Just back from a journalistic jaunt to Lord Howe Island, a Pacific Ocean jewel with a fascinating ecology along with excellent scuba-diving and exhilarating bushwalks.

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The results will be published soon, but here’s some snaps of what I got up to. Up is the right word, with the ascent of Mount Gower (875m) a big part of the agenda. That’s the view from the summit, looking on neighbouring Mt Lidgbird.

IMGP1542 (2)The plus-sized bug resting on my palm like Fay Wray with King Kong is the Lord Howe Island phasmid (stick insect), the rarest insect in the world and thought to be extinct for many years until a mere handful were found on an offshore rock. The plan is to reintroduce them should all go well with this year’s rat eradication project.

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I’ve got two features in the summer issue of Australian Traveller, now sunbaking on newsagents’ shelves from Broome to Bruny Island. IMG_0923

First-up is a coastal drive covering almost the entire New South Wales seaboard from Tweed Heads at the Queensland border down to Ben Boyd National Park south of Eden.

It’s a tale of turtles, whales, camels, stingrays, sand-dune quad-biking, paddleboarding with stingrays and a heapin’ helpin’ of great food and wine all the way.

Then it’s time to get all deep and meaningful in the astonishing Undara lava tunnels way up in Queensland’s Gulf Savannah outback.

Read all about it!

A few weeks ago I was on Wallaroo station in outback Queensland, a bush wonderworld of sandstone escarpments, lush cycad gorges and traditional Aboriginal hand-stencil rock art. The Travel & Indulgence supplement of today (and yesterday’s) Weekend Australian newspaper has the story, titled Hands On In The Carnarvon Range. Many thanks to Justin and Pauline of Wallaroo Outback Retreat for their hospitality and Craig of Roma’s Boobook Tours for sharing his ecological expertise.

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The current Australian Geographic (July-August 2018) has my story on RangerBot, the new generation of starfish-killing robot which may one day be on regular patrol in Queensland waters. IMG_9366

Developed by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) scientists, the ocean-going robot uses artificial intelligence to hunt down and take out Crown of Thorns starfish (COTS) which, in plague proportions, are a leading cause of coral loss on the Great Barrier Reef.

IMG_9367I spoke to roboticist Dr Matthew Dunbabin of QUT about RangerBot’s capabilities and potential – and also how it has improved on the earlier model, COTSbot.

IMG_8612The new AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLER (May/June/July issue, out now) has my story on all that’s exciting and absorbing in the Ipswich and Scenic Rim area of south-east Queensland, from spectacular scenery to fabulous food to one of the nation’s most happeningly huge country music festivals – CMC Rocks.

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I rather like the cosmological theory of a world turtle holding the planet on its back. And I’ve no doubt the Mon Repos universe rests on a turtle’s shell.

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The latest issue of Australian Traveller magazine (Feb-Mar-Apr 18: Outback Special) carries my tale about Mon Repos Turtle Centre. A beach near Bundaberg (Queensland), Mon Repos is one of the South Pacific’s most important rookeries for endangered loggerhead sea turtles. The turtle research and conservation programs emanating from there are second to none. Read all about it!

 

Mightily chuffed and honoured to have my supernatural/historical short story SHARK’S ISLAND swim into this year’s THE YELLOW BOOKE, the annual collection of “original horror, ghost stories and weird fiction” from US-based Oldstyle Press. Shark’s Island (pages 123-132) transports you to the wildest outer limits of Australia’s convict past. Follow the link to read The Yellow Booke (vol iv) free online, or buy a print copy from Amazon at an Amazingly good price.

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As well as putting out the annual Yellow Booke, Oldstyle Press publishes handsomely illustrated and annotated editions representing many of the great masters of classic weird and supernatural fiction – Poe, Shelley, Blackwood, Stoker, Bierce, Dickens, James, RLS and more. Well worth sinking your teeth into!