The graduation ceremony at University of Queensland enabled me to don the hat and gown, tap my hat in acknowledgment to the Chancellor and receive my degree of philosophy. I was honoured that to be acknowledged by people who have supported me over the years to complete the PhD. Pictured after the ceremony is (left to right) Professor Kay Saunders, Dr Bill Metcalf, myself (looking decidedly out of place) and Dr Thomas Sigler. Thank you to each of you for the many ways you have helped. And a thank to you the many people who have heard and discussed communal living over the years. Your yearning for more knowledge about ICLAs has helped me to sustain the drive to complete even when I was unsure.

While it was great to be part of the ceremony in the formal setting at the University, I also invited my supervisors to join me in another ceremony of a different feel yet also very symbolic.

Early in the morning I had gathered a stone from the Mary River near where I now happily live. Carrying this stone to UQ, I walked to the Grandfather Tree that grew outside the window of the office that I worked from during those years. Each morning on the way to work, I had gathered a stone and placing my hands on the Tree to say hello, placed a stone at its base. This was ritual that helped me to survive in the city where I felt deeply disconnected from nature. Observing the Tree on Monday, I could see hundreds of stones at it is base, each one representing another day of work & study. I lay the last stone at its base and gave a prayer of thanks. Tears came to my heart and passed out through my eyes. I explained to my supervisors and, not sure of their response, it felt good to me to complete and also to be seen in another light by my colleagues. No response was given my them about my ceremony and that is OK. While wanting to connect further with my colleagues I was eager to get going and return to the country and quiet, natural spaces.

That evening I was glad to return to Crystal Waters, replace polished leather shoes for sandles and wear fisherman’s pants instead of suit pants and collared shirt.

This moment is certainly a milestone. The end of completing a formal process developed over nearly 7 years, whereby I have learned, practiced and applied a rigorous process to explore a thesis in depth and develop a line of logical thinking that is balanced and objective devoid mostly of emotional influence.

Now having that skill in place, I intend to write my creatively and from the heart again for a while to build that part of my ability. There are books and articles that I intend to draft over the next two years. Of course this will be sparked by interest and what is calling me to write…

  • A historical account of the Charters Towers region where I was born, the events leading up to my birth and for a number of years afterwards that shaped my later communal passion.
  • A self-help guide about walking through and recovering from PTSD and other mental health issues from my own journey to help others.
  • A follow up article about the status of communal living in Australia from Census data analysis
  • A snapshot of ecovillages, cohousing communities and communes and offering predictions for the coming times.
  • And lastly, a children’s story about the life and times of nature in the Mary Valley.

All of them may not eventuate yet I reckon there is a good chance that they will too.