BendigoBendigo. One of our favorite stops on our tour in Australia hands down! In fact, if it had been located nearer the beach, we might have just stayed there and never come home.

It’s a major regional city with a population of about 100K and growing. It sits 2 hours just northwest of Melbourne. The original land owners are the Jaara people and in the 1880’s it was the hub for the gold rush. Bendigo has loads of cycling and walking trails, parklands and nature reserves. It is also the home of a La Trobe University and so the city has a youthful, artsy, festive vibe with plenty of little boutiques, cafes, and art exhibits. 

Our host family, The Vincents, have lived in Bendigo for about 5 years and are actively involved in creating connection through the arts and faith. They live common purse in a sort of Monastic community called Cornerstone. The community began 40 years ago and functions as a wonderful training ground for those interested in learning and participating in “Intentional Community.” You can learn more about Cornerstone here.

Cornerstone Community Bendigo VIC AUWe met the Vincent’s at Surrender Conference a few weeks prior. We were performing in the Salvos tent and out of the corner of my eye I saw a beautiful dark-haired woman waltz over. She stood on the edge of the tent for a bit, smiling at us and swaying to the music. Our eyes met and I knew we’d be friends. Later, I approached her and introduced myself and my family. We each shared a quick version of our story with the intention of connecting again. On the last night of the festival we caught up and she invited our family to her home in Bendigo.

We arrived to the Vincent’s darling Victorian home on the last leg of our trip. We were pretty weary by this point but excited to hear about this families commitment to community, faith and the arts. They welcomed us with one of the best hand made meals we’d had in three months.

Cornerstone Community Bendigo VIC AUDuring dinner a conversation about heritage ensued and we learned that Rose was half Mexican. We were so surprised to hear this as Australia is quite void of the Mexican culture. And, to tell you the truth, besides family, friends and our bus, it was the thing we missed most while overseas. Hearing her mother (Mexican) and fathers (Australian) love story was inspiring and although, they have lived in Australia for the last 40 years or so, we could still sense the cultural impact of her Mexican heritage.

The Old Church on the HIll Bendigo VIC AUOur day was filled with thrifting or going to Op Shops (opportunity shops) as they are called in Australia and in the evening we performed our final farewell show at The Old Church on the Hill. The former Uniting church was purchased and donated to Cornerstone Community and they use the building as a sort of community center. They host a Yarn club, and let me tell you, those folks know how to knit! In fact, they are currently in the process of creating a “Yarn Bomb” for a tram that runs through out the city. That’s a big endeavor! They also host Hip Hop dance classes, karate classes, and have a thrift store on site. They are in the process of putting together a community garden and are host to many events, including concerts.

The Old Church on The HIll Bendigo, VIC, AU After traveling over 3,000 km through out Victoria and New South Wales, performing in 35 venues over a three month period, this was the perfect last show for our family. What a joy to sing in this old historic building, that had been shown so much love by the community, to a handful of listening and attentive ears.

We invited the young Wilis, a fellow folkie muso, to delight us with a few of his beautiful  pieces. And, during our set he and his band mate, Marshall, joined us on the last song, Wayfaring Stranger.

A fitting chorus for our final song in Australia.

I’m going home to see my Saviour
I’m going home no more to roam
I’m just going over Jordan
I’m just going over home.

Until next time friends. We’ll be seeing you.



The Australian Alps

Mount Buffalo National ParkAustAlpsRegionMapPositioned in southwestern part of the Australian Alps is Mount Buffalo National Park. Boasting 77,000 acres of striking granite boulders, rock formations and waterfalls, it is a fantastic place for bush hikes and is filled with plenty of wildlife such as Lyrebirds, Eastern Rosellas, wombats and swamp wallabies.

The Aboriginal Traditional Owners of Victoria are the Mitambuta and Taugaurong and they identify the Mount Buffalo National Park as their Traditional Country.  Declared a national park in 1898, Mount Buffalo is rich in history and is loved by bushwalkers, adventurers and birdwatchers alike – and by those who just want to take in the clear mountain air.

It’s free, family friendly and worth a day or more of exploration.

Happy Anniversary

WordPress just sent us a little “Happy Anniversary” note, stating that we started out blog  3 years ago. It’s hard to believe, that three years have passed since we first started dreaming about this life.  And, since then we have traveled over 30,000 miles through out the US and visited Australia twice, including our current visit.

map3I’m sitting at a cafe in Mornington, Victoria, Australia. It’s a warm summer day and just a few blocks down the street is one of my favorite beaches of all time. My children are working on blogs for home school and Craig is reading the local newspaper. We’ll head to the beach later this afternoon.

In the meantime, thanks to the note from wordpress, I’m looking back over all the memories we have made, so many amazing people we have met and awesome things we have been able to try. We dreamt of a simpler life, a more creative and cohesive life, and one with deep meaning from a spiritual and philosophical perspective, practicing reconciliation as a daily discipline. We dreamt of a life that included visiting and encouraging community on a broad scale and we have found such a rich tender of kinfolk around the globe.

We have found a genuine faith on this journey. This faith is not our own, but a gift. One that we cherish and hold dearly. A gift that continues to inspire us forward. And one that keeps us humble, knowing that there is no way in the world we could have humanly made this all happen. It’s a beautiful thing, this life. Hard to the core, but we are free!


Australia Tour

Jan 16-19, 2014 Illawarra Folk Festival, NSW –   Boasting 9500 in attendance, the festival site at Bulli Showground in the spectacular northern Illawarra Escarpment flock to enjoy more than 150 acts performing at 350 events over the four days, making it the largest folk festival in NSW. The Hollands! are excited to be apart of this fantastic festival.

Jan 26 Australia Day (Private Party) Melbourne, VIC

Feb 14  Humph Hall 85 Allambie Rd Allambie Heights, NSW $15 door

Feb 15  Illawarra Folk Club Burelli St, Wollongong, NSW, 2500, AU $20 door

Feb 16  River Music Nowra presents The Hollands! Held at the Nowra Golf Club, Fairway Drive, North Nowra, NSW $15 door

Feb 22 Troubadour Acoustic Club near Fisherman’s Wharf, Woy Woy, NSW, 2256, AU $15 door

Feb 25 Cloverdale House Byron Bay NSW

Feb 26  The Old Kirk House Concert Series, hosted by Dom, presents The Hollands! held at the Yamba Museum, River Street Yamba NSW 2464 $15 door (come celebrate Jana’s birthday!)

March 1 Gibson Concert Series, held at the Uniting Church Eden NSW

March 13  A Quiet Place Concert Series hosted by the fabulous Penny Larkins and Carl Pannuzzo at the Theatre Royal Castlemaine, VIC $15 door

March 14-16 Surrender Conference, This unique conference is the largest gathering in Australia of its kind, focusing on social justice, radical discipleship and incarnational mission. The conference is hosted by a number of missional communities and organisations working amongst the poor, and run in relationship with Indigenous Australians. Held in Belgrave Heights VIC

March 15 Fiddelhead Festival, Come along to the Fiddlehead Music Festival on Saturday March 15th 2014 at Yinnar Recreation Reserve. Featuring a concert, musical workshops, craft and produce market, children’s activities and more!! Yinnar VIC

March 21-23 Yackandandah Folk Festival High Street Yachandandah, VIC

March 28 Burrinja Ranges Folk Club, 351 Glen Fern Rd, Upwey VIC  $15 door

March 29 Kelly’s Bar and Kitchen, Olinda VIC

March 30 Brickyard Outdoor Concert Series, Sundays live at the Theatre Royal, Castlemaine presents 9 shows through out the summer, including Merrymaking Nomads, The Hollands! for tickets.

Carmen and Peter

One of our last weekends in Australia (April 14/15, 2012) we spent with a sweet group of people from Box Forest Wesleyan church in Hadfield, VIC. While there we met Carmen and Peter, two of the most joyful and precious kin you could meet. They were both in their early 60’s with a  noticeable spring in their step.  Honest folks with constant encouragement and thanksgiving flowing from their lips.  They we’re not pretentious or pious, rather they were humble and sincere. Peter, a shorter stocky bloke, shared with enthusiasm about his rockabilly days and guitar playing. He told the story of his “coming to Jesus” and how he now has a peace and joy in his life.

Carmen, who had listened to our message of reconciliation approached me the following day and gave me an envelope full of notes she had taken through her journey of reconciliation. There were some in her hand writing and others on printed papers. I leafed through them on the plane ride home and found myself admiring her simple faith. This precious woman had shared her deepest mantra’s with me. Her foundational values found in these writings are layman and sincere.

These were some of her statements on forgiveness: (I image them up on her fridge or hanging on her bathroom mirror as reminders)

~Are you refusing to forgive your child. Forgive them, or you will never be free to enjoy the relationship God wants you to have with them.

~Are you struggling with a parent who abandoned, betrayed or abused you? Forgive them and release them. Otherwise, you’ll spend all your emotional energy keeping them in the prison of your resentment.

~You’re tied to the past through the umbilical cord of unforgiveness. When you forgive you cut that cord. When you refuse to, you remain tied to a memory that can hurt you for the rest of your life.

~Learn how to receive forgiveness from God and also from those you have hurt. Then offer that same forgiveness to those who have hurt you. When you can do that, your heart will be tender, your spirit light, your mind free, your vision clear and your speech filled with kindness. What a way to live.

This last one is my favorite, for it is only when we look in the mirror and understand our own impact on others, our own pride, that we can really understand the grace offered through forgiveness. Laying down our fear, self-protection and pride equals freedom and real community. The taste of forgiveness is honey to the lips and water to the soul.

Australia; Communing with the Saints

One Sunday morning we made our way to John Smith’s, St. Martin’s Anglican Church in Collingwood, VIC. Other than having a strong, blue-collar, Aussie rules football following, Collingwood is a pretty average part of town, especially the area where St. Martin’s serves. It’s the rough side of the tracks, so to speak.

Our contact was Shirley. She was straight talking, tender-hearted and streetwise. She showed us the ropes and allowed us to share our story, songs and encouragement freely.  It’s always a privilege to serve through song but it was quite liberating to also be entrusted with the “message of the day.”  That message was not much different from that of what we might share in the local folk club, which is “be open, be reconciled and enjoy sharing in life and community with one another.” except here in this setting, we were invited to bring in a deeper understanding of this message. We were allowed to teach from the Holy Scriptures on the message of reconciliation and relate those teachings in practical ways to our relationships with one another and with God.

It was a good challenge for us. We tend to be more esoteric in our thinking, with our ideology wafting in and out of our conversation and song. So, to sit down and really have to put our minds in order, to study and create a lesson worth listening to, well, that was something.

Over the next few weeks we had appointments at a few other churches, including a small Baptist church on the coast and a Wesleyan church set in an ethnic suburb, lead by one of Craig’s old youth leaders. We were pleasantly surprised by the openness they all expressed in allowing us to curate the morning and their invitation to join in community over meals in the following days.

These opportunity to share in communion with the Saints made us stronger in our own personal faith, in a greater understanding of our purpose and ignited a deeper love for others. What a delight to be interconnected with such beautifully messy souls, to be accepted and encouraged and to take that encouragement to the ends of the earth.