After Yasi


Could you find your smile again when everything around you looked smashed and splintered after a cyclone?

The memory of that Yasi filled cyclone night is something that will never be fully erased, but the kindness since shown is something that with time will be more powerful.

This book illustrates with photographs and stories, the resilience and strong spirit of the Cassowary Coast people recovering their smile within and rebuilding their community spirit after Cyclone Yasi.

Especially suitable for community arts workers, health workers, volunteers, artists, writers, council, community planners, working in natural disaster zones and looking for practical ways creativity can assist in recovery.  May also be inspiring to people in natural disaster areas seeking inspiration to start their own community healing projects.

Book by June Perkins and Residents of the Cassowary Coast. June was a guest blogger for ABC Open’s Aftermath Project.

  • Hard Cover (pdf of the coffee table book version also available)
  • Paperback
  • E book is no longer available until further notice except as pdf of hard cover.
Coffee Table Book

The physical books are attractive objects that make you just want to turn the pages and take in the journey back to joy, especially suitable for libraries and organisations looking for ways to use creativity to assist in the process of recovery and wanting a physical object for inspiration.  This book was displayed by a charity organisation during their community books display at Mission Beach to show inspiring ways to create new memories after a cyclone.


Spooktacular Stories

Congratulations to the producer and contributors of Spooktacular Stories on becoming finalists in the Book Excellence Awards!

This is a special anthology to be part of, firstly because for every book sold, one is donated for readers stuck in hospitals, looking for both courage and entertainment.

Secondly, because some hugely talented writers are featured within.

I chose to contribute a story about a family’s encounter with a storm.  ‘Storm Girl’  channels a lot of personal experience into an authentic story for children on how to deal with the memory of a natural disaster. It has taken a long time for me to truly write this story.

But I like to adopt many tones and purposes for story and also contributed a humorous poem about facing fear!

A huge thank you to Share Your Story for providing opportunities for others to have a voice, and in mentoring, in both writing and business.

May the Share Your Story anthology projects go from strength to strength, and their contributors build amazing careers as writers, illustrators and storytellers.

Blogging the North

And still the stories are shared!


6157868311_3a4586f681_b A House Destroyed by Cyclone Yasi but the Roses are Growing – by June Perkins

16-06-28 WQ Perkins June 2016 Facebook link image replacement full width

For More Visit Click on this Link

I’ve had an article republished by the Queensland Writer’s Centre.

It covers the story of how I become a blogger for community for ABC Open’s aftermath.

See posts like Tupperware Houses and A Guide to Documenting Disasters.

This was the time my Smile Within Book  and exhibition began to be created.

You can still purchase the ebook online through the Australian Society of Authors.

Other Relevant Links

The Smile Within Blogspot

Smile Within WordPress

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Invitation to Magic Fish Dreaming Blog

I invite all readers of this blog to join my Magic Fish Dreaming Blog.

This new blog is to keep you up to date with the project to create the book Magic Fish Dreaming.

If we are able to raise the funds through kickstarter you can expect more beautiful pages like this.

This book is set in the land where After Yasi took place, but it does not dwell on that aspect of life in the Cassowary Coast.

This is only a rough placing of text, as the designer will come on board a bit later.

A big thank you to Matilda Elliot, the editor.  She has been on board since the beginning: encouraging, critiquing and believing in the power and promise of poetry.

As for the talented Helene Magisson, I will share more about this wonderful illustrator soon.



You can find the facebook page in the sidelinks.

Guinea Pigs, Chooks and Dragonflies

The Guinea Pig Mansion

‘Calico likes to eat his way out of everything,’ my daughter is giggling her story out to a fellow guinea pig lover.  The girls haven’t seen each other for a few months.  We haven’t been venturing too far since the cyclone and not necessarily visiting too many people.  However it’s about time we caught up with these friends.  They live up the road just outside of Innisfail, which was in the path of the cyclone and was for a time where the media thought it was definitely going to hit.  Although Tully, Cardwell and Mission Beach were more severely physically hit that is not to say other areas haven’t felt the impact of the cyclone in other ways.

My daughter’s friend’s Mum and I are discussing what we did with the guinea pigs during the cyclone.  They used cardboard boxes and a washing basket to bring them inside.  We bought ours inside as well.  Ours had straw lined orange plastic crates that were very cheap.  They were very comfy.  I still can’t believe they slept through the cyclone, even with the tree falling on the house.  They only needed an occasional pat when they became just slightly distressed about the whole thing.  Their little squeaks were barely a whimper.

Prior to the cyclone we’d been a bit worried about them as someone told us her guinea pigs all died of heart attacks during cyclone Larry.  The kids knew this and were very watchful of their little ones.

A few weeks before the cyclone was apparent, and made its journey to us, the kids had bought two guinea pigs.  They began with Chocolate and Misty, and the new ones to join the brood were Calico and Soot.  It took a while to introduce them to each other.

When a new set of guinea pigs meet they must have time to adjust to each other.  My eldest explained the psychology of it to me in great detail, as he tends to google all things guinea pig.  They were not getting along yet, but had been getting used to being near each other with pens alongside each other.  The first few meetings a pecking order was being established.

Calico definitely wanted to be boss, but none of the others were having it – especially Misty, who can be rather stand offish, and was not giving over any power.  Sometimes however they were delighted with each other, and purred even.  But then a plane of something would fly over the garden and they’d all be fighting each other.  ‘Guinea pig wars can be slowed down by a towel being thrown over them,’ our googling guinea pig expert told us, demonstrating by dampening the fight with one of our towels.

The days went on in the lead up to the cyclone with quite slow progress to friendship occurring.  Each day the guinea pigs spent some time with each other.  The kids bought them inside for separate cuddle time still though as they were a bit weary of breaking up fights.

Then along came Yasi.    It was very stressful leaving our pet guinea pigs behind in the eye of the storm.  I just had too much to carry with scared kids, cyclone kits, and the worry about how long we really had to take it all to the car and get going.  My eldest son and his Dad were off clearing a path for the car to make it out of the drive way and I couldn’t see them in the dark.  I called out to them- and as I did so dropped some parts of the cyclone kit.  I couldn’t grab four guinea pigs, and two birds to add to the refugees from the home.

Although we lost Peep, we have gained some new friends, like this tree frog.

My youngest son was very distressed about this.  ‘We leave them in the hands of God.’ This was all I could say to comfort him. ‘If they die they died to save you – and allowed us to make it to the car and out of her before the eye of storm ends.’

So we left them.  I thought of them all night, prayed that they were safe in the bathroom were we had nearly stayed.  I really hoped that they were well.  It was such a relief when we saw them and of course Peep – still alive at that stage and Buddy our little quail was also fine.

After Yasi the guinea pigs were rescued from our NG marked home and placed in a cage in the garden of another friend’s house.  They had to be together, we didn’t have the luxury of a spare cage as their other one was a bit cyclone damaged.  We were watchful and put a couple of them inside a washing basked inside the other cage.  We found next morning they had Houdini like made their way out.  They were all getting along famously.  Not convinced we put two back under the wash basket.  Again they escaped, and still showed they were great mates now.    They all snuggled together, and were not going to be separated by anyone -a new home brought a new attitude.

Of course when we had to move them again to their actual new home, our new home, around twelve days later we were a little concerned things might go backwards.  They didn’t like leaving their comfy surroundings much for the first few days, but it didn’t take long and they loved the new home.  We were happy they did not suddenly drop dead like Peep.  Concerned for Buddy we went and tracked down a female quail at the pet store, and paid for her and bought her home.  Buddy has never been happier and they now have quail eggs, although they aren’t particularly good parents to them.

They now have a deluxe apartment no less on our balcony for wet weather, and a couple of out door hutches whenever it is dry and sunny for them.  They kids have purchased them a pet bed which they can’t wait to try out.  My eldest son thinks first of his pets whenever we go out.  ‘They need something soft’ and what about their food and today he said ‘Now Mum don’t forget their vegetables and check their water.’ Which I do everyday when they are away without being told, but I am sure he just feels that little bit extra protective of his surviving pets.

There have also been bath days.  It’s always a lot of fun to watch as all of them love the water, which is not true for all guinea pigs.  They are then wrapped in towels.  I have special old towels for guinea pigs now and they are kept in a cane basket for the kids to access.  They love snuggling their guinea pigs and watching them sleep, which is one of their favourite occupations after eating, and purring.  Although there are occasions on which they indicate they are watching television.

Now the other amazing story of Yasi, apart of the survival of guinea pigs who have hearts of steel, has to be the survival of chook houses.  You would have thought with all of the torn up sheds that a chook house would have  ended up somewhere on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, but no they made it!! We went to check on some friends after the cyclone.  We drove to lots of people’s houses as we couldn’t ring them as the power was out and that was when we were proudly shown the surviving chook houses.  Some people had taken their chooks indoors and others hadn’t but all of our friends’ chooks had made it through.

Last cyclone I saw lots of butterflies afterwards.  This time I don’t see so many –but our new garden has lots of dragon flies.  They have the most delicate wings, and yet they make their flight so easily.  Other friends have seen butterflies though, and one tells me they surrounded her.  It was simply amazing for her as they settled on her shoulders and in her hair.  I love picturing her as a butterfly woman being healed by the butterflies who say, ‘Don’t worry about silly old Yasi.’  I don’t hear this story until a month after the cyclone.

Again we haven’t seen each other mainly because we are so busy moving stuff in a Ute from our sodden house to the new one, and she also is busy sorting out insurance and those practical things that happen after cyclones.   She tells me about how she had hoped to have my family out to the farm to go on the walking trails and river to see the land and the crocodiles where her family live.  Her husband had made all these trails but Yasi has knocked the trees and debris over them.  It will take a long time to build them again.

Butterfly from the old home

A poem for healing……..

Butterfly woman
Touched by the healing wings
Knows that nature sometimes
Takes away precious things

But Nature returns more than suffering
Placing the love of purple orchid flowers in my lap
She whispers to the sun and rain
To give the forest a smiling refrain
She sometimes is stormy
All bolt and lights that scare in the night

Then she is depositing a Prince from the skies
It will all heal she says and we know she tells no lies
Because once before her son Larry stormed through this space
And people joked he was looking for his takeaway
But now much lost then is returned
And more will return
Giving peace to the butterfly woman
Touched by the healing wings

(c) June Perkins, All rights reserved words and images.

First posted 21/3/2011. All our guinea pigs have now passed on. They survived a cyclone, lived happy lives, but one by one they all passed on. Dear little things.

This is not included in the After Yasi ebook, but is part of the blogged story of our recovery and resilience journey.  I may collate all these blogs into a book at some point.

How to Use Silly to cope with a Natural Disaster – Interview by Jedda Bradley

A full transcript of the interview with Jedda.

Conversations with Creative Souls


Ten BIG, medium and tiny Questions for June….who lived through the terrifying nail-biting cyclone Yasi that hit the Cassowary Coast of North Queensland and then she had to clean the s*** up. Really not fair! I mean, it’s bad enough going to a scary movie and having to remember to take my popcorn box and my coke container to the bin but this kind of clean up you can’t even get the hoover out and just let it suck everything up.

So June….

1) What implement is most effective in cleaning up after a cyclone?

If you have one, or can borrow one, a chainsaw!

2) What clothes are best for cleaning up after a cyclone? And if you had to create a brand of unique clothes just for cleaning up after a cyclone what would you call it?

Anything you’d paint your house in and don’t care about…

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Winners of the After Yasi Ebook Giveaway


Free Ebook

Jocelyn Hawes

Heidi DenRonden

Melissa Robertson

Matilda Elliot

Noeleen Bowen

Renee Hills

Julie Headlam

Paul Vander loos

Suzanne Miller

Shirley Lynn (plus print of your choice)

Danny Letham (plus print of your choice)

Winners were selected from the blog hop and also from the launch live chats and launch space.

Highlights of the After Yasi Blog Tour and Launch


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On the Interviews

As I was reading your article, I captured the essence of two creative spirits, who both connect with others through creative pursuit driven by personal initiative inspiring others through the work they do. Two wonderful women, Mel and June – humble in the process of what they do yet worthy of so much praise-. Shirl Lynn X (musician, songwriter)

Such a remarkable book, June! Very inspirational and a testimony to the strength of the human spirit. – Jacqueline Halpin  (author)

More fantastic insights gained through skilful questioning. Brilliant idea about the comedy-style T-shirts and the use of humour to diffuse stress, done so expertly by David. A very Aussie (and Qld) type of response that many people will chuckle about for some time I should think!

Thanks Jedda and June for a great pit-stop on the Blog-Hop journey.What an insightful and compassionate person you are June! Reading this interview allows us to share in your very personal journey in a unique way, just as After Yasi does. Great questions and very considered responses that should be inspirational to all.- Matilda  Elliot(author and ABC Open contributor)

Reminds me of my cyclone days back in Townsville as a child. But not in the least way as stressful to read about now June. GPigs LOL, good one David

Great job June. I would so love for more people to view and experience this wonderful book of yours first hand. Been terrific so far and I’m not kidding when I say, it was an absolute pleasure being part of your tour. 🙂

A fantastic post Alison! So useful, informative and sensible. So often we drag our ‘luggage’ aka offspring through our own emotional turmoil and angst forgetting their needs and comprehension of what is happening around them may be far removed from our own Thank you June for illustrating how to overcome certain trauma on every level and at all ages. –

Dimity Powell(author and reviewer)

Congrats June, on the launch of After Yasi.
Just loved reading your insightful interview here.
And getting to understand what drives you.
Thanks Dimity… -Karen Tyrrell (resilience author and workshop presenter)

I relate to June’s story years ago when I was younger, much younger we experienced a devastating cyclone in Bowen. The old building we sheltered in was on the top of hill as it blew down around us … we shuddered as each gust of wind hit the building for hours on end. . It was the longest day and most terrifying night of my life. .Fortunately central rooms held as we all huddled together. The next day the sun shone as the townsfolk picked up the pieces and fell off roofs while trying to repair then. Chaos continued for weeks after but we bonded and made new friends because of what we had shared and survived. . – Jocelyn  Hawes (author)

A tragic but heartwarming story of the total impact of a cyclone. As a Brisbanite I’ve never lived thru a cyclone, the closest is seeing the results of the recent mini cyclone storm that trashed my son’s unit at Moorooka. So I say to those survivors of Yasi, God bless you all, that’s as close as a human will get to hell. – Steve

Stories are as clear today as back then. A truly inspiring family – and some very cute guinea pigs too! -Melissa  Robertson

Resilience, recovery and rebuilding a new life, the hallmarks of survivors. Congratulations on your book. – Noeleen

Thanks for sharing these tips on resilience in the aftermath of major weather events, June and Karen. June’s book is full of inspiration and heart-touching photos. I think it will encourage survivors and helpers. – Ali Stegert (student counsellor and author)

Great to read how different people cope in the space of a disaster and how people need to be given grace afterwards in the recovery process. Rebecca (author)

Your presentation of “After Yasi” is wonderful. Love the interview!! Good luck, June! Carol Campbell(poet)

Thoughtful, caring review. Well done June and Ali. – Renee (author)

I am in Mission till 16th seems weird the anniversary of Yasi who changed our lives forever. Black Cockatoo’s in the trees next to the beach. – Julie Headlam (photographer)

Such a useful article, June and Charmaine. June talks about these issues with such compassion and serenity. A few major media outlets and a handful of rogue journos could learn a thing or two from her, I reckon! I love the documentary video featuring her son. Stay tuned to the blog hop to see it. Ali (student counsellor and author)

This was an in depth interview which more fully introduced us to June. She has little snippets about herself in the book but I feel that I know her even better now!! Nice to meet both of you here and in this way! – Carol (poet)

Awesome advice June. You are a shining example of how documenting the story of others can also help in one’s own recovery from natural disaster. You are an inspiration to me 🙂 – Heidi Den Ronden  (Red Cross volunteer and fellow aftermath contributor)

Thanks for sharing this resource June. I wasn’t in the region at the time of Yasi but was on Dunk Island over the weekend and saw its devastation first hand. I also think there’s a power in community documentation of a traumatic event – and you’ve showed us why, and how to go about it. – Gemma Deavin (ABC Open producer)

This is very well written June. I can feel the mounting tension as it affects your family. You are doing a brilliant job bringing the impact of cyclone Yasi to the awareness of the wider community. – Suzanne  Miller (blogger and poet)

On the Launch

Such a wonderful event June Perkins just so impressed with everything you did here today. I was on the road most of the day but made it home to mission beach this afternoon. Melinda (Aid worker and musician)

My friend, June Perkins launched her ebook today – this is a related clip about what my organisation did in 2011 during the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi. Robyn Good and Tiny Good were instrumental in getting our Operation Angel to its full potential. Along with other wonderful volunteers. Let’s hope Australia has a 2015 free of major disasters. Jacqueline Pascarl (Operation Angel)

Love the poem Breathe. That’s all I’ve had time to experience so far. Well done June. This is a wonderful project.– Renee Hills

This is the tremendous launch of an ebook – Operation Angel will be included for our work in Far North Queensland following Cyclone Yasi. Very humbled to have been part of this effort.

– Jacqueline Pascarl (Operation Angel) 

Between checks-in here I have been dotting around the various links from the Joining Instructions on your blog. Your soundcloud posting as well as being a really good performance is quite remarkable in a wider context – had I not known the back story I would have taken the lines about roofs and insurance adjusters as a synecdoche-metaphor for all the turbulence and hassle in our lives. (And indeed the synecdoche-metaphor of the breathing as a form of calm to help rise above whatever turbulence does pertain as much as the literal fact of that beneficial therapy of the time.)There is a big positive-from-negative here in the form of a work of art informed by life-lesson not so much learned (because you knew much of it anyway I think) as applied, and then re-applied the specific to inform the general. Yes such storytellers are indeed vital. – Danny (UK)

Hi June, I won’t be about for the live chat today – I have been watching and also wanted to share the following:
With June’s e-book Launch today, I was compelled to revisit the documented stories that she gathered and published in her book, “After Yasi”. Revisiting the stories and memories captured within I was reminded of the devastation caused by this traumatic event, the upheavel, the loss and despair while June’s book also imparted to me the strength of spirit as people shared and cared for each other to facilitate the healing. ‘Finding the smile within’ – that’s such a beacon for healing. Well done June, and congratulations on the launch now or your e-book for this publication.

As a prolific writer and arts worker I have seen your commitment and progressive development through the works that you share. Thank you always for sharing. I always smile when I receive a post or two from you because it affirms the constancy of your commitment and passion to the work you do and the journey you are on. Your book will always remind me that whatever the circumstance there is a need to always be able to find that smile within. Thank you. – Shirley Lynn( prize winning songwriter)


Winners of the blog hop competition and for free ebook or photo print to be announced  and contacted soon. Thank you to all of those who participated in the online discussions.  To follow the blog trail see the side links under blog hop.

Launch of After Yasi


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Welcome to the Launch of After Yasi, Finding the Smile Within.  So wish it was possible to be with you all in person.

I did think about doing a live broadcast, but am not quite that advanced yet. One day. Instead here is the launch program for today and if you like for inspiration and to imagine we are all together in real space visit the video of the launch of the physical book.

Make sure you have your favourite healthy or unhealthy snack with you, and if you can your favourite people, friends, family, or pets.

Now be prepared for a travel through some links and keep this page open so you can see where to go to next.

Do any or all of the 8 activities, listed to participate in the launch. It’s totally up to you what you do, in what order etc.


  1. Listen to this…

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