My father was from the Kiewa Valley; his father and uncles were the high plains cattlemen who built Wallace’s Hut. My mother was brought up on a soldier settler block on the banks of the Murray River; her father was a tough humourless man who’d fought at Gallipoli and with the Light Horse at Beersheba. My parents survived a lot of struggles but never found happiness; my mother died with loathing and denial drowning her broken heart, my father died in abject terror.
Us kids life was isolated, violent and depraved. My imaginary friend Geigsy was company during the day but I was alone with nightmares at night. I soon learned to read and escaped into books, would go to libraries and read my borrowing allowance every week. I was good at school but if I didn’t come top of the class my mother would go berserk, coming home off the school bus was like walking into a windmill. I took long walks, often into a range of hills in the distance. I’d be gone all day, would take an orange in one hand and get a drink of water from the creek. When I got a bit older I’d take my rifle and knife into the hills before dawn to wait over rabbit warrens for first light to shoot out a feed for the family.
But things weren’t good and I started to rebel which didn’t help. One day in the middle years of high school my best mate was worried and said “Huey, you’re going to have to learn to fight”. So I did and I was good at it. I was a farm kid; you couldn’t hurt me, I was quick and I could hit hard. I found a little bit of satisfaction, a few happy moments.
Life became survivable but it remained insane, so one night I quietly packed what I could into my Globite school case, put my boots on and walked out to the road. I hitch hiked through the night to the Hume Highway, turned south over the Murray River and was in Melbourne by lunchtime.
I got a job loading trains at the Spencer Street freight yards, found a boarding house to live and in the evenings went to training at Sam Presnell’s gym under the Collingwood town hall. Presnell was a fight promoter with young aboriginal fighters in his stable. He had a ring he’d set up at showgrounds and footy fields across Victoria and southern NSW. By my 18th year I had 14 professional fights. I fought in a tournament with the inmates at the old Beechworth gaol. I watched Lionel Rose fighting his way to the world title and copied the way he ducked and weaved. As fate would have it, I was matched on a fight bill with his younger brother Raymond – Ray beat me on points. I stopped 2 blokes and never got knocked out myself. I had 4 fights at Festival Hall in the days of TV Ringside, one fight went live to air. Five bouts are still on the fight record in google.
I had a lot of fights, got a broken nose and took a lot of punches in the head. In a couple of hard fights I spent part of a round fighting through a dark tunnel, weaving until it cleared. I recall my mother declaring “you’ve never been the same since you did boxing”. Well hello …
Anyway my behavior wasn’t a good look, my mother came to Melbourne and harangued me into going back to finish high school. I had a couple of savage fist fights with my father, one day I cut loose and bust him up fairly bad. I went for a long walk across the paddocks and cried and cried but he was lucky I was just a kid or it wouldn’t have gone well for him. I kept fighting in the ring so I got an ordinary pass but it was ok for entry to university at Newcastle. I had a go at uni but soon hated having my life choices narrowed down to specialties. I needed to learn about people and the world so I quit after 6 months and went to live with my best mate in Sydney.
I started driving city deliveries then got a truck licence and drove freight to Newcastle and Wollongong. I was mad about motorbikes and bought a 650 BSA, then began skydiving; in the next year and a half I did 71 jumps and logged an hour of freefall time. I found a dear friend and mentor out at the drop zone, he was a veteran of the Korean War and the Malaya campaign who sold me a rare delta wing parachute; the rig was unreliable but it flew fast. Packing a canopy wasn’t difficult and I never had a malfunction except when the boys packed my canopy backwards for a joke. I was stoned on good Afghan hash as usual, so flying and landing backwards was a challenge. One Saturday night when the weather was too bad for jumping my old soldier mate and I climbed over the Harbour Bridge. He introduced me to art, we often went to the Art Gallery of NSW. He showed me wonderful picture books of stained glass mandalas in the great gothic cathedrals; got me into the writing of Alan Watts, John C Lilly, Carlos Castaneda and Timothy Leary. But I had many dark and lonely days and nights and dreamed of travelling, of disappearing into oblivion in some kind of mystical distance. Anyway my driver’s licence ran out of points so it turned into a practical decision, I sold my bike and skydiving rig and left for north Queensland.
I was shy and socially awkward but good fortune brought me to a great household of travelers in Townsville. I could get a job anytime out at the old Ross River abattoirs and the north Queensland lifestyle was like a dream come true. In the summer storms and glorious sunny winters I relaxed for the first time ever. A lot of travelers were leaving from Darwin to Timor for the overland trip to Europe. But Darwin got blown over by Cyclone Tracy and Timor was invaded so I worked a season at the Mossman sugar mill and with my girlfriend took a flight to London. I worked labour hire jobs and we hitched around Britain and Ireland, over to Holland and to Morocco. The spirit and energy of the 60’s was still in the air, we lived down Ladbroke Grove and did our shopping at the health food stores and markets on Portobello Road. My dear love was a bad asthmatic and a smoker; in 1967 at the age of 16 she’d gone to a doctor in Sydney who advised her to start smoking, she had a lifelong habit that killed her a few years ago. She wasn’t well and I was ready for real travel, the overland road home. So she got a flight home and I went out to the road to Dover and put out my thumb. My first ride was into a rising full moon, then across the channel and on through France to Bordeaux for a grape harvest. With winter coming down I hitched across Europe to Istanbul. I took buses from there, stopped in Tehran when the Shah was in power, Afghanistan in the peaceful days before the Russians invaded then through the Khyber Pass to Pakistan. I crossed through to India and traveled from the Punjab to the southern tip and back to the Himalayas – endless buses and trains through an incredible country, weeks of sun on beaches by the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
It was a long journey and I got really sick a few times. Once I lay helpless for days while angels hovered over me, tucking in my blanket and caring for me. I learned from the seasoned travelers how to stay well, it meant simple foods, eating light and fasting at first signs of sickness. I was touched by dysentery many times but rarely ever got sick again.
A couple of times a year I’d get a letter. Up in Manali I got a letter saying my sister was dying, so it was the long road down the Kulu Valley to Delhi and a cheap flight home to see her. Our childhood had almost broken her; she collapsed and spent a long time flat on her back in a lonely Sydney hospital bed while doctors took out slices of muscle to put under microscopes trying to understand why she couldn’t move. She eventually got up into a walking frame and slowly started again. She walked with a heavy limp for many years but she always lived with love and forgiveness and it brought her through. She had a child and a career and is married to a good English guy with a home in New Zealand.
I had to stay on the road. I was angry and restless but I’d been living hard for a long time, the deeper depletion crept in and depression took over. There were a lot of ugly drugs around at the time and I needed to get clean so I hitched over the Snowy Mountains to spend time by the ocean on the south coast of NSW. I got work in the tuna fish cannery at Eden. It was the days before safety work gear, working on the line there left me with permanent hearing loss but I saved a few dollars, went down to Melbourne to see Bob Dylan and headed north to go around Australia. I loved hitching those long roads, feeling the road moving under me all day. I traveled fairly light but always carried a book about the esoteric and spiritual; read the Lord of the Rings trilogy and every book by Herman Hesse. I even had a little compendium book of nutrients in a cookery bag with beans and rice and used to make a small campfire in the bush at night, slept on a ground cloth under a blanket. I came through the Territory into WA and on the way down to Esperance found a seasons work driving big tractors in the wheat out near Wave Rock, then a job in Perth assembling electrical transformers in the factory that supplied WA. That city was a wild time. I had a wise and beautiful girlfriend, a great house full of travelers and a fast motorbike. I saved well and when the time came for us all to go back on the road I took a ship to Singapore. From SE Asia I went back to India for a while then flew with Aeroflot to Moscow and then Athens. I spent a long time hitching across Europe to England, I loved spending all day in a cathedral or an art gallery.
Winter came so I went to Israel for a year. I was on kibbutz Ginosar by the sea of Galilea and drove tractors in cotton in the Jordan valley below the Golan Heights, working with good hard men who’d fought two wars. The kibbutz was the home of Yigal Allon who had fought in wars since the beginning and went on to be foreign minister; I was there when he passed away. Life with the kibbutz volunteers was fantastic, I partied hard and made lifelong friends and girlfriends. I swam in the Galilea after work and became a strong long distance swimmer. I worked hard too, one day my boss in the cotton sat me down at his kitchen table, put a bible in front of me and said it’s all here, you have no need to leave. They offered me a home on the kibbutz and citizenship so I had a big decision to make. I knew they’d taken the country by war and they’d keep it by war and I wasn’t Jewish, it wasn’t my fight. So I said goodbye and took a ship from Haifa to Athens and hitched across Europe to Holland to look for work.
My room on the kibbutz had been broken & robbed so I saved my beer money for 3 months to buy the ferry ticket and my French girlfriend lent me $40. I made the journey across Europe from Athens to Amsterdam on a bag of oatmeal and sultanas I put in my pack before I left, my daily ration soaked in water in a little plastic yogurt bowl I took from the kibbutz kitchen. Sleeping out, sometimes walking all night through a big city to try for a ride on the other side at dawn. Yugoslavia was difficult; guard dogs and guards with guns, cold and wet.
I was down to $14 when a contact from Israel led me to a good job in Brussels running the mix in an icecream factory. I loved Belgium, Holland and northern France; the old cities, churches, art galleries and the great cemeteries and monuments to World War I. Eventually the authorities caught up with me, the false student card I’d picked up in Thailand wasn’t good enough to make out I was on a working holiday so I had to leave for working without a permit. I went to France, worked another grape harvest then found work on a farm in Brittany making goats milk cheese. One morning I woke to the land covered by snow with a heavy winter in front of me so that was it; I hitched through to London and took a flight with Afghan Airlines back to Delhi.
By now I was committed to finding true spiritual teaching. Not knowing where to start I bought an Indian bicycle, put my bag on the carrier and headed south as winter came down. I rode about 120 km a day, across the edge of the Ganges plain then down through the central Deccan, drinking from wells, sleeping in fields and staying in ashrams. It was dry hard ancient country, I’d see old women carrying bundles of thorn branches on their backs for firewood, often a thorn would spike my tyre if I got off the road for a rest. The roads were rough, I put bike baskets on the handlebars to carry puncture repair gear and sprout containers but they’d fall apart by 500 km so I mounted a second carrier over the front wheel. I remember days when I’d come to the edge of a long range of hills and see the road winding down to the plains and disappearing into the haze with another range of hills in the distance. Four hours later I’d be up there to see the same ahead again. I saw an amazing India; ancient, dusty, sparse. I was in the energy of the land. I went across to Bombay and saw Krishnamurti. The season changed so I turned north and pedaled up the west coast and across Rajasthan. By astonishing coincidence I checked in to the same hotel on Mount Abu as the Scottish mate I lived with in Perth, and when I got to Delhi I was in the same hotel as an Australian woman from that house. I rode my bicycle on to the foothills of the Himalayas. After 5000 kilometers I pedaled into the holy city of Rishikesh, where the Ganges meets the plains.
I spent a long time in deep study at Sivananda Ashram; meditation, yoga, the Vedas and Puranas. Down by the river one day I met a satsangi from Radhasoami Faith. His spiritual knowledge was profound, I was inspired to follow him to his ashram in the old city of Agra. I took initiation into the meditation and lived there almost 2 years, up every morning before dawn to sit in the great hall in meditation. I slept on a folded blanket on a concrete floor and ate basic ashram food, had malaria and went through the long summers of 48 degrees. I slid into the sadu’s life; service and servitude, undernourished, poverty, bad teeth. Yet the teachings of that obscure faith have stayed with me and are congruent with new insights and knowledge coming through now about humanity’s origin and spiritual purpose. The Radhasoami theology was plagiarized to become Eckankar in the west. But I had a deep disillusionment growing through me, the teachings were amazing but was the guru real? The murder of Indira Gandhi saw the Indian government bring in 6 month visas to put an end to the age old travelers life of years immersed in spiritual teachings. The fun was over so I borrowed money from a dear Belgian friend and came back to Australia to try to find a life here.
An Israeli friend had come to see me in Agra and we traveled together. The cheapest way home was train to Nepal and plane to Bangkok for a cheap flight to Perth. We worked a season in the wheat in WA, it went well – we were both good at big engines, worked them hard and running sweet. End of season we bought a Honda 4 and rode the Nullabor to the eastern states.
I found work in steel fabrication but yearned for something better so I drove out to the parents property every day to start an organic market garden. I thought I was doing something meaningful; I was really trying to heal a hole in my soul, a dark void somewhere in my brain.
My garden was an impossible dream so I evolved it into a lawn and garden service. I was vegetarian and loved cooking and preserving foods. I met a good woman who traveled with Circus Oz as an acrobat and trapeze artist. We married and had two beautiful daughters. We moved to Northern NSW to buy into land. There were draft horses on the property so with the help of an old timer I trained them into chains and shafts and began training them to pull a plough. Going to town on my motorbike one day a car driver made a mistake and I had a bad crash. My ankle was smashed to fragments, my foot hanging by skin and tendons. They eventually fused the bones in my ankle, there was nothing else to do with it, I had three operations and spent a year on crutches, after all the pins came out it took 3 years to learn to walk again. I can’t run anymore but I can ride a bicycle and swim so its ok. The orthopaedic surgeon said I’d only get about 15 or 20 years out of my foot before further fusions were needed but its 25 years now and still working alright.
It was all too much for my beautiful wife, I carried too much pain and lived too hard. We had to sell up and my beautiful wife had to leave. Yet she always wanted me to have a good relationship with my daughters and I do. She gave me my greatest gift.
I started driving cabs and went to TAFE with the women to learn clothing assembly which led me to a little business making kites, wind decorations and carbon fibre stunt kites to sell through the markets. I drove cabs nightshift and spent 2 days a week at the cutting table and sewing machines with a day selling kites at the markets. One day an old school friend came by the cab rank and said “why don’t you get an education?”. So I took my kite stall to Brisbane and went to college. I chose natural medicine and loved it.
During my last year at college us kids had a rare event where we were all together, which brought us to tell things that had never been told. My parents were dysfunctional as individuals and as a relationship, but the one thing they got right was systematic psychological fracturing at every level of us kids lives so they could cope with their own selves. What went on in our family was no good; us kids lives were exploited, diverted or destroyed. My sisters revelations were appalling, my youngest brother had been cast from his mothers heart the day he was born. We would never be the same again and the truth was like a bomb going off in my head. I took the trouble to go visit my father, look him in the eye and tell him I knew who he was. It was the end of him. It was the end of a lot really, not the healing I thought was due – coming to terms with truth was beyond everyone. But at long last I knew the part of my brain I thought was missing was the fracture through my sense of self that had been driven right through me when I was really little.
Anyway, after 5 years of part time and full time study I graduated as a naturopath in 2002. My qualification brought me to Caloundra and with another naturopath we built a good clinic. I learned to give deep massage with energy balancing but wasn’t confident as a practitioner, too many new and strange syndromes that medicine couldn’t understand and college didn’t teach. Before the global financial crisis many people had health fund rebates, it was a good time for natural therapists. The crisis changed everything and it became imperative to get much more businesslike but my brain was failing, very tired with strong signs of dementia. When my partner said to go driving buses to keep clinic afloat something changed inside, I needed to re-invent myself and rethink the naturopathic model they taught me. I left the business as tidy as I could and separated to go out west working on corporate stations as a plant operator. It was 25 years since I’d been on farms but I liked being out under the great open skies, after I got handy at working with machinery again I became a competent loader operator and truck and dog tipper driver. I lived in the single men’s quarters, put my camp stove on the veranda and cooked my own food. Through my accounts with practitioner supplement companies I ordered necessities for being really well, especially the good fats, minerals and herbs to nourish my brain. I got an aerial for my internet modem and spent the evenings studying, reading, collecting information resources and playing mandolin. I had time to do the intensive research that unlocked what’s going on with all the strange new syndromes, building an information database, learning from doctoring of a century ago when they used simple compounds at therapeutic doses.
One good thing out at that job was reflecting ideas off the stockmen, workmates, road train drivers and station managers to learn what clicked with them. There’s so many people dissatisfied with the present reality, who know much is not right, who want something better. I grew a clearer picture of needs and how to connect with them, a vision of putting the desk bound consulting and prescribing process online then going out and about to share it with people. Though I have to say, making things complicated is easy, making them simple is quite a task. So is learning to write, build a website . . .
It was a very healing time. I downloaded an amazing brain re-training program; it had weekly audios plus workbooks and a facebook community. The audios were a complex mix of binaural sound with parables, affirmations, hypnosis and subliminal reprogramming of the subconscious mind. It reached me at a level I’d been missing for 30 years and with the krill oil was the factor that gave my mind back.
Now I know we can completely change the energy of our lives; it’s what every health crisis is calling us to do. And the knowledge and methods are right in front of us, hidden in plain sight. The planet is in a shift of consciousness, more and more we’re peeling away illusions, disclosure is happening whether the authorities want it or not.
My parents have passed away, they took a lot with them and they left a lot behind, lots of life’s lessons. I’ve been blessed to be pushed hard enough to look for deeper truths. Blessed I’ve had freedom to search in the world, to learn from so many people out there on the road, to find a path I’m happy to walk. My parents only wanted the best and tried hard; it’s so sad they were caught in the inter-generational trauma that goes back since forever, that their spirits carried so much pain.
I still struggle with it all and I’m not as zesty as I used to be but I’m physically well, lung capacity is good and my brain still works. Somehow I’m healthy and sane with a chance to do something good with my last years.
I left a lot out this story, a lot of stuff went down through those years on the road. I thought the less people know of it the better, that paragraph on the other page was all I was going to give away. Yet in the end we all must own the truth of our lives; the fears and regrets and dreams.
I guess this isn’t the best story to have in my resume page but I wanted to let it go out in the world – like doing a meditation by a stream in the forest and putting my thoughts on a leaf to drift away downstream.
I’ll be on this healing journey forever now. If we can share a vision of health and healing for diseases old and new, my heart is glad.
Hugh Wallace, Winter 2017