Christmas in our community 

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The largest shopping centre on the Mornington Peninsula, Bayside Centre attracts an average of 1.5 million people each December alone. This year, members of the community have been invited to spread the spirit of Christmas in the centre through the use of art therapy.

A bespoke piece of artwork, created by students from the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s Transition to Work program, will be on display in the centre throughout December. Students have begun work at Kindred Art Space in Frankston, a unique art space and centre dedicated to mental health and well-being. The process invites collaboration and encourages students to take part in art therapy sessions where creativity is allowed to be exercised freely in a nurturing environment.  

The artwork will reflect the students’ creative ideas and perception of Christmas in our community and will be on display on Level 2 of the centre. To stay up to date with the installation, visit the centre’s webpage, Facebook page or Instagram.

BAYSIDE CENTRE

A: 28 Beach St, Frankston

T: 9771 1700

W: baysidesc.com.au

FB: baysidecentrevic

INSTA: baysidecentre


Sarsha surfs the line By Liz Rogers

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I met Sarsha Pancic a while back when covering a story on the Hurley surf clinic at Gunnamatta for Mornington Peninsula Magazine. The breaks were fierce that day as this tiny Blairgowrie bombshell lunged and squatted head-first into the eye of the churning waves without fear. Fast-forward and our paths have crossed again as this self-described “salty-haired grom” continues to grow and get better at what she loves to do most — surf. 

With dreams of becoming a pro surfer like Sally Fitzgibbons or Stephanie Gilmore and travelling the world to “awesome places like the World Surfing League surf ranch in the States, France, Fiji and the Maldives”, this svelte 12-year-old has the surfing world at her strong and capable feet. She’s ready. Just watch her flow.

“I grew up surfing in Western Port Bay and Point Leo with my family. Now I love surfing at local breaks and Jan Juc on the west coast. I’m a member of the Torquay Boardriders Club and was under-12 girls’ champion last year. I also do gymnastics. I want to qualify for the Victorian Junior Surfing team and represent Victoria at the Australian Junior Surfing Titles,” she explains. Why not? She already competes in the national Rip Curl Grom Search, which is a series of events designed to find the most talented surfing grommets across the globe. This competition runs in 10 countries and has more than 5000 competitors worldwide. In 2018 Sarsha gained impressive results across three of the five events held so far, coming third twice and winning the event on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia in the 12 and under girls. This means she’s secured a spot at the national final, which will be held in January near Wollongong. 

She continues. “I love connecting to nature and surfing with my family and friends. I want to keep learning and improving and am lucky to have the support from people who are close to me, like my dad, brother, uncle and grandfather.” Torquay Boardriders Club president and Surfing Victoria high-performance coaching director Cahill-Bell Warren, Bass Surfboards owner Craig Watson, Balin Surfers Hardware owner Jon Wilson and surfer Nick Wallace are all on board too, making sure she gets the direction she needs to achieve her dreams.

From jumping on a board at three years of age to participating in the Torquay Boardriders Club competitions, Victorian junior surfing titles and the Woolworths Surfer Groms Comp, as well as the Rip Curl GromSearch in 2019, this Padua College Year 7 student who was awarded St Joseph’s Primary School’s highest school sporting award in 2017 — The John McCarthy Memorial Award — is beach and water-crazy. “It’s where I like to be most. I was awarded the role of Dolphin Research Institute I Sea, I Care ambassador last year too.”

Watch this space. This hot chip-loving tween who reckons it would be ace to be a bird is ready to spread her wings and surf the line.


Lucy’s pretty in the pink By Liz Rogers

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Oh dear, this is adorable! Girl about town and maltese terrier on the street Lucy just loves getting her hair done like any regular gal. As a well-known Mount Martha resident, this cute and cuddly sweetheart gets her tail wrapped in foils just like her human counterparts every three months and the result is pretty in pink. You can see her coming done the street or waiting outside for her owner Yvonne Gerandt to finish her shopping at IGA.

Yvonne explains. “She never strays; just waits there until I’ve finished. She doesn’t need a leash.  She comes to the salon with me and we put the foils in. None of the dye or foils ever touches her skin and of course the dye is organic with no nasties. She trots around the salon (Chatterbox) with them in for about half an hour and then we give her an organic rinse and blow dry. She loves being pampered and the result is super cute. I’ve been doing it for about three years.” 

Yvonne met her soulmate Lucy as a newborn pup. She went back to visit her at five weeks old and brought her home five weeks later. The connection between the two is strong. “I got her from a breeder in Frankston and she came home with a little pink bow in her hair. I’ve kept the pink theme going. She’s not very vocal usually except when she sees a dog — or any kind of animal, for that matter — on the television. Then she’s up on the buffet barking at the screen. She also barks at big dogs when they walk past the salon. It’s always the big dogs. She likes to be lifted up and down the stairs too. She’s a bit of a princess.”

Yvonne and Lucy live with Buster the British bulldog, who is only 14 months old and a bit of a bruiser. “He snores a lot and Lucy just ignores him,” says Yvonne, who recently found out that her best mate Lucy has untreatable cancer. “She’s a beautiful dog really. I’m going to keep her as comfortable as I can and we’ll keep our fingers crossed. She’s been my little rock.”  

Solid. Pink. And pretty.

Daddy’s in the rainbow By Liz Rogers

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Imagine having two very small children and being told your partner has brain cancer. Well, unfortunately author/illustrator, teacher and mother Tracey Newnham didn’t have to. This Mount Eliza-bred girl’s partner Wes passed away from the disease at 37 when their children were two and three respectively. And the world spiralled. Tracey explains. “My partner Wes is our hero. In 2014 he fought a lengthy and courageous battle with brain cancer. The reality of his passing was incredibly confronting and I was left feeling overwhelmed by my own grief and the responsibility of now being a sole parent with grieving children. Our home was no longer complete.”

Gaps. Space where someone once was. How do you tell a child that their father isn’t coming home and guide them with what to do with that empty space in a way that best serves them? How do you process your own well of emotions, let alone navigate a path for your children to follow? 

Tracey used art as therapy, by drawing rainbows with her children. She continues. “I introduced the activity of drawing rainbows with my elder son after his grandfather passed away. Drawing rainbows was a place that they would be able to feel the love and keep the connection alive. When Wes passed, I told the boys their Daddy’s memories could be found in the rainbow. I wanted to keep their connection with their father alive. From then on rainbows seemed to appear everywhere in the house.”

Then came the authentic picture and resource book written, illustrated and self-published by Tracey. “I recognised the need for a resource to assist families living through such an overwhelming time. In The Rainbow is an honest story encouraging adults and children to reach out while educating about the real emotions shared during illness, trauma, loss and grief.”

The book is filled with openness and empowers readers to communicate feelings and build effective resilience strategies. It has had great support from both the cancer and grief sectors. It is recommended in the Cancer Council’s Cancer in the School Community booklet and highly recommended by Magpies Magazine in 2017. 

Four years on and now living in Torquay, Tracey sees her tight-knit family’s future moving forward. If you are living a similar story, you can go online at intherainbow.com.au to purchase a copy of this lovely soft-cover book that tells it like it is in a safe and gentle way. In the Rainbow makes annual donations to the RMH Neuroscience Foundation for brain cancer research (neuroscience.org.au) and the Wes Crooke Scholarship/Endowment Fund in conjunction with PANGEA Global Health Education, to support the training of medical professionals in Africa.

Dan’s an unstoppable Force of nature By Liz Rogers

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Three days in and Dan Force knew she was never gonna leave. Well, not until she’d drunk in every last Californian dream drop with multiple Kodachrome cherries on top. Day four and the Earth moved. An earthquake measuring 7.4 on the Richter scale hit Los Angeles and things got pretty hairy, but this Black Rock-born and Wesley-educated 20-year-old who had an RMIT Bachelor of Photography in her pocket had decided that the US was her oyster and she was ready to bite. She held tight. She’d been accepted into an exchange program at Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara and wasn’t going to let a “piddling” crack in the Earth’s crust get in her way. 

She explains. “I was running late for a lecture at Brooks where Playboy photographer Arnie Freytag was speaking about his work and the industry. There was nowhere left to sit, so I went down the front and ended up almost sitting on his legs. I was the only female in the room and asked a lot of questions. He offered me a job on the spot and meeting the studio manager sealed the deal. I found myself interning at Playboy within a week and continued working as a freelancer on and off for around four years.” 

Things don’t move slow in this force of nature’s world. She continues. “I’d left home at 17 and moved into a house owned by Albert Tucker in Albert Park with a boyfriend. We eventually separated and I wanted a new beginning. LA was the ideal solution.” Enter Seinfeld and intergalactic Barbarella gun photoshoots, Santa Monica Blvd and Bunny-loving media mogul Hugh Hefner. 

‘Hef’s 29-room Gothic-Tudor-style Playboy Mansion in Charing Cross Road was notorious for the risqué related shenanigans he and his celebrity cohorts enjoyed. Dan describes. “Hugh had just got married so was in the background. I worked with Arnie most days and met editor Marilyn Grabowski, who was the driver behind the gatefolds (centrefolds). Most Bunnies had long blonde hair and big boobs like Pamela Anderson. They also wore incredible make-up. I’d help light the girls, set the dials and filters, go over the pics and do the test shoots. We’d go through rolls and rolls of film taking hundreds of frames, then I’d drop the film off at the end of the day and pick it up in the morning. There was a real artistic flair to taking those pictures. I also shot the burlesque performer Dita Von Teese and moved into videography but eventually got burnt out, so I left LA, drove to San Francisco, put on my rollerblades and skated the Golden Gate Park as soon as I got there and started meeting people. It was the late ‘90s.” 

But La La Land kept calling.

“When I returned to LA, I got into the music scene and landed a job with Behind the Music, which interviewed artists like Milli Vanilli, Debbie Harry, Ozzy Osbourne, Chaka Khan and Stevie Nicks. Then I went on to MTV and started clubbing and meeting LA-based DJs whom I started to manage. I went on to promote LA’s biggest club, Giant on Vine St, with DJs Sasha and Carl Cox,” she continues. Next stop? London and becoming Hedkandi’s booking agent and tour manager. “We did parties all over the world, including Australia and the Netherlands, and a weekly gig in Ibiza. We also opened for Cirque du Soleil shows in Las Vegas with circus performers, drag queens and stilt walkers.”   

This laugh first, express and explain later cropped-hair force of nature stayed in London for nine years and became a booking agent for 20 burlesque performers who wowed audiences from London to Russia and everywhere in between. She landed back in Australia in 2010 and now delivers a ripper brew and spirited conversation at her café Via Battisti in Mount Martha, where she welcomes everyone with open arms. She is travelling back to the States later this month with her two children and partner for a reunion.

“It will be fun to catch up with people again. Those were wild times, but I’m happy. I mean look at that.” We both grin at the sea as she opens her arms again. “Not bad?”

And the Force continues. 


House with the most the toast of the coast

 House on the Coast, by Sean Godsell Architects, has won the Robin Boyd Award for Houses (New) at the Australian Institute of Architects’ Australian Architecture Awards. Photos courtesy the Australian Institute of Architects/Sean Godsell Architects/Young and Percival/Earl Carter

House on the Coast, by Sean Godsell Architects, has won the Robin Boyd Award for Houses (New) at the Australian Institute of Architects’ Australian Architecture Awards. Photos courtesy the Australian Institute of Architects/Sean Godsell Architects/Young and Percival/Earl Carter

A stunning Mornington Peninsula house has taken out a major prize at the Australian Institute of Architects’ Australian Architecture Awards. House on the Coast, designed by Sean Godsell Architects, won the Robin Boyd Award for Houses (New) at the awards last month, the jury describing it as “an exploration of refinement and reduction”. The holiday house, nestled into a steep sand dune bordering a national park, is focused on privacy and connection with nature, created to take in the most spectacular ocean views.

“As coastal towns begin to manifest the suburban model, the quality of the natural landscape is often compromised, along with views and sightlines,” the jury said. “House on the Coast acknowledges this changing condition and prioritises the landscape by sinking the timber-battened building into the sloping terrain. Rather than opening the living spaces out to the views of cluttered hillsides populated by an increasing number of rooftops, the home strategically orientates itself into the landscaped hillside with only carefully choreographed openings to the ocean view. The sense of isolation and privacy that this creates is highly appropriate in its context as a holiday house, allowing its inhabitants a chance to detach and relax.

“Entry to the house is via a protected courtyard with a fireplace — a transitional and multifunctional space that can be used all year round. The plan comprises a series of ordered, compact and robust spaces that would require minimum maintenance. Rooms are designed for a variety of configurations, with consciously flexible arrangements such as a custom-designed kitchen bench that extends out to form a long dining table and a large bedroom with a retractable wall. Despite the raw and robust materiality of the house, there is a warmth and subtlety within these interior spaces.

“This house continues an exploration of refinement and reduction by Sean Godsell,” the jury said. “The singular form and intense detailing create an exquisitely neutral living platform from which to engage with the beautiful coastal landscape.”

Richard Kirk, the jury chairman and immediate past president of the Australian Institute of Architects, said the awards provided an opportunity to reflect on how Australia’s diverse landscapes, urban environments and economic conditions influence and inform our architecture, enriching our culture. “Projects at this level are all accomplished but it was those that could demonstrate their value broadly, beyond the limits of the brief and the confines of the site, which were nationally recognised,” Richard said.

“Most impressive were projects that established new design benchmarks and whose influence can be of value to the broader community, leading to positive change in our built environment.

“For the jury, it was important that all the awarded projects implemented sustainability initiatives at a conceptual level, taking a holistic approach. It was impressive to see the growing sophistication and ingenuity in this domain.”

The institute’s national president, Clare Cousins, congratulated all award recipients and finalists for their valuable contribution to Australian architectural practice. “In Australia, we have developed our own brand of architecture that defines who we are and where we come from,” Clare said.

“These awards are the most recognised and competitive in the industry. They are peer-judged and involve an exhaustive selection process, with site visits to shortlisted projects, allowing the jury to experience the quality of the work firsthand. They showcase the continuing evolution and diversity of our craft and the changing needs of our society, illustrating the vital role architecture plays in the lives of all Australians.”

The full list of Victorian award winners is available at architecture.com.au

Barefoot luxury in beachfront oasis By Liz Rogers

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Where do you go when you’re looking for a home-away-from-home holiday with extended family and friends? Or when searching for a faraway place brimming with exclusive relaxation and full-amenity living? A place synonymous with your already Peninsula-perfect lifestyle.

Beaches in Port Douglas, that’s where.

This is the place where full-size apartment living in a premium beachfront location delivers ultimate convenience and customer-care satisfaction guaranteed. Everything you could possibly need for a position-fuelled rainforest-meets-the-reef escape is within reach of this understated luxury two and three-bedroom apartment resort, with Four Mile Beach ocean front views, pool, jacuzzi, free Wi-Fi and airconditioning. Soak up the carefree atmosphere while making memories with the ones you love onsite or take a stroll down the street where Far North Queensland life flourishes.

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Beaches Port Douglas blends the comfort and familiarity of home with stellar facilities and accommodating staff whose desire to help you create the holiday of a lifetime means non-stop service with a smile. Or why not book annually for a family meet and greet at the same time each year? This is the perfect spot for bringing family from far and wide together in a magnificent, no-fuss, beachfront oasis just a stone’s throw from magnificent World Heritage beauty.

Beaches? Brilliant.

BEACHES PORT DOUGLAS

A: 19 Esplanade, Port Douglas, Queensland

T: (07) 4099 4150

W: beachesportdouglas.com.au

E: [email protected]

 

Wake up and smell the peonies

Spring is in the air, and so is the exquisite scent of flowering peonies at the Red Hill Peony Estate. It has been a big year for the Mornington Peninsula’s first commercial peony farm — it became the first and only Peony Society in Australia and you have the chance to become an Associate Member. It is entirely free to join and includes a 25% discount on your 2018 entrance fee and 10% off any of the peony workshops to be held during 2019.  (Find the link on the Estate’s website.)

This year’s Open Days will have a festival air, with marquees selling hot and cold food and drinks including homemade lemonade and the Estate's magnificent gin and fruit-based cocktail. There will be bunches of peonies, potted peony plants, original oil paintings and prints of peonies by the Estate owner-Jillian Holmes-Smith, and an exciting selection of peony-related merchandise for sale.

The Red Hill Peonies are still young and establishing; and as expected, they are producing significantly more flower buds than last year.

You’ll be able to stroll through the Peony Paddock, where you will find 3,500 peony plants in various stages of development and bloom; stroll to the formally designed box-hedged Rose Garden and the open Parkland to see unusual tree plantings; the white Rugosa Rose Walk, the substantial Kitchen Gardens and fully espaliered Orchard; the Berry Garden; and then on to the Barn Garden, which is blooming superbly.

For something very special, you may prefer a private and sumptuous picnic on your Open Day visit — go to “Private Estate Picnics” on the Estate’s website.  

 

2018 November Open Days

 

Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th

Saturday 24th & Sunday 25th, and

Saturday 1st & Sunday 2nd

10am-4pm,

(with the last entry at 3pm)

 

Bookings are recommended because numbers are limited 

Note that the Coolstore Shop located at the top of the Estate, will not be open on any of these six Open Days. However, the Shop will be open on weekends and week-days leading up to Christmas and New Year. (Check the website for exact dates later in the year.

 

RED HILL PEONY ESTATE:  A: 237 Arthurs Seat Rd, Red Hill  T: 0438 558 633 

W: redhillpeonyestate.com.au   FB: redhillpeonies   INSTA: redhillpeonyestate

New train line an alternative to ‘Mum’s taxi’ By Mike Hast

 Frequent, safe and reliable trains will enable young people to be more independent of their parents for transport.

Frequent, safe and reliable trains will enable young people to be more independent of their parents for transport.

The proposed Frankston to Baxter rail extension is big news across the region, but which governments are supporting it, where will the stations be built, and how will the new train line benefit the wider community?

With strong backing from the Federal Government and Opposition and the State Opposition, the $450 million-plus project has three of the four promises needed for it to go ahead. Rail supporters want the State Government to join the party, but in the lead-up to November’s state election there has been no word yet from Premier Daniel Andrews.

Three new stations have been proposed on the 8km extension. Frankston East would service Frankston Hospital and Monash University’s Peninsula campus and see up to 5000 “boardings” each weekday, making it among the top 25 busiest suburban stations. Six times more people could reach the hospital and university precinct within 50 minutes (walking plus train journey). With the State Government backing the hospital’s rebuilding project to the tune of $562 million, this station is essential to fulfil the grand vision of creating a world-leading teaching hospital alongside its normal functions. The station would relieve pressure on scarce hospital and health precinct parking.

The second station, as yet unnamed, would service 13,500 residents of Karingal, Frankston Heights and Lakeside. The third station, Langwarrin, would service 23,800 residents, and a 1000-plus commuter carpark has been proposed. An upgraded Baxter station also would have a new carpark and would be used by people living farther afield.

The new carparks would take pressure off Frankston’s CBD. Frankston station carpark holds just 416 vehicles and is full by 6.30am weekdays. Later commuters take many affordable CBD car spaces. The new line and its carparks outside the CBD would free up spaces for shoppers, traders and their staff as well as visitors and tourists. Shopping and working in Frankston would be far less hassle if affordable carparks were easier to find.

Some commuters who miss out on a CBD park keep driving up the line until they find a carpark at Kananook, Seaford or Carrum stations, a major inconvenience. Life would be so much easier if you knew there was plenty of station parking on McClelland Drive, Langwarrin.

A reliable train service every 10-15 minutes would transform Karingal, Frankston Heights, Frankston South and beyond. It would enable workers to get out of their cars and off congested roads, getting to and from work faster and home to their families sooner. Better transport would improve access to higher paying jobs and boost local incomes, a welcome relief as the cost of living rises.

‘Mum’s taxi’ would get a break — frequent, safe and reliable trains would enable young people to be more independent of their parents for transport. How good would it be if teenagers could get to their jobs, the beach or sports matches without having to ask Mum or Dad to drive them?

Committee for Greater Frankston is among organisations backing the rail extension; others include Frankston Council, Mornington Peninsula Shire, Frankston Hospital, Peninsula Health, Monash University, Karingal Hub, and Frankston traders. Committee CEO Ginevra Hosking, the granddaughter of Frankston’s first mayor, Percy Hosking, who founded Hosking’s Jewellers in 1945, has prepared a compelling case for the extension.

“Karingal and Langwarrin are two of Melbourne’s most car-dependent suburbs and the extension will be a game-changer for residents,” Ginevra said. “It will radically transform public transport in our region, drive creation of new jobs and improve overall prosperity, reduce congestion on roads, free up crowded carparks, and make better use of public and private assets like Frankston Hospital and Monash’s Peninsula campus.”

More information about the rail project is on the committee’s website at c4gf.com.au

Mike Hast is a freelance writer for the Committee for Greater Frankston and a former editor of Peninsula newspapers.

 

Milo’s a bit hit and Miss by Liz Rogers

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Imagine this. You’re standing in the hallway in a pair of shorts. After all, it’s a hot night in Mount Eliza, right? Then, without warning, a cat launches at you, claws and all, leaving scratches up and down your legs and giving you a right scare in the process. A cat named Milo, who also goes by Miss. A cat who usually sits around purring, talking and receiving sweet tooth treats (if he can get them!). A feline who appears to have just a little bit of a split personality.

Hannah Scott explains. “That’s what happened — just out of the blue with no warning at all and there he was on me! We got him when he was about three or four months old from the RSPCA. Apparently he’d had a previous owner who brought him back. We’ll never know what he experienced, but every now and then he just attacks. The rest of the time he snuggles and sits at the back door chatting to the birds. He doesn’t go after them. He just meows.”

There’s a running argument in the Scott family over the origin of his name. Hannah’s business-studying brother Chris —who is really Milo’s owner — says he named Milo after the cat tried to drink his Milo. Hannah reckons he was named after a dog in an Xbox game her father was playing — and she has no clue why she calls him Miss. Either way, this Bachelor of Nursing student at Federation University Australia in Berwick thinks Milo’s just a little bit weird, but in all the right ways. She continues. “He lives inside and sleeps on my bed during the day, on Mum when she’s on the couch and on Dad when he’s in bed. He hides under Chris’s bed when he’s afraid. He’s really scared of baking foil and rubbish trucks and hates the wind. I think he’s a bit of a man’s cat. He prefers to hang with Chris and Dad.”

This 10-year-old tabby cat is spoilt rotten. Whether it’s a chicken dinner or a bit of Weet-Bix and milk, he’s got this family wrapped around his slightly nutty but perfectly self-cleaned and preened paws. Who cares if he’s a bit on the chubby side, doesn’t like his vegetables and lets off a bit of aggro steam every now and then. Hannah doesn’t. “If he jumps on the bed or couch, he wants to be as close to you as possible. Purring.” 

Who needs scratch-free legs anyway?

 

Friends happy to share their life stories By Yazmine Lomax

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For Mornington-based book club The Happy Bookers, the third Tuesday of every month means a discussion of their latest read with a side of wine and cheese. The brainchild of Sarah Hansen and Dee Rorke, The Happy Bookers’ story began 11 years ago and is still going.

There are currently 12 members of the group, which only recently settled on its name. “We went to see The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society,” original member Francesca McLoughlin explains. “We wanted a name like that for our group. Someone suggested The Happy Bookers and we were quite ‘happy’ with that!”

The group meets each January to decide the books and the meeting dates for the coming year. Every month, one member hosts while another brings food and a third is tasked with preparing questions and leading the discussion. “We each enjoy the opportunity to put forward our own opinions and feel safe to do so without the risk of criticism,” explains Gabrielle Gordon. “This is very special and allows us all to not only reflect on how we think and feel, but also how those around us think and feel.”

“We talk over each other, we disagree, we often are honestly raw,” continues Amy McKenzie-McHarg. “What makes this a great group is that we are not afraid to speak openly and truthfully and know that, whatever happens, we'll be there for the next book and to share another bottle of wine.”

The Happy Bookers have had some climactic plot points in their narrative, including meeting the authors of books they’ve read together. The ladies enjoyed discussing the life and writing process of Sohila Zanjani, author of Scattered Pearls, over dinner and recently caught up with Music and Freedom author Zoe Morrison to chat about her award-winning novel.

“What stands out to me is that although it started being about books and a shared love of reading, it’s now something so much bigger,” says Sally Lloyd. Lucia Keightley, who returned to university as a mature-age student, agrees. “The interest and encouragement that has been shown to me over the years has all gone towards my success in achieving my dream of furthering my education.”

“As we have been together for 11 years, our book club has experienced the great excitement of births, the enormous sadness of deaths and every other emotion,” Sarah Hansen says. “We are more than a book club now — we are lifelong friends.”

Who says reading has to be a solitary experience?

 

Life’s expression painted through music By Liz Rogers

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More than 300,000 migrants came to the Bonegilla Migrant Camp, which opened its gates in 1947 in northeastern Victoria. Frankston North jazz musician and artist Hermann Schwaiger was one of them. He was 13 when he arrived in Bonegilla with his family, who had sailed by ship from post-war Germany to a far-off world where mess huts with unlined timber frames and toilet blocks must have looked particularly strange, like ugly wooden time capsules baking beneath the Albury/Wodonga sun. No more Eastern Alps; no more medieval and baroque buildings. So, this was home.

Hermann explains. “We loved our time at Bonegilla  — all exotic, such as big gum trees, hot weather and licence-free fishing under the age of 16. We were only there for a month and then moved to Maribyrnong, then Ascot Vale and eventually to Kinglake. We — I have three brothers and a sister — lost our old house in the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009. We lost people too. I used to work in my grandfather’s music shop, which was on the German side of the border only 4km from Salzburg in a town called Freilassing. He made accordions, which he exported across the world, and he also played in the Edelweiss Trio. My mother studied opera singing in Salzburg and my father wanted to be a classical pianist but the war came along. I’ve probably been playing jazz for around 40 years. The music was always there.”

The Bonegilla camp ceased operation in 1971, but Hermann has never stopped creating. He has played with the best of them since taking up double bass in the ‘70s after coming out of the Fine Arts Department at RMIT when he formed the Hermann Schwaiger Quintet. Then there was the Chris McNulty Quintet playing double bass, the year he spent playing with pianist Paul Grabowsky and acclaimed drummer and percussionist David Jones, and jazzing it up with the likes of Vince Jones, Jane Clifton and Wilbur Wilde and touring with the Cathay Pacific Band in Hong Kong. In between came painting workshops at Kinglake and Somerville. He continues.

“I began painting about 20 years ago. I use acrylics to paint Melbourne streetscapes and the people in them. I suppose it’s about documenting life as it is now and being representational. I just like doing it. I’ve shown my work in the Derinya Art & Craft Exhibition, Camberwell Art Show, Flinders Art Show and have just been in the 40th annual Mount Eliza Art Show.”

Life has taken many melodic twists and turns for this music and art expressionist who is looking forward to a future filled with more of the same creation. From Salzburg to Frankston North, his double bass and paint brushes will continue to tell their stories of his deep connections with the world around him. Whether far away or just around the corner.

 

Growing up strong immersed in culture

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Mornington Peninsula Shire’s Family Services and Community Planning unit is unapologetically proactive in closing the education gap, particularly when it comes to families with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander babies and young children.

The Shire has an ongoing relationship with the Aboriginal Gathering Place, Willum Warrain, to co-facilitate the culturally appropriate Koori Kids Bush playgroup held every Wednesday from 10am-noon, excluding school holidays. Exclusively for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children up to five years old, this playgroup provides a natural learning environment with weekly activities that aim to connect families with their culture in a safe space. It’s run by Carla Lauch and Kerry Fortuyn.

The unit teams work closely with other agencies to develop holistic approaches to ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families are receiving information that encourages and enables them to enrol their children in the Early Start to Kindergarten (ESK) program. Working with Peninsula Health Aboriginal Early Start to Life, Frankston City Council, Koori Education Support officers and the Shire’s Maternal and Child Health team and a specialist Aboriginal MCH outreach worker, the unit aims to foster relationships while providing an opportunity to support families in accessing other programs and services in their area.

Adopting culturally safe practices has led to a large increase of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children attending playgroup and a significant uptake in Kindergarten Central registrations. Proactive strategies are implemented to assist new families in accessing two years of funded kindergarten by identifying those new registrations and offering the ESK program. Assistance is also provided to ensure the second year of ESK is implemented.

If you’d like to find out more about Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander early learning, go

to mornpen.vic.gov.au or willumwarrain.org.au/bush-play-group/ for more information. Or give Willum Warrain a call on 5979 1391. You’ll find it at 10c Pound Rd, Hastings.