So many kilometres condensed into a short space but hope you enjoy my latest travel article in Jetstar’s Inflight magazine. http://www.ink-live.com/emagazines/jetstar-australia-magazine/1595/march-2014/#80
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.
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.
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!
Sometimes life gets so mundane we can’t see our way out of the rut of our daily routine – when you can only see what needs doing rather than what you feel like doing.
When I find myself in this state I know that drastic action is required. Another time this happened I signed up for the Minjin swing – being winched several storeys high up a metal tower and freefalling for several seconds before the swing kicked in and shot me out across the treetops at Kuranda markets. It was such an adrenalin-rush my knees were knocking so much afterwards I could barely stand. Great fun.
So this time I was sitting around feeling swamped by all the weeds that had overtaken my garden when I thought of Richard Branson. Now that’s a man with a sense of adventure. I can’t imagine he even lets the word “boredom” into his vocabulary. He’s a superman of extreme action!
Now by the Law of Attraction, what you think you draw to you. And what you think about with emotion comes even faster. So, as it happens, the last time I felt really excited was watching a TV segment about this great new sport of Flyboarding. It looked fantastic – the presenter hovering above the water like a superhero with white water jets streaming out below his feet like some rocket exhaust.
It was a case of Marvel Comics’ Ironman meets King Neptune – or science-fiction meets reality.
So a few days after musing over “what would Richard Branson be doing now” I was offered the chance to go Flyboarding. I didn’t even know Flyboard Cairns existed at that stage. With a mix of trepidation and anticipation I agreed to do it.
After all, when the Universe brings you what you ask for it is only polite to go with it.
Watching YouTube footage of the pros jetting 15m high did little to quell the fears of friends and family who know my mind often gets carried away with things my body is less capable of. But I knew I needed this. Balance and flexibility could be an issue – so I trotted off to an osteopath to ensure my spine could snake as much as the young bucks and beach babes on the flyboardcairns.com.au website – fat chance really.
Come 9am Saturday and it is a sightly-overcast day at the beautiful spa-spangled Palm Cove, about 30 minutes’ drive north of Cairns. The gentle blue-green swell of the Coral Sea is enticing. I make a mental note of an advertising board offering discount massages outside one of the hotels – may be needed after I’ve finished.
As I rock up to their beachfront setup opposite The Reef House resort, Flyboard Cairns director/instructor Luke Kanowski assures me it this brave new extreme sport looks a lot harder than it is. Fellow director Chris De Santo says it generally only takes 10 minutes of instruction to be standing up out of the water and 15 minutes to learn to manoeuvre on the Flyboard. There are no weight restrictions (big relief) and about 20 per cent of their clients are aged 55-70 (out go my preconceived ideas that this is just for the young guns).
After squeezing myself into a full-body wetsuit and helmet, safety briefing over, and I join Chris at the jet-ski to get strapped into my jet-boots. Facing into the waves, the jet-ski powers up and the exhaust water quickly fills the 20m hose connecting us. As it exits the two metal pipes on either side of the Flyboard I start to move forward. The feeling is weird – effortless. Alternatively bending one knee or the other effectively controls your direction. We head for the safety of deeper water. I practice circling the jet-ski. Tilting my toes upwards and miraculously I rise up out of the water like some sea serpent. Nerves kick in as I get higher, losing balance and falling into the sea. Chris assures me that from the beach it would appear that’s what I meant to do. Yeah, right. We practice dolphin dives and work up to hovering. I make it up to 1.5m above the water. It feels more like 4m. I come crashing down on my side – my humpback whale breaching impersonation.
Beginners can usually get up to 1-2m high, Chris says, up to 4m for those with nerve and balance. With extended repetition it is possible to hover up to 5-8m, he says, with pros reaching 15m and top speeds of 20km/h.
“It is more about style and aerial stunts,” Chris says, which excites these pioneering sportsmen the most.
“It is so new, we don’t know what we can do,” Luke says, likening it to the advances in skateboarding tricks since the 1970s. “We don’t know what is possible”.
With that in mind, the guys are hoping to attract flyboarders for a North Queensland competition in 2014, with the aim of taking a team to national and world competitions at the Gold Coast and in Qatar at the end of 2014.
So far the tricks include backflips, dolphin dives and variations such as the twister/tornado and corkscrew. It takes “twisting by the pool” to a whole new level.
Thank you to Chris and Luke for blasting me out of a rut. And I didn’t even need the massage afterwards. Highly recommended.
For more info: check out www.flyboardcairns.com.au
(Flyboard session provided courtesy of Flyboard Cairns.)
Halloween is nearly upon us.
It is that time of the year when the veils between the realms of spirit and matter are thought to be at their thinnest – the time different cultures have determined when wandering spirits more easily make themselves known to the living and seek to leave the Earthly plane for the next stage in their evolution.
It has been my experience that spirits (be that ghosts/entities/energy imprints or thoughts forms) don’t just wait for Halloween (also called All Hallows Eve). They can make themselves known at just about any time. It may be they’re curious, ready for a change or just find someone they resonate with.
The truth is there are subtle vibrations coming to us all the time from the unknown or unseen reality, what people might consider the world of spirit. I’ve been on organised ghost tours of The Rocks in Sydney and Port Arthur in Tasmania – which certainly have their challenges for the “energy sensitive” but I’ve had far more spirit encounters in other “ordinary” places too numerous to mention.
One recent place I visited – whole-heartedly expecting to sense spirits – was Herberton Historical Village, about 90 minutes’ drive inland from Cairns in North Queensland. There are so many buildings and artefacts here from the 1800s onwards that you would well expect to sense a few echoes from the past. Well they were more like shouts. I did make the mistake of entering an old police lock-up building and tuning into the energy first up, followed by the adjoining gun display. The small 2x3m timber structure would have been a hell-hole in the tropical heat and the guns were certainly charged with emotion considering the lawless pioneering and gold mining days. I couldn’t get out quick enough.
What ensued was an increasingly oppressive heaviness around my head which developed into a shocking headache, aided probably by dehydration as I continued exploring the extensive outdoor museum.
Don’t be put off, this is a great collection of everyday memorabilia and a wonderful time capsule of the 1900s, back into the 1800s. Just make sure you’re prepared – and don’t visit the jail lock-up first. There’s plenty of good vibes: an old movie projector from 1929; Daisy the 1923 T-Model Ford; a working steam engine built in 1886 from the Ravenshoe Saw Mill; a miner’s cottage, pharmacy, fire engine, sewing machines and radio/music room, the Tin Pannikin Pub and real classrooms from the former Herberton School.
At the other end of the village museum is a café set out in the original Bakerville Hotel. My timing was perfect here to snap a “ghostly encounter” photo (top photo) – the woman in the picture wasn’t a real ghost, just a very quick waitress who glided into the picture at just the right time. I thought it was impressive.
They do have a piano here that does play itself which is rather spooky – it’s called the Pianola.
Across a swing bridge is a truck and tractor graveyard which is a work in progress, and a place to sit and relax – the Bushie’s Pioneer Camp where you can get billy tea and damper or camp oven stew straight off the fire.
So if you want to go hunting spooks for Halloween – put Herberton Historical Village on your to-do list. You won’t be disappointed.
Can’t get to my spooky stomping ground in North Queensland? I know one book that might get you looking closer to home. In Where Spirits Dwell, real-life spooks in suburbia become almost second nature.
Whether you believe in ghosts or not, journalist Karina Machado has gathered enough anecdotal evidence to show unexplained or paranormal events can happen to the most normal of people. I find something irresistible about a good ghost story and Where Spirits Dwell has them popping up all over the place. Definitely one to read in daylight hours, there’s the spine-tingling cases of a dark presence in the bedroom, where even a dog is scratching to get out of the house, to a dead girl who ate ant poison haunting a young family in Normanton in Australia’s remote north – possibly to stop history repeating. There are infamous Australian haunted houses like The Abbey in Sydney, that stay in the dreams of past inhabitants, and cases of a loving mother on the other side who just want to care for someone else’s youngsters. Behind the facade of many Sydney homes, Machado finds tales of the bizarre and touching, weaving a descriptive tale of various experiences for a broad introduction to what might well happen to you. There is an intimacy created by snippets of Machado’s own experiences and general musings, which are more for believers and the curious than rigid sceptics.
Prepare to believe. And give yourself a salt scrub under the shower if it all gets too much, and leave a small tray of rock salt beside your bed for the night (remember to flush it down the toilet the next day).
It works for me.
Dolphins to me are the epitome of playfulness and with so many people apparently struggling with different situations in their life at the moment (Danni Minogue on X-Factor last night included) I thought it might be timely to share some of the lessons Onni the Dolphin shares in The Quest of Jesse Greene.
Read on to find out how Onni tells Jesse how to breathe and flow with his emotional stress.
Wrapped up in his thoughts, Jesse was startled as a fin sliced through the water towards him. He scrambled to his feet, desperate to get out of the water and beyond the reach of any hungry jaws. His heart was racing as he back-peddled up the beach – not taking his eyes off the ominous fin carving through the turquoise calm. The silent menace moved ever closer on the rolling swell. A larger wave picked up speed and sent the creature streaking straight towards Jesse, the dark shape beneath the water turning side-on in the shallows as it stopped before him, a beady eye turned up to the surface.
Instead of the jaws of death, Jesse was facing the toothy grin of a bottle-nosed dolphin accompanied by a cheerful burst of clicks and whistles. The dolphin was laughing at him.
“Hee, hee, hee, I had you going there,” the dolphin joked, in an excited, high-pitched voice. “You need to learn to breathe more. Breathe like Dolphin and you won’t be so easily scared.”
… “Breathe like Dolphin,” he said, rolling over slightly to show Jesse the small hole on the top of his head. It opened and closed with each breath in an effortless, calm rhythm – te puuhhh kihh, te puuhhh kihh, te puuhhh kihh – even the sound was relaxing.
“Take deep breaths and hold. Then let it out in a burst,” Onni continued. This time the air rushed out all at once, making Jesse jump in surprise. Onni let out another burst of infectious dolphin laughter.
“The air brings life-force to your cells. Hold your breath to allow it to absorb into your body, then exhale in a burst, like you are spitting out the old stuff – you can even spit out the tiredness in your body, any thoughts and fears that are worrying you.”
Jesse gave it a go. There had been so much to worry about recently that it wasn’t hard to find those thoughts that he wanted to let go of… His chest felt ready to burst, there were so many thoughts to gather up. Finally he could hold it no longer and it all came out with a massive PUUHHHH. His head was spinning.
“Not so much at once,” Onni laughed. “You looked ready to burst.”
… “You’ve got to learn to enjoy life, have fun and play,” Onni encouraged. Dolphins are well known for having fun – surfing on the bow waves of ships, leaping out of the water and somersaulting for no apparent reason other than the joy of it. Onni swam a few circles around Jesse and lifted his sleek grey body vertically out of the water using his powerful tail, giving a few cheeky clicks at the same time.
The dolphin’s playful attitude was infectious and Jesse laughed along with him.
“To feel the water flow over your body is to feel alive,” the dolphin said, rolling a few times in the waves. “You know, water is like your emotions. You need to let them wash over you rather than knock you around. Whether they are stormy seas or a period of calm, do not be afraid. Just do what is needed at the time. It is all good fun in the end. Learn to swim in the emotions of it all – and remember to breathe when it all gets too much.”
(Copyright – From The Quest of Jesse Greene by SM Scott.)
Crocs, 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).
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.
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.