Candidate Profile

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Anthropology & Cultural Studies
Art Instructing
Destinations & Ports
Travel & Destinations
Deborah Ayres is Australian by birth and whilst she loves her country, she also loves to travel and has lived more than half her life overseas. The majority of that time has been in Asia and the South Pacific. As a teen Deborah lived in Singapore and this experience sparked a love for Asia that has endured.

She holds an Asian Studies Degree with a major in History, Politics and Bahasa Indonesia and Malay. Deborah spent the first decade of her life serving as an officer in the Royal Australian Navy and over this time her area of interest expanded to include the South Pacific. Consequently, upon leaving the Navy, Deborah moved to Vanuatu where she was involved in the Tourism sector for 10 years. She learned Bislama (the colourful language of Vanuatu) and absorbed extensive knowledge about the geography, people and customs of the South Pacific. Ultimately, however her love of South East Asia and Asian food, pulled her back to Asia. She and her family moved onto a catamaran and sailed it up from Perth, through Indonesia to Singapore and then beyond to Malaysia and Thailand. As fate would have it the Tsunami of 2004 sunk the boat, and after two years living in Langkawi whilst rebuilding the yacht, Deborah decided to settle in Penang......and she has been there ever since!

She now combines two of her great loves.......spending time at sea and sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm for this amazing part of the world. On top of this, she is also a respected Painter and Glass Artist, was the Co-founder of the Penang Creative Art Club back in 2007 and is an active member of the Portrait Society of America and the Virginia Glass Guild in USA.

Amazing Flora and Fauna in South East Asia
South East Asia has an amazing variety of Flora and Fauna from the Malayan Tapir with its over-sized sex organs, the Dragons of Komodo with its venomous bite to the parasitic Rafflesia flower which exudes a smell like rotten meat. During this presentation we will have a look at these and many other amazing animals and plants of SE Asia.

IndonEsia – The Most Volcanic Country on Earth
Positioned on the fault line between two tectonic plates, Indonesia is the most volcanic country on Earth. This presentation covers the science behind this volcanic activity and focuses on the history and recent activity at Krakatoa and Anak Krakatoa.

Asian Tsunami of 2004
During this presentation we will look at the causes of the Asian Tsunami of 2004 and the far reaching impact of this event. We will also outline the early warning systems that have been put in place to prevent the terrible death toll from being repeated should another Tsunami of that proportion occur again. I will also be sharing my personal experience during the Tsunami as I was living on my catamaran in Langkawi at the time. Thankfully, my family and friends escaped injury but the boat was sunk!

Bali – Unique Culture
Indonesia is 87% Muslim but the people of Bali are predominantly Hindu which makes Bali a wonderful place full of temples in the most beautiful settings. Learn about how the Balinese name their children based on the order in which they were born, about the unique culture including the Barong Dance, Gamelan, and the shadow puppets made from skin (Wayang Kulit). We will also discuss the Ngaben (Cremation Ceremony) a very important ceremony in the lives of the Balinese.

The First Kingdoms of Indonesia
All real estate agents agree that the most important thing is position, position, position. Indonesia is a fertile land and positioned in the perfect location to control the sea trade routes. Come and learn about the first kingdoms, and how Indonesia became a country for the first time.

The Spice Islands and Imperialism
Before refrigeration, spices that could preserve meat ….or at least cover up the flavor of slightly spoiled meat, became worth its weight in gold. This talk covers the spices and how they brought Imperialism to Indonesia.

Independence for Indonesia
The Dutch were not happy to give Indonesia their Independence. This talk covers how World War II, the Japanese and USA all played a part in helping Indonesia gain its Independence.

Unesco in South East Asia
There are 38 Unesco World Heritage Sites in South East Asia. Two of these gems of history are in Malaysia. This talk discusses the two towns of Georgetown on Penang Island and Malacca on mainland Malaysia, their history as colonial trading ports and importance of preserving them for future generations.

Bahasa – The Language of Indonesia and Malaysia
Indonesia is a country with many islands and different cultures that all had their own language. Come and learn how Bahasa (The official language of Indonesia) came into existence and how it helped Indonesia become a united and independent country. Come prepared to have some fun and learn a few useful words and phrases that will help you get more enjoyment out of your visit to Indonesia and Malaysia. Who knows, it may help you get a better price when bargaining for those souvenirs.


Vanuatu and Cannibalism
Vanuatu is a Y shaped string of islands, many with a strong history of cannibalism until the very recent past. Find out about how the tribes from each island caught and killed their food (including other humans) and the customs associated with guaranteeing a successful harvest like the Pentecost Land Diving.

Austronesia and the Pacific Races
Melanesia – Comes from Greek meaning the land of the Black (meaning black skinned people). Discover how the islands of Melanesia and Polynesia became populated and learn interesting facts – and stories – about how the two races and their culture, religion and lifestyles differ.

Slavery in the Pacific
When we think of Slavery we think of the transportation of Africans to the Americas, but slavery was happening in the Pacific in the 19th and 20th century. The practice was called Blackbirding. Sometimes it was by force, sometimes by deception and trickery. Hear about the impact of Blackbirding in the Pacific and Australia.

Bislama – The Language of Vanuatu
Come prepared to have fun and participate in a little language learning. This lecture will discuss the how Bislama came to be the language of Vanautu. Learn funny saying and words and a few local phrases you can use. As an example if you want to tell people to smile when taking a photo you might say....Skinem tuth blong yu (which translated means “pull back the skin from your teeth”. I can assure you some of these charming ways of communicating will stay with you for life!


Unique and Deadly
Become acquainted with the cute / and not so cute, unique and dangerous animals to be found in Australia. Learn interesting facts about their love life, where to find them and how to avoid getting them upset.

The Bombing of Darwin – Australia's Pearl Harbour
In WW II Darwin was a major naval base but on 19 February 1942, 242 Japanese Aircraft hit Darwin, causing huge damage and killing 235 people. It was the first of 97 attacks by the Japanese Air Force and Navy on Australia over the following 18 months however a recent survey found that only 4% of Australians educated in the 50s had learned about the Bombing of Darwin? Was this a cover up or a failure in education?

Thursday Island – A pearl of an Island
Thursday Island is one of hundreds of Islands in the Torres Strait of which only 17 are occupied. It is believed that it is the remainder of what was the land bridge to Australia, based on the coral shelves. Find out about the Pearl Industry in Thursday Island, the involvement of the Japanese and the impact of the Great Depression and the World Wars..... and other interest facts about Thursday Island and its people.

Cairns – Gateway to the Great Barrier Reef
We have all heard the fact that The Great Barrier Reef is made of millions of coral polyps and the largest living structure in the world stretching 2300 kilometers and encompassing 2900 reefs and 900 islands. There is lots of alarming information out there about how the water temperature is rising causing the bleaching of the coral and other issues. During this chat we will look at the diversity of the creatures living on and around the reef, the threats to the reef and how robots have been used to hunt down and kill predators and are now being used to help rehabilitate the reef.