Stella up in the air in a heli bubble somewhere over Uluru.
I’m Stella–a short, bossy half a century old Asian woman. I’m Chinese, born and raised in the Philippines, and a grateful immigrant to Australia. In 2003, my husband Yogi and I packed our entire household in Manila and shipped a 20-foot container to Brisbane en route to Cairns, where we started our new Australian life. The old familiar life–all my friends and family, my old driving habits–was left behind in Manila. A new, adventurous chapter in our lives began.
I’m an accidental writer; that’s how I like to think of myself. I was in advertising, producing 30-second TV or radio adverts, then later a documentary producer. Writers were always a part of my creative team–always another person, another friend, but never me. But now the team is just Yogi and myself, and there was no one else to tell our stories. In April 2009, after many years of doing our own Australian expeditions and photo stories for the European nature magazine market, we embarked on a major assignment for WWF, the World Wide Fund for Nature. This was to take photos and blog all throughout our 18-month journey, documenting the Coral Triangle‘s six countries in the Asia Pacific for the conservation network. It was my first attempt at blogging and writing. For more than 18 months, I wrote regularly about all aspects of our expedition. By the end of the assignment, my blogging had tapered off to a virtual standstill. And did I miss it? Hmmmmm… YES!
So here begins a new phase in the Freunds’ life. We will start this new journal, our own dedicated blog called Australia Stories. After 10 years of living in Cairns, we moved to our new home in the Atherton Tablelands. We start this new blog on the first year anniversary of our being Tablelanders, and I have many things to be grateful for. I am grateful to be living in this incredible country, where everyday, I look out of my kitchen window, whether it’s raining or shining, and think, wow, I live here. It’s so beautiful. I am grateful for friends who embrace our being in this country, in this community; who welcome us and generously open their hearts and homes to us! I am grateful for the recognition of the body of work we have amassed in photos and stories, and for being handed a month-long gallery exhibition on a silver platter. I am grateful for being able to assist Yogi teach nature photography to wonderful students from all over Australia and overseas. I am grateful to be learning to garden. Our housewarming gifts have mainly been plants–herbs, flowers, trees–living things! This is the first time in my life I’ve made anything grow! And my plants are growing, indeed. I am grateful for the life of simplicity, for the chance to go back to basic, to buy my fruits from roadside stands, dropping $2 for a bag of avocados or bananas or pumpkins, to be able to cook fresh produce. It’s mind-boggling how fertile the soil is, so that everything is growing! I am grateful for quaint second hand online shops where I can shop for someone else’s old treasures that give us utmost pleasure–our canoe which gives us amazing experiences and photo opportunities, a claw-foot bathtub that adds character to our backyard, a 30-year-old Rainbow vacuum cleaner that cleans my wonderful home. My cup runneth over.
Through this blog, we embark on this new journey to tell you our Australia Stories. We have 10 years of exciting stories and anecdotes to bank on, and our voyage to new discoveries in this big amazing continent continues. Each and every aspect of being in Australia is worth sharing with the world.