Very Boho Very Byron

Words and iPhoto by Melinda

This is Tzivonit… ‘Ziv’ for short which means ‘bright light’ in Hebrew . Born in Melbourne, Ziv has been here since she was one year old. When asked ‘what do you love about Byron? ‘ … she says “everything” . Ziv has left Byron twice to try the delights of foreign shores in London and Canada but says she always comes back. Now having met the ‘love of her life’ here who says he never wants to leave, it seems Ziv is a Byron keeper. I spied Ziv walking down Jonson Street eating her Red Ginger yum cha and just loved her look. Wearing a retro cut off dress (literally) that her friend gave her, complete with gold sash cord for a belt and the blue lace headband is from Bohotopia; but the sweet moonstone around her neck she picked up in London. She certainly appeared as a bright light in my world of people watching on a Friday afternoon in Byron.



Conversation with Alan Atkins – Surfing Master

“I will always remember Alan standing in a freezing cold Tamworth phone booth at 6am, in his ugg boots, ringing his mates in Victoria to find out what the surf was doing so he could ring in the report to the radio station by 6.30am” – Glenys (Alan’s wife)

Words by Prue with the help of Michael & Melinda. Pics, unless specified also by Prue

Negotiating our way down the steep driveway we were greeted by a cheery, shaved-headed, healthy and incredibly fit looking man whose age was indeterminable. With a warm hearty handshake we were welcomed inside to meet wife Glenice, and poodles, Louie and Lucy. After taking in the sweeping views over Tallows Beach, Alan handed Prue a ‘brief bio’… eh hem… since when is five pages considered brief? Scanning the ‘brief bio’, a particular word repeatedly appeared – surfing-director, surfing-administrator, surfing-world championships, and did we mention surfing? OMG. This man has done everything in the world of surfing except be a professional surfer. Surfing was not a profession back in the early days but that didn’t stop Alan from immersing himself in his passion.

Having grown up in Preston (Melbourne), which is nowhere near any beach, his parents bought a holiday house in coastal Lorne (2hrs south west of Melbourne on the Great Ocean Road) where from age 8 he spent most of his weekends and school holidays … clearly, surfing. Growing up with the likes of Wayne Lynch and Gail Couper, pro surfing hadn’t really started and Alan continued with his studies graduating with a Diploma of Business Studies at Preston Institute. After 4 years as an auditor with TAA and heading down the coast to surf at the weekends, he and Glenice married and moved to Anglesea, near Geelong.

What work did you do after moving to Anglesea?
Well before we left Melbourne I had completed a diploma of teaching, so I taught for a bit at Corio Tech in Geelong. After about 4 years I resigned and started bricklaying with a mate of mine in Anglesea.

Did you have enough energy to surf after bricklaying all day?
It actually turned out to be quite good for me. I’d had a few surfing injuries but the movement required for bricklaying seemed to help. But that wound up after about 18 months because my mate left to go travelling.

So, what did you do then?
Well, I’d always been involved with surfing as a competitor (from about the age of 15) which resulted in being on committees and involved in clubs and things… usually in administration… so another mate asked whether I’d be interested in opening up an office for the Surfing Association in Torquay… because there was no organisation for surfing at that time. So I did that and we ran the Bells Easter Surf Tournament, among many other things.

Alan in action at Bells

That tournament has been going for as long as I remember. Did you start it?
No, I didn’t start it but we ran it and I was the tournament director for about 4 years. My job then was to somehow turn the association into a business so that they could afford to keep me on. One of the things I did was develop a program for coaching accreditation. I began writing and formulating a coaching manual and then we introduced surf awareness in schools and slowly bits and pieces of revenue came in… I also wrote articles and did surf reports… and the association was able to keep running. I use to do the surf report for EON FM one of the first FM radio stations in Melbourne. I did that everyday for about 10 years.

Glenys adds. “It was really funny… we use to come up here every school holidays and we’d drive straight through from Anglesea… I will always remember Alan standing in a freezing cold Tamworth phone booth at 6am, in his ugg boots, ringing his mates in Victoria to find out what the surf was doing so he could ring in the report to the radio station by 6.30am.”

Have you ever seen such a chokkas trophy cabinet! Notice Alan has been kind enough to offer a third of the cabinet to family memorabilia. Your generosity is too much Alan!

Laughing, Alan continues…
Yeah I use to get up just on daybreak every morning to check the weather and the swell and ring in to the station the reports of all the local breaks… once you knew one, you could work out the rest.

I never worked for anybody else after that… I was always creating new things to keep the association sustainable.

What a perfect background for your move to Byron. When one moves here one has to be pretty creative with how they’re going to generate an income and you were already doing that. So when did you first come up here?
We came here for our honeymoon back in ’71, then the next time was ’82, and from there we use to come up here twice a year for about 15 years. But we actually relocated here in ’97.

And were you still working for the Surfing Association?
Yeah. I was working 2 days for the Victorian office and 3 days for the national office which was still based in Torquay at that stage. Later the national office was moved out of Victoria to Burleigh Heads, so I moved to Byron and drove each day up to Burleigh.

We eventually secured a national office and established a high performance centre in the Casuarina development. We had about 15 staff working with us then, all trained for the various programs. We would design the programs, get the sponsorship and set them up, then hand them to the States to run. So we had quite a big operation there for awhile. The high performance centre has just recently received a 2 million dollar grant to build a state of the art facility dedicated to scientific research of surfing.

Looking at your bio we see you have done everything in surfing administration from carrying the drinks bottles to Secretary General of the International Surfing Association. It’s a formidable list compiled over 48 years: Administrator of the Year (it seems like every year), Surfing Halls of Fame, Life Membership awards, and the list goes on and on and on… to your recent retirement as Vice President of the International Surfing Association and current consultancy role as technical director at various international events. I’m exhausted… aren’t you?

Laughing he says… yes, well Glenice and I have retired. I’m nearly 60 and haven’t retired before so we’ve got to work out how we’re going to do it.

Bringing it back to Byron… after all that’s what the blog is meant to be about…what was it like back in ’97?
Well there were fewer traffic jams!

We bought a unit off the plan in Sunrise, and when it was completed we moved up here into that. We kept the house in Anglesea while we decided if we were gong to stay or not… but once we were here we never looked back.

In ’97 we paid $95k for a block up the hill in Byron Hills and built on that. It’s a great area to live and now with the skate park and oval down near the lake there are lots of people using the facilities and a real sense of community. And now with Shaz and Baz on Beech Drive there is an even greater sense of community. Aren’t they amazing…those two?

We found Byron a really welcoming community. Like the kids were really welcomed at the school (Byron High)… one was in year 10 and the other year 11 when we moved and the kids at the school totally took them in.

Glenys adds… “The kids at the school I taught at in Victoria were super competitive and cliquey. It just wasn’t like that here.”

What about the surfing community… what’s special about surfing in Byron?
Sitting on your board in the water around the Cape in the early hours is pretty serene… and when the dolphins swim by, you do get a really good sense of wellbeing… the surrounding hills in the distance… the colours of the environment are beautiful… especially at sunset… the purples and blues… the colours of the setting are really rich.

Glenys adds… my first experience at The Pass was pretty special. There is something really different about that break… it is so serene. There is something about it that keeps drawing you back. I felt like I was meant to be here. I haven’t experienced anything like it, in any other place, ever before.

It would be outright wrong to omit the mandatory surfing shots! Pics courtesy of Alan.

You have clearly answered our next question… what are the joys of living here? But is there anything else you would like to add?
The moderate climate here. After living in Victoria the climate here is definitely a joy. Like when it rains, it’s not cold and when you get out of the surf, you can still feel your toes!

Glenys adds… Even when we first moved here you could always get what you wanted in town. For a small town it had great restaurants and a great range of shops. The thing that’s a small problem now is no Retravision. Now we have to go to Ballina for anything electrical. I really liked the diversity of what you could get here. I also love the Arts and Industrial Estate. You get great stuff there and the markets… particularly the Bangalow market. We love going up there. It’s got that village atmosphere the Byron market lacks… and great Turkish coffee.

What are the challenges of living here?
(Long pause) I’m trying to think what they are!

Clearly work hasn’t been an issue for you guys.
No. I think Tourism is one of the biggest challenges…like the resultant traffic problems. Its’ a real problem for communities like this. The town gets forgotten. The State Government and the powers that be seem to overlook the town’s infrastructure. And it really eats at me that the cost of infrastructure falls onto the ratepayers. But it’s probably the same in many towns that attract tourists. The effect of tourism on the people who live here. I’ve got no problem with tourism because that’s what supports the town, but the ratepayers need to be looked after as well.

A few of Alan’s other favourite things!

Ed’s note: It’s taken a couple of months to get this interview posted due to Christmas, New Year and life in general, but I would like to add… during our interview with Alan way back in November, I commented that he was inspiring me to get back in the water. It has been a couple of decades since I have been out in the surf on my body board and I am pleased to report, I have done it! But there are no prizes for guessing who I saw out there! Thanks Alan… for the inspiration and it was a hoot bumping into you in your environment.

And now for the Byron questions…

Fave café or restaurant?
The Beach Hotel. We used to have breakfast there but now we have a coffee machine we don’t go to cafes anymore.

What’s your favourite thing to do in Byron?
To go surfing around the Cape.

Is there any one person in the area that has inspired or influenced you?
That’s a hard one. I use to see old Ron Ware when we first came up here and he was out surfing amongst the crew. There was a really nice atmosphere right up until he died. I had a lot of time for Ron.

What would we find you doing on a typical Saturday morning?
Coffee, then surf and step class at the Byron Gym, followed by yoga.

Whats your fave blog or website?
Coastal Watch. We don’t really use the internet for entertainment. It’s a tool for us.

What’s your fave shop in Byron?
Mitre 10 for Alan and for Glenys…Garden of Eden Nursery.

What’s your local’s tip to a visitor?
Pack a lunch for the trip in! (much laughter). But seriously…enjoy the place…cos there’s not many like it left in the world.

Hi Everyone,

Long time no hear huh? I would like to say we have been busy planning and re-structuring Very Byron ready for the New Year, but that time has come and gone and our planning has been random, to say the least. It’s been more like chats while waiting for waves at The Pass, followed by more chats over coffee at the Top Shop. Thanks to our inspirational interview with Master Surfer, Alan Atkins (to be posted this week), both Melinda and I have taken to the waves.

This surfing thing started after listening to Alan – his life is surfing – and I thought ‘how can I live here and not surf?’ It was high time to get back in the water after decades of wanting to, but lacking severely in confidence. So I checked in with surfer girlie friend, Vic, who readily obliged when I begged her to take me out and hold my rusty surfing hand whilst I found my way with the waves again. Well, cos there’s no show without Punch, Melinda has of course jumped on the surfing band wagon too! Suffice to say… we have been kind of busy!
Anyway… we are back on the Very Byron job now and looking forward to posting our chat with the legendary, Alan Atkins. Perhaps he will stir your surfing juices too. Look out for it in your in box.
Cheers Prue

Verry Happy Verry Merry Very Byron Xmas!

Very Prue, Very Melinda and Very Mick celebrating their Very Byron Christmas at the very divine Fig Tree Restaurant in Ewingsdale, Byron.

What a gorgeous lazy lunch we had last weekend at Fig Tree! It has to be one of the best locations for a restaurant in the Byron shire… and don’t they capitalise on it? Offering beautiful food, a beautiful environment and sensational views looking east over Byron and beyond to Julian Rocks and the lighthouse. One can only relax with that mix… and well, relax we did… with a capital R! We hope you get to Relax over the festive season too!

Thanks to all of you who have subscribed and commented on both the blog and facebook and generally offered support to our little venture to help get it off the ground – we really appreciate it. Special thanks also must go to all our interviewees, for giving up their time and sharing their lives with us. Without their generosity, Very Byron would still be a simple idea. The first six months has been a big learning curve, starting out of the blocks a tad hard and fast, however next year, we plan to pace ourselves more sensibly and possibly post one interview per month. We’ll be kick starting the year with an interview with local and international surfing legend and administrator, Alan Atkins. Followed hopefully by our favourite local store owners Shaz & Baz – we have never met such hard working, smiling, people and we really enjoy having our own extended personal pantry just around the corner. Then we have Michelle from Bangalow Coffee waiting in the wings. So lots to look forward to!

Catch you then for more (hopefully) entertaining chats with our locals. Cheers and Byron love to you all, Prue, Melinda and Mick.

Conversation with Glitter – RadioDJ + ReDesigner + RetroCollector

“My real name is Alysa Michele Moysey, but I changed it when a little hummingbird landed on Heidi May, the horse, and said you’ve got to change your name to Hummingbird!” – Alysa GG Hummingbird

Alysa GG Hummingbird at home in her House of Glitter

Alysa GG Hummingbird (AKA Glitter or GG) is one of Byron’s colourful characters who gratefully still exist in our community. She is a reminder of the playful, magical and alternate nature this community once relished before commercialism and tourism seemed to prioritise the look of Byron. Ten or so years ago people like GG were everywhere on our streets… hugging, laughing, playing music, performing and sharing their creative gifts and ideas. Unfortunately a dying breed these days due to busking restrictions and image conscious, identity crisis, business lore. It was a total delight visiting Glitter at her Byron home where we were taken on a magical ride through Elven folk lore and all things not very grown up. Continue reading

Conversation with Deva Nandan – 5Rhythms Dance + Giveaways

Deva Nandan

“For me it was like starting a new path…
Now it is through the 5Rhythms Dance that I express my heart.”

Deva is passionate about following her heart. It’s always been her path. This could also be said about her commitment to the Byron 5Rhythms Dance community. As a qualified teacher, every week, she holds the space with music and heart presence, as people explore themselves and their relationship to others through the expression of dance. 5Rhythms is a powerful tool for increasing self-awareness, and for some like Deva, a spiritual practice. We caught up with her recently to hear about her journey to Australia and introducing her passion to Byron Bay.

We can tell by your beautiful accent you are not originally from here. Where were you born?
In Angola, Africa, to Portuguese parents. Angola was colonised by the Portuguese and my parents lived there for 17 years. We left when I was three because of the colony war. My father was quite wealthy and had a lot of land, which the natives wanted. We fled to Brazil with nothing, lived there (Sao Paulo) for two years, and then went to Portugal when I was six.

Deva returned to her family in Portugal recently to walk some familiar streets
and take in the magnificent views of Lisbon

You came to Australia with your husband, Amito. What brought you both here?
Amito and I were living in Grand Cayman in the Caribbean. He was a dive instructor and I was a jewellery sales person making lots of money selling gold and Rolex’s (laughs). We lived there for 11 months until a category five hurricane wiped the place out in 2004. So we moved to the UK where the second module of my dance training was being conducted. But I wasn’t happy there – the people are very closed unlike the Caribbean paradise we had just come from. We knew we wanted to live in an English speaking country but we didn’t want to live in South Africa where Amito is from and we ruled out the States… our intuition led us to Australia, which felt really right. Amito is a civil engineer and since Australia needed them it was easy for him to be sponsored in a job.

Deva’s husband, Amito, travelled with her to Portugal… umm which one is he? 🙂

How did you come to be in Byron Bay?
I first heard about Byron from a guy I met whilst travelling through India. I went there to do a Vipassana meditation retreat. We travelled for three months and he was always talking about Byron, how amazing it was and especially the dance parties in the forest. When Amito and I came to Australia in 2006, we were looking to establish ourselves in a like-minded community. We first went up to Crystal Waters on the Sunshine Coast but we didn’t find it there so we ended up coming down to Byron. I instantly fell in love with it… the beaches, the beauty, and the weather.
Even though we both loved it here, Amito needed to be in Brisbane for work, so he based himself there whilst I stayed one night in a backpacker’s, and then went to Samaya Retreat in Rosebank. A month later I moved into Byron and started teaching in the scout hall. I was teaching on a Friday night and getting 70 people… the hall soon became too small! Meantime, the Civic Hall in Mullumbimby was being done up, so when it was complete I took the classes there. It is bigger and has a sprung floor…it’s really nice… perfect for dancing.

Some of Deva’s Indian travel shots – where she first heard about Byron Bay

What is 5Rhythms dance?
5Rhythms is a personal growth practice. It is a tool to experiment and reflect on who you are, through dance. My passion is to teach this practice. This is something the founder, Gabrielle Roth, teaches us… it’s a mind-body-spirit practice accessible to everyone.

What are the five rhythms?
The five rhythms are called – flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical and stillness. They come together to create a ‘Wave’. They relate to different moods, life-cycles, emotions etc… which are expressed through different ways of moving, using five distinctive styles of music. As you dance you tend to find one rhythm that you are most comfortable with. This practice really frees you from conditioning and invites you to embody your truth.

Where did you train in dance?
I moved to London in ‘94 and discovered the classes there. I danced regularly for nine years before training as a dance teacher. The training involved three different modules… each one in a different place. I trained in New York, England and California for one and a half years under the tuition of the 5Rythms founder, Gabrielle Roth.

Deva dancing
Deva dancing 2
Deva in action – expressing her heart through dance

Some people who come to Byron, particularly on a spiritual path, decide to change their names. How did you come to take the name ‘Deva’?
I had friends in London who were Sanyassin so I was exposed to their way of being. It is based on the spiritual teachings of a guru named Osho. So I went and learnt about Osho and the meditation practice he teaches. In India, I stayed in an Ashram, a beautiful environment where I meditated every day. The people really lived fully and celebrated life. They primarily follow their hearts and I too have always followed my heart so it felt completely natural for me to be in that environment.

Is that when you changed your name?
Yes. I was given ‘Deva Nandan’ which means Divine Garden.

Who gave you your name?
At that time in the Ashram there were three options. One was to keep my birth name but do the ceremony to become a Sanyassin, the second was to take a mysterious name… which is what I chose, and the third was a list I could choose from. The mysterious version was where they had a team of people that meditated on your photograph and the information you provided, and they would intuitively feel the name for you.

Did taking this name change your life in any way?
For me it was like starting a new path. I had been bought up in a very conservative family so following the heart, like the Sanyassins, really resonated with me. Now it is through the 5Rhythms Dance that I express my heart.

Everybody can dance the 5Rhythms of life!

What sort of path were you on before you found 5Rhythms?
It’s funny but I originally trained as an industrial and jewellery designer, which I did for 15 years… but even when I was designing jewellery I was following the philosophy of 5Rhythms… I was already bringing movement into my designs and mixing them up. I can feel that I have a longing to come back to jewellery design but now I am studying Kinesiology, which is a whole new area that I love. Once again, it is healing and working with people.

What do you love about Byron?
I love the beaches, the dolphins, and the whales. I lived in Main Arm for two years and I love the forest there…I love walking to Devils Hole which is a bit of a secret… it’s near Mt Jerusalem. I love walking in nature. Minyon Falls is another beautiful walk. I also like the craft at the markets. I love the people here and how relaxed they are. Everyone seems happy. You walk down the street and people smile.
And even though I don’t do much of it, I love horse riding on the beach… Oh and I love going to the farm to get milk…

Where is this milk farm? We keep hearing about it.
It’s on Myocum Road between Mullum and Byron. You go there with your container and pay a dollar for a litre. The farmer is about 90 and he allows people to help themselves to the milk and leave the money.

It’s easy to talk about all the things we love about Byron and we know you are now moving to base yourself in Brisbane to be with Amito; what have been some of the challenges of living here?
OMG… the challenges of renting! Being at the whim of landlords you get moved around. I was in a place that I didn’t know was an illegal dwelling and the landlord informed me recently of a council inspection so I had to move out of there. It was really annoying but in this case it worked for me because I was ready to move back to Brisbane to be with Amito. I also found it hard to have stable friendships because of the transient nature of the place. You make friends and lose them because they have to move on. This can be a bit sad sometimes.

Markets, beaches and horseriding… just some of the things Deva loves about Byron

And what we say is…

If you haven’t explored 5Rhythms Dance and have been thinking about it… do it! Speaking with a friend the other night, he was saying how dancing two nights a week in Melbourne was like dancing for his sanity. Deva is the original deal of 5Rhythms in Byron and brings to this community a world of experience, professionalism and a compassionate heart. Every Tuesday night you will find her at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall setting up the audio equipment for the thoughtfully chosen music, and creating artistic installations with subtle lighting for atmosphere. She smudges the room with sage for clarity and sacredness so that when the music begins at 7pm and people step into the space, the best of intentions have been set. The rest is up to you… to take the ensuing guidance and opportunity of movement to free yourself. You won’t regret it.

Giveaway – 5 passes to 5Rhythms Dance, Mullumbimby
Deva is kindly offering five single passes to five of our readers to attend one of her classes on Tuesday evenings, 7pm – 9pm, Mullumbimby Civic Hall. If you would like to receive one of these passes please leave a comment at the bottom of this post. Five winners will be chosen at random.

Just love this photo of Deva taken in Portugal…
too many skulls can make a girl feel a bit nervous!


Do you have a favourite café?
Not really. I don’t really hang out in cafes much.

What about restaurant?
Milk and Honey in Mullum

Do you have a favourite shop?
The Piece Gallery in Mullum. I always love going in there. So many beautiful things.

What is your local’s tip for a visitor to Byron?
For sure the lighthouse walk, the markets… and a vist to Bangalow. Oh, my dance class (laughs). It is a really unique thing to do. I love Kiva Spa…I go there often, and also have a massage with Leslie who works at Mullum Herbs… she is great. Oh, and Lucy the ceramicist at the Wheel of Life in Brunswick… I love her work. I bought tea cups recently as gifts for my homecoming in Portugal. I love cats so I love hanging out at the Cat Adoption Centre, too.

What would we find you doing on a typical Saturday?
(Shrugs shoulders)…I don’t have a typical Saturday. Sometimes I’m doing workshops or going for a really long walk. I mean a really long walk… usually along Brunswick Beach. I walk till there is no one around and I feel the space. After coming from Europe where it is so populated I love the space here in Australia.

Carnivale of Life and Death – 11.11.11

The Carnival will be held this weekend Fri 11, Sat 12 & Sun 13 November
at the Civic Hall and Heritage Park in Mullumbimby

We interviewed Zenith Virago, our community ‘Death Walker’,  a few months ago when she shared her plans to create a major event encouraging the community to celebrate life and death in a creative and fun way. Well the day is nigh and Zenith tells us how we can get involved…

Byron is a great place to live, but it is also great place to die.  We are cutting edge of a more natural approach to death and dying, celebrating our diverse lifestyles in a deathstyle that is meaningful and inspiring. For those who don’t follow a traditional faith, the opportunity to connect to something meaningful and sacred is a precious and healing part of saying goodbye and living with loss. This is the 5th year for the Day of the Dead Ceremony and we wanted to create something bigger and more diverse,  to offer a better ‘way to go’ to everyone in any of our various communities.  We are really blazing a trail that others are starting to pick up and run with, as they understand it helps to create a healthier bereavement and thus a more connected community.

An awareness and fund raising event put on by Zenith and the Natural Death Centre (NDC), the Carnival of Life and Death (COLD) comprises several innovative events with an aim to highlight creativity, movement and colour into our experiences of loss of our loved ones and also our own mortality.  The NDC is committed to empowering people around end-of-life choices and to creating a cultural change for the better.

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