Category Archives: Uncategorized

Dreaming of Dolphins – a plight interwoven

Last night I dreamed of dolphins. I followed a concrete pathway down a steep bank to an abandoned wooden structure which used to be a watery abattoir where dolphins were killed. The water’s surface was littered with light debris which I couldn’t really identify, perhaps leaves but with a sense of pollution about it which left me feeling sad. However then I brightened up as a pod of dolphins appeared in the water. I was amazed and overjoyed that they could come back to this place of such negativity and still be so friendly and playful. I watched the dolphins for ages, admiring their sleek forms and playfulness, overjoyed at the feelings they inspired in myself. There were baby dolphins there as well and I was able to touch them and have them gather around me until the caretaker of the place told me it was time to leave. A sadness overcame me as I knew I had to go. What would happen to these dolphins now? What was their fate amid this pollution?

Upon waking I had several thoughts. There was the feeling of joy the dolphins inspired which made me question: “Where is the joy in my daily life?” What can I do to feel like that more often.

Then there was the memory of the annual Japanese dolphin slaughter – was this what the dream was also symbolic of? If you haven’t heard the story check out the Sixty Minutes’ segment aired Feb 23 called The Killing Cove  at http://sixtyminutes.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=8804712

Dolphins are not just another animal. They are sentient beings, so intelligent and so inspiring, they deserve to be treated so much better than to be slaughtered like fish for food that many people would be loathe to eat or just to steal their young for the profit of the aquarium trade.

There was another layer to my dream I believe that spoke of the compassion and willingness of dolphins to return to that place of killing (an abattoir in the dream; the Killing Cove in Japan) and endure that negativity so that we humans can feel their joy again and reconnect with our playfulness.

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I was fortunate enough to interact with a wild dolphin at Monkey Mia in Western Australia many years ago (pictured above) and the memory of it is a real treasure in my heart.  I hope other people can experience that joy and wonder in future years as well.

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Big Guns in the Garden

Mother Nature is so accommodating at times, sending us a gardener with loads of muscle to help out with the pruning and lawn trimming this morning. Once the tropical monsoon arrives it’s a constant battle to control the rampant growth. Check out the big guns on this guy!

Karumba surprise

ImageCrocs, prawns and barramundi aren’t all that the Gulf town of Karumba in northwest Queensland has to offer. I was recently surprised to see the diversity of wildlife on a Savannah Way drive out that way hosted by Tropical Tourism North Queensland (TTNQ for short).

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It was the time of the June “super moon” – the moon being at its closest distance to Earth – and we were treated to a beautiful sunset, moonlit night and stunning moon-set the next morning (pictured) as fishing boats headed out to sea at all hours.

Fishing is a big drawcard for the Gulf of Carpentaria, but take care, the reminder that this is croc country can’t be missed by the 8.63m Krys croc statue (pictured top) on show in nearby Normanton’s main street. The original crocodile was shot by a woman, Krystina Paulokski, on the banks of the Normanton River in 1957. The river empties into the Gulf of Carpentaria at Karumba, some 832km from our starting point on the eastern coast at Cairns. For travellers short on time, Skytrans has regular flights from Cairns to Normanton, with car hire available.

Karumba isn’t just for the fishing enthusiasts, although it certainly reels them in every year. Birdlife abounds, including the tall grey brolgas on the Muttonhole Wetlands, which extend some 30km inland. There’s a great little waterhole near the road at Karumba Point where pink galahs gather in the evening to drink and wading birds can be seen in droves in the early morning, sifting through the shallows.

Kites gather on the powerlines around the town like pigeons do in other cities. Agile wallabies dart across the golf course and feed by the roadside at dusk.

We head for the boat ramp as fishermen return with their catch, one visitor proudly lifting two barramundi from the large coolbox in his dinghy. Others are casting for bait as pelicans wander the beach in the hope of an easy feed.

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The town has good accommodation for anglers, from the character holiday unit of Bunratty Castle (pictured above), built from bricks carried four at a time by bicycle from the old town meat works, to multiple caravan parks and the spacious Ash’s Holiday Units and Café, which has rooms for up to six people and does a massive cooked breakfast to keep you going all day.

As the sun sinks lower, the focus shifts to Karumba Point. Watching the sun set over the water, some three days after watching it rise over the Coral Sea north of Cairns at Palm Cove, is a fitting end to this segment of the Savannah Way drive. In between is a wealth of open skies, surprising natural encounters and a rich mining and pastoral history.

Hope you can come and explore it too some day soon (dry season or winter is the best time).

Check out drivenorthqueensland.com.au for trip ideas.

Creativity: Opening the floodgates

Before I started this blog I was in a rut, I was stuck in quicksand.

Thankfully the looming threat of mass retrenchments in the newspaper industry meant I had to re-evaluate what I wanted out of life. My goal of becoming an author was all the more relevant, far more appealing than remaining in the mediocrity of more years of the same work. It brought me a basic, stable income but no sense of fulfillment. With the prospect of an increased workload, doing something my heart wasn’t really in, learning new systems and with fewer people to help out, I knew my time had come to get out.

FEAR = Face it; Evaluate; Act; Relax

Initially I was gripped by the fear of no income – I opted for the choice of redeployment elsewhere. However, once this initial fear subsided I had to face up to and evaluate what that change meant – more pressure, longer travelling times (the morning traffic crawl had me wanting change for six months or more.) What was I thinking!

I decided it was time to act and start working toward what I really wanted in my heart. Once I decided to change my preference to “redundancy” I felt a great relief and relaxed into the idea of change. My mind opened to a whole new world of possibilities. I had to reinvent myself.

For too long I had been caught in the quicksand of mediocrity. You know, that place between fear of failure and fear of success – where you’re caught in the grip of doing nothing. Like quicksand, it holds you fast. You can’t get into trouble if you just don’t move. The problem is you can stay like this a long time, years even, and nothing changes – except the strength of your desire for something more.

To get out you have to overcome the fear of failure – but don’t panic or the quicksand will just drag you under. Success requires carefully thought-out action – and hopefully an olive branch that you can grab hold of to pull yourself out.

Once you break that initial grip and make a firm decision it gets easier – and the floodgates of creativity open.

I had no idea what I would write about in this blog. I just knew I had to start. I had made the effort to attend the Tropical Writers Festival and was inspired by the likes of authors Matthew Riley and John Boyne. All the authors said you needed a “platform” to connect with audiences. So this is it. Adding my first post was challenging, as is learning any new skill.

Driving into work I felt a space above my head just open up and a flood of ideas poured in. I realised the wealth of experiences and knowledge I had to draw from.

Our minds are not just limited to the space within our skull.

There is a much greater Self – a source of inspiration – out there holding out the olive branch of support. You just have to choose to reach for it.

Then it’s a matter of relaxing and letting the inspiration flow.

So, go ahead, make that first move toward your dream.

It may only be baby steps, but it’s a move in the right direction. Then watch as situations present themselves to give you what you need.

Until next time… happy dreams 🙂

Mental – what is normal anyway?

There are two great movies out this month that are poignant and a great laugh, both challenging what is “normal” and “acceptable” behaviour. PJ Hogan’s Mental is a brilliant comedy about a family in crisis and a hitch-hiker who thinks destiny brought them together for her own reasons. Challenging the stigma of mental health, how we see ourselves and compare ourselves to others doesn’t sound funny, but in the hands of PJ Hogan (Murial’s Wedding) it surely is. It was even more poignant hearing that it was based on his own family and upbringing in Queensland/Tweed Heads in the 1980s – something I can relate well to.

The TV shorts don’t do it justice. The cast is impressive – Toni Collette, Rebecca Gibney, Anthony La Paglia – many of whom contacted PJ to get the roles despite the low budget.

The French film, The Intouchables, brings together a quadraplegic millionaire (Francois Cluzet) and an unemployed ex-con (Omar Sy), who becomes his carer. It is a touching tale of trust, friendship and acceptance with comic disregard for “acceptable” behaviour. Don’t let the subtitles put you off this one – it has had justifiably huge success overseas – nine weeks at number 1 in Germany, second-highest grossing film in French box office history.

It is also based on a true story – which adds to the honesty and humour between the two individuals who, on the surface, would seem worlds apart.

Daintree getaway – exploring my wider backyard

This was my first overnight travel famil in about a year… published in the Cairnseye magazine in The (Cairns) Weekend Post on September 22. Although I already live in such a lovely spot surrounded by rainforest and wildlife (we are spoilt in North Queensland’s Wet Tropics) it was great to have a change of scene and it was a nice reminder to venture further afield more often.

    • So here is the larger story (newspapers are cutting back on words so much these days but I won’t get started on that just yet)…

The chuckling laughter of a kookaburra provides my morning wake-up call as sunlight filters through the natural curtain of greenery outside my room. Torn between snuggling under the covers of my comfy bed and the excitement of what I might find amid the morning quiet, I forgo the slumber and sneak outside. An orange-footed scrub hen and the “woompoo” call of the so-named fruit dove greet me. A majestic milky pine draped in epiphytes glows in the morning sunlight.

The milky pine is a centrepiece of the garden.

Small birds flit among its outstretched branches. Brilliant red flame of the forest and a lady’s slipper vine are also in flower. Buttress rooted trees create a magical walkway further over by the pond, a favourite hangout for kingfishers.

This is the attraction of Red Mill House Bed and Breakfast accommodation in the Daintree Village, about 110km north of Cairns in Far North Queensland. Owned and operated by birding specialists Trish and Andrew Forsyth, the character-rich original 1920s Queenslander caters for up to 12 guests at a time and was named among TripAdvisors’ Top 10 B&B experiences in 2011.

Red Mill House awaits

Breakfast awaits on the sunny upper veranda of the main house. It starts with a delight of fresh local fruits in season including pawpaw, banana, soursop, sapote, strawberry, melons and pineapple, with home-made yoghurt. That’s followed by home-made bread and prize-winning jams (yes, Trish makes it all); and if that’s not enough there’s a full cooked breakfast of local farm eggs, bacon, sausages, mushroom and tomato. It’s a hearty breakfast to keep anyone satisfied for whatever adventures  are planned for the day ahead.

Trish and Andrew are a wealth of information on what to do in the area, from bushwalks to the local waterfalls and river cruises to historical walks around the rural village, barramundi fishing and the attractions of the broader Daintree World Heritage wilderness region. They happily pre-booked us on the two-hour Daintree River Wild Watch sunset cruise with Ian “Sauce” Worcester  (www.daintreeriverwildwatch.com.au)

Little salty croc“Sauce” operates a low-sided open boat from the Daintree Village jetty (not the ferry crossing area) which is ideal for photography and bird-watching. He can get in low under branches and in close to the banks of the Daintree River and knows just where to find the local wildlife. For birders and non-birders it is a real treat. We got right alongside a small crocodile and green tree snake on the riverbank, and could coast in silently on birds like the Papuan frogmouth and a nesting sunbird for some great photos (for those with better photographic skills than me anyway).

The afternoon light provided stunning reflections on the water, and we spotted an azure kingfisher flitting among the ghostly mangrove roots down a secluded side creek.

The sunset cruise has the added highlight of returning to the jetty as flocks of cattle egrets head down the river to roost, passing around us in wave after wave.

Daintree Village is a quiet community of about 50 residents and offers a wonderful getaway about 90 minutes’ drive north of Cairns with a peaceful country atmosphere. Andrew and Trish have built up a reputation among birding circles, even lecturing overseas on the subject, so Red Mill House attracts many international guests keen to learn about the area. The B&B has a stack of reference books and a large timber lounge room where guests can relax and chat in a homely atmosphere.

Andrew explains the Far North is a mecca for birdwatchers around the world, with about 430 of the 730 bird species in Australia found within 200km of Cairns. They have bird trail maps available and bird lists to tick off species as they’re spotted. High on the list for Daintree River birders is the great-billed heron, a massive 1m lavender-grey coloured bird which took my breath away as it took flight out of some bushes as we passed by on the river cruise. At the other end of the scale is the large-billed gerygone which is only 11cm long.

For peace and quiet, the Red Mill House offers a wonderful escape. The owners are welcoming and happily share their knowledge with enthusiasm. So even if you aren’t a birder when you arrive, it’s not long before Andrew and Trish have you reaching for the binoculars.

Red Mill House Bed and Breakfast is at 11 Stewart St, Daintree, Far North Queensland, Australia. (www.redmillhouse.com.au).

(I was a guest of Red Mill House and Daintree River Wild Watch and thank them for their hospitality.)

Nature vs technology – the irony

ImageAre you a nature-lover or a techno junkie? Or can you be both?

Life is full of paradox and irony. I am all for irony – not ironing, but irony – that funny word to “describe a situation or result that is the direct opposite of what was intended or expected” (Collins Australian Pocket Dictionary).

Starting this blog is one of those ironic, paradoxical situations of nature vs technology. I love nature. Being in it, doing in it, and even just sitting in it. Technology (think electronics/computers mainly) is at the other end of the scale – one that fills me with dread. While I love what it can do and what it gives us, it does have that tendency to be “unnatural” for me.

So I find it ironic that in my quest to publish a novel aimed at inspiring people to leave their computers and reconnect with nature that I have to take myself indoors, away from nature, and spend hours at my computer to explore new reaches of the cyber world as I learn to blog. But hey, that’s what life is all about in one way – discovering new horizons and venturing out of your comfort zone.

So welcome to my latest adventure as I seek to publish the Quest of Jesse Greene. I hope to share a lot more with you – be it adventures in nature and beautiful places to visit, adventures in thought – “taking thought beyond where it has gone before” to quote Esther Hicks; or an adventure in the unexpected – the realms of spirit and dream time (sleepy dream time rather than traditional Aboriginal).

Please bear with me as I find my feet and share with you. All I ask is that you bring an open mind and a sense of adventure as we enter this brave new world (to me anyway). I have been a slow starter, toying with my facebook page while not actually inviting anyone there… so please be the first to like http://www.facebook.com/SMScott, I do actually have stuff on it!

Check out some of the things I love – some of it funny, some inspiring and other stuff that’s just plainly baffling – like this picture:

ImageSince when were wheels called a Cube?