Let’s hear it for the Boys!

Pic by Mike Larder

Pic by Mike Larder

THE Global Goddess is not just about strong, smart, sexy and spiritual women, but ALSO the great men who love us. And love us, it seems they do. While women have primarily been purchasing Destination Desire – The Global Goddess, a single woman’s journey, the men in their lives have been stealing it to read. Then there’s those brave blokes who have contacted me directly for a copy, wanting to learn as much about the minds of women as they can. (Don’t ask me, we’re beautifully complicated!). The fellas have been flocking to buy this book, from as far away as Dubai, Geneva and France (thank you, eBook!), and closer to home all the way up the east coast of Australia to my beloved Brisbane. So I thought I’d ask the boys what they thought about my new book, and here’s what they had to say.
Pic by Ceda Larder

Pic by Ceda Larder

“I laughed that hard I didn’t know which to wipe first: my eyes or my…errr… nose. Hope Santa brings you something nice in his sack GG,” Mike, Yamba

Destination Desire – The Global Goddess, a single woman’s journey opened my eyes to a different kind of travel. A more humanistic, emotional and raw way of travelling that only someone like The Goddess is able to do, yet something we should all try once in a while. As a gay man, this is the Sex and the City of my generation. Much respect to single women travellers. And for all you men hunting for a quick and easy holiday fling: be afraid. Be very afraid.” Peter, Sydney

TNT with GG DD book[1]
“Wherever The Global Goddess chooses to travel, I’m happy to come along for the ride. Female inspiration works for me. Male naked hungry travellers aren’t sexist,” Tom, Melbourne

“Hey Christine! Love the book. It’s a hilarious and wild look at life after it’s rearranged – would recommend it to anyone!” Mitchell, Mt Tamborine

“It’s a great read,” Gary, Gold Coast

Even from as far away as France, Gerard sent this pic (he said it was too cold to go outside).
“Most travel narratives write a wishy-washy account, but The Global Goddess has no issues with telling in detail everything – from the scenic view to the sneaky peek at an attractive passer-by. If you’re looking for a woman with a great sense of humour, plenty of stories to tell, and isn’t afraid to talk about all types of topics (from wink-wink to heart-heavy), this is the book for you,” Gerard, France

But the final word belongs to these two fellas…
“When we grow up, we want to meet a Goddess,” Max and Tom, Brisbane

Thank you to everyone for supporting The Global Goddess this year. And what a year it’s been! I’m taking a few days off (stalking blokes is exhausting), but will be back bolder and brighter in early 2014. I have some exciting plans ahead for the Goddess, so please continue with me on this journey. Wishing you and yours a magical season, filled with love, of course.
Destination Desire – The Global Goddess, a single woman’s journey is available as an eBook via Amazon for $4.99 or a limited-edition hard copy for $14.99 (plus postage and handling) from The Goddess herself at Christine.retschlag@theglobalgoddess.com

To E or not to E…

Woodford2012 034
PUBLISHING a book is like having a baby. On average, the whole process takes about 9 months (longer for some to conceive of book or baby, shorter for others). As was the case with me. A procrastinator, I am not. Once I decide I am going to do something in life, I just do it. And hence, three months ago, when the seed of publishing my own book was planted, I decided to just jump, and worry about the consequences on the way down. No first flush of publishing pregnancy for me, or an enjoyable second trimester, I entered in the third and final stage, when you get all bloated, cranky and tired. But I did it and Destination Desire – the Global Goddess, a single woman’s journey, has been born!
Destination Desire cover[1]
Just like a new mum, the learning curve has been steep, sharp, fast and furious. I spent weeks laying awake every night, contemplating canning the whole project, but equally stubborn in my determination to achieve this personal and professional goal. (And the other day, in a bid to beat the post office queues at Christmas, I’m a little ashamed to say I may have parked in the Parents With Prams space at the shopping centre. Don’t hate me, but I was clutching my books, so I felt like a proud parent).
Here’s what I learned about publishing both an eBook and limited-edition print run.
1. Do you really want this baby? There is no point in publishing a book purely for the sake of publishing. (Although, during those long, dark nights of the soul – and believe me, there were plenty – I repeatedly told myself if nothing else, I was learning how to publish an eBook).
2. Research your options and publishing platforms. I ended up choosing Amazon for its reputation and apparent ease of publishing. I cheated a little when it came to the actual uploading of the zip file. I spent an hour on the phone to my tech guy who waded through a few clunky Amazon instructions to get the book to “press” so to speak. The $200 I spent on this was well worth the exercise. However, there were some glitches with pics, and despite uploading them and having them appear online, they somehow disappeared. Amazon is good at getting back to you to assist with issues, but there is a frustrating time delay due to the fact they are based in the US.
3. Do pay a professional to proof and edit your copy for you. No matter how many times I read my own copy, I could not find obvious mistakes. I chose an excellent Canadian service called Scribendi which offers a swift turnaround of your copy at really reasonable prices. Again, having said this I found a couple of errors in my book. Like any parent, you can beat yourself up over your mistakes, or you can let them go.
4. Pay a professional to design your front and back cover pages (yes, you should have both). I was lucky to hire colleague and friend Brian Thacker – http://www.brianthacker.tv/ who has not only had many of his own tomes in print, but is an accomplished and creative designer. The fact he knows the book business made it so much easier. You can’t judge a book by its cover, but it certainly helps!
5. Think about your title. There were many moments when I’d rush down to my office at 3am with what I thought was the perfect name for my baby. Several hours later, in the cold, harsh light of day, I realised the title was absolute rubbish or had already been taken. Pick a succinct and smart title that says it all in a few words. You shouldn’t have to explain yourself to your readers.
Destination Desire back cover[1]
6. Think about your back cover. This should be a more lengthy summary of the book itself and perhaps a little about the author to pique the attention of readers. If you’ve won any awards or accolades for your writing, here is the place to put them. You want to establish yourself as a trusted writer.
7. Think about your tag line or “selling point” on your front cover. In my case it was “Sex and the city with an Aussie twist and a global perspective”. Think about a spine for your book (not necessary for an eBook but handy if you are going to print) and a non-priced (for eBook) and priced version of your cover in the event you go to print.
8. Think about going to print. Initially I was going to only do an eBook, but other publishing friends suggested I do a small, limited-edition print run to use as marketing collateral, gifts and prizes. The hard copy books walked out the door in the first 24 hours, proving (to my great relief and happiness) that print is still alive and kicking. I have since urgently ordered more copies.
9. Find a good printer. Ask the market. Again, research is king here as prices and quality vary. If I was to self publish again, and with more time, I’d consider looking at good overseas printers. As much as I love to support Australian businesses, the costs of printing in this country are significant.
10. Remember the little things like copyright on your inside cover, an inside cover page (yes, I initially forgot one of these) and how many pages you want the book to be and whether or not you will use photographs. And do remember to give yourself or others, a photo byline. I used all of my own photographs, taken during my extensive travels, but you’ll never know that, as somehow I was so deep into the words of the book, I forgot to credit myself with a photo byline.
11. Write enough words. Again, for some reason, I had it in my head that a novel was 30,000 words, so when I ended up with 20,000 for my book, I thought that was reasonable. Until a friend pointed out the average book runs at about 70,000 words. I decided due to the nature of my book it didn’t need to be a lengthy tome, so wrote another 10 chapters to bring it to around 30,000. And I added pictures with every chapter page.
12. Write a marketing plan which covers even your wildest dreams. A marketing friend suggested a host of television, radio and print contacts I had never even dreamed of contacting. And work on building your social media networks eg: more facebook, twitter, linkedin followers.
13. Do think of this as a marketing tool and another skill in your social media tool kit. Many eBookers have gone on to become sought-after speakers, columnists and have struck book deals with major publishers.
14. Think about pricing. eBooks start at $0. Value yourself. Most eBooks sell between $2.99 and $9.99. I deliberately chose $4.99 as an average, and to put a value on my words. For the print version, I chose $14.99 (plus postage and handling) which I believed was a fair price for my 100-page book but would also cover my print costs.
15. While waiting for you book to be printed, use this time wisely to refine your marketing plan. If you are sending your book to prospective future publishers, or current editors, make sure you have your contact book up-to-date. Buy enough stationery, stamps and envelopes ready to post. Sounds simple, but when your book comes out, you just want to get it out to people as soon as possible.
Taiwan 117
16. Think about when you are publishing. In retrospect, I published a bit too close to Christmas when people were starting to wind down and leave on holidays. Also, simple things like queues in the post office to get your book out, are a big deal at peak times. On the other hand, publishing this close to Christmas also gave me an advantage for buyers looking for that last-minute gift or a summer holiday read.
17. Back yourself. Invest in yourself. In the end, I had to steal money out of my mortgage to publish. At one stage, things were that tight I found myself overly excited when I discovered $16 worth of loose change in my car. I may never get back what I spent on publishing in sales, but I will never die wondering, either.
18. Surround yourself by positive people who back your vision. I was lucky to be surrounded by some awesome writers, bloggers and authors who were overwhelmingly supportive when I told them of my plan and encouraged me to keep going.
19. Take a break from your book project every now and again. Towards the end I seriously felt like I was a heavily pregnant woman about to give birth, with all the sleepless nights and heady hormonal swings that come with that. It can and will consume you. Be kind to yourself.
20. Dream. Big. What have you got to lose? And never give up.
Jordan2012 110
Destination Desire – The Global Goddess, a single woman’s journey, is available as an eBook via Amazon and via a limited-edition print run from The Goddess herself at Christine.retschlag@theglobalgoddess.com


My first book! Destination Desire – The Global Goddess, a single woman’s journey

Destination Desire cover[1]
SHE’S here! Dear Global Goddess follower – In response to requests from many of you, I am delighted to announce I have just published my first book! Destination Desire – The Global Goddess, a single woman’s journey is being billed as Sex and the City with an Aussie twist and a global perspective. It contains some of your favourite Global Goddess blogs, plus some new chapters you’ve never read before. Details for purchase, via eBook or a limited edition hard copy version, can be found at the end of this blog.
Because you are a valued Global Goddess reader, please find a sneak preview of the Prologue below. I hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed writing it. It would make a great summer holiday read or a cheeky Christmas gift. If you like what you’ve read below, please share this blog with your family and friends! (And I’d love it if you bought a book). x
ChristmasIslandFamil 062
“A fronte praecipitium, a tergo lupi. Alis volat propiis.” In front is a precipice, behind are wolves. She flies with her own wings.
IT is five days before Christmas and I am on Christmas Island. But I am not feeling festive this humid December evening. I am sitting in a morgue, on what should be my fifth wedding anniversary, mourning the death of my marriage. I have lost my husband, my job and three dress sizes. If I can’t find work by the New Year, I will also lose my home. Down below, the Indian Ocean is uncharacteristically calm and quiet. Even the nearby blowholes, which normally bellow like dragons, barely muster a whisper. An empty bottle of gin rests to my left, alongside a crushed fragrant lime discarded in an empty glass. The ice is the glass is long melted. My red leather journal, which smells like expensive Italian shoes and has become as much a lifeline as my lungs themselves, sits perfectly positioned on my right. It is five days before Christmas and I am on Christmas Island. I am 38 years old and I am all alone.
I have lost my life compass, my job, quite possibly my house and definitely my husband. The irony of being on an island that has unwittingly become home to so many refugees seeking asylum along Australia’s sunny shores is not lost on me. I am seeking refuge from my own life. I have flown, via Kuala Lumpur, to sit in the middle of the Indian Ocean. To grieve.
ChristmasIslandFamil 063
Seven months earlier, I had come to Christmas Island a healthy, happy, married woman with the rest of her life ahead of her. I had a stimulating life as a travel writer, which had brought great rewards and some awards, and lived in a safe city in a beautiful home with my devoted husband. We played cool jazz and cooked hot curries. We went kayaking at sunset, watched foreign films, flirted with the idea of returning overseas to work and had fabulous friends. We regularly travelled the world and finally, after some years of hard work, had money to spare. Life was perfect. That May, I had been offered a five-day travel writing assignment to Christmas Island – the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean” – to celebrate Australia’s 50 year sovereignty over this tiny dot in the middle of nowhere, which is closer to Indonesia than to my homeland.
So remote is this Australia territory, it sits some 2600 kilometres northwest of Perth and 300 kilometres from any other land mass. A trip to this outpost, which made world headlines with the Tampa refugee boat crisis, was an offer too good to refuse. In 2001 a diplomatic dispute erupted between Australia, Norway and Indonesia when the vessel Tampa rescued 439 Afghans from a sinking fishing boat in international waters. The former Howard government flouted international law by preventing Tampa from offloading refugees onto nearby Christmas Island, and the Afghans were eventually transported to Nauru and held in detention camps.
ChristmasIslandFamil 142
That week on Christmas Island had been delightful. There was no way I could have foreseen the tsunami of pain that was to follow just two months later. I had been asked by Tim, an old and interesting mate, to join him and two other journos on this journey. My other two travelling companions turned out to be kind and colourful characters. Sally was an insomniac with a husky voice that betrayed her years of smoking. She was physically invincible – a woman who had trekked the Kokoda Trail (not once, but twice), thought underpants were a nonsensical notion but wore a heart that sparkled like the rare golden bosun birds which circled this island. In contrast Leila was an innocent, bubbly, fun, friendly photographer, who wore her camera like an extra limb and was prone to saying things like “whoopsie” as a substitute for swearing. And then there was Tim, a gentleman with a sharp sense of humour and an even pointier intellect. We befriended local couple Linda and Phil, and the delightful Lynnie – an island resident for 15 years and dive master who had completed 2,000 dives and knew every inch of its 28-degree waters.
If you could bottle the “perfect week” and capture it in a little snow dome, Christmas Island would be it.
We ate Indian food and drank overpriced wine on a deserted beach, under the glare of the full moon, with curious giant robber crabs as unexpected guests. Then there were the red crabs. They are like flares on the forest floor, hitchhikers on the roadside and occasionally, uninvited guests into your hotel room. The annual red crab migration in December is Christmas Island’s most famous natural attraction, an event leading naturalist Sir David Attenborough named as one of his top 10 nature experiences of all time.
ChristmasIslandFamil 073
But there’s much more to Christmas Island than crabs and detention centres. With 63 percent of the island protected by national park, it is also home to giant mana rays, whale sharks, laying turtles, 575 species of fish and more than 200 species of coral. Bird watchers will fall in love with this island where an estimated 80,000 seabirds nest annually. At the same time, it boasts some 80 kilometres of shoreline and gorgeous beaches.
Among the population of 1000 to 1500 people – depending on with whom you speak – there lies three distinct cultural groups – the Australians/Europeans who largely inhabit The Settlement area; the Chinese who live in Poon Saan; and the Malays, who reside in the Kampong. More than 10 languages are spoken on the island, including several Chinese dialects, English, Malay and Bahasa Malay.
Christmas Island’s history is as eclectic as the population itself and can be traced back to early trans-oceanic travellers from Polynesia and Melanesia who are thought to have sailed past en route to Madagascar.
ChristmasIslandFamil 077
These days, stepping on to the island is like stepping back into 1970s Australia – with a spicy infusion. And that week we lapped it all up.
We ate fresh roti and spicy curry for breakfast at the Malay Club, next to the Mosque, “ordinary noodles” for lunch at the Chinese Literary Association and imported Northern Territory beef as the sun set at the modern Australian Rumah Tinngi restaurant.
We languished in the island’s natural spa at Dolly Beach, snorkelled among an army of sergeant major fish at Flying Fish Cove and hunted for the island’s only mammal – the Pipistrelle bat – in the cool shadows of Daniel Roux cave.
Off the boardwalk between Lily and Ethel beaches, we stumbled across the island’s brown boobies displaying their white pinafores like nuns while nesting among sharp limestone rocks.
One night as the sun set, we joined Lynnie, Phil and Linda and watched the clouds twist into random formations over the Indian Ocean, spending hours testing our imaginations and guessing what the various shapes could represent. An elephant? A clown? A woman with a dog on her head? And we laughed outrageously at the childlike simplicity of our game.
ChristmasIslandFamil 098
Among all this, one of the highlights was taking an ice-cold shower at Hugh’s Dale Waterfall. Unbeknown to me, Leila had captured me on camera in one of life’s magical moments. We had trekked through the rainforest, past hundreds of red crabs shuffling along the forest floor like old men, to the top of this waterfall on a day when the air was heaving with humidity. The picture, which later ran in an Australian lifestyle magazine, captures me as I stood under the ice-cold waterfall for the longest of times, watching the crabs scurry around me and expressing gratitude for my lovely life.
Little did I know that it was to be the last time in many months that I would feel the same way. I had no idea at the time I was about to enter my biggest challenge of my life, which would see me cry an Indian Ocean of tears and thrust me into a vicious cycle of anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs, sleeping pills, alcohol, insomnia and starvation.
ChristmasIslandFamil 089
Seven months later, back on the island without Tim, Leila or Sally, things are different. My husband and I had been together since we were 16 years old – almost 22 years – and had somehow managed a balanced act that seemed to suit us perfectly. We were like two ballet dancers in perfect rhythm. We never went without, wore nice clothes, ate out and trekked the globe. And now it was all gone. One night was all it took to annihilate 22 years with his words: “I don’t love you anymore, I’m leaving you,” spoken from behind his hands, which were shielding his eyes.
From my privileged perch, I am under no illusion that I share anything in common with the poor souls who have desperately turned their back on their countries, cultures and families, spending their life savings to flock to Christmas Island in a leaky boat with no guarantees. The only thing we share is that we have all come here for answers. A new life.
The “lucky ones” who do make it here are now locked up like animals for “processing” in a multi-million dollar jail that stands in the middle of the island, heavily guarded as successive governments fumble for a “Pacific solution” to the issue of illegal immigration. Off shore, the Australian naval boat HMAS Ararat sits for days, awaiting permission to “come alongside” and deposit its latest “cargo” – another boatload of asylum seekers.
ChristmasIslandFamil 127
Sitting in the Golden Bosun bar one night, where the Navy boys are enjoying two days’ R&R after weeks at sea, I am reminded of the complexity of border control issues. I listen as a naval officer has a spirited debate with the Department of Immigration staff. The naval officer refers to the latest people they have brought onto the island as “refugees” but is quickly corrected by a Department of Immigration staffer, who refers to them as “asylum seekers.” It is clear that there is plenty of ink to be dried on this issue, let alone this latest batch of boat people.
Back in my room, I am tucked away, miles from the detention centre, in the morgue, which no longer carries the dead, although the deeply superstitious Malay population thinks we white fellas are crazy for even setting foot in the place.
It is now a simple cottage – the aptly named Captain’s Last Resort – on the edge of the Indian Ocean and perfect for the task with which I have set myself. To heal my heart.
ChristmasIslandFamil 261
For the first time in months I sleep like the dead who have lain before me in this place. On my first night, I imagine I hear the chatter of thousands of voices swirling around the room.
It’s Thursday, and the local Christmas Island roundabout blackboard, which comically carries the daily news from tonight’s soccer game to a Christmas party, informs us that three asylum seekers have escaped from detention. The chalked words slouch there casually.
In deference to the island lifestyle I have quickly embraced, I don’t even bother to lock my door this night. I am facing my own demons and suspect, so are the escapees. They have no business with me.
There is nowhere for them to go on this island in the middle of nowhere, and they are quickly captured. The next day nobody bothers to erase the escaped sign from the blackboard. Instead, they simply cross out escaped and scribble “captured.”
I am well aware that despite everything I am the most fortunate of souls. I can leave at will when the next plane arrives in a few days’ time.
ChristmasIslandFamil 061
In between I snorkel and eat Chinese noodles with my friends. Attend the outdoor cinema under a blazing Southern Cross canopy. Go to beach barbecues with Phil, Lynnie and Linda. Look at Christmas Island’s Christmas lights. I drink sweet Malay kopi and eat hot curry for breakfast. Wake before dawn to see the annual red crab migration to the beach. Drink more gin.
On Monday, I pack up, jump on a jet, and head to Kuala Lumpur, and back into Australia with my much-coveted Australian passport.
Like the refugees I leave behind me on Christmas Island, and the many boatloads to come, I am still lost and have no idea what my future holds.
But unlike them, at least I am free.
To purchase a copy of Destination Desire – The Global Goddess, a single woman’s journey go to Amazon. The eBook costs $4.99. To order a limited edition hard copy of the book, priced at $14.99 (plus postage and handling) please email me at Christine.retschlag@theglobalgoddess.com
Destination Desire back cover[1]

The Goddess’ Briefs for strong, smart, sexy and spiritual women (and the great men who love us!)

Woodford2012 006
If The Global Goddess was getting married, she’d be more than a little excited about this package being offered by The Rees Hotel Queenstown in New Zealand. This luxury hotel is now offering exclusive Heli-Wedding packages in conjunction with Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters to remote mountain-top wedding ceremonies for those who want to tie the knot against one of the world’s most dramatic backdrops. The package, valued at NZ$2998 per couple, includes a raft of things including two nights’ accommodation in a Lake View one-bedroom apartment at The Rees Hotel Queenstown. There’s also breakfasts, wine, chocolate, champagne, celebrant and a wedding photographer, but the highlight is a return helicopter flight for the bride, groom, celebrant, photographer and two guests up to the Remarkables or Cecil Peak for their alpine wedding ceremony. Not for the first time this year, I find myself thinking that I need to just find a fella. http://www.therees.co.nz
Caroline Cecil Ledge winter[1]
While Christmas is almost upon us, it’s never too early to be thinking about Valentine’s Day (if you know what’s good for you). This week, The Global Goddess enjoyed the sultry sensation of an aphrodisiac cooking class at the Sofitel Broadbeach’s Room 81 restaurant. We’re talking dishes such as freshly-shucked cupid oyster in a veuve clicquot champagne granite; seared nova scotian scallops with cauliflower silks with asparagus, morel mushrooms and a truffle vinaigrette; and a cherry soufflé, chocolate sauce and coconut sorbet. This class was to preview this luxury Gold Coast’s hotel’s raunchy and romantic Valentine’s Day/night package. To book this six-course feast, which includes a wine package of Australian, New Zealand and French varietals, priced at $225 per person; or the Deluxe Valentine’s Room package for $795 per couple, which includes an overnight stay and breakfast as well as the six-course dinner, go to http://www.sofitelgoldcoast.com.au
In May this year I penned a blog about Australian photographer Danielle Lancaster, who owns Blue Dog Photography. Danielle has been travelling to Cambodia for years and can’t shake her bewilderment at how the Pol Pot regime had ravaged its own people, the effects of which are still being experienced decades later. In 2011, she gained sponsorship to produce a calendar, the proceeds of which meant they could build two new classrooms and desks with a white board for local school children. In 2012, Blue Dog Communities was formed with the sales of last year’s calendar going towards replacing the school’s palm frond floors with cement for the children. This year’s calendar is ready to go to print, and in exciting news at Global Goddess headquarters, a photo take by me (pictured below) when I was in Phnom Penh last year, will also be featured. To order a copy of this calendar, which will go towards more valuable community work, please go to https://www.facebook.com/bluedogcommunities and to find out more about Lancaster’s annual photographic tour to Cambodia, go to http://www.blue-dog.com.au
VietnamCambodia2012 169
The Global Goddess is pretty good at pulling a rabbit out of the hat, particularly when it comes to tight deadlines, but this bloke takes the cake. Acclaimed Australian illusionist Michael Boyd will open the famed live magic extravaganza Mystique at Sea World Resorts Ocean Theatre on the Gold Coast from January 1 to 31. Taught by his magician grandfather all the tricks of the trade by the age of 13, Boyd’s show will feature some of the world’s most impressive illusions as well as jaw-dropping escapes, levitations, transformations, special effects and mind-blowing disappearances. Since it premiered in Melbourne in 2009, more than 100,000 people each year have seen this show packed with new acts and extravagance. Shows will run from Tuesday to Sunday at 7.30pm plus special matinees on Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. http://www.SeaWorldResort.com.au
Speaking of magic (or what I’d like to call a Christmas miracle), The Global Goddess has a surprise in store for her followers. Details to be announced early next week! http://www.theglobalgoddess.com

Turkish delight and other guilty pleasures along the Clarence River

THIS is a tale of battlers and beaut beaches. It’s the kind of story which whacks you in the face when you’re looking for something else, with the types of colourful characters you simply can’t ignore. Like Geoff Warne, who reckons he’s going to pen an autobiography one day entitled “Simply F****d”; former Turkish child bride Sevtap Yuce; Wooli oyster champion Kim Guinea who happens to hate seafood; and Yamba YHA owner Shane Henwood – who is prone to putting fake snakes and spiders in the beds of his guests.
I am on the mid northern New South Wales coast, tracing the mighty Clarence River from Yamba to Grafton, and like the ocean around these parts, the people are wild, woolly and delightfully unpredictable. Like Action Activities Adventure owner Geoff Warne, who is making a splash with his new kayaking and bike hire business. Now in his 40s, this former carpenter who hurt his back at the age of 19, and became a fitness trainer before turning to tourism, has dodged more than his fair share of life’s bloody bullets.
Geoff has been involved in a number of car accidents which left him physically and mentally scarred, but decided to fight for his happiness and aim towards owning his own business.
“There’s a book in my head and it’s called Simply F****d,” Geoff jokes.
“But I said to myself, ‘I’m not giving up’. I thought of everything that I like and thought ‘I’ll be a tour guide’ as I like helping people. All I have to do is make that holiday happy for them.”
Geoff went on to blitz a Certificate III and IV in Tourism before working on the Gold Coast at Dreamworld and then in Mt Tamborine’s glo-worm caves.
Family reasons have pushed him over the border and south to Yamba where he has started this next chapter of his life. On his tours, guests can kayak to nearby Iluka which is one of the last remaining coastal rainforests in New South Wales. The trip also takes in Bluff Beach, snorkelling, home-made treats for morning tea, and a ferry ride back home. Those who want to hang around can also hire Geoff’s bikes and scooters at Iluka.
“It is a great place to start a new future,” he says.
“The most important thing for me is I’ve done something for me and achieved it. I still can’t believe I’ve done it.
“It’s all or nothing. If I don’t do it now, I’m always going to die wondering.”
This never-say-die attitude also resonates with Sevtap Yuce, owner of Yamba’s Beachwood Café and author of two cookbooks about her beloved Turkish cuisine and a third to be published next August. Here, Sevtap serves Turkish delights such as lamb kofte and hummus and local seafood dishes. There’s also Turkish lemonade in lemon, cherry, apple and pomegranate flavours on the menu.
But precisely 30 years ago, this 46 year old was an unhappy child bride in an arranged marriage in her native Turkey. And the sadness stalked her when in 2004 she lost her brother when he was kidnapped and executed during the Iraq War.
“That was the hardest thing my family went through,” she says.
“When I arrived in Australia I had no help, no money, I didn’t speak English and then all of a sudden I’ve achieved something. If somebody said to me ‘this is how your life is going to be’ I would have laughed.
“How can a Turk like me get to this stage? If I can do it, any woman can do it. I think it’s a pretty cool thing to do.”
At her pretty café surrounded by roses and fresh herbs, Sevtap serves “fresh, simple” locally caught and produced food. And these days she is content being single.
“I think I’ve found the love in my work,” she says.
“I’ve made this my baby and my life. And if I don’t meet anyone, it doesn’t matter.”
Further south along the coast, Wooli Oyster owner Kim Guinea ironically doesn’t like seafood, but her husband and co-owner of this riverside business Ron does. It’s been a tough couple of years for these operators, for whom flooding has stymied oyster production. But with a bumper summer season ahead of them, Kim and Ron are looking forward to a brighter future.
“I love opening oysters and looking at them but I don’t eat them. When you start coming into summer you get these nice fat oysters,” Kim says.
“My husband likes them and he uses the whole aphrodisiac line as a selling point.
“Wooli oysters are so popular because of the pristine water here. There is no pollution and they’ve got a lovely flavour.”
Back in Yamba, YHA owner Shane Henwood, 37, first dreamt of building his own youth hostel when he stayed in one in Sydney at age 16. This family-run business – his 80-year-old nana changes the sheets – has been going great guns since it started five years ago.
“We get all age groups here, families, the whole lot. One of our guys comes back every year and he’d be 90. We’ve had (surfer) Tommy Carroll, (entertainer) Normie Rowie and (singer) Angus Stone. One of our English girls didn’t know who Angus was and told him to stop playing the guitar as she was trying to watch television,” Shane laughs.
“Our guests come for two weeks and stay for a year. They class this is as the secret spot and only tell backpackers they like. Even the local police and detectives had their Christmas party here.”
Shane also runs “Shane’s 10 buck tour” where you get a three-hour taste of paradise. And, if you’re lucky, he may even plant a fake spider or snake in your bed when you’re away. Just for fun.
But when I ask Shane if he ever felt like abandoning his dream, which took 4.5 years to gain council approval, he looks me straight in the eye.
“Nup. I never give up.”
Yep. There’s something in the waters of the Clarence River region. I think it’s called hope.

The Global Goddess travelled as a guest of Clarence Tourism – http://www.clarencetourism.com For an awesome 1950s beach shack experience perched right on the ocean, head to Seascape Units – http://www.seascapeunits.com.au