On the road again – or should I say the river

TulipsWe’re back in Amsterdam recovering from jet lag before we catch a riverboat later todayfor a cruise up the Rhine to Switzerland. It’s amazing, really. We’ve flown 16,200km to take a journey that’s less than 750km by car. But the river meanders, we take side trips and we stop a lot.

Long distance travel isn’t a picnic, ever. In this case it’s an eight hour plus flight to Singapore, a three hour wait, then twelve and a half hours from Singapore to Amsterdam. We got some sleep on the second leg, but even so, the body clock was a mess by the time we arrived. To try and get the body into some sort of sync we resisted sleeping and took a train trip to Leiden. The nearby Keukenhof gardens would have been nice, but we decided it was all going to be too much for us, so we restricted our flower viewing to the rows of tulips in the fields along the track. We did do a little canal tour of Leiden, though. That was fun. Some of the bridges there are very, very low.

Canal boat in Leiden

Canal boat in Leiden

The roof descends so the boat can fit under the lowest bridges

The roof descends so the boat can fit under the lowest bridges

Down the spiral staircase in th new leather jacket

Down the spiral staircase in th new leather jacket

Back to the Big Smoke

Brisbane from Mt Coot-Tha

Brisbane from Mt Coot-Tha

Unfortunately, much as I hate cities sometimes they can’t be avoided. They are concentrations of many things apart from people. Or maybe because of people. Restaurants, hospitals, cinemas, live shows, shops. Pollution, traffic snarls, noise. Sigh. But yeah. Medical specialists tend to work best in the city setting. All the equipment and required facilities are more readily available. So we drove down to Brisbane for a procedure to take place over two days, while I kicked my heels in a hotel.

However – did I mention the shops? Much as I love where I live, and I’m not a great shopper, sometimes the lack of variety in Hervey Bay can be frustrating. So this would be a chance to go into town and find myself a coat, preferably leather, that I could dress up if needed. Usually it would be worn with jeans. I’d booked into a small hotel near the city centre, and walked into the Queen Street mall with high hopes. I’d get this done, drop off the jacket back at the pub and take my camera for a walk in the park. Yes. That was the plan. Then I’d go back to the room and work on the next book.

Well, let me tell you a couple of things, folks. The current fashion has gone back to skinny. Skin tight pants, leggings, form fitting jackets. Leather jackets are biker style, fitted to the waist, with lots of non functional pockets closed with zips. A year or forty – or even twenty – ago I could have gone down that route. But not anymore, for two reasons. 1) I don’t like that style, having gravitated (as you do) to comfortable sack style. Gone are the days of lying on your back on the bed to do up the zip. 2) I’m no longer size 10 – or even 14. It seems that if you’re in the size 8 to size 14 range, the world of fashion is your oyster. You might find an occasional 16. Anything larger than that – nuh-uh. There might be a few sections in the big department stores specialising in larger sizes, or the occasional large size dress shop. But while I know I need to lose some weight, I’m not obese. Nor am I unusual. I’d venture to suggest that with obesity levels in this country soaring, the buyers ought to be looking at their stock.

I should add that I could have bought a genuine leather coat in a style I found acceptable. But the designer label $800-$1,000 weren’t even in the venue let alone the playing field, and  I balked at paying $600 for a coat, and then another $75 to have the sleeves taken up. I just won’t wear it often enough.

Anyway, after five unproductive hours of wandering around every sodding dress shop in the CBD (including some mens stores) it started to rain. So I bought myself a cheap umbrella and winced my painful way back to my hotel room, coatless. I suppose the rain was a good thing. I was too sore to spend the afternoon walking around in the gardens (not as fit as I used to be) and the rain provided a perfect excuse to play on my laptop instead. Mind you, I played solitaire instead of doing some writing on my WIP. But I’ll attribute that to frustration.


Forest path

Water and fernsOn the bright side, I went to the Brisbane botanical gardens at Mt Coot-Tha the previous afternoon. There is nothing quite so wonderful as walking along a narrow path in cool shade provided by towering trees, palms and ferns, with the sound of tinkling water filling the air.

The scenic rim

Imagine a massive volcano. No, bigger. Even bigger. Yep, more like that, with ash boiling into the atmosphere, and red hot lava oozing down the slope like icing on a cake. But that was twenty million years ago. The hot spot that created it moved on and the two kilometre high peaks surrounding the caldera began to erode. Here’s the story. These days the remains of the volcano rise above the plain of the Gold Coast, south of Brisbane, where they provide a cool, refreshing contrast to the brash and vibrant coastal strip.

We visited friends who live in the Mt Tamborine area, and they took us on a whirlwind tour of some of the sites. We drove  a meandering, ear-popping road up the mountainside from the plain. From the top the high rises of the coastal strip lined up along the Gold Coast beaches are clearly visible.

The Gold Coast from the mountain

The Gold Coast from the mountain

Mt Tamborine boasts gorgeous gardens, rainforest and waterfalls. But it has been dry of late, so unfortunately the creeks and rivers have contracted. Still, you can imagine the volume of water which could crash down through this valley.


One of the rock pools at Cedar Creek

On the other side of the caldera, looking inland, intrepid souls launch hang gliders or paragliders off steep, grassy slopes. It was a great day for it, not too windy, not dead calm.


This paraglider is just about to launch

We visited the Skywalk, which gives a different view of the rainforest from a gantry raised high in the canopy. Then you walk back amongst the tree trunks to your starting point. Once again, more water would have made the experience even more special. Not recommended for those afraid of heights.

Strangler fig in the rainforest

Strangler fig in the rainforest

The dry creek bed

The dry creek bed

We stopped at St Bernard’s pub for a drink. The garden is absolutely gorgeous and I would have taken a walk to St Bernard’s Falls if I’d had any faith there might be water there. At my time of life, without a guaranteed reward at the bottom, a long steep slope isn’t particularly inviting.

The view from the garden

The view from the garden

The garden St Bernard's

The garden St Bernard’s

All in all, Mt Tamborine is a beautiful place. Walk under the canopy of the rainforest and the temperature drops ten degrees. It’s obvious why it’s a mecca for ‘new age’ types. The village we visited had rows of shops devoted to the usual eclectic collection of clothing, coffee, cuckoo clocks and cafes. You can have your future told, and/or visit wineries, breweries and cheese-making facilities, as well as pubs and restaurants. You’ll need patience, though. The roads were crowded with day trippers – but it was a Saturday. Weekdays (non-school holidays) would probably be better. All the information can be found online at sites like this one.

Geology and rock wallabies

5V3A5106It’s day 6 of our Lake Eyre adventure. If you’ve missed the previous episodes, here’s day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 and day 5.

We’re in Wilpena Pound resort. It is situated a short distance from the gap into the pound itself and offers a number of walks of different distances and fitness levels. But before we did that our intrepid guide took us on a drive through several gorges. The Flinders Ranges are ancient. A visit to Brachina gorge presses home the point with a series of information boards indicating the age of the rocks you’re seeing at various locations. It’s like a time tunnel. This website has some fabulous photos and information for visitors. Well worth a look.


Brachina gorge with streaky clouds


Clearing clouds and folded mountains

5V3A5152This rugged landscape is simply stunning. Unfortunately, the weather in the morning was overcast, so conditions weren’t ideal for photography, but the day did eventually clear. Meanwhile, the clouds put on their own show, which they so often did on this journey.

The other thing you’ll find is the elusive yellow-footed rock wallaby. They skip around on the reddish rock faces, blending in so well with their surroundings they’re very hard to spot. The picture of Brachina gorge up there is the kind of place you find them, up on those hillsides.

There's a rock wallaby in this shot.

There’s a rock wallaby in this shot.



Spot the wallaby

Spot the wallaby

Hiding in plain sight

Hiding in plain sight

Here's a back vire, showing the long yellow-striped tail

Here’s a back view, showing the long yellow-striped tail

The Flinders Ranges are simply wonderful. The national parks people are working hard to reduce the number of feral goats and cats to help preserve this amazing place. It’s great to see that conservation efforts have saved the lovely little rock wallaby from extinction. May they thrive and prosper.

This was more or less the end of th5V3A4651e trip. From here, we headed back to Adelaide, stopping for lunch at a Clare Valley winery. We enjoyed a magnificent dinner at Adelaide’s Playford hotel, and left for home the next day. It had been a full-on, very busy trip. We covered a lot of territory, and I ticked off three items on the bucket list – Kati Thana-Lake Eyre in flood, Birdsville, and Wilpena Pound.

Oh – I should add this was a small group (20 people max) tour conducted by APT. We rode in an air conditioned Mercedes 4WD truck (DON’T call it a bus) while our guide, Sam, told us all about what we were seeing. I’d recommend the trip to anyone.




Marree to Wilpena Pound

MapIt’s day 5 of our Lake Eyre adventure. If you’ve missed the previous episodes, here’s day 1, day 2, day 3, and day 4.

We landed back at Marree after our final flight over Lake Eyre and boarded the truck for the next part of our journey. But first we saw a couple of Marree landmarks. One of them is the MCG. It’s a little bit different to the one in Melbourne, but it has the same initials. (I mentioned the outback sense of humour, didn’t I?) Another is the start of the Birdsville track, but I showed you the other end last time.

Marree from the air

Marree from the air

The MCG (not the Melbourne Cricket Ground)

The MCG (not the Melbourne Cricket Ground)

We were off to Wilpena Pound, a natural amphitheater in the Flinders Ranges and another of my bucket list items. Most of the ‘mountain’ ranges we saw on our travels were part of the Flinders Ranges, although some have local names. The formation of the ranges is fascinating. Unlike many other ranges like the Himalayas, the Flinders wasn’t formed by tectonic plates bumping into each other. Rather, a geosyncline was formed when two parts of a continent split apart. The resulting chasm was filled with debris, which was later thrust up, twisted and buckled. This article does a pretty good job of explaining the geology. It’s one of the planet’s oldest mountain ranges, and home to some of the oldest animal fossils ever discovered. Although the ranges aren’t very high, when they were formed 540 million years ago the mountains were the height of the Himalayas. Erosion is a powerful force.

On our way south we came across some amazing cloud formations. We could have been forgiven for mistaking them for space ships. Cue X Files music.

Alien invasion

Alien invasion. The flat-topped pile on the right is material from the Leigh Creek coal mine which is on the point of closure.

A close up of the space ships

A close up of the space ships

I loved the Flinders Range. Apart from the spectacular scenery, it’s full of river red gums and cypress pines, and home to lots of wildlife. Here you’ll find eastern grey kangaroos, the big red kangaroos, euros, and the lovely little yellow footed rock wallaby which has been rescued from near-extinction. If you’re not familiar with the many different species of ‘roos, this article will help. The big roos are in no danger of extinction. They have benefited from humans through pasture lands and water supplies such as dams. The smaller marsupials are in very great danger from loss of habitat, and predators such as feral cats. I like cats – but not in the bush.

Red kangaroo. They can be grey, as it happens. But reds have a different head to the eastern (or western) greys

Red kangaroo. They can be grey, as it happens. But reds have a different head to the eastern (or western) greys

This is a grey kangaroo sitting outside our room at the Wilpena resort.

This is a grey kangaroo sitting outside our room at the Wilpena resort.

That formation that looks a bit like a uterus is Wilpena Pound

That formation that looks a bit like a uterus is Wilpena Pound

We would spend two nights at Wilpena. But on this, our first evening, we drove to a lookout to see the walls of Wilpena Pound. The name ‘pound’ in this context means an area where animals are kept, as in ‘dog pound’. There’s only one way into the formation, so it’s a natural stock barrier. In fact, there was a station in there. But although it’s pretty, it’s harsh country, subject to the cycle of drought and flood so common in Australia, and after one flood too many, the property owners gave up. Read more here. There are grazing properties still in the Flinders Ranges, but they work in with the national parks people to try to preserve this natural wonderland.

The walls of Wilpena Pound

The walls of Wilpena Pound with grass trees in the foreground. (We used to call them blackboys, but that’s no longer politically correct)

Birdsville and more Lake Eyre

It’s day 4 of our Lake Eyre adventure. If you’ve missed the previous episodes, here’s day 1, day 2 and day 3.

Birdsville from the air. All of it.

Birdsville from the air. All of it.

The Birdsville pub

The Birdsville pub

We landed in Birdsville and I get to cross another entry off my bucket list. Birdsville is probably THE hottest place in Australia. The official highest recorded temperature is apparently 49.5 – but that’s in the shade.

It was Good Friday, one of the few days of the year when everybody shuts up shop. The pub’s front bar was closed, but since we were guests we got to use the Lizard Bar. This is another tiny outback town which has made a name for itself. People come here from everywhere on the 1st September for the Birdsville Cup, a gazetted thoroughbred race. The population swells from about 160 to eight to ten thousand. Then they all go home and it’s over for another year.

I was a little bit bemused at learning we were going to be taken for a half-hour bus tour of the town. But it actually turned out to be a heap of fun. We were shown the race course, and the permanent lagoon (part of the Diamantina river), and the nearby camping ground. Our guide explained that the influx of visitors for the Cup puts a strain on the town resources, especially the rubbish tip. The burning of rubbish is forbidden (OH&S) but as it happens the Birdsville tip seems to be struck by lightning every Wednesday at 2pm. Act of God, know what I mean? We saw the standpipe where the town’s water supply comes up steaming from the artesian basin. The water goes through a cooling tower and filters before it’s pumped to houses, but it’s never really cold. We were taken to admire the new street lights in a housing area at the edge of town. No houses, but nice lights. Our guide explained that there are about 4 rateable properties in Birdsville, so most of the town’s money comes from grants from drought or flood. The lights were from one grant, the streets were added later from another grant. They’d like a flood, please. They’ve had enough drought for now. Then we popped into the Birdsville Bakery for a chance to buy a curried camel pie and other tasty goodies.


The racetrack


The Birdsville Track, made famous by Tom Kruse on the longest mail run in Australia


Birdsville’s town water supply comes up from the Great Artesian Basin

    The Birdsville Bakery. And that gentleman with his hands on his hips is Trevor Wright, dictator of William Creek

The Birdsville Bakery.

Our guide epitomised the kind of people you get in the outback – tough, resilient, with a wicked sense of humour. They have a cultivated disdain for bureaucracy, which is understandable. Rules and regulations dreamed up by clerks sitting at desks in air conditioned comfort in Canberra or Brisbane just don’t make sense out here. Practicality is the name of the game.

And then it was back into the planes for another look at Lake Eyre before we met out trusty guide at Marree. This time we also flew over the part of the lake where Sir Donald Campbell broke the land speed record in Bluebird in 1964. This flight I was even more impressed with the scenery as aboriginal art.


This is a cattle station with a serious airstrip



There’s algae in the salt, hence the pink colour




The water won’t last long


Reminds me of the Nazca plain


Chaos theory in action










Lake Eyre to Birdsville by air

lake EyreIt’s day three of our journey to see Lake Eyre in flood. If you missed day 1 you’ll find it here, and day 2 is here. Today we leave Marree and travel along the Oodnadatta track to William Creek, where we’ll catch a plane.

We’re really in the outback now, surrounded by barren plains with maybe a range of low hills on the horizon. It’s dry out here. Marree’s average annual rainfall is 160mm (6.3″). The vegetation is tough. There’s a lot of salt bush, and plants with leathery, greyish leaves. But there’s water, if you know where to look. Australia is host to the largest artesian basin in the world, and the road we’re following is there because it follows the water. Many towns up here have ‘wet’ words like creek or well in their names, places where water can be found. We stop in a particularly desolate area to look at the mound springs – places where the mineral-filled water bubbles up to the surface. Over thousands of years the minerals were deposited and the mounds built up. You can see from the pictures that around such springs the ground is lush with plant life. These springs have had to be protected from cattle, which trample the edges and muddy the flow.

Maybe they need to be protected from people, too. The settlers didn’t understand this country. Read the story on the information board and you’ll see what I mean. The aboriginal people called these places home, and they looked after them. Water, after all, is life.

This barren country is where you find mound springs

This barren country is where you find mound springs

That's a mound spring. It's a long way to the top

That’s a mound spring. It’s a long way to the top


This spring is known as the bubbler. You can see why.

Read the story on the left next to the blue map

Read the story on the left next to the blue map

But it’s not just humans who need water. We crossed a creek full with recent rain. It teemed with little fingerlings all fighting for a chance to get to lake Eyre. And surrounding this crossing were hundreds of silver gulls. The nearest coast is at Port Augusta, around 450km away. How the gulls knew the water and the fish were here is a mystery.

Silver gulls in the desert. There's a little fish stair to help the fingerlings cross the road.

Silver gulls in the desert. There’s a little fish stair to help the fingerlings cross the road.

The tranquility of water in the desert. Soon it will be a dry bed again.

The tranquility of water in the desert. Soon it will be a dry bed again.

We arrived at William Creek (population 12) just before lunch, served (of course) in the pub. The owner, Trevor Wright, basically owns the town but he doesn’t like to be called king. He reckons he’s more of a benevolent dictator. He’s a big man with a shock of white hair and he operates the planes we’ll use over Lake Eyre. He likes to talk, too. One of his pilots came in to give him a hurry up call. The planes and the pilots were waiting.


William Creek


All you need to know about William Creek

Six of us 5V3A4771(including the pilot) crammed into a Cessna 210. I was in the last of 3 rows of seats and I won’t pretend it was comfy. The outside temperature was in the late 30’s and the cabin wasn’t air conditioned. We took along bottled water and frozen wet towels to keep us cool. I found the best way to avoid dwelling on discomfort was to watch what was going on below. It’s 450km as the crow flies from William Creek to Birdsville – and a bit more when you’re sight seeing. The journey took about two and a half hours and I don’t mind admitting I was pleased to stagger out of the plane at the other end.

The following day we did it all again, flying from Birdsville back to Marree, where our driver picked us up. There’s a lot to say about Birdsville, but I’ll do that in another post. For now, let’s take a look at Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre.


Heading towards Lake Eyre

The sky reflected in shallow, calm water

The sky reflected in shallow, calm water


More reflections

More reflections

Flocks of pelicans. That's why we're up at 500ft. If we hit one of them we'd end up being permanent residents

Flocks of pelicans. That’s why we’re up at 500ft. If we hit one of them we’d end up being permanent residents

Pelicans floating on the water. Nobody knows how they know the lake is full

Pelicans floating on the water. Nobody knows how they know the lake is full

The Diamantina flows into the lake

The Diamantina flows into the lake

Trevor said he'd never seen the desert so green. This is the Diamantina

Trevor said he’d never seen the desert so green. This is the Diamantina

The desert. It doesn't look like the Sahara - but there are sand dunes

The desert. It doesn’t look like the Sahara – but there are sand dunes

It looks like fabric, or an aboriginal painting

It looks like fabric, or an aboriginal painting

Red sand of the Simpson desert

Red sand of the Simpson desert

This is 'Big Red' a sand dune 30m high.

This is ‘Big Red’ a sand dune 30m high.

Coming in to land. That's the plane's shadow on the ground

Coming in to land. That’s the plane’s shadow on the ground in the middle of the picture



Crossing the Flinders – the Pichi Richi pass

Lake EyreWe’re on our way to see Lake Eyre in flood. Last time, we left Adelaide and travelled to Port Augusta at the head of Spencer Gulf. From Port Augusta we travelled north, crossing the Flinders Ranges via the Pichi Richi pass. We’re following the old railway line built for the Ghan in 1879. You’ll find the history here. These days, the line and its steam train offer a tourist service. Press ‘home’ on that website to find out more.

We’re headed for Quorn, which used to be an important railway town. In 1917 it was the junction between trains travelling east-west or north-south, but eventually it was bypassed. Now the railway station houses a rail museum, and it’s where tourists can board the Pichi Richi steam train for an authentic look at the Flinders Ranges.


Opposite the railway station at Quorn – two pubs. Typical.


The parrot was eating grapes on the vines growing on the pub veranda in the previous picture


The platform at Quorn station


Old ore cars in the rail yard


The Prairie Hotel at Parachilna

20160324_121054Lunch was at Parachilna’s Prairie Hotel. It’s the only substantial building in “town” (population 15), but this little place is typical of the resilience of the outback people. They’re reinventing themselves by offering an experience you can’t get anywhere else – Australian bush food. They call it ‘feral’ (see website under ‘restaurant’) because some of it is – camels and goats are introduced species. We were served a tasting platter of kangaroo mettwurst, emu pate, camel salami, goat cheese, quandong chutney, bush tomato chilli jam, (and some chicken) with what looked like home baked sourdough bread and a salad. It was seriously yummy and I’d go back in a moment. You can find out a little more about Parachilna itself here.


imageFrom there we went to what our guide described as a semi-ghost town called Farina. It seems a semi-ghost town is one where not all the houses are abandoned. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wondered why anybody would want to live in a place like that, surrounded by crumbling remnants of past lives, but some people evidently do. Farina is close to Farina station (what the Americans call a ranch, not a railway station). Having said that, like most of the towns we visited, it started off being all about the railway. But we were just passing through.

And then our guide did something wonderful.


Not too many people lasted out here.



She didn’t go back to the highway the same way she’d come. She knew there was another way, so she took us bush-bashing through the scrub at the back of the Flinders Range. I lost count of the dry creek crossings we negotiated, all of them studded with magnificent river red gums. All the while, we drove in the shadow of the Flinders, following the remains of the railway back to the blacktop. Even in an air-conditioned 4WD, I got a better idea of what it was like for the poor innocents who tried to conquer this country. You don’t. You just don’t.


Marree Pub at dawn, with a nearly full moon

And then on to Maree, (population 60), deep in the desert and not far from Lake Eyre. This is another town which has had to reinvent itself. Phil and Maz Turner turned their backs on the bright lights of Canberra and bought the pub in 2011. Phil’s a big man with a big beard and he’s happy to talk to travellers. He told us he wanted a change from being a business consultant, so he bought the worst pub in the best town and hasn’t looked back. He has developed motel style accommodation and small but functional cabins for tourists like us. Phil has enormous admiration for pioneering outback legends like Tom Kruse (pronounced the same way as the plonker in Hollywood – and that’s where the resemblance ends) and has set up an exhibition in the pub. It was a great evening. We bought drinks at the bar from a black Canadian guy, got to meet the pub dogs, and ate a simple but tasty meal in the pub restaurant.

Marree is home to the Lake Eyre Yacht Club. Yes, it’s real – even if they can’t go boating all that often.

Next blog we’ll be going to William Creek to catch a plane for a flight over Lake Eyre and on to Birdsville.


Australia’s inland ‘sea’ – one more off the bucket list

Lake EyreI’ve always wanted to see Lake Eyre in flood. I’ve just returned from a one-week group trip to visit the lake, and it was truly awesome. Australian readers will know Lake Eyre (these days known as Kati Thanda-Lake Eyre) is in central Australia, in the northern parts of South Australia. It’s the lowest part of the continent, with the deepest point −15 m (−49 ft). The larger, northern lake is 144 kilometres (89 mi) in length and 65 kilometres (40 mi) wide, and Lake Eyre South measures 65 by 24 kilometres (40 by 15 mi). You’ll find all the details here.

We flew into Adelaide on a Tuesday and hit the road on Wednesday, heading for Port Augusta at the top of Spencer Gulf. Like the rest of Australia, the population huddles around the coast. Of South Australia’s 1.7 million inhabitants, 1.3 million live in Adelaide, and most of the rest are in the small towns in the southern part of the state. We were going into the outback, where people are few and far between, and camels are common.

Port Augusta was set up as a (wait for it) PORT to service the farmers of the region. But it soon became an important hub, connecting the west of Australia to the East coast, and the south to the north via the telegraph line. Railways followed. The Ghan used to start in Port Augusta, and the Indian Pacific arrives there from Perth. We would be following the railway line laid for the Ghan – the train is named after the Afghan cameleers who came here from northern India with their camels to help explore Australia’s vast arid heart.

From Port Augusta. That's Spencer Gulf with the Flinders Ranges behind

From Port Augusta. That’s Spencer Gulf with the Flinders Ranges behind

The old jetty at Port Augusta

The old jetty at Port Augusta

From Port Augusta we’re heading north, up through the Flinders Ranges and into the desert. It’s harsh country out there. Although there are plenty of river red gums, the old settlers didn’t try to use them to build houses. Instead, they used local stone. You’ll see beautiful stone buildings everywhere in South Australia. Those in the photo below were part of a township called Kanyaka. Here’s the story.

Kanyaka ruins

Kanyaka ruins

And here’s the creek bed and some of the marvellous river red gums (Eucalyptus Camaldulensis) common in the area. Hard to believe that one of the station owners was drowned in the creek.


The creek behind Kanyaka

Stay tuned for the next exciting episode, where I’ll share a little more of our journey north.

Introducing Liza O’Connor’s new book Public Secrets

Public secret blog tour banner

Research Topic: Extradition from New Zealand.

In Public Secrets, my author heroine escapes to New Zealand to give herself a break from writing and have some fun.

While there, an assassin runs her car off the road and the woman driving burns in a fiery crash, resulting in FBI agent, Luke Gallagher, coming to New Zealand to investigate. While there are many people who want the bestselling author, Carla Simons dead, Luke suspects the murderer is the focus of her latest book she was writing. Makes sense given he could still prevent his secrets from being told, given the book is not yet finished.

So naturally I got curious how New Zealand police would take to having an FBI agent wandering about their country.

Turns out New Zealand and the FBI work well together. However, they are not pushovers. For example, in the case against Mr. Dotcom, New Zealand insisted the FBI share their proof of guilt before they would send Dotcom back to the States for trial. (Evidently having a stupid name is not sufficient enough for them to assume guilt.)

Here’s how I imagined the conversation went:

But we want to try him in the US”

Yes, but we would like to see your evidence that he has committed a crime before we send him off to your gun-toting country”

So you want to try him here?”

No. We just want to know what he’s done.”

Well, he changed his name to Dotcom.”

Yes, while it’s an unfortunate choice, it’s not criminal.”

Sufficient for extradition…”

No, it isn’t. Now either show us some real proof or take your gun and go home.”

So they coughed up a ton of evidence and the New Zealand judge finally sorted through it all and agreed the evidence warranted Dotcom to be extradited to the US to stand trial.

It would have been much easier just to be US’s minion, but they protect the rights of people who live in New Zealand.

In my story, the FBI agent Luke tries to dodge extradition issues by just having Chad send back his assistant to the U.S. (They wish to arrest him for outstanding crimes, but wish to do so on U.S. ground.) Doesn’t work out like they wished, but then what does?

Pub sec 2 road 400x640

Public Secrets

Book 1 of the AI Sci-Rom Series


Liza O’Connor


Carla Simon is a best-selling novelist besieged by death threats and lawsuits because her stories keep turning out to be true. She is considered an extraordinary researcher, uncovering facts unknown by field experts.

The truth is far simpler and more disturbing. Carla has a software program that “fixes” her mistakes and rewrites her novels so they are error-proof both in presentation and in content. The result is beautifully written and completely accurate stories about real people and events.

Some of those people want her silenced forever. When a woman, mistaken for Carla, turns up dead in New Zealand, she must face the hard truth about her program. But first she has to survive the assassin who has never failed to deliver on a contract.


I just saw Davis off on the plane,” Chad informed him.

But not yourself.”

I thought I’d stay a bit longer down here. That is assuming you have no problem with that?”

No. We’ve kicked you way down to the bottom of the list of suspects. Avoiding the press right now might be prudent,” Luke admitted. Since the DNA had come back, he didn’t know for certain who had died in that car accident, but it hadn’t been Carla Simon. The woman had used Carla’s credit card and driver’s license to rent the car, but her DNA had proved it hadn’t been Carla. Someone else might have mistaken her for the novelist and murdered her, but not Chad Tyler. He had just spent the last twelve hours with the real woman. He knew what she looked like. “I would like a number so I can contact you if necessary.”

Chad gave him his cell phone number and promised to let Luke know when he returned to the States.

Luke hung up the phone. He released a heavy sigh and frowned. If the dead woman wasn’t Carla, where the hell was the real novelist? If this was some stupid publicity stunt to sell more books, he was going to have charges filed against both her and her publisher.

The phone rang again. He was almost afraid to pick it up.



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About Liza

Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved nicely. But all those bad behaviors have given her lots of fodder for her books. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.

You have been warned.

Mostly humorous books by Liza:

Humorous Sci-Fi series

The Gods of Probabilities — In the Multiverses, anything can & does happen. Join the bickering Gods and the sentient beings they oversee.

Surviving Outbound — Earth is doomed, but the odds of surviving outbound isn’t much better.

Surviving Terranue — Welcome to Terranue. Prepare to be baked, pummeled, and frozen. But first you’ll have to survive the black death growing in the cliffs.

Surviving Sojourn — You know you have reason to worry when a hyper-grown one-year-old is made captain of the ship.

Humorous Singles:

Ghost Lover Two British brothers fall in love with the same young woman. Ancestral ghost is called in to fix the situation. And there’s a ghost cat that roams about the book as well. (Humorous Contemporary Romance)

Saving Casey — Cass wakes up in the body of a troubled teen who has burned every bridge imaginable. Her only choice is to turn this life around, but that’s much harder than she ever imagined.

Disturbing Historical:

Untamed & Unabashed The youngest of the Bennet sisters, Lydia, tells her story. A faithful spinoff from Pride & Prejudice.

A Long Road to Love Series: (Humorous Contemporary odd Romance)

Worst Week Ever — Laugh out loud week of disasters of Epic proportions.

Oh Stupid Heart — The heart wants what it wants, even if it’s impossible.

Coming to Reason — There is a breaking point when even a saint comes to reason.

Climbing out of Hell — The reconstruction of a terrible man into a great one.

The Hardest Love Is to love oneself. Sam’s story.

The Adventures of Xavier & Vic Sleuth series: (Late Victorian/Mystery/Romance)

The Troublesome Apprentice — The greatest sleuth in Victorian England hires a young man who turns out to be a young woman.

The Missing Partner — Opps! The greatest sleuth in Victorian England goes missing, leaving Vic to rescue him, a suffragette, and about 100 servants. Not to mention an eviscerating cat. Yes, let’s not mention the cat.

A Right to Love — A romantic detour for Jacko. Want to see how amply rewarded Jacko was when he & Vic save an old woman from Bedlam?

The Mesmerist The Mesmerist can control people from afar and make them murder for her. Worse yet, Xavier Thorn has fallen under her spell.

Well Kept Secrets — The problems with secrets is that they always come to light, no matter how you wish to silence them.

Pack of Trouble — Changes are a part of life, but these changes almost kill Vic.

The Darkest Days — Muddled cases make Vic very grumpy.



Investigate these sites:

The Multiverses of Liza O’Connor

Liza’s Blog and Website   Facebook   Twitter

AI Series


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