It’s not always easy to capture the beauty of nature with a paintbrush or a camera but it doesn’t stop us from trying. At every camp spot there’s a new landscape and a different perspective. Here, deep within the river gum forest of the Murray River Reserve last month, the river was at our doorstep, birdlife was prolific and nature reigned supreme. It was perfect. Well, almost.
The serenity was punctuated by this cheeky kookaburra, who swooped down to steal a breakfast snag from our barbeque. He was never too far away and kept us on our toes when we were cooking. Away from the barbeque the sunsets took my breath away and nature did her usual wondrous thing.
Our secluded campsite at Christie’s Beach provided the backdrop to these recent adventures but there was much more to this weekend. Not far away, 26kms from Echuca, we discovered the cutest little town.
Tongala is a short detour off the Murray Valley Highway. It was once a predominant dairy community but today the town is filled with colour. There’s murals everywhere, more than 60 of them, painted by local artists that live in this warm and welcoming community.
Our first stop is the Post Office where I’n captivated by the sight of a couple of hay bales outside. It’s open so I venture inside and meet the owner Tyler Stagg.
When I ask him about the hay bales he tells me that they were the first Christmas themed hay bales installed in the town. Bluey and Bingo were painted by a local farming family in June 2020, inspired by the hit children’s tv series Bluey and were so popular they were moved for public viewing outside the post office. More hay bales started to appear and so apparently did the visitors to town.
The hay bales are a seasonal thing as the paint will fade in time. But new themed ones will emerge he tells me. Much like the community veggie and herb garden next door to the post office. I’m in awe at all the tomato and giant basil plants and even the huge bedraggled sunflowers.
Tyler tells me there’s a guy named Murray who often hangs around the main street on weekends and he describes him to me. Apparently, Murray loves taking visitors through town to show off the murals and explain their history.
We leave the post office and keep walking and while the other half is at Mitre 10 buying bits and pieces I wander nearby to take more photos. Across from the hardware store is The Wash Room, the cutest laundromat I’ve ever seen. While I’m snapping away, I notice a man fitting Murray’s description.
“Excuse me” I say, “Are you Murray?” He looks a bit perplexed. “You fit his description … I was told there’s a Murray in town with a beard and wearing glasses.” He laughs, we joke and banter for a few minutes. Clearly he’s not the Murray. I feel like a bit of a goof but hey, that’s never stopped me!
Hubby and I continue our walk and along the way I see SO many people fitting Murray’s description that I laugh and give up. The town’s so small we don’t really need our own guide anyway.
We drop in at the MB Bakery for coffee and some delicious pastries. There’s a pub further down and everywhere we turn, there’s colour. There are paintings that take you back to the time of the F.J Holden and fishing on the Murray River, memories of the war years, paintings with real local people in them, as well as whacky and whimsical ones.
One of my favourites would have to be of the emu peeking over the fence! Oh, and I updated my Angel wings!
Tonny, as the locals like to call it, is a fantastic short detour off the Murray Valley Highway and well worth a visit if you’re in the area.
After our morning of art and exploration it was back to the serenity of the river, back to our own backdrop on the Murray, exploring more unexpected surprises along the way.
Life is a masterpiece. And we all have the ability to create our own magnificent mural. Look around. There’s colour and wonder everywhere and there’s no better canvas than our ever evolving world.
Truly the time we’re living in today is one of discernment and opportunity, you only need to step out of the framework and think critically to realise it. Despite the exterior world telling us one thing, you really are the master of your own creation.
Like any artist learning along the way, you’ll paint over mistakes, start over whenever you want, but you can also make your life as bold and bright as you like. The power is ours. It’s always been ours, we’ve just forgotten.
“What you can perceive in your mind you can create in your life. “
We’re all evolving, like any true masterpiece, every day and in every way. It’s these subtle changes that make us who we are. We’re all evolving into a higher state of consciousness.
So don’t forget that YOU are the master of our own artwork and the creator of your reality.
Keep shining, wherever you are. Life truly is a miracle.
In love and light.