A Visit to Paradise: Bunaken Marine Conservation National Park



Giant turtles longer than humans are common residents of Bunaken waters.

Giant turtles longer than humans are common residents of Bunaken waters.


Kids don’t always agree with what parents find fascinating, but most certainly this hadn’t been the case when I took my son to Bunaken, a small boomerang-shaped island off the northern tip of Sulawesi in Indonesia. As soon as the boat that carried us from the city of Manado in Sulawesi mainland across to this island slowed down near Daniels_Resort, my 12-year-old son looked down into the clear water that welcomed us and promptly expressed a heartfelt exclamation: “OH! WOW!”

A week earlier in Borneo I had dragged him to a multi-million dollar arowana fish farm. Usually getting a permit to visit this premise is close to impossible; I had just been extremely lucky to receive assistance from WWF West Kalimantan and West Kalimantan Endangered-Species Conservation Agency. Entering the massive compound on the outskirt of Pontianak, we’d had to pass through multiple security gates. Inside, 32 enormous commercial ponds awaited. They housed hundreds of the world’s most expensive fish… all of which had been invisible, hiding at the bottom of the ponds. Unimpressed, my son muttered a flat-note—mocking— “Oh wow”

In contrast, his delight of Bunaken was genuine and clear ~ and eased my guilt. We had arrived on June 25th because I would like to speak with several local figures on marine conservation issues for a future writing project. As my son had just reached the minimum age for a PADI course, I had him enrolled with Immanuel’s Dive Center  at Daniel’s so he wouldn’t have to put up listening to me talking to strangers in a language he didn’t comprehend.




Roy Pangalila, former WWF director of Bunaken Marine Conservation National Park whom I’d met at WWF headquarters in Jakarta just the day before, had mentioned that the water clarity around Bunaken is excellent with underwater visibility of 50 meters or more.

Once a friend of mine who is a National Geographic underwater photographer told me that during his visit to Bunaken, the visibility was not conducive for underwater photography. Roy said that this friend might have visited immediately after a storm. After the sea has calmed down (and the washed-out plastics sent by the storm from Manado city across the sea has been picked up), the water condition around Bunaken becomes pristine again. Looking down from the boat, I saw the proof of the excellent water clarity.

As I walked towards Daniel’s with pretty sea creatures by my feet, I knew then that not only my son would immensely enjoy his dives; between my visits to the village to go any farther.




Roy had said the sea between Manado city and Bunaken island, which is a 30-minute trip on speedboat, is 3000-meter deep, and thaeters from the resort was only 500-meter deep, and the sea immediately after 1000-meter deep. But Roy has done scientific measurements.


Bunaken on tectonic-plate boundary

The extreme depths of the sea between Sulawesi and Bunaken is due to the area loaction on a few tectonic plates’ transform boundary.



Not too far north from the equator, Bunaken has a constant, yearlong water temperature of 27 – 30°C. No serious protection against the cold is required, but a 3mm one-piece, long diving suit is great to protect against possible coral scratches.

Tropical rain may occur more between November to April, but the duration is short. Your diving or snorkel instructor will let you know when it is safe to return to the water, which shouldn’t be a prolonged wait.





Immediately outside Daniel’s about 100 meters into the water to the drop off 200 meters away, fantastic pristine corals live healthily and colourful fish of Nemo’s world swims happily. As this area falls under the marine conservation zone, no fishing is allowed and the locals are very strict in making sure that no corals get broken by snorkelers’ activities. People can only step on certain stones along the “sea footpath”, where  boats also come and go very carefully. 

As I am not a photographer, I invite readers to please check out these pictures: bunakenhans.com/slideshow.php



Bunaken Hans is a German photographer who lives in Bunaken and rents a cottage permanently at Daniel’s. Hans says it is true that Raja Ampat in Papua has better biodiversity and is very beautiful, but Bunaken is still among world’s top ten best diving destinations because it has rich biodiversity and is beautiful, has much lower pricing, and its excellent location is very close from the diving spots diving sites with very rich biodiversity divers don’t need to travel for one hour or more by boat, making Bunaken economical and ideal.





26 tourist resorts operate in Bunaken. Most are European-owned. Many are better than Bali resorts (where the indigenous people cooanders’ welfare by providing electricity. I had been referred to Daniels Resort by Roy Pangalila because, as in Borneo, WWF promotes ecotourism as a sustainable income source for the indigenous people, and Daniel’s is one of the few IP-owned resorts.

One lesson that has been drummed in to me recently is that, regional per capita income is NOT the same as the money that actually stays in the area. If a regency in a remote area of Indonesia is said to have a very high income per capita, it’s a sure thing that about 90% of the money generated in that regency travels out to Java or  the USA, or Europe, or Australia, with only the remaining 10% is spent locally (part of this is earned by the natives through labor and passed on to the local economy through spending). So in actuality the locals per capita income is very, very low, and they remain in poverty although their land generates a massive income for foreign-owned companies. (One example of this is an area above Caltex’s oilfield in Riau where a few years back many residents died of hunger despite living on top of Indonesia’s largest oilfield.)

Therefore, for visitors who wish to contribute to the local economy of their holiday destination, one way to do so is to engage the natives’ services. Hence, my stay at an IP-owned resort.




On our arrival the owner was in Manado, the mainland city of North Sulawesi that we had flown into from Jakarta, from where we had chartered a boat to this island. (A public boat is available once a day but we had missed it.)  The reception efficiently showed us the choices of aditional trade of Minahasa ethnic group in mainland Sulawesi, showing that Daniel’s owner has helped even the economy of the nearby indigenous people.

While excellent luxurious resorts with €uro rates are abound in Bunaken, the much-less-expensive Daniel’s Resort gives as good as it gets for value.

Daniel’s offers airconditioned or non-airconditioned cottages; the first type advisable if mosquitoes love you, although mosquito nets are always readily available.

I picked up a cottage next to the beach because I love the intermittent sound of waves lapping. It had excellent firm mattress that looked new or mren’t top of the range, but they were adequate and everything was very clean. We could sit on the porch, or in the nearby gazebo, or ventured to the large alfresco dining room near the office.

Visitors can meet and greet at the dining room, where you can also work using the internet because here the free WiFi has the best reception.  As I was there during the Brazil’s World Cup, guests also flocked to the TV area near the beach to watch. Not far from this, guests can also play table tennis. Whatever you do, though, never leave sugary substances in the open, because in the tropics ants detect them very quickly.



Every resort in Bunaken includes full meals as there aren’t restaurants around.  The food at Daniel’s is excellent and fresh, consisting of rice with a variety of fish and vegetable dishes. In deference to the largely foreigner guests, here the menu doesn’t include the a guest from Slovenia requested purely vegetarian food.

Standard drinks are bottled water at room temperature and hot tea or coffee, but guests can requests cold drinks or put your own in the kitchen’s fridge. I entered this  kitchen when I was requesting a picnic lunch for the day I would tour the surrounding isles (as there aren’t shops in the surroundihe staff agreed to make my lunch even though this was out of ordinary. On the day I was to tour the isles, the requested lunch was ready at breakfast time, packed in stacked food containers.

Outside the cottages, Daniel’s ground is carefully cared for. The staff sweeps the beach and the footpath in the mornings and bury fallen leaves in the ground. They change the water in front of the porch  to wash your feet in case you don’t stop at the hose after going in the sand.



I will write more on Bunaken later. But yes, the real beauty of Bunaken is its fascinating underwater. I recommend Bunaken to any divers or snorkelers who appreciate finding rich marine biodiversity all in one handy site, without spending too much, and at the same time contribute towards  marine biodiversity conservation.



Bunaken resorts are normally dive resorts, or they cooperate with a nearby diving school. A Scuba diving course costs €380 and lasts 4 – 5 days to certification exam. Certified divers can take fun dives to see barracudas, giant turtles, endless coral fish, and at times accompanied by over 100 dolphins. Equipment hire is available for diving and snorkeling and is inexpensive.




Take a plane to Jakarta, Indonesia.


Take another plane from Jakarta to Manado in North Sulawesi Province. The flight is 2.5 hours. Return airfare around  AUD 440 (about USD 413 or GBP 240).


Take a taxi to from the airport to Manado harbour.


Cross to Bunaken by a public boat (departs 14:00) for less than $2/person. Or charter a boat at $100 for  up to 10 people. The trip is 30 minutes.


Australian PM Calls Timber Companies Ultimate Conservationists


I was away only for a few days and managed to miss joke of the week: PM Tony Abbott calling timber companies ultimate conservationists.

To the joy of Australia’s forestry industry, our PM has declared no more Australian forests will be locked up by national parks and he is committed to remove 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian forest from World Heritage listing.

PM Abbott has earlier submitted the proposal to delist the zone from World Heritage, rebuking the move by the previous government to list the area as a conservation zone. Australia’s laughable request will be considered in the June’s meeting of  World Heritage Committee in Qatar.

I guess he thinks you can easily replant trees,  but forgets that it takes many long years, and meanwhile wild animals are left homeless and the earth rapidly warms up. I wouldn’t comment about Prime Minister’s stand today, but on this occasion I want the world to know that most Australians don’t agree with him. In my few days away, three friends managed to mention forestry as pertaining to Australia to me, and I commented based on stumbled-upons I have kept encountering during my research for my WIP Heart of Borneo. Here they are,

  • Sandra, a Sydneysider who is a foster parent of orang-utans said, “I recently asked my home builder not to use Indonesian merbau because that’s the wood taken from orang-utans’ forests, but he ignores me saying that’s what’s available.”

I said to Sandra, “Australia is a primary market for smuggled illegal timber. WWF has been complaining that every year Australia imports over $400 millions  of illegally cut wood from unapproved sites.”

  • Patrick, a naval officer, said, “Forest Crime is something I have seen first hand. Way back in 1986 I was involved in rescue and recovery of bodies from a hillside village on Solomon Islands after rain from Cyclone Namu caused a mudslide. Timber companies rape the hillsides without care. Was still happening when I was there in 2006. I wonder how many people stop to consider that the cheap meranti timber at Bunnings was once the jungle trees of Borneo and Sumatra.”

I said to Pat, “After Aceh’s tsunami, WWF campaigned for Timber for Aceh because Indonesia simply didn’t have wood to rebuild 250,000 houses unless they hack conservation forests. Norway, Germany, and Australia agreed to help. But, WWF discovered AusAID was going to donate timber from disputed Solomon Islands’ forests that had been forbidden to Australian logging companies. Masking under timber for charity, Australian companies imposed their will on the locals and decimated their forests. WWF Indonesia then rejected this timber because they only accept certified wood from undisputed sustainable source.”

  • Roxane, the kids’ French teacher said a few days ago a TV program  showed that wood from Indonesia in Australia is mostly illegal. Heck yes, of course, while Indonesia has been at pains trying hard to eradicate illegal logging, Australian vast housing industry buys timber from the forest criminals. Unlike European countries that demand certified wood from sustainable forests, Australia accepts crime proceeds.


Top 10 Countries with Most Threatened Species


Have you done your part to be environmentally responsible?

10 countries with most threatened species on our earth:

Top 10 countries with Threatened Species

Signs pointing to the fact that a global climate change is happening increase every day. Shall I tell you how massively furious I am about the sad, sad deforestation of my birthplace, Sumatra? Massive jungles used to cover the land everywhere, lush and green and soaring high, but when I showed my husband the land where cars used to stop to allow tigers and the cubs to pass in my childhood, the trees were no more. We traveled from the south to the north of the island, and the only forests left seemed to be the ones deep down inside the canyons where bulldozers couldn’t go.

Indonesia and neighbours. Indonesia consists of several large islands and thousands of isles. Sumatra is world's 6th largest island. Borneo (aka Kalimantan and shared with Malaysia and Brunei) is world's 3rd largest island. And Papua is world's second largest island   (after Greenland). You will notice that Bali is very small, and so is  West Timor, compared to the other parts of Indonesia. This is where very, very good people live, but the greedy ones have turned the country to be environmentally depressing.

Indonesia and neighbours. Indonesia consists of several large islands and thousands of isles. Sumatra is world’s 6th largest island. Borneo (aka Kalimantan and shared with Malaysia and Brunei) is world’s 3rd largest island. And Papua is world’s second largest island (after Greenland).
You will notice that Bali is very small, and so is West Timor, compared to the other parts of Indonesia.
This is where very, very good people live, but the greedy ones have turned the country to be environmentally depressing.

This is a heads up about my work-in-progress, Heart of Borneo,  as I’m very passionate about environmental issues and would love to contribute in raising environmental awareness.

I hope to release Heart of Borneo in 2014. For now, let me just say that I’m deeply saddened that my home Australia, one of the world’s developed countries, made the above list. Mr Prime Minister of Australia, please, please, please stop that plan to build a new coal port in Queensland. You will be dumping over 3 million cubic metres of dredge spoil on corals and reef water of The Great Barrier Reef, our world heritage. Your descendants will not forgive you, just like I will never forgive the people who have bulldozed my forests in Sumatra.

And readers, may I call you to please do your part in saving the environment. Thank you.



2013 Sculptures by The Sea

Sydney’s  annual international sculpture exhibition and competition for 2013 starts today, with amazing artwork by 41 brilliant sculptors gracing the cliff walk between Bondi Beach and Tamarama Beach. Celebrating inspiration,  2013 Sculpture by the Sea is open to the public until November 10th, 2013. Admission is free.

For those who can’t visit Sydney this time, here are some of this year’s 107 sculptures. Enjoy.


"Flow" by "Alison McDonald. Sculptures by the Sea.

“Flow” by “Alison McDonald. 2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.



"Life Reflexion" by Byung-Chul Ahn. 213 Sculptures by the Sea, Bondi.

“Life Reflexion” by Byung-Chul Ahn. 2013 Sculptures by the Sea, Bondi.



"There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip" by Ken Unsworth AM. 2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.

“There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip” by Ken Unsworth AM.
2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.



"Coral" by Coral Collective. 2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.

“Coral” by Coral Collective. 2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.






2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.

2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.



"Inclusion" by Greer Taylor. 2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.

“Inclusion” by Greer Taylor. 2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.



"Ocean Cathedral" by Debbie Harding. 2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.

“Ocean Cathedral” by Debbie Harding. 2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.


"Diminish and Ascend" by David McCracken. 2013 Scuptures by The Sea, Bondi.

“Diminish and Ascend” by David McCracken. 2013 Scuptures by The Sea, Bondi.



2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.

2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.



2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi

2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi


2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi

2013 Sculptures by The Sea, Bondi.


More to come.





Sydney Trains Lost Property


What are the chances of getting your lost property back in Sydney? Pretty big. But if it doesn’t have your phone number somewhere on it, cool your heels eight days before you may retrieve it.

Okay,  I’m sharing my experience, and this is the story of my wallet, lost Monday nine days ago while I was showing Sydney to some visitors. I saw it last at Wynyard Station when I was buying them cold drinks from the vending machine, just a few minutes before hopping into a North Shore train. When I realised that I had no wallet with me after leaving the train, I returned to my local station and spoke with the local Lost Property. The staff kindly checked their list. OMG, there were about 50 wallets found that day alone! But none was mine.

She said, “You might have lost it on the train or in the city. Call the main Lost Property, 93793341.”

93793341 only gives out a recorded message. It says the address of Sydney Trains’ Lost Property office is 484 Pitt Street, Sydney, the opening hours are 8.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday, and that they receive lost properties 7 days after the items are found. But, but my son’s umbrella was found on the same day! In fact, the Lost Property called us one hour after it was lost. So I went to their office the next day, which was located underneath Central Station, roughly under Central’s Big Ben, next to Canberra buses. I was told that my son’s umbrella had our phone number on it, but please come back a week later to check about my wallet.

I filled a lost-item form before I left, and from the glass wall I could see hundreds of big bags and suitcases, and, and a huge bicycle! Who on earth lost such a big bike on the train, and how?

The kids’ French teacher advised me to report to the Police and  fill the lost-property report, in case somebody handed it to the Police.

I confiscated hubby’s bankcard (yeah, I know his PIN number 🙂  ). He said to order new cards, but instead I phoned my bank to block my bankcard until I could find my wallet.  I had hopes to find it because, somehow, my level of anxiety was very low.

And today I had my wallet back!

The Lost Property had not phoned me back, because they’d just received the item last night. It’s been kept at Wynyard’s Lost Property for 7 days. I hadn’t checked there, thinking I’d lost it in the train. So this morning, after 8 days, I visited the main Lost Property office.

When I first came in, the staff behind the counter searched his computer for my name. First he asked how much cash I had in it, and when I answered correctly, he opened the connecting door and took me to see the wallets. OMG… there were hundreds upon hundreds of found wallets! Shelves upon shelves of them! In various colours,  from tiny thin ones to larger ladies’ purses. As a test, I was asked to pick mine ~ which was easy because I saw it right on the top. As proof of ID, I had to show them my passport, because my other IDs  were inside the wallet. Then I had to pay a $7.20 retrieving fee.

I thanked God for the kind person who handed it in at Wynyard, with all the cash and cards intact. There was no cash inside my wallet though, they have the policy to bank all found money.  I gave them my bank details, and they will transfer the cash, all of it, directly to my bank account.

Readers, I hope you will never lose anything when you visit Sydney. To the Sydneysiders, please write your phone number on all of your important items now! Yeah, including on your big bicycles 🙂

Good luck!


After a wonderful day in Sydney Harbour, I refused  to believe the end would be ugly. I had hopes I would find my lost wallet because, somehow, my level of anxiety was very low.

After a wonderful day in Sydney Harbour, I refused to believe the end would be ugly. I had hopes I would find my lost wallet because, somehow, my level of anxiety was very low.



Meet KOPI SOH—Crisis Counselor, Therapist, Author, Cartoonist


Kopi Soh, Malaysian artist and author, goes out of her way to ease the sufferings of those around her. A healer of hearts, crisis counselor, teacher of an adult school, Kopi draws cartoons for sick children and writes self-help books to help children and teens. We are honoured that Kopi visits with us today.

Hello Kopi, so glad and honored that you’re here. You always draw funny cartoon and you fairly ooze with positive vibes. Come teach our readers how to maintain happiness. Tips?

Kopi Soh, Malaysian artist and author


The way to maintain happiness is to know that nothing is permanent, sadness or happiness, nothing last forever. Live for the now, look for happiness in the little things in life (blue skies, fresh air, a good book, a delicious fruit, chocolates!!!)


You’re a psychologist and a counselor whose specialty is in working with children, adolescents, couples and families.What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of your day job?

My work with rape survivors is often unpredictable, when we get the call we never know what to expect. Nothing much I am able to share here because everything is confidential. That is actually my night job. In my day job I teach seniors social media such as Facebook, twitter, iPad.

With night and day jobs, when do you find the time to write?
Haha, I suppose when there is a will there is a way. The desire to help others through my writing always gives me that unexpected second oomph to push through.

Best wishes for your writings. What are your other hobbies?

I draw for terminally ill, sick children and various charities such as orphanage for free. I also design t-shirts and do various illustration gigs.

Tell us a bit about what matters to you.

What matters to me is making a difference in this world, not just merely taking up space.

What one thing is important for your audience to know about you?

That I care, may it be through my art or writing, everything I do is done with heart in hopes of putting smiles on people’s faces.

Would you like to tell readers about the joy of Malaysia and its fabulous food?

Malaysia is my homeland. I always will have a special place in my heart for her regardless of where I live. As far as food is concerned, my taste buds are not of the highest caliber, I like almost everything so I can’t comment much on the fabulousness of the food.

On work and writing, what drives you the most?

The desire to help people.

Tell us about your charitable work for the hospital patients. Care to elaborate? Why is it important to you? Share with us some experiences with them.

I would not consider it “charitable work” I consider it a privilege. Those children are the real heroes. I am blessed to have crossed paths with them in the virtual world and they have taught me what is the true meaning of courage. They are the real heroes in life.

What a great view! And your books are written for them. What’s the age range?

Ages 9 and up, although if a parent or caregiver wants to, they can also use it as a guide for much younger children. That is the reason why I loaded it with illustrations. If the child is much younger, you can use that to help them identify and express their feelings.

What compelled you to write Oh I Thought I Was The Only One?

To make people feel less alone. Asians are brought up to not “wash their dirty laundry in public”, therefore many people experiencing depression or other life stressors often suffer in silence. They do not talk to anyone else about their problems and even if they do, they are often told to just grin and bear and count their blessings. Many of us feel alone and lost, unable to confide in anyone. This book was written so at least if nothing else happens, when you read it you know you are not the only one who feels this way. That feeling that you are not alone in and of itself I am hoping can somehow give us the courage to heal.

Would you share a short synopsis for each of your books?




Oh I Thought I Was The Only One was written with the hopes of easing your pain by letting you feel less alone in dealing with the troubles in life. Through little insights, the book shows us how to live fully in every moment and how to be successful without compromise– the deep soul searching for harmony and happiness we all can achieve.





Oh I Thought I Was The Only One 2 is filled with 30 plus pieces of delightful artwork and was written for the kids ages 9 and up. This book was written specifically to help today’s kids deal with stressors in their daily lives, like bullying, shyness, friendships, exams, studying, divorce, etc.


Share with us the story behind your second book

After I wrote my first book, I told myself, I do not ever want to write again. Reason being there was so much involved in writing it is like writing using your blood and soul. You pour your heart in it, you immerse yourself emotionally, trying to empathize and put yourself in the other person’s shoes. So that was it I thought, I was happy it was on the best seller shelves in all the bookstores in Malaysia and in Singapore.

Then …Arizona Tan, happened, he was my friend’s teenage son. Arizona Tan, age 17, took his own life because he was depressed over not doing well in his studies.

For those who do not know about this case you can read/watch it here:-http://www.ntv7.com.my/7edition/local-en/DEPRESSED_OVER_STUDIES_STUDENT_FOUND_HANGED_IN_BEDROOM.html

Initially I thought of writing about how parents push their kids but then again I thought we cannot just jump to the conclusion that it was the parents’ fault, this is NOT the time to play the blame game, there are many many factors involve when it comes to suicide. More importantly is how does a person get through this feeling of hopelessness and helplessness? Let me share something very personal, at one point in my life I had also thought the balcony of a high rise building looked really inviting after my father’s death. So I too am not immune to this feeling which I feel is a strength, that perhaps I can share and understand. Only a person who has sunk to this depth and come out is able to truly understand how it feels like at that MOMENT when checking out seems like a good idea.I kept thinking what can I do, what can I do, I can’t just sit here and just accept things. Thus I was compelled to write again, and “Oh, I thought I was the Only One 2” was conceived. It is my deepest hope that together we can reach the children that needs this. No one truly knows, this can be the lifeline to a child.

Oh, I thought I was the only one 2 from jtwong on Vimeo.

Oh, I thought I was the only one 2 from jtwong on Vimeo.

What are you working on right now? What’s next?

1175158_209831302518627_1496229745_nCurrently just focusing on my T-shirt business at The Kopi Shop and continue drawing healing art for terminally ill children through this Facebook Page. I also work as a crisis counselor and advocate for survivors of assault, and teach seniors at an adult school.

Drawing healing art by Kopi Soh

Anything else you’d like to share?

There really is nothing much to know about me 😀

Thank you so much for your time, Kopi, and best wishes on all that you do!

And readers, I hope you enjoyed meeting the fabulous yet humble Kopi. Come follow Kopi on Twitter. Visit her sites above and support her work.

 sydney's song s logo



Tania Elizabeth, Australian author of fantasy novel “The Moon Clearing”


Tania Elizabeth, Australian author of “The Moon Clearing”, the first book in the fantasy series “The Tie of Eternal Grace” is visiting us today.


Tania is fundraising for Starlight Children's Foundation—helping sick children.

Tania is fundraising for Starlight Children’s Foundation—helping sick children. Click this image to donate.


Like each and every one of us, Tania’s own journey has been one of trials and tribulations, of love and of passions; and the dissolution of it. Heartache, sorrows, smiles and laughter always seeming. Though through the struggles, she found her true self. Through the words of Tatiana, her growth continued as further peace within was found. Alongside the words, her mentors and her guides of thee divine, Tania has healed within. That is not to say that she does not have her moments of ego minds elapse, though she has learnt to now understand what it is to acknowledge when this appears and to then surrender it’s wrath back to the universe. It is now Tania’s only dream to unite the world through Love, one soul at a time. And it all begins with a smile and an I LOVE YOU!


Tania Elizabeth, Australian author of  "The Tier of External Grace", a fantasy novel set in magical land—Eterna Fadas.

“Awake each day being grateful for who you are and all you have. The reading, the writing will all be as you have ever dreamed it to be, provided you have absolute faith and belief in oneself.”— Tania Elizabeth, Australian author of “The Moon Clearing”, a fantasy novel set in magical land Eterna Fadas.


Hello Tania, would you be so kind to give readers a one-sentence synopsis of “The Moon Clearing”?

Book One of the series ‘The Moon Clearing’ is an immersive tale of mysticism and adventure, of spiritual and sensual intent that shall enrapture your every sense.

How real are your characters?

Though this is a fantasy fiction, and thy beings are of an ethereal nature from a realm unlike that of our own. The stories of Tatiana and her people are wound into the conceptions of reality. Love, Compassion, betrayal, deceit, sexual energies. All emotions and acts felt on as much an undesirable standpoint as it is the assured. Each of the characters are also based on aspects of myself and that of people I have come into contact with throughout my lifetime. Therefore, I would like to say that my characters are very real.

Who or what inspired you to write this book? When did you first know you just had to write?

The inspiration arose from many things. My love of fantasy, in particular that of faeries. Though do not think childlike. These ethereal beings are one of strength, being sensually and spiritually consumed. Though my want for this trilogy was also of my love for wanting others to gain an understanding of themselves . . . to love oneself within. I wanted to create a story that not only allowed the reader to delve into an enchanting realm of every emotion under the sun, but to create a read that would enable the reader to begin a journey of self discovery. To gain an understanding for their own selves as well as that of others. Where judgment and fear did not hold strength.

How long did it take you to write the book?

Book One took 11 months in total.

How did you come up with the title?

The title came to me in meditation. I am of a very spiritual nature and have much faith in my connection with that of my higher self.

What is your favorite line in this book?

“Your heart was always in the right place even if it was in the wrong place!”


"The Moon Clearing", Book One of  the fantasy series The Tier of Eternal Grace Australian author Tania Elizabeth says, "The Moon Clearing is an immersive tale of mysticism and adventure, of spiritual and sensual intent that shall enrapture your every sense."

“The Moon Clearing”, Book One of the fantasy series The Tier of Eternal Grace. Its Australian author Tania Elizabeth says, “The Moon Clearing is an immersive tale of mysticism and adventure, of spiritual and sensual intent that shall enrapture your every sense.”


Thank you! Who would you say have been the most influential authors in your life? What is it that really strikes you about their work?

Enid Blyton. For it was her books, The Adventures of the Faraway Tree and The Wishing Chair in which had me lost in the fantasy worlds as a child.                      

Then you would have the classical and poetic writings of William Shakespeare. This being where my love for poetry began.                                                                   

And, last but certainly not least, I must mention, Florence Scovel Shinn, who wrote the book in which became the catalyst for my own journey of self,  love and discovery.

What story would you like to share about the joy, challenge, or hardship of writing?

The editing process. Not from my end, but from that of my editors. It took a few attempts at having them understand my poetic style of writing. Therefore they would change context to suit the general, when this is not as I had intended. I would then have to change things back. Though it has all been a learning curve, and one in which I could only grow from as a writer.

Who gives you the most encouragement? Why is that important to you?

It would have to be my three beautiful children and that of my father. Having them stand beside me on my own journey, only gives me further belief in my own strengths and that of all that I am capable of accomplishing.

What are you working on right now? Tell us your latest news.

At present I am writing the second book to the trilogy ‘The Mirrors Shadow’. A read of lost. Will thy be found? Through hearts beauty and the soul’s calling, will she awaken from her mind removed? Will their realm wield to the break?

Do you see writing as a career or distraction? Why?

My writings are that of heart and it is my passion. So as long as that still lives within me, then there will always be words to come.

How much do you have in common with your protag, Tania?

She is me. I am her. We are one and the same in regards to beliefs and thought processes. Though I am not capable of magic as she is, I do believe that we all attain the power to perform any such magic, provided complete belief and faith are held. What disables us as humans to have such power, is our human minds, which have been dealt those two things that stop us from doing and believing in all that we do . . .fear and doubt.

What are your hobbies?

I love the outdoors and staying active as much as possible. So hiking, swimming, kickboxing, gym and dance of course . . . I love to dance!

Sounds fun! What is your other profession? When do you find the time to write?

I am a mother first and foremost. Thus, my days are full with all that they do and are. They are my life. I also write a few columns. Though come by my night, and, that is when my magic happens. That is when I have time to become one with myself and that of my words.

Tell us a bit about who or what matters to you.

Besides that of my children. Family. Friends. Mother Earth. Truth. Faith. Belief. Gratitude and above all else, Love. For none of this would be possible without it.

How has your published work influenced others and their attitude towards you?

I am still me, just as I will forever be me. Though my attitude towards life has changed dramatically, and it is through those aspects that others have looked upon me differently. Though this had only been in a positive manner. As my friends all state, ‘I am a Love Bubble’. I love life and life loves me back.

 Any tips for us on reading or writing?

The only advise I have, is to awake each day being grateful for who you are and all you have. The reading, the writing will all be as you have ever dreamed it to be, provided you have absolute faith and belief in oneself.  

Great advice! What one thing is important for your readers/audience to know about you? Why?

I am an advocate for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Having seen first hand what these children and their families must go through on a day to day basis. To see what strength they must conjure every waking minute. By raising awareness and funds for such a worthy cause, I alongside so many others, help to make their lives just that little bit easier and assist in making their dreams come true. This is why at present I am running a fundraising event ‘Starlight Author’s Aid’.

The Starlight Children’s Foundation transforms the experience of hospitalisation and treatment for seriously ill children and their families- Starlight is the only children’s charity with a permanent , physical presence in very major paediatric hospital in the country. Every minute of every day a child is admitted to hospital in Australia. For thousands of these children what happens next is the diagnosis of a serious or chronic illness that changes their life, and the lives of their families, forever.

This is where Starlight steps in – delivering a range of innovative programs, built on the World Health Organisation’s social model of health, to support the well-being and resilience of these seriously ill children and their families. Starlight programs are integral to the total care of seriously ill children – while the health professionals focus on treating the illness, Starlight is there to lift the spirits of the child – giving them the opportunity to laugh and play and be a child again.

If anyone would like to help change the lives of seriously ill children and make a donation, even that of a single dollar, for every bit counts, you may do so via this link: Starlight Children’s Foundation.

Thank you so much for your time, Tania!

Readers,  I hope you have enjoyed meeting Tania; now let’s support her cause!  Come visit Tania’s Facebook, blog and YouTube. Her book “The Tier of Eternal Grace” is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.





sydney's song s logo





ANZAC DAY, Lest We Forget


Waratah, the flower of New South Wales

Waratah, the flower of New South Wales


Am on holiday; just want to express heartfelt gratitude to those who have sacrificed their lives for this country.

My late spiritual father once said something to this effect, “Look at the Great Barrier Reef. How magnificent! And the beauty that you can see is due to the enormous sacrifices of the previous generations, who are now hidden beneath the surface. The same thing applies to mankind. What you enjoy now, is the result of the earlier people who have worked very hard, fought and sacrificed for you, and yet you can’t see them anymore. They are never insignificant, nevertheless.”

Wherever you are in the world, I hope we’ll all continue to give our best for the advancement  of our countries, for we will become the platforms where our future generation will stand on.


Lest we forget. My heartfelt gratitude.

Lest we forget. My heartfelt gratitude.





Happy Australia Day to fellow Aussies



Australia Day


Today I released my Spanish edition La CANCIÓN de SYDNEY to the Sydney’s multi-cultural society and to Spanish readers worldwide.

Oh well, it’s past midnight now in the Aussieland, but like most of you I was busy celebrating the day. I hope you all had fun, and will have fun in making great contributions to the world’s betterment this year.

Thanking my non-Aussie friends for sending me their best wishes today. Many of you have often told me, “Australia? Lucky country!” Well, it sure is a lucky country, because here we’re guaranteed the freedom of human rights and given a fair go in the things we do and believe in; and here’s a country when after a disaster people will roam the streets, not to loot, but to lend the victims a helping hand in every possible way.

Spanish readers: Lea los capítulos de muestra GRATIS aqui.

Other news: my English brochure for 2013 London Book Fair:

lp (1)

SYDNEY FESTIVAL: dates with Sydney and Pete

Song Dong: Waste Not




Summer is here. It’s Sydney Festival! And here’s what Sydney says about it in SYDNEY’S SONG:

“Pete and I went out a lot. We used public transport everywhere. Our specialty. The 1300500 dates, we dubbed them.

Sometimes our backpacker friends joined us. On a few nights we joined them in the city. At 1300500, you always knew what was happening in Sydney. The backpacker lot knew more about which entertainment was free. Heaps of free quality ones all of January. Music. Plays. Some by world-class performers. Many celebs were here, jetting down as part of our summerlong Sydney Festival.”


For those of you planning to be in Sydney this Australian summer, below are several FREE upcoming activities you may enjoy. Source: Sydney Festival




January 5 2pm-4pm

Duration 2hours

Darling Harbour


Florentijn Hofman’s giant bobbing artwork Rubber Duck


For the duration of the Festival, Darling Harbour will be home to Florentijn Hofman’s giant bobbing artwork Rubber Duck. Join Sydney Festival at Cockle Bay to celebrate the arrival of Florentijn Hofman’s Rubber Duck with music, dance and a floating party when acclaimed director Patrick Nolan rolls out the welcome mat with a harbour spectacle befitting this gigantic arrival.

If you’re a saxophonist, there’s a great opportunity to get involved in The Arrival and work with composer Scott Saunders to welcome the Rubber Duck to Darling Harbour.




January 6, 9-13 & 16-20 at Sunrise

Duration 20mins


Arkady Shilkloper (Russia)


Arkady Shilkloper (Russia)

Surfers, runners and early starters are in for a treat as Russian horn player Arkady Shilkloper brings his giant alphorn to iconic Sydney sites for a series of dawn callings.

These serenades to the sun will take place on beaches, ferries and city sites in the early hours, as Shilkloper helps you greet the new day.

A masterful performer, Shilkloper has played solo and with Moscow Art Trio (Sydney Festival 2009), the Vienna Art Orchestra and many more.



Sunday January 6

Bondi Beach (along Esplanade at the ‘Groin’)

Wednesday January 9
Manly Ferry

Thursday January 10
Ballast Park Point, Birchgrove

Saturday January 12
Darling Harbour (near Rubber Duck, Druitt Street landing)

Sunday 13 January
Balmoral Beach (along Esplanade walkway at Rotunda)

Wednesday January 16
Sydney Opera House Point

Thursday January 17
Manly Beach (North Steyne on Corso)

Friday January 18
Royal Botanic Gardens (next to Art Gallery of NSW overlooking Wharf by stairs down to Woolloomooloo)

Additional performance locations to be announced for Friday January 11, Saturday January 19 and Sunday January 20.





January 5 – 27 from dawn to dusk

Georges Heights Lookout, Middle Head Road, Mosman

Sir Harrison Birtwistle (UK)

Australian Exclusive – Sir Harrison Birtwistle (UK)

British composer Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s extraordinary electronic work Chronometer was recorded in 1971 at Peter Zinovieff’s pioneering London studio EMS. The piece comprises percussive samples constructed from meticulous recordings of Big Ben and the Wells Cathedral clock in the British Science Museum. Chronometer all but vanished when technological advances revolutionised recording and sound.

The rediscovery of the work reads like a piece of detective fiction with a happy ending: the original quadraphonic tape restored and digitised, safeguarding it for future generations.

Hear the piece while lounging on a beanbag and enjoying the stunning view from Georges Heights Lookout.

“His music is a vital, essential, life force which you need to hear” The Guardian (on Sir Harrison Birtwistle)




January 5, 7:30pm-11pm

Duration 3hours

The Domain, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

Charles Bradley, soul singer



When day turns to night, it’s time to party in the park, Sydney Festival style.
Ride to Day One and take advantage of the FREE bike valet-parking service from City of Sydney from 5.30 until 11.30pm in The Domain.
In The Domain from 7.30pm, join 60,000 of your closest friends for the Daptone Super Soul Revue; a huge outdoor dance party featuring Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, The Budos Band, Menahan Street Band and Sugarman 3, with the super cool Binky Griptite from the Dap-Kings as MC for the evening.

From the House of Soul to the Domain stage, the Daptone Super Soul Revue is a nonstop 3-hour show starring a red-hot selection of artists from the infamous Brooklyn label Daptone Records, the indie label which has delivered delectable nuggets of Soul, Funk, Gospel and Afrobeat to the world for the last decade. Musician-owned and run, the Brooklyn-based family of soul-drenched talent channels the spirits of bygone powerhouses like Stax and Motown into gilded moments of movement and joy.
Sharon Jones returns to Sydney Festival with her 10-piece backing band The Dap-Kings. Known for her relentless energy and soulful voice, Jones and her awesome band are the perfect choice to celebrate the return of summer and Sydney Festival!

They’ll be joined by 60-something brilliant soul-singer Charles Bradley, who was discovered late in a very difficult life. A fateful encounter with Daptone Records transported Bradley from an uncertain future to the release of his debut album in 2011 and playing to sold-out audiences around the world. Come see for yourself why he’s nicknamed the “Screaming Eagle of Soul”!

With three full-length albums and one EP under their belts, The Budos Band finally make their Australian debut. The sound of the Budos has taken several turns, from the Afrofunk-inspired sonic lava and venomous Ethiopian jazz of their first two records to the Black Sabbath and Pentagram influences that began on Budos III and continue into the preparation of the fourth.
The Menahan Street Band is a collaboration of musicians from The Dap-Kings, Antibalas and the Budos Band, brought together by musician/producer Thomas Brenneck to record hits in the bedroom of his Menahan St. apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn. With influences reaching beyond the funk/soul/afrobeat architecture of the members’ other projects into the more ethereal realms of Curtis Mayfield and Mulatu Astatke, and even Ennio Morricone, the Menahan Street Band creates a unique new instrumental sound that is as raw as it is lush.

Saxophonist and founder of Daptone Records Neal Sugarman is behind The Sugarman 3, an organ-driven soul machine who quickly defined its sound as a break from the academics of typical soul-jazz by focusing on the soulful funk element of organ music and avoiding the affectations and clichés which too often alienate jazz musicians from the dance floor.


Get involved with Fun Run

January 5 9:30am – 2:30pm

Duration 5hours

Hyde Park
When the Greek messenger Pheidippides ran to Athens to announce the defeat of Persia in the battle of Marathon, he ran 42.2 kilometres without stopping, burst into the Athenian assembly, delivered his news and died on the spot. FUN RUN is his story.

This athletic celebration lifts you from curious onlooker to dancing cheerleader, as our sporting hero ‘Humphrey’ runs a marathon on stage. Supported by DJs, pyrotechnics and his own dance troupe ‘Haus da Humps’, Sydneysiders are invited to join hundreds of local sports and community groups as they dance, ride,  flex and cheer ‘Humps’ across the finish line.




January 26 at 11am

Sydney Harbour


Sydney’s Ferrython

Few sights on Sydney Harbour in summer are as spectacular as the hugely popular Australia Day race, when Sydney’s trademark ferries compete for line honours each year.
Pack a picnic hamper, gather on the foreshore and barrack for your favourite ferry as they race from Circular Quay to Shark Island then back to the finishing post under the Harbour Bridge.




January 12, 19, 26 at 11.30pm
over 18s venue from 5pm

The Famous Spiegeltent, Honda Festival Garden, Hyde Park

Hot Dub Time Machine

All aboard Hot Dub Time Machine, the world’s first time-travelling dance party!

Travel back in time to 1954 then boogie back to 2013 with a song for each year powered by YOUR dancing! Sold out shows across the world agree: this is the Best. Party. Ever!



January 19

Church St
Parramatta CBD

Pyrophone Juggernaut

As the sun sets on Church Street Parra Opening Party erupts to the flamed-fuelled sights and sounds of Hubbub Music’s Pyrophone Juggernaut .

Based on a 250-year-old experimental musical instrument, Pyrophone Juggernaut is the largest hand-operated multi-octave fire organ in the world. Deep growls, atavistic moans, and even choral sounding timbres combine with epic bell chords, industrial drums and acoustic bass to create a jaw-dropping symphony of sound and fire. This giant instrument, made from stainless steel, copper and aluminium industrial salvage is sure to set pulses racing and toes-a-tapping!




January 26 at 8pm

The Domain, Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney

Sydney Symphony

Conductor André de Ridder

Sydney Symphony at The Domain

Kick back and enjoy iconic classical music from Stanley Kubrick’s cinematic masterpieces. Enjoy the thrilling and evocative music of Rossini, Bach, Purcell, Khachaturian and Elgar featured in A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Eyes Wide Shut, 2001: A Space Odyssey and The Shining.

ROSSINI: Overture to La gazza ladra (The Thieving Magpie)
BEETHOVEN: Symphony No.9 in D minor, Op.125 (Choral): Mvt.2, Scherzo
PURCELL: March & Canzona for the Funeral of Queen Mary, Z.860: Mvt 1, March
BACH: Concerto in C minor for oboe, violin and strings, BWV1060: Mvts. II & III Adagio & Allegro
ROSSINI: William Tell: Overture                                                                 SHOSTAKOVICH: Suite for variety orchestra: Mvt 7, Waltz No.2
BARTÓK: Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta: Mvt.3, Adagio
KHACHATURIAN: Suite No.1 from Gayane: Mvt. 7, Gayane’s Adagio
ELGAR: Pomp and Circumstance – March No.4 in G
TCHAIKOVSKY: 1812 – Festival Overture, Op.49

2001: A Space Odyssey will be accompanied live by Sydney Symphony and Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, screened at Sydney Opera House.




January 26 at 8pm

The Parade Ground @ Old King’s


Archie Roach

Into The Bloodstream

Archie Roach is celebrated as one of Australia’s most gifted artists. Since his 1990 debut Charcoal Lane,he has released a stream of remarkable albums, receiving praise from and touring with Bob Dylan, Billy Bragg, Patti Smith and more.

A born-storyteller, Archie plays songs from his new album Into The Bloodstream. His songs map a journey through hardship to healing, as he lifts himself and others up through music.

Archie is joined by a 13-piece music ensemble and a 10-voice gospel choir to create an inspiring and soulful performance, headlining a fantastic night of free family entertainment to close this year’s Festival in Parramatta.



Those are some of the freebies. Of course if you’re cashed up, there are so many paid events at the following venues. Have a lovely summer!