These days, the kookaburras are Ian Skippen’s alarm clock but the former breakfast radio host doesn’t need much encouragement to get out of bed, particularly if a walk in Bunya Forest is a possibility.
After years of waking at 2.30am, he says hearing the birds calling him to his favourite spot is good for the soul and a 12km walk through the forest at dawn is unlike anything else.
“I just beam every morning I hear the kookaburras go off and it’s almost like them saying, ‘come on Skippo, time to get out and let’s tear apart this day’,” Ian says.
“It’s up hill and down dale and it’s the birds and it’s the whipbirds and the bellbirds. It’s a reverie for me ... this is Skip’s church. It just feels like I’m close to whatever…”
It’s a place he and wife Helen have called home for about 28 years, a place they raised their two sons, and a place he remembers trekking as a boy scout.
If it wasn’t for a two-line newspaper advertisement, they may never have rediscovered the Hills District and Bunya.
“It was really quite accidental because we were living at Oxford Park at Mitchelton and there was this two-line ad in The Courier-Mail on Saturday that said, ‘acreage Ferny Hills’,” he recalls.
“We stood up here on the hill with the real estate guy, no roads, no nothing. I looked down and thought ‘what a place for a house’.”
Helen’s father built the family home and the Skippens built long-lasting friendships in what has become a close-knit community.
“It’s interesting in Bunya Downs, a lot of people come here and never leave. At the risk of being totally cliched, it’s the serenity. It’s the peace and quiet that we probably take for granted now,” Ian says.
Every year, the Skippens join a community Christmas party and Ian says there's a group of blokes who love to catch up for a drink and chat when the call goes out.
Ian, 68, says his radio career blossomed after he completed a course his mum saw advertised in TV Week and he did stints in regional Queensland before working for 4KQ, 4BK, B105, Triple M and 4BC.
These days, he does pop-up radio at events, prepares content for the Starts at 60 website, and shares his passion for the Moreton Bay Region hosting citizenship ceremonies and events.
So what does a typical day look like? Ian says there’s no such thing, but if it involves a walk in the bush, it’s sure to be a winner.
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