With the joys and challenges of Solomon Islands behind us, the first thing on my agenda was some rest and relaxation amongst the trees. Someone suggested Atherton, so without much thought we booked a weekend in the woods.
Since we were going to be there doing not much, we also decided to use the time to legalise our marriage. With a big wedding already occurring in Zambia last year, our plan was to keep this as simple as necessary to satisfy any legal requirements (Yes, yes, I know. You are all upset that you didn’t get to come, but this way, I get to visit you all and celebrate one-on-one. That’s so much better, right?).
So, in addition to the bride and groom, we needed two witnesses. I chose one witness – Liz, the Maid of Honour and my best mate of 35 years – while Manyoni chose the second witness – Pip, the Best (Wo)man, and a friend of ours from our time in Zambia.
The four of us met together in Brisbane for the flight up to Cairns. Despite my plans to make as little fuss about the (second) wedding as possible, Liz and Pip had other ideas. Firstly, Liz informed the lovely staff at Virgin Airlines about our upcoming nuptials, who proceed to shout us all a bottle of wine for the journey (Thanks Katelyn and Jeff!). Once we were in Cairns, Pip couldn’t help herself but tell Marika at Thrifty car hire, who then gave us a great discount and an upgrade. There are some perks to this wedding thing.
After a quick shop in Cairns, we headed up to the gorgeous Canopy Treehouses in Tarzali, near Malanda. Being a raised wooden pole house, nestled among virgin rainforest on three sides and rolling hills on the other, the 3-bedroom Bower House was completely secluded and the perfect place for some R&R. The first night was spent listening to the rain, catching up with each other, eating nshima (yep, clearly no concern about how I would fit into a wedding dress), and feeding the resident possums and birds.
The following morning, I woke up to a view of rolling hills, pademelons…and rain. It wasn’t looking promising for our festivities. Not that it really mattered, because this was clearly no normal wedding day. Apart from the rain, my wedding day started out with a job interview, made all the more exciting by a head cold and razor blade throat. I doused myself with drugs while the others went into town to grab some lunch. Then everything magically fell into place.
Firstly, the rain stopped and the sun came out. By about two hours before the wedding, the pain killers were kicking in, and we all decided that perhaps we should get some flowers. Of course, being a no-fuss wedding, I hadn’t organized any of this before so we jumped in the car and drove along the street until we spotted some vegetation that we liked. Grant was more than happy for us to take clippings from his trees and even tried to grab a bunch of Tamarillos for our special day, except the possums ate them all.
With a basket full of freshly picked flowers, we had an hour to get ready. Again, my no-fuss plan barely extended beyond throwing on a dress, so Liz stepped in and offered her wonderful hairdressing skills. If anyone knows what it’s like to work with dreads, you will have full appreciation of what she managed to achieve with my knotted locks. Add to that some beautiful handmade Australian native hair pieces from Karen Pierson on Etsy (the one thing I did organize in advance), and I have to admit, we kinda scrubbed up alright. Meanwhile, Manyoni quickly finished off our home-made rings, and fashioned a ring box out of a sanitary napkin container. That’s my man!
The time for the wedding finally came (actually, it came and went. It’s obligatory to be late, right?). We picked out a tree in the area to give us some shade, and wandered down in bare feet to where Barry, the celebrant stood.
The succinct 15-minute ceremony, crafted by Bazza, captured our sentiments while skipping the superfluous stuff, and left plenty of scope to laugh and joke our way through1. Which we did. In fact, Bazza himself commented how nice it was to be at a wedding that was so entertaining, and not at all serious. Aww, thanks Baz. I think.
Post-ceremony, we headed back to the lodge to pop some champas (yep, great stuff for a bride on antibiotics), and chill out even more. Then we went and frolicked in the grass as a brilliant sunset lit up the sky, and the brilliant Brendan MacRae and his wonderful wife and able assistant Rosanna banana snapped our smiles.2
As nighttime came, we reluctantly parted ways with our photographers, and were left to enjoy a take-away vegan feast courtesy of the awesome Earthly Bakes in Cairns: Spicy corn soup, beetroot and leek pie, chickpea curry, quinoa and mango salad, nutty broccoli, mixed green salad and, of course, a vegan blueberry cheesecake for desserts3. A great way to end a great day.
Now that the formal stuff was over, the rest of the weekend was really just for relaxing. We slept in most mornings, then spoke philosophy while sipping coffee on our balcony. Then we did small road trips to the sights of Atherton Tablelands: A swim at Millaa Millaa falls, stops at Zillie and Elinjee falls, lunch at Mungalli Dairy Farm, wandering around Curtain Fig, drinking coconuts at Malanda markets, searching for platypus and feeding turtles, eating a feast at the local Indian joint. It was just what this sick, coughing and spluttering, girl needed.
The only thing that remained was a road trip to catch up with our nearest and dearest, and celebrate one-on-one. First stop, Mum and Dad’s. Next…a trip to see you!
1 Barry Waugh, ladies and gentlemen. Wedding celebrant extraordinaire. Look him up if you’re planning on getting hitched up that way.
2 Brendan MacRae is a man that loves his photography. Plus he makes such a cute team with his wife. If you’re just after portraits, or wedding photos, he’s your man.
3 Think vegan isn’t tasty? Think again. These guys do amazing pies, salads, smoothies. Like, really amazing. And well priced! If you’re in Cairns, I highly recommend you visit them.