Support a Queensland Writing Festival

The Cairns Tropical Writers Festival is coming up soon, and they are doing some lead up events to assist with raising funds to put the festival on.

Whilst living in North Queensland, I was lucky enough to make it to this home grown festival highlighting local and visiting talent, twice. Once I was invited to read my ‘Grumpy Fisherman’ at a fundraising /anthology publicity event and display some of my photographs at the Cairns Library, which was so much fun.

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Through the festival I made friends outside my then regional writing home in Tully.  Many of them have remained in touch and  they are all geared up for this upcoming much loved biannual event.

If you live anywhere close by, or just happening to be visiting Cairns that weekend, attending this afternoon of writing, reading and music is a great way you can support a Queensland writing festival and the development of the North Queensland Literary community.

Saturday August 23rd 3.00 – 5.00pm

What better way to spend an afternoon than to listen to the songs of Iconic local identity – Seaman Dan and the opportunity to be one of the first to buy his latest book “Steady Steady.”

To add spice and mystery to the afternoon local author Catherine Titasey will read from her book “My Island Homicide” which also available for sale on the day.

Tickets for the event can be booked through www.trybooking.com/88721 – Cost $25.00

Bring your ticket with you to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea, poolside
in the Latitude Room, Rydges Tradewinds Hotel, 137, Esplanade, Cairns.

 

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Hidden Walks

Have been writing a few pieces inspired by photographs.
It’s important to write some of these down whilst I remember the emotions and places. How long will my memory last, how far back can it reach?

Following the Crow Song

banana field Banana Field in Tully Town – June Perkins

Every town, urban or rural, has the hidden walks.  These are the ones the locals know about and love.  These walks can be found in the oddest places.

They might be alongside a river, behind a school, near a local airport, through a school or field, down a road you found one day,  or up a hill to a street with the perfect view.

These are the places I love to walk and photograph with my family, because they are not so obvious.  Yet they are the places you come to know if you live somewhere for any length of time.

I loved that a rural town like Tully has banana and cane fields right up to the border of town.  I loved that when you headed around the streets walking you found small creeks almost everywhere.

It had a hidden beauty…

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Blue Bonnets

I wrote this poem a few years ago, but in light of the recent events in Texas it seemed a good time to share it publicly.

At the time I penned it a mother had suddenly lost her husband and I was extremely moved by her situation. The poem is not specifically about her, but more about grief – and then I read the legend of the Blue Bonnets and the poem took shape.

The poem has taken on new meanings for me in the wake of recovery from cyclone yasi, which it seems we only now start to truly feel relieved from.

When the newspapers and  most media go, and headlines diminish families are still left rebuilding, recovering and having to learn to let go to truly be free in the spirit. This is by no means easy. Yet somehow we get there in the end, and stories have a power to help us make it the point of renewal.

 

Funerals like rain
Fall from clouds
Young boys say ‘goodbye’
As father’s lowered to the ground

Mother stands alone
Tears become her shroud
Funeral goers utter not a sound.

She hears blue guitar strums
She’s pounding melancholy’s drums.

Texas and Tully are so far apart
Yet they share skies
Where hawks and ibis fly

Storms and troubles rock both their shores
Warn their people to depart.

She tells her children
the legend of the Texas Blue Bonnet flower

A young girl gave up her warrior doll,
The last reminder of family,
To invoke a higher power.

She burnt her warrior doll
Its head dress of blue feathers
Offered up its ashes
To the North, South, East and West Winds
So hunger and loss it would tether.

She cried herself to sleep.
Let her memory weep.

When she awoke
Never before seen flowers,
Clambered the mountains
Birds made their bowers
People drank from hope’s fountains.

The mother with the shroud
Inside’s the little girl
Who’ll burn her own warrior doll
She knows what must be done

She’ll let her dreams unfurl.
She’ll wait till all sleep then
Pull out her favourite guitar
Take those blue cords
Burn them, banish them

Scatter their ashes,
North, South, East and West.

The dry season will begin
Floods have had their fun
A looking- to-the-future music
will now begin to grow.

By June Perkins

blue bonnets
Herself- Flickr Creative Commons

Gumboots Festival Time

gallery circle of boots
Gumboots 4 Peace – Circle of Boots – June Perkins

It’s that time of year again when Tully gears up for the Golden Gumboots Festival.

My daughter is considering entering the Golden Gumboot Quest.  We’re not really into quests so how has this happened? In fact, the last time a child of mine entered one was my eldest son as a baby in a shopping centre and we won because he had eyes like me, let me see we won a small sash saying ‘ he looks like his mother.’ I am still not sure how we were roped into that one either.  I think we might have been passing by.

But my daughter, a keen artist, feels a float and an interesting dress for quest night would be loads of fun.  I think we better keep her plans top secret for now. I think the motivation is that we feel the need for a bit of fun, joy and gumboots activity after all the cyclone recovery stuff, time to be silly and just go with the flow.

All we know so far is that she must go to the Grand Parade, be available on the night of the Festival for the announcement of the winner of each Category and that she also has to prepare for a quest night, and have a sponsor. I think I may have already tracked one down.

Now for other helpers – and equipment and more information and some hard work.

Will I survive being Mum to a daughter in a quest? Probably, because it’s primarily for fun, and we’ll fund raise for some worthy cause.

Do we care about the result? I don’t think so.  We just want a float that rocks and I can’t wait to see watching my daughter take to the stage, she seems to like that a bit now she’s a teenager.

Anyone got a ute?

Returning North

gumbootspic

This story  first appeared at ABC Open’s, New In Town.  Head over there to read more stories on this theme.

So many times my hubby and I were new and then gone.

We always seemed to be just settling in when it was suddenly time to go again.

This follow, or be blown, by the wind life style, which came about initially through being students and looking for work, courses and scholarships, had its down side.

We missed the people, especially extended family, left behind and often wished they could come in our suitcases.

The upside was that we always found something tantalising in the new, like when we first moved to North Queensland, to live in Townsville; that time over twenty years ago comes back to me in a huge memory wave – the long, long drive from New South Wales, the intense heat, the finding a hotel on the first night and the thankfulness for air conditioning. It was so different from my Tasmanian childhood upbringing.

I can still hear fruit bats in the trees, taste mango, and remember swimming for the first time in ocean that was like a warm bath. I remember days and days without rain. Townsville is dry tropics.

New places are vivid for the writer who thrives on a changing environment, so all these new experiences came into my life and my writing and enriched them.

During that time someone said to us, ‘once you’ve been North, you will never really leave.’ We didn’t know what they meant until we did leave when our eldest son was just one, only to return seven years later, as if by some invisible magnetic pull, but also disenchanted with the downside of life in cities.

It was a drive, further than before, past Townsville, past the cane, and heading into Tully, a town we had never heard of before – a town with a big gumboot.  Now we were in the wet tropics.

We had a tiny plastic turtle whose head wobbled up and down perched in the car, it was just one of many things to amuse our now three children in the back of the car. We named it Tully Turtle.

Looking at the photographs of when we first arrived here I see how small my children were back then, all three were under ten. Two are now teenagers, and one is heading to eleven.

We have lived the longest of anywhere our entire married life, eight years in the Cassowary Coast. Previous to that our average was about three years.

Now we know what it is to move beyond being new to being settled.

The lessons are that you learn to overlook the short comings of the area, like distance from health facilities, no public transport system, and people initially being suspicious of you and waiting to see if you will actually stay before even wanting to be your friend.

We’ve learnt what it like to live in the wet season, be flooded in, and long for days without rain.

We’ve learnt the joys and pressures of tiny communities and small schools.

We’ve learnt that there is something special your children attending school with mates they were at in kindy or year one with.

We’ve learnt what a community does to pull together in tough times like after Cyclone Yasi.  They become family.

When my friend Paulien visited from Holland – she took pleasure in all that was new – and kept telling my youngest two children how special their home was.

Surrounded by it all the time they take the Licuala palms, the cassowaries, the beach – all of it for granted, all of it home, none of it new now. Her wonder, made them curious about her home and why she should be so amazed – it made them want to travel.

They don’t remember what it’s like to be new to a whole area and how long it takes to make close friends. They are just at the beginning of life and they long for adventure.  They long for the tantalizing things that travel will bring.

(c) June Perkins