Country to Coast, Dunes to Highway


The weekend was full of sparks – from nature and events – for stories and poems.  It was a time for reconnecting with ABC Open.

I met Jo Joyce  (producer for the South Coast) in person for the first time.  I had worked with her ‘virtually’ for ABC Open when editing with the 500 words project and had viewed  her stories, photographs and videos. The local producers from my old home area who I was mentored by were: Mick Bromage, Leandro Palacio (now in Tassie), and Suzy (retired), but ABC Open feels like a family and it’s very cool  meeting more producer sisters and brothers, and keen ABC Open contributors.  We all love ABC Open.

The family headed up to Noosa to check out the From Country to Coast exhibition which Jo had put together.  It consisted of local contributors work from  various ABC Open projects, particularly Now and Then, but with samples of others like photography challenges and 500 words.  The excited buzz of contributors with their families and friends, and the public who had come along to support them, filled the exhibition space.

Jo introduced me to quite a few of them, and some introduced themselves.   They’re a friendly bunch!  They told me which were their contributions.  An ABC reporter was taking photographs of each artist next to their works!

ABC Open has been building momentum since it began in 2010.  More and more locals are building a relationship with the producers, their town and other contributors.  Contributors, who are from regional communities, share a passion for their home, photography, writing, storytelling, video, documentary making,  and where they may have had limited skills to begin with, they grow in confidence and take more risks than when they began.  They discover more about their camera, themselves and their community.

The exhibition is still on for anyone heading to Noosa, just go check it  out  at the Noosa Regional Gallery in Pelican St.  Allow some extra time if you want to watch the video selections as well.

It was the first time I had been to Noosa in over 19 years, and I didn’t remember much about the place.  It reminded me of Port Douglas and Cairns in its shop fronts and road winding by the coastline. One way it was massively different was the crowds, which were enormous, partly due to a food festival but also because Noosa has a beautiful beach and it’s still not full winter yet.

We tried to go and visit the National Park and local beach but there were absolutely no parking spots for kilometres.  So we ended up going to a beach called Castaway, which had sand dunes and windsurfers and less than 20 people.

I loved feeling the sand and the wind (which was giving the wind surfers lots of  blissful flight) – and watching my youngest son have a great run up and down the sand dunes with his older brother.

David was a bit concerned about how long  it took us to find the main highway again, only because it might mean travelling 60 km an hour for the 120 kms we still had to make home.  Not to worry we made it back to the main highway with sand in our toes and the memory of wind singing in our ears.  We made it home to Brisbane metropolis, or as some like to call it Brisvegas.


A Month of Reflections

tropical reflections3

Like many other keen ABC Open contributors, this month I am participating in the Snapped Theme: Reflections.

My photograph of the cane and lilies is already up alongside some photographs I truly admire.

There are already over 500 inspiring contributions to look through.

I have just submitted this one.


I love this theme!  Looking forward to many more  tricky, intriguing, creative, awe inspiring, reflections over the coming days.

But You Didn’t

This is one of my contributions to A Scary Moment.  Wow so many scary stories over at ABC Open.  Tunnels, guns, water, flooding, storms, operations, car trips,  train journeys, ghosts, haunted houses, and public speaking.  What’s your scary moment?  Hmm next I am thinking of my safest moments, just so I can have a good nights sleep.

Circus Oz
Circus Oz –


It’s our first family trip to the circus, and we’re giddy with excitement.  I haven’t been to any circus since I was in primary school.

This circus is all people doing the tricks.

The people are tall and short, thin and graceful and most of all vibrantly colourful.  They are welcoming and entertaining in the way they walk and talk.

Our daughter is beside herself.  She’s in her element; after all she goes to the supermarket wearing scuba diving gear and frills.

There’s no chance of escaping lions, monkeys or elephants. We prefer to see those in documentaries, firmly in their natural habitat, or in the zoo.  In the wild would be even better, but zoos do so much for conservation and where else could you safely see some amazing creatures of the world for real.

No, in this circus the only people who might be hurt are people doing tricks, but they’ve practiced heaps of times so you don’t expect that.  Perhaps we might be a little scared that they might be hurt, but that’s the thrill of circus.

We make our way in and there’s a display to walk through with a bit of the history of circus.  Our eldest son is interested and keen on the history and the colour.

Our youngest appears to be thrilled and as ready as his siblings for the circus action.

‘Roll up, roll up,’ now we are ushered to the big tent.

I’m a proud parent thinking, ‘My three children are in for a treat, an unforgettable experience.  They’ll know why everyone wants to run away with the circus.’

I am thinking, ‘how lucky are we to be given free tickets by our friend whose husband puts up big top tents all around Australia.’

We are seated looking on a ramp and hoops of fire.  Sound of motorbikes.   I think riders are about to go through the hoops. Excitement, anticipation, but this is what we tell our youngest happened:
You should’ve had eyes wide as platters
so keyed up for our first trip to the circus
fire and hoops
magic and loops 
. . .but you didn’t

You should’ve been laughing
seeing clowns in kangaroo suits
acrobatically jumping on planks
. . .but you didn’t

You should’ve clapped
And sighed with relief
when the girl on wire
made it seem so easy peasy
to balance and dance
. . .but you didn’t

At the start
when motorbike riders came through a hoop of fire
you could’ve been transported
to a world of daring
called circus
. . .but you shut your eyes tight with fright and
went soundly to a sleep  

. . .for the rest of the show

For my Scary Moment Contributions  to ABC Open Click HERE

Operation Bath Time for the Guinea Pig Crew

hiding in the towels - Soot and Misty1
hiding in the towels – Soot and Misty1 – taken by my daughter


Mouse’s ‘A Story of a Tree’ and Michael Lloyd’s family ritual tales remind me that often family life is made up of small rituals that over time become richly significant.

One of the small rituals of our family’s life is bath time for our champion guinea pig crew; champion because they survived Cyclone Yasi as calm as could be. Animals amaze me with their resilience.

Before bath time with – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty – the children make them a warm, comfy and portable home – a plastic tub generously equipped with pet towels.

They lay out pet towels for afterwards – ready to dry and warm them.

Their cage is normally cleaned by the children not involved in the bathing, so they can return there when the whole operation is finished, newly washed, lovely to smell, and glossy.  They rotate this less enjoyable task because it can get mighty smelly in the cage.

The children have made bath time a precision operation, littered with a huge number of comforting cuddles, as not all the guinea pigs like water.  Misty needs the least amount of cuddles because he loves bath time. He still receives plenty!

Prebath - set up
Prebath – set up – June Perkins

There are three main stages to the bathing phase; stage one – place the crew in a box with carrots, their favourite food.  There they wait to be washed.

Stage two – a patient child gives each one a dip in the low run bath (most often my daughter or our eldest), and then lastly one by one they go into the warming area to wait for their other guinea pig chums.

Calico in the bath
Calico in the bath – June Perkins

Once all the guinea pigs are together the children swaddle them for a while in towels to warm them, and then take the time to cuddle and chat with each one of them.  They take great joy in the guinea pigs hiding in the towels.

Then there is a thorough clean of the bath – for the humans who must follow the guinea pigs to use it.

But Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty won’t make it back to their cage for a while, as now they are so clean they are especially enjoyable to play with.

One of my favourite memories from when we first had the guinea pigs is the children placing soft toys all around them. They discovered that the guinea pigs loved snuggling into bears.  They’d run around in a circle if a ring of toys was put around them and ‘popcorn’, that is a little guinea pig jig.

They are not quite as playful as that now, but they are just as cute and interesting to observe.

It’s hard to imagine family life without the guinea pig crew – Soot, Calico, Chocolate and Misty.

after the bath pampering - Chocolate2
After the bath pampering – Chocolate2 – June Perkins


If you liked this blog, you might enjoy reading  these  Family Ritual Stories featuring pets.

One of the Family – a dog that believes his place is in church but he also has a few religious arguments and creates a classic embarrassing moment for his family.

Woman’s Best Friend – a dachshund, with personality, who can never catch the pet cat, except in his dreams

Missing the Bus: A ritual – just what you need if you want to miss Sunday school, a loyal pet dog to walk with in all seasons.

For more on the Guinea Pigs check out their very own blog Adventures with Our Pets.
To submit your Family Ritual Story  to this awesome project head over to ABC Open 500 Words.  

Listening Divas – A Family Ritual Contribution

You can find Listening Divas over at the ABC Open project 500 words.

It’s day one of the project and we already have twenty contributions.  These began coming in this last week.

There are some beautiful stories arriving into the space.  My present favourite has to be Helen’s Puftalons.   The combination of rain, food, and overcoming drought is just mesmerising.

I like writing about the everyday that elevates it to some poetic level and I think Helen has achieved that.

There are lots of others to appeal though on themes from holidays to christmas and I’m sure there’s many more stories on their way

Yesterday I began work on my memoirs.  Some of the stories I’ve written for the ABC Open challenge will be in there, others are from the blog here, and my personal blog challenges, some are written for writing challenges over at Write Practice and some are never before seen stories.

I am so excited about it.  As of this morning the memoirs is at 25,000 words.  I have listed several more titles for story/passages  I wish to write, have a structure that I think is working. I’m not going to share it all here. You will just have to wait for the book.  After all you need some surprises!

I might give a sneak peak now and then of the work in progress, but I’m having a ball writing it, so  I hope you’ll have a ball reading it.

Listening Divas
My Dad – with us as Kids- by Anna Ako
When we were young, Dad told us bed time stories. They were always silly with us in starring roles.
Dad liked Spike Milligan and AA Milne. Sometimes he’d recite his favourite poems and direct them to one of us.
Snatches of AA Milne come back to me at the oddest times, with his poetry of children whose parents run away and cautionary tales to not step on the cracks in the footpath.
Dad’s stories were funny and satirical but sometimes we protested about the way he portrayed us. We were unruly characters, tiny divas, jostling for bigger and more complimentary roles. We directed our storytelling Dad just so.
Our favourite thing was Dad giving us magical powers. We told him the names we wanted and what we should be doing.

‘No I wouldn’t do that.’
‘I should be taller’
‘I need to run faster’
‘I’d jump to … the moon’

We loved to take over his stories. Sometimes our diva listening ways were so out of control they would make our storyteller abandon his tale and he’d grab out the Muddle Headed Wombat book to read to us and do all the characters voices for us. Tabby Cat, Mouse and Wombat became our friends. I read all the books when I had mastered the art of reading.

These stories were important because when we were very small our Dad was often away for long periods working as a labourer. Partly because of not having qualifications from his years in Papua New Guinea and partly due to prejudice over our Mum’s race he found it difficult to get and keep other work.

Our Mum told us when Dad came home after long labouring jobs my little brothers had forgotten who he was, and would hide behind her crying as the strange man with the overgrown beard came to hug us.

When Dad was finally home again for most of the time, we were able to know him again through the storytelling ritual.

Just as we were getting used to on tap Dad, he was away again to study and become a teacher and then later a librarian. Luckily I could read some of the books he had read to us so I didn’t miss him too much. Dad lived in another town with a landlady and sometimes we would visit him.

Dad hitch-hiked home to see us when he had a chance. This time when he came home we would come running out to meet him and my younger brothers would pipe up with ‘a story, a story.’ I listened for old time’s sake.

I was less of a listening diva because by this stage I was writing my own stories – partly thanks to my Dad’s early storytelling efforts to reconnect with his children.

For more on the ABC 500 Word Project Head to ABC Open, and check out  rituals families have.