This article is brought to you as part of Corona's 'Someplace Else' series: Travelling The Strangerlands with Warhol's Children. You can check out all the pieces here.
This one time I somehow ended up at rave in the bush in the middle of Nowhere, Central New South Wales and I took acid and climbed a mountain.
It was day two, or possibly morning one of a three-day trip into dubstep induced delusions of grandeur and harmony and peace and love and everything else. I was there with some good friends, some of whom were partaking in the synthesized reaction of diethylamide with lysergic acid, otherwise known as LSD, or, more simply, acid.
This was the second time in about a month that I had been in a similar situation – in the bush close to nowhere, attending a rave and within a general atmosphere I wasn’t too fond of or comfortable in. I don’t know; dubstep has a way of bringing out my anxieties I guess. Not to mention the Wolf Creek, you’ve-got-nowhere-to-run-sonny-Jim vibe I get from being away from civilization.
The previous night had been an exceptional example of MDMA’s capability to alter the mind and mood and how in turn the world becomes a much more welcoming, brighter place when you distort reality a little. I can’t help but feel as though MDMA also brought out in me what man will do to survive the cold of night with only a rug and a log and another human body for warmth.
The next morning, feeling good about the previous night’s experience with drugs – the first of which I had in years – I decided to keep this vibe going. I got that little bit of cardboard soaked in a synthesized reaction of diethylamide with lysergic acid, otherwise known as LSD, or, more simply, acid, and I placed it under my tongue and let that gorgeous combination of chemicals seep into my bloodstream. Eventually I would climb a mountain.
It was about 7.30am when the acid was ingested. It was followed by a chaser of goon and orange juice, offered to me in a water bottle. Despite still being what I consider the early hours of morning, the rave had begun several hours prior and so we made our way into utopia (I’m actually positive this was the name of the festival).
For some time I noticed nothing out of the usual – well apart from the fact I was in a dubstep rave in the middle of the bush, in the middle of nowhere. But all in all I was feeling ok. The water bottle of goon and OJ was all but empty and I volunteered to be a Good Samaritan and return to base camp to refill. It was on this walk that the line between good and bad, heaven and earth, well and truly shattered.
It started visually. I was walking and suddenly I could see the music. It was like an assault of colour – a clash between rainbows competing for dominance. People think themselves to be lucky to see a double rainbow in their lifetime; here in front of me were two battling it out for my attention. In sync with the steady doof doof doof of the bass drum, these rainbows twirled around each other and ran into each other occasionally making an electric zap whenever they accidentally touched. Surely, but steadily, the two became friendly with one another to the point where you could almost consider them lovers.
Looking back on this it seems like it quite a hauntingly beautiful sight to witness but at the time, I was scared out of my mind. Rainbows belonged in the sky, not weaving around like massive multicolored serpents of the rhythm. What if they decided I was foe, not friend? My only option – I can’t stress this enough, my only option – was with the safety and solace of the mountaintop over yonder. Without a seconds hesitation, I, barefooted, with no water, no food, and no judgment – only fear – ran at that mountain like I was John Baxter Taylor going for gold at 1908 England Olympics.
I didn’t stop until I was at the top. Upon reaching the peak of Mt Olympus I was drenched in sweat, my legs were jelly and my heart ached and trembled with such enthusiasm to rehydrate my oxygen depleted body. I collapsed and closed my eyes for what seemed like eternity. Awakening my body felt surprisingly fine, no aches and pains, no heart beating like a jackhammer, just homeostasis. In the distance I could still see the festival down below and hear the steady doof doof doof of those DJs with their Macbook Pros mixing beats left and right. For a little while I was fine just enjoying the gentle rumble of the festival down below and the cool breeze up here closer to clouds. It wasn’t long before a new enemy approached however.
The realization came very suddenly and aggressively that I was on top of a mountain that was surely home to several creepy crawlies that would slither and bite and cause me a whole world of pain. The realization also came that a single bite from one of these venomous beasts would be so lethal, so deadly that my heart would have stopped beating long before I reached the bottom of the mountain again. This fear only escalated from here. It was not long before my fears evolved from those very real and existent into those in my head. I was introspecting my way into the pits of my soul and those anxieties of mine – they were shadows and demons coming to life all around me.
In an effort to avoid snakes and spider and other animals I generally don’t enjoy existing, I had perched myself on top of a rock my eyes peering, like an eagle searching for its prey, I was looking for anything that wished me harm. I refused to blink for in that millisecond I could be attacked. I knelt there perched on top of a rock, on top of a mountain, in the middle of the bush, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of New South Wales, at a doof festival with my eyes tearing up from a refusal to blink.
It wasn’t just the creatures that wished me harm that day. The hallucinations had long since developed beyond the visual and also occupied the auditory spectrum of my mind. Right then, I think that would have been the closest I will come to knowing what it is like to be schizophrenic. Every little worry of mine, every mistake and regret of my past they were embodying shadows around me and while the snakes may have only wanted to attack me out of defense I knew with certainty that these demons of mine wanted nothing more than to tear me limb form limb and burn what remains.
It was beginning to get dark. I had to make a decision. The shadows – they were becoming more ferocious, more daring. Just me and them. They were there hiding behind trees and in bushes taunting me. They were there reminding me of all the aspects I don’t like about myself. And soon, it would be them and me with no sunlight to protect me. In the dark of night, shadows run free.
My heart started beating faster and faster. I had made my decision and it was to run. I was going to run down this mountain at least five times faster than I had run up it. Not only because of, you know gravity and physics and all that, but because of a need, an instinct for survival that would force my legs to work like they had never worked before. That same instinct would keep me balanced, it would keep me on path and keep me looking forward as the shadows chased me down the mountain.
Sure enough, I got down that mountain in such little time I sighed with such gratitude and relief to be alive. Interestingly enough, back at the bottom of the mountain I had returned to where I began my quest. I picked up the water bottle, sipped the last remnants of goon and orange juice and returned to camp to refill. I poured in the goon three quarters of the way and topped it off with some now lukewarm orange juice, which had been left to ferment in the sun all day.
I returned and my friends were in almost the same position as they were when I left and went on my journey up a mountain and into my soul. I had been gone 7 hours apparently.
The rest of the night, I could still see the music forming around me. I could still hear the shadows on the outskirts of the festival taunting me and daring me to step into the darkness. But I was safe; I was with friends a doof festival in the middle of the bush, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of New South Wales.