A sense of direction.
Ah, the Pack Donkey Journey of 1997—a tale that evokes the spirit of an adventurer-artist, a modern-day Marco Polo with a brush and palette, if you will. This odyssey began on the rugged back dirt tracks near Kuranda, in the heart of tropical North Queensland. With a donkey as my steadfast companion, I set forth to traverse the Bicentennial National Trail, a path that promised both physical and metaphysical revelations.
The journey was slow, a mere 16 kilometers a day, but what it lacked in speed, it made up for in depth. Each creek crossing became a rite of passage, a baptism in the waters of eco-spiritual consciousness. The donkey’s early morning brays served as a primal alarm clock, a call to awaken not just the body but also the soul.
Fresh from a year-long sojourn in India, my spirit was already steeped in the quest for higher states of consciousness. Yet, this adventure offered a departure from the anthropocentric yogic traditions I had previously explored. Inspired by my interactions with new age ecological movements and post-Brahma Kumaris sound harmonic experiments, I found myself pondering the consciousness of other beings—what it’s like to be a donkey, a tree, or even a droplet of rain.
As I ventured further, I stumbled upon enclaves of artists, much like the bohemian communities I had encountered during my cycle adventurism days of 1983. One such place was an open house in Mosman Village, aptly named “Art House.” After a brief escapade where my donkey decided to explore the Adventist church grounds, I found myself immersed in a community of artists, each engrossed in their own projects. The patron of the place saw my journey as a form of “historical revisionism,” a visual arts practice that transcended the canvas to engage directly with the landscape.
This wasn’t an isolated experience. From the Daintree region to other peripheral artistic communities, I found kindred spirits who viewed my pack donkey adventure as a unique form of artistic and ecological expression. These encounters solidified my belief that the arts and spirituality could converge in a secular, yet profoundly meaningful way. It was a realization that would later inform my mixed-media art practice and academic pursuits back in Brisbane.
The journey concluded near Cooktown, where my donkey found a new home among horses on a hobby farm. Yet, the impact of this three-month odyssey was far-reaching. It led to a synthesis of my interests in spirituality, art, and ecology, a fusion that would continue to evolve and manifest in various forms, from pop-up stalls to academic research.
In essence, the Pack Donkey Journey of 1997 was more than just a physical trek; it was a metaphysical quest, a pilgrimage in the truest sense. It was a journey that not only traversed the landscapes of tropical North Queensland but also the ever-expanding terrains of human consciousness and artistic expression.