School for International Training.  She will be telling her own version of an ancient Tibetan prophecy of the Shambhala Warriors, a tale that is close to her heart and central to her teaching.

Henry Coleman has been a change-maker since childhood – a passion which grew out of a deep love and concern for nature. He connected with the work of Local Futures at age 15, which he found provided a big-picture analysis of our global crises and offered genuine strategies to confront them. He has worked with Local Futures both within Australia and for extended periods in Ladakh,  India, since he left high school. In 2017, he was one of the core team that set up Mullumbimby’s ‘Wildspace’, where he has continued his work as a ‘big picture activist’.

Hanna Nevarra has been involved in frontline activism through film, media and non-violent direct action. She has supported the Stop Adani campaign, Pilliga Push, Close Pine Gap and Aboriginal Tent Embassy with physical presence and civil disobedience and continues to support these campaigns through ‘Front-line Unity.’ Currently, she is working on a creative and innovative industries project, which helps support community solar and hemp projects as viable industries to help transition Australia out of coal and gas.

Maximo Bottaro has been passionately engaged in ecology throughout life,having always been sensitive to nature. He has worked in rainforest restoration for 15 years. He will tell the story of The Byron Bay Reforestation Project and how over a decade of rainforest regeneration in the Big Scrub, replanting Cassowary habitat in the Daintree, working with volunteers and doing genetic diversity research on rainforest trees has led us to bring everything we’ve learned together for a large scale, fun and engaging project in Mullumbimby.

I will tell Jenni Cargill-Strong will tell an original environmental story with a folktale flavour.

‘Stories in the Club’ is supported by The Ngara Institute, Creative Mullumbimby, Toastmasters, The Story Tree Company and Stories on Foot.

WHEN: Sunday, June 10, 4.00- 5.30pm
WHERE: Mullum Ex-Services Club
ENTRY by suggested donation: $10.
WHO: 14 years and up

May Stories in the Club Adult Fairytales

Written on May 23, 2018

Teeya Blatt

On Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13 our ‘Stories in the Club’ theme was ‘Adult Fairytales’. There were slightly less people than usual, but still we had 80 storylovers.

Tellers were Teeya Blatt, Ollie Heathwood, John Imbrogno, Sarah Temporal and Jenni Cargill-Strong.

Teeya told an original fairytale, The Princess and the Bag of Stones, which she wrote for a young girl who was having trouble dealing with the separation of her parents and adjusting to a new school.

John told the chilling tale of Bluebeard, the serial killer.

Ollie improvised and co-created a rollicking, humourous adventure story, peppered with social commentary, with the audience.

Jenni retold an ancient, dark, sexy, trickster version of ‘Red Riding Hood’ from France, ‘The Grandmother’s Tale’ or ‘Le Histoire du Grandmere’.

Sarah ended with her poetic piece which reimagines Rapunzel, which she also told at Vagina Conversations #3.

At the end, John Imbrogno lead us to sing a simple song in celebration of mothers. Beautiful!

More photos here.

Audience listening to Ollie Heathwood


April Stories in the Club explores Sexuality

Written on March 28, 2018


Spiral Orbit

Spiral Orbit

April’s ‘Stories in the Club’ theme is Sexuality. Tales will be told by Mandy Nolan, Ron van Twuiver, Aditya Bellah Moon, Jude White, Spiral Orbit and Jenni Cargill-Strong.

Mandy Nolan, best known in her role as comedian, comedy teacher and generous community activist, will show a very different side of herself, as she takes off her comedian hat and tells a poignant and personal tale.

Ron van Twuiver runs regular workshops in the local Northern Rivers area and works as a body based therapist. He started his journey with Tantra, personal growth and body work 23 years ago. ‘Our bodies are so wise they tell a story, but we can also train our bodies to let go of patterns and stories that re-enact trauma and suffering.’ said Ron.

Aditya Bellah Moon is a curious human being, learning to fully own her authentic expression without condition. Aditya’s story is about her journey through sexuality and society’s desire to label and limit her expression because she has a vagina.

Jude White has been a Mullumbimby local for 26 years, mother, artist, relationship counsellor, group facilitator of intimacy and woman’s groups and screen print trainer at Injalak Arts and Crafts in Arnhem land, Far north NT. She is passionate about human connection, authenticity, and relationships and how to bridge the gaps between Australian white and indigenous cultures. She is interested in helping people rediscover and understand our innate humanness, with compassion, self-responsibility and a little bit of  humour.

Spiral Orbit, transpersonal counsellor, sex educator and genderqueer activist, will tell a personal story of how the sexual repression of our era parallels the oppression of non-normative genders and sexualities.

Stories in the Club curator, professional storyteller, Jenni Cargill-Strong will take you back 5 000 years to hear from the oldest written story ever unearthed: the Sumerian Goddess of Fertility, Inanna. Jenni will perform the Courtship and Marriage of Inanna, a vividly erotic, earthy and celebratory tale.

Stories in the Club is supported by the Ngara Institute, Creative Mullumbimby and Magic Mullum Toastmasters. More information go to, Like the Stories in the Club FB page or subscribe via

If you love stories, mark in your calendar, Sunday, April 8. Arrive at 3.30pm for a 4pm start at the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club in Dalley Street. Stories end by 5.30 pm. Entry by suggested donation of $10. BOOK or arrive early to get a seat via the Mullumbimby Ex-Services Club website:

Stories of Creativity at March ‘Stories in the Club’

Written on March 19, 2018

March’s theme was Creativity and tellers were Athol Compton, Simone O’Brien, Suvira McDonald, Oonagh omZUna, Charlie Starret and me, Jenni Cargill-Strong. Each teller got 10 mins. Thanks to our wonderful photographer, Eva. Lots more photo’s on FB here.



Athol Compton is Minyunbul custodian and he gave Welcome and told us of ‘How the Birds got their Colours’.

Long time resident of the shire, Suvira McDonald is a practicing sculptor and potter. He is also a founding member of Creative Mullumbimby who are currently overseeing the Mullum Sculpture Walk. He told how the sculpture walk came to be, how he made the pickup sticks sculpture with help from the community and where it is headed.

Love CLUB founder, host & Floetic MC, Oonagh omZUna, an improvised Poet, Presenter & Performance Activist shared a high energy tale of triumphant public humiliation, land & creativity ~ featuring her self, Daevid Allen (GONG) & Elliet Mackrell (KANGAROO MOON).



Charlie Starrett, an experienced award-winning Toastmaster, told a magical personal story “Whose Life is it anyway?”

I told the Egyptian folktale of ‘The Black Prince’, a romantic folktale which I feel speaks to many themes, including creativity, being authentic, self-love and gender roles. It tells of a young boy who enchanted a princess with his flute playing. Not knowing he already had won her heart, and wanting her to love him, he gives up his flute to exchange his artistic soul for a warrior’s soul and so loses everything.

Simone O’Brien, ex-Creative Director of Spaghetti Circus, did a brilliant job of telling the fantastic, true tale of ‘Con Calleano’, a local Aboriginal man who became the world’s most famous tight wire artist and the inspiration behind social circus project ‘Cirque du Coraki’. You can see many videos of the amazing man and his spectacular tricks on YouTube here.



Our theme song has become Joni Mitchell’s “Woodstock”. I had been planning to weave it in February when environmentalist, Jim Tait referred to it in his passionate and emotional tale, I was prompted to start playing a recording before and after stories. I would love to manifest a live guitarist and singer one day to play it for us. (I love this new version as well as Joni’s original:

We also ended the evening with movement and the song “Shimbalae”. We were taught it in February, by my beloved Biodanza teacher, Jazmin Lj Tassell.* When I asked for some company on stage, Charlie’s partner, Kageni joined me. She told a great story in November and as well as being an award-winning Toastmaster and an engineer, teaches African dance!  Simone’s young friend, Rumi also joined us. JOY!! You can see the happiness on the faces of those in the audience too.

Here is the song ‘Shimbalae’ by Brazilian artist Maria Gadu, that we move to at the end. In the chorus, we gesture: Thanks to myself (self-hug) Thanks to the Heavens (arms up towards The Great Above) Thanks to the Earth (arms down to Earth, Great Below), Thanks to each other/ my Community (arms gesture to everyone else)

*Jazmin teaches BioDanza at St Martin’s in Mullum on a Tuesday night, starting at 6.30pm. Your first class is free.  See

First ‘Stories in the Club: Drawn from Life’ for 2018 and a record crowd

Written on February 12, 2018

We attracted a capacity crowd last night with all 140 chairs taken! Forty people had to sit on the tables, the only thing left to sit on. There were 180-200 people all together. Athol Compton, traditional Minyunbul custodian of the First Light people (Bunjalung), gave welcome and told a beautiful version of ‘The Three Brothers’. Behind him is John Allan’s very fresh painting of the Wadjina (painted for our gathering), which was shared with John by elders of the Kimberley, the Sunset people.


Minyunbul custodian, Athol Compton gives Welcome to Country and tells ‘The Three Brothers’.

Dr Mary Gardner, marine biologist and ecological historian, writes regularly for the Echo. She told a new style of true animal story, ‘The True Story of the World Oyster’. She began by asking ‘Is the world an oyster or is the oyster a world?’ Then she gradually and poetically answered her question. She ended by getting us to stand up and sign up to join ‘The World Oyster Liberation Front.’

Simon Richardson, Byron’s Mayor was once a dreadlock-wearing, fire-twirling environmentalist participating in direct actions. He told a beautiful story called ‘The Chant that Calmed the Mob’- the tale of the power of the circle and the power of nature. He ended by leading us to sing the chant in the story. Many in the audience knew it very well, as there were many experienced campaigners present, including Bobbi Allan, John Allan’s wife and Katrina Shields who amoung many other environmental actions, brought Joanna Macy to Australia.

Byron Mayor, Simon Richardson

Byron Mayor, Simon Richardson

Jim Tait, environmental scientist and consultant, Mullumbimby local, husband Dad and pantheist told ‘Mangi bilong cuntrisid’, the tale of a bush kid from Papua New Guinea who became an environmental scientist and subsequently a pantheist and of his hopes and fears for the future. He was very passionate and allowed himself to reveal the emotion a scientist and father feels as they monitor and report on an environment they love so deeply as it becomes degraded, and the feelings when his children ask him, “What do you really think Dad?”.

John Allan and Harry Brown shared a story they had been taught and given permission to share: the story of the origin of the Wunnan ..the Sharing System from the Wandjina country in The Kimberly. The story had story traces, picked up or the last 25 or 30 years, from Arnhem Land and Central Australia. John painted the spectacular backdrop we had on the stage of the Wadjina, which the elders had shared with him and given John permission to share and teach.

Lastly, I (Jenni Cargill-Strong) told the story ‘The Bird with the Most Beautiful Song’, a tale developed by US storyteller, Laura Simms from a short, simple story from the Mbuti (BaMbuti or pygmy) people. The Mbuti live deep within the Ituri Forest, which is at the heart of the Congo jungle. I was accompaIMG_4716nied by my friend, Lynton Francois Burger who played an mbira, an instrument played in the Congo. The mbira he played has quite a story behind it too. It was given to him by his father and was made in South Africa by a prisoner on death row from flattened nails and a wood scrap. I had been working on the story for about five years and finally evolved the new improved version in the days before ‘Stories in the Club’, with the help of Lynton and Mitchell from my writers group, the Byron Bay Inklers. (I had bought the dress I wore on Sunday four years ago, specifically to wear for that story, but it had taken me four years to get the courage to wear it, as it is backless. Before the concert a woman came into the ladies where I was checking my hair and said, “That dress evokes the birds of some deep jungle.” “Correct!” I replied.) The story tells of the importance of a magical bird who brings the rain whenever she is made an offering of food, song, dance or story. In the story, we repeatedly made a refrain ‘and the rain came down: sweet, blessed rain.’

To finish the evening my beautiful friend, Biodanza teacher Jazmin Tassell, lead us in a dance I adore- Shambalayla. As we dance, we make gestures to thank and honour ourselves, the earth, the cosmos and heavens, then each other- our community.

John Allan said later, ‘The last times I made a big Wandjina, rain, storms, lightning or big gusts of wind happened.’

When we left the club, a gentle blessed rain was falling and as I drove home I stopped to photograph the enormous double rainbow that had formed over Mullum! Nature indeed responded to our songs, stories and dances! Big thanks to everyone who helped to make it such a magical night.
More photo’s at the ‘Stories in the Club’ FB page and at Flickr.


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