Near the low rise hill at the back of the resort we are startled by a flurry of turkeys that flap squawking down
the path. The grass gives way to dirt and we are suddenly transported from a tropical paradise into an outback
farmhouse - ducks waddle and snuffle in the dirt, and a leghorn rooster leaves his harem to strut over and look us
up and down.
Lee Ann calls that lunch is ready.
Lunch is a strange mixture of macaroni, rice, sardines, coconut salad, and stuff that looks like grass. "I try and
be self sufficient," Lee Ann says. "Supplies are short and I make do - I use the leaves of the begonia plant for
salad, sometimes pumpkin tops, or the leaves of a chili plant. And the malunggay tree - it's like a native
While we eat Lee Ann tells her story. Eldest of seven children, she left England with her parents in 1956 when they
emigrated to Australia. "My father ran service stations all over Australia," she says. "Rockhampton, Sydney, Perth,
the Darling Downs, the Gold Coast . . . so many. I never went to the same school for more than a year . . . I never
made any lasting school friends . . . no ties to hold me down. I learnt to appreciate a sense of freedom."
At the age of 16 she started her own business. "I did legal searches - title deeds and stuff like that. Two years
later I was running an escort agency in Perth. And a Lonely Hearts Club. Then I branched out into furniture. It was
a disaster - I went bust."
With no money, little experience, and many creditors, Lee Ann took off. "I blew Perth in an MG Midget for
Queensland," she says. "Ended up on Magnetic Island off Townsville."
She spent the next 14 years traveling the world. "They were wonderful times," she says. "But although I couldn't
put a name to it, there was something missing. I realize now that it was a sense of belonging."