My Dance Diary

Week Five


What a week! From dancing like a natural disaster to actually being in one!

This week's break from the show was supposed to be a relaxing chance to come up for some air. You know, time to mow the lawns, sip tea and help the elderly cross the road... that kind of thing.

After 12 weeks of burning the candle at both ends with wall to wall training, my week off was spent in the danger zone of one of the worst tropical cyclones to ever hit Australia.

It's the obligation of the weatherman, to be where the story is for accuracy of reporting. Sadly, it was a story you hate to share, the story of a dramatic loss of property and a terrifying night for the North Queensland town of Innisfail.

Instead of learning my next few routines with Amanda, the weather team and I were ducking and weaving between live powerlines swinging in the breeze, trying to cross swollen rivers and desperately trying to reach the battered town to show Australia just how much help they needed.

After Sunrise's marathon 5 hour broadcast from Townsville as category 5 cyclone 'Larry' crossed the coastline, my producer Ben and I decided to go into the eye. No one was managing to get through and it was risky challenge.

With the worst monsoon rain I've ever seen threatening to wash us off the road, we ran the gauntlet of falling trees in front of our 4WD and beat the rising floods for the shocking scene of devastation. It was 10 times worse than I expected.

People were wondering around in the dark lost and confused with cuts and bumps from their houses falling around them. Our headlights offered the only light in a city helpless under total power failure. Every second house had some form of damage, most were major renovations by mother nature at her worst.

One man I spoke to hid in his cupboard with a biscuit tin on his head for protection. He was forced to run for his life when the roof lifted off over him and the veranda blew away. Every second person has a similar story to tell.

There was no communications, no power, no water and no sewerage services. It was like, and still is, a third world country. With no refrigeration, food shortages were a problem until Qantas could fly in 8000 meals when the Army arrived to hand them out.

Here I am whinging about putting in 4 hours of training a day for Dancing with the Stars, while these good people have no homes, no personal belongings left and no one to help them. It really puts things into perspective.

I know they'll recover, they're a tough bunch but it will take a very, very long time. Even with Federal Government assistance.

If a sore ankle and torn chest tissue is all that happens to me in this show, then I can count myself fortunate.

My next dance maybe a little rough around the edges considering the lead up, but at least we were there to help our brothers and sisters in North Queensland. We quickly got the message out and now, help is on hand. However, I can't help but feel that words only go so far. This week I just wish I was a builder, not a dancer.

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