‘THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOK’ MAGIC FISH DREAMING

A wonderful reflection from the talented Helene Magisson, looking at behind the scenes of the creation of Magic Fish Dreaming.

Magic Fish Dreaming

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It has been a bit more than one year now, since June Perkins contacted me to illustrate Magic Fish Dreaming, a series of poems describing, with softness, mystery and humour, the beauty and richness of a region of Australia: the Far North Queensland.

This project immediately appealed to me for four reasons.

  1. June’s approach suggested a rich and elegant personality which, I felt, I would have a lot of pleasure to work with.
  2.  I like poetry especially when it targets children. It is a wonderful way to tell things, and a book of poetry is full of stories to be read and listened to. Words play with sounds and images play with words.
  3.  I love Australia, a country I discovered 5 years ago. This is one of the few countries that still offers completely wild and pristine areas. A country in which we can be easily and…

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Creature Feature

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‘Come over here Mum, Quick!’
So I run over and there it is,  stock still in the bushes
the third lizard we have seen that day at South Bank.

She is filming it with her tablet
whilst her brother is climbing a tree.

She likes keeping her eyes peeled for creatures others pass by.
She always lets me know too as she likes to give me photo opportunities.

I stand beside her to take a few photographs, but I am more interested in photographing her interest in the lizard.

Later when our friends turn up she is keen to show them the footage of
her creature feature.

Sometimes I like to write memories which might have potential to turn into picture books, or sequences in long stories.
I have just finished one which I am sending to a publisher next week.

They start out just like this, as small records – and I build them over time.

(c) June Perkins, 

Walking the past in the present

Time is a culturally bound construct. We may, based on what culture we are born into, think we move chronologically, but in many cultures we carry the memory and ancestors with us in stories, songs and myths and a belief in the presence of spirits.

The past walks with present and the present with the future.

We can use our memory, past, wisdom to assist the present if only we pay attention to it.

In writing of lands I have lived and traveled through in an organic and intuitive process I find connections that make a spiral, even a circle, rather than a straight line.

Whilst we physically can’t change the past our understanding of it can dramatically change based on the patterns we find there.

I like the idea of spirals more than circles because in a spiral you can progress even as you seem to circle back to where you once were, but you are still moving forward.

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My Papua New Guinea is not a physical memory of a landscape or extended family members, but is carried in the life and story of my mother and precious photographs from an anthropologist.

It is walking beside my brother in a grass skirt with a shell necklace; it is in the culture dance groups my mother starts for her nearby grandchildren and other Pacific friends.  They combine forces as there are not many from any of their cultures living in Tasmania.

I think of my mother listening to the songs of Papua New Guinea, of the Maipa Fakai, and Maipa Angapu, whilst learning the new songs of Tasmania.  I wonder if she has PNG soul bones or Tasmanian ones now and would she only discover how she truly felt if she left Tasmania to live in another space.

**

What is it to be Tasmanian raised? What is it to have her soul bones? I am proud that my generation is the one that saved her wild rivers and saw her become more than the apple (orchard) isle.

She has come to embrace herself as a tourist destination and yet still struggles with the highest unemployment in the country and is still making peace with her Indigenous inhabitants.

She is a place of beauty, but which many young people leave for opportunity, but which others feel they can never leave.  She reminds me of the Cassowary Coast.  She reminds me of the struggles of people on the Sunshine and Gold Coast, who are also trying to stop development that affects the natural beauty of their areas.

Why can’t we have opportunity and soulful nature’s  beauty in one package – is it at all possible to have the package together?

(c) June Perkins, word and images

Ecology Quest 1 – Bush turkey holes, and finding a bat wing coral tree

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Bat Wing Coral Tree – June Perkins

Yesterday I read the following from David Attenborough

“Where in 1945 it was thought that the way to solve the problem was to create wildlife parks and nature reserves, that is no longer an option. They are not enough now. The whole countryside should be available for wildlife. The suburban garden, roadside verges … all must be used.”

I agree.  We have bush turkeys, ibis, crows, and cockatoos frequent our back yard.  They enrich our lives.

The down side is that we can’t start a vegetable patch outside because of the bush turkeys digging holes everywhere. However  the upside is that they love eating all our scraps and it’s kind of cool they  are protected and have the run of the neighbourhoods. We are going to start a vegetable patch on the veranda.   I’d love to attract more butterflies to the backyard, perhaps because I miss the beauties we had in Feluga and Murray Upper.

I was thrilled this week to discover an interesting and attractive new plant not far from home. In my ecology quest I’m making a point to find out the names of unknown plants and animals. Today I present to you the Bat Wing Coral Tree – and here is a photograph where it does look like a bat wing!  A friend who lives in Mission Beach, but who knows heaps about the natural world, helped me identify it from a photograph I posted.

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I hope to use my ecology quests to develop my poetry and stories.  It will be fun  and empowering to look at things and be able to name them.  

Whilst living in North Queensland I learnt a lot about the variety of  palms – which prior to living there I had a limited knowledge and interest in.  Being surrounded by them I could see so much variety, it became intriguing.

Returning to Brisbane after an eight year absence I am determined to know more about the more obscure looking plants in the garden, parks and streets.

(c) June Perkins words and images

Postscript – A friend has suggested that I can create raised vegetable patches and bush turkeys won’t touch the vegies. Looking into this and may post the garden in process.  Spring is in the air.