Member Profiles

Denise Petersen

Denise Petersen (McCallum) was born in Jamestown in 1949, and lived in Caltowie, a small town near the grain belt of South Australia.

She now lives in Cairns with her husband and adult children. She still works happily at the Cairns Hospital.

As a child in the 1950s Denise was asked many times, “What would you like to be when you grow up?” Aunty Mavis, her mother’s sister, was a much-traveled nurse, who would chat extensively about her great adventures traveling overseas and her many stories of nursing experiences. Denise always answered she wanted to be “A nurse like Aunty Mavis”. The family moved to Port Augusta. After a difficult time in school due to her dyslexia, Denise commenced nursing training at the Port Augusta General Hospital in 1966.
This began her journey with nursing, from the fun days of training, where we learned compassion and camaraderie, to the hard work of a nurse’s life. This led to Midwifery training, remote nursing out on the Nullarbor Plains of Australia, and patrol work and home Midwifery in Papua New Guinea.

After twenty years in Papua New Guinea, Denise returned to Australia and settled in Cairns, Queensland, Australia, with her family. She continued to expand her nursing career at the Cairns Base Hospital, working up to a Level 2 position in Paediatric Units, higher duties in Nurse Management positions and finally settling as the Regional Case Manager for Children with Cancer. She was always eager to pass her knowledge and experiences down to younger nurses, with many “tricks of the trade” of nursing.  Her story incorporates her many travels and experiences of living in Papua New Guinea, her family, and ocean sailing on the yacht, Vitiaz.

Denise had often thought of recording Aunty Mavis’s many nursing adventures. Sadly, by the time an opportunity for this arose, her aunt had dementia, and her stories were lost forever. This encouraged Denise to write about her own nursing career and travel experiences, in memory of her aunt’s life.


Peter Barker

Pete Barker left school at 16 due to a mutual lack of interest. He found much more exciting things to do working in car factories, mines, power stations and other noisy, greasy places full of giant machines. He went on to travel across Asia, Europe, and Africa for several years before studying for a degree in English Literature in the United States. Luckily – or not – he took a second major in Journalism which led to working as a reporter, photographer and editor at magazines and newspapers in the U.S., Hong Kong and Australia. These days he avoids work by pretending to be a freelance journalist while trying to write two books at once (it’s a Gemini thing) and tinkering with noisy, greasy old motorbikes.

Bhama Daly


Dr Sathyabhama Daly (nee Gopal) is an adjunct research fellow at the College of Arts, Education and Social Sciences, James Cook University, Australia. Her research interests are the ways in which writers use myths, legends and fairy tales to engage with history and cultural identity in contemporary society. A founding member of Tropical Writers Inc. and Cairns Tropical Writers Festival, she is actively involved in nurturing and promoting writing, literature, and the Arts in the region. Her publications include short stories, memoirs, and academic essays.

Lenka Wagner

When Lenka started her career in financial planning twenty years ago, the possibility of becoming a writer didn’t even enter her mind. She had just arrived from the European shores, and was settling down in her new life in Canberra.

Fast-forward twenty years, and Lenka now lives with her family in beautiful Cairns, enjoying the tropics and everything it has to offer. She has become a writer and is the author of two children’s picture books about an adventurous bunny, Tommy Learns a Lesson and Tommy and Friends to the Rescue, while still occasionally dabbling in financial planning.

Lenka is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Lenka would like to invite you to visit her website at where you can find out more about her and her books.


Dave Hodges

D. S. Hodges lives in Cairns, Australia with his wife Angela and two children. He is owned by a cat who sits on a chair next to him as he writes. Dave is hoping the cat will one day provide inspiration, but all the cat ever does is sleep.

Over the course of his life, Dave has had numerous jobs: he worked as a baker in the family business, as a computer programmer, as a business analyst and finally a project manager. He now writes full time, and has published three books.  Two of his books are in the Blaise Hall series: The Barlow Bridge Machine and Retribution. The third book is Little Miss Muffet, the story of the 1921 Mount Mulligan mining disaster. To learn more about these books, go to 


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