Rainbow Dreaming  

Surfers and peacenicks promoting Paddle Out for Peace, Main Beach, Byron Bay, 14th September, 2006
Image: © Tao Jones

We Told You So

Now that the world has awoken to the ‘scientifically proven’ shared situation of our planet’s finiteness and universal acknowledgement that there is no other ‘alternative’ for any future than to learn and respect and get back to nature (and hurry up about it), we 70s ‘alternative’ movement peoples can (smiling behind our graying hair) in many respects say: “We told you so!”

Most of the ideas, inventions and creative thinking we expounded in the early 70s were on the mark for being in tune with the ways and laws of nature. These very lately accepted tenets are now being most enthusiastically embraced even by our politicians and progressive business interests. Our prime minister, just before the Easter Resurrection, in England’s main church, telling the world that the current situation has been caused by the worshiping of false gods (capitalism), has to be the epitome of a global philosophical change.

The journalism of the 70s and even now has often focused on the aspects of the abuse of drugs and loose use of sex in that era. This might describe one of the times’ characteristics, but not the wake up to nature dynamic that the youth of those years brought into being. Solar energy, low energy passive architectural design, organic food production, and the intelligent use of natural resources was what the Australian Union of Students’ Aquarius Festival at Nimbin was really about. Internationally many surfers were already at this time very immersed, literally and philosophically, into the ways of nature.

Surfers were a natural complement and mix into what people called the ‘counter’ or ‘alternative’ culture here. In 1970 I was a blow in from the United States of America.

What I saw myself as then was a citizen of Rome wanting to disconnect from an empire I felt was going in the wrong direction. I had come to visit a surfing and business partner mate who had married an Australian woman and was captured by the beautiful waves, amazing natural beauty, and the nation state had a very good chance to not make the mistakes which were so prevalent then in the USA.

I was haunted and very upset that we were participating in Viet Nam. Well, so was Australia of course, but there was a strong current building against its involvement. In 1972, the new Whitlam government pulled out of the war, released its young conscientious objectors from detention and initiated generous support for the arts while making moves towards understanding its indigenous peoples. This new tide cemented my decision to become a citizen. Brisbane native David Guthrie and I started a free newspaper here in 1973 called the “Byron Express”, with the one liner below the header of: “For a Higher Shire.”

The fact that there was a parallel back to nature and a humanistic movement in this society that rhymed with what surfers were at that time well into, resulted in many other surfers coming to this region. The rainbow here reflected far and wide and is still a lighthouse that projects its spectrum of natural light as a beacon to the rest of the world. Hallelujah!

Rusty Miller, former US surfing champion, surf instructor, journalist, Coorabell, April 2009

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