THE HEADING (above) is a hark back to my journalistic roots. A terrible play on words. I am referring to the fact that my partner and I made a scary retreat from the Chenrezig Institute Buddhist Retreat recently. But more on that at the end of this article.

It was a bit of a drive – not far from the quaint town of Eudlo. Past rather picturesque scenes of green pastures, surrounded by equally green foliaged trees. I had a few moments of nostalgia for England at times. Took me back to my childhood, and  cricket fields encircled by cool stands of oaks and sycamores.  Yet these scenes were totally Australian.






But, on to the Retreat. We parked at the bottom of a big hill, and then saw the steps to the top. Up there was the restaurant where we had booked a meal for lunch.  I would call it the 1000 steps, but it was probably more like fifty.

At the top, a working Telstra phone box (is that an Oxymoron?). Then the restaurant. A cluster of saffroned monks at one long table, as we walked in. We had our meal ticket (obtained at the gift shop), so we were ready for food. Not told to us, was that there is only one set lunch meal for the day. Today was a vegetarian curry, with salad. It may sound a bit odd. But no, it was absolutely delicious. A Divine Curry indeed, and great combination of salad ingredients. All for $12. We had a nice chat with one of the volunteers as we ate. A young female World  traveller, staying at the retreat. I thought she sounded French. But no, she was from the German part of Switzerland.

Anyway, on to the scary bit. We walked down the steps back to the car, then called in at the Art Gallery situated in the grounds, on the way out. I was hoping to see some local original paintings and the like. But by “Art Gallery” they meant Buddhist memorabilia: prints and sculptured Deities. But all good, we had an enjoyable walk around and chatted to two ladies who were making small sculptures from plaster of Paris.

We said we had just been up the hill to the retreat.

“Have you visited the Garden of Enlightenment?” we were asked. No, we hadn’t, so back we went, this time by car, you can get there by car they said. No need to walk back up the steps.

No steps, great, but the road was far worse. A narrow cement road that kept going up and up; and very steep. So steep we couldn’t see over the bonnet. We had to keep going up as there was no way to turn back. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The road continued higher and higher, with deep drops on either side into rocks and bush. I expected to see a Tibetan mountain yak at any time. Then there was a T-road and so we managed a ten or twelve-point turn to head back down. Down was good. We kept going down. Down means safe. Not sure what happens if another car comes in the opposite direction, on the way down. But Buddha was on our side that day, and we reached the bottom ok. That was our scary retreat. So we didn’t make it to the Garden of Enlightenment. Maybe next visit. But next time, we’ll take the stairs. For the food alone, it’s worth the climb.














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