I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published June 13th 2012
With modern life becoming increasingly busy and complex, it's not surprising that more and more people are developing an interest in a simpler, more wholistic way of life. The popularity of yoga, meditation, organic growing, vegetarianism and eastern spirituality are all symptoms of this trend: topics which were once considered to be the realm of a lunatic fringe, but which are now irrefutably 'main-stream'. In this connection, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the Indian saint who transported the Hare Krishna movement from its ancient roots in India, advocated the premise of 'Simple living and high thinking'.
Situated in the beautiful Tweed Valley in far northern New South Wales, about ten kilometres from Murwillumbah, the Hare Krishna farming community, New Govardhana, embodies this yearning for a gentler, simpler way of life. Situated near the foot of the impressive Mount Warning and surrounded by lush rainforest, banana plantations and dairy farms, the farm is a beautiful, magical place, well suited to a life of introspection and meditation.
Although New Govardhana is the home of about sixty people, guests are always warmly welcomed, either for a quick visit or a longer sojourn. The most popular time for visitors to come is for the weekly Sunday Feast program, which begins at 4pm and extends until about 8pm. This program is a wonderful introduction to the path of Bhakti Yoga (the yoga of devotion), and includes kirtan (devotional singing and dancing), a philosophical presentation based on ancient Sanskrit texts such as the Bhagavad Gita, and a sumptuous vegetarian feast.
Sometimes there are also special cultural programs such as traditional Indian dance presentations, devotional bhajans (singing) and dramatic performances. However, for those who aren't so philosophically inclined, there is still much to appreciate, and simply sitting in the beautiful tropical landscaped gardens and watching the sun set over the surrounding mountains is an experience which isn't easily forgotten. A well-stocked shop situated close to the temple, is also a popular spot for guests, and provides an exotic selection of goods including clothing, accessories, spiritual books, CDs, gifts, handicrafts and organically grown -produce from the farm.
A performance of traditional Odissi dance
New Govardhana is also a regular venue for various colourful festivals throughout the year, as well as for workshops on topics as diverse as the ancient Vaisnava scriptures, Vedic astrology, natural health care, yoga, meditation, vegetarianism, cow protection, permaculture, personal growth, music and traditional dance. From time to time, retreat programs are also held, including women's retreats, yoga retreats and meditation retreats. For these programs, please consult the farm's webpage . These retreats extend over a few days, and participants are welcome to either take part in the whole program, or pick and choose segments which are of particular interest to them.
For those who require accommodation, guest house rooms and comfortable cabins are available for a reasonable price. Otherwise, there is a wide variety of accommodation available in Murwillumbah, or in the small nearby town of Tyalgum.
Cosy cabin accomodation on the farm
Another popular way to experience the unique tranquility of New Govardhana farm is to participate in its WWOOF program. The acronym, WWOOF stands for Willing Workers on Organic Farms: a loosely-affiliated, world-wide network of organic and biodynamic farms which welcome guests, offering accommodation and food in exchange for about six hours of work daily. For more information about membership, please check out the WWOOF website .
As a host farm, New Govardhana welcomes many local and international WWOOFers each year, who help out in a wide variety of capacities: in the orchards, vegetable gardens, looking after the cows and general maintainance. WWOOFers are also welcome to participate in the spiritual programs, although there is no obligation to do so. A guesthouse at the front of the property, near the river, is where WWOOFers are housed: a beautiful spot completely surrounded by nature and wildlife.
In a nutshell, for a very special day out, far away from the 'maddening crowds' or for an extended stay, you can't beat a visit to New Govardhana farm. After connecting with the overwhelming power of nature there, and the good spiritual vibes, you'll return home refreshed, rejuvenated and perhaps with a few cool new skills under your belt.