ROBBIE PEIME IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people

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Could you please tell our readers about your journey?

I was brought up in the country without a worry or a care and a love for the outdoors. I was in my second year of a mechanical apprenticeship and my interests/hobbies included motorbikes, snowboarding, camping and four-wheel driving. I was definitely a thrill-seeker, which ultimately resulted in my life-changing accident. When I was 17, I was involved in a head-on collision with a car and my motorbike, travelling at a combined speed of 180km/h.  Being left a complete paraplegic with other severe injuries, the medical professionals described me as a “broken man”. In an induced coma for two weeks and spending the better part of a year in hospital, after discharge from rehabilitation I struggled with depression and obesity. I isolated myself from the outside world due to a lack of confidence and embarrassment. This took a long time for me to overcome and I eventually found myself again through exercise.  The stronger I got, the more independent and confident I became.  I was no longer ashamed of the person in a wheelchair that I was looking at in the mirror. This new outlook on life has driven me to continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone, something that had restricted me for so long. 

You said that you found yourself again through exercise. Could you expand on this and your path to becoming a personal trainer?

Exercise, health and fitness was one of the main contributing factors to my improved state of mental health, regaining my independence and self-worth. I never really understood what it meant to suffer depression, and having met huge goals and feeling great satisfaction, I continued to set the bar high and achieve goals I never thought possible.  Although I had a strong network of family and friends behind me, they didn’t truly know the obstacles I faced as a paraplegic.  I wanted to become the person to help others through their struggles, who were potentially facing that same mind-set as the 17-year-old boy I used to be. The thought of another person thinking their life is over, like I thought mine was, is where the path originated from to become a personal trainer and motivational speaker. 

Congrats on achieving your goal that you set on Channel 9’s second series of This Time Next Year. How was the training process for the triathlon?

My training regimen was strength-based rather than endurance.  When I decided to lock in the goal of completing an Ironman, my training changed significantly. I was petrified as I am one of the laziest people that you will ever meet. Everyone laughs when I say this, but it’s true! This was a huge undertaking, so I sought guidance from a professional coach to maximise my performance and help me with my routine. I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to train for such a long distance (3.8km swim, 180km bike, 42km run), then I realised this would all be with my arms!  Steve Foster from Team Barefoot is a Mornington Peninsula triathlon coach who created weekly personalised programs. This included training six days a week. Steve swam with me on a regular basis as this was my weakest leg. He was there to encourage me when I was doubting myself — which was often.

What made you decide to pursue becoming a motivational speaker?

There are people sitting at home waiting for something to happen, missing out on life and all the experiences that are out there, due to self-doubt and anxiety. I think about this regularly and it upsets me because I can empathise with how they feel. I wanted to reach out to people on a personal level. Everyone can experience these feelings and I want to help them see how you can overcome any obstacles. By sharing my story I hope to do this. When you see you’ve helped someone feel better, it makes you feel better. It’s like a smile — it’s contagious. 

Do you have a five year goal?

My five-year goal is to continue to help others improve their lives and better themselves; show people with disabilities the accessible programs available and what they can achieve. I am now actively involved in wakeboarding, snowboarding and of course personal training. With regards to my speaking career, it would be to break into the corporate world, allowing me to reach a wider audience and do what I can to help others improve their mental health through the benefits of health and fitness. As for my sporting goals, I have set my sights on competing in the 2022 Commonwealth Games in the sprint distance triathlon category. My ultimate goal is to compete at the Paris Olympic Games. Somewhere in between I will aim to qualify for Kona Hawaii Iron Man world championships. 

Keep an eye on Robbie’s journey on Instagram @robbiepeime and his website www.robbiepeime.com.au 

GUY MIRABELLA IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people

We all know you create deliciously aesthetic food, but tell our readers about your love affair with art.

It's not a love affair. Art is a direction, state of mind, a guide for better living. Art for me is an opportunity to move and challenge and make sense of something that I can hold on to.

When did you start your journey as an artist?

CAPTION:  Photo by Natalie Nowotarski

CAPTION: Photo by Natalie Nowotarski

Oh, the ‘j’ word . . . I just can’t remember a time that I wasn't drawing or making things out of paper, wood or grass. Anything I could use to get it out of my head, down my arms, into my fingers and on to paper or dirt. I started drawing birds that were on my parents’ farm in Tyabb — rosellas, kookaburras, magpies and galahs. 

Which medium do you prefer?

Anything that allows me to free-fall with optimism, commitment, originality. I will use whatever it takes to make the mark, squiggle, colour or accident in order to live better.

Tell our readers about the art hanging in Shop Ate Cafe in Mount Eliza.

The art in Shop Ate is diverse. Images of landscapes, abstract expressionism, spoons, plates and whisks sticking out of walls. Things that are seductive. It has a quality that lives and a way of creating seduction with a slow, faded beauty. 

Where has your artwork landed? Have you had any exhibitions?

Up until now my art has been a very private thing, but as I move out of my early 60s and the life of a cafe owner, I will take a voyage and return to that magical time when I was six years old drawing birds.

And what about your book designing and illustration?

For a long time, book design and illustration gave me a better living than trying to live off one’s art. I married young at 22, had children and everything that goes with it. The books were a wonderful way of expressing ideas without losing myself in the process. The years as a book designer were some of the happiest and most rewarding.

Who has influenced your artistic expression?

My parents. How they shared their culture while I was growing up. They are Sicilian. I’ve also found great inspiration from the bush at the back of Tyabb and the Australian landscape. The people I meet every day and the sounds of living and the places I visit also have an influence.

Colour and visual vibrancy play a big part in your food presentation. Is that the same with your art?

Food and art are two very different forms of expression. I've never thought of my cooking as colourful or vibrant — I do it to feed people. Art is to feed me. It could be a black mark on a piece of stone but it's there for me, not you. I'm selfish with my art.

And finally, what’s next art-wise for Guy Mirabella?  

Good question. I don't know. As long as I'm living better, still discovering, still gazing and dreaming, I’m happy.

KENT STANNARD IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people

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Kent Stannard has been fascinated by sharks for more than four decades. Growing up in Barwon Heads and living out the back of Blairgowrie for 23-odd years, this science-minded board-rider always knew there was ‘something’ watching him while surfing solo. We chat about his love of the great white shark, his not-for-profit organisation Tag For Life and his quest to find out as much as he can about these epic oceanic creatures to ensure their survival.

How did you start tagging sharks?

My father’s cousins built commercial vessels for the oil and gas industries, and my father’s family are from a farming background. That’s why I’ve always had a thing for wedge-tailed eagles too. I started working with the CSIRO back in the early 2000s. They had just developed tags for sharks to understand their behaviour and more about their habitat around the Australian coast. As a kid I was always fascinated with top-order predators. I began a marine science degree but gave it up to become a builder. Now I am involved in research, including the tagging of sharks, and make clothing (White Tag) in response to requests from hard-core ocean users to wear. 

Tell us more about your relationship with CSIRO.

The CSIRO approached my family in the late ‘90s with their tagging technology. We’ve partnered with them on a number of occasions, but started out by placing tracking equipment, including underwater receivers, all over Bass Strait. Sharks are like a different sort of grey nomad and they keep moving. So far we’ve been involved with the tagging and monitoring of over 400 sharks from NSW through to South Australia, following their movement patterns and behaviour. There are two populations of white shark in Australia — the eastern population originating east of Wilsons Promontory and the western population stemming from somewhere west of Bass Strait. Bass Strait is the missing link to understanding more about the species. We need to follow where they go and what they are doing. It’s a combination of science and public safety.

Are there different types of tags?

Yes. There’s a satellite tag, which studies the shark’s movement patterns and identifies habitat critical to them. When the animal surfaces, the tag sends a signal to the satellite and records a position. The tag is designed to release from the shark’s dorsal fin after 18 months. It washes ashore and sends a GPS location where it is so we can collect it. Then there’s the acoustic tag, which is the size of a lipstick and has to be surgically implanted into the shark’s stomach cavity away from its organs. Each one has its own code and reports to an underwater receiver. They last for around 10 years and talk to the receiver telling it when the shark arrives in an area, how long it stays, and then when it leaves. This gives us important data, including feeding habits, behaviour and how they use an area. 

Do the acoustic tags have any impact on other marine animals?

No. They are set at a certain kilohertz that doesn’t affect seals, dolphins or other sea creatures.  

And what about the third type of tag?

That’s the pop-off tag, which is used on big sharks over 5m. We have to use a Hawaiian sling-type spear, which has a fork on the end of it. It penetrates the shark behind the dorsal fin and is ideal for monitoring the movement of large pregnant sharks to nursery areas. It is pre-programmed to pop off after a period of time, floating to the surface, and the data is then uploaded to the satellite. We also take a tissue sample from each of the sharks so we can map their DNA. We can then establish who their parents, siblings and relatives are.

How does Tag For Life raise money for shark research?

We are a not-for-profit organisation, so we raise money through philanthropic means. For example, we’ve received funding through the Ian Potter Foundation and Coast Care. We also have a woody-style caravan at the dog beach in Blairgowrie over summer that sells tea and coffee to try to raise some more bucks. Everything we do is with the aim of conserving and preserving sharks as well as achieving a safer coastal environment for surfers, swimmers, fishermen/women and divers. It’s all about creating the science and sharing the outcomes through education. It’s important to remember that humans are just visitors in the ocean, not the sharks. 

Head to Tag For Life’s Facebook page @tagforlife to know more about this amazing research. 

ANDY DONALDSON IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people

Andy Donaldson’s experience as a radio presenter has been invaluable in her role as an MC.

Andy Donaldson’s experience as a radio presenter has been invaluable in her role as an MC.

How did you become an MC?

My radio partner John McCormack and I had the pleasure of interviewing ex-Channel 9, Channel 7 and Crown Casino boss Ian Johnson. It was one of my favourite interviews as he rarely does them. We chatted about the beginning of The Footy Show and he told incredible stories about Kerry Packer. After that interview, Ian asked me to MC the charity lunch for Sorrento Rotary Club. That was my first gig and how it all started.  

Is it a tough industry for a woman to be in?

Whether you are male or female, having the right background for any job is key, and it’s no different for MC work. I had four years’ experience on radio so it was an easy and natural step to come out of the studio and talk in front of an audience on stage with a mic.

Tell us more about Everybody’s Talking.

Everybody’s Talking was an incredible time. Two years on commercial radio was such an achievement and I learnt so much. I loved every second of the journalism and producer’s role as much as the presenting. Unfortunately, Crocmedia took over SEN and our show was axed. You can still tune into Everybody’s Talking and listen to all shows on RPPFM 98.7 though. 

Tell us about your connection with bees and why they are so important to you.

I love my bees and their honey. About 30 per cent of all our food depends on cross-pollination and 85 per cent of plants exist because of bees. My bee-wrangling friend Simon, from Save The Bees Australia, has taught me everything I know about bees. We remove and replace a few frames from the hive twice a year and take enough honey for personal use only. They are fascinating to watch. They all have different jobs and communicate with each other constantly. 

Have you ever been stung?

Bees only sting humans when under threat. I’ve been stung once but that was only because it got stuck in my suit and couldn’t get out. It’s important to buy your honey from your local beekeepers so you know you are getting real liquid gold.

Do you go away once the sun’s stopped shining down south?

I love the Mornington Peninsula and the four seasons so I don’t go away over winter. I hibernate like everyone else down here. We are all sitting by the fire. If I do venture out it’s to sit in front of another fire at the Sorrento Hotel or to visit a winery or chasing culinary delights at one of our great eateries.

What do you think about the 50+ modelling movement? 

I think anyone who can carve out a continuing career over 50 is lucky because that’s something that I have found challenging. I’ve been searching tirelessly for a long-term career project and I’m still searching. I haven’t modelled for 15 years but I’m all for older women doing it.

What’s Andy Donaldson’s favourite winter weekend outfit? 

I think Victoria is the fashion capital and love long boots, jeans and jumpers. Beanies, hats, gloves and jackets. My favourite jumper is made locally. The designer is also the creator of not-for-profit group Tag for Life, which raises funds for white shark science and education. I also support Fusion Mornington Peninsula, which helps the youth in our community who are disadvantaged and left homeless.   

LIZ ROGERS

GEORGIA MORRISON IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people By Kate Sears

Free To Shine believes keeping vulnerable children in school dramatically reduces their likelihood of falling prey to sex trafficking.

Free To Shine believes keeping vulnerable children in school dramatically reduces their likelihood of falling prey to sex trafficking.

Georgia Morrison spent a few months volunteering in Kenya, and then in Cambodia. Through this she became even more passionate about the development needed in these areas, but she remained sceptical about development organisations considering the corruption that she had witnessed first-hand. It was after this that fate served Georgia her next step in life. While working in a café in Mornington, she served Nicky Mih, the managing director, founder, and board member of Free To Shine. After an enthralling chat with Nicky, Georgia became a volunteer for Free To Shine in 2013. Six years later, Georgia’s now a board member. She talks about her role, the organisation’s work and its next fundraiser. 

Tell us a little about your journey with Free To Shine.
I left that meeting (with Nicky) with a newfound appreciation for non-government organisations, blown away by the earnest transparency that she offered me, the thorough research that the organisation was founded on, and the scope and rational optimism of Free To Shine's vision. After a number of years, my involvement grew to the point where I was asked to join the board of directors and it has easily been the most challenging and the most rewarding position I have held — working with the most incredible people who genuinely want to make a real impact.   

Georgia Morrison started volunteering with Free To Shine in 2013 and is now a board member.

Georgia Morrison started volunteering with Free To Shine in 2013 and is now a board member.

Free To Shine is an organisation that empowers with education to prevent sex trafficking. What does Free To Shine’s work entail?
At Free To Shine, we dream of a world free from sex trafficking, and there are three main goals that we are working towards to get us there: creating communities that are safe for children, getting girls in school and keeping them there, and creating women leaders. Before Free To Shine existed, Nicky Mih was in Cambodia working with survivors of sex trafficking, and all of those young women had the same wish — they wanted nothing for themselves; they wanted someone to prevent girls from being trafficked in the first place. From there began two years of research that eventuated in Free To Shine. Nicky had found that the survivors of sex trafficking had something in common — they weren't in school when they were trafficked. We found that, critically, children in the most marginalised communities with the lowest levels of education, or none at all, are the easiest targets for traffickers to manipulate because they are more likely to accept the false promise of lower paid and unskilled work, such as construction or domestic servitude.  Once granted access to education, girls are physically protected by sitting in the classroom, and by becoming more self-assured and empowered through their academic achievements they become more able to make decisions, critically evaluate situations, and exert control over their own lives. Evidence suggests that even keeping children in school until age 16 dramatically reduces their likelihood of being trafficked and will significantly improve their standard of living. 

The impact of Free To Shine has been amazing, with 753 girls enrolled and kept safe from trafficking thanks to your team. How has this been achieved?
Keeping girls safe would not be possible without the support of our generous donors and over 300 sponsors who individually support a girl through until she finishes high school. Along with our two main campaigns, Shine & Dine and Luna Workshops, we are able to employ over 20 people in Cambodia to run and maintain our program. Our team workshops every difficult situation with our social workers to ensure we come up with the best plan for keeping girls safe, in school and with their families.

Tell us more about the upcoming Shine & Dine event.
Food brings people together — couples, families, friends, even strangers. So in July we are hosting our annual Shine & Dine campaign. It’s an opportunity for Australian cafes and restaurants to help prevent sex trafficking in Cambodia simply by doing what they do best — serving you great food. The venues nominate a dish to be their Shine & Dine dish for the month, and $5 from each sale directly supports Free To Shine. It's an easy and delicious way to support Free To Shine. 

We hear that the dishes are chef-designed, so could you give us an inside scoop on what diners can expect?

Commonfolk Cafe is our headlining venue this year after raising over $1600 in last year's campaign. For the rest of the line-up you'll need to keep an eye out on our socials as we unveil them in the lead-up to July — lots of your Peninsula favourites are in there. Each venue has the option to design their own dish or choose from one of the dishes that our chef, Luke Hagel from Commonfolk, has created. There are a bunch of Cambodian-inspired recipes on the list, and trust me, they're all worth trying. 

You can follow Free To Shine on Instagram via @freetoshine or on Facebook at @freetoshine.org. For more information you’re encouraged to visit www.freetoshine.org

TILLY WATTS IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people By Kate Sears

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Twenty-year-old Matilda ‘Tilly’ Watts suffered a traumatic health crisis three years ago that put the Mount Eliza resident in hospital and left her unable to even walk around her own street. Fast-forward to this year and this remarkable woman has grasped her recovery with both hands and is running with it — literally and figuratively. Over the weekend of May 18-19 she will join 8000 athletes in the 2019 Great Ocean Road Running Festival. As a sports coach, English tutor, promotional video maker, fundraiser and runner, she’s a force to be reckoned with.  

Could you tell us about your health crisis?

I used to compete well in school cross-countries, and then a dramatic deterioration in my physical and mental health meant I experienced impairments to my daily functioning. Facing insomnia, a temporary speech impediment, depression, PTSD, anxiety, panic attacks and suicidality as a result of a traumatic experience is something I refuse to be ashamed about so others can be encouraged to break their silences and seek professional support.

You’ve been working in the community raising $10,000 for mental health. Could you tell us what this entails? 

Over the past year I have been passionate about fundraising for Beyond Blue to role model advocacy and acceptance for those suffering with mental illness. I involved myself with 12 independent businesses and five schools throughout Mount Eliza, Mornington, Frankston and Tyabb as a part of this. 

Why did you pursue running? 

My father competed in marathons when I was a child, and my family regularly participated in fun runs. It was always a goal of mine to run half-marathons. It wasn't until I nearly lost my life, though, that running became an important goal for me again.

What methods did you employ to tackle your journey to recovery?  

Recovering from a health crisis is never linear, so I had to celebrate every achievement no matter how minor and accept the setbacks as a natural part of the process.

We heard that you facilitated a junior running club. Could you expand on this?  

My friend and I were both qualified in sports coaching so we specifically designed a program tailored to the abilities of children aged six to 12 years to focus on improving running form and aerobic and anaerobic fitness. Together we facilitated this program to raise funds and promote physical, social and mental well-being for young families.

How have you been training for the Great Ocean Road Running Festival?
I use the 14km Paradise Run as a milestone for my upcoming half-marathons. I combine training with running outside on local tracks and the treadmill. 

Do you have any advice for others tackling a health crisis?
Someone once wrote to me: “Even the blackest, darkest nights eventually see daylight.” Simple yet encouraging.

Where’s your favourite place on the Mornington Peninsula to run?
The beachside track between Mornington and Mount Martha.


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ISABELLA SHANNON IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people By Kate Sears

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First, congrats on being offered a place in the AFLW and signing with the St Kilda Football Club. 
Thank you. When I got the phone call I didn’t really believe it. It was kind of overwhelming. Signing with an AFLW team isn’t something that you expect to happen when you wake up on a school morning. It was a bit of a shock but I was obviously stoked and very excited.

You’re 17 years old now, so when did you first start playing football?
I have grown up in a football family and I remember Sundays spent watching my brother and the afternoons down at Balnarring Football Club. I really enjoyed watching him and I even became their water girl for some games. When Balnarring’s first girls’ team was established, heaps of my friends started playing. The season had started and I saw photos of them training and having heaps fun so I signed up and never looked back. I picked it up quickly with the help of my brother, who was pretty happy to have a keen kicking partner. I was 14 at this time. 

Did you always want to be a professional footballer?
Before I started playing I had never really thought about it, only because it wasn’t really available at that time. I’ve always loved playing sports and dreamt of being a professional sports player but when I was younger I thought that could only happen playing netball, which was my sport of choice. However, since the beginning of AFLW it has been something that I aimed for. I cannot believe the opportunities that girls like me are given in football now and am always reminding myself of how lucky I am to be involved in this great movement, making sure that I make the most of everything that comes my way.  I have been coached by knowledgeable and inspiring men and women who have no doubt led me to where I am. There’s a great football culture here and the opportunities that I have been given through this community have taught me so much about all aspects of the game. 

What does a day in your life look like? 
I’m completing Year 12 VCE studies at Padua as well as being College Captain, so I often have extracurricular school commitments and obviously lots of study. Afternoons usually involve some sort of training and among it all I find time to chill out and spend quality time with my family and friends.

How will your training develop now?
This opportunity is a blessing because it gives me a year to focus my training on being fit and getting ready for the 2020 season. I am able to use St Kilda’s great resources and facilities and be exposed to ALFW professionalism. While they are letting me focus on school and normal junior commitments such as playing with the Dandenong Stingrays, I will train with St Kilda’s VFLW team regularly so that I can progress with them throughout the season and train at the next level in preparation for 2020. 

What do the next five years look like for you?
Exciting! Finishing school at the end of the year and knowing that I am on an AFLW list is crazy. Hopefully I’m able to keep playing footy and go on to university, but I’m not sure what I’d like to study yet. I’d also love to travel at some point too.

Finally, what AFL team do you barrack for? 
I was Essendon, but now Saints of course. 

Colour me Hava By Liz Rogers

You might have seen some of Melanie Hava’s beautifully bright work around town. This mum of three, including an eight-month-old baby boy who spends most of his time opening drawers, is one of Manyung Gallery’s inspired artists and also shows her freestyle work in Mornington’s Koh Living. Loving working with acrylics and canvas, Melanie is speaking with me from Cairns, where she has been living for the past six years. The rain has been falling. The flood water has been rising and the baby whose Aboriginal name is Bungadoo (Turtle) is squealing in the loungeroom next door. Things can get hectic when the kids are ready to rumble. Her own Indigenous name is Winden, which means “green pigeon”, while her two older children, a daughter and another son, have been given the names Gunggamburra (Butterfly) and Guwalba (Cricket) respectively. She explains: 

“My grandmother gave us all our Indigenous names. My father came from Austria, while Mum came from the South Johnston River Mamu tribe in North Queensland. I never went to art school and have always just painted because I just love doing it. I feel it. My work is always colourful. I’ve always been attracted to the vibrancy. My sister used to paint when we were living in the bush in the Yowah opal fields west of Cunnamulla in Queensland too. She was a very traditional painter using earth colours, but she doesn’t paint anymore. I found it too isolating there. I’m definitely a city girl.”

Melanie has had a passion for art since she got into the paint box at kindergarten in Mt Isa. Embracing both her parents’ cultures, she now exhibits her large-scale work — think 130cm x 180cm — across Australia and has had a solo exhibition in Rotterdam too. Her delicate paintings digitally produced on Koh Living’s ceramic minikin range reflect this organic artist’s flexibility and capability to work across various sizes and mediums. She continues: “I’ve loved the partnership with both Manyung Gallery and Koh Living. My work is exclusive to Manyung, so you won’t find it in any other gallery on the Peninsula. I’m also looking forward to the ongoing partnership with Koh Living. I’m coming up with new designs as we speak.”

If you’d like to find out more about this Indigenous creator’s art, then drop by Manyung Gallery or Koh Living. This year sees Melanie cutting back on the colour, but we’ll wait and see. It’s hard to change something that’s an intrinsic part of your soul. 


BADEN CROFT IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people By Liz Rogers

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When did you start expressing yourself through art?

I’ve always done it. At high school I began experimenting with different mediums and developed a keen interest in artists like Ben Quilty, Brett Whiteley and John Brack.

Did you always want to be a painter?

Being an artist was one of the last things I thought I’d be doing. It always seemed to be unachievable. I was enrolled in a marine biology degree but started selling paintings, so it was put on the back-burner.

What is your favourite medium?

I love to work with oil paint. I thoroughly enjoy the freedom and buttery texture you are able to achieve with it. I’m also quite keen to experiment with lino printing and various forms of sculpture.

Do you have a favourite painting?

I’ve got a few favourites, including one I did recently, which is a vibrant 1.8 x 1.9m interior/seascape (pictured). This is one of my more recent works, which is part of a series titled Room with a View

Where does your work show?

Art2Muse in Double Bay, Sydney, mainly. I’ll be having my third solo show there in June. I also show at Allison Bellinger Gallery in Inverell, NSW; Merricks General Store; and Southern Buoy Studios, which is a fantastic gallery space in Mornington.

Any favourite spots on the Peninsula to visit for inspiration?

The Peninsula is full of inspirational locations, both man-made and natural. I am mostly drawn to the more rugged, organic parts. I often gravitate to coastal landscapes.

Have you always lived here?

Yes, but I’ve been on many surfing-related overseas trips including Indonesia, Samoa and the Philippines, Europe and Morocco. I’ve just returned from the Victorian High Country, which has inspired my next body of work.

Can you remember selling your first painting? 

It was to well-known Peninsula author and illustrator Meredith Gaston. It was a floral commission piece.

Tell us about your painting process.

Often bodies of work are inspired by a specific place and stem from photos. From here I may do sketches or go straight to the canvas. I use a corking gun to empty large quantities of oils on to a glass table where I mix the paint before applying it directly and rapidly to the canvas with palette knives in layers. I am extremely impatient when it comes to the actual making of a work. Even the largest of paintings will often take no longer than a day or two but can take up to six months to dry properly.

What does a day in your life look like? 

Coffee first! Then a few hours surfing, the bakery, then studio. Put on some music and begin to paint. I find my most productive days are when I get to the studio with an idea in mind and paint late into the night with no distractions.


Casual chats with Peninsula people - YAZMINE LOMAX - By Kate Sears

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Two years ago, a wee Irish lass wandered into our office to ask about writing positions. Her confidence sold us, as did her Bachelor of Arts majoring in Professional Writing, Editing and Public Relations from Swinburne University of Technology, and since then Yazmine Lomax’s interviews with fascinating Peninsula residents have featured in Mornington Peninsula Magazine’s In Conversation and Frankly Frankston Magazine’s Frankly Speaking. Now as 21-year-old Yazmine prepares to leave Mornington for Ireland, Sweden or the US — who knows; this girl just doesn’t stop travelling and pursuing her writing — we tracked her down for one last interview. This time, however, we’re the ones asking the questions. 

When did your love of writing begin?

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I loved making ‘books’ from sheets of folded A4 paper when I was very little and thankfully was always encouraged to write throughout primary and high school at Padua College. I remember being especially inspired to write after reading the Harry Potter series for the first time when I was about nine years old. 

What’s your favourite style of writing or subject to write about?

I love interviewing interesting people. It’s so exciting to learn more about people I admire and find the questions that will give the best information. I’m excited to try out different styles and subjects in the future; I’m a huge music fan so would love to get more into music journalism, and after reading Michelle McNamara’s I’ll Be Gone In The Dark and watching Netflix’s Making A Murderer I’d be super-interested in trying my hand at crime writing. 

Where else has your writing taken you?

I spent a semester in my final year of university studying in Boston, which, as anyone who knows me can tell you, is my favourite place in the world. The college I studied at there had so many clubs and publications and I loved getting involved with those. After that I interned at a magazine group in Dublin for a month, which was also fantastic. I got to write about pop culture, attend press days, help out on photoshoots and interview famous faces like Sting. The great thing about writing is that you can tie it in with your existing travel plans. I visited Iceland over New Year’s last year and wrote about my horse-riding adventure, which was then published by a tourism website. 


PADDY SWAYN IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people by Yazmine Lomax

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By day, Paddy Swayn is the popular PE teacher at Moorooduc Primary School, but in the afternoons and on weekends you’ll find him on the footy field coaching the Pines Pythons to premiership victory. We caught up with the sports fanatic for a chat about the ups and downs of coaching and how it felt to snag a win in the MPNFL Division One Grand Final.

How did coaching the Pines come about?

I played at the Pines when we won our last premiership 24 years ago. One of my teammates went on to coach at Rosebud Football Netball Club and he asked me to help out and see if I liked coaching. That was back in 2000 and now, 19 seasons later, I’m still doing it. After assistant coaching at Rosebud, I had numerous coaching roles with Somerville Football Club (2005-2007), Pines (2008-2009) and Frankston VFL (2010-2014) before returning to Pines in 2015.

What’s the best part of being a football coach?

It would have to be the development of individual players, the growth of the side and club as we learn together, and seeing the joy on the supporters’ faces when we play. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say winning!

What are some challenges you face?

There are plenty of challenges that come with being a football coach but the No.1 is backing yourself. Time is another big one; fitting in family, work and friendships as well as coaching a local senior football side is really challenging.

What’s the secret to being a premiership-winning coach?

Experience. It’s all about making mistakes, learning from them, and then getting things right next time. Also asking questions. I’d never coached a grand final before so I rang other coaches and spoke to them. When the winning point was kicked I felt all the losses, all the setbacks and all the heartaches released in one emotion. It wasn’t the sense of relief that many coaches talk about; it was pure joy knowing we’d achieved something pretty special.

Why do you love where you live and how does it inspire your work?

We’re spoilt for choices of things to do here. We have beaches, wineries, golf courses, sporting facilities, restaurants, schools … it’s endless. And the people here are pretty relaxed. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

 

VIKKI PETRAITIS IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people by Yazmine Lomax

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Former Seaford resident Vikki Petraitis is the author of over a dozen true-crime stories, including The Frankston Murders. More than two decades after the release of her debut novel, she’s still as passionate as ever about tales of justice and human perseverance.

Where did your interest in crime writing begin?

It came from being in Year 7 and finding Agatha Christie’s Sparkling Cyanide, plucking that off the shelf and then reading every single Agatha Christie book. When I was 18 or 19 I bought a book called Inside The Mind Of A Murderess, about Myra Hindley, and once you read true crime the ‘body in the library with the 12 suspects’ just doesn’t cut it. The heart of it is that it’s about real people.

What do you love about being a crime writer?

I get to meet the most amazing people. I’ve spent 25 years talking to people who have been changed by adversity and that helps me in my life; I think being a crime writer has given me an insight into the world that I would not have if I didn’t do what I do. On occasion I’ve had nightmares but I guess that’s my brain processing the stories.

August was the 25th anniversary of the Frankston Murders. How do you feel this event still affects the community today?

When I did the talk for the 20th anniversary, I had an hour-long book signing line where everyone who came forward had a story and a connection to it. About 150 people showed up to the memorial this year and all of them had a story. Everyone was so moved to see Baby Jake there — he was 12 days old when his mother was murdered — and everyone just hugged him. When you take three women out of a close-knit community, years and years later so many people are still going to feel that connection.

What’s your writing process like?

For The Frankston Murders I did 50 interviews with family members, cops, SES … everybody. I also had a 900-page homicide brief and all of Denyer’s confessional videos and transcripts so I processed the whole thing like a big jigsaw puzzle 

Why do you love this area and how does it inspire your work?

I lived in Seaford when the Frankston Murders happened and there’s a connection that will never be broken. If anything shows the strength of this community it’s the way they’ve embraced Baby Jake and turned up to give Brian and Carmel Russel a hug. As a writer, that’s what you want to connect with. 

 

LAURENCE AND OLIVIA GUDE IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people by Liz Rogers

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How did The Personalised Gift Shop come about?
thepersonalisedgiftshop.com.au came about when I was looking for a gift to surprise my little sister Olivia. Working away at the time, online was the only solution and it quickly became apparent that finding a gift that was unique, personal and full of meaning was difficult and limited.

Where did the business start and how fast has it grown?
After a lot of research, a few overseas excursions, countless late nights and endless cups of coffee I started the business in 2014, taking over my parents’ garage in Tasmania. Shortly after, my little sister Olivia came on board. Since then The Personalised Gift Shop has grown immensely. We set up our main fulfillment centre here on the Mornington Peninsula in 2016.

You are both in your early 20s — where did your entrepreneurial instincts come from?
We have both been exceptionally lucky and have been involved in numerous family businesses from the day we were born. Our grandfather built a leading wetsuit factory in the UK, and we have been hands on with our parents in restaurants, signs and graphics and river cruise companies to name a few. I think our instincts and ways of thinking have derived from all this. We don’t really know any different.

What are your professional backgrounds?
Olivia has a degree and studied architecture; I dropped out of university and went into the maritime industry.

What kinds of gifts can be found on your website?
We offer gifts for all recipients and all occasions. Our range is very broad and we are always adding new products. To highlight a few, personalised items such as mugs, cheeseboards, beer glasses, jewellery boxes, hip flasks and compendiums can all be found on our website.

What’s the process from ordering through to personalisation to receiving the perfect gift from The Personalised Gift Shop?
The process is very straightforward. You simply jump on to our website (thepersonalisedgiftshop.com.au), select a product to personalise, use our innovative live preview feature to see what your gift will look like and then add it to your cart. This can be done within minutes. Our team of ‘personalities’ lovingly personalise each order and we are proud to be the only company in our field in Australia that can dispatch within 24 hours.

What makes The Personalised Gift Shop unique?
We only specialise in personalised products; everything on our site can be personalised. We have an innovative preview feature, a fast 24-hour dispatch time and everything comes gift-wrapped as a standard service.

And finally, what’s the best part of owning/operating a business on the Peninsula?
We have lived in many places and we think the Peninsula offers the perfect work/life balance. We are fortunate to have all this on our doorstep. We are able to walk our dogs, keep active in fresh air and open space, dine at quality restaurants and relax in tranquil surroundings. What more could we want?

 

STEPHEN CROUCH IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people by Yazmine Lomax

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Stephen Crouch is a Frankston High School maths teacher who moved to Australia from India when he was a child and now calls Cranbourne home. Stephen chats to Mornington Peninsula Magazine about his passion for teaching, the wacky online world of today’s teens, and why he loves where he works.

Why did you want to become a teacher?

I've loved mathematics since I was a little kid, and as time passed I knew that I wanted to pass this passion on to the next generation. I really believe that education makes an immense difference, so to be part of that is humbling. Besides, I have heaps of fun teaching and my students are really enthusiastic.

What current teen trends baffle you?

There are a lot of acronyms and abbreviations that I have trouble understanding. I also notice apps such as Snapchat being used more often than they probably should, which does baffle me.

Is there anything about school in India that you would like to see in Australia?

The content that is taught in India is at a higher level — for example, there are topics I learnt in Grade 6 in India that aren’t learnt until Year 9 in Australia. So the maths content in Year 12 in India has a few explorations that we don't get the chance to carry out here in Australia, and it'd be nice to see an opportunity to carry those out here.

What makes working at Frankston High School so great?

The learning culture here is amazing; students love learning and the staff love helping them succeed. Parents play a very active role in their child's education, and the school encourages communication to help further educational outcomes. The principal and staff are also all very friendly and supportive. I love Frankston High School!

 

IN CONVERSATION Casual chats with Peninsula people CEO charts new course for yacht club by Andrea Kellett

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Wayne Holdsworth sits down at a table at the Mornington Yacht Club overlooking the harbour. It’s a spectacular summer’s day and the club’s new chief executive is preparing to answer questions about himself and his plans during his tenure. It just so happens the club’s Sailability program is in full swing below and it becomes clear very quickly that community programs like this one play a key role in his vision.

Is it correct you were appointed the week before Christmas?

Yes, that’s right, and I started in mid-January.

What is your professional background?

I have spent the last 10 years working in sports administration (management and governance) at a number of state sporting associations including AFL Victoria, the Southern Football Netball League, Motorcycling Victoria and the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (Victoria).

Do you live on the Mornington Peninsula?

Yes, I live in Mornington with my wife and four children. We have lived here for about 10 years.

What are your plans as Mornington Yacht Club CEO?

I want to grow the club’s membership, becoming more inclusive for women and children because the demographics are typically male and I want to change that to a club that’s even more inclusive for families and kids. I want the club to be a lifestyle for people, where this is their second home. I want families to come up here and live their lives here socially. Also, I want to utilise the club to provide community support in areas such as youth suicide, depression and drugs and alcohol, for example.

You want to promote and grow the Children's Learn to Sail and Sailability programs. Tell us a little about that.

The Tackers program is designed to give children an opportunity to sail. There’s no barrier to entry; you don’t have to have a boat. A qualified instructor will take them out and give them experiences they may never have had. These kids are really discovering sailing for the first time. Sailability (at the club since 2004) has about 50-60 participants per session. The purpose is to give people living with a disability an opportunity to experience sailing. It’s an important program for the community.

You mention the importance of volunteers to the club, especially the likes of the Sailability program.

One of the biggest challenges to sporting organisations is finding volunteers. We need to be creative in order to attract volunteers. Do we need more? Yes, absolutely.

How many members do you have?

We have more than 800 members, including people who sail and people who don’t sail but like to enjoy our facilities. We encourage families to come up here.

Partnership and perception are important to you. Tells us a little about that.

I have invited the mayor and ward councillors to come and see me in April. That was one of the first things I did. I want them to witness our Sailability program. We are an organisation that can add value to the community. We are not exclusive. Partnerships are very important.

What do you do when you’re not at work?

I enjoy a bit of running and our kids are into basketball and health and fitness. On weekends I take them to games and tournaments. I’m also the new president of the Moorooduc Junior Football Club. I love cricket and footy. If I was to have an afternoon off, I’d take my boys to a Twenty20 match.

For more on the club, its programs and events, head to morningtonyc.net.au or log on to Facebook /morningtonyachtclub

​Piccolo & Mi, In Conversation Peninsula people chat with Mornington Peninsula Magazine by Liz Rogers

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Mornington Peninsula Magazine loves a local business success story and the funked-up Piccolo + Mi kids’ clothing label is no different. Read how this urban range of baby and toddler gear gets parents’ attention and why producing high-quality organic cotton clothing is so important to creators Danielle and Scott.

When was Piccolo + Mi conceived?

The Piccolo & Mi website launched on September 15, 2017. Prior to this date we were in development for over a year. We are both perfectionists, so having everything close to 110 per cent before we launched was a key focus of ours. 

How did you come up with the name?

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We actually started the journey without a brand name as everything I had put to paper wasn’t sitting right with me. After years of working in the fast fashion industry I came across a confronting question: “If textiles are one of the world’s biggest contributors to landfills, why would we need one more shop front contributing to this fast fashion world?” We came to conclusion that having a small part in making a change was important.  “Piccolo”, meaning “small” in Italian, reflects these small changes, while “& Mi” is not just Scott and I, but brings together a community of people that help support, purchase or recognise the false idea of fast fashion and overconsumption.

Tell us a bit about your backgrounds before creating the Piccolo + Mi label.

I (Dani) work full-time in the city for a large fashion company as a senior designer. I have worked on big name brands such as Kmart, Target, Myer and recently David Jones.  I spend my 9-5 designing anywhere between one and two fashion ranges per week. Scott, aka the financial guru and my business-savvy partner, runs Melbourne Masonry, a large bricklaying company with over 70 employees.

Why choose to go Australian-made and not produce overseas like so many other clothing labels?

We feel transparency is the most important value for our customers. For our new winter range, we decided to move 60 per cent of our production offshore to an ethically accredited factory in Bali because we have grown rapidly. We asked our valued customers what was most important to them - quality, sustainable fabrics, affordability, design, ethical manufacturing or Australian-made. Quality ranked No.1, then sustainable fabrics, design, ethically manufactured, and Australian-made was last. 

What inspires you to create such rockin’ cuteness?

Everything apart from upcoming trends. I pull most of my inspiration from imagination and how I would dress my own kids. With every unique print or shape I create I see parents or kids, matching, mixing, layering, dressing up, dressing down or finally being passed down.

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Why go unisex?

Why not? Kids are kids no matter what gender, interests, imagination or personality.  Unisex is a forward way of thinking and just seemed to fit with our creative direction.

Piccolo + Mi has reinvented the traditional kids’ romper. What’s the response been like?

Our rompers are one of our best-selling items. Four months in and we have sold out in all small sizes or have one or two left in stock!

What does the day look like for a passionate small business owner?

Scott & I wake up before the crack of dawn. I’m up and off at 5.30am to head to group fitness, then catch a train into the city for a 7.30am start. Scott tackles his mornings at the Melbourne Masonry HQ getting his day organised with the crews. Most nights are spent working on our businesses in the office or together on the couch.

Please let the readers know about your commitment to sustainability.

Our first commitment always starts with the fabrications and print techniques, including GOT’s certified organic cottons and other sustainable fibres such as linen and bamboo printed using only the safest enviro-friendly inks free from all the nasty chemicals and pesticides. Another non-negotiable sustainability measure is ethical working standards at our new factory in Bali. 

Where do you find all those gorgeous toddler models?

For our SS18 range we actually used Scott’s family and some of our friends for the entire shoot.  Most models had no prior experience, but our photographer Wendy just clicked with all the kids so the pictures came out very natural.

What happens on the photo shoots? Any funny stories?

Absolute chaos.  Scott and I don’t have kids so being surrounded by 10+ kids plus numerous family and friends was a bit daunting. We had catering, music and balloons so I guess it was just like a big party.

Give us a sneak peak at the Piccolo + Mi winter range. How cosy is it going to be for a Piccolo + Mi bub this season? New and fresh prints in our classic shapes with organic chunky cable knit beanies – layering pieces and we might even have something just for the girls this season too!

Tell us about your online store and how people can become part of the Piccolo + Mi tribe.

You can find our entire range on our website piccoloandmithelabel.com alongside our local stockist Paragon Blue in Rye. You will also be able to visit our HQ in Mornington every Saturday too. The VIP tribe is accessed when you sign up to our newsletter.

Where’s your favourite place on the Peninsula to spend some down time?

Our own backyard – we live a stone’s throw away from Fishermans Beach so on a hot summer’s day you will find us here.  Second place is the Peninsula Hot Springs. Heaven! 

And finally, where do you see Piccolo + Mi being in the next five years, and what will the kids of the future be wearing?

We are looking forward to seeing the brand organically flourish to its full potential. We want to be pioneers in Australian sustainable and ethical fashion. We plan to tap into organic denim, organic baby lotions and focus on growing our organic ladies’ range.

Follow Danielle and Scott on Facebook @piccoloandmithelabel or Instagram @piccoloandmi

 

COMMON PEOPLE Jasmine Ward - Tiny Wild Collective director, graphic designer and small business innovator By Liz Rogers

Are you ready to experience cuteness beyond cuteness? Adoring mum and full-time creative entrepreneur Jasmine Ward creates small things that are big on ideas, beauty and brilliant functionality. Jasmine’s Tiny Wild Collective custom-designed products for babies and tiny tots are made right here in our own backyard and are brimming with fresh bouncing baby goodness. Mornington Peninsula Magazine chats to Jasmine about swaddles, blankets and being environmentally conscious. 

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How do you get so much ‘adorable’ into such little items?
I am and always have been a very visual person obviously to do the job I do. I’ve been working in print and media for 10 years now. I have always had a love of art, design, colour and typography, which led me down the path of design and media. It’s a mixture of creativity and bringing something different to the market; going a bit wild and stepping outside the lines of the usual. 

When did you start the business and why?
It’s funny, actually - I started when my little boy went into a bed and I couldn’t find anything I liked for his sheets. I took myself down to Spotlight, bought some fabrics I liked and tried my hand at sewing again. It really was like riding a bike. 

How did the name Tiny Wild Collective come about?
We nicknamed our son “baby tiny” when he was a newborn because, although he wasn’t small in terms of a newborn, he seemed so small to us. It kind of stuck. I wanted to incorporate Collective into our name because I hope to continue to bring out new products and didn’t want to be tied to one specific description. 

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Tell us about the Tiny Wild Collective range. What can ‘on the hunt for cuteness’ clients find when they go to your online store?
I try to be versatile and have something for everyone. I don’t think I have a particular ‘style’ and I can be really flexible in bringing ideas to life and seeing what other people envision. My personal favourites are florals and monochrome designs, but I’m always open to suggestions and seeing what we can create. Some of my favourite orders have been completely custom and some I’ve added permanently.

Your range has expanded quickly. How does the order process work and what’s the turnover time?
It’s all done online via my website. Once an order is placed I receive a notification and I send everything to print of a night time when I get home from work. Because everything is printed in Australia my turnaround is quite quick. Two weeks from order placement to shipping is our guideline, although I can have orders filled within a week depending on where I’m up to with my print run and delivery dates. I usually get a delivery once a week of 20-30m; I bring it home, cut it all up, separate it into orders, and get to work.

Why go hand-made?
I’m very hands-on and I love creating everything from concept to sewing to shipping. I would love to have a second pair of hands one day to help with the incoming orders. But I set reasonable expectations, and to me this entire idea was an exercise in creativity.  It’s all a marathon and not a sprint. 

What’s your favourite thing to create for babies and tiny tots?
My favourite are the swaddle sets. I get so excited when people tag me in their baby’s photos.

Your products are made from organic cotton. Please explain what you mean by ethical and sustainable and why that matters.
To be succinct, our printers are very environmentally conscious and that’s another reason I love them and love working with them. Everything they print is eco-friendly. They have minimum impact on the environment and minimal waste. Our inks are water-based and non-toxic, the cotton is all ethically grown and farmed and rotated, and no matter if I have a busy week of 30m to print or a quieter week of seven, there is no minimum requirement so therefore no waste. Ethical to me also means to be supportive of other brands and individuals, so some of our designs I create from pen and paper to computer, and some I purchase commercial licences for to support other artists too. 

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Any new designs for 2018 you’d like to give our readers a sneak peek at?
I have so many ideas for 2018! I’m actually having some quiet time when this will be published as my printers will be taking a much-deserved break, so I’m working on my website as well as some new designs and products. 

You work as a graphic designer at Mornington Peninsula Magazine, are owner/operator of Tiny Wild Collective and a mum. What do you do in your downtime if you have any?
It sounds crazy but Tiny Wild Collective is my downtime. I have such a love for creating. When I’m up to date with orders you can usually find me at the beach or at a park with my fiancé, our son and our dog or at home.

Any other local baby and children’s clothing/accessory makers you admire?
Piccolo & Mi - I adore their line and we have similar visions and ethics. Their products are incredible! I also absolutely love Something for Squirt. We have a great friendship too. I don’t see anybody as “competition” in all honesty. We can all learn from one another and love each other’s work. 

Do you ever collaborate with any of them?
I have a couple of collaborations coming up in the New Year so stay tuned. 

And finally, if you could give one piece of advice to all those newborns sleeping soundly in a Tiny Wild Collective swaddle, what would it be?
I think it’s more for the parents: be kind to yourselves and don’t blink. They aren’t tiny for ever. 

TINY WILD COLLECTIVE
W: tinywildcollective.com.au
FB: tinywildcollective
INSTA: @tinywildcollective

Kicking goals with Paul Clark – Peninsula Raiders AFL Masters player and creative director of creativesweat By Liz Rogers

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We’re talking “old farts footy”, peeps. Well, that’s what Paul Clark, the 50-something runner of 11 marathons and ex-triathlon junky calls it. Playing footy on the back line with the Peninsula Raiders AFL Masters is a pastime Paul loves – and, as you’ll see, his reasons for thumping foot to ball are more about the support he gets from his teammates who collectively refuse to stop kicking goals than the game – although he loves that too! Mornington Peninsula Magazine asks this Mount Martha resident a few questions about his life, work and addiction to the Aussie rules game of champions.

 

Tell us a bit about your experience with the Peninsula Raiders.

Well, it’s really about hanging out with a bunch of blokes who are over 55 that can’t stop playing footy. (The Peninsula Raiders also have an over 35-group and the oldest dudes are about 63.) It’s proper footy – we still get to play the full game and play hard. I crash into people and get hurt a lot. It’s great! A few of us in the over 55s just represented the state at the elite level at the 2017 AFL Masters Football Carnival in Geelong where we played three games over 10 days. Each state puts up a team in this national carnival which rotates to a different city each year. Let’s see, each state has 10 sides and there are seven states so there are thousands of people who come along. It’s exciting. We just missed out on the Over-55s flag. Still pretty good.

 

What does the training schedule look like for a team of over-55s?

We train once a week every week. That’s 50 weeks’ training for 10 games. Crazy, huh? But being part of the club is so much more than feeling fit and scrambling for the ball. We call it the Men’s Health Club and that includes men’s mental health. You know you can tell when a bloke turns up to training and he’s not feeling great. Maybe he’s broken up with his partner or work is getting him down. It’s a very supportive environment. It’s real role model stuff. Every guy brings his son, so the good stuff gets passed down.

 

And what about the ladies?

All partners are involved in the club too. It’s a family thing. We have loads of social functions throughout the year, a ladies’ day and most of the families that join the club are in for the long haul. The majority stay because we make them feel welcome.

 

What do you do with your time off the field?

I’m the creative director for creativesweat, my graphic design and creative solution business. I started in Richmond, then moved to Mount Eliza in 1985 and had an office in Main St, Mornington. We’re now in Mount Martha. We used to service a lot of government departments and big business, but the digital revolution almost killed graphic design. We now do a lot of interstate work with clients we never meet and a huge amount of business and corporate branding, logo design and visual identity (think Broo Premium Lager Australian Draft, Padua College and Mornington Racing to name a few). The world of graphic design has certainly changed since I graduated from Swinburne, but we continue to give birth to original ideas and concepts. I’m also a frequent winery visitor.

           

What do you love about living on the Mornington Peninsula?

What’s not to love? I mean, we live in a place where people come to holiday. I open my door and head on down to the beach over the rocks and there’s always things to do. Head to Balcombe Creek – but you’d better watch out not to get run over by a car - ha ha! I had an uncle who trained horses with Morning Star when I was a kid and my family (mum, dad and sister) had a holiday house in Dromana. We had boats. I’ve still got a boat.

 

And finally, any advice for other over-35s who are thinking it’s too late to pull up the socks and lace up the boots?

It’s never too late. Get fit, keep fit and hang out with mates. That’s all you’ve got to do. Just have some fun. Kick a goal or two.

 

Log on to creativesweat.com.au  to view Paul’s work or peninsularaiders.com.au to find out more about the Peninsula Raiders AFL Masters.

 

COMMON PEOPLE Peter Houghton – Rye Hotel owner/operator By Liz Rogers

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Peter Houghton is a Peninsula native. Born in the now demolished Dromana Hospital to hard-working parents Dorothy and Norman, and growing up in Blairgowrie/Sorrento with his three siblings in a world where time moved serendipitously slow, Peter is a tried and true southern seaside boy. Yes, he went to boarding school for seven years, as all his siblings did. Yes, he’s travelled extensively. And yes, he’s always returned to the place he loves most - the wide-open Rye foreshore and family-owned hotel he calls a home away from home.  Mornington Peninsula Magazine chats with the man who comes from a long line of hoteliers about how things have changed, what’s in store for the Rye Hotel, and long remembered summers on the Farnsworth Brothers passenger ferries Hygeia and Weeroona that stopped off at Portsea on their way to Sorrento.

 

When did your parents take over Rye Hotel?

Let’s see. I think it was 1974. They leased it first. It used to be a CUB Brewery lease hotel. There used to be a huge beer garden out the back with all these fabulous fruit trees. I think they bought it in 1999.

 

What is it you love about the hotelier lifestyle?

My dad was a hotelier, so was my grandfather, so I grew up with it in me. It’s always been part of my life. I started worked at the Koonya and loved being around people. It’s the people that make it great. We have generations of families coming to the Rye Hotel so you build long relationships. The only sad part is that we lose some of them along the way.

 

You lost your mum, Dorothy, who was very well known around these parts, at the beginning of the year.

 

Yes. She was 97 years old. She and Dad were very business-minded. They worked tirelessly. That’s the way it always was.

 

How have things changed at the Rye Hotel over the past decades?

We built the One Four Nelson in 2003 and won a State Hospitality award for it. There’s 30 suites built around a pool, which has been a great complement to the 14 suites upstairs which were completed last year. We’ve also got the Hit the Deck Bar and a games room with billiard tables and we have live shows. We keep doing new things. Time moves on.

 

Yes, I can’t believe how quickly it goes. But some things never change?

The township of Rye has kept that real down-to-earth family feeling. There’s the launching ramp, the massive foreshore park, the Octopus’s Garden Snorkelling Trail and a traditional and vibrant sailing club. These things don’t change. Spending time with family. The Rye Hotel is about forging those ties with generations. And we’re right in the centre of the golf coast too. 

 

How did you spend most of your time while growing up?

Well, we didn’t have iPads then. There was always something to do. We used to spend the whole day at the beach. Maybe pop home for some lunch, then back again. I was never bored. I loved the Farnsworth ferries. You could just walk right on. We used to go to the local footy match at the Sorrento Football Club – of course it’s the Rye Football Club now, which we’ve sponsored for 40 years.

 

What’s in store food-wise for summer at Rye Hotel?

Seafood! There’s a great new seasonal menu and there’ll be lots of fresh seafood. We also offer a really good seniors’ meal deal. The fillet steak is delicious! Then there’s all the pub favourites like chicken parmigiana and pasta, and of course a menu for the kids.

 

From kids to parents to grandparents, the generations of Rye Hotel punters just keep growing under the Peninsula sun. Stop by this summer for the history, home-style food and friendly service. Everyone is welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common People - Mark Patterson (Ting Tong Kanteen)

It’s all colour and smiles when walking into Ting Tong Kanteen in Balnarring. Accessible, open and full of Asian flavour and ambience, this little gem generates five-star flavour-sensation dishes with a twist of southern coastal flair. You’re welcome here.  Mornington Peninsula Magazine chatted with owner/operator Mark Patterson who is as colourful and creative as his menu.

Why the name Ting Tong Kanteen – does it mean anything?

Ting Tong is a character in an English comedy series which we love, so it’s partly because of that. Ting Tong also means “crazy” in Thai, which we thought was funny too.

How long has Ting Tong Kanteen been in existence and why Asian Fusion food?

We’ve been open three years this coming January. We opened because we found a need for great fresh (not processed) Asian Fusion food on the Peninsula. We were driving to Melbourne to eat it which became a little hard with a young child in tow. So we opened Ting Tong.

What inspired you to plant business roots in Balnarring?

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We live in Somers, so it was a lifestyle decision. We could also see Balnarring expanding, so we jumped in!

Please describe some of what’s on the menu over the next month or so.

The menu is about to change slightly, but we have some great new specials about to hit like our BI BIM BUB, which in short is a Korean chilli beef rice bowl with fried egg and pickled vegies. There’s a great new Thai salad coming too which consists of watermelon, lime, mint and a special fish crumble which is deliciously fresh for the warmer weather. Our specials board is constantly changing too.

Was there another professional life before Ting Tong Kanteen?

I had two retail stores before we opened Ting Tong - one in Flinders and the other on High St, Prahran. Prahran was also the head office for my main design business and furniture company 4M Pty Ltd. 4M was all about designing/manufacturing commercial quality furniture and lighting in Australia and selling it through the Australian architectural market and specifiers. We custom-made furniture for past prime ministers, archbishops and celebrities through to large and small corporates, hotels and restaurants. I also did a lot of interior design work on my own property developments, friends’ properties and restaurants, which I suppose led to me designing my retail stores and now Ting Tong.

What’s your favourite style in design and art?

I have a contemporary eye and I’m not afraid of colour. I love to mix things up a bit. I can work to a tight budget without it being blatantly obvious in the end result.

Tell me what you love about living on the Peninsula and how long you’ve been here.

We have lived here permanently for about eight years now. We had beach houses in Somers for a number of years, and like a lot of people loved it and made the sea change. We haven’t looked back since.

The new Ting Tong Bar has a dramatic continental cosy style – any favourite local designers or artists you follow?

We follow heaps of local artists and designers. A couple that stand out to me personally would be Tash Carah Photography from Mount Eliza and Manyung Gallery, also in Mount Eliza. Neil Williams from Flinders is great and I love Kate Walker’s Interior Design.

You’ve just been away on a trip. Any new decorations to add to the Ting Tong interior or your home?

Only a traditional straw hat for the bar from Vietnam … and heaps of great fresh food and market pics from Paris, Barcelona and London for our Instagram page!

How do you like to spend down-time with your family?

Because I’m working most nights and weekends I love to cook a meal … and that’s anything but Asian Fusion!

Any favourite haunts on the Peninsula other than your own restaurant?

The two most regulars would be Fontalina Pizza, for the best lasagne and pizza, and Le Bouchon, for fantastic French food and wine - both in Balnarring.

What’s next for Ting Tong Kanteen?

Maybe it’s time for a coffee and cake café and flower shop. Both are in the planning and under the same roof. Watch this space as we continue to grow!

Follow the news regarding Ting Tong developments on FB @Tingtongkanteen and on Instagram @tingtongkanteen

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