Uplift Festival puts Byron on new-age map

SOME festival-goers also believed that it had secured the shire's position as a global centre of new-age consciousness.

Byron is already on the map as an alternative lifestyle region, with a background of hippie (and sometimes dippy) pastimes, but the event's smooth running and high standards could add to the shire's attraction for upmarket yet alternative tourists from around the world, said local real estate professional Michael Murray.

Mr Murray said participants and councillors had talked about how the shire should encourage the kind of "new-age consciousness clientele" and the accommodation to cater for them.

He said the festival had "exceeded everyone's expectations, especially with the quality of the speakers, who were very strong".

The speakers came from a variety of disciplines, including science, wellness, art, ecology, new economics and indigenous culture.

Music and meditation sessions were also available, as well as workshops and panels and also a large kids' village.

Up to 1500 people gathered to welcome the sun at Main Beach on the Saturday morning, and to watch Aboriginal elders perform ceremonies and speak about the importance of people coming together to create change.

Elder Uncle Bob Randall said people needed to decide: "Am I going to live for my need or for my greed?"

Mr Murray said he had been particularly impressed by stem cell biologist Bruce Lipton's outline of "the whole scientific background of how we are affected by our thoughts and programming".

And the information given by Dr Paul Stamets - a dedicated mycologist, or mushroom expert - on the benefits of edible and medicinal mushrooms had been "stunning", Mr Murray said.

Other participants reported being moved to laughter - and tears - by clown doctor Patch Adams's stories of attempting to distract war-wounded Afghani children while they were being treated without anaesthetic.

Councillor Rose Wanchop said she thought the event marked the baptism of the Regional Sports Centre, which had hosted the many hundreds of people attending without a hitch.



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