I walked past the shop and read the notices. One read: Tarot, Crystals, Essential Oils. I snorted.

Another notice read: Chakra Foot Reflexology. Another snort.

Then I saw Aromatouch Massage, Psychic Readings, Spirit Healings.

All this was too much for me. I sneerted. Sneerting was a skill that came to me at precisely that instant – when I felt the need to both snort and sneer.
I was nearly around the corner when I sighted the words, Divine Bhakti.

I found myself snortless, without a sneer.

Divine! Bhakti! What does that mean, I wondered?

Abruptly my curiosity conquered my meanness and opened my mind.

So I went inside.
I asked the jolly lady, Are you Ms Bhakti?

She laughed – a contralto earthquake: No. Bhakti is Sanskrit.

She asked me who I was.

I said: Howard. I am a writer.
The jolly lady attended patiently to my many questions.

After a while she asked me: Why do you ask?

I am old. I have passed nearly threescore and ten years with my eyes and my mind open to the world, looking for understanding. I saw your notices and I realised

I understood not a word. I understood too – since you have a shop, you presumably pay rent, and you like to eat – that you must have customers; that they recognise

your services and value them; and they pay good money in return.

Another big gurgle, a smile that wobbled its way across her happy features.
I asked about Tarot. I learned it rhymes with arrow not carrot.

My informant said, I used to do a lot of Readings. Not so much now. We had a wonderfully gifted reader here in the shop earlier today.

I asked about the spirit.

The spirits come to me from the earth. They rise, I feel their light, their white light, they come up from below and pass through me and above. They will come to all who are open

and they will teach what you need to learn. You will learn what you want to learn.

Please tell me of crystals.

When I speak with the crystals they bring healing.

Do you use words? Do they answer in words?

I use words. The crystals answer in understanding and I express this to the seeker in words.

Which crystals are the correct ones?

All crystals bring healing.

How did you learn so many arts, such ancient knowledge? Who was your master? Your guru? It must have taken many years…

The lady looked at me vacantly as if to say, What’s your question.

Then: My grandmother was a Tarot Master…

My mother was a healer, ‘though it took me some decades to learn this.

And Tarot was taught to the West at the dawn of the twentieth century by an American named Crowley. He was a witch.
A witch!

Can this knowledge be used for harm or falsehood?

Huge volley of laughing: Anything can be used by crooks for deceit and harm. But the healing will come to one who seeks it.

How can an ignorant person – such as I am – know which is true?

When you enter the place of healing, it will feel right or wrong. If you feel you do not want to be there, turn around and leave.
It was closing time. I thanked the lady and together we put away her furniture. I thanked her again and as I left I told her I might write of our conversation and put it up on my blog.

Warm smile, soft shake of my hand: Thank you. That would be nice.

Orpheus and Eurydice in the Yidinji Lands of Babinda

I have taken this story verbatim from the free brochure produced by Babinda Information Centre Volunteers and funded by the Cairns Regional Council. 

The volunteer who gave me my copy, a gracious and helpful lady a good deal older than I, told me: The authors wrote this a very long time ago. They were a man and a woman who became knowledgeable about the local tribes. They both passed away many years ago.” I acknowledge my debt to those writers. I trust I have violated no-one’s copyright. I will be pleased to receive any information that will put me in contact with the heirs of the authors. 

More fundamentally, I acknowledge the traditional owners of these lands and thank them for welcoming me here. I swam in these beautiful waters, enjoying them among the descendants of the original inhabitants. Mothers and fathers of brown kids and pink kids joined tourists, backpackers, Asian tour groups and an old white doctor, cooling upstream of all and danger and loss.  

“A long time ago, when the Yidinji tribe lived in the Babinda Valley, there was a tremendous upheaval that created these unusual shaped “Boulders” with their foaming, rushing waters. In the tribe was Oolana, a very beautiful young woman. Also in the tribe was Waroonoo, a very old, wise and respected elder. It was decided these two should be given in marriage to each other and so it was done. Some time later a visiting tribe can wandering through the valley and as was the custom of the friendly Yidinji, they made the strangers welcome, inviting them to stay. In the tribe was Dyga, a very handsome young man. All eyes were upon him for his grace and beauty. At first sight Dyga and Oolana fell in love.


“So great was their strong attraction for each other they arranged to meet secretly. Knowing full well their desire for one another would never be permitted they ran away. Oolana knew she could now never return as she was rightfully married to Waroonoo. They journeyed well up into the valley, spending wonderfully happy days together as they camped under Chooreechillum*, near the water’s edge.

The two tribes had been searching for them and it was at this spot they came upon the the two lovers. The wandering tribesemen seized Dyga, forcing him away 
(re)calling how they had been shamed and would never return and how they would travel far away and never return. The Yidinjis had taken hold of Ooolana and 
were dragging her back, forcing her to return with them to the rest of the tribe. Suddenly she broke away and violently flung herself into the gentle waters of the creek, as she called and cried for Dyga to return to her here, but the wandering tribe had gone and with them her handsome lover.

Would he ever return? Just at the very instant Oolana struck the water, a tremendous upheaval occurred. The land shook with terror and sorrow as Oolana cried for her lost lover to come to her. Her anguished cries spilled out as rushing water came cascading over the whole area. Huge boulders were thrown up and she disappeared into them. Oolana seemed to become part of the stones as if to guard the very spot where it all happened.

So to this day, her spirit remains.  Some say that at times her anguished calls cry out calling her lover to return – and that wandering travellers should take care

lest Oolana call them too close to her beautiful waters, for she is forever searching for her own lost lover, and this must always be.” 

Upstream the waters are wide and gentle. Downstream a little and around a bend the river narrows, the waters deepen and rush between mighty boulders that are 
grey and silent and solid and powerful. Leaping suddenly downward in great foaming furrows, the green waters crash from a height into a pool that roils and

froths in endless turmoil. “Very many have drowned here”, reads the notice. (“Caution, slippery kocks”, reads another notice, the capital ‘R’ helpfully altered to a ‘K’.) In the words of the copper in ‘Point Break’, pointing over his shoulders at the wild waters off Bells’ Beach where Patrick Swayzee has preceded them, “It’s death on a stick out there, mate.” 


Upstream where all is tranquil a young mother sat on the steps at the water’s edge, watching her children swim. She said, “It’s true. In my own lifetime in Babinda very many have drowned down there…very many. But only men drowned. Never a woman.” 

* Choorechillum, Queensland’s highest peak. Its whitefella name is Mt Bartle Frere.