Off the grid.
Written by Tribe Leader, Kate Gyngell
It was our 28th wedding anniversary a couple of weekends ago. I’m very lucky to have a husband who loves to organise and plan ahead, and he’d already booked us a couple of nights away to celebrate months in advance.
We got married in England in the middle of summer, which of course is the middle of winter here in Australia, and I was rather hoping for a hotel or romantic cottage with a roaring log fire and the gastronomic delights of an upmarket restaurant nearby for a delicious meal or two.
As the weekend drew closer, however, Julian began to let slip odd bits and pieces of information; we needed to take all the food we’d eat for the weekend with us; it might be better if we pre-cooked some of it so it only needed to be warmed up; we’d be leaving our car with the owner of our accommodation because it wouldn’t handle the track to where we were staying; there’d be absolutely no mobile phone reception, no landline, no TV and definitely no internet connection. WHAT??? Absolutely no phone reception?
My heart began to sink, just a little. I could certainly handle preparing and eating our own food, I could manage a rough 4 wheel drive track, but not having any way to contact the kids, one of whom was arriving in Athens that weekend just as Greece was sinking into complete financial chaos was going to make me anxious and I didn’t want to spoil the weekend for either of us by not being able to relax and just enjoy our time away.
Not wishing to appear either ungrateful or neurotic, I kept quiet as we set off on Friday morning. We stopped for a fabulous lunch on the way and got to where we were to leave our car by mid afternoon.
We were met by the charming owner of our weekend abode who piled us and our stuff into his heavy-duty four wheel drive and navigated us a few kms down an incredibly rough and steep track to our lodgings. I was beginning to realise just exactly how remote and cut off we were going to be as he showed us around this amazing hand built (by him), solar powered, two storey cabin and then waved us goodbye saying he’d be back to pick us up on Sunday.
As the noise of the car faded away, the sound of absolute silence, apart from birdsong, descended. It was an extraordinary thing; not a single manmade sound, and our surroundings were beautiful.
The cabin was comfortable and warm with a lovely wood-burning stove, the one bedroom upstairs had a huge four-poster bed and looked out over a spectacular view and we had solar powered electrics for cooking and hot water. Our host had thoughtfully left us champagne, chocolates and even an anniversary card together with organic eggs and a few other basics.
So, what to do in this completely isolated spot for 2 days? Well, we walked, we talked, we drank red wine and ate our really rather delicious homemade food on the deck in our coats, we read and we took naps. We fed the possums in the evening, stared at an unadulterated sky full of stars and went to bed early.
I’m sorry to say I’ve become almost as attached to technology as our kids and rarely switch off completely. Even though it was only for a couple of days, it was actually quite a relief to be out of range and the sense of peace was wonderful.
On Saturday afternoon, I climbed up through the trees to a ridge above the cabin and found a perfect rock to sit on and meditate. The energy out in the bush is amazing and I felt quite in awe of my surroundings. I’d taken my mobile with me to take photos and jumped out of my skin when it suddenly started downloading a whole lot of messages! It was loud and intrusive and, particularly at that moment, unwanted. If I moved a metre to the left or right, there was zero reception, so I’d somehow managed to find what may be the only spot for a couple of miles in any direction to make a phone call……which I did…….just a very quick one.….to make sure all was well at home and that civil war hadn’t broken out in Athens.
So, that’s my guilty little secret! I didn’t tell Julian, but felt lighter and totally relaxed for the rest of our wonderful stay. I know all our mobile devices and other technology can be invasive, distracting and at times downright antisocial, but I’m extremely grateful for the peace of mind instant connection to loved ones can bring.