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Letter # 39

The latest news to keep you informed

to you all!

Isn't the world-wide web wonderful? It allows us to meet up with all sorts of people! My travelogue of my trip to Thursday Island attracted many readers: American and Australian servicemen who were stationed there during the war, fellow-travellers, and some former residents of the island.

Balfour in Malaysia One such former resident is Balfour Ross who had gone to Thursday Island in 1964 as a young man of 27 and, apart from a four-year stint in equally remote Normanton and another four years in New Zealand, had spent all his life on Thursday Island. What's even more remarkable, however, is the fact that Balfour and his wife June, after a lifetime on T.I., have recently retired to Malaysia under the Malaysia My Second Home Programme.
Amazing what you can do when you start to think outside the square!

View of the Terengganu River from Balfour's apartment Balfour and June's apartment building Balfour now lives in Terengganu on Malaysia's beautiful east coast on the fourteenth floor of a modern apartment building with sweeping views of the town, its river and beaches, and out to the sea. Malaysia is a country of startling beauty and great ethnic and cultural variety with a lovely tropical climate and what's more, it offers a very affordable lifestyle for someone on an Australian pension. Smart move, Balfour!

I have fond memories of Malaysia from my own time there when I worked as a consultant to the Penang Port Commission in 1978. It seems that Penang is a particularly popular place for those who make Malaysia their second home. Alan and Pat Jones in Penang David Richardson on Ti in 2006 Among them are friends of Balfour's, Alan and Pat Jones of Perth, who bought and renovated an old Chinese shophouse which they now run as a café. Balfour also put me in touch again with David Richardson whom I had known on T.I. and whose holiday shack on Price of Wales Island I had sometimes visited. David now lives in Babinda south of Cairns. By a strange twist of fate, Balfour and David are now related through Balfour's wife who is the daughter of David's wife. Don't we live in a small world?

Stan Pedler aboard "Temehani" Stan Pedler in his shop on T.I. Balfour also put me in touch with Stan Pedler on Thursday Island, a large, effusive fellow with a colossal colonial-style moustache, who runs the Christian bookshop on the island and I remember having gone into his shop to look for something by C.S Lewis and Stan and I striking up a conversation about all sorts of things. The sign above his shop reads 'Sower Christian Bookstore, Agent for All Pest and Weed Control'. It obviously pays to diversify on T.I. where the newsagency sells kitchen utensils and the supermarket sells fridges, and Stan, apart from being an insecticidal Bible-thumper, also handles airfreight for TNT and sells plane tickets for Aero-Tropics ('If you want to get to the outer islands and you want God on your side, then I'm your man.') He is a modern-day missionary with two life stories to tell: his own and Jesus's. A failed cotton farmer, he flew north in his little Cessna as far as he could, to Mer, in the eastern Torres Strait, where he felt the warmth of God's presence and cottoned on to Christianity. A year later he returned to Mer in his yacht "Temehani" laden with picture Bibles and Jesus videos. Calling himself New Light Ministries, he moved all around the Strait before setting up shop on T.I. The world is full of unconventional characters and you can meet many of them on T.I.

Best wishes and from us all!
Peter & Padma & Malty& Rover
5 August 2006



My trip to Samoa   An Island to Oneself   Pigeon Island   Your holiday destination in Australia   The Road Not Taken   Bougainville Island   Desiderata   Words

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