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Centre for Stories

Meet the Intern – Jacoba Quayle

"It was, and still is, a struggle to adjust to city life. I’m still very much used to the slow pace of small towns and knowing most people in the town. The noise in the city never stops."

January 25, 2019

We consider ourselves lucky for having the pleasure of collaborating and working alongside such talented and dynamic interns at the Centre for Stories. Over the course of 2018, a number of interns made their mark at the Centre in some way—so let’s celebrate them!

Meet Jacoba Quayle. Jacoba is a student at Curtin University studying a Bachelor of Arts Double Major. Jacoba spent her second semester at the Centre for Stories developing her writing, expanding her literary knowledge, and wearing as much pink as possible. Her keen attitude and sweet writing skills are just the tip of the iceberg. Get to know Jacoba below!


Tell the readers about yourself:

My name is Jacoba Quayle. I am 21 and in the last few weeks of my three year Bachelor of Arts Double Major. I moved down here to Perth fresh out of high school for University from Exmouth. My family, parents and three siblings, are up home, so I try to go home as often as I can to see them.

You have lived in remote parts of Australia for most of your life, namely Alice Springs and Exmouth. Was it difficult to adjust to city life? If so, how?

It was, and still is, a struggle to adjust to city life. I’m still very much used to the slow pace of small towns and knowing most people in the town. The noise in the city never stops. I’ve been on the phone or Skyping with the family and there could be sirens, alarms going off, car tyres screeching on the road, people yelling. The number of people I can pass walking around campus grounds is shocking too. But I’ve gotten better with dealing with the magnitude and pace of it all. My family have taken to teasing me about turning into a “city clicker” every time I go home. I think another big difference between the places I’ve lived and here in Perth is the fact trees at home are bigger than houses and buildings instead of the other way around. I don’t like all the concrete or tall buildings that block me in. I like the open sky and watching the sun set without it being obstructed by buildings. But the city has its advantages, and there are places where you can forget city. I don’t take for granted what I’m able to do and achieve by living in the city, which kind of helps dealing with everything else. I’ll take opportunities over personal preferences.

You’re doing a Professional Writing and Publishing degree at Curtin University. How did working on the Australian Short Story Festival give you insight into the literature/writing scene?

Working on the Australian Short Story Festival allowed me to see what my degree has been preparing me for. Most of what I’ve learned at University gave me the building blocks to cope with the workload required for the Festival and the pace I need to be able to work at so jobs and issues don’t become a hinderance. Being a part of the Festival did bring to my attention that the technical ways we’re taught in University isn’t always the most efficient method. Interning at the Centre for Stories working on the Australian Short Story Festival and then attending the Festival as a volunteer provided that extra experience and insight I hadn’t gained from University. Having the opportunity to interact and listen to people much more experienced in the writing scene allowed me to see that there is a middle ground between technical and reality. The technical can help with constructing the reality of writing, and you need to know the techniques before you can push the boundaries. It also highlighted the fact that University focuses on the techniques of writing, not the actual writing scene and problems facing writers. I’m glad I gained this insight from the Festival.

What was it like to share a space with Centre for Stories staff?

Interning at the Centre for Stories was amazing. The staff really know what they’re doing and they do their absolute best to be inclusive to everyone. It’s a relaxed environment that helped me grow as a person. They are always willing to help when you’re stuck on something, and everyone bounces ideas, concepts and designs off each other so the best outcome is achieved. There was never a day interning there that I felt I didn’t belong. And I was always learning something new from them, about social problems, politics, or the best authentic food around.

We love a good story. Tell us a short story about a time when you encountered something remarkable:

Well, it was when my family and I first moved to Exmouth. We had been there for a few months and were now settled into the house and our routines. We decided we would explore the beaches as a family day trip.

We beach-hopped for hours, travelling around to what is known as the West Side. We saw the Mildura Wreck, stunningly clear water, and the Light House.

It was at one of these beaches when we came across it.

We decided we’d walk down this beach. The water was too cold to go deeper than our ankles, so my younger siblings stayed far away from the water line. My older sister was walking beside me, and our parents were behind us on the stiffer sand.

We all saw the dark shape ahead of us, but it was dad that made the comment that it looked strange.

My younger siblings didn’t need much more incentive to race ahead and check it out. The rest of us didn’t hurry. True to how we know they work, my brother stayed by the dark shape, my younger sister ran back to us.

“It’s a turtle!”

My older sister races after the younger one back to the shape. I stay pace with my parents.

The turtle was bigger than I was expecting. In fact, it was more than twice the size that I thought it would be. Big, bulging, and upside down.

There was no way we knew how long the turtle had been like this, or why we’re the first people who came across it. Though the water was too cold for us to swim in, the sun was intense and the temperature, if you take away the cool breeze, it was on the warm side.

Mum warned us to keep away from it. Dad moved closer shaking his head in pity. He placed his hand on the yellow underbelly shell.

Its flippers started waving around, its whole body shaking. Dad stepped back, someone screamed, yells of surprise and laughter sounded.

It was alive.

The flapping stopped soon after, however. Its eyes were open, and we could see its mouth opening and closing. But it looked so tired.

We spoke over each other about what to do. There was an urgency now about how we’re going to get it back in the water.

Timing was essential.

It was also by luck that a couple strolling on the beach happened to be coming out way.

“Want to give me a hand here?” Dad waved the man over, standing beside the turtle.

The man jogged over to dad, his eyes wide. Us kids gathered around mum watching the two of them slowly and carefully grab the edge of the shell and began to roll the turtle towards them.

I could hear dad and the man grunting as they bend with the weight of the turtle. As soon as it was right-way up, they moved back, letting the turtle flap it’s fins.

It took a long time before the turtle regained senses and slowly started to turn around and face the water. The tourists left when it began to pull itself along the sand, but we didn’t move until it was completely submerged and swimming away.

So, we saved a turtle.

What’s on the horizon for you?

Well, I’m hoping a job is on the horizon. I’m mostly just looking forward to graduating and taking a gap year before I revisit the idea of doing an Honours course. But in the immediate future, I have a family holiday coming up. The whole family is driving from Exmouth over to the Queensland coast. We’ll be visiting family along the coast from Cairns to Giru, which is a bit South of Townsville, before taking our time and driving back to Exmouth again. In all, it’ll take about five weeks to do and see everything and everyone we have planned. So that is super exciting and honestly all I can focus on in my future right now.

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