Posted by: Julie Duell | March 7, 2008


John Duell life stories 1935-1996 … “Somethin’ Fishy”

In 2006 I was moved to write a collection of  short stories about my late husband John’s unusually adventurous life  on the Bouddi Peninsular of the Central Coast, N.S.W.   I wanted to give people an insight into the humour and resilience of bush pioneers in days gone by and at the same time donate all proceeds of the book sales towards saving endangered wildlife.  Here is one of my portraits of John.


An avid Naturalist, John Duell lived his whole life in and around what is now known as Bouddi National Park from the time he went to live there in 1939 at the age of 4 years.

There were so many humorous, adventurous and heart-rending yarns to choose from I had difficulty in picking out 40 – so the criteria then became choosing those that made people laugh or cry most (often at the same time) and also those I could illustrate best.   Here’s the book cover, front & back…



Note: (There are still some copies available at $12 plus postage. If you are interested please get in touch via comments below and I will direct you.)

Waterfall Springs website is and well worth a look to see the wonderful work being done there.

I had a lot of fun jotting down quick, spontaneous illustrations for the yarns…here’s a glimpse of just a few of them:

 Arrival at Bombi


What’s for dinner?


Snake on the School bus!


Wildlife connections


Oh oh! Wrong catch!


Terrifying night dive!


Close encounters of the deep!


Saltwater tea and Vampire bats!


and of course there are many, many more!

Waterfall Springs is a private wildlife sanctuary, but my partner, Tony LaSpina and I are able to visit  as volunteer helpers.  Here is the founder of the Sanctuary, Lloyd Oldfield with a beautiful little yellow footed rock wallaby…


and next is Celia Thomson, Chief Vet and animal overseer at the Sanctuary. She is holding Bob, a baby brush tailed Rock Wallaby, who needs to be hand-raised.  All my friends are madly knitting wallaby pouches to help out.  Let me know if you would like a pattern!


Here is one of the joeys in the pouch….so tiny!


 This pic shows Tony sharing secrets with some kangaroos in the ‘Hospital’ section.


and here’s me satisfying my nurturing urge…

julie-with-wallaby-not-feeding.jpg    julie-feeds-lily.jpg   lily-on-log.jpg

After her feed, Lily had a lovely sunbake on her favourite log. Sadly, she died shortly after from a tick bite, but there are lots of new joeys coming on in the breeding program.  Eventually they will be released in the wild to regenerate dwindling colonies.  I like the feeling of doing just some little thing towards their preservation.

Now here are a few pics of the book launch for “Somethin’ Fishy” at MacMasters Beach in Sept. 2006 close to where most of the stories in the book took place…

book-launch-presentation.jpg    bouddi-peninsular-folk-at-book-launch.jpg


The last pic shows a small number of the 50 strong Gosford branch of “Sing Australia” Choir  entertaining the crowd with lots of bush songs. Now 6 years old, this branch is one of over 90 throughout Australia for people who love to sing for fun!  No auditions – just therapeutic singing.  (New members welcome – Monday nights, 7.30 pm at the Anglican Church in Mann Street, Gosford).

As you can see, our uniforms make us a cross between the Wiggles and a lot of jelly beans (but we prefer ‘Smarties!). Tony and I have enjoyed being part of this Choir for some years now so they were happy to donate their energies towards the success of the book launch, as they are to many good causes. 

‘Sing Australia’ choirs cover a vast range of songs from books common to all branches so there are annual musters and many opportunities to interact, including overseas trips.

Oh yes, one more thing … I had some fun creating a ‘Wallaby Watch” cartoon and other entertainment for the Waterfall Springs website:  – look up “For Kids” section to see all (there are some good B&W activity pages to print out)  but here’s a peek at the cartoon…






There – so you see how one thing leads to another if we follow our nose and our instinct?  All love jobs, but so satisfying!

That’s certainly enough for this post folks! If you are enjoying the blog, do let me know, as it is all about sharing and interaction. 

Cheers!  Julie

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