Peep’s Story

Story on website only not in the After Yasi book.

Yasi took some things from us that we will never have back again.  It took away our beloved Peep.

Peep was a mynah bird, considered a pest up here, and as a chick it fell out of a tree.  It should have been eradicated, but ‘we took it out of the gene pool’ and it became our family pet.

Peep was hand reared by the kids and me (when they were at school), and became very tame.  It liked to sit on people’s shoulders, especially my eldest son’s.  Sometimes it even tried to play the guitar, and it had just worked out how to bite and pull the strings to produce an effective note.

Peep loved to peck your fingers when you typed at the computer.  It was a pain.  I had to use bionicle claw to shoo it away as nothing else worked.

Peep loved to sit on your head, especially eldest’s bushy red hair.  We think it may have been a girl because it kept nesting a lot the last few months.  We gave it twigs and things for its cage to play with.

Not that Peep spent much time in a cage.  As soon as Eldest was home that bird was royalty.  It went for walks on people’s shoulders around the oval, and David and our eldest son, taught it to hunt for bugs.

Peep liked to mimic the telephone and other birds, like lorikeets.  We think he had a wagtail and another mynah bird that visited him at his cage and spoke with him.

Peep liked to play with string like a kitten.  It liked bright things!  It liked to try and iron creases in clothing with its beak, and loved my bright skirts.  It thought it was the centre of its universe, but welcomed us into that universe.  Sometimes I think Peep thought it was human.

Before the cyclone like most animals and people Peep was on edge.  It kept diving into every available water container I had filled that didn’t have a lid.  I went to take him outside, just to calm him down, silly me, and he flew away with a passing flock of birds- it happened so quickly and he was gone over the cane fields.  Oh no!  I thought he was lost forever and eldest would never forgive me.  I went out calling for him Peep, PEEEEP and darned bird it made me cry.

My youngest said, ‘Come in Mummy don’t go too far please.’  I kept calling Peep, peeeep and finally had to give up as the winds picked up and youngest got frantic.  My eldest kept calling too, and whistling, he loved to whistle for Peep, and then miracle of miracles, Peep the prodigal bird returned two hours later, without so much as an explanation and with two other Mynah birds in tow who took off when they saw humans.  Peep was back.

During the cyclone Peep was doing okay.  It had food, us and of course the guinea pigs it liked to preen every now and then, and it hopped from shoulder to shoulder but it did get more frantic.  We had to put it in its own room as we did not have a spare portable cage.  After all Peep had little use for cages except his large bird penthouse at bedtime.  And it was really crazy when the tree came through the roof with a loud THUD.  We took Peep with us to the bathroom which we had decided to flee, but left him and quail and the guinea pigs there.  It was so hard for the kids to say goodbye to them but impossible for us to carry all the animals and the cyclone gear and kids.

So off we went into the night leaving them there.  Our guinea pigs (another story) slept through much of the cyclone.  They were calmer than Peep.  They only needed the occasional pat, although we were worried for them.  All through the night I wondered how they fared.

The next day we went back to the house.  They seemed okay. We kept them there, and came back to feed them until we had found somewhere to move them.  Peep seemed okay.  We visited each day and fed all the pets.

It was only a day to the new home, and then sadly a phone call from my friend were Peep was staying, Peep had died.  We do not know exactly what killed him, perhaps it was shock from the cyclone.

I went off somewhere private and cried.  My eldest was angry for a few hours at the whole situation that had happened for his bird.  We went down to the Cassowary Coastal Recovery centre and I cried on the way in there.  In the end some Lifeline people came and sat with us and we could speak a little about the loss of the bird.

Then we went to pick up Peep’s body.  It was a brilliantly sunny day. We took him to bury him at our old house.  We dug a hole and took the box he was in and put it under a tree.  David asked that Peep’s spirit protect the trees from future cyclones, and we said some Baha’i prayers. The wagtail, that might have been his friend, looked on.  What was left of the trees was not much but the lorikeets went looking through them for food.

Some of the staff from the school saw us and came over to bring us some chocolate cake.   They saw we were in the middle of serious proceedings and waited.  Goodbye little Peep, to fly for evermore through the forest, no longer considered a pest, but our little hero bird.

Why is Peep a hero?  Because it bought such joy to our family, tried to save two other mynah birds, survived the cyclone, and because it was Peep!


(c) June Perkins

Red NG club of Cyclone Yasi

Snapped Kauri Pine near Feluga and our old home (c) June Perkins

Story on website only.

We joined the red ng club.  NG means no go.  Your property is not safe for others to tarp or help remove stuff from.  However, we are getting everything out that we can. The red ng has meant we can’t get any help from organisations and must do the best we can.

It is a race against time as the ceilings  in two rooms are gonna go!  We have most of the important stuff out, photo albums, Baha’i books and diaries.

The school Principal has been brilliant, ringing David to see how he was yesterday, and David has had the teacher union, counsellors, and others listen to him.  She made sure a house was found for us and has been concerned for the well being of David and his family.  Some people really rise to the occassion.  We are both very impressed.

Some people, not organisational, have come and helped us remove things from the house and bought their utes, an awful lot we have do with car boot load, after car boot load.   We are on load five of boot loads today.  I conked out at load 3 and David and our eldest son continue.

The highlight of today was David telling me the eagles are back nesting in the remaining Kauri pine.  This really lifted my spirits.  It is giving its own definition of ng, not going- but staying.  On you eagles!

We’ve spent a few nights in our new home.  It is beginning to feel like home, because home truly is where your family is and you don’t need anything else to make it home.  I would be happy if the roof fell into tomorrow at our old house, just knowing we have our family around us and our friends.  It is good to know they are all safe.

I will be doing the hero roll call for our family soon.  But just one precious act was someone leaving fresh towels and sheets in case ours were damp on our door step at the new house.  We wouldn’t have been able to find any with so much soggy and water damaged, plus we were tired.  What angels!!! I don’t know who you are but this was so special for our family to have new dry sheets to call our own.

There is so much to say and reflect upon- the numbness of the last few days has well and truly lifted.  I go everywhere with my camera looking at the old, and the becoming, and the renewal.  It already begins!!!

Some sign posts that blew into our yard – look out for trains, what about look out for cyclones (c) June Perkins

Today we listened on the radio to the kids and teachers at Cardwell school.  ABC radio are doing a fabulous job.  They are out at Mission beach tomorrow morning.  Wonder if we will hear people we know on air, probably we will.

I will come back to the ten days of homelessness in another post, well I should say that is without our own home, but we were in three families homes, the longest being our stay at the Baker’s home.  Thankfully we knew kind people who offered to take us in.

(c) June Perkins, all rights reserved words and images. Posted February 11th 2011 Pearlz Dreaming

Please note this does not appear in the After Yasi book but in cyberspace.

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.