Of Buddhas in Bendigo & Colourful Castlemaine

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When you are tired from travelling and weary at the very thought of setting up camp with the kids, an excited welcome by staff at a caravan park can make all the difference! This is how it was at the Big 4 Bendigo Ascot Holiday Park. Their energy was infectious, and they were so happy to show us the sites they had put aside for us. They gave us two, so we had plenty of room to set up the camper and the swags! Even better, it was right at the driveway, so EVERY vehicle that came in to the park could see the Legend. We saw many heads turning to look at her awesome signwriting by the Nissan Motorsports Team.

Over the course of our stay, we had plenty of chats with staff about our trip, Luna, German Shepherds, the hard work that goes into running a caravan park. Luna even got to play with Scooter, a manager’s German Shepherd boy with gorgeous colouring, who enjoys his rides around in the park golf buggy. Watching these two play chasey around the Legend was a sight to behold, with excited mohawks on both dogs, which is a trait of excited German Shepherds.

Lynda took photos of us for the park’s Facebook page, Karyn gave the kids an extra treat when they went to buy themselves an icecream, nothing was too much trouble for these wonderful people! We made good use of the new camp kitchen and bbqs, and even got to watch our news story on WIN Bendigo on Tuesday night. Yes! If you aren’t following our Facebook page, you may not have seen the link we posted. We were interviewed by WIN TV on the shores of Lake Weeroona, and it was a great experience. Even the kids were interviewed, but of course, the news only goes for half an hour, so they didn’t get to broadcast the stories the kids wanted to tell about our travels! The reporter even commented that he “got a geography lesson” from talking with the kids.

Kirstine had taken a couple of hours on Monday morning for some “self care” and drove out to The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion, which is under construction just outside of Bendigo. Being there just after 9am and the first visitor, it was lovely to have Chantelle open the door and welcome me, and to meet Michelle who has not long started working there. They offered to take me on a tour of the Stupa and the gardens. Watching a DVD about The Great Stupa and the sheer scale of the project, was fascinating. When it is done, it will be a major centre of Buddhism in the southern hemisphere, and a satellite for prayers for Peace and Compassion throughout the world. The religious artefacts and holy relics donated from Buddhist temples, displayed in cabinets are inspiring. Being able to read stories behind customs, as well as some hands on exhibits, makes the practises accessible to all. There is no requirement to be Buddhist to visit, and all faiths are welcome. This was particularly evident in the Peace Park, where bodhi trees stand tall with their heart shaped leaves, and contributions from other major faiths, such as Islam, Sikhism, Catholicism and Indigenous culture, will have their own place. Buddhism is inclusive, and even other traditions of the Buddhist faith will be represented. Such is the desire for Peace and Compassion, centred in this location. Kirstine turned the prayer wheels, their clockwise motion amplifying the prayers inscribed tens of thousands of times on scrolls sealed within.  The Stupa itself will be complete in a couple of years and must then be painted. The artwork already on the ceiling over the area which will house the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace, is so magnificent, that the entire structure will be breathtaking when complete.

A quiet stroll through the Peace Park after the tour left Kirstine feeling introspective and hopeful, and wanting very much to return and continue her prayers for Peace in the world. Having been able to place her hand on the jade halo which will crown the priceless Jade Buddha when it returns from its world tour, and is unveiled at the Stupa, was momentous. There are few words which accurately describe the energy in this location. Everyone is happy to be there, in this epicentre of Peace, and everyone is welcome to find some of this elusive way of being. Take the time to go and experience it for yourself.

Our stay in Castlemaine was brief, but this is a very pretty town at this time of the year. Even the site map from the Big 4 Castlemaine Gardens Holiday Park was full of colour and suggestions for sightseeing and activities while in town. Whilst we had been provided with a site for the night, we were told to choose another if we found one we preferred. As it turns out, we’d been given a beautiful spot anyway, right near the camp kitchen and amenities block. It was a shame to have to leave the next morning, but Easter is one of the busiest times in this area, and we had places to be and things to do.

In the last few days we’ve had some MASSIVE developments in our trip, and we’re looking forward to sharing this with you in the next few days. And yes, we’re leaving you with this cliffhanger!!!

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