The Flat Earth

I seem pretty good at ruining peoples lives lately. Do I have a sign on my head? Is there something wrong with me? I don’t think so, but I am what some would call a Tall Poppy. I’m not someone who thinks highly of themselves, like some definitions say, but someone who has achieved a lot:

“Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) is a term commonly used in Australia, referring to the expectation that poppies should grow together, and if one grows too tall, it is cut down to size… women…, like poppies, [are cut] down due to their success and achievements.” (Billan, 2019)

After the last school holidays when heaps of people came to my small village to camp, go fishing, boating and to the beach I sent an email to the council. I didn’t do it because I hate visitors or because I’m trying to ruin peoples lives, I did it because it was glaringly obvious that the visitors have different values to the people who live here. The reason I know this is because:

They drove their cars onto the beach, ruining the fragile little dune system. They launched their boats on the sandy strip next to the boat ramp and drove their cars along that beach crushing a lot of the mangroves. At the campsites they had shotguns and were shooting things in the middle of the night. They dug holes in the grassed foreshore and had fires. ALL of this stuff is totally illegal and wouldn’t be tolerated in a more populated area.

In the email I highlighted the problems above, plus gave the council some ideas about how it might be time to upgrade the toilet block and shelter shed. I was totally surprised when the council rang me up and said they were going to investigate all of the problems I’d outlined and do what they could to address them. Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that.

Council started upgrading the rest area by removing the ugly old fence and chain around the area. It looks good already.

So, they came down here, assessed things and made some decisions about what needed fixing. They didn’t ask me or anyone in the community if it was OK for them to make changes, they just did what needed doing, which is what councils do all the time because guess what? We live in a democracy.

This is what they did:

Rocks sourced by council and placed by a local earthmoving contractor to prevent cars accessing the beach. When I saw them I thought they looked great. “I love how you’ve left the gaps in between. People will still be able to get onto the beach no worries, plus look at all the new seats!” I said to the contractor. He seemed pretty pleased with the job. This will stop any further destruction of the dune and the vegetation that sits along it and the mangroves that sit below it. We could put plaques on these rocks to commemorate people from Woodgate. The rocks could be painted, carved, seats put on them, etc, etc. If you don’t like the way they look, instead of whinging, do something constructive about it.

Bollard placed by the council to prevent people launching boats on the sand. Um, hello? Are you in there? Didn’t you notice the actual boatramp? It’s only right there in front of you!! This will prevent the vegetation to the right of the bollard being destroyed and an erosional process starting up. This bollard doesn’t have to be permanent. If people want an accessible boatramp for the frail or disabled, this would be an awesome opportunity to get that going (see: change bringing opportunities).

All these things are about protecting the coast. I didn’t ask the council to come in and ruin everyone’s lives by making these tiny changes. I’m sorry, but contrary to what some people might think, I don’t actually have that power. Here are some little examples of the things that have been said to me:

“I’ve been here for thirty years and there’s no erosion. It’s exactly the same as it was when I came here thirty years ago. People don’t drive their cars on the beach.” (Hmm, I do wonder how this person might know this considering they sit on their arse inside their house all day long and the only time they go out is to hang the washing on the line, which is nowhere near the beach, rocks or bollard).

“You shouldn’t move here if you don’t like it.” (I do like it, you moron, that’s why I’m interested in making sure that the way we use the area is sustainable).

“How come the council does what you say, but when we ask them, they won’t help us? That’s not fair.” (I don’t know, maybe because all you do is whinge and aren’t effective at communicating what you want in a specific enough way and to the right person/department).

“You’re the only one who thinks like this, no one else does.” (OK, that’s great, but how do you know that and why does it even matter anyway. Besides, it’s not true because I spoke to most people about it and everyone I spoke to said it was a good idea).

“Those rocks are ugly. We don’t need those. They could have done a better job of putting them in place. They look terrible.” (I let the contractor know how unhappy they were with his job).

“You’ve done this to be annoying.” (What the actual fuck?!).

“What else are you planning?” (Again, what the actual fuck?!)

I gave good, logical responses to all of these ridiculous statements and questions, but this person could not understand anything I said even though I dumbed it right down for them by using specific examples that related to them and their own lives. They must’ve asked me three or four times the exact same thing, which was really about it not being fair that the council doesn’t listen to them, but will listen to me. They were upset about that mostly because they think that just because they’ve lived here for a long time they have more rights than someone who moved here four years ago.

I’ve noticed that people say this kind of shit a lot:

“I’ve been here longer than you!”

“We’ve been here thirty years!”

“My family has been in the area for five generations!”

Big fucking deal. That might give you a personal sense of ownership, but it doesn’t actually translate into real ownership that can be applied in a tangible reality unless you personally hold a legal title over property or effects. Everyone, regardless of age, ability and time spent in an area is entitled to the same human rights. No one person is entitled to more rights than the next and that goes for people who have lived in a place for a long time as well.

Check out how Australia was colonised for crying out loud! It’s funny that people want to claim ownership over something they don’t own by virtue of time spent, but the same people wouldn’t be willing to acknowledge the original inhabitants of this country the same way. Yet, it’s the same argument, isn’t it? And, that argument tells us that if we’re counting years spent, then Indigenous Australians would beat every single one of us   40 000 times over. Also, what does that say about contemporary children? Just because they’ve been here less time than adults they have less rights? No, they don’t. They have the same rights as the rest of us and there’s no way that most people would argue with that.

Check out these things in my little village that were once new, and required change:

Kopper’s Logs fencing. This is to stop idiots driving their cars onto the foreshore and wrecking the joint. These fences (they go all the way along the front) weren’t always here. The council put them there because they recognised the area needed them. This had nothing to do with me by the way!

Picnic table erected by the council. At one point, this was just bare ground, so things have changed since then. Again, nothing to do with me.

A bin placed by the council. This used to an area with no bins. Now we have quite a few of them. Things have changed since people used to chuck their rubbish on the ground. My doing? No.

Seawall constructed by the council and its contractors. This used to be eroded dunes. Things have changed since then and if they hadn’t, well, the foreshore and road would have likely vanished by now. Did I do this? Nup.

Cement stairs from foreshore onto beach. Constructed by the council. If these weren’t here we’d be clambering over rocks. Things have changed since the seawall was constructed. My fault? No.

My house. This was once a bare block of ground and its not anymore, that means things have changed. Did I build this house? No. Did I move here? Yes; more change.

Do you see what I’m getting at here? We can’t avoid change. It’s inevitable. It’s like that because there’s no way to control everything. I’m sure that’s fairly obvious, but do people get it, like really get it, way down deep in their bones? No, people in general despise change, especially older people. Why? The cool guy I’m married to said this, which I think is pretty awesome:

“They probably think…I should be controlling you or telling you how to live. You know how husbands did back in their day when they got married and had twenty kids by the age of seventeen, and the wives just cooked and cleaned and the husband controlled all the money. You know, back when the earth was flat…I’ts a wonder we get any change in society. You know, because all the old [people] have been here before us and lived on this planet longer. I don’t know why people move to earth if they want to change everything.”

The Flat Earth: this is where some people are stuck (image from The Conversation website).

Sometimes, it really feels like I’m from another planet. It does. The shit that people say and do and the stuff they think just blows my mind. I find it hard to understand how someone can make it all the way into their seventies and still be a moron. If someone has been here the longest, wouldn’t that make them the smartest? I mean, they’ve had the most time to learn things haven’t they? I dunno, I just can’t get my head around it, can you?

I refuse to make myself small so that other people can feel OK about their own small lives. This is my one precious life and I will live it fully by engaging with existence and applying myself to overcome challenges. This means I will achieve things that others don’t, and that’s not something I want to hide, especially if these things can inform change that can provide us with even more opportunities than we have now. And I’m certainly not trying to achieve things to show anyone up. I could not think of a worse waste of time. I’m not into mind games. I’m interested in being the best human I can be and if that means I grow taller than the other poppies, then too bad, so sad.

(Image from: Unsplash)

Don’t be small

Grow big and shade out the sun






The Power of Sock Protectors

Did you know that sock protectors have special powers? Yep, those simple pieces of fabric,held up by elastic that sit over the top of your boot can get right into the nooks and crannies of your life and bring the whole thing crashing down around your ears. Surprised? I was too.

Image: Rossi Boots website

It’s no secret, I love making shit for people. Every year I make upwards of twenty Christmas cakes to give out to my friends and family. I write stories and stupid little poems for people, I buy my friends gifts when I come across something I think they’d dig. I give money to homeless people and I give my time to charitable causes by hiking long distances to raise money for stuff I care about.

Once, at Woodford Folk Festival I bought two teenagers some books in the bookstore because they didn’t have enough money to get the books they wanted. “Get whatever you want and I’ll pay for it. Don’t worry about the price, just get it and I’ll pay for it,” I said. When one of them asked why I said, “Just because.”  After I did that I felt totally magnanimous and went a bought a stranger a coffee, then another, then another, all anonymously. It made me feel totally awesome.

This is nothing new. I haven’t set out to create trouble for anyone by being kind. In fact, I’ve been this way since I was a little kid. All through my life I’ve loved making things to give to others. I never imagined that it could turn on me.

A while back I made a good friend of mine a pair of stupid sock protectors. They were flowery and ridiculous. I knew he’d probably never wear them because of their ridiculousness, but I thought it was funny, and I thought it was fitting because we hadn’t been friends that long, so it was a light-hearted gift to give at a beginning of a friendship.

I wish I’d never made them. As a result of these stupid sock protectors I’ve been accused of some pretty outrageous shit. Quite a significant amount of assumptions have been made about me, my motives, my marriage and how I spend my time. Even my human rights have been called into question.

Because: sock protectors.

It must have had something to do with the fabric I made these particular sock protectors from because I’ve had no back lash from the sock protectors I made for other friends to let them know I value their friendship:

Peter: I met this guy when I hiked from Woodgate to Brisbane in 2019. These ones were made out of Star Trek fabric

Yal: I met this dude at uni in 2010. These ones were made out of Hawaiian fabric

Liv: I met this cool chic on the same hike as I met Peter. These ones were made out of red flowery material

Tiiu: Another cool chic I met on the hike. These ones were made out corduroy with a stawberry print

Wardy: A fella from a town I used to live in. This guy had about ten pairs; all flowery material

And, what about all the other stuff that I’ve made people over the years; bags out of old jeans and vintage sheet and curtain fabric; the jams and preserves I’ve prepared; the writing paper I’ve marbled by hand in my kitchen; the cross stitch and weaving I’ve crafted; the plants I’ve grown from seed; not to mention the stuff that my friends have made for me, like shopping bags out of old t-shirts, kitchen hand towels, cocodamas, crocheted beanies, patchwork quilts, etc, etc?

How is it that a simple act of kindness can be taken out of context and used as a tool of destruction and vitriol? I know the answer, it’s because in general, people have a hard time being able to step back and look at the big picture. I’ve noticed that it’s really difficult for people to recognise their shortcomings. I know this because I’m human too. I’ve come to learn that one of the hardest things to do in life is to take responsibility for stuff and come to terms with your accountability. It’s so very much easier to take something that has nothing to do with your situation (like sock protectors or even birthday cake) and focus on that to alleviate having to examine your own shortcomings; in this situation, an inability to see things for what they are, not what they’re imagined to be.

Basically, my gift of sock protectors allowed a person to circumvent the accountability they needed to face and shift it onto me, which, by the way, has absolute zero to do with me nor with sock protectors, but I’m pretty doubtful they’ll ever see it like that. This is where the magic comes into it. It’s magical thinking that has facilitated the great switcheroo here, magical thinking that decades, or even just a few hours of discord in a person’s life can be blamed on sock protectors and that everything will be solved because it’s all my fault, even though me and the sock protectors only came along after things had gone south.

It sucks having to deal with your own shortcomings, but unless you do, you can’t live an authentic life, and that means that you can’t ever really be properly happy. As the Cool Guy I’m Married to says, “Take the hit early”.  What he means here is, if you accept that you’re wrong, that you made a mistake, or that you basically just fucked things up, then that’s great because you can sort it out ASAP and get on with things. It’s OK to make mistakes because as humans that’s one thing we’re pretty damn good at. It’s how we’ve made it to the point where we live in civilisation; a place where most of us have jobs, drive cars, have bank accounts, watch TV, buy shit we don’t need and have running water. The life we all have now is only the way it is because we fucked everything up, but kept on learning and moving forward.

You have to own your own shit because:









Humanitarian Change

Today I was listening to some people talk about how the protests for black lives matter are to blame for a rona outbreak (guess what rona is. I’m sure you can). Hint:

You: cough, cough.

Me: uhoh, you’ve got the rona. Better go get a swab shoved ten miles up your nose.

OK, so, these people were talking about the protesters and pretty much blaming them for the outbreak. Because I refuse to consume news in any shape or form, I was only marginally aware of some protests, but didn’t really know where they took place. I also heard a story about some people stuck in a building somewhere, but like the protests, didn’t really know where this building was or any of the details about it. It’s not up to me to convince people of the objective truth (actual reality, not opinion or speculation) regarding any of this because if people are smart enough, they can find that out for themselves and that’s all perfectly fine, because that’s not what this post is about anyway.

I got to thinking about how change happens, like really big change, and if we’re to make an impact on issues that are important, like social justice, human rights abuses, corruption and climate change we can’t expect people to shut the hell up because there’s a risk of getting the rona or spreading the rona.

Nothing is ever going to be the same again and if we tell people to wait until the ducks line up to go back to putting pressure on authorities, then increasingly more and more people will suffer and change will slip further and further from our grasp. And when will the time for action again come? Who can tell. If we just keep waiting, it means we don’t have to make a decision about anything and some things are too big, too important and far too urgent to be put on hold.

Big change that is pushed by groups of people, like for instance, the people calling for change regarding the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t just about black people. This kind of change means we can all become better humans because it’s humanitarian change. The people calling for change regarding the Break the Silence movement isn’t just about domestic violence victims. This kind of change means we can all become better humans because it’s humanitarian change. The people calling for change regarding the Me Too movement isn’t just about victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault. This kind of change means we can all become better humans because it’s humanitarian change.

Do you get what I’m saying here?

Incase you don’t: being better humans is never a bad thing, just like being educated is never a bad thing, just like being more inclusive is never a bad thing, just like equality is never a bad thing, just like having human rights is never a bad thing. See what I mean?

Can anyone think of a humanitarian change that humanity has not benefited from? Can anyone think of a big, important and far-reaching change that came from not taking action, even when times were tough? I’m not asking about how stuff has impacted individuals, I’m asking here about humanity as a whole. I’m just clarifying the question because often people believe that their own personal experience and that of their immediate friends and family is realistically reflective of the entire human race’s. It’s not, in case you’re wondering, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important, especially at the individual level.

I’ve had a bit of a think about it and I really can’t come up with one.

The thing about big change is that it’s slow to happen, which is why stuff like protests can seem so ridiculous and arbitrary to people who aren’t aware of how change is brought about. “They’re all lunatics!” a man said to me once about Stop Adani protesters. “No they’re not, they’re just everyday people, the same as you and me.” He was aghast. “They’re all crazy!” I can’t imagine what he and other like him must think of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Can’t you see it’s not about the protest itself?” I wanted to shout at him. Because it’s NOT, it’s about the change that’s embedded inside the protest and if change is to happen it requires action and the action of many is always more effective than the action of a few.

The same logic of how change works operates at the individual level as well. Take for example the desire to improve your health and wellbeing. It’s never, ever going to happen if you don’t do something about it. You can’t change unless you change. We should be used to change as a species. We’ve certainly seen enough of it in our 200 000 year history, but still we are resistant to it. Why is that given the advances we’ve seen in society since civilization began, which by the way, all involved change? It kinda blows my mind when I drill right down into it because it doesn’t make much sense.

All I can do is to take charge of my own life and the things that I’m in control of. I’m not a frontline activist, but consider myself to still be involved in activism, albeit a very subtle form that fosters change through living demonstrably. I think I’m good at this and I can see my efforts starting to seep into the small community where I live. This isn’t always easy and sometimes I get hated on (much like the frontline activists do when they’re called loonies), but I don’t care because it’s my life and I can do whatever the hell I like and I’m not going to give up on stuff that I believe is important just because someone says they don’t like me or thinks that what I’m doing is crazy.

Change is where opportunity lives; opportunities to do amazing things that you never thought possible.

Let change in and see where it can take you


The Hiking Crew and Muddy Shoes

The other day I took some people hiking. I’d never done anything like this before and I was surprised that 1. People came, 2. They all liked it, and 3. They didn’t seem to think that I was a dickhead! In fact, they all said super-nice things about the experience on our local community Facebook page, which made me feel really good. Yay!

This is what they looked like when we got back. Four of these people I already knew and four of them I’d never met before:

What I bang on about throughout this website comes down to this: Don’t let fear hold you back. It wasn’t easy to put an invitational post on a Facebook group with over 600 members, especially when some of the people who use the group are vitriolic haters, but I did it and look what happened: I met four new people and the people who came on the hike all got to meet new people too, all while having a new experience. Not only that, since I put the invitation on the group’s page there has been lots of interest from the community about future hikes, which isn’t something I thought would happen when I decided to do this.

I’m always going, blah, blah, blah, people should be more active, blah, blah, blah, but I never actually DID anything about it. This shows what can happen when you take physical action and offer an opportunity for others to step outside their comfort zones or to try something new. It kinda blew my mind that it was little ol’ me that made this happen! It might not seem like a great big deal to some people, but it’s a big deal to me and who knows what kind of big deal could flow on from it.

The next day, with an inflated sense of my own greatness I took off on a 30km ride on Fatty to check out one of the new hikes I’ve mapped in the national park. I rode 7km to get to the trail head, and this is what it looked like:

At the end of the formed track my stupid little hand drawn map didn’t tell me if I was meant to go left or right, so I went right. It was the wrong way (of course). It appeared that I wasn’t as great as I initially thought! No big deal though because I know the tracks, so I could just find my way back to where I was meant to be, which was here:

That’s fine for me, but not so great for anyone else who might try to ride off into the wilderness. Obviously I need to do a lot more work for my maps to actually be usable.

About an hour away from home I’d gone back to the inflated sense of greatness I’d started out with, but that didn’t last long. At a muddy track I decided that it would be no problem to stay on the narrow dry strip between two deep wheel ruts. My mind said, nah, it’s easy, you can stay on that no worries, stop being a pussy, and then in one revolution of the pedals I was in the mud:

I was not pleased and I said some nice words beginning with the letters f and c. At least I didn’t get hurt, even though I got covered in mud and so did Fatty. I had to go to the beach when I got home to get all the mud out of my shoes before putting them in the washing machine. I felt sorry for the pelicans when they all flew over to eat the fish scraps they thought I had. “Sorry guys, it’s just muddy shoes!” I yelled at them and disgusted, they promptly flew off.

The bottom line is this: You don’t have to know what you’re doing before you decide to do it. Ducks have a habit of not lining up and if you don’t act now, you may never get to, and even if you fail (you fall off in the mud or get hated on by moronic idiots), it doesn’t matter because:

From boldness courage flows





Hikes of Fire

Last year we had some really bad bushfires in this area. The national park was closed and there was no access to the two walking trails (The Melaleuca Circuit and the Banksia Track) until QPWS cleaned them up and deemed them safe. The fire fighting effort meant that the firebreaks in the park and on council bushland were widened and upgraded. Once everything was burnt to a total crisp, it was easy to see through what had once been inpenetrable, dense wallum scrub and Melaleuca swamp, and I took the opportunity to explore areas that I didn’t realise were accessible. I got a bit excited about this and thought it might be possible to work with QPWS to develop a hiking network in the Woodgate and Kinkuna sections of the national park to begin with. Delusions of grandeur have led me to believe that the entire park (taking in the Buxton, Burrum River sections and Bingera NP) can eventually be networked with hiking trails and walkers camps similar to those found on any of the awesome hiking trails we already have in Qld. Click here for a description of what I’m talking about.

After much frustration due to the images being updated on Google Earth last month, I was able to come up with three new loops and an overnight hike. The loops all utilise the caravan park at Woodgate as a campsite. The overnight hike utilises Burrum Point campsite. Speaking as a hiker, this kind of thing is more likely to attract hiking visitors to the area because hikers like hiking and presently there are only the two short walks in the park, which wouldn’t really attract visitors who are keen on covering long distances. Basically what I’m saying here is that people aren’t going to come here for hiking because there’s nowhere to hike. In fact, this whole region doesn’t have many opportunities for long distance hiking, which is kinda silly considering the Burrum Coast National Park covers 26 000 ha, which is quite a chunk of land and is considered an ‘outstanding example of Queensland’s natural environment and cultural heritage’ according to the Department of Environment and Resource Management.

So far this is what I’ve come up with. I’m not a cartographer and I don’t expect anyone else to understand these stupid maps, but I had to start somewhere, which is what you’ve got to do if you want to make change. I do not recommend that anyone attempt to follow these ridiculous maps! Don’t do it, just don’t! I’ve emailed QPWS and hopefully they’ll come through with the goods to improve on what I’ve got and we can eventually have lots of awesome trails in this area:

This is the map I started with. You can see why I wouldn’t recommend anyone attempt to follow this!


First loop: 17.73km

Second loop: 23.68km

Third loop 21.62km

Overnight hike: 34km

These pictures are crappy, I know that, but that’s OK because there’s nothing wrong with putting yourself out there if you want to make change happen. If I waited until everything was perfect before I did anything, I’d never get to bloody well do a single thing!

So, it was shitty that we had the fires and some of our houses nearly burned down (mine included), but if that never happened I would never have come to find these new hikes that will not just benefit me, but others who are interested in living a life made of adventure.

Appreciating nature is what humans are made for and the more we can get out in it, the healthier we’ll be, the happier we’ll be and the more likely we’ll be to be able to overcome the crappy things that seek to tear us down, like fires, viruses and mean-spirited arseholes. 

Flame a new path and fire up your mind