I have just rediscovered Great Keppel Island, nearly thirty years after my last visit – and it hasn’t changed a bit. (Shame I can’t say the same for myself.)
Last time I was here with uni friends – a freshly minted journalism graduate – camping, swimming, snorkelling and on one occasion coming face to face with a sea snake. Luckily I had been advised that they are inquisitive but not agressive. I just had to wait while it inspected me and then swam away!
I can also remember being desperate to get started with life in the real world. This time I’m with a group of illustrious children’s authors and illustrators. (I didn’t see that one coming as I pondered my future over my first, and probably last ever, Brandy Alexander.)
But as it turns out I’m here for the Capricorn Literary Festival. We’ve been visiting schools in Rockhampton and Emerald, conducting writing workshops, talking about our books, doing a lot of stand up comedy (who knew that was in the job description) and the occasional dance routine to keep the preppies entertained (that certainly wasn’t advertised, but zombie dances, it turns out, are a favourite).
I’ve loved the chance to get back to central Queensland again. Today we’ve left behind the bus, books and props and we’re visiting Great Keppel for the day, equipped only with a packed lunch, togs and towels. We rent our snorkelling gear from a beach-front kiosk and then trek across to Monkey Bay to explore the coral.
The terrain is much steeper than I remember, but the view is as stunning as ever. Actually more beautiful than I remember. All those beautiful pristine beaches are probably wasted on the eyes of 19 year olds, but I’m noticing all that loveliness now, reflecting on the ridiculously windy path that’s brought me back here and hoping it’s not another 30 years before I return.
Thanks to Ford Street Publishing and Morris Publishing for inviting me here and to my gorgeous new friends who have made the tour so special.