Tony Gibson –  A Marcoola resident who is active in the community

Addressing the Gap 

OVER the weekend we ventured just a little further north than Coolum to visit Peregian Beach village one evening. The shop windows were colourful and enticing and the restaurants on a Saturday evening were doing a roaring trade. I was glad the shops were closed as the prices of the fashion garments and other items meant window shopping was my preference. 

We had a wonderful meal in a vibrant sidewalk restaurant that was welcoming to both kids and dogs. Visits to Peregian village have usually been in the daytime to the markets, bakery or purchasing a book at Annie’s, which is a real gem of a bookstore. 

Peregian has positioned itself as an upmarket shopping and dining destination and it is now thriving. I generally use Coles, Aldi, Mitre 10, and IGA, so Peregian also services most of my choices on budget and tastes and Peregian is also close to the natural beauty of Mount Peregian.  

There is a mountain which seems as high as Mount Peregian for many people to address the growing gap in income and expenditure. We will be a poorer community if we don’t have a healthy and diverse mix of people with different aspirations and wealth on the Sunshine Coast. 

The problem with high prices and the high cost of housing on the Sunshine Coast is that people who work in service industries and on fixed incomes like pensioners are getting priced out of living in this area. How many of us hear of people moving to Gympie or Hervey Bay due to being more affordable localities? In addition, we get more and more homeless people living rough on the Sunshine Coast. 

We do need significant investment in social housing and a universal living income for greater equity and fairness. The social housing needs to be well located to recreation, business, and work opportunities otherwise many jobs will stay vacant. Addressing this growing gap in wealth distribution is a sign of a caring community where people have choices and can have a satisfactory standard of living.  

You have chosen to live in a naturally endowed part of the world, so I congratulate you and welcome you to the joys of the upcoming spring and encourage you to visit the Peregian Square either during the day or at night.  

Flora feast! 

AT THIS time of the year our garden has a beautiful Purple Pea Hovea Bush showering us with a lovely array of purple foliage. The Purple Pea Bush is a great addition to our gardens because it grows naturally in the understory of our subtropical forests. Once you have them in the garden they are inclined to self-seed – enjoying the well-drained soils along the coast. Purple Pea Bushes, which are known botanically as Hovea Acutifolia, is a native Australian shrub that grows between one to four metres tall and is covered in masses of purple flowers during winter. 

Also, at this time of the year when the wildflowers are amazing in the wallum heath in our coastal parks, there are shows of purples, gold, red and white flowers in the bush. Here at Marcoola, at West Coolum and all over Mount Emu you are bound to find accessible patches of wildflowers. A recent walk up Mount Emu found plenty of wildflowers as well as great views and hopefully the sight of a breeching humpback whale. 

These flowers in our national parks and coastal conservation areas are really special and the Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival will be running from August 20 until September 4, 2022. If you have not been able to book into one of the guided walks there are self-guided walks that can be accessed via the Sunshine Coast Council website at https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Environment/Education-Resources-and-Events/Wildflower-Festival The site also includes lots of great information on the festival.  

The native flora feast continues because on Saturday, August 6 there will be a celebration for National Tree Day with a community planting at South Marcoola in front of SurfAir. This event will be hosted by Sunshine Coast Council and Coolum and North Coast Care. To attend this event you will need to book on Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/national-tree-day-marcoola-registration-337681493437. Please come along as the event is free and the more green hands on board the better!  

I find winter the best time for a flora feast with a cool walk and sometimes bright sunshine if you are lucky. A climb up Mount Coolum is a flora feast at any time of the year and we are so fortunate to have our parks. If you want the ultimate challenge, I suggest attempting the Cooloola Great Walk – which is a spectacular journey of 100 km from Rainbow Beach to Noosa. Why not incorporate native wildflowers and our beautiful native trees and shrubs into your garden by simply venturing outside and going for a walk and getting some natural inspiration!  

Whale of a time 

Tony Gibson enjoying the marine life such as sharks on a dive at Sea Life Mooloolaba. Photo: Contributed  

RECENTLY, local residents at Marcoola were alerted to a humpback whale in distress caught in nets off the beach. The locals contacted authorities to have the distressed whale released as soon as possible. It took a number of hours for the rescue team to arrive and a further hour before the whale could be released. This Marcoola incident was in addition to a whale being caught at the Gold Coast, however, this is occurring regularly every whale migration season each year.  

The Queensland Government beach meshing program to protect us from sharks received criticism from Marcoola locals and marine conservation group Sea Shepherd as a result of the whale being caught up in the netting. Groups like Sea Shepherd have been seeking the removal of nets to help protect sharks which are a species that keep our marine ecosystem healthy. Sea Shepherd claims that after more than half a century in practice there is no evidence that both shark nets and drumlines do anything to improve beachgoer safety.   

The Queensland shark control program aims to reduce the risk of shark bites in Queensland coastal waters and the government operates shark nets and drumlines at 86 beaches.   

I love and respect sharks and rays as part of our marine ecosystem and some years ago I was given a birthday gift which was a dive in the shark tank at Sea Life Mooloolaba. Also, when taking Coast Care groups to Heron Island off the coast of Gladstone sharks were ever-present. Sharks, rays and whales are major attractions for many overseas and local tourists taking to our beautiful oceans on the Queensland coast.  

We need to have an informed debate as tourists take to the oceans off the Sunshine Coast to swim with the whales. It is not good enough that the government is not willing to take steps to further protect the whales from entanglement and potential injury and death. We could look at net removal in the migration season as a minimum – however many species are getting trapped in these nets. 

We want tourists and local communities to have “a whale of a time” as well as protect creatures in a healthy marine ecosystem. To maintain a world-renowned Sunshine Coast Biosphere we need healthy oceans. 

Eco-tourism challenges? 

WITH the UNESCO Biosphere will come the challenges of maintaining the delicate balance with eco-tourism.  We have national parks and conservation reserves like that from Marcoola to Yaroomba which provide that desirable nature-based experience of eco-tourism.   

Yes, the biggest threat is not only that tourism can damage the local environment and its species, but also that it inadvertently exploits natural resources as a tourist attraction. It comes down to mindset and striking a delicate balance. 

Many eco-tourism claims concerning benefits are exaggerated. Planning and local consent and support, threaten local cultures, economies, and natural resource bases like which has occurred in Hawaii in the USA. 

While on the Sunshine Coast we have a planning scheme, the proposed Sekisui Yaroomba Development goes back to court on July 11 in the Maroochydore Court House. Flaws in community consultation are very evident in this process. Coastal conservation reserves and the Mount Coolum National Park biodiversity will be potentially adversely impacted by the increased development with the Sekisui project approval, airport expansion, increased tourism infrastructure and further urban residential and industrial development. 

Planning, consultation and trust are keys, and it is all very good to say we now have the advantage of three UNESCO biospheres side by side (The Great Sandy, Noosa and Sunshine Coast) however, these are rapidly developing areas with the community, business and traditional owners’ interests needing to be considered in future planning.  

While the Cooloola Region has a great wilderness walk from Rainbow Beach to Noosa with the commercialisation of the Cooloola Great Walk and national parks generally, this wilderness eco-tourism experience is under threat.  

The Protect Our Parks group convened by Greg Wood held a public meeting in Cooroy on Saturday July 2 to achieve greater awareness with the commercialisation proposals for the Cooloola Great Walk.  

The meeting conveyed, “the imperative that the current form and process of the Cooloola Plan must stop, … as Government(s) cannot be trusted to interpret the current provisions in good faith with the public interest.  To achieve these objectives attendees were requested to share the information and to clearly and forcefully present their objections..” 

Can we trust governments to get the balance, right? 

Getting Ready

WE HAVE just returned from a week away in South Australia and we have experienced nearly every type of safe and efficient transport. We started off catching the local 622 bus into the Sunshine Coast Airport and had a very friendly driver drop off a few people right at the terminal for our flight to Adelaide. 

In South Australia, we experienced buses, trams and taxis plus plenty of active transport whilst walking across a most beautifully planned city. With large wide roads, congestion was low and new train services and bikeways have been added to the stock of low-cost public transport options. We saw large wind farms feeding in clean renewable energy. 

There are lots of parks, gardens and well-developed facilities for the community to exercise in and just enjoy the great outdoors amongst. However, Adelaide receives a fraction of the water that the Sunshine Coast receives, and it requires a pipeline from the Murray-Darling system to provide adequate water for a city of 1.3 million people. A large percentage of the water coming down the Murray River comes from Southeast Queensland. 

Given the challenges of a growing city, both conservation and transport have been given plenty of attention by local and state governments. South Australia has many ways to deal with reducing pollution and recycling is at a high level. We were surprised to see no plastic bin liners and three levels of sorting waste in public parks with organic, recycling and general waste on offer.  

The Adelaide Botanic Gardens and other city parks had many water-saving techniques so large exotic trees and tropical plants could be sustained in the dry Mediterranean-style climate of the region. I think we have a great deal to learn from South Australia on water conservation – with the drying climate which is associated with climate change.  

The whole continent of Australia is connected by our interdependence on and with natural assets like clean water, clean air and access to clean renewable energy, so decisions we make in Queensland or South Australia are important to everyone’s future.  Yes, also the Sunshine Coast can get ready and make it happen, leading the way on the preservation of the natural environment, and ensuring we have green transport options and clean energy. 

Up and downs  

WELL, it was one of those weeks with good news and not so good news. A sink hole on the tarmac on the new runway built by the Sunshine Coast Council at the Airport was not much of a surprise. The Airport stated the following – “Airport management said no passenger or emergency flights were affected and the closure was revoked around 10 am.”  “But counter to this Machjet Aviation’s managing director, Simon McDermott, said two of its private flights were cancelled as a result of what it believed was a sinkhole.” This could have meant more ‘downs than up, up and away’. 

The stock market continued its downward trend negatively impacting investors and with negative returns for some superannuation funds. Also, The Reserve Bank Governor clarified his earlier forecast advice on interest rates noting together with inflation they were going to go up.  

The Fair Work Commission announced a rise in the minimum wage of 5.2 per cent or $40 a week, taking it to $812.60 a week or $21.38 an hour. The increase is slightly above the increase the government had publicly supported for the minimum wage, which was 5.1 per cent, the rate of inflation. With the Reserve Bank Governor talking about a 7 per cent rate of inflation as likely the most vulnerable workers on the basic wage will need every dollar they can get to survive. Hopefully, workers are not choosing between food to eat, rent, or petrol for the car. 

Finally, a really ‘up’ issue with the announcement that the Sunshine Coast has officially been recognised internationally as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The region now proudly stands as an international site of excellence and an area of natural beauty joining Noosa and the Great Sandy Region Biospheres. “Sunshine Coast Council Mayor Mark Jamieson said recognition was a truly historic moment for the Sunshine Coast.” This is certainly a win for the natural environment and the Council, Sunshine Coast Environment Council and all the community groups that work, day in, and day out to maintain biodiversity and they should be congratulated. 

I think there were more ups than downs on balance last week. Also, life is about contrast – the yin and the yang, the hard and soft and the hot and the cold.  

Sunshine Coast show runs for 116 years!

Events such as the Horse Show Jumping were a feature at the 2022 Sunshine Coast Show. Photo: Tony Gibson  

IT WAS show time again last weekend and we made our way up the Maroochy River Valley to Nambour’s picturesque showground which is surrounded by green hills. This was the 116th year of the staging of the show which is epic in terms of the history of the Sunshine Coast and the original European settlement in this region. 

Some traditions I really enjoy and a family day out at a rural agricultural show is certainly one of them. We get to see the cakes, chooks, cattle, horses and new technologies. The local artworks and produce like honey, vegetables, flowers, beer, gin and wine are just some of the offerings which are interesting to find all together in just one place. 

We have such diversity in our rural areas away from the coastal strip and this is only possible due to the retention of valuable arable land. The issue of food security in the world is at the forefront for many of our world leaders with the destruction of prime farming lands with the war in Ukraine continuing. Many countries are unable to produce sufficient food to feed themselves let alone the world. 

Australia is in a privileged position as we can export wheat and other staples to feed the world. However, we have recently been aware of rising food prices due to wars and climate change-related heavier than normal rain. Times they are a-changing. 

I remember Mikhail Gorbachev former Soviet Union President telling an audience at Brisbane City Hall that wars would be fought over water with the world’s drying climate. The example of Israel and Lebanon fighting over the waters of the Jordan River was given as an example. The anti-globalisation sentiment of today heightens the pressure for maintaining self-sufficiency and using technologies like hydroponics which need water.  

The traditional agriculture which has shaped our landscapes and farming based on European culture we celebrate at our annual agriculture shows like the Sunshine Coast Show. However, if the world is going to feed itself as the population grows, we are going to need all sorts of new technologies and adopt traditions from first nation’s peoples 60,000 years of knowledge to sustain this country. 

Environmental, friendly and healthy focus 

Representatives from the new transport initiative ‘Scootaboot’ who launched their new venture at the Marcoola market over the weekend. Photo: Tony Gibson  

ON SATURDAY, I rode the bike to the Marcoola Farmer’s Market in the beautiful winter sunshine. The market had a few more stalls than usual and the one I was interested in after purchasing fresh fruit and vegetable was the ScootaBoot stall which was having a service launch. 

So, what is Scootaboot all about? ScootaBoot is a new service from Twin Waters to Marcus Beach and will help out on those times you have driven to a restaurant, club or hotel and decide it would be better to get a taxi home. This seems the easiest way to get your car and yourself home safe and in an environmentally friendly way at the same time. 

One of the friendly drivers from ScootaBoot will ride their E-Bike to your location, fold the bike and place it in your boot and drive you home safely. If you wish you can call Scootaboot and pre-book your pick-up time. This is a great innovation with environmental and safety benefits, and I wish the team well with the new service. By getting more cars off the road with active transport like biking we can reduce emissions into the atmosphere. 

The following day I joined the Coolum and North Shore Coast Care team with a celebration planting at Coolum on the dunes. The planting went right along in front of the caravan park from Lions to Tickle Parks. There was a good turnout of people to celebrate World Environment Day and lots of trees and creepers will help make the dunes more resilient. Many holes were dug, and plants patted into the earth with love. 

Tickle Park was busy as it also was the starting point for the Bloody Long Walk to Mooloolaba to support people living with mitochondrial disease. The coastal pathway was getting plenty of traffic again with large crowds joining in the long walk. 

It was a beautiful weekend for the community, being active and environmentally friendly as well as having a health focus. Whatever you are doing, whether that be planting, walking or riding, be in the moment and with the breath to get the greatest benefit. Enjoy another day in paradise! 

International sporting success 

NOOSA deserves its international sporting success accolades with the Noosa Triathlon Series, Runaway Noosa Marathon and the Ultraman (UM) to name a few. I was a spectator at the Noosa Marathon, Half Marathon and 10 Kilometre events staged on Saturday and Noosa was packed for the running on Saturday and ocean swims on Sunday.  

The sporting events fill the accommodation and restaurants with patrons and the healthy vibe of people committed to excellence in sport or just having ago for the fun and enjoyment is a pleasure to be around. While the streets are closed off and beaches have some new temporary fencing, the disruption seems to mean most people are happy. 

Events like the Ultraman which was staged from May 7-9 this year include: 

Day 1 – 10 km swim, 140 km bike. 

Day 2 – 281.1 km bike; and 

Day 3 – 84.3 km run. 

Race Director, Tony Horton was heard stating the following – “We welcome you to UM Australia, a three-day, 515 km annual endurance race held on the biggest island of them all – Australia.” 

Most of us were probably not aware that the 84.3 double marathon distance used the coastal pathway from Noosa to Twin Waters return as the run. I witnessed a very fit and tough woman who race officials told me was the leader running along at Mudjimba on the pathway in the pouring rain. So tough seeming beyond human endurance. 

Many of these events are held across the Sunshine Coast and are not limited to the Noosa Shire, so hopefully, the whole Sunshine Coast will benefit from increased accommodation bookings and other benefits when these events do take place.  

There is a great deal of work required on the coastal pathway which is currently still flooded in several locations within the North Shore region. It is important that the pathway is maintained and developed for active transport as well as sports events. 

There is still the opportunity to develop a sporting hub here on the Maroochy North Shore and more facilities like running tracks and an aquatic centre with a 50m pool are really needed.  

The Southeast Queensland Olympics in 2032 is nearing and we can leave a legacy of health and wellbeing for future generations and with that everyone can enjoy the success. 

Excited about change! 

HAVING run as a candidate for the local and federal government here on the Sunshine Coast I do get excited about election days, particularly when there is a need for change.  This year I was able to hand out how to vote cards for other candidates and return the favour to help hard-working volunteers.  

We were lucky that the polling centre that I worked at was being conducted in a community hall that had a large, covered area for voters to line up in shelter from pouring rain and strong winds. Last Saturday was definitely one of the wettest election days I can remember. People rushed in under shelter as quickly as they could after alighting from vehicles. The wait to vote was between 90 and 10 minutes with no gaps all day which was astonishing given all the pre-polling. 

There were plenty of views expressed as people waited to vote and all the volunteers provided as much information as they could to assist voters’ decisions. I have found there is generally a standard of respect and courtesy for different views.  

The serious effort put in by all the candidates and the voting public has resulted in some significant changes with new policy directions going to unfold. Yes, we do have a new Prime Minister – “Albo” who wants to inspire everyone to take up the opportunity to “reach for the stars”. Also, Albo’s acceptance speech which prioritised our first nations peoples, the Uluru statement adoption and the path to Australia becoming a renewable energy superpower were highlights for me.   

Clearly, climate change was on many people’s radar and the Greens and Teal Independents across Australia received a confirming vote. I am excited about the change in the makeup of the two houses of parliament which will ensure climate change is at the forefront of consideration. 

There is great hope that parliament will work in a more cohesive and united way on the big issues. Also, there will need to be sharing of information as the two major party’s dominance is reduced. Yes, more sharing and listening to ensure representative democracy actually works the way it should. Excited! 

Singing in the rain

A hard hat that was washed up on the beach. Photo: Tony Gibson

A WALK in the continuing rain on the beach on Saturday morning not only brought in scuds off the sea but also much flotsam and jetsam. I hummed along to “singing in the rain what a glorious feeling,” whilst on my walk.

Amongst all the plastic on the beach, there was a hard hat just starting to attract barnacles and green slime.  Some poor worker will be looking for a replacement hat if they want to keep their job in the mining or construction sectors I suspect. Yes, when we think of hard hats wouldn’t it be good if we might think immediately of jobs in Australia’s renewable energy sector.

Our region has been enduring continuing heavy rain in May due to high sea temperatures which are significantly related to climate change. Australia’s leadership in responding to climate change shows no coherent policy direction. Australia has even had a spoiling role internationally trying to avoid meaningful targets. Who would know what parties are talking about referring to net zero emissions by 2050 or some other long-off date?

The sad thing is Australia could really be a renewable energy superpower with many natural advantages, particularly for solar power with normally lots of sunshine. You and I have led the way with a significant take-up of rooftop solar power installations on our homes here on the Sunshine Coast, so we are showing leadership there. We are electrifying our homes to take advantage of cheap and clean energy.

Many other communities like those to our north might have a mix of mining and tourism and they are waiting for some clear policy direction, plans, and leadership. Clearly, people are looking for a reduction in fear and anxiety about the future and many want to be part of the transition to renewables.

There will be many jobs with a focus on renewables and we need policies, plans and re-skilling so all people can take advantage of the new jobs. Yes, we deserve leaders with agendas for everyone to have a better future.

We can all show leadership by simply carrying a bag to pick up litter to help the return of our beautiful beaches following the latest rain event.

Returning home

THE SUNSHINE Coast is definitely my preferred home, however, we enjoyed a weekend in Sydney with my son and his partner recently. We did a coastal national park walk near Maroubra and it was surprisingly rich in biodiversity. Also, Sydney is a very multicultural world city with many cuisines and districts like China town where we stayed near at Darling Harbour.

Here on the coast, we are certainly getting much more diversity – while 25 per cent of more recent refugees are ending up in Western Sydney we are getting our share with many new arrivals. As the Sunshine Coast is becoming more multicultural this brings lots of benefits for business and society generally.

New people and different cultures continually mean increasing diversity and the celebrations of different traditions. We just had the Christian Easter celebrations and the end of Ramadan for the Muslim community celebrations at our North Shore Community Centre, at Mudjimba. Recently, we also had the Holi Festival of Colours at the Kings Beach Amphitheatre at Caloundra for the Indian Community Association.

As family and friends move away or new ones join us there is a need to constantly work on relationships. You need to invest time and energy to grow and maintain relationships that help to enrich and unite us.

The Sunshine Coast has grown to 350,000 and is expected to increase to 550,000 in not too many more years. It will be good if we continue to embrace the diversity as it will help with tourism, education and other industry sectors. With the Olympics, people will come from across the world and we need to be ready to welcome them.

While returning home to the Sunshine Coast has meant coming to a fairly homogenous society things are changing. It looks like South East Queensland is going to be a world city and we need to embrace it and at the same time, we will hopefully retain the natural environment of a spectacularly rich biodiversity.

Here’s hoping returning home will mean a welcome to an enviable liveability supported by a world-class richly biodiverse natural environment and a unified and rich multicultural community. Times they are a changing so enjoy your day.

Take Action!

Being out in nature is good for our physical and mental state and right now our local coast care groups need as many hands helping with planting out in our dunal areas due to recent erosion. Photo: Tony Gibson

I LOVE what I do whether it is teaching oriental yoga or getting out and about on to the wonderful coastal sand dunes and planting and weeding. Both of these activities lift your spirits and revitalise the body and mind.

I was recently listening to a local radio gardening segment presenter who was talking about the benefits both physical and mental of gardening in your yard in a therapeutic way. This presenter teaches therapeutic gardening and can see the positive results for her students.

I have spoken many times of the value of mindfulness practices where you are at peace and in the moment. Working in dune and bush care is very much a mindfulness practice like yoga as you work with the breath. You might even come across beautiful birds, butterflies or a range of marsupials as you work away restoring habitat.

The challenges in life just find their true proportions when you are out in nature and with the breath. We all face significant challenges at times whether it be illness or the passing of someone close to us. By being out in nature and caring for the natural environment we can get wonderful therapeutic benefits and coast care volunteer work provides this.

The Japanese talk about forest bathing as a way to destress, so we know there are many ways to nourish and nurture a healthy mental state by enjoying the benefits of nature.

In our coast care group where we weed and plant there is plenty of conditioning work with walking, digging, carting plants and moderately heavy bags of weeds.  The physical benefits soon mount up with this activity.

You may have noticed that our beaches are getting eroded, and we are down to the coffee rock in some places and some trees are falling into the sea. The action we take to plant trees is so important because the dunes are our last zone of defence from rising sea levels.

Lately, you might have noticed a large number of candidates’ election signs appearing. I think whoever is willing to take action on climate change is worth a vote in the election, don’t you?  

Peace be with you.

Persistence and determination

The Triathlon Pink which was held at the University of the Sunshine Coast Sippy Downs campus on the weekend – an example of having fun and keeping fit on the Sunshine Coast. Photo: Tony Gibson

LAST weekend I attended the Triathlon Pink to watch family and friends compete at the University of the Sunshine Coast’s, Sippy Downs Campus. Ramsay Health Care Triathlon Pink is all about women having fun, getting fit and raising funds. This event features pool swims as well as running and cycling on closed roads around the university campus

With the focus more on fun and fundraising some competitors ran in pink tutus and charities like the National Breast Cancer Foundation were the beneficiaries. There were some events for the children and the male participants which made for a full sports carnival atmosphere.

The persistence and determination of competitors in having fun and finishing the event could be seen on their faces as they crossed the finishing line. This might be a fun run but you don’t know where it might lead for the women and girl competitors. Persistence and determination like many sportswomen possess could lead them to represent Australia in the Olympic Games scheduled for Southeast Queensland in 2032.

I think the Maroochy North Shore is perfect for sporting a hub and showcase for active transport facilities. We have some great bikeways, walking tracks and multi-sport sporting grounds and areas for cross country with beaches and parks.

Our resorts like Twin Waters have facilities with football fields, tennis courts, covered indoor spaces and golf courses which have been well used by professional sporting teams in the past.

There are many elements in place for conducting multi-sports carnivals and training of athletes. The area is well serviced by wellbeing services like physiotherapy, yoga and massage therapists. However, it could easily be developed further as a sports science hub and increase facilities to include an Olympic 50 metre swimming pool and athletics running tracks.  The local schools do not have pools.

When I was looking at the approach in the Planning Scheme Review Project, the opportunity to build our sports-tourism and eco-tourism on the North Shore were omissions for me. Why wouldn’t we want to promote what is a world-class environment and very liveable Sunshine Coast without adequate sporting facilities?  Health and well-being of our community must be in the vision.

Knowledge is power?

I RETURNED some books to the Coolum Library the other day and I was reminded of my old school motto “knowledge is power”.  Our wonderful public libraries are very accessible repositories of knowledge. Thomas Jefferson used the phrase “knowledge is power” in connection with the establishment of a state university in Virginia in the early United States of America.

I was thinking in this information age with ready access to the internet through our public libraries – “Why is the democracy not delivering rising equality rather than rising inequality?”

I believe that the answer to the above is as a result of the governments withdrawing or reducing the provision of public housing, public transport, public education, environmental services, health care, aged care and childcare. This is impacting economic activity and reducing productivity. For instance, we see the housing crisis for people on low incomes here on the Sunshine Coast with the poor stock of social housing.

In a “Banquet of Consequences”, Satyajit Das tells us there is an “end of trust which harms economic activity. Modern societies cannot escape a network of direct and indirect mutual bonds.” There has been a loss to households with low wages, high house prices, and increased energy and fuel costs which have increased inequality and mistrust of our politicians.

The budget last week was a pork barrelling exercise with one-off payments for lower incomes and some relief to consumers for six months with a reduction in the fuel excise. These short-term benefits are welcome news but what about the longer term? The subsidisation of wages in Aged Care and Child Care is essential to equality in society and economic opportunities.

Fortunately, there was some investment in education with funding for apprenticeships and transport with the funding of the Beerwah to Maroochy rail line. The state government hopefully will eventually come to the party with 50 per cent of the funding of the rail project before the 2032 South East Queensland Olympics.

Governments are lacking transparency and accountability, however, the opportunity to vote in a democracy is critical. Knowledge is power and with justice systems and social media, the inequality can be redressed.  Make sure you vote at the elections and have your democratic say.

Swimming with turtles?

A WALK to the beach last week and a swim with a turtle that was close to the shore assured me that we are living in paradise.  It is hard to believe that right here we can swim with turtles and regularly view turtles around Mudjimba Island or from the Point Arkwright viewing platform.

Tourists come from around the world to experience the wonders of the Great Barrier Reef swimming with turtles. With a little bit of luck like my experience on Friday, you can do the same at one of our Sunshine Coast beaches, and it is so important that we have a council town plan that recognises the importance of the natural environment.

The Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme Project being conducted by the Sunshine Coast Council proposes that sustainability requires careful planning.  I would agree with this but there are four critical steps  1. Plan – 2. Act – 3. Do – 4. Check (PADC). The PADC cycle is a continuous loop of planning, doing, checking and acting. It provides a simple and effective approach for solving problems.

This PADC cycle needs to be underpinned by values. The community is saying that some of the values we prize are:

• Traditional lot sizes in low-density residential zones;

• Retention of open space and natural bushland and undisturbed dunes and the wildlife they

support; and

• Protection of turtle nesting beaches from light pollution and other disturbance with our unspoilt beaches.

The council is setting the Regional Planning Directions to 2041 and has 18 Local Planning Directions covering areas like the North Shore and Coolum. While I believe the council is trying to incorporate ecological principles there will be balancing and compromises.

Also, there are planning limitations with state and local government areas of responsibility. The Priority Area Development site of the Sunshine Coast Airport handed to the State Government by the council is one such concern. The northern end of the old runway is proposed for an industrial transport hub under the master planning for the airport site. Will this challenge the tourism, residential and protected conservation areas values on the North Shore?

The unspoilt beaches and calm estuarine waters allowing us to swim with the turtles are important to me. What is important to you? Have your say with this first round of consultation for the Planning Scheme closing on March 31.

How are you going for harmony?

IT IS ALWAYS nice to walk along the beach and to receive the local greeting, “How are you going?”. The polite reply is to acknowledge the request and respond with “Going good thanks”. I think this is an acknowledgement we are not directly caught up in floods, fires, droughts or the threat of war so everything is OK. How great it is to go for a walk on a beautiful and peaceful beach in the sunshine with a smile on your face!

Some of us really have a preference for finding harmony and I am one of those types. While I have often taken on challenging roles working for social justice and against discriminatory practices, this means being involved in conflicts to reach positive outcomes.

I despair for the people of Ukraine being invaded by their neighbour Russia, whose leader has a desire to subjugate the people. The United Nations (UN) was formed after World War 2 to work towards world peace and harmony. While the UN has been successful in stopping another World War many wars have continued like this current war in Ukraine.

The UN International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination or Harmony Day was held this past Monday – March 21. In Australia, Harmony Day is celebrated with Australian multiculturalism at the forefront, based on the successful integration of migrants into our community. Harmony Day is about inclusiveness, respect and belonging for all Australians, regardless of cultural or linguistic background, united by a set of core values unique to Australia. Since 1999, more than 70,000 Harmony Day events have been held in Australia.

I ask the question, “How are you going for harmony?” I believe we each have a part to play in how we engage with other people. We can lead the way with our behaviours. Do we treat everyone as equals, respecting differences and trying to be more inclusive? Do we really want to live up to some Australian or universal core values?  The values of peace, freedom, social progress, equal rights and human dignity, enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights are all we need for harmony.

Ruddy Turnstone

A Ruddy Turnstone bird. Photo: Contributed

It was a delight to see a Ruddy Turnstone on our Marcoola beach this week. They are very quick walkers on the wet sand as the waves swish up and down the beach. The beach has become quite eroded with large waves eating into the dunes on high tide with spinifex grass hanging on grimly to the morsels of sand. On the high tide, there are only a few spots for the Ruddy Turnstone to scurry around, but there is lots of debris from the floods for fruitful fossicking.

Birdlife Australia tells us that the “distinctive Ruddy Turnstone vies for the record of the world’s most northerly breeding Shorebird. Its journey from the very edge of the Arctic sends it island-hopping across the Pacific to Australia. The Arctic and Australia are two key places where climate change is a major cause for concern. Being very confiding birds, Ruddy Turnstones will allow you to see them close-up as they work along pebbly beaches or fossick through piles of seaweed, leaving no stone unturned.”

When our Coolum and North Shore Coast Care group annually weeds at Heron Island on the Great Barrier Reef we would often enjoy seeing the Ruddy Turnstones in the shallows turning over rocks to find some treats.

Unfortunately, sandpipers and other wading birds are threatened not only by climate change but also by population growth with more people, and dogs off-leash, wading birds are finding fewer and fewer safe areas to fossick for food.

It is truly wonderful we have birds that can still find enough remaining habitat to make the long journey from the Arctic to Australian Shores.  

In the previous week, our Coast Care group had a visit at Marcoola from Senior Geography students from Matthew Flinders College and we were able to tell them the stories and show them the bird habitat within our coastal dunes.

Yes, the future is bright if our young people get an education that highlights the diversity of ecosystems to maintain our amazing wildlife here on the Sunshine Coast.

Hopefully, for many years more the Ruddy Turnstones will visit our shores as we take on custodianship for their habitat.

Why do we need an EPA and leadership?

Well it has been bucketing down over recent times and we really get to appreciate that we live on a flood plain of the Maroochy River with water flowing and sitting everywhere.  While the expansion of the Sunshine Coast Airport, proposals for Twin Waters West and further development on the flood plains are mistakes, they continue.

One place where water often sits in the dry times is at Coolum West. The interest in a Surf Ranch at Coolum West continues with promises from developers of world-class tourist attractions, which are often codes for big profits for big residential estates on our valuable wetlands.

We need our remaining wetlands to absorb the wet season rains and provide habitat for wildlife.  Are we really serious about a UNESCO biosphere? More floodplain development will not assist in maintaining biodiversity.

The role of Queensland’s environmental regulator is currently undertaken by the Queensland Government Department of Environment and Science (DES). Queensland is the only state in Australia that does not have its environmental policies overseen by an independent Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

In New South Wales the EPA “aims to be a world-class regulator, shaping positive environmental outcomes to ensure healthy communities in NSW. The EPA is an independent statutory authority, sitting in the portfolio of the Minister for Energy and Environment”. 

We need an environmental law-enforcement program with teeth and a leader willing to take on leadership on the environment. Recent developments in Queensland has seen a lack of protection for the coastal strips from large urban developments. The environmental law-enforcement programs lack teeth and commitment from governments.

The real power exists in the office of Premier and with issues like climate change we need the Premier to lead the way and being supported by an EPA. Unfortunately, structural change creating an EPA is only part of the solution and cultural change needs to see the Premier lead and walk the talk on environmental protection.

The extent and severity of the current floods are the result of poor planning, policies and leadership on the environment by governments. The precious Earth is “our only home (Dalai Lama)” and needs protecting.

Miracles bring so many reasons to be happy

Being out in nature such as volunteering with Coast Care who is seen here on a recent tree planting at Marcoola is one way to observe miracles and be in awe of our great planet. Photo: Tony Gibson

I hope everyone is getting out walking in this beautiful Sunshine Coast region. I was recently able to do an early morning walk to the top of Mount Peregian (Emu Mountain). This is not a large peak at 73 metres but my peace and joy was certainly present in what could only be called a walking mindful meditation. The mountain thankfully is protected as a national park and offers some great views, wildflowers and an extensive range of fauna and flora. It is an exciting opportunity for everyone to explore.

We can see all “around us life is bursting forth with miracles like a ray of sunshine, a flower, a leaf …and each human being can be regarded as a miracle. Eyes that can see thousands of colours, shapes and forms (Thick Nhat Hand).” Stories of miracles abound in many spiritual traditions however, I don’t think you need to be particularly spiritual to see that miracles are all around us and within us.

I find particularly when human beings get close to nature that they can start to see the miracles and for so many reasons this makes them happy, contented and willing to care about things beyond themselves. The extension of this word “caring” for me is love. For many of us there is a love of the natural world and appreciation of the nurturing by Mother Nature.

When a group of volunteers from Coast Care get out and plant some trees in the sand dunes, we believe that there is a good probability they will grow from small seedlings to fully grown trees – and that is a miracle. Coast Care has recently been doing some planting and the rain has arrived just in time to water the seedlings. This definitely is a wonderful result and a miracle as without that, the love and nurturing of the rain the plants would wither and die.

Yes, we have so many reasons to be happy and observing the miracles in the natural world is a good way to sustain all beings and our planet. What miracles are you observing in your life?

What are you grateful for?

During the week I was on the bike passing by the Sekisui proposed development site when a brown snake caused me to slow down and veer to the right. The snake was making its way across the David Low Way from the golf course to the Sekisui site on the beachside.  Somehow the snake may have been aware of the court decision the day before and had decided there was still some remnant habitat for a while to come at Yaroomba.

When we are doing our regeneration work on the dunes we are always getting asked about the snakes, which we rarely see, though we appreciate they are present. Snakes are an important part of the coastal wallum heath helping to maintain biodiversity. Snakes have been a spiritual totem for the traditional owners and this is often depicted in the rainbow serpent. Also, snakes can provide humans with pest control as they prey on rodents.

K’gari (Fraser Island) is much loved by locals and international tourists alike and just like within our beautiful coastal wallum heath, both venomous and non-venomous snakes including tree snakes, pythons, red-bellied black snakes and eastern browns call K’gari home.  Yes, snakes are an important part of the world heritage listed K’gari, the Cooloola region and our Sunshine Coast. We should be grateful for their presence in maintaining a balance and helping us respect nature.

Just as we should be grateful for the 9000 submissions by the community against the inappropriate development requested by Sekisui and supported by the Sunshine Coast Regional Council.  The community and environmental groups have fought hard to achieve a just decision.  I am grateful we have systems of appeal and review within our representative democratic system that enhances decision making, social justice and equity.

What are you grateful for? I am grateful to be part of this community that has leaders that have a long term view for community and nature to be connected and sustained within a just society. I hope our lifestyle will continue to be supported by a clean and green economy with world-class ecotourism part of the attractions. We will all have to work hard for balance.

How can you possibly change the world?

When it comes to the big challenges like climate change it all seems to be a bit hard and we wonder whether we can make a difference. However, the rainy and windy weather with an occasional rainbow gives some of us time for contemplation.

Ancient wisdom tells us that, “we can always change ourselves and that will change the world. Instead of trying to change your situation, experiment with bringing yourself into harmony.”   By bringing yourself into harmony as a part of the universe we can help to bring all around us into harmony.

Today’s ethics and values are changing with people’s lack of connection to the country in largely urban environments. We see the results of unchecked greed and individualism with a degrading of the natural environment as humans dominate the planet.  The problems of the world cannot be resolved by simply increasing wealth and materialism. However, we can see the positive transformation of people when they spend time in nature, so it has to be in our genes as well as in learned behaviours.

We need common human goals like living a happy, healthy and harmonious life where we respect other species in nature. Also, we need techniques like mindfulness and getting back to nature to ensure people do not become simply overwhelmed and can achieve an inner calm.

In ‘The Age of Empathy’ biologist Franz de Waal suggests that greed is out and empathy is in. De Waal argues that, “human biology similarly offers a giant helping hand to those striving for a just society, and that every human is destined to be humane.”

Should being compassionate to people and nature be the criteria for good leadership? Eric Lambin, Professor at Standford School of Earth Sciences is a world leader in the study of land use and human-environment interactions. Lambin suggests that human happiness is rooted in sustaining the Earth.

We have a rich heritage here on the Sunshine Coast with wonderful natural assets sustaining a connection to country.  By living a happy life, cultivating compassion and joy in our community we can become a shining light. Yes, change is achievable.

What makes you cry tears of joy?

Many of us find little difficulty in having a bit of a weep. Crying can cause your body to produce hormones that make you feel better. You release oxytocin and endorphins after you cry, which can help lift your mood.

Dr Judith Orloff posted in Psychology Today that, “for over 20 years as a physician, she witnessed, time and again, the healing power of tears. Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, griefanxiety, and frustration. Also, you can have tears of joy, say when a child is born or tears of relief when a difficulty has passed. For both men and women, tears are a sign of courage, strength, and authenticity.”

During the week we have had opportunities for tears of joy. The Australian of the Year Awards were amazing for putting forward many worthy Australians including the wonderful Dylan Alcott (tennis star and disability advocate) and Valmai Dempsey (St John’s Ambulance volunteer).  Such inspiring speeches from recipients brought me close to tears. When you see the level of sacrifice, advocacy and service on behalf of disadvantaged communities you have to be moved.

Then there were the sporting feats over the weekend and the grand slam win at the Australian Open Tennis by Ash Barty.  Ash is so humble and inspiring with her tennis achievements and this was another one of those tears of joy experiences for a diehard tennis player and Aussie Open fan.

Other moments where I am tearful, in a good way, include when listening to wonderful live music like we experience at the Woodford Festival or sometimes when watching a movie in a cinema can give me goose bumps and bring me to tears. Also, it could be your footy team winning the AFL Championships at the MCG like the Brisbane Lions AFL did in 2001 and so on that could bring you to tears.

Magnificent nature experiences would be at the top of my list as well. I was fortunate to see four magpie geese on Saturday and to see them take off and fly over Mount Gul’um could easily bring me to tears.

Enough about me, we all have experiences that give us that wonderful emotional high. What will bring you to tears in a good way? Whatever it is make sure you get plenty more. It is the time to seek these opportunities out to get some balance in our lives after a challenging couple of years.

Enjoy your day and shed a little tear.

Help needed for the arts and entertainment

The industry area that is really hurting on the Sunshine Coast due to the pandemic is the arts and entertainment. From small to large events the cancellations have been occurring for two years and we really need to ensure that there is a viable industry going forward.

Many of us would have enjoyed the large festivals like the Woodford Festival or smaller events in pubs, clubs and civic centres in the past. So many livelihoods and passions for performing in front of a live audience have been dashed by the pandemic.

We have been able to get along to the Coolum Theatre Players productions, which have continued however, this is more the exception. Over the weekend we were fortunate to attend the musical “An American in Paris” at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane.  This was an excellent show and we were able to stay in Brisbane overnight and enjoy the city lights and vibe. The large shows are significant money spinners and employers. These shows attract patrons to the shows who often choose to also holiday in the region.

Alison Barry-Jones, President of the Sunshine Coast Arts, Convention and Exhibition Association has been tireless in pushing for a multi-use arts, entertainment and convention facility for the coast. The State and Federal government representatives, Fiona Simpson and Ted O’Brien and the Sunshine Coast Council are supporting delivery of a complex in Maroochydore as part of Olympics infrastructure.

In December 2021, the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, announced “$19.5 million that will flow to the latest recipients of the RISE Fund supporting nearly 21,000 jobs in more than 600 locations, more than half of which are located in regional and remote Australia”.

The government funding to organisations is meagre and will be very lucky to trickle down to many individuals in the industry. We really need a serious investment in the arts and entertainment from all levels of government so we can all recover from COVID.

Arts and entertainment employ lots of people as well as providing food for the soul, which helps us continue to smile. 

No Need for Introductions?

What a great place to live we have here – a walk on the beach or down to the local village will often mean we engage in conversations with strangers. They will not remain strangers for long as we open up about what we value and love on the Sunshine Coast.

Unfortunately, in some places and societies, loneliness and alienation are very prevalent today.  Even with the constraints of the pandemic, I do not believe that it is or has to be the case if we check in on each other and support each other across the world.

Recently, Archbishop Desmond Tutu passed away whilst I was in the midst of reading, “The Book of Joy” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams.  The book provides their insights supported by their long close friendship.

What was learned from the dialogue from these two great spiritual leaders is that, “we did not have to wait for others to open up their hearts to us. By opening our heart to them, we could feel connected to them, whether on a mountaintop or in the middle of a city”. Also, joy is about “humility” so “laugh at yourself and don’t be pompous and serious.”

We are fortunate we live in a society where formal introductions and being pompous are the exceptions. No individual should feel alone in a time where feeling part of a community and supported are essential to everyone’s health and wellbeing.  Therefore, at this time it is especially important to check in with community members and provide support.

Humour and laughing are important for the body, mind and spirit. We can dwell on fear related to an imminent death from a pandemic, a severe weather event or we can try to look on the bright side of life. It can’t only be about a positive attitude, but if we consider the wider perspective and count our blessings then there are many reasons to feel hope and joy.

Our relationships and support in the community are important to well-being and we will receive generous support by just asking. Enjoy your day keeping safe and smiling.

Tawny Frogmouth Owl?

As I indicated in my last column for 2021, my resolution for 2022 will be to continue efforts to maintain biodiversity by protecting our natural environment on the coast.  This includes raising awareness of the precious natural heritage that still exists in our villages, plentiful reserves and national parks.

The other afternoon as I took the dog for a walk past a metal electricity box, I observed a tawny frogmouth staying completely still. A tawny frogmouth camouflage means that it can easily be confused with a tree branch and sitting on an electricity box it was easy to see.

The tawny frogmouth isn’t actually an owl, it’s a night-jay or nighthawk – being one of three types of its kind in the world. Its nocturnal hunting and carnivorous diet contributed to a mislabelling as an owl. The tawny frogmouth got its name from a diet of frogs.

With all the recent rain as you pass by wetlands, you can hear so many frogs such as the popping sound of the striped marsh frog.  Their call is a single, short “tuk” or “whuck” which is repeated every few seconds.  The tawny frogmouths should have a full belly with so many frogs of different varieties out and about after all the rain.

Frogs are very important in the scheme of things in the biodiversity stakes.  Frogs serve as an important food source to a diverse array of predators, including fish, snakes and birds. Thus, the disappearance of frog populations disturbs an intricate web and results in negative impacts that can percolate through the ecosystem. This intricate web of creatures in nature needs our protection with habitat increased and maintained if we are to survive as a species.

Our knowledge is often limited to a small range of creatures and the interdependency of creatures and challenges like climate change and habitat loss means we need research. All of us have a role as citizen scientists as we choose to help increase the survival of species. This will not only be good for the environment but also our health and wellbeing. Yes, it is all about nature and community connected and sustained.

Enjoy your 2022.

Resolution Opportunity 2022

On Sunday, as I rode to the Maroochy River a large eastern grey kangaroo stopped about 50 metres in front of me taking up a position right on the dotted white line in the middle of the road. I slowed down and the roo looked me in the eye but did not move. I thought well, I will pass slowly by along the edge of the road but the roo did not move. As I got about 50 metres further and still no movement, I thought I better go back and wave any cars down. The roo then just decided to proceed on its way through to the other side of the Maroochy River Conservation Park.  Another bike rider and car arrived just in time to see a beautiful bounding kangaroo.

With 2022 around the corner my resolution will be to continue my efforts to maintain biodiversity by protecting our natural environment on the coast.

What will your resolution be in 2022? Will your resolution be a big bold goal such as that no child will live in poverty or maybe leading action for climate change? Will your resolution be simply to do more of the same by supporting your community, family and friends? Whatever you decide if you follow your heart it will mean it will be framed by loving kindness for all creatures that inhabit the world.

You might decide to increase your efforts to be in balance and harmony by living a natural and sustainable existence. The opportunity for all of us is to experience an inner smile – sharing that smile and our connection to nature.

We are very fortunate to have a high degree of freedom, can make informed choices and take responsibility for making a better life for ourselves and all creatures. Yes, by our actions we can increase loving kindness and compassion in the world. Wishing everyone peace, harmony, happiness and health in 2022. Happy New Year and enjoy every day.

12 Days of an Australian Christmas

Over the last couple of weeks like many of us, I have been able to meet up with friends to celebrate the upcoming Christmas festive season. When I hear songs about dashing through the snow from a northern hemisphere winter I think – can’t we do better than that here?

We are living through a humid subtropical summer. With an enviable beach culture, we enjoy our glorious summer season with our families, friends and visitors. Dashing through the snow does not come into the picture on the Sunny Coast.

Some of the tunes I hear for the holidays really celebrate our Australian Christmas. The Australian version of the “12 Days of Christmas” with lyrics identifying so much wonderful Aussie wildlife like our kookaburras in gum trees is for me.

On Saturday, we had lots of fun at the Coolum and North Shore Coast Care Christmas Party at Bli Bli. We were welcomed to country by Kerry Jones from the Kabi Kabi First Nation who thanked us for our work protecting the environment.  Kerry told us the story of his kin and their dispossession of the land while at the same time rejoicing new efforts to nurture the Maroochy River with oyster beds and improved riparian zones.

The breeze was heavenly with the setting sun coming and going gradually drifting down across the Maroochy as we recounted stories from the last twelve months and beyond.  Stories, like getting up close and personal with a red belly black snake at Stumers Creek or observing six whistling ducks beside a waterway at Marcoola, were some of the tales. Others told the stories of endangered turtles and a determination to continue protection efforts and education of the community.

We can all rejoice in the heritage of this land we call Australia as we tell stories that open and lift the hearts of our children. Only a few more sleeps to Christmas as the days to Christmas fly by. Enjoy your festive season opening your heart with compassion, loving kindness and forgiveness, wishing peace and goodwill to all. We express sincere gratitude for 2021 and welcome in a wonderful 2022.

Positive Generational Change

On Sunday, I attended the sold out performance of the Coolum Theatre Players ‘Ladies in Black’ directed by Linda Gefken. The theatrical performance by Carolyn Burns with music by Tim Finn is a wonderful musical that follows the lives of the women working in Ladies Wear in a Sydney department store in the 1950s over the Christmas holidays.

I worked for a number of years in various departments of Myers Coorparoo in my Christmas holidays and the workplace culture and the stereotypical gender roles of the 50s and 60s were quite familiar to me. Even though my partner and I were able to see the humour, the young women theatregoers sitting across from us may have been surprised, considering today’s standards. I didn’t see a smile when some of the negative views of the father were shared with his daughter aspiring to study literature at university.

The assumption that young women were not interested or clever enough to attend university and undertake a professional career apart from teaching or nursing were widely held views. The caring father purchased a voucher for his daughter to go to a secretarial college. To be a secretary was not what the young daughter wanted and the father finally relented – allowing an excellent student to pursue her dream to attend university.

The development of state and federal government legislation that accounts for equal employment opportunities and anti-discrimination laws has seen major shifts in the workplace and cultural stereotypes generally. Well, maybe not in the parliaments themselves with the recent report of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner showing significant problems. Where is the leadership by our politicians living the values enshrined in the legislation?

There have been many positive changes, which give young women a much better chance to achieve professional careers or make a choice. However, there is still much work to do in getting women equally represented in leadership positions.

Change comes generation by generation and I have enjoyed mentoring young women into leadership roles with positive generational changes continuing. Young men are taking on or sharing important roles with home duties and child-rearing which is allowing for much more equality of opportunity for all genders. The future is bright for both our young women and men.

Brave and Lucky Kids!

Last Saturday was my favourite community day in the region – the North Shore Community Centre Christmas Celebrations. This is a day full of excitement and wonder for hundreds of children and their parents at Mudjimba. The rain stayed at bay and did not interfere with the arrival of Santa by helicopter, who also came with many gifts for the lucky kids.

The day features many community groups displaying what they do and we go along each year on behalf of Coolum and North Shore Coast Care. We join in the celebrations in an effort to encourage children to love and protect our natural environment. Whilst having our stall at the Christmas Celebration, we get a chance to sell some of our calendars, which feature pictures of wonderful local natural flora and fauna. Also, we get a chance to raise awareness about protecting special local species like wallabies and turtles and their important habitat.

We have also enjoyed bringing a wildlife experience to the event so that everyone can get close to nature’s creatures. This year the show was presented by Wildlife HQ, which is a great zoological park beside the Big Pineapple at Woombye. The zoo has many exotic animals like alligators, sun bears and red pandas, and Australian wildlife species like koalas, wallabies and blue tongue lizards.

The wildlife show also featured reptiles and interest was nearly overwhelming with large queues forming – all for a very close look at a python, lizard and alligator. I was amazed at how brave the kids were, either patting or getting very close to the reptiles that were well managed by Hanna from Wildlife HQ.

It is excellent to have zoos to maintain breeding programs for endangered species and to be places where we are able to visit and see our native wildlife so easily. It is excellent for children to have an affinity and loving kindness towards our native wildlife and the exotic creatures. The next day I was able to see wallaby and kangaroos just on an early morning ride around our Maroochy North Shore.

We have also been fortunate in the last week to witness that the turtles are starting to lay their eggs on the beaches. As the wet starts to make its presence felt, all those lucky and brave kids can look forward to a great Christmas and holidays in nature’s wonderland. There are not many sleeps before families and communities celebrate both Christmas and a New Year.

What is organic food?

Mick Dan and Kelly Burton the proprietors of Good Harvest Organic Farm. Photo: Good Harvest

On a Saturday morning, I ride my bike down to the Marcoola Farmers Market to visit the organic farmers stall. The stall of the ‘Good Harvest Organic Farm’ seems to be increasing in popularity at Marcoola, which is great to see.

Organic food is food produced by methods complying with the standards of organic farming. Standards vary worldwide, but organic farming features practices that cycle resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity. The food is produced without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.

As a yoga teacher, I am interested in nutrition and the healing that occurs when consuming organic food. For me, the benefits of local organic ‘in season’ and colourful green, orange, red or other coloured vegetables and fruit are an easy sell for people like myself who are concerned about their health and wellbeing.

Many of us have tried our hand with a small plot or pot to grow our healthy vegetables and fruit in at home during the pandemic to varying degrees of success.

Mick Dan and Kelly Burton from Good Harvest Organic Farm have taken up organic farming and supply vegetables and fruit to up to 1500 families a week. Mick and Kelly started with a shop at Marcoola but unfortunately they had to move on after a significant fire.

The successful business is now online and featured at market stalls like the Marcoola Farmers Market. This month Mick and Kelly were recognised by their industry with awards. At the awards hosted by the peak industry body – Australian Organic Limited, Good Harvest were finalists in four separate Australia Organic Industry Awards. The awards included:

* Young Organic Leader – Mick Dan

* Women in Organic of the Year – Kelly Burton

* Farmer of the Year – Mick Dan

* Retailer of the Year – Good Harvest

Good Harvest were also the Winner of the Food & Agribusiness Category – Large Employer in the Sunshine Coast Business Awards 2021.

I would like to congratulate Kelly and Mick for their success and the recognition of their peers in the industry.

We are indeed fortunate to have Kelly and Mick who continue to be part of our caring community and provide the region with quality organic produce.  

Everyday Heroes

An “Everyday Hero” – Franca from Coast Care. Photo: Tony Gibson  

What a great weekend with so much sunshine, cool nights, cloudless blue skies and calm blue seas. After the rain and humidity, it was a very nice contrast and life is all about contrasts.

On Saturday morning, our Coast Care group assembled at “Brissos Corner” in Mudjimba to do some planting and weeding of the dunes. We were a small but keen group ready to spend several hours out in nature restoring the native habitat.

We were pleased to once again find evidence of wallabies foraging in the bush. This was our last Saturday monthly outing for 2021 and it was important to get some more banksia and casuarina trees planted to take advantage of the summer rains maintaining habitat.

One of our volunteers who had joined several times this year, ‘Franca’ was what I would refer to as an “everyday hero”. Franca had already that morning run in the local parkrun that goes along the Marcoola and Mudjimba foreshore, had vacuumed the house and was joining us working on the dunes. Franca is a teacher and mother and we are very appreciative she can find time to volunteer with us protecting the natural environment.

On Saturday afternoon, we went to Noosa Cinemas to see the latest James Bond offering with Daniel Craig in “No Time To Die”. This movie was a very exciting action blockbuster. The hero showed extreme bravery and courage and of course he saved the world though he had to kill a lot of people to achieve his quest.

Whether a James Bond fictional character or a real hero like Mahatma Gandhi, Bishop Tutu or Greta Thunberg, we need heroes. Albert Einstein wrote –  “Life is a flow of love, your participation is requested. Our world needs more heroes. It is our job to bring out the hero that lives inside of each of us, making this world a better place.”

I like this definition about heroism,  “The everyday hero is within every single human being on this planet, and is expressed by simple, ordinary actions. Heroes do simple acts of kindness, courage, and love.”

Everyday heroes are the backbone of our community and I thank you all for your work everyday.              

What happened to community engagement, transparency and accountability?

Fortunately, we are well served by community interest groups like Development Watch who work as an independent body and hold unnecessary developments to task and those that go against the town plan. At the end of last week we became aware of a call to action by Development Watch over the further expansion of Sunshine Coast Airport with the development of a freight hub. It is believed that the proposed location of this facility for large trucks servicing the airport is the northern end of the old runway near the David Low Way at Marcoola. 

A Council Executive Special Meeting on Monday November 8 was to consider referral to the state government to declare the airport land a Priority Development Area.  This would mean the community’s right to have a say would be removed.

This referral would be an example of the Sunshine Coast Regional Council abrogating its responsibility.  This is a significant trust and transparency issue with the council having not provided meaningful details of its contract with the Airport operators (Palisade) and continuing its secrecy.

Under normal circumstances there would be development applications (DAs) lodged for each precinct and that would give the community the opportunity to have a say. This airport land is leased to Palisade but it is still council owned land so ratepayers must have a say on what is put on this land. The ‘legal trickery’ being considered at the special meeting does not go well for real community engagement, transparency and accountability expected of our elected council representatives.

The Sunshine Coast Airport expansion, before any considerations of COVID impacts was predicted to be a “white elephant”. I believe this is still a likely scenario and the domestic and international aviation market recovery is a long way off.

The disadvantages and costs to our coastal community including road safety and traffic congestion need full consideration. Environmental impacts including extra traffic, lighting and noise flowing onto the nearby beach and national park affecting wildlife including endangered turtles, birds and macropods are significant.

The considerations are many and proper consultation is necessary. With climate change and the pandemic the need for community and nature to be connected and sustained is critical.

The community needs to have a say.

Optimism and Vitality

Fortunately, last week many people from Brisbane could join us with their special long weekend with the Friday off as well.  For us this meant we were able to share our piece of nature’s paradise with grandchildren, a son, and daughter-in-law. It certainly gives you a feeling of optimism and vitality when you can connect with nature and build relationships.

The legacy we leave family, local community and the extended world community has been once again at the forefront of my mind particularly with talk of more roadmaps. Scott Morrison our Prime Minister is off to Glasgow with his roadmap for the World Climate Summit, and the Sunshine Coast and Noosa Councils have got together on a survey for a Regional Climate Action Roadmap.

The Sunshine Coast and Noosa Councils survey asks us, “Do we understand how the changing climate affects us?” The survey has been designed as an educative tool. It is now closed and I feel a roadmap is useful but we need urgent climate action now.

After 30 years of really knowing about the effects of climate change and the council’s like Noosa identifying a “Climate Crisis”, another roadmap. I am certainly an optimist and believe I need the vitality to keep up the fight for action to arrest global warming if our generation is to provide a positive legacy for our descendants. It could be as simple as observing the natural laws ourselves and collectively making a big impact for climate change.

Ancient sages tell us in the Dao Te Ching, “Because natural law is immutable, life seems harsh at times. It does not favour or discriminate; as a person sows, so they reap. The wise person does not attempt to interfere with natural law, nor do they pretend that they are special. They understand that living naturally creates harmony. Living in ignorance results in suffering”. Excessive talking is not helpful. It is better to be quiet and focus on the self.”

This climate challenge will be met by loving-kindness and connected individuals demonstrating optimism and vitality. Know and believe in yourself to make a difference, as there is an urgency to act.

Much love and light

I was delighted to attend the celebration launch of Anne-Marie McLeod’s business, ‘McLeod with a Silver Lining’ on Saturday at the Maroochy Sailing Club.  In her new business as an End-Of-Life Celebrant Anne-Marie will pursue her values of love and connection. Anne-Marie has always demonstrated so much compassion and loving kindness and this is a calling that she is a perfect fit for.

We all know somebody or have been touched personally by the passing of family, friends, work colleagues and community members. The passing can lead to a period of significant grief. Often the passing is not well dealt with and people just get back to work without effectively respecting, remembering and celebrating the departed’s connection and place in the world. Unfortunately, in many of our western cultures the subject of dying is not mentioned or poorly addressed by society.

For the launch we were asked to remember someone close and dear to us and it was very fitting for me that this launch was at a sailing club. My father who I lost a number of years back was a great sailor. He sailed up and down the east coast always calling in at Mooloolaba on his trips north. The picture we shared for his celebration of life was him smiling while on his yacht. I am sure most of us have had someone we have loved and lost.

There is a need to plan for our own and loved ones’ departure. This is for our community so people can effectively work through the grief. A celebration of life or service that respects the departed’s wishes is important. The questions that arise might be whether it should be a religious service or will there be a wake in addition to the service.

All of us have love in our hearts and there will be a sadness and a feeling of loss when someone departs this world. The departed person’s contribution to society should be noted as they were worthy of love and their light shone touching others.

 Wishing you much love and let your light shine in a happy, healthy, and harmonious way. Enjoy your day.

A Warm Welcome

An outback brolga, which was seen on a recent trip to the Longreach region. Photo: Tony Gibson

The Sunshine Coast is a wonderful chosen home, however, I also love to explore around the world and had the opportunity of a long weekend in the Longreach region. While the region is in a drought that goes back to 2011, the hospitality and warmth of the welcome could not be beaten. The flight from Brisbane is less than two hours on a daily service and we went with a local Sunshine Coast business Travel Associates.

When it comes to attractions the region has quite a few from the QANTAS Museum, Camden Park Station Longreach, Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame, Age of Dinosaurs, great pubs, historical towns, boat cruises on the Thomson River and the list goes on. Wildlife was fairly plentiful with brolgas, emus, kites and roos.

The tourism industry fortunately in the Longreach region and the Sunshine Coast has been able to just get by supported by you and I as we travel domestically in COVID times. Hopefully, this is about to change as vaccinations grow and we open the borders.

I think we have been late getting out and supporting local tourism and enjoying our great state of Queensland. The Longreach region has been the birthplace of some great Queenslanders including our former head of state and Governor-General Quentin Bryce who was born in Ilfracombe.

Like the Sunshine Coast, the people of Longreach are struggling with COVID, climate change and sustainability while rising to the challenges. The move to organic farming and renewable energy with a large solar farm providing energy to the electricity grid looks to be the world’s best practice and is providing a bright future.

The appreciation we received from the local people of the Longreach region to make the trip to their part of the world was heartfelt. If we can provide the same heartfelt appreciation for the people visiting the Sunshine Coast all will go well for the future of our tourism industry.

Yes, let all of us provide that warm welcome to the travellers who visit our Sunshine Coast region and help local businesses when we book and make travel arrangements through local businesses to support local jobs and livelihoods on the Sunshine Coast.  

Achieving Zen

A white-lipped tree frog has again returned to one of our garden pots. The white-lipped tree frog has large toe pads, which help it to climb. The toes are completely webbed, and the hands are partially webbed. This frog can get into large pots and just wait for some passing insects to have a feed. When the rain comes you will definitely hear its call or bark.

We have a frog motel in the backyard which is a pot with gravel and PVC pipes protruding but so far no frogs have come to stay. The design has been made to stop toads from taking up a home so hopefully, we will have some residents one day.

I love the white-lipped tree frog and for me, they look to be in a very Zen-like state. What is a Zen? A popular current definition from the Webster dictionary defines “Zen” as –  “a state of calm attentiveness in which one’s actions are guided by intuition”.

A state of relaxed, calm and peacefulness being in the moment is the way I typically see a Zen state. I can see this state in people, wildlife and our pets at certain times.

In a more religious context, Zen is often associated with Japanese Buddhism.  Students of Zen aim to achieve enlightenment by the way they live, and by mental actions that approach the truth without philosophical thought or intellectual endeavour.

We can achieve that Zen state by meditation. Meditation starts with the connection to the breath relaxing the body, mind and spirit. The training of the mind can occur to be calm, suspend judgement and the continual intellectualising accepting things as they are.

Attaining Zen can be in a garden, in the bush or by the sea. It does not need to be in a cross-legged sitting meditation posture and could be walking, swimming or surfing.

We are very fortunate there are many places in nature and our backyards here on the Sunshine Coast help us achieve a Zen state. The relaxed coast lifestyle with visitors sharing the dream could see the Sunshine Coast being a “Zen Central”. “Just Breathe and Enjoy!”

Healthy and active ageing!

I was very happy to attend the ‘Building Better Brain Health’ workshop conducted by the Sunshine Coast Council and the University of the Sunshine Coast last Friday. The workshop at the North Shore Community Centre at Mudjimba was about better brain health plus the relationship between healthy food, social connection and mental engagement.

The workshop highlighted that:

*Nutrition has been linked to a 53 per cent potential reduction in Alzheimer’s disease;

*Optimising mental and social activity reduces Alzheimer’s risk by 48 per cent;

*Nutrition reduces moderate-to-severe depression by 32 per cent;

*Lack of social connection and loneliness increases cognitive decline and the risk of developing dementia by as much as 20 per cent, and it has also been shown to be associated with an increased risk for premature death, similar to smoking, alcohol consumption and obesity.

*Meditation has been shown to offset age-related cognitive decline.

These factors confirmed my understanding and provided up to date research on important health and wellbeing practices for our community. The fun workshop provided lots of ‘how tos’ and used the collective wisdom of the participants. Some very healthy and tasty food was sampled from the interactive and practical demonstrations. 

The Sunshine Coast could become one of the leaders for health, happiness and harmony with longevity and diversity of citizens in a really vibrant inclusive community.  We could become a blue zone?

Dan Buettner in his book ‘Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People’ looks at solutions for healthy communities. Buettner has discovered five places in the world – dubbed blue zones – where people live the longest and are healthiest: Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California.

In my training and research into nutrition, regular exercise, meditation and social interaction certainly are standouts and the Sunshine Coast is well-positioned to become a leader. With a strong health and wellbeing community of providers and researchers on the Sunshine Coast encouraging and coaching the community I can definitely see we could become a blue zone in the future.

I would like to thank the Council and the University for fostering healthy and active ageing.

Doing Practical!

Coolum and North Shore Coast Care volunteers this month who on a weekly basis are protecting our natural environment. Photo: Tony Gibson  

I love keeping our natural environment protected. On Sunday morning as I rode past Mudjimba a beautiful eastern grey kangaroo was just negotiating the road in front of me on its way to a conservation area. This is not a rare occasion for us on the North Shore and being able to keep wildlife and humans living within a safe home is many people’s quest.

We have seen the decline of numbers of macropods on the Sunshine Coast. Macropods are plant-eating marsupial mammals of an Australasian family that comprises the kangaroos and wallabies. The eastern grey kangaroos and swamp wallabies can live happily with us as long as we maintain habitat and pathways to beach dunal conservation areas and national parks.

It is important to maintain sustainable numbers including the breeding males in the mobs of kangaroos. Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen the loss of several large breeding males due to car strikes at Sippy Downs and Twin Waters.

Dr Elizabeth Brunton a wildlife ecologist with a passion for conservation research and urban ecology has been studying the decline of macropods on the Sunshine Coast. Recently she highlighted the decline from 110 to 13 kangaroos at the University of the Sunshine Coast at Sippy Downs. Dr Brunton sees the sustainability of macropods threatened at the university and around the North Shore and Coolum regions as a result of the airport and other urban developments.

One way to get involved with protecting the natural environment is to volunteer with Coolum and North Shore Coast Care. Why I like “doing practical” work with Coast Care is that we are regularly working to improve the habitat for our wildlife by planting and weeding to retain our native species. It only requires the commitment of a couple of hours weekly or monthly to make a difference in retaining healthy habitat.

We need people to “Just Do It” and make a commitment to nature conservation. It is so easy to become involved with very little training and the option of no meetings. As a volunteer, you will be very welcome. So if your values include preserving the native fauna and flora then you need to get involved and have some fun as a Coast Care volunteer.

Please contact me directly on 0419791860 or Coolum and North Shore Coast Care (president@coolumcoastcare.org.au) for more details.

Spring’s Seasonal Bounty

On Sunday, I visited a strawberry farm at Bli Bli and was with many other people out in the fields picking a selection of juicy, red and delicious strawberries. We were able to purchase beautiful creamy strawberry ice creams from the farm shop and cafe. Being the first weekend of the school holidays there were many young families picking and eating the great local fresh produce.

Some like us then went next door to the Maroochy Wetland Sanctuary to explore the boardwalk trails to the river. The sanctuary has an array of up to 180 bird species and other special fauna and flora. I was fortunate to see a beautiful Azure Kingfisher.

We are so fortunate to have such fertile land that can deliver wonderful fresh produce within our Sunshine Coast hinterland. We only have to go to adjoining areas close to the coast like Valdora and Yandina to find working farms. We need to retain this productive rural land as a matter of priority.

One of the greatest threats with the increasing population and climate change across the world is food security and Australia exports significant food. The prices of many of these products are continuing to increase to record levels as we feed a hungry world. We are fortunate we can locally produce beef, dairy, berries, avocados, pineapples and a range of other fruit and vegetables.

We will experience the Spring Equinox of 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness on Thursday, September 23. Let us hope the forecasted wetter spring eventuates. So far September has been dry and we need a turnaround with more than usual rain in October and November to sustain local farm production.

A drive in the Sunshine Coast hinterland will help to dispel this myth that fresh produce only comes from supermarkets. I suggest visiting some farms and maybe picking some local produce to enjoy Spring’s seasonal bounty.

By purchasing local, fresh and in-season fruit and vegetables at a roadside stall, local market or shop you are doing our local economy and your health and wellbeing a power of good. Enjoy our beautiful rural backyard.

What a celebration!

It seems some time since many of us have had the opportunity to celebrate something very positive in our community. However, last Saturday the North Shore Community Centre celebrated its 10th birthday at Mudjimba.

Locals from the Pacific Paradise Progress Association were the inspiration behind the centre being built and the then local Sunshine Coast Councillor Debbie Blumell provided the guidance and support in order to get the centre established. Ten years later the centre is led by President Richard Dennis, centre coordinator Shannon Embery and a magnificent management committee.

The programs presented at the centre are many and varied, from fundraising events; performances (drama, concerts); exhibitions; religious services; presentation nights; workshops; educational classes; health and wellbeing services; play-group activities as well as youth and senior citizens’ programs. The programs seem to be ever-expanding as the centre responds to increasing demand with the growing and diverse population located within the Maroochy North Shore.

It was a great celebration evening with fine speeches and memories recounted by the many local community members who have contributed to the success of the centre. I liked the words of praise and an analogy from our state representative Fiona Simpson who talked about the centre being a community connector and the arteries of the community providing kindness. For me also, the centre is continually redefining its purpose and it is quite organic and evolving like the human body as it needs to respond to change.

The North Shore Community Centre project has been a wide community effort for all the communities on the Maroochy River North Shore and has attracted many passionate volunteers and a small paid team of workers, which enhance its success. This team recognises the need for change, evolution and providing that continuing warm and kind welcome to all members of the community.

For me, getting the catering and entertainment right for a celebration has always been critical and we were able to experience the talents of local businesses at the birthday celebration. There was wonderful food and of course, a celebration needs a fine celebration cake to die for as the saying goes.

What a well-deserved celebration for all those who have participated in the centre’s success.

Let the team at North Shore Community Centre continue on with the great work and check out what is on by visiting them one day soon.

Who moved my cheese?

On the Sunny Coast we have been able to experience many of the things we enjoyed pre COVID19 – like going surfing or swimming in the beautiful blue ocean or hopefully still going to work to get enough money to pay bills.

However, it is not the same with activity down substantially. The airport is celebrating a flight from Adelaide and there are no flights from Sydney and Melbourne, so where are the domestic or overseas tourists? We can’t go over the border to New South Wales for a weekend.

Yes, here we are pretty well COVID free at this minute as I am writing and some of us are getting vaccinated to hopefully be able to sustain the impending storm with the opening of both domestic and international borders. I am not saying open up too quickly and I largely support the stance of our Premier.

We want to see our loved ones who do not live in this state or country for life events like weddings and funerals but are prevented from doing so due to health and safety risk management processes that protect the majority of the population.

Many years ago I was trained as a change manager and one of the tools I used was “Who Moved My Cheese” by Spencer Johnson. The process which you take participants through is based on a fable of four mice whose object is to get cheese to sustain their survival. Well, things change and to get cheese in the new world they have to change their ideas and learn anew. It becomes obvious to some of the mice without change they will suffer extinction.

The conclusion is “a positive adaptation of change requires one to abandon fear and self-satisfaction.” Who Moved My Cheese shows the need for courage, love and compassion. Hopefully, more people will be change-ready, courageous, loving and compassionate to address challenges like climate change and pandemics.

All one can do is – “Be the change you want to see in the world” (Mahatma Gandhi).

Let us try to accept and respond to change that is happening all around us every day with humility and adaptation.

Wildflower Festival 2021

A beautiful ‘Milkmaid’ wildflower – taken within the Marcoola section of Mount Coolum National Park just this month. Photo: Tony Gibson

Last weekend with another volunteer from Coolum and North Shore Coast Care, I was able to take wildflower walks in the Marcoola sections of Mount Coolum National Park to view the tiny jewel wildflowers. The flowers come in white, purple, red, and gold and are a delight to view each year in late winter and early spring.  

We had great interest and feedback from participants who enjoyed the two walks in the Marcoola sections of Mount Coolum National Park. An example of the feedback includes – “I have just emailed Coolum and North Shore Coast Care to thank them for the attention that had gone into the opportunity I had yesterday, experiencing the beauty of the Wallum heath…. An amazing environment.”

I believe Coast Care has been conducting wildflower walks since 2002 and since I have been involved it seems to have kept a great deal of interest for the community. This annual event really helps Coast Care achieve its goal to get community support. This goal is for a, “sustainable environment and protection of our unique northern Sunshine Coast landscape.”

The guided walks are nearly finished or fully booked until next year but this does not stop you undertaking your own walk, as many of the flowers are very accessible. While you will see many wildflowers on an ascent of Mount Coolum an easier and very enjoyable walk to Mount Emu from near the entrance of Coolum State High School will ensure you experience a large variety of wildflowers. Another area to view flowers is just beyond the Parkedge Road, Sunshine Beach entrance of Noosa National Park. Here you will find many beautiful wildflowers if you take a wander on one of the tracks.

It is best to go to the Sunshine Coast Council website for a brochure for a self-guided walk to get a description of the wildflowers before you head out.

Enjoy our beautiful spring and the wildflowers.  

What is your view of beauty?

On Saturday morning I dropped into the Marcoola Farmers Market to top up our supply of fresh vegetables. As I was looking around at the various market stalls, I came across an object that looked like a telescope on a tripod for scanning the night skies.

I enquired with the stallholder ‘Lilla’ who told me to take a look. It turned out to be a kaleidoscope, which is an optical device that uses refracted light, mirrors, and pieces of glass to produce beautiful colourful patterns. Mick the Marcoola Farmers Market convenor had cleverly manufactured this device to provide beauty with symmetry, design, and colours to surprise and delight those willing to take a look.

In these challenging times, it is wonderful to be able to view things in a different way and kaleidoscopes are common toys for children.  My view is that we can do with more simple pleasures like having a view of beauty through a kaleidoscope.

I think the term kaleidoscope could be used to describe the beauty, colours and light of our Sunshine Coast attractions in the late winter and early spring. As we spring into spring the days have been magnificent with a balmy 24 degrees on Sunday attracting lots of day-trippers and many residents getting out and about.

Later on my market Saturday I was able to walk within the Marcoola sections of Mount Coolum National Park looking for tiny colourful wildflowers of beauty like Milkmaids. This was in preparation for the Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival walks which is coming up soon.

Yes, my view of the beauty is well encapsulated by a kaleidoscope when I consider the natural scenes of the Sunshine Coast. The seascapes and the landscape images taken by local photographers and artists show only a tiny snapshot at a point in time.

Also, it is important to be compassionate around COVID and the desperate plight of refugees from Afghanistan. We need to provide love and compassion supporting our fellow human beings and at the same time looking for beauty wherever we can.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I choose to see it everywhere and hope we all do.

Why do we live here?

Recently, we were able to support a family member in Brisbane who had to access a Queensland Health hospital for an emergency surgical procedure. The family member had previously accessed mainly private health services and was very pleasantly surprised by the efficiency and quality of the public health system.

I appreciate the very valid concerns about waiting lists for non-emergency treatments in the public health system. Like Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast today has high standard health services with the public Sunshine Coast University Hospital and a range of private hospitals like Buderim Private Hospital. Sunshine Coast residents are fortunate to be in close proximity to these services, which have been foremost in people’s minds with COVID, an ageing population and the prevalence of chronic diseases in the community.

In addition, to the high-quality health services on the Sunshine Coast, there is the increased advantage of having a diverse suite of medical practitioners such as medical doctors, nurses, therapists, cleaners, wards staff and receptionists to name a few. These roles increase employment opportunities for young people after completing their schooling and people in turn migrate to the coast.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics Census, which was recently completed, will help to ensure up to date data is available for planning health services but also ensuring that education and training services are adequate to ensure we have sufficient skilled individuals to deliver services. Also, we will need affordable places for health, education and training workers to live in which will be close to their place of work.

I think the reason many of us live here is that we have had planning and an acceptable level of service delivery for the 350, 000 people who now call the Sunshine Coast home. I know there are plenty of different opinions and there are opportunities for improvement with the census critical in supporting further planning as the population grows. We will need strong advocacy by the community to ensure politicians and planners listen.

Yes, I know why I live here with good services and a wonderful natural environment of beaches, bush, rivers and mountains it is hard to beat. Also, because nature and community are connected and sustained for that great lifestyle we enjoy.

Woo Hoo! Yay! Thank Goodness!

While patience is one of those ancient jewels, which many of us have a limited store of, the announcement that the latest lockdown would end last Sunday for SE QLD was cause for celebration. You might have had a Woo Hoo! A Yay! Or a Thank Goodness! Or some other expression or feeling of delight due to things changing for the better.

When we look around, living on the Sunshine Coast through the most recent lockdown was not too bad. You could get out for exercise up to 10 kilometres from home in an uncrowded, clean and green environment. Wonderful winter weather with clear skies and sunshine abounded most of the time and meant many of us could nestle down and stay put in our homes.

Ancient wisdom tells us in “Restoring Order” – “Excessive laws result in poverty and dishonesty. Using force results in violence. Selfishness and cleverness only create greed and exploitation. The wise person governs others using honesty and fairness. When people are trusted and given responsibility they become honest. Self-mastery is the consequence of being, not striving. This is the way to enjoy a simple and wholesome life (Dao Te Ching).”

The COVID laws are resulting in poverty and dishonesty and the sooner a large percentage can get vaccinated the better. I believe largely our governments are trying hard to be honest and fair but certain individual freedoms and beliefs are being sacrificed – as occurs with such laws.

We see that in cities like New York after much death and suffering it appears that a level of normalcy has returned with a large percentage of people being vaccinated.

My partner and I were fortunate to have recently completed our course of AstraZeneca vaccines and our son and partner in Sydney chose this course after talking to their GP. When you love to travel around the world, getting vaccinated has been the health precaution, I have chosen to take or it has been mandated.

We do need to consider the economic, social, cultural and environmental impacts with much of the population seriously impacted by the lockdown and COVID restriction process. Yes, everyone is entitled to a simple and wholesome life.

Going for Gold?

Tony Gibson reflecting on a visit to Japan and hiking around Mt Fuji – all inspired whilst watching the Tokyo Olympic Gamer over the past week. Photo: Contributed

Back in March, I wrote about “Olympic Dreams” and discussed the necessities for fulfilling the dreams of excellence in sport. I suggested with the plan to use existing facilities, investment in social housing, national parks, sport and recreation, and development of rapid transport infrastructure it should provide a long term benefit. The successful bid for a 2032 Olympic Games in South East Queensland is behind us and the hard work starts now.

It has been very enjoyable seeing the success of the Australian contingent at the Tokyo Olympics and this has been a welcome distraction from the COVID lockdown that we all currently find ourselves in.  So many gold, silver and bronze medals for those Australian and other countries’ athletes who have worked so hard – it has been very emotional and gratifying seeing the triumphs and disappointments.

I have particularly enjoyed seeing the mountainous countryside around Mount Fuji highlighted in the bicycle road races. It reminds me of my short time in Japan trekking in the foothills of Fuji with the elusive mountain shrouded at times in cloud-like our local Mount Gul’um.

However, there is a big difference between South East Queensland and the megacity of Tokyo.  Tokyo is probably the biggest megacity on Earth and it has many problems with its monsoon climate zone and location on an active earthquake and a volcanic belt. Tokyo has lost many of its population because of catastrophic floods, high tides and earthquakes.

We are fortunate that currently, we do not have the population problems of the Tokyo region but we have to ensure we plan around challenges like climate change, coastal low lands and increasing population pressures.

I see our Olympians leading the way with a message of how important a life full of positive health and wellbeing is and this has been a unifying purpose for all Australians as we aim for a successful and sustainable 2032 Olympic Games in South East Queensland.  Yes, “Going for Gold” for me means a focus on health and wellbeing and combining modern sport and health science with ancient traditional approaches. 

A correction from last week’s column and thank you to my readers as Eudlo Creek flows directly into the Maroochy Estuary.

Why Explore the Maroochy Valley?

Eudlo Hall. Photo: contributed

I love to explore and get to know different places and people particularly finding some of the connections to our Maroochy River north shore. One such place is the tiny hamlet of Eudlo which is on Eudlo Creek that flows into Petrie Creek and finally into the Maroochy River.   

In many ways Eudlo is more a rural district from the Blackall Range in the west and it is bordered by Palmwoods and the Mooloolah Valley. It is a very green treed area with Eudlo Creek National Park and small acreages for country living, which have so far escaped new residential and industrial estates.

We rely on the maintenance of the creeks and estuaries like Eudlo Creek as largely low density green spaces to ensure the water quality of the Maroochy and provide connectors for wildlife from the country to the coast. The biodiversity of our coastal conservation areas will be significantly impacted should the land use change to be more urbanised or used for industrial use which is now progressing closer to the coast.

The hamlet of Eudlo has a community hall, state primary school, a café, general store, post office, rail station and only a few streets of houses. The preservation of the character of such a quaint historical town with the biggest events generally being the occasional market at the hall is important for everyone on the Sunshine Coast’s heritage, health and wellbeing.

The “biggest thing” to happen to Eudlo was the visit of the Dalai Lama to the Chenrezig Buddhist Institute some 10 years ago attended by thousands of people. The Institute which is on a largely forested acreage just below the Blackall Range welcomes visitors to the goompa, gardens, shop, library and Big Love Café upon making bookings.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is also the author of many books like the “Art of Happiness – A Handbook For Living”.  A spiritual leader who encourages us to be compassionate, serve others and see “the very purpose of our life is happiness, the very motion of our life is toward happiness” is sure to be popular.  Go explore our valley for happy days and a quiet peaceful experience.  

No man is an island?

22nd July 2021

It was one of those magical winter days last Sunday when the sea is so calm, the sky and sea so blue and the water and air so clear that you can see forever or maybe just across the water to Mudjimba Island. I mused with the thought of going and living on the island for a while – as free as a bird.

English poet John Donne famously wrote that “no man is an island,” comparing people to countries, and arguing for the interconnectedness of all people with God. It is generally held to mean that every member of the human race must, at some point, seek or need contact with others.

This basic need for contact is being severely tested with COVID mask-wearing, lockdowns and a myriad of regulations. We were just hearing the latest COVID regulations were being tightened meaning that some of the important connections and celebrations of milestones like family birthdays were going to have to be postponed once more.

In our community, there are feelings of anger, anxiety and frustration as sporting teams and politicians were flying here and there around the world but our loved ones and those not as well connected were not getting the same privileges.

I had been so fortunate over the weekend to take a walk in a national park with a friend. Also, we looked after our grandchildren while watching my son and daughter-in-law participate in the Jetty to Jetty Fun Run with thousands of happy people.

The constant media coverage of the unfolding COVID challenges at times make us feel like taking refuge and being alone on a beautiful island like Mudjimba Island. With the weather the way it is you could snorkel with the turtles enjoying the corals and other wonderful marine life whilst just catching enough fish to fill your belly each day!

Of course this is not realistic as no person is an island. Without the regulations protecting Mudjimba Island national park values would suffer.

It is time to again recognise our interconnectedness coaching each other with generous loving hearts and observing the regulations for everyone’s health and wellbeing.

Does humility, calm, resilience and respect work?

15th July 2021

Mangrove wetlands at Maroochy River Conservation Park near Twin Waters – we should all be doing something to preserve our natural environment. Photo: Tony Gibson

Does humility, calm, resilience and respect work?

last week was NAIDOC week with a theme of working to heal the land or country. On the Sunshine Coast Kerry Jones – Kabi Kabi traditional owner opened the celebrations in Nambour at the Council chambers. “ Heal Country” called for stronger measures to recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage.

Kabi Kabi’s Linden Davis also indicated that we all have a role as custodians to heal the land and I see the work of traditional owners and conservation groups working to protect the natural environment particularly pertinent to this healing. The work to rehabilitate plant and animal communities such as protecting the water mouse and mangroves at Bli Bli on the Maroochy River, or protecting pandanus on the coastal dunes to heal country are examples.

I find the resolve and determination of many of our traditional owners inspirational and they have so much to teach us about this country. The humility, calm, resilience and respect of our Kabi Kabi elders provide the type of leadership we need in Australia.

Like many of you on Saturday night I was up late to watch Ash Barty inspire us with her ability on the tennis court as the world number one female tennis player won the Wimbledon Tennis Final. Ash is a great role model and humility is one of those things that really great leaders possess.    As Ash says she aims to be a good human being – kind everyday and this certainly comes through in her attitude to life.

Her mentor and indigenous trailblazer Evonne Goolagong Cawley describes Ash’s humility and hard work. Ash made special mention of the way that Evonne had inspired her to reach the pinnacle of world tennis when receiving the trophy.

Yes, humility, calm, resilience and respect really does work and all Australians would be proud of the efforts of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians who can inspire us in endeavours to make it a better world. 

Measures that recognise, protect, and maintain all aspects of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and heritage need to be our focus as the custodians of today.

We should show gratitude?

8th July 2021

The Point Glorious lookout, which is located just up from Yandina – a place where gratitude prevails. Photo: Tony Gibson

When I think of being grateful it seems to me it is about opening the heart, being kind to yourself and others, and being positive and mindful. Why I have started to think more about being grateful is certainly our experience with the COVID pandemic that has been a prompter.

We have just come out of another lockdown and the death toll in comparison to countries like USA, Britain and India is relatively small. Many older and more vulnerable people have been able to at least get the first jab for the vaccine and by the end of the year hopefully the Australian borders will start to open up.

My experience of the restrictions have been quite good, though this is not everyone’s experience and having loved ones overseas, losing jobs, wages or business are significant downsides.  Therefore, businesses and wage earners need some financial compensation for these forced lockdowns.

Our outdoors or open spaces have received an appreciation from the community whether it be at the local park, beach or national park – these places mean we can easily socially distance.

On Sunday after the lockdown finished we headed for the hills for a picnic in the bush. A favourite spot with 180 degree views is Point Glorious at the end of the Blackall Range. Point Glorious is just up the road via Yandina and Cooloolabin with the final stretch recommended for 4 wheel drive or high clearance vehicles.

Places like Point Glorious are at our backdoor and it is easy to see why people are moving here and pushing up property prices. We have a housing crisis with people sleeping rough and in their cars. We need to open our hearts and be kind to those less fortunate with social housing a starting point.

I certainly feel positive and mindful due to the way the pandemic was managed by governments but access to vaccines for all ages is now critical in order to avoid further lockdowns and get back to business and personal lives as normal.

Yes, we should show gratitude and ensure our country remains the lucky one for all citizens, non-citizens and refugees.

In my backyard?

1st July 2021

Alan Hayes (centre) and North Marcoola coast carers in June 2021 – why not join a local environmental group such as coast care and help preserve and maintain the flora and fauna in your own back yard. Photo: Tony Gibson

I am a citizen of the universe and call the planet earth home. I am not one of the mega rich like Richard Branson (VIRGIN GALACTIC) and Elon Musk (SPACEX) and have the resources to start looking for new places to live away from earth’s gravity.

The planet Earth is our precious home for humans, plants and animals and we have international agencies like UNESCO to protect the world’s heritage and potential future threats. Whilst here on Earth I am quite aware of threats to the planet caused by climate change and acidification of our oceans, and I realise there are solutions to the problems of fossil fuels like renewable energy from the sun, wind, and water.

In 2013 I made submissions on behalf of Coolum and North Shore Coast Care under the federal environment legislation against the proposed Carmichael Coal mine and railway in central Queensland. This was due to the failure to provide and assess greenhouse gas emissions and ensuing global warming, rising ocean level and ocean acidification externality impacts. This was on the Great Barrier Reef NP, Commonwealth Marine Reserve environmental resources and on coastal communities throughout Australia.

The environmental impact assessments submitted by Adani Mining were inadequate in failing to address strategic sustainable development mandates of the Queensland Government’s Sustainable Planning Act (2009) (the Act), and its goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For nine years Coast Care has been going to the Great Barrier Reef undertaking environmental works. The interdependency of our oceans has been appreciated for a long time and work on the Sunshine Coast to protect the environment flows across our Earth.

Thank you to UNESCO scientists for the draft recommendation to list as “in danger” the Great Barrier Reef – the greatest living thing on this planet as this is in everyone’s backyard who lives on the Earth.

This draft recommendation gives hope of change and that we will get support of the international custodians.

Thank you to all the environmental groups and volunteers working to save the planet and give us hope. It is a very beautiful and fragile planet so why not consider joining a group to look after your backyard?

How can we restore hope, rebuild trust and inspire optimism?

24th June 2021

We travelled to Brisbane by car last Friday. The journey took us 6 hours in total to travel the 200km return from Marcoola even though we tried to avoid peak hours.  We have used the train from Nambour for this journey a number of times.

Also, earlier that week I had attended the OSCAR (Sunshine Coast peak residents group) meeting which was considering responses to the Sunshine Coast Regional Councils’ mass transit strategy. The strategy has identified a range of options though there is feeling in the community that the light rail option is the clear preference from Council.

There have been concerns about the lack of transparency by Council in the process and for me the proposals appear to be a Trojan horse for increased population density development.

The Federal member Andrew Wallace has indicated that he will not support light rail and should the Council go it alone we can see a significant transport levy for all Sunshine Coast ratepayers. I would like to see high speed rail to Brisbane and improved bus services, but without funding and levels of government working together this will not occur.

We would need continual road traffic gridlock crises for a good public transport strategy to develop. On February 29, 2020, Luxembourg became the first country in the world to make all public transport in the country free to use. A public transport strategy that includes no charge for users sounds inspirational to me.

There is much behaviour change necessary to get people out of using private cars and here at Marcoola the roads are not yet in crisis. The urban densities like that proposed for the Sekisui site at Yaroomba could increase traffic considerably and bring on a crisis.

Author Hugh Mackay in the Kindness Revolution believes that we can see positive changes happening and the COVID crisis showed we could work together. He comments that we will get more “constructive and collaborative politics” that we can trust. 

By acting with kindness and demanding that our politicians operate from the same values we can hopefully restore hope, rebuild trust and restore optimism.

Who loves the Sunshine Coast Show at Nambour?

17th June 2021

Fruit displays at the Sunshine Coast Show, which was just held over the past weekend in Nambour. Photo: Tony Gibson

Our Sunshine Coast Show has just finished for another year and it was cancelled last year due to COVID. The rural show which is held in the green hills of Nambour has become one of those go to events where we enjoy the nostalgia and honesty of a much simpler time.

I experienced an early childhood in regional Tasmania with my grandparents on the family farm with dairy, mixed crops and a small orchard. Occasionally I helped out with the mainly friendly jersey cows at milking time. There was not much to be purchased from the shops with vegetables, meat and fruit all produced on the farm.  My granny would make preserves of fruit and vegetables plus bake beautiful cakes and biscuits.

Each year when the Devonport Show came around granny would enter her cakes, biscuits and preserves in the show competition as well as enter displays sourced from the garden with floral art.  

When moving to Marcoola and living only a short distance from the Nambour Show grounds we started to make the Sunshine Coast Show an annual event finding the charm of the smaller regional agricultural show.

I find there is so much love and attention that goes into the Sunshine Coast Show and try to get around to all exhibits, wood chopping, ring events, art and handicrafts, farm animals and much more. This year the winning iced cake was a beautiful turtle cake and the love theme came across in many of the wonderful handcrafted quilts. Of course there are plenty of tasty food, beverages and side show alley attractions to enjoy as well.

Clearly, I love the Sunshine Coast Show and so do many other people with over 8,000 people attending on the Friday public holiday. The bringing together of the rural and other regional people for a celebration of what we treasure in our community is special.  I really was impressed by the young girls and boys competing hard in the woodchops or leading feisty cows around the show ring following on family traditions.

Yes, there is a great deal of love in Nambour especially at show time.

Is our environment worth celebrating?

10th June 2021

Previous World Environment Day Festival celebrations at Cotton Tree Park. File Photo: Tony Gibson

Last Saturday was World Environment Day, which has been an important date on my calendar for many years – usually with attending celebrations at Cotton Tree Park or at the University of the Sunshine Coast at Sippy Downs.  In the past I really enjoyed what was a real festival atmosphere with people of the Sunshine Coast coming together with colourful stalls, displays, music, speeches and tasty foods.

This year with COVID restrictions the celebrations were more modest across the region and at Marcoola we continued on with our regular monthly Saturday tree planting and weeding on the dunes at South Marcoola.  I was able to continue my personal celebration of World Environment Day with a walk in the Noosa National Park.

However, an incident that morning between a kangaroo and a motor cyclist on the David Low Way where the cyclist ended up lying in the middle of the road highlighted, yes we still have native wildlife needing protection.

Also, a walk within the Mount Coolum National Park several days earlier and coming across three beautiful swamp wallabies had given me the hope that in 2021, we still have a wonderful legacy to share with the wider community, our children and grandchildren.  My partner had come across an echidna while crossing the Marcoola to Yaroomba Conservation Reserve to the beach several weeks earlier and her excitement was wonderful to see.

I really believe our environment is worth celebrating and had just completed an expression of interest for Coolum and North Shore Coast Care for the Sunshine Coast Wildflower Festival in August and September.  This festival is being organised by the Sunshine Coast Council and supported by environment groups and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service. The wallum heath will shine with touches of white, purple and gold and we just need to take a short walk in nature to enjoy it.

I give thanks to the Kabi Kabi traditional owners and the elders past, present and emerging who have managed this land for 60,000 years and hope more and more people will take on a custodianship role so that future generations will be able to celebrate.

Olympic Dreams

4th March 2021

Like many others, I enjoy regularly swimming in the Coolum Pool and have moved from competitive swimming to being a lap swimmer as part of a fitness program. The pool facilities are in high demand with surprisingly many schools not having a pool. The public pools at Cotton Tree and Nambour are in high demand being the closest other public pools. By having facilities like the public Coolum Pool and the private St Andrews College pool, we can aspire to be Olympic champions.

To fulfil the dreams of excellence in sport it is necessary to have world-class facilities and the investment in sporting and recreation infrastructure available. It appears the priority will increase with the potential for a 2032 Olympic Games in South East Queensland.

With people wanting to move from capital cities to the regions without COVID, the pressure put on transport, affordable housing, the natural environment and sporting and recreation facilities continues to grow.   

I have looked at research on the advantages and disadvantages of holding the Olympic Games around the world.  With the plan to use existing facilities, investment in social housing, national parks, sport and recreation and development of rapid transport infrastructure – these key items should be a long term benefit.

Further investment in sports science and centres of excellence for sports like cycling, swimming, triathlons, surfing or kite surfing will be required for the Sunshine Coast to be able to participate as a South East Queensland Olympic Games partner. Some long-term jobs in sport and leisure as well as the tourism industry should flow from this event.

People have moved to the Sunshine Coast for lifestyle, health and wellbeing and a clean and green natural environment benefits. The greater ability to work from home has meant many jobs can be undertaken while residing on the Sunshine Coast rather than a capital city to enjoy these benefits.

There is a need to ensure we have diversity and equality for people and wildlife having a place to call home as well as letting us aspire to win an Olympic medal. We need nature and community connected and sustained for this to work.

Everyone is a surfer?

11 Feb, 2021

Waves at Point Perry. Pic: Tony Gibson

At the end of last week lots of vantage points like Points Perry and Mudjimba were filled with spectators watching the large waves crashing on the shores. The advanced surfers were out there testing their skills on the steep faces and I got to see some advanced surfers on the Sunday morning with some of the rounds of the Mudjimba Boardriders competition. 

Everyone is certainly not an advanced surfer and many of us may never or rarely paddle out to ride a wave but the appreciation of the five elemental forces or energy in nature should be fundamental to our wellbeing. The five elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) are fire, earth, metal, wood and water, and how our body and mind interact with nature.

The five elements are based on the natural rhythms of our planet and universe and we have those natural rhythms within each of us. The human body is 45 to 75 per cent water so many of us have this great affinity with the water. 

I recently reread the “The Zen of Touch – The Art of Zenthai Shiatsu” by Gwyn Williams, a Mount Ninderry resident and an avid surfer. Gwyn describes “Oneness with the Elements and how spending time in the ocean, surfing until my arms can lift no more, remains my favourite fill-me-up pastime. I describe it to my friends as my health-pill…”

We may not be spending significant times in the ocean like champions Isabella Nichols or Julian Wilson or surfing the huge rollers on the point breaks. However, we can all work with the elements in nature to find that state of wellbeing. It is wonderful that champion surfers can make a living and lead in what has become an important industry to the Sunny Coast.

Not everyone is a surfer but we can all enjoy the energy in nature with a swim or bathe in the nourishing and refreshing waters of the clear and clean ocean, river or stream. 

We still will have plenty of opportunities to enjoy the natural elements in our piece of paradise here on the Coast as long as we all continue protecting the natural environment.

Adopt a local patch

4 Feb, 2021

Asparagus Infestation Maroochy River Conservation Park Near Twin Waters. Photo: Tony Gibson

On Saturday it was great to see Surfrider Foundation coordinating a Clean Up For Hatchlings site at Marcoola. This annual event overseen by the Sunshine Regional Council from Coolum to Caloundra is really important to get the community involved in appreciating and maintaining biodiversity.

I had been able to bin some cans, water bottles and plastic packets on my walk in the Maroochy River Conservation Park. As a member of Coolum and North Shore Coast Care working with the community and government agencies, I am committed to preserving the natural environment keeping our beaches and waterways clean and maintaining habitat for wildlife.

If everyone could adopt a local patch to keep clean, weed and plant trees we would be much better off. By this patch I am not just talking about your own yard but going a bit wider to your local park, conservation park, beach reserve or other public spaces.

With the population expansion on the Sunshine Coast and South East Queensland generally more people are living in higher density communities. There is limited open space and much pressure on public spaces with this change. The difficulty in getting a car park space close to the beach on Australia Day in Coolum and on the North Shore was an example of the challenges to be faced. 

The Councils and the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Services support a range of volunteer bush and dune care groups along the Sunshine Coast and I invite you to adopt a local patch and get involved on a regular basis.

While it might suit some people to volunteer their time during the week, at Marcoola there is also the opportunity to undertake revegetation work on Saturday mornings.

You can email me at tony.gibson@spirit3h.com.au or phone 0419791860 and I can assist you with further information on getting involved.

I am grateful for a wonderful natural environment but the challenges of climate change and increased population mean we all have to work together to retain our special places. By acting locally by adopting a local patch you can make a difference.

Reflect, Reconcile and Heal

25 Jan, 2021

Maroochy Reflections. Photo by Tony Gibson

This Australia Day weekend was much quieter with Australian flags appearing outside houses in our Marcoola streets. There were few official celebrations in the community with COVID and Australian indigenous people seeing 26 January as a sad survival day.

I think it is important to celebrate a national day and it was interesting while travelling in India to see very happy people celebrating the Indian National Day. This was firstly celebrated on 15 August 1947 following independence from the British after a non-violent independence movement led by Ghandi

I can appreciate how indigenous people see the 26 January, 1788 first fleet arrival date as the invasion day. The British did not recognise the land was occupied by a culture that had existed for 60, 000 years. I believe the date of federation of the states may be a better date but I would be happy to see a date that all Australians can celebrate.

The Happy Australia Day song by Luke O’Shea on the history of black and white won two (2) awards at the Tamworth Country Music Awards. This song asks for “respect as we all love this land and everyone drinks from the same poison well”. There is a need for much healing with all Australians acknowledging the history of dispossession and deaths with the invasion.

Australia is one of the countries not to reconcile with its indigenous people. Canada and New Zealand have treaties with their indigenous people to ensure rights and respect. Like these countries there needs to be education of all Australians about indigenous culture and their connection to country.

Indigenous peoples have poor outcomes in health, high rates of incarceration in prisons and land rights recognition dragging on. It is time to work for human rights that make Australian indigenous people fairly treated.  Action for crown lands like the Maroochy River Conservation Park under native title and legal custodianship are overdue.

We need to reflect, reconcile and heal coming together to celebrate Australia Day in a wonderful lucky country for indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.


18 Jan, 2021

Marcoola Markets. Photo contributed: Tony Gibson

Who loves food like that served at the Friday night street food market or purchasing the ingredients at the Saturday morning fresh food market at Marcoola? I certainly do and I particularly like Asian cuisines from India, Thailand, Japan and China not far across the seas in our modern world.

Our culture in Australia has been formed by the waves of refugees. I believe many of us could be considered former refugees and we have only been here a couple of hundred years that is apart from the Traditional Owners who have been here 60,000 years. Many people early on in the 1800s came from Europe, China, Afghanistan or the California gold fields as largely economic refugees to make a better life in a new place.   

A definition being “an economic refugee is a person who leaves his or her home country in search of better job prospects and higher living standards elsewhere. Economic refugees see little opportunity to escape poverty in their own countries and are willing to start over in a new country for the chance at a better life.”

I was fortunate to go to a high school in inner Brisbane which was a melting pot of different cultures Chinese, Russian, Italian and a large Greek contingent who were the more recent arrivals in the 1900s. Many of these families had escaped war, persecution and were seeking asylum or were economic refugees.

Recently, I enjoyed the wonderful inspirational story “The Happiest Refugee” by Anh Do.  Anh suffered starvation at sea and a perilous journey being robbed by pirates as his family escaped Vietnam for a life in Australia.

Anh the storyteller is probably better known as a comedian, artist and interviewer.   Anh’s simple view of Australia is “what a great country!” and he and his family are continually giving thanks like so many who have come across perilous seas.

The Sunshine Coast is becoming more multicultural and we are all benefiting from a diverse multicultural Australia. Thank you for the gifts and special skills of the happy refugees.


11 Jan, 2021

A SLSQ Red Flag on Marcoola Beach may have served as a greater warning over the recent welcoming in of the New Year. Photo: Tony Gibson

Last Sunday the trees were bending and flexing with the strong wind and rain and the waves were pounding on the beach. This had persisted for days and this is often the experience in our wet and windy summer weather here on the Sunshine Coast.

Considering the recent dramatic changes like COVID lockdowns in Greater Brisbane and hot spots at Maleny in the hinterland, it seemed that the red flag on the beach was much more than a warning about dangerous surf conditions but a potentially dangerous start to the New Year.

The New Year is still young, however we have experienced dramatic events requiring the population to be alert, courageous and flexible to deal with rapidly emerging changes and uncertainties.

Across the world in the USA the pandemic was taking a deadly toll and the foundations of liberal democracy were being challenged by the outgoing President and his poorly led supporters. Luckily we are fortunate to have so far managed the pandemic more effectively and we have a much more effective and stable parliamentary government and emerging national cabinet leadership process.

As Dorothea Mackellar tells us in “My Country” we live in a land of “droughts and flooding rains” plus cyclones, bush fires and much more. We write many songs and poems to chronicle these special challenges and develop folk legends about how we are able to overcome adversity.

As the ancient wisdom tell us “a branch that is rigid is easily broken …The ignorant person’s strength comes from force and rigidity, eventually resulting in suffering. The wise person’s strength comes from flexibility and gentleness”.

My hope is that we will all rise to the occasion showing that we can be compassionate and flexible as I can see that everyone has a leadership role and these attributes are already present in many of our community members.

Welcome to 2021, a time of change with the need to be compassionate and flexible ensuring that you take responsibility for your health and wellbeing and this is reflected positively across the entire community.