A sunny place for shady people
I was dramatically evacuated off the tube in London during the 7/7 bombings. So when terrorists blew up a jeep at Glasgow airport two years later, I was relieved to be living far away in supposedly sleepy Brisbane. ''Nothing like that happens here,'' I said to my husband.
You can imagine how stunned I was the next morning to be ordered by my news editor down to the Gold Coast, where Mohammed Haneef, an alleged accomplice of the Glasgow terrorists, had been working as a doctor.
But should the discovery of an alleged terrorist on my doorstep really have come as such a shock?
Since being posted to Queensland in late 2006, I am constantly reminded how an inordinate number of Queenslanders seem to find themselves caught up in scandal, tragedy, and general weirdness.
When a big human interest story breaks and someone asks: where are they from? the tourism campaign tagline ''where else but Queensland'' echoes through my head.
Why do Queenslanders, from the Governor-General, Prime Minister and Treasurer down, grab more than their fair share of headlines?
Partly, I suspect, it's because – as the cliche goes - Queensland has always been a sunny place for shady people.
Notorious pedophile Dennis Ferguson was the scourge of south-east Queensland towns before he eventually fled to Sydney.
The glitzy Gold Coast is a natural home for those intent on making a fast buck, like conman Peter Foster, Firepower boss Tim Johnston and failed child-care baron Eddy Groves.
Others flee to Queensland to escape scrutiny down south.
John Della Bosca's lover holed up at her grandma's house in north Brisbane to avoid the press. Rex Crane, the former federal president of the ex-Prisoners of War Association of Australia who was unmasked as a POW imposter, was discovered here.
Another factor is what a colleague dubbed ''mango madness''. The frontier society mentality that gives rise to renegade politicians such as Barnaby Joyce, Pauline Hanson and Bob Katter – outsiders who claim to voice the views of the silent majority.
This frontier mentality also breeds a sense of adventurism among Queenslanders - which can often have tragic consequences.
Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin is the most obvious example. Recently freed Somali kidnap victim Nigel Brennan is from Brisbane, as are some of the Bali 9 drug smugglers, while Schapelle Corby is a Gold Coast girl. Dianne Brimble was a Brisbane mother of three before she overdosed on a P&O Cruises ship.
Queensland also boasts Australia's biggest army base, in Townsville. As our military casualties increase there is a good chance the latest victim will be from Queensland.
Similarly the state is home to some of Australia's largest indigenous communities, with the attendant problems of riots, alcoholism, violence, suspicious deaths and government failures.
More broadly, Queensland's migration-fuelled population expansion means there is a greater likelihood of a ''local'' making news.
Needing staff to provide essential services to all these new arrivals, the State Government actively recruits overseas. That's how Jayant Patel ended up at Bundaberg Hospital, where he allegedly killed patients on whom he operated. It's also why Haneef moved with his wife from India to work at the Gold Coast Hospital.
I suppose ultimately the fact that Queensland isn't part of the Sydney-Melbourne-Canberra power triangle has instilled a degree of ambition in its citizens that is lacking in the southern states. They have to move outside their comfort zone for opportunities and make their own luck, rather than slot into established power hierarchies or social structures.
Which means Queenslanders will continue to make news.
Cosima Marriner is The Age and Sydney Morning Herald Brisbane correspondent.