Savannahlander art trek poster


You are invited to join me on this specially designed art trek aboard the iconic Savannahlander train departing Cairns 25 October 2017 spending three nights and two full days in Chillagoe North Queensland.

Travel will be in a relaxed style, and along the way you will be able to enjoy the vast scenery of the savannah lands. Chillagoe is a historic town based on cattle and mining. You can still see the copper smelting refinery, the wonderful limestone caves, the marble pits, mining cottages, plus the relics of bygone buildings and settlements. Shady creek beds and abundant wildlife await you. It is an experience not to be missed.

I love that part of the country, and over the years I have visited there, I have just derived such great subject matter for paintings.

Also if you are a train buff this trip must be on your list. The Savannahlander with spruced up silver 1960 vintage rail motor carriages, lovingly called the ‘silver bullet’, takes eager tourists (painters or not) out across the unforgettable savannah lands of North Queensland. The train travels at a relaxed pace, giving you plenty of time to view the scenery and to take photos. Once the train clears Kuranda we have the track to ourselves. The drivers tell the history of the rail line which dates to 1887 providing transport of tin coal and copper to the port of Cairns.

The journey commences in Cairns, with the scenery rolling along with the train from the cane fields at Redlynch to the Stoney Creek waterfalls, the lush rainforest and the Barron Gorge where water cascades over rocks on its way to the ocean. From there we move to Kuranda, and out to lands of wide horizons, ancient gorges and abundant wildlife of the outback stopping at many little towns and scenic spots along the way.

Heather Byrne, a well-known North Queensland artist with experience in leading art excursions, will be the Group Leader.

Heather’s comments – “I am looking forward to the art trek so much. I hope to create many thumb nail sketches and paintings that I can build on back in my home studio. Roll on 25 October 2017!”

Pick-ups can be arranged for Mareeba passengers.  Check out the web site –

****A List of suggested art gear will be forwarded to you on enrolment.

****A PDF of the proposed itinerary is attached below –


Hope to see you there!


Thanks to everyone for their feedback. I really did appreciate it.

By far the most popular cover was no. 1, but quite a few of you made some great constructive comments which we have taken on board. Thanks.

We have lightened the background, narrowed the spacing between the letters in ‘THE’, softened the font of ‘LONE’ and brightened it somewhat, and brightened ‘PHOTOGRAPHER’ so that the title stands out more. I have the cover displayed below, and at this stage some small changes can still be made if you have any further suggestions.

The story is about my father – his early life, his resistance adventures and activities during the Nazi occupation, our emigration hassles, our kidnapping in Singapore, the struggles in early Cairns, his photographic pioneering, his public pranks and his battle with depression. I am looking for a cover that depicts and encompasses all these aspects of his long life – not something bland, sterile or cutesy. Anyhow check it out below –


Revamped no 1

Revamped no 1


I need your help, please!

My new book is almost finished and I have to decide between two book cover options. I thought I would throw a little survey to see what my readers thought was their favourite option – no plebiscite! I will leave the vote open until Monday next week, and then tally up to see which was the most popular, and announce the winning cover. If you would be so helpful, each cover photo has a number, so just jot your preference as a reply. I also really would appreciate any feedback if you are so inclined. Book covers are the hardest part to make a final decision on, especially if there are a couple of options. Thanks very much.


no. 1

no. 1


no. 2

no. 2



Easter Bunnies


Can you find HOW MANY EASTER BUNNIES are hidden in this painting of mine – “Down the Track, Chillagoe”?

‘Be a good egg’ and POST your answers on Facebook down below. I will give you ‘the bunny count’ on Easter Sunday.


1 Front Cover

“…………..My friend next door had followed me into the remains of our house. Their house had been wiped out to the last row of bricks. She was desperate for something to wear.  Anything ……….. even wet would do!  She had made the mistake of going to bed in a skimpy, see-through nightie.  Now she stood there  – one arm over her breasts, and the other arm trying to conceal her crotch area.  The wet nylon nightie was clinging everywhere.  She may as well have been wearing nothing.

Their clothes were ‘gone with the wind’. Most people had lost all of their clothing except what they had been wearing. Her husband was standing in his very skimpy underpants as when he’d gone to bed.  So we dressed him in my husband’s old shorts from the bottom of grandfather’s old sea chest, and her in my husband’s old football jersey which went down to her knees. She was happy! The rest of the warm dry clothes in the sea chest went into dressing the neighbourhood children………….”

This is a short extract from my book – the moral being – that when a cyclone is approaching and the winds are building up, you do not go to bed unless dressed in substantial clothing and footwear. You also keep, in a plastic bag and very close to you, a change of clothing for all those sheltering with you. The winds change from bad to horrific very quickly with each new gust, and you may suddenly find it is too dangerous for you to try to collect these things. Be prepared!

We were fortunate that the large extremely heavy sea chest did not budge during that cyclone, even though everything else was blown away. It stayed true to its purpose and was bone dry inside. In its journeys sailing around the world, it had probably encountered such severe weather many times. Even in the following stifling heat, we were so happy to have its contents of winter woollies, and ‘odds and ends’ of old but dry clothing, as we were all in shock and shiveringly cold.

Read more hard-earned tips in my book “Terror and Turmoil” available on Amazon’s Kindle, and hardcopy from me.



"Misty Tableland Morning"

“Misty Tableland Morning”

Was delighted to find out during the week that my watercolour “Misty Tableland Morning” (50 x 70cm) won the Watercolour Award of $1000, at the Cairns Art Society’s 69th Annual Art Exhibition at the Cairns Regional Gallery. The show opened on 17/11/2016, and finishes 12/12/2016.

For artists, winning awards, strangely, is not about the money at all (though, of course, that is nice!) but it’s about affirmation as an artist. We have such delicate egos!! Knowing that a judge has considered all the competition, and then has given you ‘the gong’ gives you a kind of warm fuzzy feeling, only bettered by a hug from that ‘special one’ in your life.

The scene was of a farm shack on its last legs (well stumps anyway), with the mists rolling over, stuck in the middle of a paddock, in the backblocks between Kairi and Tinaroo on the Atherton Tablelands.

At this time of writing the painting is still available for sale. ($995.oo).


My oil on canvas diptych “Rising Mists, Ravenshoe” (900 x 1250 mm, $3,000) has found a happy home in Brisbane. I’m really pleased because, having been away travelling, I hadn’t had the opportunity to display it very much since I had completed it, other than the Yungaburra Village Artists exhibition at the Tablelands Regional Gallery. The space between the two panels is just the back of my easel. A diptych should be hung with a little gap, say 3cm, between.

The new owners are rapt, and find the painting uplifting and food for the soul.

Buying an original artwork (even if you have to hock the house!) because you LOVE it, will never disappoint you, and will give you pleasure for the remainder of your days. Each new day you will notice something else, something fresh, in the painting, as you gaze at it over a cuppa, or a glass or two. You will never be the same again after an original painting enters your life.

This relationship that develops between the buyer and the original artwork bought out of LOVE, does not extend to décor art bought purely with the idea of highlighting or matching in with interior decorating ideas. That arty piece will be thrown over with each new trend in interior design. Amazingly, a good original artwork will hold its own in any décor setting, and can be used as a focal point by an experienced interior decorator.

An artwork bought only as an investment will never bring that level of satisfaction either. It will most likely end up behind the door or under the bed, waiting for that day when you hope to maximise your outlay. It only promotes anxiety not pleasure.

And so with pleasure, I have parted with the painting into which I poured my heart and soul, knowing it is LOVED and appreciated. It doesn’t get better than that!!



"Furthest - Wins"

“Furthest – Wins”

Because of my two books, I have been invited to be a presenter on two of the panels at the Cairns Tropical Writers Biennial Festival. The four person panels are entitled “Living Cultural Diversity” 9.00 – 10.30am Sunday 14th August, discussing characters and situations shaped by place, climate and environment; and “Chronicles of the Region” 1.30 – 3pm on Sunday as well, which discusses stories of migration and settlement.

I’m very nervous about this as I have never been part of, nor have I attended, such a thing before. Funny……but I would have no problem with something such as these in the art field, but somehow I feel a bit daunted in the rarefied air of writing. “Nevertheless”, as they say, “I can only call it as I see it”!

The three day Festival is quite spectacular in its offerings of wonderful Masterclasses, Workshops and Panel Discussions with some superstar presenters such as Magda Szubanski, Stan Grant and others. On Friday they have the FREE All Day Book Fair of Local Authors. Check it all out on :

Maybe see you there??


2 Back Cover


The wise words from Maria Murnane – “Sometimes when people I encounter find out I’m a writer, they share with me their own ambitions of writing a book. While some of these individuals go on to reach their goals, in my experience that’s usually not the case. I’ve lost track of how many times an aspiring writer has told me that he or she once started writing a book, but then for various reasons it went nowhere. Some of the most common explanations I hear include:

*I got too busy with work/family

*I wasn’t sure where the plot was going

*I was afraid it was awful

*It seemed like so much work

*I set it down and just didn’t pick it up again

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of the above, but here is the truth: Yes, they are reasons, but they are also excuses. It’s completely fine if you don’t finish your book or even if you never start your book. No one is telling you that you must write a book. It’s your life, and you should live it as you choose. But if you truly want to write a book, you’re the only one who can make yourself do it. That’s really all it comes down to.

Much like losing weight or getting (and staying) in shape, writing a book takes discipline and commitment over a long period of time. There are always going to be reasons for why you can’t eat right every day or work out every day. Always. But if you really want to lose weight by eating right regularly, you will. If you really want to be in shape by exercising regularly, you will. And if you really want to write a book, you will.

Writing a book is challenging and scary and not always fun. And once you’re done, there’s no guarantee that you’ll sell a single copy. But who cares? For the vast majority of authors, writing a book isn’t about the money. It’s about writing a book. So if you really want to be a writer, get out of your own way and make it happen. I promise you’ll be glad you did.” – Maria.

I found this the best piece of advice I have ever read…….it stopped my procrastination, my excuses, and made me DO IT!!

2 Front Cover

“Rising Mists, Ravenshoe”


This oil painting, “Rising Mists, Ravenshoe”, is called a “Diptych”, because it consists of two canvas panels depicting the one scene, but each panel can stand alone. The bit between the two paintings in the above image is part of my easel (which is not included in the price!!)

It was first viewed by the public last Friday night (3/6/2016) for the Yungaburra Village Artists Group’s Exhibition Opening at the Atherton Regional Gallery.

This was an early morning scene I came across a few years back, on my drive to Ravenshoe to conduct a painting workshop. The last mists were just starting to lift from the gullies, whereas the main mass was already dispersing over the hills, with just some wisps here and there remaining. The golden winter morning sun had forced its way through parts of the high mists, lighting up sections of the terrain from the shadows. It was a glorious sight. Of course I was rapted too because the scene also included a couple of ramshackle buildings – just the sort I love to paint!

The exhibition continues until the end of the month.

YVA 2016 - small