Queensland tour so far

7th August

I keep losing bits of blog! Very very discouraged! This morning when I wanted to do a new post, I couldn’t start until I opted to Save or Discard changes to a previous blog. But I couldn’t save because I’m not online – no wifi connection at this motel – so I discarded, hoping I’d saved an earlier version. Nope, lost the whole thing.

Then there was the time, ten days ago, when I was at a free wifi cafe and posted up a page long blog – but the connection cut in the middle of publishing and I lost it all. Then something strange happened another time when saving one blog somehow deleted another. And my WordPress app keeps refusing to accept photos downloaded from my camera, even though they’re as small as I can make them, and it’s worked before.

I am just so disgruntled with WordPress right now.

Anyway, I’ve got a spare hour, so I thought I’d type up a sort of overview of the Queensland trip so far.

The drive – no, nobody wants to know about that. Boring, boring – the only active part of my brain was the part that listens to my CDs. Stopped at a motel some way outside Grafton – it didn’t look like the Bates Motel in ‘Psycho’, but it was about as isolated, on a bare hill all on its own.

On the Monday – almost a fortnight ago – I drove on to Benowa State High School on the Gold Coast. Almost didn’t make it – now I know why people complain about the state of the Pacific Highway! So many slow slow bits, and where they’re upgrading, that’s even worse because of roadworks delays. I was only saved when I hit motorway before the Queensland border (of course, NSW has to show off its best when it’s close to Queensland, hoping you’ll forget all the garbage highways that went before).

The temperatures in Queensland are unbelievable. It feels like summer to me. And yet kids go around with their jackets buttoned up, and school staff rooms have their heaters turned on! I’ve been very lucky with the rain so far – not a spot of rain for two weeks.

I won’t describe every school visit. I’ve enjoyed them all so far, students have been really interested, my voice hasn’t given out – all fine. I visited Benowa and Aquinas College on the Gold Coast, then Coolum State High and Good Shepherd Lutheran on the Sunshine Coast, then rounded off the first week with James Nash at Gympie.

Many Queensland schools have the most wonderful settings, spread out in the bush. Coolum State High was like visiting a national park! I’ve talked in huge auditoriums, in libraries and classrooms. I’ve spoken to some audiences of over two hundred students, and I’ve thrown in one or two workshops or chat sessions to just twenty or thirty students. Mostly the technology for the PowerPoint has worked, but not always.

My first weekend was like a holiday. I had a cheap deal on a holiday unit at Noosa Heads, and I did some driving around. Sitting in surf clubs, quaffing beers, overlooking sand and sea … It made me wonder why I’m such a driven person when I ought to be heading for retirement, relaxing, starting to take it easy like everyone else. I guess that’s the price I pay for being such a late starter in life!

I managed to indulge a bit, though, in my five days at Noosa. The unit I was in had cooking facilities, so I cooked up some great steak dinners, eaten out on the balcony with plenty of red wine. Then there was the heated spa – I love spas!

In the second week, I visited schools around Brisbane: Genesis College in Bray Park, Padua College in Kedron, Hillbrook Anglican School and Corinda State High (both on the Wednesday), then Kimberley College in Carbrook and St Laurence’s College in South Brisbane. Librarians have all been great, and English coordinators when involved, and the principal when involved (as at Kimberley).

Schools are so different – that’s why I like them. So much variety! Every set up and every organization has its own dynamics, its own way of working.

When I loaded the car for Queensland, I packed in every box of books I had – 11 boxes, 32 copies of WORLDSHAKER in each. But I’ve been making a lot of sales on the day at some schools – more than expected – plus the few giveaways I always do. I’ve managed to mail or deliver after-the-event copies to all schools from the first week, so that students don’t have to wait ages to receive their copies – but that’s it. There have been some big orders from the second week, but they’ll have to wait till I get back to new stocks at Wollongong. I need all I have left for schools in the third week, coming down the NSW coast.

It works well, this selling of WORLDSHAKERs, even though the tour is to promote the sequel, LIBERATOR. I can’t sell copies of LIBERATOR because it’s too fresh out in the bookshops, but I’m reckoning that anyone who reads the first book is going to want to read the sequel!

Yesterday I visited bookshops in Brisbane – another part of the tour – then found myself with the afternoon off. So I jumped on a ferry and travelled up and down the Brisbane River in the sunshine. Today, I’m calling on my stepson, Chris, and family, in the south part of Brisbane.

So that’s all for now. Tonight I’m staying at the same Mermaid Beach motel where I stayed on the way up (more palm trees, more beach, more sunny holiday mood!), so I know I’ll have wifi tonight. I’ll try adding a photo or two, but I’m not optimistic!

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