Living in the Wild West

Our Suburb is Bellbowrie. It is one of several in western Brisbane, Queensland (Australia). Most people here are very friendly and the atmosphere is like a village. We have lived here for three years and seven in Chapel Hill (also in the west) so I am comfortable to speak about the western suburbs. The council offers daily, free buses for the students travelling out from here

With large open spaces and beautiful landscape, just near the river, this part of the west is regarded as one of the richer parts of Brisbane. House prices range from $AUD400,000 upwards. In parts, prices are as high as $2-3 Million. Our house is a fifty-year-old termite ridden renovator with some land I grow vegetables and my sons raise their chickens for eggs. Our neighbours have horses. The area is beautiful and full of wild-life. You can understand why the early settlers came here and eventually made it a pineapple farmland.

Over a year ago a body of a beautiful woman was found at Kholo creek three minutes drive from where we live. This was a very quiet place. The spot was between Mt Crosby and Anstead. In these two suburbs, families live in acreage properties, some farming and these two edge onto Bellbowrie. The discovery of this woman was shocking to all surrounding communities.

As it turned out, the story unfolded very slowly and pieces came together as police worked through the case. From the original story that hit the media; a mother of three daughters going out jogging and not coming home (according to her husband) to the wife being murdered by the husband himself. It has been a year but slowly the pieces have come together. The family lived in Brookfield which is about five minutes from us. The husband has been charged with murder.

Last night my 15-year-old son rung me from Canberra while on a school trip. He told me yesterday  police were canvassing another suburb next to us, Pullenvale. It was an interesting piece of information. I had thought it may have been some drug related search. But, as it came on the news channel tonight, police had made a discovery of large quantities of chemicals they suspect were for bomb-making.

It turned out, the house owners were away in Italy and had rented their house to someone who police now suspect was trying to make bombs.

The suspect had been arrested in another incident in Sydney, NSW and traced back to this rental house on Cedar Rd, Pullenvale.

Today police were unable to move the large quantities of chemicals due which were declared unsafe. To ensure the safety of the nearby residents, Instead, most of the explosives were blown up after police secured the area.

It just goes to show that anything can happen anywhere and people can never be what you think they are. We always have to trust our gut and our instincts but in the end, if anything is going to happen, it will happen. Isn’t that a scary thought?

Links to the news stories;

In Mosquito Net

The mosquito net was white, light and airy. I could see everything outside my enclosed bed. I would not have been five yet, and mother and I shared this bed on the floor. It was made of a blanket and a sheet with a pillow on the wooden floor. The room was packed with our clothes and things. To cover, we would use one of mother’s laplaps.

The mosquito net flopped around me.  Mother had tucked its ends by weighing the net down with some clothing. At the bed head, the net was tucked under my pillow. To keep the net from touching my head, my old T shirt was rolled length-wise into a sausage and laid behind my pillow. If the net did touch me, the mosquitos would penetrate through the holes and get me.

Mother was a nurse. She knew how seriously and often I got attacked by Malaria. She had told me last time I was too tall to be carried to the nearest clinic, several hours walk away.

In this bed, the mosquitoes will not get me, and Malaria will not touch me. I drifted off in my sleep and enjoyed the comfort of my luxurious bed in Wagang Village, outside Lae, Papua New Guinea.

I prayed: “Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for his mercy and endurance, forever and ever, Amen”.

After what seemed like a whole night had gone by, I was woken by strange voices talking. There were two new voices. I could also hear my Uncle Sam speaking in English. Uncle Sam only spoke English when he joked or when he was drunk. His English was impressive. His voice was quiet but Uncle Sam sounded confident. “Yes, you can go and see her”, Uncle Sam told someone.

I recognised my grandmother’s low disapproval as she told Uncle Sam that no-one should disturb my sleep. I heard footsteps coming towards me. They walked up the old steps of the Fibro and timber house.  Mother and grandpa build this house from his teaching and her nursing money. Most of the fly-wire was ripped so I could hear everything.

At the top of the landing, the shoe soles brushed the sand on the wooden floor as they approached my room. There were more than one person. I felt nervous and I wanted to call out to my mother but I was not sure if the footsteps would come to me.

The footsteps stopped at my door. My heart pounded. My door opened and I looked up. In the light of our small kerosine lantern by the bed,  I saw two white men peeking down at me through the mosquito net. One was fair and the other had dark hair.

“Mama! Mama!”, I yelled out.

The one with the dark hair sat down and reached out to me, smiling. I saw his white hand come to me and I threw my cover and crawled to the end of the bed. The man’s thick black hair was brushed back neatly. His eyes were dark with thick eye-brows. I stared at his face. I had never seen him before. I started to cry. The man tried to hush me but he seemed nervous. He said in English, “It’s ok! Everything is ok”.

The more he tried to speak, I became terrified and recoiled into the further corner of the mosquito net. I called my mother and cried louder as I backed into the corner. There was no way out and they were at the door. The man with the dark hair put his hand in his pocket and pulled out some notes and coins. There was a lot of money. He put them on my bed and beckoned me. He told me that money was ALL for me. I had never seen so much money. I was sure I was not dreaming. It was unbelievable and scary.  “Come!” he said again.

I refused.

“Mama!” I yelled and my mother came running up the steps.

She walked into the room and the fair haired man stepped outside. My mother smiled and I could not understand it.

Why was mother smiling at this stranger? And why was the stranger giving me money? Was he going to take me? Was he going to buy me from my mother? I did not move. I wanted my grandmother.


Tomorrow: Short story

Dear friends,

I shall post one of my short stories tomorrow (Brisbane time). It would be a story from my Memoir series. The thing about this short story is that many of us think that we are not capable of remembering events and things that happened in our lives when we were very young. I don’t remember as many things as I would like to. On the other hand, there were things that have happened that I wish I could just forget.

In general, when something very significant happens some time during our early years of life – it sticks in our heads. Make time to sit somewhere and remember those times. I bet there are many stories to write.

Some of my memories are as fresh as those of events that only happened yesterday. Often I do not remember them straight away, but things can happen in the present to trigger me back – through layers of life to find that piece of memory. It is just like doing a search on my computer for a file.

I enjoy some of these forgotten ‘files’ but by the same token, some are not always pleasant to go over again. But together, good or bad, they make a great story.

I am grateful that I have these memories. The memories make “me”. Without the memories, I could not write my memoir.



A Word of Caution!

I am an amateur blogger trying to write and build my Blog/website all by myself. If you see the face of my blog changing and doing weird things, I am up to no good – that is, fiddling around with the look of the blog and trying to find my way through it. I am lost too.

I want to show my words to you in the best presentation I can make. I became a premium member today and suddenly I have too many options and found too many things mean the same thing. I also found that I keep ‘hiding’ posts or putting them in more than one category. It has taken me a few hours and my neck is too sore to continue. I had some feedback that my work is not in order so I have decided to ‘fix’ it.

At present, the best way to read my stories is to scroll down.




Re-cycled Birthing Suites



This morning, I heard scratching noises and thought of snakes. We get a few snakes and since we are almost on the end of winter, it is time to come out of hibernation. My friend Heather at work lives in the western suburbs of Brisbane, Australia like me. Heather said she and husband Gary found a python on their dining table when they got home last week.  My family lives about 15 minutes away from Heather so snakes have been on my mind.

The scratching noises seemed to only come from one place, unlike snakes which move and travel  fairly quickly. I followed the sound outside to our flood lights and found a Butcherbird. She was re-arranging one of two nests outside my son’s bedroom. The nests are on our floodlights so they are at least 15 feet off the ground. I smiled, feeling good about this nesting effort because this would be the third time the magpies used these nests. They had cleverly positioned the nests away from everything, including snakes.

The twig nests have been sitting on those lights for almost two years since the first two magpies build them. They served almost like a magpie birthing suite.

I had thought the Butcherbirds would be territorial and build their nests new. The previous Butcherbird babies live in the yard. They sit on the verandah rail and sing their hearts out for food. While we live in an rural suburb, and there are still a lot of trees they could build their nests on, these birds preferred the existing nests. I was curious about these nests being re-used so I Googled to see if it was normal for Butcherbird to re-cycle nests. Here is a link I found that did not have much information on the re-cycled nests but provides an in-dept information on the bird’s life.

While searching, I also spotted something similar with re-cycling and crows. Similar in the sense of using what they can find to make their nests. This made me more curious about birdlife and how they adapt to the way we humans live and destroy many of their natural habitation. I also wondered about how much we really understand about the re-cycling and controlling our wastes.

In Japan, crows have taken nesting to a somewhat artistic and highly intelligent way of using wire clothes hangers to build strong nests. It could also be a case of doing the best with what is on hand.


Picture by Goetz Kluge




The Garma Festival

I missed the Garma Festival last week from August 1-4.

Garma is one of the most colourful and vibrant festivals in the world. I cannot explain Garma better than what I found on their website.

The ancient sound of the Yidaki (didjeridu) is a call to all people to come together in unity; to gather for the sharing of knowledge and culture; to learn from and listen to one another. Each August, the Yidaki call announces the start of Garma, the largest and most vibrant annual celebration of Yolngu (Aboriginal people of north east Arnhem Land) culture.


Garma is Australia’s most significant Indigenous event, and a model for self-determination, reconciliation, Indigenous knowledge sharing, transfer and exchange. Garma  is a colourful event with a greater, deeper purpose. Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians experience and are directly involved in a spectacular yet substantive display of cultural practice and cross-cultural learning.
Garma incorporates visual art, ancient storytelling, dance – including the famous nightly Bunggul – and music, as well as other important forums and education and training programs relevant to cultural tourism, craft, governance and youth leadership.
It aims:

  • To provide contemporary environments and programs for the practice, preservation, maintenance and presentation of traditional knowledge systems and cultural traditions and practices, especially Bunggul (traditional dance), Manikay (song), Miny’ tji (art) and ceremony.
  • To share knowledge and culture, thereby fostering greater understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
  • To develop economic opportunities for Yolngu through education, training, employment, enterprise and remote Indigenous community development.

Garma is presented by the Yothu Yindi Foundation, a not-for-profit Aboriginal corporation with tax- deductible status, and all Garma entry fees and other revenues go to the programs and projects of the Foundation.

Internet Trolls in the Real World

Interesting story about Internet Trolls by Blogger Diary of Genial Black Man

Diary of a Genial Black Man

internet troll Courtesy of

Have you ever read an internet article and dreaded the comment section that followed? Those poorly-spelled, hate-filled glimpses into the dark recesses of the human soul–complete with racist, sexist, xenophobic, and religious-based attacks on anyone and/or anything that is considered different? Those people are out in the world among the rational, and they are as frightening as their defense of Ghostbusters as a male-only endeavor. I recently had an unfortunate experience with such a piece of human waste.

I write for a local sketch comedy group, and the new season has brought fresh blood for the writer’s pool. One of those eager beavers was a tall, glasses-wearing oaf of a young man, and he quickly made his presence known with his mouth: while the head writer caught people up on new business and the meeting’s outline, the kid interrupted several times with random nonsense as well as calls to read his…

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Thank you!

I write to you – genuine readers of this blog. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I just logged back into my Blog and saw the ‘stats’. It warms me to see you are still reading the blog even when I have written very little in the past two months. I owe you. Your commitment shows that I am doing something important and it inspires me to keep writing and, try to write better stories.

I apologise for the long delay in bringing you new stories. Things have happened in my life. However, I am truly honoured you hung on. I did write a little about my life while I was away and I will share some of these stories this month.

When I had been in Adelaide over a week ago to surprise my childhood and closest friend Ann Stanley for her 50th birthday, her son Kolohie asked me about one of my stories he had read. ‘Kolo’ wanted to know more about the story which I posted on this blog. I told him a bit more but I was really pleased. It was a story that was significant to his life too because his mother was also there in Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) and we were working together at the time the body of the young man was found on Ranuguri Hill.

Another recent highlight for me was a visit to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia to interview Jim, (James Sinclair) an author of 32 books about his life and his continuing involvement in Papua New Guinea.  An amazing man Jim lived his dream based on one of his heroes in his stories as a ‘kiap’ in Papua New Guinea. What Jim did not realise then was that dream got him hooked on a country that he never got out of his system. Jim is working on two more books. I will be posting some of my Sunshine Coast visit and interview with Jim here.

My absence from this blog was a result of recent personal attacks on Facebook. I share my blog on Facebook and use Facebook to stay in communication with my family and friends. After a few years and a previous threat last year, I was threatened and blackmailed. I tried to contact Facebook but it became apparent that after you sign up – it is a one-way traffic. It seemed that all the security and the settings you could possibly use to protect yourself are merely a bunch of buttons you press on your key-board and nothing more. I have copies of what FB write back to me several times, one of their comments was to contact my attacker and ask him nicely to remove the threat.  The matter is being handled by police and experts.

I had made my last post on Facebook in that first week of July to not have a FB presence. I was very touched to get offers to help from many family, friends and other people I knew around the world.  I had written to many to explain the reason.

How crazy is it to be in the virtual world? There are always risks involved when you are in public eye.  What you do for the good is never taken into account when there is some low-life with a sick ulterior motive. You always know deep inside you, you know you are never safe. It takes a real incident to truly understand how vulnerable you are. It takes years to become visible and seconds to become invisible. It is not just terrorists with guns that will get us. Our security, dignity, privacy and that basic human right is always ripe for manipulation, distortion and exploitation. All in the name of our virtual world.

I listened to Hack, a Triple J Australian radio programme I respect as I was coming home from work and the discussion was on the public say on ‘metadata’ and how the Abbott government is talking about collecting and keeping all our data. (see link here)

Well, that metadata thing is worrying. I guess we have to decide if it is acceptable that information/images about us can be collected with or without our permission and used by someone else. In the end – would be really have any say or even have the power to control it?

On a lighter note, our creative writing class began again after Isabel had a break, and two of us from our class, Bill Heather and myself tried to write screenplays with Henry Tefay. I don’t think I was really good at it. I loved it though. The pictures were all in my head, but the challenge was to make it a film. I have been working on a screenplay and feel a lot more confident but it may be a year before I can get it read by an expert. Henry teaches this class on Monday nights at Kenmore and Isabel’s class is now on Tuesdays.

The Creative Writing group with Isabel has resumed.  We read, write and learn by talking and sharing our stories. It’s fun!

The core of our small writing group meet after our Tuesday night classes in a Seven Eleven down the road. It is the only place that opens after 9pm. We drink cheap coffee or hot chocolate and talk about our writing projects. We squeeze our seats, milk crates, in a narrow passage behind the freezers that hold ice-cream. The Seven Eleven customers give us funny looks over the freezers as they drop in to get their conveniences. The kind store owner gave us milk crates to sit for the past two terms.

Over my last three terms with the Creative Writing group (this being my fourth), I have learnt a lot from these wonderful people and our teacher Isabel D’Avila Winter. Thank you Gavin, Bill, Judy, Kat and now we have Pam joining the ‘crate squatters’.

The Role Of An Extra

I was recently engaged in a role of an “extra”. The word itself pretty much sums up what it is.

There is nothing more or less. Although the dictionary meaning means more. Extras are non-speaking performers in a film, television show, stage, musical, and opera (Wiki).

In my recent role as an extra in a Hollywood film which I cannot discuss due to my commitment to the agency and the film itself – I had to do several scenes with my colleagues in a natural disaster movie. There were sixty of us. Forty men and twenty women of many ethnicities based here in Queensland. Each of us had a small role to play under an Assistant director, an Australian. He worked with an international Director. As extras we had different actions and some were accompanied by props. When all the parts were played, it was like magic. I enjoyed standing back and watch when I did not play my part. It was like watching a short preview.

The hours of work were very long and started at 5:30 am which meant you had to rise at least at 4 am. Initially I had an hour and a half drive so I rose at 3 am and took the drive. Although it was cold, we acted in our costumes as there were. Although given the frantic weather, the director tried to keep everyone out of the rain through out the day.

Most of the extras had already fitted our costumes days before and these clothing, some were our own, were chosen to fit into the place and the characters in the movie, the place where the natural disaster supposedly had hit. These were not the clothes of our current season.

To be an “extra” means you are not necessarily needed but you can be. It is an important role when you are in it but also an unimportant one. You know it is not important when you do not sit and eat under the same tent as the crew and also when you are trying to get your coffee and the supposedly ‘bosses’ (crew) look at you as if you don’t deserve to have coffee at all. One crew member mouthed to my friend (an extra) “I hope you are not getting 30 cups of coffee because I need to get an adult’s coffee”.

We thought she meant we(extras) were not adults. Who knows..

The important part is when you are called in as an actor in “background”  – your role is important. This can be anything. You could be carrying something and running. I was asked to run into the main character and then step around the person. With all the extras in a background scene, that part of a movie becomes quite vital to the film. It provides “meat” to the bone or it completes the whole creativity for a successful movie. I mean a star can be one in a movie but the star needs a place and many people and actions where that star rises out of the situation to recognition.

Extras are very useful in scenes like a stampede in a soccer grand final. A few extras cannot really provide that impact, you need a lot. Extras are needed in shopping centres, villages, schools etc.

We take “extras” for granted. Tell me: do you really watch an extra in a movie? You know that person that hovers around in the back somewhere in the movie scene. We do not even see extras in movies; our eyes are glued onto the main characters. Our minds are focused on what the main character does and we travel with him or her in the story to the end. We may get distracted if something happens with an extra that takes the focus away from the main character. Otherwise, extras are all a blur. Next time you watch a movie, see if you can pick out an extra and see the important role they are playing.


Laisa Taga


If you had asked me if I knew the late Fijian Laisa Taga of the Island Business International I would say “yes”.

Although it may seem strange if I told you that I never met her in person. Last year Eva Arni, head of PR and marketing for Air Niugini, Papua New Guinea suggested that I contact  Laisa about writing some stories for the Paradise In-flight Magazine. When I wrote to Laisa some six months ago, she immediately wrote back with enthusiasm.

After discussing the general understanding of what types of articles to write and the expectations between a writer and an editor were established, we warmed to each other with bits of Fijian words thrown into the conversations. Not long after that, Laisa published my first article on the Kula Trade in the Paradise. I have posted a copy of that article in this blog. I was thrilled. Most of what I had written in the Kula story had been kept meaning Laisa must have liked what I had written. It was true she liked what I wrote because she hounded me after that first story for more.

I had promised Laisa two articles. One on weaving and the other on the Miss South Pacific Quest and the events that unfolded that crowning night.

When I told Laisa I was not feeling very well and would need to send her the articles later to go into the next edition, she accepted graciously and said she would wait. She told me “your health is very important” and I should take care of that first. Tonight as I read an email from Godfrey Scoullar – Publisher & Managing Director Laisa’s colleague, about Laisa’s passing and that she insisted she needed to work until she could work no more I could only cry. Not once did this woman show and make me feel in any way, that she herself was facing the greatest challenge of her life (cancer) which would in the end, take her life. My insides were ripped.

Isn’t it amazing how we take life for granted? And how precious is time?

I had only written to Laisa two weeks ago wondering if she had received my copies. It was unusual for her to take so long to reply. I had taken it for granted that I missed the deadline and I should just wait for her to write back.

And tonight, when I went over our email and how lazy I had become in paying so much attention to other things and not submitting these articles sooner, I feel absolutely hopeless and angry at myself. Jason from A Good Blog is Hard to Find (blog) once asked the question – could you really know someone virtually even though you might have never met them. My answer was “yes” and my answer tonight is “yes”, I do know Laisa. I am so grateful to have known her and especially in her last weeks. Laisa Taga had used her last precious time to continue her work with people like me – to bring stories for enjoyment to thousands of readers like you all over the world. I hope that I had given her something very small in return by what I had written for her editorials.

Farewell Laisa. The angels will rejoice at your glorious spirit that you have shared with us.

Below was the last I heard from her.



Bula vinaka.
Just checking on those two stories promised.

I am now working on the next issue of Paradise – collating pieces.



Islands Business International is touched and comforted by the outpouring of grief and sympathy on the passing of our Group Editor in Chief Laisa Taga who died peacefully surrounded by her close family members at her Suva home on Friday morning.
Quietly and determinedly, Laisa had been battling cancer for some time.

It was her wish she should continue to work until she could work no more.
Her family will announce funeral arrangements once they are finalised.
On behalf of Islands Business International, its staff, clients and its many friends in Fiji, in the Pacific and around the world, I wish to thank you most sincerely for the expressions of sympathy and sorrow on Laisa’s passing.
Laisa was a tower of strength, a hard working and knowledgeable editor with a measured temperament and great sense of humour.
As a regional media figure she was a quiet achiever who downplayed her achievements and never sought recognition.
She has left a vacuum that would be difficult to fill.
May Laisa rest in peace.

Godfrey Scoullar – Publisher & Managing Director
Islands Business International.





Tribalmystic is storytelling about people, places, and things that have extraordinary stories. Author: Joycelin Leahy

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