21 July 2023

Four years ago Lisa felt 'resentful,' then she started painting 'kindness rocks'

| Travis Radford
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woman holding painted rock

Hailing from Hervey Bay in Queensland, Lisa Kruger has been hiding ‘kindness rocks’ up and down the NSW Far South Coast. Photo: Lisa Kruger.

If you’ve stumbled across a little painted rock in the past few months between Tathra and Merimbula, Queenslander Lisa Kruger may be the person responsible.

The Hervey Bay local has been visiting the Far South Coast on a work trip since April (2023) and hiding about five of the small stones each week since arriving.

“It is a funny thing, isn’t it?” Lisa says.”It’s a worldwide movement called the kindness rock movement that was started back around 2015 by a lady in America.”

While the movement’s creator began by writing quotes on the rocks, people now paint the stones with everything from storybook characters to landscapes.

Kindness rocks.

A handful of the kindness rocks Lisa has been hiding, which are a combination of her own and those created by other kindness rocks artists in her hometown. Photo: Lisa Kruger.

Lisa first stumbled upon the movement “completely by accident” back in her hometown in 2019, shortly after she was in a serious car accident.

“Everything I used to do got taken away from me due to the physical limitations that were put on me at the time,” she remembers.

“I am a very positive person [but] I started to get resentful and I thought, ‘This isn’t me, to feel angry and resentful.'”

Around this time, Lisa and her husband took their grandchildren to a local park, where they found one of the rocks painted with the Very Hungry Caterpillar from the children’s picture book.

“My husband said, ‘You can’t take something that doesn’t belong to you darling, you need to go and put it back right where you found it because someone’s going to come looking for it,'” Lisa remembers. As her granddaughters were begrudgingly returning the rock to its hiding place, someone else who overheard the conversation came over and explained it was a ‘kindness rock’.

The other side of the rock was tagged with the name of a popular local Hervey Bay Facebook group dedicated to painting and hiding the kindness rocks. Lisa joined and the rest is history.

“I started painting them so that I could bring joy to another person who might be feeling like I was feeling,” Lisa says. “Because that’s what they gave me when I stumbled upon them.”

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Lisa describes herself as an “artful copier,” who copies and credits other artists’ designs, with the help of her granddaughters who inadvertently inducted her into the hobby four years ago.

Next comes choosing a place for a ‘rock drop’. Back home where Lisa’s local kindness rocks group has more than 10,000 members, she says people are quite creative with their hiding spots.

“You can leave them absolutely anywhere. We hide them in knots in trees, playgrounds, walkways down to the beach or sometimes in a doctor’s surgery or a dentist,” she explains.

Lisa hid about 35 of the rocks painted by herself and other members of her local group in this same tradition but soon realised what worked at home, would not work here.

“I’d go back four or five days later and they were still there, so then I started leaving them out in the open here, but still people were so terribly honest,” she says.

“So now I’ve resorted to putting them near kids playgrounds mostly, or actually giving them to people who look like they’re having a really lovely time.”

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If you stumble upon a painted rock and want to know if it’s one of Lisa’s, turn it over and check if it’s tagged with the name of her local Hervey Bay kindness rocks group.

The message on the back invites people to post a picture to the Facebook group but Lisa says beyond that, the choice is the finder’s: ‘Keep (forever if you want!), re-hide or leave behind’.

“I’ve only seen two posts on our page, but that’s OK, because the idea isn’t that we need to feel validated, the idea is that someone’s picked them up and it’s made them smile,” Lisa says.

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