Passionfruitcowgirl observes the wonky horizon of weird times.

Passionfruitcowgirl is not a sexual innuendo.

Apparently, Americans think it is. Which is a sad reflection on Americans, I think.

It is a name that came out of a boozy conversation on what to call a scruffy blog after I decided to split the suburbs for good and take a circuitous route back to the Amazon, where I had spent a good deal of time with cowgirls, farming passionfruit. True story.

Anyhow… this blog is a patchwork of stories based on experiences, people I met, questions I had and weird adventures after I left Sydney in 2008 after two decades as a crime, adventure and travel writer and took off around the world in a prolonged sort of stumble.

In the beginning, I was a press photographer, crime writer, features writer for The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Penthouse, Italian Vogue, FHM, The Telegraph and others. I left that life because I discovered that: A – there is no such thing as objectivity, which poses a serious dilemma for a classical journalist, and B – the good guys are not always the good guys, and the bad guys asmokin' yogire usually more fun… which is a crisis for a crime writer, obviously.

After recovering from a nasty ‘incurable’ illness which left me crippled for two years, in 2004 I started an all-female charitable mountaineering project called Girls on Top & climbed Kilimanjaro, Huayhuash in Peru, the Zanskar in Ladakh; Potosi, Bolivia and spent time in Zimbabwe, on the Silk Route, trekking solo and floating about on the Amazon.


Girls on Top gave away about AU$250,000 to seed grassroots endeavours around the world – all headed by amazing women – in Africa and here (medical outreach, Amazon) and here (Peru’s only native animal rescue centre).

I canned it when it seemed women on mountains weren’t necessarily going to behave any better than anywhere else, but those teams made life-long changes to displaced communities in Zimbabwe, remote Amazon villages and ecologies on five continents. I and many others will never forget them. Even though I no longer make summits.

That’s me at the back, when I was Director & Mountaineer for Girls on Top, leading all-female teams on 100km+ expeditions over 5000m. This is overlooking Siula Grand, of Touching the Void fame, on my favourite trek, Huayhuash, in Peru

I set out instead, to get to the bottom of things. My first stop was three months in the jungle with an actual Ayahuascaro, vomiting in a bucket to get de sad out.

This man cured me of accumulated sadness, severe arthritis and taught me the bongos.

It’s because of this extraordinary, humbling experience in the jungle that I am still alive, let alone walking, and am inclined to be hostile toward gringo shaman, the abuse of plant medicines by profiteering gringos, and charlatans, in general.

I have lived in Peru, Bali, Thailand, Laos, Ecuador, started yoga schools in Galapagos, remote Australia and coached writers in South America, Bali, Thailand, Australia and the USA since then.

I have given up climbing mountains for wriggling about on yoga mats, surf boards, and dancing in my socks.

I honestly don’t know what’s going to make this world a better place, except for good old-fashioned love, respect for our elders, adoration for nature and a nice cup of tea.

My passions turn out to be rain storms, picnics, the clouds that rise off the land very early in the morning, the unfathomable happiness of the so-called poor I’ve been blessed to meet in my life, and people who drink too much whiskey.

I really love yoga. Even more now, after I once gave up on it as the domain of angry hippies and show offs.

I honour that tradition, and all my teachers, for the good juice it rises.

I love meditation, especially Vijade in bali2passana. I love Vegemite, baguettes, the land and the many indigenous souls who have passed on to me the way to feel it – you have kept a light alive against terrible odds, and I hope I can do something with it in my lifetime.

I miss all the little furry friends who have blessed my way; Pip, Daisy, K1, K2, K3, Henrietta, Carbonno, Honey, Grizzly, Princessa, Pan, Kitty, Pixie & Rose, Leo, Archie, Bindi, Mummacita… and am extremely good at Yahtzee.


Jade Richardson, Passionfruit cowgirl.




61 thoughts on “About

  1. Love it, I like the way you tell it like it is, please send me email address concerning Gili Air work shop.

  2. I take you home. The world is not a place to conquer. I write a lot but you, must rest. I have travelled long time last months. I know Gili Air. Ticket for an aeroplane? Take a fast train. Go to Ace. rest. Dog is good and speaks often about Pip’s. Don’t deprive the world of your being in it. I will always, be somewhere, like an old god. X

  3. Never mind my twitter account. I rarely go there–NSA monitors everyone on social networks.
    It’s 4/10/13 and I want to move to Vilcabamba in spite of all your dire imprecations.
    It seems to me a spiritually strong, humble and goodhearted person who learns Spanish, and
    respects people in his/her dealings, with universal proper manners; willing to live modestly and unobtrusively, always practicing good Karma–such an individual would be able to live well and
    remain immune to the “Black Magic” you believe abounds in the Valley. Couldn’t a strong individual, or group of such individuals, even raise the general energy level and counteract the negativity you describe?
    After all, Evil and Good always coexist everywhere; always making progress in the Good is the best defense against Evil.

  4. It will come out in the wash mate. Good always wins in the long run. I know it. I keep a quiet heart and don’t let the turkeys get me down… Bear sends big hugs and a wet nose kiss. X

  5. Hi there PFCG. Long time no hear. Hope you are well. Possibly heading to Bali next year for some diving so if you are still there you can buy me a beer. Miss you in Aus. Brent.

  6. Hey!!! Wow!!!! Great to hear from you, Mr Clever!!
    Are you up for an International Rescue???
    Can’t get my butt out of Dodge here in the remote snarly wilds of Ec! And have been living a sort of life in exile, .. in exile!
    Got my ticket in Galapagos!! So now I am ready for anything… let’s reunite over a bottle of Frangelico and an ocean full of lovely little things. xxx
    When’s Bali?
    How’s Oz?

  7. Hey there Ratus. Glad to finally hear that you are still alive and kicking. By the look of your web site- or is it blog site?- (Mr Clever has troublke keeping up with all this new fangled social media stuff, ), you look like you have been rivaling Marco Polo in terms of expolration travel.
    Oz is ok but same old same old.
    Bali dates not fully locke in yet but probably July/August. It is my Christmas/New Year break project to nail it down.
    Looking forward to hoepfully seeing you but until then you take care of you.


  8. would love to know how to get in contact with this witchdoctor for myself, any details?

  9. was the Radiantly Alive TT really that bad? I’m thinking of taking it this April level 1. non-residential. i read your 2012 blog. i’ve signed up but haven’t paid. Would love to hear what you think now.

  10. I met you in crowded van going from Vilcabamba to Cuenca I the beginning of April. Held your Princessa. Love your blog… so glad to be able to follow you. How is Princessa and what will you do with her? Bonnie

  11. We have a lot in common…good on you for getting your creativity out there. I spent the 90s in Indonesia (Bali, Lombok & the Gillis) – how’s it there nowadays?

  12. Hello from Lismore, Australia. I am inspired by your travel tales and experiences with indigenous cultures. I have a deep interest in Shamanism, have studied and read widely on the subject and practice journeying regularly. I am committed to primate conservation, environmental education and animal rights. I am also in the process of healing from a long-term mental health condition and would be most interested to hear your thoughts on this. My blog is in its early stages but you can find it at: http://elizabethjanesterling.wordpress.com I hope you are well and would love to reconnect with you. Love Elizabeth

  13. Hello darling quester for the Golden Rule.
    So lovely to be in touch again.
    Thank you for finding me!
    I wonder if you receive this reply from my blog by email? Not sure…
    Anyway, I will be back in touch soon.. love, Jade x

  14. Hello fellow seeker on the path. I was awe-struck to find your blog. I have been following your posts on Facebook, I rarely comment though, mostly share animal-related posts. It seems a long time since we last connected. I have been hiding away in Lismore for over a decade, while you have been travelling the Earth! I was so intrigued to hear of your adventures (and sorry to hear about your illness). It sounds as if you have had an amazing journey. I am yet to read more of your blog and wonder if you have published a book yet? I would love to read it.

    I have read a lot of books about Shamanism (Sandra Ingerman, Alberto Villoldo, Jamie Sams etc) and practice journeying regularly. I have had a soul-retrieval with Tony Norgrove, from Denmark in Perth whom you recommended. I also had a soul-retrieval from a celtic shaman, Michelle McEwan and participated in one of her workshops. I would be fascinated to hear of your experiences with shamans during your travels and how they contributed to your healing…

    I understand your fondness for your furry friends. My life has been blessed over these years with horses and dogs to keep me company. For several years I lived on a property, managing a small Arabian horse stud. I mindfully raked the manure each day and spent quiet time in the company of my two Arabian mares, Famous & Notova. My bliss ended abruptly when my mother & step-father broke up and sold the property and my beloved horses had to be rehomed. I kept visiting Famous until she passed away peacefully earlier this year. Sadly, my beagle, Maia of seven years also passed away a few weeks ago. She was diagnosed with lymphoma and I decided to alleviate her suffering and she was put to sleep in my arms, in her home. I am so grateful for her teachings and for the gift of sharing her life. Since her death, I have experienced a profound healing. My depression has finally lifted and I feel inspired by life’s possibilities.

    I am hoping to return to uni to study Environmental Science next year, studying Global Environmental Issues & Wildlife Conservation. I will also be volunteering and fostering a dog for Northern Rivers Animal Services. I also hope to travel to Indonesia in July 2015, to volunteer at Samboja Lestari, a Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation sanctuary for orang-utans and sun bears. I would love to hear more about your travel experiences and your life. Please write soon.

    Kindest regards Elizabeth

  15. happy Sunday!
    It must be lovely up in that area – I have a sneaky idea I’ll end up in the region myself, in the not too far future.
    One of the loveliest of Australia’s pockets – I sometimes really miss the Great Southern Land.

    You’ve had a long and deep journey – many treasures found, I’m sure – and a lot of bravery required.

    It’s lovely – the day you first wrote to me I was actually sitting here in my house with a little Beagle man who had wandered in for a visit.

    He comes most days now, just to say hello, have a little water and a cuddle – then he Beagles off. I think this is the first Beagle I’ve met since my grandmother’s dogs when I was very small,

    So isn’t that…. a coincidence…?

    Thank ye gods and goddesses your depression has lifted!!! That must feel incredible – and a blessed relief! What do you think made the change?

    Yes – the possibilities are endless – I am just re-sizing myself up for them as well.

    I hear the orangutan project is wonderful, and any chance to be near these animals is sure to be profound. Who can even dare to image what 2015 will bring?!

    For now, I am very content watching the little tiny bees gather pollen from the flowers on the table, and listening to the forest orchestra as it winds of beyond a cup of Earl Grey.

    with love to you… Jade

  16. Hello! How lovely to hear from you. I am laying-low at home to avoid the Xmas ‘silly season’. I now live in a garden studio on mum’s property in town. I am a bit bereft without my horses & Beagle (sounds like you’ve made a new furry friend though) but I still have a Westie (West Highland Terrier) named ‘Foxy (Lady’!) who is enjoying all the attention.

    I am travelling to Sydney on Saturday to spend Xmas with family. I’m afraid I am rather like the country hick heading for the big smoke – Warringah Mall looms large! Mum & I have booked a unit on Narrabeen Beach and I am intending to hide-out there until Xmas day, when the family will congregate at my step-sister’s place at Freshwater.

    As to why my depression lifted, I think it had a lot to do with Maia’s passing. For two weeks, she was really sick and needed constant care. This was quite intense (and stressful) and I responded by going ‘up’ instead of ‘down’ (bipolar speak!). The doctor called it a ‘manic defense’, but I think I was just in a heightened state of sensitivity and it was my was of coping with the loss. I was waking up at 7am and getting up then, when for years now I have been struggling with getting up before lunch time, due to the effects of the heavy medication. I’m afraid I’m back to my old ways now and find I am becoming less motivated and inspired. I am mindful of the teachings Maia’s passing brought about though and hope to honour her memory by making some positive changes in my life.

    To be prepared for the Orang-utan Trip in July 2015, I will need to improve my level of physical fitness. So that means I will be heading back to the gym, something I’ve been avoiding for ages. So waking up early and getting fit (and losing weight) are my goals for 2015. And saving money for the trip. I am also looking forward to going back to uni, studying Global Environmental Issues and writing a paper about Orang-utans & The Palm Oil issue. In second session, I am studying Wildlife Conservation and participating in a 4 day fieldtrip, which I will also need to be fit for.

    I would love to hear more about the writing courses you teach. I wish you every happiness for Christmas and hope the New Year is filled with peace and promise… Love Elizabeth

  17. Who is “them”? Let me know and I’ll make them an offer they can’t refuse!!. We travelled to Bali in August but I don’t think you were around as my emails didn’t seem to get to you. Diving was great but having done that I doubt we will be back in the immediate future. Other places to go, people to see, as they say.

  18. Hahaha — ‘them’ be immigration – seems my visa has expirated… hopefully Australia will welcome me back, sooner or later (probably laterish..)
    What the HECK with the news in Sydney today!!
    August… Oh, don’t talk about August!!!
    Where’s good diving over here? I am longing to blow some bubbles.
    So – where to next then?
    And how’s Manly?
    Ahh – finally, after 8 years.. I’m missing it.

  19. Talumben. Great diving up there. Manly is still brilliant as far as I am concerned. Currently on fast ferry having a wine on the way home. To difficult to encapsulate yesterday ‘s events in an email. All a bit troubling from my end as my office is only a couple of blocks away and staff were stressed. Anyway we got through it.
    Would love to catch up but until we do you take care of you.

  20. Bonnie!!!!! Oh, what a journey that was!! Actually a very beautiful little group we were, weren’t we – and that was a precious ride for me, out of Weirdness, and into Wonderful. Little darling Princessita found a family back in Vilcabamba who adore her, and spoil her and hopefully love her even half of what I do – giving her away was, despite everything, the most excruciating part of the whole two years.
    I’m back in Bali (thank Ye Gods) and working on a book, on getting in shape, and eating as much cake as I can get my hands on.
    How are you????!!!
    Where are you??
    Jade x

  21. Yes, in the very far southwest corner – Denmark, near Antarctica. Over-run with penguins! Been in country about a month now, and teaching here soon – still wondering if I’m brave enough to go east.

  22. Ok. I will be in Perth on Thursday, flying out around 3.00 in the afternoon.

    I know it is a long shot but if you happen to be there let me know. Would love to catch up.

  23. Hello passionfruitcowgirl 🙂

    I really enjoyed reading your blog, especially the story about ayahuasca healing experience.
    Can you please give me some directions (apart from the ones written in your story), contacts, etc
    so I don’t make the unnecessary mistakes on my journey of searching a cure/healing for my medical condition?


  24. that’s some journey there cowgirl! Glad to hear La Madre has been such a great influence.
    how on earth does an inedible walkabout like this get financed??!

  25. I know!! It’s crazy isn’t it? I’ve no real idea how i survived it, or how it all was ever possible. Mostly, it’s thanks to my editor, who has kept me in stories for a long while now and backed me up no matter what.

  26. Hi Passion fruit Cowgirl! I loved your post on Ayahuasca. I am going to Mongolia to meet Shamans soon, it should be a experience. I’m glad to see a woman who likes to explore sharing her experience on here, I hope you are somewhere beautiful and interesting!

  27. Hi Passion fruit cowgirl. I read your account of healing in the jungle with shaman. Great story, well written. Here was me thinking only today to change my name to Oat Slice so that i could have the pleasure of carrying a muesli Bar around for ID. But I am not courageous enough to actually do it. You give us all hope. I have subscribed to your blog and look forward to hearing more of the adventures of Yoga-Centric Passion Fruit Cowgirl. And yes . . of course people are going to think it’s got something to do with Sex you gorgeous thing. Do your feet smell? does your nose run? Then you’re built up-side-down. Just sayin

  28. THANK YOU so much for sharing so much. Just tripped over your blog somehow by falling down the rabbit hole and I discover a person who seems like an earlier, braver me. May you continue to walk the edges for all of us.


  29. Hello,

    I just read your article about your ayahuasca experience. Very beautiful to read.

    I returned to a ‘Shamen’ recently who practices here in The Netherlandsr. The first time was a group session and I didn’t really get what I hoped. This time it was just me and her. I realized early on that there was a good chance there was a bit of hocus pocus going on or that she had her own agenda. We didn’t click together. But this was ok. I had my own agenda and I was the there to connect with the Mother, to show my respect and to ask her for true guidance and healing.

    I’m still processing the information I received but after reading your experience I would like to meet this man who cared for you.

    I don’t suppose you might guide me towards him? I would like to ask him some questions about what he knows about the Mother ayahuasca.

    Love and light.

  30. Dear Passionfruitcowgirl,
    I am Polish writer and editor of an esoteric website “Taraka” :: http://www.taraka.pl . I would like to place your article on Ayahuasca ( https://passionfruitcowgirl.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/the-bitter-cup-ayahuasca-beware-the-hand-that-feeds-you/ ) at “Taraka” in Polish translation. The translation was done by Mr Jerzy Florczykowski, jerzyjf@gmail.com and I assure that it is a good piece of translation work :).
    Do you agree for this?
    I would like also to ask you for permitting to use your photos from your article — in the Taraka translation.
    With much good energy
    Wojciech Jóźwiak
    [read: “voy-tchekh yoozh-vyak”]

  31. Hi, yes, lovely – thank you for asking, and also for all the work and care that must have taken. Perhaps you could send me a link so I can see what I write like in Polish? best to you and your people

  32. Thank God! The sun has come out!! So this is finally feeling more like Australia!!! I’m getting eastcoast sensations.
    Do you have any travel plans?
    I am going to call you.
    One of these days.

  33. Hey Ratus. Just came back from Vietnam so no planned trips in the immediate future. Where are you at present.?

  34. Oooo – tres exotique! Was it good. I’m in remote WA still…. getting itchy for Sydney…. but afraid she won’t recognise me.
    So you’re staying put for the rest of the year?

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