Drawn to Rainbow Beach

Growing up in regional Queensland my childhood was spent outdoors exploring the bush and enjoying the beach. So I have always been drawn to nature and I have been visiting Rainbow Beach since I was five years old. Rainbow Beach is a small beachside town located along the Cooloola Coast in Queensland, surrounded by Fraser Island, the coloured sands and the Great Sandy National Park. So it’s no surprise that I am drawn to Rainbow Beach as this is where you get to ‘sea’ the beauty in nature. Rainbow Beach is like nowhere else as it is where the coloured sands meet the blue sea and where the bush meets the beach. It is my happy place and where I get my ‘Vitamin Sea’.

As a marine scientist, artist and author (Dr Suzie Starfish) I want to showcase, celebrate and illustrate the beauty of this special place through my visual storytelling to draw attention to the beauty in nature. I believe if you fall in love with something you are more likely to look after and protect it, so I’m hopeful my visual stories and artworks will help others to fall in love with the nature of Rainbow Beach too.

Below is a visual story of my times enjoying and exploring the Cooloola Coast to show you why I’m so drawn to Rainbow Beach. I also enjoy drawing attention to this beautiful part of the world through my artworks, nature journaling and writing, as this paradise provides me with so much illustration-inspiration! I will also be sharing some of my hubby’s amazing underwater photos, which will make you want to dive into these waters. Thanks Dr Richo! (Please note: the artist and photographer retain copyright of all images and written permissions are required to reproduce with attribution. Thank you).

So I hope you enjoy these visual stories and get some Vitamin Sea too!

This is why I’m drawn to Rainbow Beach! This is one of my favourite places to draw inspiration from.


Green turtles (Chelonia mydas) nest along Rainbow Beach, my original pen and watercolour painting


Check out the colours and patterns! I’m ‘shore’ you can ‘sea’ why I’m so drawn to Rainbow Beach.


I’m so drawn to nature and there is illustration inspiration everywhere at Rainbow Beach.


Riding the waves at Rainbow is something to ‘sea’!

In the future I also hope to carry out activities that help children and the community connect to nature through visual storytelling, nature journaling and artworks, as if you fall in love with something you are more likely to want to look after and protect it. There is also an increasing body of science and knowledge showing the positive benefits of engaging with and exploring nature. So I’m hoping through my visual storytelling that I can encourage people to make a date with nature!

Stay tuned for more visual updates here and why not dive into my new Instagram page @drawntorainbowbeach https://www.instagram.com/drawntorainbowbeach/. If you would like to know more about my visual storytelling for nature you can Contact me.

Why I’m so drawn to Rainbow Beach

Early days at Rainbow: below are photos of me at Rainbow Beach taken about 40 years apart! The first photo is of me and my sisters standing on top of Carlo Sandblow in 1985 (…and yes that is me on the left). The next photo is taken almost 40 years later where I’m once again on top of Carlo Sandblow!

Seascapes: from the bush to the beach and the coloured sands to the sea, this is where you ‘sea’ the beauty in nature somewhere over Rainbow Beach!

Bush: I love exploring the bushland of the Cooloola Coast as it always brings me back to the sea!

Beach: My happy place is certainly being by the sea, there is nowhere else I would rather be! From exploring the shallows of the intertidal zone and rock pools along the coastline to sitting back on the beach taking in the waves of beauty, this ‘shore’ is the place to be!

Bush to Beach: Whether its from the air, from on top of Double Island Point or from the sea I just love the way the seascape and the landscape meet somewhere over the Rainbow! Thanks to Rainbow Beach Helicopters for the birds eye view of my happy place!

Underwater wonders: What lies beneath the sea is always something to behold. There is so much colour and diversity underwater and I can’t wait to ‘sea’ more of it (Note: I’m so thankful for the underwater photos shown here as they are taken by my hubby Dr Richo, © Copyright).

My illustration inspiration: as a marine scientist, artist and author/illustrator (“Authorstrator”) I spend a lot of my time drawing, writing and illustrating right here from Rainbow Beach. For example, my children’s Picture books are all written and illustrated by the beach. I also enjoy drawing attention to all the different parts of Rainbow Beach through my nature journaling. I’m ‘shore’ you can ‘sea’ why I love this office view, there is just so much illustration inspiration here.

Nature journaling: As I’m drawn to nature it was a logical next step to take up nature journaling in my happy place. Nature journaling allows us to open ourselves up to the wonder of our natural world and explore it with joy. This is about curiosity, mindful observation and taking the time to enjoy your surroundings, wherever you are or wherever you go. There are no rules here, your connection with nature is what is important, not creating works of art. All you need to start is a pencil/pen and hard booked notebook, walking shoes, hat and sunnies, and you can make a date with nature and carry it around in your pocket.

Connecting with nature is also good for your physical and mental health and wellbeing, and I didn’t just make that up, that’s a fact! According to the latest science (from 140 studies involving more than 290 million people) spending time outside has signifiant and wide-ranging health benefits from reducing stress, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Studies have also found that engaging with nature also makes us happier and kinder. For me nature journaling is a great way to ENGAGE, EXERCISE & ENJOY myself as it’s an easy way for me to calm my mind and be in the present. So in this age of ‘busyness’ it’s time well spent when you make a date with nature!

Below are some of my journal entries from my International Nature Journaling Week, which I will update throughout the year and add the paintings once completed, so you can ‘sea’ the colours… which are the smiles of nature. I hope in time to start teaching nature journaling to children and the community, drawing upon my experience as a marine scientist, visual artist, author and environmental educator. So stay tuned!

My creative companion, Mr Fergus, is just reviewing my nature journaling kit before I make a date with nature!

In the news

It was wonderful to ‘sea’ the below story featured in the local community newsletter about my love for Rainbow Beach and how it inspires my ocean storytelling. You ca ‘sea’ the article at https://issuu.com/heat1870/docs/rbcn_december_2019


Coming soon…
It is my hope that in time I will be able to expand upon my visual storytelling at Rainbow Beach to carry out activities which will help children and the community connect with nature, including:

  • Visual storytelling
  • Nature journaling
  • Art-science activities (STEM/STEAM/ESTEAM)
  • Artworks
  • Picture book workshops

If you would like to know more about my creative ideas or if you have a creative collaboration you would like to share with me, please Contact me.

For now, just picture yourself sitting here where you will always ‘sea’ the beauty in nature somewhere over the Rainbow!

All images, artworks and videos are protected by © to Dr Sue Pillans 2020 and cannot be copied, used or reproduced without written permission. Acknowledging Dr Richo for the wonderful underwater images shared here.