How I Found Bali in the Blue Mountains and a Café Run by The Twelve Tribes

When you travel the world you usually have a reason for that. Some travellers claim they travel without a cause, simply because there is nothing else they would want to do or because they know not what else to do. Some travel for the thrill of the unknown. For some travel is a form of an escape. Some travel because they want things in their life to change.

Blame it on the Eat, Pray, Love and The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants that some travel in the hope of finding their soulmate.

As I am starting to understand things in my own life through the people I meet on my travels, especially in the yoga centres where I stay; my reason to travel was a combination of phenomena initially, but truly there is only one cause: to see which path of life I actually want to walk in the near future. I might end up in the Amazon, joining my sister and her fellow shamans, I might come back to my bohemian and arty life in Prague, or I might find a way in between.

I listen to all the stories people are willing to share with me on my travels, I hear about screwed family relationships, unsettled, unhappy partnerships, self-harming, lack of self-dignity, miscarriages, rapes, childhood traumas, dramatic divorces and I think: “The world needs healing. But does it actually want it?”

I take long walks, often alone, in the mountains here, looking at the undulating landscape from the many lookouts, and I get tears in my eyes often for no apparent reason. Perhaps caused by the beauty around. Perhaps by the feeling of unconditional gratefulness. Perhaps by some inexpressible degree of deeply rooted sadness, knowing that the place has been missing the Aboriginals.

I spend most of my free time hiking. I love the many waterfalls and streams in the mountains here and I even accepted the rain by now as my travel companion. It was with me in Thailand, it is with me now, here in Australia. If I don’t get wet jumping into a waterfall, I get wet in the rain.

The train system here in the Blue Mountains is amazing (though the trains are not very frequent and you can forget about charging sockets or garbage bins on the trains) and can help you get closer to locations where there are great trails. My favourite is probably the National Pass around Wentworth Falls and the Three Sisters – Echo Point Lookout with the Scenic Railway Trail. One of my favourite falls in the area is the Empress Falls you can easily jump into, renowned among those who love canyoning.

Nature here is stunning with all the lookouts, streams and pristine waterfalls and the many birds you encounter, such as parrots, white cockatoos, yellow-tailed black cockatoos, laughing kookaburras, lyrebirds, and also blue-tongued lizards and possums running around gaily, freely.

There are many beautiful small mountain towns too, such as Leura (great when the art markets are taking place and surely splendid any time if you love local craft shops and cafés; certainly try out Gourmet Café and Deli in the main street with its stunning lookout, lovely food and great chai latté) or Katoomba (some would claim that it has got “Twin Peaks vibes”, but I have never seen that series or movies so I would not know, to me, it is a small town surrounded by the beauty of the Blue Mountains, seemingly populated by busloads of camera-clutching tourists and backpackers) with its many OP shops, antique shops and the Street Art Walk, “dynamic, community-driven cultural treasure of the Blue Mountains, created by Street Art Murals Australia“, where you find amazing murals painted on houses and where you can admire art in one of its contemporary forms and expression.

It was in Leura, where I happened to discover “the touch of Bali”, in an Ikou shop. Ikou is a brand of cosmetic and wellbeing products, founded by Naomi & Paul Whitfeld who have created this brand to inspire health and happiness. Their “journey” began in a flower petal bath in Ubud, Bali which inspired them to create a brand that encourages daily rituals to bring the feel of relaxation and restoration into everyday life. The essential oils, diffusers and body and face cosmetic products you find in the shop will truly make you feel somehow beautified and special. When you enter, you are offered a cup (obviously recyclable material) of tea (obviously organic) and you can freely browse through all the cruelty-free and eco-friendly items made of or from local Blue Mountains ingredients.

It was in Katoomba, where I almost fell in love with The Yellow Deli café. Now, honestly, I did not know when I walked into The Yellow Deli that it is owned and operated by the Twelve Tribes. Had I known it, though, I would have still given the café a try, since it was packed with people of various backgrounds who were happily eating their meals outside and inside the place.

When I saw the amazing cakes and cookies and sandwiches (served with pickles and home-made potato crisps) they were serving there as well as the wooden, quint looking and cosy interior with a fireplace and big crafted lamps, I was immediately determined to have my lunch there. I was a little surprised by the modestly dressed waitresses with harem pants on, no make-up on and long braids trailing down their back, as well as the waiters in their flannel shirts and jeans (most of whom had long hair too), but I thought it is some hipster, highbrow way of keeping a gourmet place low-looking so that it would attract the intellectuals of various backgrounds and would not seem accessible only to the posh and snobbish clientele.

The delicious, artisanal, home-cooked food, the interior with a Middle Earth feel to it, the broad smiles of the staff and their friendliness can easily win your heart. The manager was quite open when he spoke about the community as I was paying and he even told me about the Friday evening dinners with circle dances and live music. Who knows, perhaps I will be joining one of those for “observe and do not judge” purposes.

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