Aussie Travels

Whitsunday Islands Adventure

When my husband, Frank, and I took our son, Dan, to the Whitsundays last weekend. I'm not sure who had the most fun, but it was a weekend that will be in our memories for a long time. We stayed at the Martinique Apartments, Mediterranean style which certainly took us away from the every day of computers and filled our creative wells. The sun shone in a brilliant cerulean sky, a strong south-easterly blew and the cool water's visibility enabled us to see a smorgasbord of life under the sea while we snorkelled. Giant clams, Blue Fusiliers, Harlequin Fish, Surgeon Fish, Coral Trout and more, plus an added surprise with the Cleaner Wrasse picking the bacteria off the fish. Many soft corals swayed in the flowing water, but not the large variety I used to see when I scuba dived twenty years ago. A lot of the staghorn coral had been damaged by cyclones or boats, so that was disappointing.

The ride out to the reef in Fury was fast and exhilarating. I'm not a good sailor, however I was pleasantly surprised when the fast boat skimmed across the water so that queasy feeling didn't get a chance to invade my space. The fun part was being sprayed by the water as the boat bounced on the choppy sea.

For lunch, we stopped at the world famous Whitehaven Beach: spectacular! See pic below. After a great picnic lunch we took a stroll along the brilliant, silicon sand to burn up a few calories.

Here are a few photos of our weekend away. A special thanks to Dan for giving me permission to use his photos. Can't wait until our next visit.

Martinique Apartments at Airlie Beach.

My two heroes, Dan and Frank.

Sunset at Airlie Beach.

A friendly visitor for lunch.

Whitehaven Beach

The Next Chapter Unfolds...

Life in the tropics.

Life in the tropics.

It's happened, before I thought it would!

Almost twelve years ago our family left Townsville to live on the Gold Coast so that our son, who is an IT guru, would have opportunities to work in that field. Our time on the Gold Coast was an interesting time full of challenges but a fun place to call home. Our son is now an adult and well on his way to an interesting career in IT.

Knowing he was settled, left me wondering where my future lay. Yes, of course, I'm a writer that was obvious, but where do I feel the freedom to write with no distractions. Part of our travels around Australia was to find the place where we were meant to be. Leaving my life behind on the Gold Coast was quite a challenge, but I also found it exciting to work out where the next chapter of my life was about to unfold. Living down south was exciting, but it wasn't for me climatically, so we headed north to the warmth, and discovered we belong up here in the tropics with humidity, balmy nights, open spaces, palm trees and the beautiful Great Barrier Reef at our doorstep. We were scuba divers at another time in our life.

Extended family living here also strongly influenced my decision to live in Mackay. In my adult years I've never lived in the same town as family, so Mackay has offered this wonderful opportunity for me to connect with them.

Another bonus was meeting author, Rose Dee, whose first book will be released in mid-November, 2011 by Even Before Publishing entitled Back to Resolution. It's great to meet and support each other on our writing journey.

So, it's official, we've decided to make Mackay our new home. Our house on the Gold Coast is on the market and we're searching for our new place to put down roots. We've lived in Townsville on three different occasions in the past, so it's no surprise we've returned to north Queensland. Mackay has regular flights in and out which are relatively cheap with lots of flights daily. The hour and a half trip to Brisbane means our son can visit often when he needs time out from his busy schedule, or I can return to the Gold Coast when I want to catch up with him and old friends.

My change of lifestyle isn't as dramatic as Gina's in my book, African Hearts. Gina was a woman with courage, understanding her strengths and moving forward to grasp new experiences. I learned from Gina that fear is real, but it can be overcome and there are many advantanges to going places that seem way too scarey.

Travelling in the van has given me the opportunity to meet many people throughout this vast country; connect with my readers and other writers; and to give me new fodder for my future projects.

I haven't been to Western and central Australia, but those places are still on my list of places to visit. It's time for me to be still for a while and focus again on my next work which is almost complete. When the time is right, I'll step out and seek all that the great central and west has to offer.

Where are you in your journey of life? Are you in a time of being, or are you caught up in the excitement and stress of change? If you're in the latter, hang in there, you'll soon be in that new place. I encourage you to hold on tight and enjoy the ride. You'll grow from the experience and have new resources to call on in the future when you next take a leap of faith.

For the Children...

As I've been travelling this vast country during recent months, I've thought about the freedom and choice of lifestyles we have in Australia. I imagined what it must be like to live in a place where tomorrow doesn't have the certainty we take for granted.

I wandered in my imagination to a country that had been destroyed by war. Buildings razed beyond recognition. People huddling against the rubble with a sheet of cloth protecting them from the weather. No toilet, no water, no bed, no kitchen, a couple of pots and pans, if I was lucky.

I became one of those people....

All my possessions gathered at my feet, my toddler huddled close to me for security, trusting me I will provide a meal for her. I know her belly is empty. I see hunger in her eyes. 'Please Mummy can I have something to eat?'

I pull her closer. Her skin is cold. The rag that covers her body offers no warmth.

My stomach aches. We haven't had food for over a week. My energy is low and all I want to do is lean against this wall of rubble and slip away from the poverty, but I can't. I have six children depending on me. The eldest, a daughter, who is ten years old, rummages in the bins for scraps of food, while the youngest sucks on my empty breast hoping for a drop of nourishment. But there is none.

Another daughter dawdles toward our home, searching for food her eyes full of despair. No shoes, a ragged dress that is held on her shoulder by a mere scrap of fabric, her skin caked in dirt. A son carries a small bucket. Brown liquid splashes over the sides. He slows so the liquid will be contained. There is water for us to drink...maybe. My other sons, six and eight come back empty handed. All we have for today is a cup of water each to drink. The water is dirty, but it is all we have.

The smell of death is all around me. Anguished cries of desperation reach into the human parts of me. I want to do so much for them, but I have nothing to give. I'm struggling to keep myself and my family alive.

A cold wind blows and fills my nostrils with a mixture of human excrement, decaying meat and sulphur fumes. Death is coming, too quickly. I draw my children closer. I have to get my family out of this wasteland. I must do something before the last of my energy leaves me. Bombs explode in the distance. I am powerless, but I have hope. Tomorrow will be a new day, but each tomorrow becomes the same as yesterday.

Tomorrow has come and with it comes a ray of hope. A man approaches me and says he can help us leave the torment tomorrow. He promises an education for my kids, a home, employment and a future. 'I have no money', I say. 'Why do you want to help this woman who can't pay?'

'I have a way to get you to Australia. You can pay when you find your future in Australia. I will keep a record.'

Is this my new hope? Dare I believe it to be true? What choice do I have? None. Staying means certain death for me and my children. I see others around me packing their meagre possessions. They are in search of hope and a future, just like me. I know nothing about Australia, but perhaps it is good there.

For the children I will do anything...

This is what I imagine the life of a refugee is like before they come to Australia. How can we deny these desperate people entry to our country when all they want is an opportunity to have a little of what we have?

The Power of Prayer

During the past couple of months, I've been busy with book signings.

Because of spinal fusion, the bending and standing for lengthy periods has caused me much discomfort. Last Sunday night my right hip felt so weak I feared it might give way, so I went up for healing prayer. By the end of that prayer, my pain had eased to a dull ache. Next morning, I was pain free! Jesus is indeed the great healer.

The promise is in Psalm 103:2-3 "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits--who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases".

What a promise from the great creator. I believed, and I have received and been healed. All praise goes to him.

Sometimes I doubt the power of our almighty God. I'm wondering if my doubts hold me back from receiving the healing he wants me to have. Jesus performed healing throughout his ministry and we learn about the many successes he had. God is with us through the holy spirit so there shouldn't be any reason why we can't receive his healing today in all areas of our lives.

Do you believe in God's healing power? Are you receiving strength and grace that is freely available to you?

If you're struggling emotionally, physcially or spiritually, I encourage you to ask for healing only Jesus can give. You'll be amazed at the results.

African Hearts Confirms A Reader's Future

Sydney is a city that goes, goes, goes. It's a place I really enjoy visiting to catch up on family and friends, and find the new and interesting things I hadn't done when we lived there about fifteen years ago. It's a vibrant and exciting city, and full of the unexpected.

We did book signings at West Ryde and met some wonderful people who really wanted to get to know me at a personal level. One of the most surprising moments was when three people approached me with quizzical looks on their faces and asked me if I'd been to Africa to have written African Hearts. I wish! But I was pleasantly surprised when the young lady said seeing my book was a sign that she had asked God for to encourage her to go to Africa and work with the orphans. I became so excited for this young lady and her husband. The looks on their faces was a mixture of pleasure, relief and a little anxiety. They also told me they nearly didn't make it to the signing. They'd arrived half an hour before I was to finish. They saw this as another sign that they were meant to be there to speak with me.

After much excited discussion they left feeling they were to follow their hearts and go to Africa to work with the orphans. This was an extraordinary experience for me that God would use me to encourage young people to understand what God was saying to them. Some authors say book signings are not their favourite thing to do. After this experience, I believe it's a very important part of the marketing process to connect with my readers in so many ways. No matter how tired I might be at the end of the day, I believe the time has been well spent. Encouraging others is what I love to do to see them reach their potential in their chosen field. If part of the process means standing for four hours in a book store I will. Connecting with my readers is what motivates me and helps me get through the days when the writing is not going so well.

Thank you Koorong, West Ryde for your commitment in helping me help others and fulfill God's purpose for my life.