Wednesday, March 22, 2023


Australian Sojourn – March 2023 • Part 5

I’m currently in Australia where I recently visited friends in Gulmarrad, New South Wales and Mooloolaba on Queensland's Sunshine Coast. It was a wonderful time of reconnection and celebration.

Specifically, I reconnected with members of the McGowan family, whom I’ve known since my teaching days in Goulburn, and celebrated the birthday of my friend Raph, one of the McGowan sons.

Above and left: With my dear friends Bernie and Mike McGowan – March 2023.

As I mentioned previously, I first got to know the McGowan family in Goulburn, where Mike had been the principal of the primary school at which I taught from 1988-1993. Before relocating to the U.S. in 1994, I taught two of the McGowan children – Jeremiah (in 1989) and Tess (in 1992). I’ve stayed friends with all the members of the family ever since our shared time in Goulburn, and I always try to catch up with as many of them as I can each time I visit Australia from the U.S.

Mike and Bernie’s second eldest son Raph visited and lived with me in the Twin Cities for a good part of 2004. He visited me again in the U.S. in 2011.

Back in Australia in 2014, Raph cycled over 1900 kilometers in memory of his sister Tess and to raise awareness and funds for melanoma research and prevention. (For more about this inspiring achievement, click here, here, and here.)

In the years since his epic bike ride, Raph has worked tirelessly to create and market the bakslap, a “lotion applicator that makes it easier to protect yourself from the sun when enjoying the outdoors.”

Above: Raphael – Mooloolaba, March 17, 2023.

Mooloolaba derives from the Aboriginal word mulu, meaning snapper fish, or mulla meaning Red-bellied Black Snake. Originally known as Mooloolah Heads, the name was changed to Mooloolaba by Thomas O'Connor in 1919 when he subdivided land for sale in the area.

Left: “Dreamtime Sisters” by Delores Furber Napaltjarri (Boomerang Art – Aboriginal and Contemporary Fine Art, Southport, Queensland).

Above: Mike with Jeremiah and Kristy and their two children.

Above: With Mike and Bernie and two of their grandchildren.

Above: With Collette – Friday, March 17, 2023.

Above: With Iggy and Mim – Sunday, March 19, 2023.

Above: With Mim – Friday, March 17, 2023.

Above: With Collette – Sunday, March 19, 2023.

NEXT: Yamba

For previous related Wild Reed posts, see:
Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast
In Northern Rivers Country
Raph’s Inspiring Journey
Raph’s Journey Continues
A Surprise for Raph! . . . Well, Somewhat
Return to Oz . . . Sydney to Be Exact!
A Day Roving the Mid North Coast
A Bushland Wedding
“Flooded-In But Loving Life”
A Fresh Take on Masculinity
Our Sacred Journey Continues: An All Saints & Souls Day Reflection

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