Song Trails revisits the Cassowary Coast

At Song Trails, a three day workshop created for the Queensland Music Festival, attendees were asked to move out of their comfort zones by working with people they didn’t know as well as with new combinations of instruments and voice to create new songs.

Young worked with old, punk poppers, with folk and country stylers, and rock with country and as for instruments we had saxophones, harp, guitars, flutes, trumpet, bass and voices – high and low – all came together to do what we all loved- make music. Tully Song Trails resulted in a rhythm and blues song -Throw me in the Water, laid back pop song – Solo, a grunge rock song with parts sung in German – Gone So Long, folksy – Coming in From the Clouds (or Mother Nature) and a poetry rap with folky chorus.

The musical experience of nineteen people from the ages of fifteen to seventy eight years old filled the room and spilled over into songs written with the aid of Peter Farnan’s automatic writing and the word palettes and textural hip hop ideas of Morganics. Morganics encouraged us to look for unusual rhymes if we could and inspired us with his wordsmithing on the spot talents.

Friday evening was a time to meet and play our songs and music. Saturday, we had a morning coaching session on music followed by an afternoon of song-writing. Sunday we recorded songs followed by evening concert for the community. It was a tightly packed schedule, but there was still a time for jamming and bonding with other participants in the breaks and in the workshop time itself.

On song-writing Saturday Morganics called on us to understand the history of our genres, and move into song-writing with that knowledge. He gave us a rundown of the history of hip hop, and participants who had previously dismissed it from their thinking and style shared that they now thought there might be something worthy in a genre where music can be a weapon and peacekeeping tool to remove the need for violence in communities. The interesting artistry of hip-hop is the sampling from known pieces to create new pieces; it’s a musical collage that might be an intellectual property minefield, yet those who practice it do with confidence that their sampling will gain the respect of those they sample or be unrecognised as the original piece.

Morganics spoke about music using metaphors of art from texture to colour and through this synaesthesia blurred the lines beyond music, into paint, texture, and impressively demonstrated building a narrative from the feeling a piece of music gave us. He encouraged participants to look for unusual rhymes and reflexive rhyme.

Peter Farnan shared with us his automatic writing mode, which he knew some of us were familiar with from last year’s Songtrails, but it’s such a brilliant and trusted method to use when you have little time to work on something, to find words from the subconscious and then build them into a pattern with simple chord progressions it was employed again. He encouraged us to avoid clichés through creating distinctive pictures and using our senses.

Our group, Shirley, Rivah, Charlee and I began with Peter’s automatic method to generate ideas. Most of our group wanted to write about the cyclone. At first I quietly thought  – “Oh no, I really don’t want to write about cyclones again,” but as we settled on the trigger word storm I felt that I could live with that and we had to work fast with only an hour and a half to complete our song so making decisions quickly was important so I just went the flow.

Our subconscious revealed plenty of sound words, and Charlee’s full sentences had amazing phrases that formed the beginning of the song. Then, as we took key phrases from Rivah, Shirley and I, we found our song’s structure. Shirley guided our group, and brought us together as a team, keeping us focused and yet allowing all to input into the song. She played the guitar and found a simple chord progression and as we sang the song and bit by bit the song came together. Verses, chorus and bridge were built. We remembered what Peter said about contrasting differences between chorus and verses and applied different tempos and altered our key. Peter worked on tuning Charlee’s flute so it could blend with the other instruments.

Peter came and visited our group a couple of times, and gave encouragement and gentle suggestions. We took words out to make our song have a little more mystery and put more music into the song; we closed musical phrases needing resolution with instrumental riffs not words.

We thought of distinct pictures like: ‘Tin on the beach’ and people battening down houses. We had a storm expressed by trumpet and flute.

No wonder composers like working with the palette of a full orchestra, it’s like having a rainbow of sound at your disposal.

Then our song was born, but the journey was not over. We sang it back to the group and Peter began to shape our song here and there. He made more musical arrangement suggestions and adjusted our song here and there to give it more shape.

Still the journey was not over as Shirley encouraged our group in practice to find harmonies, and work over the piece again – and Rivah thought about how many notes on his trumpet, what key and where should they come from. Charlee found her flute contribution was changing – should she worry about that? Would she keep the same pattern? She worked in and around the trumpet.

Song Trails showed me what a band is like or could be like with a supportive environment and kind and knowledgeable managers. Our group didn’t get to record our song as there was only time to record two of the five songs written, but we did watch the recording process and on Sunday performed our song to an audience of around a hundred people from the Tully community who turned up for an open night concert. This was a magical night, with special moments like Bob Elliston and Michelle Walker singing a song dedicated to the diggers which was then punctuated by Rivah playing the Last Post on trumpet.

Song Trails was brought to the Cassowary Coast and sponsored by Queensland Music Festival, Queensland Government, APRA, Cassowary Coast Regional Council and Kareeya Hydro. It was free for all participants.

The video with this post features photographic highlights of the Song Trails weekend and is accompanied by one of the five songs composed in Tully: Solo, by Michelle Walker, Laurie Trott, Matthew Klotz and Sue Cole with mentoring and mixing by Peter Farnan of Boom Crash Opera.

It was a brilliant experience watching the mixing of this song coming together and I enjoyed mixing the photographic montages to go with it. My photographs were featured in the Sunday concert, and projected onto the wall so concert goers could follow our amazing Song Trails journey of the weekend.

First Published by ABC Open,  23 Jul 2012. 


Comments from ABC Open


  • Laurie Trott

    Well done June, you describe the process so artfully and in depth – and with the same eye for detail and flair that you bring to your photos and video. I am grateful to the Qld Music Festival, APRA, Kareeya Hydro, Cassowary Coast Council and the Qld Government for making the Song Trails possible. It certainly brought together a lot of age groups and people with different interests who might not normally get to mix much. It was fun and a privilege working with talented musicians like Michelle, Matt and Sue on our song, Solo, and such a buzz to listen to it here despite the delays (bring on fast speed broadband….!) And a big thank you to Peter Farnan and Morganics (yep, hip hop/has pulled out the stop/ on my appreciation/ of this music manifestation…) for their generosity and mentoring. Song Trails 2011 was good, Song Trails 2012 was great – what can 2013 bring?? See you next year! Thanks June, Laurie.

  • Shirley Lynn

    Song Trails 2012 was fantastic. The format for Song Trails 2012 was longer than 2013 and as a result the learning from the experience was more enriched. June did a fantastic job gathering photos over the course of the weekend and collating them with music created and recorded at the workshops. Great job June. For me it was a great learning experience and I hope to take part in Song Trails 2013 if it comes round again.

  • Pam Galeano

    Thank you, June I was in the Sunday night audience and was very impressed with the quality of work produced over such a small timeframe and I did wonder about the process. You have explained it well. What a wonderful, valuable experience you all had. Shame there weren’t more of us to appreciate the results. Congratulations – I especially enjoyed the cyclone song. Pam

Look – Don’t Touch

Mum has always loved gardens.  She used to stop and knock on our neighbours’ doors when their gardens had plants with brilliant potential cuttings.   Then she would ask ‘Do you mind if I take a cutting?’

She came equipped with her own garden gloves, shears and buckets.  I wonder what the neighbours thought of her as she harvested their gardens.  I remember being embarrassed, but she did do it with everyone’s blessing.  I don’t remember anyone ever saying no to her.

Mum loved to try and grow tropical plants in Tasmania to remind her of her original home in Papua New Guinea.  She had immense pride when she had success with her hibiscus. She has always been a determined lady in both her garden and other parts of her life.

When we were little Mum clearly told us to stay away from her garden flowers – ’Look, don’t touch.’

We had to water and weed the vegetable patch. Our vegetable garden was vital to our family’s survival as we didn’t have a large income. Our Dad was often away working as a labourer so the garden gave my Mum many hours of happiness.

She tried to make us follow the rules of her garden – things like ‘you are not allowed to pick the flowers or pick the fruit and vegetables before they are ripe.’ But the problem was I loved the delicious scent of Mum’s garden flowers and was keen to make perfumes just like the ones on her dressing table.

There was one plant in particular with a yellow mushy part that you could crush easily into a yellow powder and it made a vibrant paste for not only perfume but for making your own paint.

One day I found myself with this glorious plant busy making my perfume – how I loved  the feel of the soft yellow part of the plant – when my Mum stepped out of the back door and began to yell out and run for me – ‘No, how could you….’  I was sure I turned the bright pink of my Mum’s hibiscus.

I looked up from my perfume making efforts at my Mum’s anguished face, and glanced briefly at the very empty flower bed.  Had I really used that many flowers?

Holding my bowl of flowers forward as if it was now the best treasure of all I managed to squeeze out the words, ‘I made it just for you.’

For more of June’s stories visit her blog  Pearlz Dreaming


First published ABC Open,  500 Words, September 2012.


Comments from ABC Open Blog



  • Diane Finlay

    Such happy memories of making perfume from rose petals. I spent soooo many happy hours with my best friend raiding the neighbours gardens. The petals would fall to the ground and we’d collect them.

  • June Perkins

    Thanks Gail, Vi and Vera, for your feedback about your own experiences with gardens,and to Mum for remembering my cheeky creativity in such a kind way

  • Vera Rayson

    Love your story. Reminded me on my childhood, wenn I was stealing peas from our neighbors garden. I didn’t know you lived in Tassie once.

  • Emma

    Ha ha ha I love this, it reminded me of just being drawn to roses when I was younger and I’d sniff them and then want to take their petals to capture the heady scent… but Mum was never happy with my efforts. The petals are always so soft aren’t they!

  • Vi Jones

    Reminds me of the English gardens of my childhood. Memories are all I have, living in the desert as I do now. Lovely picture. Vi

  • Gail

    A lovely story – I love your mum, and your photography gets ever more eye watering. The juxtaposition of the fabric and flower is perfect.

  • Anna Gerard

    Tears of happiness in your brilliant story of our garden my dear. I walked down the memory lane of our garden in Devonport and West Tamar Rd and yest I remember your attempt in picking the flowers to make perfume for mum for Mum’s day.


    Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019

Food, Friendship, Fundraising

I, like many Australians, have lost someone to cancer; I especially remember a radio journalist in Hong Kong who for many years encouraged me with my writing. So it was for her and other courageous people I went to morning tea.

Australia’s Biggest Morning tea saw the library open thirty minutes early and some of it converted into a mini cafe.

Most of Tully library’s opening hours are when many people are at school or work. At these hours the library is a place for retirees, parents who stay at or run businesses from home, job seekers, tourists or banana workers on their day off and the library staff. Being a freelance writer and presently having control of my own hours I love to pop into the library for inspiration and a break from my home office.

This week the library hosted not only the Biggest Morning Tea event, but also National Simultaneous Story Time. Staff told me that earlier in the week there were over ninety kids and carers in the library taking part in story time. I think the library may well soon need an extension.

Story time happens on a monthly basis and has become a major event for the local kids and parents. They meet up with other parents, introduce their children to the wonders and mysteries of a library and take part in an interactive story event.  Yesterday they all went hunting for teddy bears. Some of whom could still be seen hiding around the library. If only they could scare away cancer!

Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea Tully event had a delicious self-serve buffet of cakes (chocolate, apple and sponges with sprinkles on top), sandwiches, tea, coffee and herbal tea.

Old friends gathered at the tables but many new friends were made as people freely mixed with others. I met and chatted with one of the library staff’s Mum who told me the story of her name, a lady who I had been running into all morning on the way to the library and who had just smiled for no reason but to brighten the day, and a lady from Feluga. We discovered we were former neighbours. I had never met her before, and we theorised this was probably because she wasn’t involved with the local school out there anymore, I am not someone who popped into the local pub at all, and Feluga doesn’t have a shop.

Meeting my former neighbour made me think about community and how it is built; through shared spaces, like libraries, shops, churches, pubs, sporting clubs and parks; and shared experiences including traumatic ones like cyclones and cancer.

The other day I ran into a friend who was in remission from cancer. She told me what a great help the local cancer support group is to her. She doesn’t have to explain or talk about cancer if she doesn’t want to but everyone at the group just knows how she feels sometimes in her recovery journey; this gives her strength. She did not initially know about this group until a local health professional who takes tai chi classes gave her details for it.

To celebrate Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea in Tully I’ve made a short music video tribute to friendship, food and fundraising. People kindly let me take photographs of them and we all shared tables together regardless of whether we had met before. Even in a small town you don’t always know everyone.

I was delighted to learn more about the people in my town. The morning tea gave me an even greater appreciation of the value of shared spaces and special events, even if it might have had a touch of sadness as we remembered friends, family and colleagues who have lost their battles with cancer.

I encourage readers to follow Petrus’s journey with cancer, a moving and honest account of what it’s like to be going through it. We may spend one day remembering cancer, but for many it’s a daily challenge.

First published on ABC Open


Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019

Anti-cloud dancing for our Cardwell eclipse

‘Let me sleep.’ Waking up early was always going to be a big ask for the teenager and almost teenager of our family. But we do wake them all up and actually go somewhere to witness the eclipse.

This special event is best if you are an astronomer, free agent, tourist, media paid photographer, or shadow chaser.

Where to go, though, is a bit of a toss-up, and we pick the direction with the least clouds that we can reach the fastest – just what you need; clouds and rain before an eclipse!

We don’t have enough time to drive to Mareeba or Flying Fish Point, which we know might have some spectacular views of the eclipse, but there’s school and work today, and therefore no eclipse public holiday to let us roam.

We go for Cardwell.

The kids are still not impressed with our early wake up, at this point, despite the spectacular dawn. There is nobody else around. Obviously they’ve found much better spots elsewhere, but a lone lady walks by with her dog, and two carloads of people later pull up and then take off in frustration due to the clouds.

My youngest, who was diligently awake and ready to go, does a dance with a stick, an anti-cloud eclipse dance perhaps.  We make sure our cameras are ready and I discover I’ve left the tripod behind, we thought it was in the car, argh!

I have a make shift one on my camera bag and will just wing it with hand held.

The teenager and almost teenager are keen to go back to sleep. Then it begins.

We see the beginning of the darkness. But the clouds are in the way.

Not to worry, anti-cloud dancer, my youngest son, optimistic, totally awake, and bouncy, spots it through the clouds, of course taking care with his eyes.

And there it is, our family’s glimpse of the eclipse, via the camera with flip out screen.

Just a partial, with cloud surround, but nevertheless our personal family memory.

At this point the kids are impressed.

We take a few more photographs and then it’s back to the car, and onto an eclipse breakfast of pies and spinach triangles from one of the bakeries in Cardwell.

I buy a special lunch for eagle eyed youngest to take to school. Who knows, maybe his funny chase the clouds away dance, which severely annoyed his half awake brother and sister, has been a success.

We drive home triumphant, with our special memory of history. We have witnessed an eclipse over the gentle rippling ocean of Cardwell.

First Published by ABC Open, 14 Nov 2012.

Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019

The challenges of filming a dance performance


By Leandro Palacio


Filming a mini documentary can be a creative and rewarding exercise. But what about when things don’t go the way you planned? Here are some examples on how to troubleshoot those challenges.

The process of recovery post Cyclone Yasi has produced many artistic programs for residents of the Cassowary Coast. I assisted a workshop in the beautiful art deco Innisfail Shire Hall where a dance teacher and a two community facilitators organized a free dance workshop. The session explored the ‘dynamics of movement for healing’ through free form style and captured a shared performance of silhouettes on film.

I arranged to meet ABC Open guest blogger June Perkins to film the behind the scenes. She’d already been filming a bit of the preparations a few days earlier. You can watch it here. June used a great soundtrack that reminds me of ‘All that Jazz,’ or ‘’Cabaret.’

During the shooting process we came across a few challenges. They can be applied to filming many live events. Here is a list of them and how we overcome them.

First challenge:
The rehearsing area was a closed space that we couldn’t access. We had to stay back a few meters so we didn’t interfere with the 25 dancers freedom of movement.
Solution: June was prepared for the occasion and changed the wide lens of her camera to a telephoto lens. That way she could still get close ups shots from far.

Second challenge:
The rehearsing space was a bit dark.
Solution: We started filming against the light to capture body silhouettes. Then we managed to open a few curtains and windows and let enough light into the room without disturbing the workshop.

Third challenge:
The performers were dancing to recorded music. We taped the music coming from the speakers directly to our sound device but the quality wasn’t any good. There was too much echo and general noise.
Solution: We approached the sound person and asked him for a copy of the music. We’ve got hands onto a CD with all the soundtracks. That was lucky! Lets say that the music was coming from an MP3 player and we couldn’t copy those files across. Well, there is a program called Senuti (iTunes backwards) that lets you rip songs from MP3 players. Good piece of software to have handy for occasion like this.

Fourth challenge:
Since we were making a mini documentary, we also did interviews. We asked some of the dancers and the facilitator of the workshop to sit by a bright window.
Halfway through the interviews the sound recorder stopped working. I changed the batteries but it didn’t come back to life. Now what?
Solution: I pulled out my smartphone with a sound recording application. I used WavePad. The phone app records at a very good quality, giving you a 16 bit and 44khz files. That’s pretty impressive coming from a mobile phone. And very good news to save the day too!

At the end we handed out the release forms to all the performers and everybody involved in the video.

On the way out we stood across the road from the theatre and filmed an establishing shot. That is the image that will help us to locate where the dance is taking place for the audience.

That was a run down on the process of filming the mini documentary. Next week June and I are going to meet again for the editing stage. Hopefully all the footage will come together to form an interesting story!

First Published by ABC Open 30 Jun 2012. 

Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019

Dance for Recovery – Behind the Scenes


Putting together the documentary Dance for Recovery – Behind the Scenes has been an amazing experience, full of learning, gaining wisdom and witnessing the power of movement to heal.

This project, the brainchild of Danielle Wilson, brought together twenty five people nearly all of whom had never met before, to re-experience and heal from Cyclone Yasi through movement.

It pulled a creative support team of around eight people together to create a workshop.  Danielle has conducted ‘free to move’ dance classes for adults and children in the Cassowary Coast for a few years now but this project was a new vision; it was her contribution to healing the Cassowary Coast from Yasi.

My contribution was to capture – in a mini documentary – the process by which Danielle and the participants, together with the support crew from and gathered by Connecting Community Voices, went about making their silhouette performance.

I took several still photographs as well, some of which are featured in the documentary.

As Danielle explains in the documentary, ‘these were mostly not experienced dancers.’

My most treasured aspect of this experience was listening to Danielle’s philosophy of dance and trying to capture it on film.

We  looked through the raw footage together to select dance clips that we felt did not invade the privacy of the participants.

Danielle’s vision will entrance you, and the joy of the participants during this workshop is something I have had to convey primarily in voice and the movement of their feet and shadows as well as through using Dez Green’s mesmerising sound track.

I have greatly appreciated the input of Leandro Palacio from ABC Open in mentoring my camera and editing work, and encouraging my creativity and imagination. My dear husband has been amazingly ingenious at finding ways to use cheap equipment to collect better sound, as my slr camera does not always have the clearest sound collection.

In many ways this project was very much about process.

Danielle explains, ‘it was the journey to get to the film’, that was important to her, not necessarily the film at the end.

Yet making the film was very important;  to find out why watch Dance for Recovery – Behind the Scenes for the answer. Please leave your invaluable feedback to encourage all who made this documentary and project possible.  I would certainly love to make more documentaries on great projects like this one.

First Published ABC Open, 30 Jul 2012.

Comments from ABC Open Blog


  • kate campbell-lloyd

    beautiful……I can feel the spirit of healing in all of you…..

  • candice

    amazing experience and beautifully captured

  • June

    Thanks so much @ Danielle, was so glad to be able to honour you vision, and thanks @Tara and @margaret for your feedback, as it was so important to also honour the participants. @Sonya thanks as always for your comments.

  • Tara

    Beautifully portrayed documentary June, you captured the mood of the day, and the spirit of Danielle and participants – well done!

  • Margaret Hunt

    Thank you Danielle for a valuable and inspired opportunity for healing and growth. I loved the day and was so impressed with the effortlessness and fluidity of your guidance in transferring ideas into movement that was so cathartic.

  • Danielle Wilson

    June your documentary captures the day’s energy so beautifully. Only you could have brought the sensitivity that this film needed, I love it very much and thank you for your insights into everything I believe in and presenting them so clearly. Your work should be celebrated and in fact it is, congratulations on your success!!!!!

  • Sonya

    It’s so brave of the participants to relive their cyclone experience through dance. It must have also been a great relief to have been able to relive the event and know what the outcome was going to be and control how the dance unfolded. Beautiful work June.

    Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019


Murray Upper Dreamers

This post is by Michael Bromage.  I helped with the audio on the video that accompanied the post.

What do a camera girl, motorbike rider, robber and fairy have in common?


They each represent some of the dreams shared by students attending Murray River Upper State School.

I love ABC Open’s Dreambox project. The dreams people share can be surprising, inspirational or down to earth. I enjoy seeing the differences and similarities between the dreams of kids and adults and I get to meet new people in our community, practice my photography and teach digital storytelling techniques.

My mother will be proud. She has always wanted me to try teaching in a classroom and HERE I am at a state school in front of the class. Good fun. Great students.

Thank you to principle, Kayte Gillinder, and staff for helping provide the Dreambox opportunity and thank you to June Perkins for interviewing the kids and recording good sound to help make the video. Thanks to student and school captain Amber Davis for helping the younger students with their writing on chalk boards and the spelling of names. Let’s hope your dream comes true and you are running your own restaurant one day!

See all the Murray River Upper State School Dreambox photos HERE.

And enjoy the video!

By Michael Bromage, ABC Open, Published 02 May 2012.

This video will only be viewable for a short time due to ABC Open closing down.  But here it is if you wish to take a look.

Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family will also have broken links when the site goes down on the 30th of June 2019


Smile Within Exhibition Launch

This post is written by Michael Bromage

After more than a year of documenting the recovery process from Cyclone Yasi, guest blogger for ABC Open’s Aftermath project, June Perkins, shares her photographs and words in an exhibition that captures moments of joy during the tough times of recovery.

Titled Smile Within, the vibrant exhibition highlights the intimate beauty and strength of the local Cassowary Coast community using photography and words.

I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with June on ABC Open’s Aftermath project and have had the privilege of witnessing her creative skills grow strength to strength with each blog post. But June’s blogs are just the tip of a colourful iceberg, dive deeper and you will discover rich and diverse layers of creativity.

What makes June’s work special is her combination of patience, persistence, attention to detail and most importantly the genuine presence of a mother living in a regional community. June connects with her readers and her community.

This is something I am always fascinated in – being able to share stories as a way to connect with our community.

We’ve heard stories of heartache and resilience come from communities battling with the aftermath of natural disasters, but Smile Within has a different focus. June has developed an exhibition that highlights creativity, community connections and the special events that have been happening in her region during the past year.

Exhibitions are a great way to connect with our Cassowary Coast community – they become the region’s creative pulse and locals from Lower Tully, Tully, Mission Beach and Murray Upper, have responded to June’s photographs and reflect on their own journeys back to joy. It’s going to be a bright and vibrant exhibition launch and I am excited to be part of it.

Leandro Palacio (ABC Open producer for Far North Queensland) and I will be at the launch of Smile Within. We’ll be sharing our knowledge about digital storytelling, social media, collaborating with June, ABC Open and will introduce different ways to get your stories published on the ABC. Come and say hello and share stories with us and fellow residents of the Cassowary Coast. Come and experience the joy of storytelling with June Perkins at Smile Within.

Smile Within Exhibition at Mission Arts Community Centre, MARCS PARK, Mission Beach, April 29th, 3pm to 5:30pm.

Read June’s Smile Within blog post about ABC Open’s ‘Aftermath’ project.

Published ABC Open 26 Apr 2012.

2 Comments from the ABC Open Blog

  • June

    Thanks Brad – the support of ABC open to our family and area in the recovery processes has been amazing, and I just love the community you guys are creating online, it does indeed feel like one big family of storytellers for rural areas.

  • Brad

    I feel like June has become an old friend as I followed her recovery journey. I wish I could attend this! Thanks for sharing your story (and photos) June.

The House that Shook


This link may soon be broken – but for now you can see the video on vimeo.

From Michael Bromage, ABC Open

In February, the Perkins’ family took shelter in their wood built home as a category five storm system plunged the region into darkness. Their frightening ordeal is caught on camera.

“You really have no control for the duration that it’s happening. You’ve done everything to prepare, you’re sitting there in the experience and you’re hoping to come out the other side.” – June Perkins.

Many tropical residents who experience massive storms like cyclone Yasi often compare the sound of the storm to a 747 jet plane taking off and in this video, June’s husband, David, shares this experience with you.

Having grown up in the north, I’ve encountered massive storms like Yasi, Justin and Winifred (I was fortunate to be overseas when Larry hit) and as a child, cyclones were quite an exhilarating experience; we didn’t have to go to school, the whole town was buzzing with energy as people raced around fuelling up and gathering supplies and mother nature provided a captivating performance as she unleashed her power across the region.

My parents were always well prepared with a cyclone kit, emergency numbers on hand and fortified places in the house to bunker down and wait out the storm, and during the event they always seemed calm, composed and alert so even though the sounds of the cyclone were frightening we always felt safe.

I watch the Perkins family unable to escape the wrath of cyclone Yasi, and, as the next cyclone season begins, am reminded how important it is to be prepared.


From Michael Bromage, ABC Open, November 2011


Comments on the ABC Open Blog



  • Diane Finlay

    Powerful and moving and I can understand it being very hard to watch and relive, but it all helps to integrate such massive events as part of who we are.

  • June

    Unity is at the centre of both dealing with catastrophe the best we can and the stronger a family the more they are able to cope – yet I still feel those in disasters around our world and state who sustain loss of family – and I feel for them. Some of the other stories in aftermath remind me of how we didn’t lose the most important things here, which were friends and family – others don’t have this joy …

  • Brad

    Thanks June and thanks for sharing your story.

  • Anne M

    Great insights, June. Most families in the path of the cyclones would have faced exactly this – the danger, the uncertainty and the dread – but your family cohesion and the ways in which you planned to stay, made preparation, and faced it together (whatever the unknown outcomes) was the real message from this great video. People are what matters. Strong families help us learn how to cope with life and survive anything.

  • June

    @ Brad, when I first watched our video footage when we were finding stuff for abcopen I got very emotional and it was hard work to watch it, but gradually I came to terms with it. Then we started seeing the footage the news had taken of the events and it was another rollercoaster again – we hadn’t had much tv and only a few papers in the first days after the cyclone – so that part is still a bit scary to see. However I was happy to see on reflection that we did do our best to prepare the kids emotionally for what we were about to go through and that we did our best to maintain as much calm as we could in the circumstances. @clancy there’s nothing quite like going through cyclones, and I think people who have been through them or heard warnings about them in their area as well must feel the goosebumps …

  • Brad

    This gave me goosebumps. How does it make you feel to watch this now June?

  • clancy

    Thanks to June and family for sharing your story. Living in a cyclone zone in WA, it really brought home to me the reality of our situation. Good on you for powering on and rebuilding and keep telling the story.

Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family will also have broken links when the site goes down on the 30th of June 2019


Building a Creative Community

By Michael Bromage

Pam Galeano’s appreciation speech highlights the values of building a creative community.

June Perkins recently hosted a film night in Mission Beach to showcase her work with ABC Open, as well as selections from the amazing stories made by ABC Open contributors from both the local region and from around the country. Speeches were made and one of my favourites on the night was from Pam Galeano, who featured in June’s first video, Pam, Joe and the Mighty Yasi.

Pam’s words articulated the creative impact June has on the community and how lives can be enriched through creativity, sharing stories and connecting with our neighbours. I am proud of people who create opportunities to strengthen community and am interested in how technology is utilised to achieve this. Storytelling seems to be the glue with digital technology and the internet being the most effective vehicle and if you’ve been participating in ABC Open projects, sharing your stories and helping to build an online community of Australian storytellers, you should be proud too.

Pam’s words

“Good Evening June, ABC Open producers from Townsville and Cairns, Michael Bromage and Leandro Palacio, Newly elected councillor for Division 3 Alister Pike, Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,

Firstly I wish to thank the Cassowary Coast Regional Council for sponsoring this event.

I met Dr June Perkins in 2006 not long after she and family arrived in our area. She emailed me a copy of a poem she’d written following the dreadful experience of cyclone Larry. That was the beginning of a firm friendship between two people with similar interests and values.

June once said she believed her grandmother was a storyteller and ‘wise woman’ of her Papua New Guinean village. I wasn’t surprised: perhaps some of you don’t know that June’s doctorate is in philosophy.

June has been involved with three major community projects since I met her and I learnt much by being involved in some way with each of them. All were successful.

The first was June’s poetry/photography project called ‘Ripple’, funded by a RADF grant (provided by the state and local governments and in our case administered by the Cassowary Coast Regional Council). June ran free workshops inspiring people to express their stories in poems. She targeted and secured very diverse groups for her workshops then wove the works together for the exhibition. This project culminated in a few ground-breaking artistic events for Tully including an open mic poetry evening. During that time June honed her workshopping skills and her photo-shopping skills – toiling mainly on other people’s photographs. I hope you have seen, or will see June’s own photographic exhibition ‘Smile Within‘ now showing at Mission Arts.

The second project was the Licuala Writers’ anthology for which June again submitted a RADF grant application. ‘Under one Sky’ was an ambitious project involving a huge amount of work. During that project June honed her editing skills, mainly on other people’s writing, and learnt much about design and formatting with the help of Sal Badcock and Daryl Dickson. Also, I think, she became more interested in writing fiction and memoir in addition to her beloved poetry.

By this time June was doing a lot of facebooking and blogging – Pearlz Dreaming. Her well-written, entertaining blogs came to the attention of the ABC Open producers we have with us tonight and they asked her to be their Yasi Aftermath guest blogger for North Queensland. June posted excellent photographs with her blogs so the producers decided, with a lesson or two, she could start using film – doing video interviews with her chosen subjects. June was an apt pupil and asked me to be her first interviewee. I was surprised at how much she had learnt by that first session, but when she returned to do another about two months later, I was very impressed by her relaxed professionalism. June is a good listener with a quiet, unassuming manner spiced with gentle humour.

So – June’s third big community project has been her work for ABC Open Aftermath – and this was quite a commitment at a time when she and family were traumatised themselves. However, June is good at accenting the positives – lighting up the smile within.

No matter how June tells a story, through poetry, prose, song, photos, film, or combinations thereof, she has a recognisable, unique voice. The real person is evident because she manages to keep her logical mind, her imagination, her heart and senses all alive as she works. No wonder she sometimes needs a ‘caterpillar day’ to spin a fantastic cocoon and allow the logical brain a rest. June’s images are fresh and memorable. When I hear the word ‘angels‘ I smile and think of June’s practical blokes in shorts and T-shirts alighting from utilities. When I think of resilience I think of Sal Badcock changing her blown-away roof in the rainforest into an art installation – her ‘Hope Roof‘. When I see tarpaulins I think of June’s ‘Tupperware Houses‘ blog. When you say ‘cyclone’ one of June’s catchy blog titles may pop into my head – ‘Every time I think of cyclones I wanna write songs‘.

A short news interview on radio or TV cannot be as deep, meaningful and affecting as the illustrated blogs and video interviews on ABC Open. This new medium is valuable: it helps regional people connect with one another; it helps city people connect with regional people and vice versa – powerful indeed! Authentic historical records for our Australian archives. Perhaps some of you here in the audience will feel inspired to add your voice to ABC Open. I hope so.

Dr June Perkins – your grandmother would be proud of you. You are a ‘wise woman’ of the Cassowary Coast. You are a storyteller for us and for all Australians.

You yourself have said that connections between people are like heart strands woven into a community fabric. In that case our community fabric is much stronger, more intricate and beautiful since you began weaving connections here. Thank you.”


Well said Pam. And well done June and the people of the Cassowary Coast. You make us proud.


First Published by ABC Open, May 2012.

Please note all the ABC Open posts I have archived here that are written by me or have relevance to my family may well have broken links when that site goes down on the 30th of June 2019