Amid the anguish of the flooding caused by Cyclone Debbie, the Cloudcatchers group on the Far North Coast of New South Wales held its autumn ginko on Thursday 6 April. Some of the members had suffered damage to home and property, some were cut off for days by flood waters, experienced power blackouts, and some were still involved with the arduous and heartbreaking job of cleaning up.
The visit to this venue had been planned for over eighteen months. We were anxious to repeat an experience shared in 2011 of exploring the mangrove tidal flats of the Brunswick River, 40 km north of Ballina. For this we needed a low tide at the right time of day, on the right day of the week, in the right month of the season. Eventually the date was established, but after weeks of heavy winds, rain and flooding, the gathering was in doubt. Continue reading “Cloudcatchers Ginko No.45 (autumn)”
After recent ginko at a coastal lake, an inland creek, and a pocket of rainforest, a return to the ocean seemed appropriate for the Cloudcatchers’ summer ginko. A summer gathering it was indeed, with a temperature of 37ºC in the shade.
The heat featured in many first drafts, but a gentle sea breeze did soften the intensity of our discomfort. The venue was the Skate Park in Ballina, where North Creek empties into the Richmond River, in sight of the river mouth. Continue reading “Cloudcatchers Ginko No. 44 (summer)”
In spite of the ginko being held in the middle month of spring, there was a cool wind at the tea tree plantation. Nine poets, two of them experiencing a ginko for the first time, gathered at this venue on the outskirts of Ballina. Here an ancient rainforest remnant has become a site for sculptural installations, creating an intriguing composite of natural and man-made objects: the strangler figs so old, so huge; the vines so long, so high; and the art works at times incongruous among them. Continue reading “Cloudcatchers Ginko No.43 (spring)”
Wild-wild winds and rain hurtled up the coastline of the Far North Coast all the night before, with outside furniture flung across courtyards, trees down, and litter all over the roads. The ginko was in doubt, but twelve Cloudcatchers gathered anyway. The venue was the Bangalow Weir on Byron Creek, an inland waterway coursing via the Wilson and Richmond Rivers to the sea. This was the winter weather of where we live, and we were in it. Continue reading “Cloudcatchers Ginko No. 42 (winter)”
Lake Ainsworth, Lennox Head NSW
Thursday 5 May 2016
This was no ordinary ginko. Earlier in the year the committee of the Australian Haiku Society, with Vanessa Proctor as president, resolved to honour John Bird with recognition of the invaluable role he has played, not only in the formation of the society, but for his initiative and application in developing and promoting Australian haiku. The AHS requested the presentation be made at the autumn ginko of the Cloudcatchers, on the Far North Coast of NSW.
This is where John lives, where he was first drawn to the genre and to an early association with Janice Bostok, (the acknowleged pioneering haiku poet in Australia), where they together edited the first and subsequent editions of the Australian Haiku Anthology. This is where, over ten years ago, John drew together haiku poets in the area to form the Cloudcatchers group, of which he remains the patron. All members owe a great deal to John for his input into their sensitivity, their craftsmanship and into their lives. Continue reading “Cloudcatchers Ginko No. 41 (autumn) 2016”
Torakina Park, Brunswick Heads NSW
Thursday 4 February 2016
The tenth anniversary of the inaugural meeting of the Cloudcatcher haiku group was celebrated at the very same picnic table where the original gathering took place on 5 December 2005. Torakina Park, in Brunswick Heads, where the Brunswick River meets the sea, has been a favourite site for ginko, and this was the fourteenth assemblage there by the group. Janice Bostok, known as the haiku pioneer of Australia, was with us at that first meeting (as she was also at a number of subsequent ginko), inspiring participants with her astute comments and some impromptu haiku of her own.
Botanic Gardens Lismore NSW
Date: Thursday 22 October 2015
Cloudcatchers gathered at the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens, which were established on wasteland on the fringe of the city in the late 1990s. Since then a lush rainforest has re-emerged, nurtured by volunteers, growing only native plants endemic to the region. Right next to this is an area featuring eucalypts, where the sharp-eyed may spy a koala or two; and nearby is a 30-year-old stand of hoop pine.
On again, off again! With rain and even a thunderstorm predicted we took our chances and gathered anyway for the Cloudcatchers’ thirty-eighth ginko. Yes, it drizzled most of the time, but with a few bursts of sunshine, a brilliant light on the waters at the mouth of the Richmond River in Ballina, along with the warmth of the camaraderie, we experienced another remarkable and productive day. Images of dolphins rolling wave-like up the river, the ever-optimistic fishermen silhouetted against a grey sky and raindrops on the tips of she-oak needles were recorded on damp pages. Lunch together wrapped up yet another morning of perception and empathy.