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Journeys : October November 2009
Ramrods of subtropical rain belt dow n on the canvas marquee as the Mayor of Lismore, Councillor Jenny Dowell, takes the microphone at the opening ceremony of the town's Lanter n Festival. I'm expecting to hear a conventional speech -- but not prepared for something inspirational. She explains that many of the people carrying lantern s through the dow npour on that winter solstice night had lost everything in the floods that devastated Norther n New South Wales in 2008. She describes the tenacity of a community that can come through hardship and rebuild. She talks about the spirit of people who have worked together to create an event that expresses optimism through the flickering warmth of hand- made lanterns. She is direct, straightfor ward and moving. She ends by wishing that the rain might stop, but since it probably won't, that we too should go outside, get wet and greet the lights. We splash out into ankle-deep mud and water as the first lanter ns arrive. The rain pelts dow n. Drenched groups of little kids representing school after country school proudly carry their ow n tiny lanterns -- dripping teams of adults hoist impressive dragons, goannas, elephants and sailing ships high into the downpour. Somehow, the lights still glow. The lanter ns gather together and dim. The applause dies dow n. A lone didgeridoo drones into the darkness. The sound sends a message to the sky -- and the rain simply stops dead! Everyone looks up -- the clouds clear, stars shine and a ripple of surprise runs through the crowd. The celebration of fire and light begins. Heart-lanter ns dance, a bla zing tower explodes in flames, skyrockets burst overhead. Drums beat a tattoo, fiery letters spell out a message of spirit and hope. Then, as the last firework crashes and flares overhead, the deluge begins again, harder than ever. We dash back into the marquee, talking, laughing and knowing we've been part of something very special and very unusual indeed. w ww.visitlismore.com.au Lismore is the hub of the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales. It's just 50 kilometres west from the popular destination of Byron Bay, but many coastal travellers never make the inland journey. They're missing a spectacularly beautiful region, with World Heritage national parks, rich farmlands and attractive country tow n s. With the vibrant and progressive city of Lismore as the focal point, there's some terrific touring to be enjoyed along the various routes of The Rainforest Way. These are some of the destinations you can reach within a comfortable day's driving from Lismore. No rain on Lismore's parade Chris Viney Tweed Valley Lismore Lantern Parade Destinations October / November 09 18
August September 2009
Dec Jan 2010