About

 

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Passionfruitcowgirl is not a sexual innuendo.

Apparently, Americans think it is. Which is a sad reflection on Americans, I think.

It is a name that came out of a boozy conversation on what to call a scruffy blog after I decided to split the suburbs for good and take a circuitous route back to the Amazon, where I had spent a good deal of time with cowgirls, farming passionfruit. True story.

Anyhow… this blog is a patchwork of stories based on experiences, people I met, questions I had and weird adventures after I left Sydney in 2008 after two decades as a crime, adventure and travel writer and took off around the world in a prolonged sort of stumble.

In the beginning, I was a press photographer, crime writer, features writer for The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Penthouse, Italian Vogue, FHM, The Telegraph and others. I left that life because I discovered that a – there is no such thing as objectivity, which poses a serious dilemma for a classical journalist, and b – the good guys are not always the good guys, and the bad guys asmokin' yogire usually more fun… which is a crisis for a crime writer, obviously.

After recovering from a nasty ‘incurable’ illness which left me crippled for two years, in 2004 I started an all-female charitable mountaineering project called Girls on Top & climbed Kilimanjaro, Huayhuash in Peru, the Zanskar in Ladakh; Potosi, Bolivia and spent time in Zimbabwe, on the Silk Route, trekking solo and floating about on the Amazon.

 

Girls on Top gave away about AU$250,000 to seed grassroots endeavours around the world – all headed by amazing women – in Africa and here (medical outreach, Amazon) and here (Peru’s only native animal rescue centre).

I canned it when it seemed women on mountains weren’t necessarily going to behave any better than anywhere else, but those teams made life-long changes to displaced communities in Zimbabwe, remote Amazon villages and ecologies on five continents. I and many others will never forget them. Even though I no longer make summits.

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That’s me at the back, when I was Director & Mountaineer for Girls on Top, leading all-female teams on 100km+ expeditions over 5000m. This is overlooking Siula Grand, of Touching the Void fame, on my favourite trek, Huayhuash, in Peru

I set out instead, to get to the bottom of things. My first stop was three months in the jungle with an actual Ayahuascaro, vomiting in a bucket to get de sad out.

This man cured me of accumulated sadness, severe arthritis and taught me the bongos.

It’s because of this extraordinary, humbling experience in the jungle that I am still alive, let alone walking, and am inclined to be hostile toward gringo shaman, the abuse of plant medicines by profiteering gringos, and charlatans, in general.

I have lived in Peru, Bali, Thailand, Laos, Ecuador, started yoga schools in Galapagos, remote Australia and coached writers in South America, Bali, Australia and the USA since then. I have given up climbing mountains for wriggling about on yoga mats, surf boards, and dancing in my socks.

I honestly don’t know what’s going to make this world a better place, except for good old-fashioned love, respect for our elders, adoration for nature and a nice cup of tea.

My passions turn out to be rain storms, picnics, the clouds that rise off the land very early in the morning, the unfathomable happiness of the so-called poor I’ve been blessed to meet in my life, and people who drink too much whiskey.

I really love yoga. Even more now, after I once gave up on it as the domain of angry hippies and show offs.

I honour that tradition, and all my teachers, for the good juice it rises. I love meditation, especially Vijade in bali2passana. I love Vegemite, baguettes, the land and the many indigenous souls who have passed on to me the way to feel it – you have kept a light alive against terrible odds, and I hope I can do something with it in my lifetime.

I miss all the little furry friends who have blessed my way; Pip, Daisy, K1, K2, K3, Henrietta, Carbonno, Honey, Grizzly, Princessa, Pan, Kitty, Pixie & Rose, Leo, Archie… and am extremely good at Yahtzee.

 

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60 thoughts on “About

  1. I read about your Amazonian healing journey! Thank you for sharing! Very nice work u are creating! 🌈 💜 🌍

  2. Hello,

    First of all I would really like to thank you for this story. I am in a part of my life that I am willing to have some practise from experienced and true shaman, because I also work with this plant. Could you please tell me is there a possibility to conntact with Don Augustin or his father ? I found this page http://agustin-rivas.com/reise.html but I am not sure whether they directly teach in that kind of programs. Does Augustin and his father speak english, do you know anything about this ? I would be most gratefull for any kind of informations, please conntact with me if you can: grayy123@hotmail.com Thank you !!

  3. Feel a beautiful connection with you sister, as my own life has been on a very similar path.Michelle is one of my life long friends and we went into the world of sharmanic States together. I married a tribal prince from the rainforest in the philippinesI am now 58 and faced with massive spinal arthritis,.I look everywhere for an answer. Now I stumbled across your blog, while googling Michelle. Did you really beat your arthritis? Would love to connect with you more. Warm regards Lisa

  4. heeei! lovely blog with rich stories and blessed info!! thank you!
    i’m planing a trip for curing and spiritual awakening to the amazon. can i please have your advice upon where and whom to go to? millions of thanks to you!

  5. Woman on top..I grow passion fruit here in California, trying maracoya also..many travels too,and ceremonies, and ashram. Have cures…must get down to the bottom…

  6. You’re a heroine. I wanted to write hero…f##k it i will! Hero! Love your work. Tell it like it is, a mandate in today’s vastly up its own arse world. My fave, particularly yoyr latest piece on yogic asswipery. A stunning piece of art. You have now a dedicated fan. Blog on babe!

  7. Oh! That was the feel-good-about-myself comment of the year! Thank you. I needed that. Busy tinkering away on a Survival Guide for the good at heart in these days of disarray…. thank you for reading me 🙂

  8. gosh

    i love the way you write and yoir extraordinary pursuits

    always funny

    and bam.
    to point

    anna xo

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