Walsh River Community Centre - 2001
Blossoms interwoven with wafts of pink, mingled with silver hair, sparkles on the cheeks, colourful shawls and brightly coloured clothing! Who is this flowerchild of the sixties?? It's none other than our dearly loved Jude.
But who is Judith Yvonne O'Connell?? Well, the best
person to tell you that is Jude herself.
"I'm an Ozzie at heart. I fell in love with Australia when I was only ten years old and living in New Zealand. All I wanted to do was grow up and go to Australia," she says. "My first visit was in 1979 but then I came back on January 13, 1982 and I've been here ever since."
"I've had a couple of husbands, got two kids and two grandkids - Clive and Cody at the Gold Coast. Sheree and Samara in New Zealand. I worked hard to make a successful business over there, with my sister-in-law. We had a PVC factory making covers for containers, liners for swimming pools and that kind of thing. We broke into a man's world and the business magazines used to call us the Cover Girls," she says with a grin and an infectious laugh.
But it wasn't enough for Jude. So she walked out. With 17 year old Sheree, Jude headed for Australia. From Sydney to McKay and back to Numbin. Sheree returned to New Zealand. But it was only the beginning of the adventure for her mum.
"In 1985 I found myself in Cooktown. Moved to Cairns in '91 and had a go at promoting arts and crafts for a couple of years but I didn't compute with Government bureaucracy. So I shifted to Mission Beach. There I met a couple of girls who were also on a mission - a mission to meet me!! That was Trish and Joan...."
Loading up a car and trailer with six dogs, the three travelled back up the coast and found themselves in Atherton. "But then a chance meeting with Johnny and Spindle at the Herberton pub changed everything," says Jude. "They told us about a place at Walsh River - and that's how we got here."
What's Jude's philosophy on life? "All you need is love."
What makes her heart sing? "Peace."
What does she enjoy most these days? "Just seeing this community happen."
How does she fill in her time? "Pottering around, doing crochet" (she forgets to mention how much she helps other people).
She reads science fantasy, likes "the old rock and a bit of techno".
Ambitions? "Just to wake up and remember who I am."
We're honoured to be sharing your journey, Jude.
Valley Vibe Interview by Eunice.
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