Things I’m loving on the Fraser Coast – February 2018

I’ve been ridiculously slack on the blogging front here – despite having planned to write about some great experiences I’ve had over the past few months.

What is it they say in the ad on TV? Life’s v.busy? (Or is it v.messy?) Whatever…

Instead I thought I’d try to regularly share a few snippets of the stuff I’ve been getting up to / enjoying, OR… (more importantly cos I’m hermit-like, lazy and sometimes hate being around people), stuff I hear about.

Massage therapy

I walked out of Complete Wellness Holistic Therapy  yesterday and was only capable of sending a group of friends the très eloquent message, O. M. F. G.

I’d had my second massage with Gabby – the first being a gift from a friend for my recent birthday – and I was floating on air. She’s amazing. She achieves that balance between a massage being therapeutic and pampering (ie. I’m not in excruciating pain, but she hits the sore spots and equally makes me feel blissed-out). She also helps me relax with breathing exercises and finishes with a singing bowl thingy that is just magic and leaves me a little tingly… and no, not in THAT way, but in a ‘life is good’ kinda way.

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I never want the bliss massage to finish so plan my next one as I lie there getting my back and shoulders unknotted!


I spent almost 5yrs back on the Fraser Coast before heading out on the water. In a boat. (And longer by foot, but that’s another story). A friend held her 40th birthday party on Whalesong Cruises last winter and the champagne and sunset cruise was a magical experience. We received a drink on arrival (and can buy more obviously) and A LOT of delicious food is included in the price. Like LOTS. I’m coeliac and they had an entire array of stuff especially for me.

Fast forward a few months and I went whale watching with my local bestie and godson. Obviously there are a plethora of options here in Hervey Bay, so we based our choice on price and the fact we really only wanted a half-day cruise in case the just-turned-6yr old got bored. We went with Hervey Bay Whale Watch (which offers a ‘locals’ discount) and had a great day. The crew were fabulous with 6yr old birthday boy Pickle and let him hang about in the captain’s cabin. A basic morning tea was served and other snacks and drinks were able to be purchased.

And then…. I hosted friends aboard a champagne and sunset cruise for my 50th birthday just after Christmas. Because I wanted to book the entire boat, have limited friends and budget, and had heard great things about their catamaran I went with Blue Dolphin Tours. Jodie and Peter were fabulous (& flexible) as I was nervous about the weather and so forth. The cruise is basically the same price as Whalesong, though there’s less distance travelled – you cruise for a while and then are moored somewhere between Hervey Bay and Fraser Island. The nibbles are fairly basic but guests are offered ‘unlimited’ alcohol. Which was perfect for the 90minute cruise. It’s certainly one of the best days of my life and one of my favourite experiences. EVER.

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Cafes and restaurants galore

The Dock Bar & Restaurant opened a while ago now and I had THREE events there over the Christmas period. I love the atmosphere and it’s a great plate-sharing / tapas type venue.

Everyone I know who enjoys healthy food has fallen in love with The Front Room. Offering vegan and organic food it’s perfectly located on the Esplanade in Torquay and is an acai-bowl / raw pizza-lovers delight.

Close friends of mine visited the new (Friday and Saturday night) Taco & Tequila Bar at EAT at Dan & Steph’s this past weekend and couldn’t have loved it more. They’re foodies and from all accounts the food and drinks on offer were fabulous.

I’ve not been there yet but am desperate to go to Alowishus Delicious in Maryborough just because it looks so BLOODY amazing. Screen Shot 2018-02-18 at 11.20.35

Mary Ryan’s bookstore – more than a bookshop

I interviewed Cate Akaveka – owner of Mary Ryan’s Hervey Bay – a while ago, and she’s a friend of mine. Since that interview, Mary Ryan’s has moved to the esplanade and certainly has taken on a whole different vibe. I suspect they’ve kept a lot of their old customer base but gained more.

As I said in that interview, I love that Mary Ryan’s host a range of events. A friend and I recently attended one of their monthly Philosophy & Coffee sessions (discussing whether ‘romance had ruined love’) and were gobsmacked that there were so many of us (like 30 or so) that we had to break into two groups. It was a fabulously mixed / eclectic bunch and everyone in my group talked about how much they enjoyed ‘deeper’ and more philosophical conversations.

And, as Valentine’s Day was approaching the team at Mary Ryan’s set up a tower of love. Basically it allowed you to go in and buy a book for someone (which they wrapped) and on V.Day, the store messaged the recipient to tell them there was a book there awaiting them. I bought a couple for my godson to leave there and my bestie bought one for me – though it was officially from a ‘secret admirer’. (Of course I have so many I hardly knew WHO it could possibly be!)

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Phew. This has actually been much longer than I intended it to be…. I think I’ll try to make this a monthly thing. Like a newsletter, except in blog post form.

PS. Apologies for the crap pictures. They’re all from Instagram / Facebook and attributed appropriately (as far as possible). I’ve also included website / Facebook links to the places I’ve talked about.

I’d welcome any comments…. massage therapists you’d recommend, places to eat and so forth. 


Karen Andersen: Fraser Coast fine artist

I’ve become a big fan of Instagram. Sadly I remain exceedingly unartistic myself when it comes to photography and visual art, but I’m discovering some fabulous business and personal accounts on Instagram and – more importantly – some very talented people!

I don’t even know how I stumbled across Maryborough’s Karen M Andersen but I was immediately taken with her art and started planning my eventual purchase of one of her pieces.


Karen’s gorgeous Instagram feed

Karen’s refreshingly honest online (you can follow her on Facebook, Instagram or check out her website) about her experiences with depression and anxiety. And she openly talks about the benefits of using art as an outlet for her emotions and creative energy.

I had the opportunity recently to meet her and talk about her work.

As Karen notes on her website, she’s always loved art but grew up in the era when it wasn’t really seen as a ‘vocation’. It was a hobby, not something to pursue career-wise. Fortunately Karen was also passionate about biology and science and left her hometown of Maryborough to study at Rockhampton’s Central Queensland University in 1993.

It didn’t entirely work out for Karen and ended up being the first time she was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Karen says there was still a lot of stigma around mental illness in the 1990s and anyone over 30 or so will certainly agree that it’s taken a loooong time to recognise its debilitating effects, and the importance of appropriate treatment.

In the meantime Karen started a family (her two children are in their mid teens) and although she continued to pursue her creative interests (drawing and art journalling) during this time, it still wasn’t something she saw as anything other than a hobby.

In 2016 Karen travelled to Rockhampton to a Ken Done exhibition. Inspired she signed up for a Masterclass run by Done – which was the first the popular artist had conducted.

Karen came away from that with a renewed passion for her art and a confidence which surprised her.

“I don’t know where that determination came from,” she said.

Since then Karen’s more vigorously pursued her art (she works with acrylics on canvas and, as a non-artist, I was surprised at the complexities of surfaces, primers, textures and hues).

Karen now sells her magnificent abstract work via her website.

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I admired a piece of Karen’s work recently (via Instagram) but she responded that it was not yet ‘finished’. I was intrigued and wondered how one knows it’s finished? (Did I mention my ignorance when it comes to ‘all things art’?) Is there a temptation to edit and edit and edit – which is something many of us who write struggle with, I asked.

Karen agrees that’s certainly the case. She says she still experiences doubt sometimes, but she heeds Ken Done’s advice that there’s nothing that a bit of white paint can’t fix.

Karen said her confidence in terms of her art has grown in recent times and she’s far less likely to ‘overwork’ her pieces. She also keeps a sketch book to document her ideas and things that inspire her – and it doesn’t allow her to erase any of her work. (Kinda like journalling I realise!)

Though she hasn’t been putting herself or her work ‘out there’ for long, her talent is already starting to be recognised. She recently won second place at the Hervey Bay Regional Gallery’s Hidden Wonders Art Exhibition and her work has been selected for future exhibitions.

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I love that she continues to be inspired by her surrounds – our beaches, rainforests and reefs. And she finds painting therapeutic and a way to express and explore her emotions.

I again confessed my artistic ignorance to Karen in admitting that I just love the colours of her work. I’m not a particularly visual person but even I can tell that Karen adding a patch of white to a vibrant piece somehow improved on what I thought was already finished.

I’d suggest following Karen on social media or checking out her website if you appreciate beautiful things, love colour and take inspiration from other’s creativity and talent.

I look forward to seeing more of Karen’s work on display around the Fraser Coast and beyond.

For more information on Karen or to buy her work, check out her site: Karen M Andersen.

** Big thanks to Karen for her time and letting me pick her brain. **

Pictures all from Karen's Instagram account.

Fraser Coast Instagrammers / Social Media Users meet-up

This week I got my social networking groove on and posted this:

frasercoast social media meetup 1

It came about for a few reasons….

Late last year I was at a kids’ sporting function with a friend. I turned around at one point to see someone behind me and – without thinking – blurted, “Oh hello, I follow you on Instagram!”

The lovely person in question smiled politely but looked a little worried nonetheless. I attempted to reassure her that I wasn’t a weird stalker but just recognised her from her online pictures. So no… not weird at all. 😉

Fast forward a few months and I was commenting on someone’s Instagram picture… and discovered we were both off to a morning tea with a visiting author the next day. We decided it would be lovely to finally meet but as my friend and I kept an eye out at the event, I realised I’d really only seen a postage-stamp sized picture of the person and their face wasn’t fully visible.

And last weekend friends and I were out having drinks when I saw someone else I recognised from Instagram… and given that all three of us posted pictures of our drinks (yes, we’re walking clichés!) I knew that person would see our pics and know we were there.

“I’ve been thinking we should have an Instagrammer or social media users-meet up,” I said when she came over.

We discussed the fact that sometimes feel as if we know these people – where they eat, what they do and so forth – although we may not have met in real life (IRL).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for a bunch of new besties, but it’d be nice to recognise a few familiar faces when I’m out and about… not to mention knowing whose pictures I’m seeing or commenting on, online.

So… I posted the invitation on Instagram.

Sadly I wasn’t overwhelmed with offers to organise a gathering, but someone messaged me and offered to talk to a venue suggested as a potential meeting place. So I randomly suggested a time and date and voilà ! We have our first meet-up all organised. Kinda.

frasercoast social media meetup 2

I’ve tried to reassure potential attendees that this is very informal. It’s merely the opportunity for people to catch up and discover each other. I AM going to take along sticky labels so people can add their names and social media ‘handles’ so they’re identifiable. I learned that lesson the hard way after going to something when I had my first Twitter account with the handle of @rockafellaskank (long story, don’t ask!).

So even though I’m @debbish on most social media platforms, I’m actually Deborah. In case you were wondering.

The aim of the gathering is just to meet like-minded people, rather than promote businesses and the like. It’s purely social. We’ll set up a spot for kids and – though I’ve not been there – I hear The Front Room has some fabulous healthy food, which will be available for purchase on the day.

If you’re shy, never fear… I’m an introvert but rabid networker so will come and say hello if you’re hanging back. And I’m pretty sure the group will be a friendly and welcoming bunch.

Feel free to just drop in at some point during the afternoon. RSVPs aren’t necessary though we may be in trouble if hundreds of people turn up!

WHEN: 1 – 3pm SATURDAY 25th MARCH 2017

Dancing in the dark


A few weeks ago I was thumbing through my phone’s Facebook feed as I am wont to do when wasting time and came across something called… ‘Dancing in the dark’. 


I shared it to my own feed, wondering what it was and friends from other places in Australia immediately responded – explaining it’s essentially an ‘exercise’ class which involves freestyle dancing around a darkened room.

So… kinda like clubbing back in the 1990s. Or maybe even now, for all I know?!

Before moving to Hervey Bay I was addicted to a class at my gym I called faux Zumba. I adored this class and my instructor Nikki. So much so I’d head into the city to go if I had a day off work. Les Mills gym-goers might recognise it as something akin to Body Jam or Sh’bam.

On moving to the Fraser Coast I checked for similar classes but could only find the usual Zumba options.

So… the notion of ‘dancing in the dark’ was kinda alluring. Not to mention scary.

I kept harping on at my learned friends. (Control-freak that I am!)

“So we just dance however we want?” 

“For an entire hour?” 

Yes. And yes. In case you were wondering. Apparently it’s also sometimes called ‘no-lights no-lycra’.

Friends I went dancing with in the 1990s attested to its fun-ness…. so I figured I might as well give it a go. I’ve been trying to work on my fitness and while I’m now going to Ocean Tree Yoga Studio twice most weeks, I’m struggling with cardiovascular exercise.

The classes kicked off on Thursday 9 February at The Studio in Maryborough – which also plays host to yoga, pilates and now barre classes.

I have to admit I changed my mind 20 times the day I was due to go. I felt unwell. I wasn’t in the mood. I couldn’t be arsed driving from Hervey Bay to Maryborough. And (in all honesty) I had no bloody idea what to expect and was a tad nervous.

However… I compromised and decided to go to my mother’s (in Maryborough) for the night. And, of course once there guilt kicked in, so about 30mins before the class was due to start I threw on some gym gear and headed off.

Chelsie – one of the yoga instructors greeted me and explained the person who had organised the classes was no longer involved, but they decided go ahead nonetheless.

I was thankful to see some other nervous faces arrive… all excited but unsure what to expect.

There were 6 of us in total in the end and IT WAS INCREDIBLE!

I thought I’d feel self-conscious and I might have for a minute or so, but it’s a bit like being at a club. Unless you go bounding into someone’s space you mostly ignore each other and do your own thing.

It’s dark so while you can kinda ‘see’ each other amidst the darkness and disco lights you don’t feel as if you’re on show.

And you really CAN dance however you bloody want. I thought I’d just do some do side-to-side naff shoo-bop-type movements…. given I’ve been ‘out’ dancing once in the last decade and it’s over 4 years since my faux Zumba classes but before I knew it I was bouncing about to the Black Eyed Peas… (And yes, even without alcohol to lubricate my funky moves!)

A bit of Madonna and I would have had some flashbacks to Maryborough’s Royal Hotel (aka Muck-hole) circa 1980s and 1990s.

Chelsie said she’s still working on the music and asked what those of us there liked. I said I was partial to some 80s and 90s stuff and top 40. I should have mentioned some of my old faves from faux Zumba, like Nicki Minaj and Lady Gaga and so forth. But last night we had a bit of everything from 1D to Oasis to hip-hop etc…


As we’re in the middle of a heatwave in Queensland and the room’s not airconditioned it was pretty bloody hot. But that was okay. We were all ready for it and felt like we’d had a good workout after.

Shoes are optional, but as there are tiles we decided it was probably better for our joints if we kept them on as the floor would get hard if you were leaping about energetically for an hour.


Some of us doing an end-of-class footsie. An ‘after’ shot of our sweaty faces wasn’t an option. 🙂

The time passes surprisingly quickly. We just grabbed a drink of water whenever we needed it and kept going. I was surprised as I’m pretty unfit and thought I’d need to take a break or two but I just reined in my jaunty and much-admired moves (!!) when I needed to.

So, all in all, I had a great time and am looking forward to more next week.

Dancing in the Dark is held at The Studio, at 4/71 Wharf Street in Maryborough on Thursday from 7-8pm and costs $7/person. Find The Studio on Facebook or call 0429 967 628 for information about the classes or others on offer.

I should mention it took all of my willpower not to make a Bruce Springsteen / Courtney Cox reference during this post. Mainly cos I thought readers might be too young to get it.

Would you try ‘dancing in the dark’? 

Floating on the Fraser Coast

Over a decade ago I experienced a flotation tank for the first time. And despite fraying togs (aka: bathers, swimmers, trunks, costume) I was hooked and became a regular at a Float Centre I found in Brisbane.

And then I moved to Hervey Bay and – despite a lot of googling – no float centres miraculously appeared on the Fraser Coast.

Until now.

My work colleagues heard a rare spark of excitement from me last week as I discovered via the local newspaper that the new Mind Body and Soul store and cafe, which has opened in Torquay, has a float tank!

floating on the fraser coast

And given my tendency towards instant gratification, it was a relief I was able to schedule a float at the opening special rate ($55 for one hour) after my Monday morning yoga session at (neighbouring) Ocean Tree Yoga studio.

As it had been a few years since my last float I was a little nervous, but it was like riding a bike. Or you know, floating in a sealed pod…

I was impressed at the quality of the new Hervey Bay facility. There’s just the one tank but it’s a state of the art unit with its own filtration system – for those worried about germs and stuff.


For those not in the know, you can check out my post on my other blog about the experience (well, MY first – fraying togs and all), or get more info from this video which Mind Body & Soul has been sharing on Facebook.

Essentially you lie (ie. float) in an epsom salt filled enclosure – ideally – with no external stimuli… which is why they’re sometimes called isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks.

There are a stack of physical and mental benefits documented and this article in Discover Magazine links to a few. Minimal googling / research however will uncover just some, including: aiding healing through increased circulation of oxygen and nutrients; and releasing endorphins, reducing cortisol and stress hormones. Importantly it helps achieve mental stillness and promotes a more relaxed state of mind.

I still remember someone telling me that an hour in a float tank is the equivalent to an entire night’s sleep. And I’m sure I didn’t make that up.

Mind Body and Soul requires ‘floaters’ to have a shower before and after. Believe me, you’ll want to have one after as you’re covered in a layer of salt, and they have soap free washes and conditioner and shampoo as well as robes and towels. The facility is new so everything is in great condition and feels very luscious and pampering.

Things you need to know:

  1. You cannot drown (mum!). The water in the tank is not deep (mum)!
  2. You will float. I’m no lightweight and the huge amount of salt in the tank will allow you to float.
  3. There’s a handle on the inside of the pod you use to lift the lid, so you can’t get locked inside. Indeed, if you’re worried you could even leave the lid open at first.
  4. If you like you can put a dim light on inside the pod (I didn’t, as I was going for the full sensory deprivation thing).
  5. The light switch (a button) is inside the pod, as well as an emergency button if you need it.
  6. You can have music playing throughout the entire float; complete silence; or as I chose, 10mins of music in the beginning and 5mins at the end (so I knew it was time to get out).
  7. You’ll need to cover any scratches or cuts or they will sting. Vaseline is provided for this purpose.
  8. You’ll need to shower before and after.
  9. You cannot wear anything into the tank. (See my earlier comment about togs disintegrating. The same goes for jewellery etc.)
  10. Earplugs are handy if you (like me) are prone to ear problems (see below).
  11. You’ll fill in a form and disclaimer before you start as is often the case with anything health / wellbeing related.
  12. There’s a toilet next door if you need to get out part way through.
  13. You CAN get out part-way through. You can lift the lid and get out at any time.

Trevor, the owner had a quick chat to me afterwards to get my feedback. I did comment on the lack of earplugs, as a previous float centre I’d been to provided free cheap foam earplugs, and he mentioned he’s getting some at a low cost to customers – or of course – you’re welcome to bring your own and I’ll definitely remember to do so next time.

Mind Body and Soul will soon have a massage therapist starting and – down the track – will be offering package deals which is something I’m looking forward to.


I should mention that the store also has a Sauna for those not happy with our 35C summer temperatures and the store itself stocks some great stuff. The cafe also seems to have some healthy and interesting food on offer, but I was too full from my earlier chocolate and diet coke breakfast to partake. #justkidding #kinda

Mind Body and Soul is located at 415 Esplanade, Torquay, Hervey Bay (near the Post Office) and you can contact them on (07) 4125 2583.

Check out their Facebook page for more information. Bookings can be made from the page, but you’ll need to telephone / contact them in person to take them up on their opening specials.

* This post was not sponsored and I paid $55 for my hour-long float. 

Have you ever tried a float tank? Would you?