A New Start to a New Year………………..25/1/2021

shadow 2 - New Year

Interestingly, I have realized while reflecting on the year just gone by, and future-gazing into 2020, that my paintings, some of which I recently saw again almost 40 years after painting them, are mostly in better condition than I am.

I deeply appreciate the fact that many families are already passing them on one generation to the next, and it cheered me no end to realize that these artworks will outlast me by many years.

Paintings are timeless, and what they depict are, or will be, the history of mankind, and that in itself is timeless. Just think of the great Art Museums of the World and how people flock to them to gaze in wonder at their treasures.

May your life be filled with beautiful art in 2020.


Mount Coolon Pub


Some years ago, we drove to Mount Coolon.

Always on the lookout for intriguing painting subject matter, I had heard from a friend about the potential of the old mining area. With its shacks, old pub and derelict gold mining machinery it was perfect for my love of old, rusty buildings to paint. The location was isolated, and therefore, the subjects still would be untouched and unique.

It took much effort to convince my husband to come along. I was reluctant to go by myself because of the isolation, not knowing what to expect. Despite having explored many areas on my own before, this trip sounded like a two-person job.

Mount Coolon is situated about 90 kilometres inland off the Gregory Highway which connects Charters Towers to Emerald. If you were to continue on past Mount Coolon, it would be another 125 kilometres to reach Collinsville and then onto Bowen and the Bruce Highway.

We were not well informed about this small settlement when we set off. Our overnight stay and meals at the pub had been booked beforehand, and our route investigated, but we knew very little of its history.

As we turned off the highway, my husband became concerned. The road was single lane gravel which felt spongy from recent rain. The shoulders of the road testified to the folly of moving over for passing traffic. The many bog ruts illustrated the pitfalls of black soil plains. The light grey surface of the edges of the road deceived what lay beneath—the innocent-looking crust which would crack under the weight of a vehicle into the thick, black, sticky mud below. We were relieved when we reached Mount Coolon with no traffic encounters.

If you could call it that, the township consisted of the single-storey timber pub, a tall, brick chimney, mullock heaps, rusty mining equipment, and a half dozen tin mining shacks scattered throughout the bush. The remains of a rickety timber picture theatre sat on the outskirts—a miracle that it had survived the numerous bushfires often in this area.

A hospitable woman, whose husband was away mustering, ran the pub. They had modernized the bar and dining area which, through a doorway, opened onto the lounge area. The accommodation section and lounge were still part of the original pub. The rooms came off this large lounge area—three doors on one side and three on the other. We were the only overnight guests.

A wide kitchen was at the far end of the lounge. From the kitchen, a narrow passageway led to the toilet and shower blocks—one for women, one for men. Our room was spacious and closest to the dining room. It only had two narrow single beds shoved hard against corner walls, but nothing else.

After lunch, the publican started up a conversation because, I guess, two ‘city slickers’ this far out would cause some curiosity. After telling her about my quest, I asked about the history of Mount Coolon.

She told how it had been named after Tom Coolon, one of the first gold diggers to stake a claim in the district, and how the story had ended in tragedy.

“You know,” she said, “A ghost haunts this pub, and many people have seen it. Tom shot four people here over a claim dispute, then topped himself. We’re not sure if the ghost is him or one of the ones he shot.”

“Have you seen it?” I asked.

“No,” she said, “but then we don’t live on site. My little grandson has seen him though, quite a few times in the lounge. I’ve witnessed him talking to someone. We babysit him periodically, you see. He’s two-and-a-bit years old.

One day, I saw him sitting in one of the lounge chairs yakking away to someone across from him. But there was no one there. I asked him, ‘Who are you talking to, Sweetie?’

He replied, ‘To that nice man there.’

‘What man, love?’

‘That man,’ he said, pointing to the empty chair across from him.

Other times I have seen him walking through the lounge and chatting as if someone is walking along beside him. When I ask, he always says it’s the nice man again.

I have asked his mother if he does that at home. She has said emphatically, ‘No!’

So, I decided not to get upset, as this ghost seems to like and not harm little children. Therefore, he can’t be all bad.”

Now ghost stories don’t bother me all that much, and it seems that most outback pubs seem to have their own poltergeist. My husband is skeptical of such things.

After dinner, we socialized for a while with the drinkers at the bar, then headed off to bed. The pub became very, very quiet after the bar closed. We were the only ones in the whole building.

Sometime after midnight, I woke needing to go to the toilet. I lay there for a little while wondering if I could delay the urge, or if I should wake my husband to keep me company. We had forgotten to take a torch, but there was a night-light left on in the lounge room and also in the toilet blocks. The kitchen and passageway were dark.

I padded in my bare feet and pyjamas along the lounge, into the dark kitchen and passageway towards the women’s toilets.

As I entered the passageway, I felt a strange heavy feeling following me, coming at my back. A feeling of dread consumed me. Quickly entering the cubicle, I slammed shut and locked the door.

In the cubicle, the heavy presence increased outside the door. It was a presence of pure evil. The hair on my head was electrified and felt like every strand was standing on end. My skin tingled and prickled all over. I was terrified. I even contemplated sitting there all night until the sinister spirit left, or morning arrived. I felt safe on this side of the door but had no idea what I might encounter on the outside. My heart thumped overtime! The evil was so intense! Evidently, this ghost preferred children but had no time for adults.

Gradually I gathered up my courage and opened the door a crack. Nothing to see, but evil still hung heavy in the air. Viewing the dark passageway and kitchen like a sprinter on the starting blocks, my goal was to reach the dimly lit lounge room unscathed. I ran—through the passageway, through the kitchen, into the lounge, into our room, and into my husband’s bed. The bed being narrow, my jump almost threw him into the wall.

He woke with a start and wanted to know what was wrong.

“Can you feel it?” I asked, trembling. “The ghost is here.”

“Your imagination is working overtime,” he said. “Go back to bed.”

Since the single beds were very narrow, it was a bit squishy in there.

Taking comfort in that my husband was now semi-awake, I lunged myself into my own bed. In the fetal position, arms pulled tight into my chest and back as close to the wall as I could, I pulled the bedclothes over my head. Somehow, I felt that if I kept my eyes shut tight and didn’t look, I would keep the menace at bay and be safe.

The heavy feeling of evil and dread lessened a little until I finally fell asleep.

I had never, ever, before, felt such a suffocating presence of evil.

The following day, after breakfast, the publican asked how we had slept.

“Okay,” my husband said.

She looked at me and saw my face, “And you?” she asked.

I told her about my experience and the sense of dread and evil I had felt.

“I know,” she said, “I have felt it too. That’s why we no longer live on site.”

“Thanks for nothing!” I said, “You could have warned me.”

“Well, you asked if I’d seen it…but I surely have felt it many times.”

When we headed home, we decided to backtrack our route rather than going on along a road that no one at the pub could enlighten us about.

It was an unusual trip, but I did get some great photos of the relics of the little gold mining township. I was also glad my husband had come along on the expedition, and I hadn’t been alone.


Having been through the whole book publishing and marketing ‘thing’ years ago with the book, “Sun on a Rusty Roof”, which I co-authored with Ron Edwards, I had no desire to repeat that exercise with my current books.

“Sun on a Rusty Roof” contained full-page plates of my watercolours depicting old buildings on the left page. Each text page on the right explained something about the painting opposite, and contained an appropriate bush poem or folk song from Ron’s collection, as well as one of Ron’s black and white sketches. An exhibition of the original watercolours specially painted for the book was used to launch the book at a prominent Cairns art gallery.

The book sold well for the first six months until our Queensland based publishing company was taken over by a major Australian publishing house which in turn, within a year, was itself taken over by a multi-national. This company was not interested in distributing and marketing our book anymore, preferring to concentrate their efforts on distributing and promoting the latest fiction thrillers.

Part of the original deal was that the publishing company would market and distribute the books through their distribution agents, who travelled the country visiting bookstores and the like, promoting their new releases AND checking and re-ordering sold stock. Now this no longer happened, and our sales died.

The new company gave us two choices: either they put the books in the ‘throw out bins’ of bookstores at a ridiculous price so that our royalties would be nix; or we could buy the stock at cost. Ron was not interested as he had his own books to market and sell. So my husband and I decided to buy the stock and pay out Ron for his share. I was determined not to have a fire sale of the books. I didn’t want to lose face with those who had paid full price, and I needed to be able to hold my head up in the community where I lived.

Now what to do? As it was just before the social media era, marketing the book required ‘foot slogging’ to every conceivable outlet: bookstores, tourist souvenir shops, local museums, newsagents – anywhere I thought the book would sell.

It was a great learning experience for me. I had never found it easy to promote my artwork or myself, and I found marketing the book even harder, but in the process I learned much about human nature and relating to others. My marketing area stretched north to Cape York, west to Mt. Isa, and south to Rockhampton including every small township in between, with a few outlets in Brisbane.

This required monthly follow-ups, either personally or by phone. It also required follow-up to collect payment; most selling agents wanted the books on consignment, but were not very prompt in paying for sold ones. It was scary at times. But I persevered.

It took me quite a few years, but I eventually sold the thousands of books. Today, the book is out of print and highly sought after by collectors, and only three copies remain in my collection. I still get requests for it. Eventually, we did very well out of the sale of the books, BUT it was hard work!

So you can see why I wasn’t keen to repeat the exercise with my current books. After some exploration, I decided on the self-publishing option for my new books, using Amazon as the publishing, sales and marketing option. My books are for sale on Amazon, in both hard copy and e-book format (Kindle).

However, besides selling the books online, I realised I also needed a public, local profile for the current books, “The Lone Photographer”, “Terror and Turmoil” and “Into the Mirror, into the Past”. These are quite different books from “Sun on a Rusty Roof”.

I chose a Friday evening event with drinks and nibbles at the Atherton Library for the launch of “Terror and Turmoil”. Since the book was about our experiences of Cyclone Tracy and its aftermath, I began proceedings with a sound recording I had made of cyclonic winds with the intermittent cyclone warning siren, followed immediately after with a chapter reading from the book. It certainly attracted attention and frightened the hell out of some of the people there! Besides the usual invitees, invitations were also extended to Tablelands Regional Council emergency staff, and State Emergency Service, medical and nursing personnel.

Cairns was chosen for the launch of “Into the Mirror, Into the Past”, since much of its story revolved around this city. This book is about my childhood in Nazi-occupied Holland, emigration with my parents, and growing up in Cairns from the late 1940s to the 1960s. I prepared a video of the photos and paintings I had used as illustrations, and this was played on a big screen throughout the night. At the time, the paintings were on display in a local gallery. I also did a chapter reading, as I have found people really respond to readings by a writer. A little later, I displayed the book at a school reunion and donated copies to the various schools. Word of mouth then took over.

I designed my launch invitations so that I could guillotine off the launch information, leaving the remainder as a handy brochure hand-out – much like a large business card. Launch sales for these two books were beyond expectations, and we had to place names on waiting lists to purchase copies. People did not seem to mind waiting a few weeks for their copies to arrive from Amazon.

I have yet to organize a launch of my latest book. There are decisions to be made and venues to explore since moving to a completely new life in Brisbane. Despite this, sales have been good both online and by promotion on social media and my website. I had developed an email distribution list by saving contacts from the sales data of my previous two books, and was able to notify these readers about my new offering. Because they enjoyed the previous books they were eager to read the new one.

So with Amazon you have the opportunity to sell locally, go on a marketing road trip if you so wish, and sell online. You don’t need to take cases of books with you everywhere but can ask Amazon to send your Author copies ahead.

If Amazon publishes (sells) your books, they will automatically become public. Anyone – readers, bookstores and libraries – can buy your books from the Amazon website from anywhere in the world. But isn’t that a good thing? I have sold my books in the UK, USA, Europe, Argentina and Australia – markets I would not have been able to reach myself, unless I was a James Patterson.

Using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing was a great learning experience – exciting and fun. With Kindle, royalties are paid monthly into your bank account, advice is by e-mail, and each day, if you wish, you can check the statistics on your book’s sales and progress.

For me, the Kindle royalties that flow in magically by themselves are a bonus, ‘the cream on top’, while I concentrate on selling the hard copies I’ve ordered, usually ten or twenty at a time, at Author discounted prices. As the books usually take 2 to 3 weeks to arrive, I schedule the times into my marketing program. With hardcopy books sold online, Amazon pays royalties through Kindle as well. However, no royalties are earned with the discounted Author copies you order.

I have no complaints about my Amazon and Kindle experiences, and enjoy the immediacy of the statistics and Amazon’s search engine possibilities. However, keep in mind that Amazon has more than 35 million books online, and tens of thousands of new books are added each month. Kindle has almost four million books, with tens of thousands of new ones added each month as well. For readers, this means a lot of choice, but for authors it is easy for their books to get lost in the crowd. For this type of online selling, authors need to choose the book categories and pricing carefully, and promote regularly online.

With my latest book “The Lone Photographer”, I will need to arrange some sort of public launching even though the book has been selling well on its own. It helps with publicity when I can mention that the book had rated as #1 best seller in its category and #1 best selling new release, and can post readers’ feedback on my author web site. You need to stay constantly on top of marketing so that your book does not fall into ‘the black hole’.

For me, selling and making money from the books was not my priority. I wanted to write my stories and present them in a professional-looking book format so my descendants would find them attractive enough to pick up and read. Also I did not want to outlay huge sums of money to have umpteen copies printed and sitting there as most publishing houses stipulate runs of hundreds, often thousands, of books at a time; I initially just wanted enough copies to give to family and interested friends. Amazon gives you the opportunity to print just one if that’s your wish, but you have to remember it will be ‘out there’ for all the world to see and buy just the same.

I currently have three new books on the go, working from one to the other – much like I do when I’m painting. This helps me to keep the muse in tow. I’m hoping to have at least one of these books ready by Christmas 2020.


  • KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing)   https://kdp.amazon.com/
  • Navigating KDP is easy with lots of templates you can use for the text and covers, plus an excellent help/forum with answers to anything you can think to ask.


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).


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

It’s Wet, No Kidding.


Our current weather reminds me of this painting. “It’s Wet, No Kidding” was a watercolour 60 x 55 cm I painted some time ago, of a scene I came across in the back blocks of Atherton. It had been a miserable, wet, cold day but the sun was trying to come out. The goats, sheltered from the wind by their humpy, had picked a sunny spot to dry out…….in the only little bit of sun around. They seemed quite pleased with themselves. I do have some reproductions of this painting available which are stretched on canvas and ready to hang.

If You were an Artist, What would “YOU” like to Paint……..?

Heat Haze, Richmond

If you were to be an artist, what would “you” like to paint……..?

Everyone knows how I gravitate to old shacks, houses and homesteads……..the rustier the iron, and the more weathered the timber, the better. I love painting the play of light over these structures.

What grabs you? What do you see when you say to yourself “I wish I could paint” or “That would make a fantastic painting”? What has stirred your soul??

This is an oil on canvas, I painted some years ago, 900 x 600mm, “Heat Haze, in the Back Blocks, Richmond”.

12 Things You Should Not Say To An Artist………

Amongst the Sunflowers, Ravenswood

Below are 12 comments that artists constantly hear and dislike. I have heard them all in my time; in brackets, are the responses that I would like to deliver, but am too polite.

1. “My kid could do that.”

(Ah, ha! So where is this genius — cutting a deal with Sotheby’s?)

2. “I wish I could do that but I can’t draw a straight line.”

(Unless you’re Ludij Peden, it’s not that important.)

3. “Have you painted all your life?”

(No…..not yet!)

4. “I have an aunt (cousin/brother) who paints.”

(Let me guess, on Sundays?)

5. “How long did it take you to make that?”

(Since birth.)

6. “That must really be fun to do.”

(Yes, it is — if you like poverty, rejection, isolation and public criticism.)

7. “I don’t know anything about art, but I know what I like.”

(I like chocolate too. Trust your instincts, and also read and learn a little about the subject.)

8. “If it’s local it couldn’t be good……..I buy all my art in Melbourne (Sydney/Brisbane).”

(So move to Melbourne, and tell them that.)

9. “I wish I had time to do that.”

(After flossing regularly and rearranging your knickers’ drawer, forget it.)

10. “I’d like to buy your painting, but as I check my Rolex, I realise that I have to jump into my Lexus, hop on my jet and fly to Lizard Island. If I do buy it, could I have it for half price since we could do a private deal and cut out the gallery?”

(Please, get out of my life!)

11. “I would like something to go over my couch. Could you do that in mauve, pink and teal?”

(No, buy a new couch.)

12. “It’s perfect, I love it! But I’ll have to talk to my decorator first.”

(Does he/she hold your hand through all of life’s big decisions?)

But then, of course, many people cannot understand what drives an artist, and view them with suspicion :

quote - art


An Irish Tribute for St. Patrick’s Day.

As Irish As

My tribute to St. Paddy’s Day.

While travelling, and afterwards wanting to paint some of the impressions, in Ireland, the thing that struck me most was the colour tones, and the need to change the colours of my palette. Their greens are not our greens; their skies are not the blue of our skies, and so on.

To use the same colour mixes that I might use for landscapes where I live, would make an Irish scene appear artificial. This mistake can be spotted in our state and national art galleries when viewing the very early Australian painters (convict era)…….they saw our country with European eyes and painted it with European colours. The paintings just do not look like Australia.

Any country to which you might travel has its own atmosphere. As an artist, if you want to paint it authentically, you need to suss out what it is in the colours and mood, and change your palette. Then the rest of the job is just coping with subject matter.

This was a cottage tucked between the hedges and walls on a ‘soft’ day – what we would call an overcast day with the sun trying to get through, the Irish say “Ahh, ‘tis a soft day!”.

“As Irish As”, watercolour on Arches paper, image size 35 x 50cm.