Students’ growth brings joy to Cara

Cara Mackenzie with students at NIET

Cara Mackenzie with students at NIET

Cara Mackenzie finds the most rewarding part of teaching to be watching her students develop — whether it’s their skills and knowledge expanding, their self-confidence blossoming, or seeing them interact during class time and support each other to achieve their individual goals. Cara has been an assessor and trainer at Nepean Industry Edge Training for more than three years and enjoys creating a nurturing environment in her Diploma of Early Childhood, Education and Care classes. She’s an education veteran, having worked in the sector from the age of 16. Through this journey she’s been given the chance to observe the progression of the industry, which has resulted in an overwhelming passion to make sure that educators who are coming through are of a high standard. 

Cara’s course is broken into two parts. The theory component entails two days in class, with homework assigned weekly as well. The second part consists of practical placement, where students have the opportunity to put into practice the skills and knowledge they have learnt in the classroom. 

“The most rewarding part would be watching students grow in knowledge and confidence as they progress through the course,” Cara said. “It is incredibly rewarding to see students graduate and to hear they have successfully gained employment in an education and care service.” 

And finally, if anyone’s undecided whether or not this course is for them, Cara explains why they should pursue a career in Early Childhood, Education and Care. “Anyone wanting to make a real difference in the lives of children should enrol in an early childhood course. The first five years of a child's life are fundamentally so important. The early childhood industry needs well-trained, knowledgeable educators who have a real passion for what they do.”



A: 405 Nepean Highway, Frankston

T: 9770 1633


FB: NIETraining

INSTA: niet_training

E: [email protected] 

Financial security for women a must

This is the reality. Women are the primary care-givers in Australia, so when we retire it’s with approximately half the superannuation that men finish their working lives with. This in itself is enough to sound financial alarm bells, but when you add in the fact that the full-time gender pay gap is 15.3 per cent (Workplace Gender Equality Agency Australian Government) and that women take time out to raise kids and often work part-time when returning to the workforce, then financial distress could be just around the corner.   

The business of being a working woman, mother and household genie has got whiskers on it. Women are told they can have it all and look fantastic while doing it to boot. Of course you have plenty of time to groom, exercise and eat the ideal organic diet for premium energy output, don’t you? Trying to be everything to everyone means something has to slide, and that can often be your relationship. If you do divorce as a middle-age woman, it’s unlikely you’ll remarry, while your 50-year-old-plus ex-partner will. According to 2001 Census data, 58.4 percent of men will remarry after 50 and only 41 per cent of women will get the chance. 

So what does all this statistical doom and gloom mean if you’re a woman? Money matters and so does financial freedom. If you’re not keen on the idea of being one of the 34 per cent of single women over 60 living in poverty (Australian Aging Agenda), then planning ahead is crucial and that means trying to foresee things that may happen. Think domestic violence, mental or physical illness or separation. If you are going to take time out to have children then perhaps you’ll need to retrain before going back to work or work part-time from home to keep your foot in the door. Either way, being financially independent is crucial to dodging a whole range of life’s unpredictable curve balls. 

Oh, and have a word to your daughters too. The younger they start thinking about the need to look after themselves financially, the better.


Make science your mission

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Calling all curious children, nature-loving adults and adventurous families. Become platypus protectors, search for bird habitats or join an ecology tour of the Coolart Wetlands and Homestead Reserve as part of National Science Week 2019.

The fourth annual Science in the Park is a smorgasbord of free and accessible science activities for all ages on Sunday, August 11, from 10am-4pm. You’ll meet NASA scientist Dr Darlene Lim, pictured, to learn about life in extreme Earth habitats and beyond, as well as enjoy science presentations, tours of the reserve and fun hands-on science activities.

Leading up to the event, the art-science exhibition Mission Control is on at Coolart Homestead until August 17. Engaging the mind, imagination and the senses with inspirational art, Mission Control is flavoured with nostalgia, pinpointing a time when a footstep made history.

For more information, visit the Facebook page @scienceintheparkcoolart/events/

World-famous guitar duo to play at Peninsula Grammar

Adored guitarists Slava and Leonard Grigoryan will bring a world-class intimate performance to Peninsula Grammar’s Performing Arts Centre on Tuesday, August 20, at 7pm.  

Counted among the finest musicians of their generation, the Grigoryan brothers have developed a reputation for enthralling audiences with the energy of their performances and the breadth of their repertoire — embracing genres such as classical, jazz and contemporary music from around the world. 

Between them, they have received four ARIAs and an incredible 25 ARIA nominations, recording 11 albums as a duo, with their 12th release coming out this year. The duo has been touring internationally since 2003, regularly performing throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, the US, South America, Africa, India and the Middle East. 

A testament to their broad appeal and incredible skills is reflected in their recent tours and releases. In 2017-18 they performed as support for the Canadian singer/songwriter kd lang on her 25th anniversary Australian and US tour. This was followed immediately by another national tour sharing the stage and billing with the great flamenco guitarist Paco Pena. 

Their diverse repertoire continues to present new opportunities for performances in traditional and unconventional settings, from projects with orchestras to duo performances in iconic classical venues such as London’s Wigmore Hall and Vienna’s Konzerthaus. The New York Times wrote: “Guitar playing of uncommon originality and authority. Musicality, expressivity and daring”, while Brisbane’s Courier Mail wrote: “The Grigoryans have a reputation of performing together so emphatically, they become extensions of each other.”

Tickets to this incredible performance on the Mornington Peninsula are $38, including GST. Book via

Mornington industrial area a hive of activity

Mornington’s industrial area has been flourishing over the past 10 years. It’s seen the arrival of a plethora of hip new businesses, from quirky cafes such as Commonfolk to tight-knit artists’ communities. It’s a hive of activity, with the Mornington Railway running on Sundays and attracting families and tourists alike to experience a steam or heritage diesel train before adventuring through unique shops, service providers, and cafes full of character. Dive into this month’s Industrial Feature to discover more to love in Mornington.

You’re invited to peruse Obtainium Antiques and Vintage Wares, where you’ll discover one-of-a-kind items, including records, collectables, memorabilia, vintage wares, antiques and curiosities for your home. 

If costal artworks are calling you, stop by Abstracts by Sabina to experience Sabina’s canvases of all sizes that boast fresh colour palettes and mixed media. The results of her style are bold, textured and colourful original works of art that feel instantly at home in any environment, without the sand.

Pop into Southern Buoy Studios to enjoy a dynamic space and artistic community that consists of a large gallery space with artists’ studios in the centre. Make a note to check out the ASRC Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes exhibition from July 14-August 3. The same team creates perfect solutions for all your picture-framing needs using locally sourced, hand-finished and sustainable timber frames at Southern Buoy. With 30 years of experience, your artwork is in safe hands.

A new edition to the area, is The Good Food Bakery. Everything is Gluten Free at this Bakery and Providore, from pies to bread, to cakes and tarts. There’s nothing better than wrapping your hands around a hot cup of tea — especially if it’s gourmet organic tea from OrganiTea. Choose from chai, functional tea blends, bulk bags, straight herbs, accessories and more to help you beat the winter blues. 

Speaking of winter, you won’t be feeling the cold after visiting Bayside Comfort Solutions. This heating and cooling specialist services and repairs all brands of heating and airconditioning systems. Or revamp your home to make it warm and inviting with the help of Bay Kitchens & Interiors. Visit the showroom to get some great ideas for your kitchen, bathroom, laundry or office, as well as wall units, shop fit-outs and all of your cabinet needs. 

Your Christmas in July won’t be complete without a stop by Christmas on Main. To help you celebrate they’ve launched their Christmas in July Sale which includes up to 50 per cent off their Christmas stock starting Wednesday, July 3. 

Don’t let your fitness fall by the wayside over the chilly season. With Pole & Aerial Divas Mornington offering a two-week introductory offer of five classes over 14 days for only $50, we’re sure you’ll be smashing your fitness goals. Go on, it’s a fun form of fitness. For all of your dance gear needs, make a point of visiting Capezio, where you can get decked out head to toe in some stunning dance attire. 

If the kids have maxed their iPad and TV time, why not book in a school holiday activity at Locked In Escape Rooms. It’s the perfect time, too, with the addition of the most exciting adventure challenge yet — the aptly named The Wizard’s Lair. 

What are you waiting for? Get exploring this winter in Mornington’s hidden gem.


The Good Food Bakery   Local residents with coeliac disease and gluten intolerances are rejoicing that a gluten free bakery has opened. The Good Food Bakery is a breath of fresh air on the Mornington Peninsula.

The Good Food Bakery

Local residents with coeliac disease and gluten intolerances are rejoicing that a gluten free bakery has opened. The Good Food Bakery is a breath of fresh air on the Mornington Peninsula.

Pole Divas  Find a fun form of fitness this chilly season at Pole & Aerial Divas Mornington.

Pole Divas
Find a fun form of fitness this chilly season at Pole & Aerial Divas Mornington.

Locked in Escape Rooms  Challenge yourself and your closest friends this winter at Locked in Escape Rooms.

Locked in Escape Rooms
Challenge yourself and your closest friends this winter at Locked in Escape Rooms.

OrganiTea Australia  There’s nothing better than a hot cup of tea, except for a hot cup of organic tea from OrganiTea Australia.

OrganiTea Australia
There’s nothing better than a hot cup of tea, except for a hot cup of organic tea from OrganiTea Australia.

Christmas on Main   Get your house decked out for Christmas in July with the help of Christmas on Main’s July Sale that begins on Wednesday, July 3.

Christmas on Main

Get your house decked out for Christmas in July with the help of Christmas on Main’s July Sale that begins on Wednesday, July 3.

Capezio  Revamp your dance wardrobe with Capezio’s extensive range for children and adults alike.

Revamp your dance wardrobe with Capezio’s extensive range for children and adults alike.

Chocolate worshippers are in for a sweet treat

Transformers and Stegosaurus, just some of the unique novelties at Chocolate Grove

Transformers and Stegosaurus, just some of the unique novelties at Chocolate Grove

Here’s a day that will provide you with an excuse to consume some (more) chocolate. Not that anyone ever really needs an excuse, but it helps. In fact, I just had a sneaky chocolate or two as ‘research’ for this editorial piece.

World Chocolate Day is Sunday, July 7, and it celebrates the introduction of cocoa to Europe by Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés in 1550. Although Christopher Columbus is said to have brought the first cocoa beans back to Europe between 1502 and 1505, the humble beans were relatively ignored at this time in favour of the other treasures he returned with.

That being said, we’d all be silly to skip recognising this holy day. Worshipping chocolate is a daily occurrence for the majority of the population, whether you fancy sweet white chocolate delights, devilish dark chocolate morsels, or the go-to traditional milk chocolate. 

It’s time to celebrate with some chocolate fudge ice cream, a mocha sprinkled with sweet chocolate powder, a handful of chocolate-covered almonds or a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Speaking of chocolate chip cookies, did you know they were a beautiful accident? Could you imagine your world without these delish treats for just a second? I’ll tell you what, it’d be a bleak bakery. The miracle happened in 1930 when Ruth Wakefield realised she was out of baker’s chocolate. So she improvised by using broken-up pieces of Nestle chocolate and mixed it into her cookie dough, expecting the chocolate to be absorbed into the mix, which would in turn create chocolate cookies. As you know now, she accidentally created chocolate chip cookies, and later sold the idea to Nestle. And what did she get for her invention? A lifetime’s supply of chocolate. You could say she hit the sweet spot! 

We’ve got a local inventor here as well. Will Muddyman is the chief Willy Wonka at Chocolate Grove in Carrum Downs. He develops new products constantly and works out the formula with the help of his team. With more than 150 different products, I have no doubt you’ll find the right chocolate treat for your tastebuds — not to mention such novelty items for the kiddies as stegosauruses, crocodile eggs and Transformers. From chocolate-coated freeze-dried fruits and nuts to chocolate-coated salt and vinegar crisps or pork crackle, you’re in for a treat. 

If chocolate isn’t your vice, never fear — July 7 is also Macaroni Day and Strawberry Sundae Day. However, we would warn against mixing these items with chocolate. We’ll leave the inventing to Will and Ruth. 


Men at work is only half the story

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A woman’s work is never done — or so the saying goes — and while half the population have always known this to be true, there’s a new survey that suggests they’re absolutely right. As well as holding down jobs outside the home, women are still responsible for the lion’s share of domestic duties.

The survey of more than 1000 Australians by lawnmower manufacturer Victa found that while more than half of women work in paid jobs, they also continue to take on the majority of “traditional household roles” — housework, in other words. Fifty-eight per cent of those surveyed still do most of the washing, almost 55 per cent are in charge in the kitchen, almost 54 per cent are the ones who clean up after everyone else has used the bathroom, 49.6 per cent do the tidying up, 48.8 per cent wield the mops and vacuum cleaners, and 43.3 per cent keep the gardens from being overrun.

Men, meanwhile, once they’ve returned from the demands of their paid jobs, will mostly turn their attention to minor home repairs (62 per cent) and home improvements (37 per cent) as well as firing up the lawnmower (58 per cent). And as for the kids, well, they account for just 2 per cent of help around the home. Well, to be fair, Fortnite is pretty time-consuming.

There is a little good news, however: more households are sharing some of the roles, particularly in the areas of general tidying, gardening, vacuuming/mopping and the kitchen . . . but hey, what are you doing still reading this? It’s time to get the dinner on, the laundry basket’s overflowing and that bathroom won’t clean itself.

Publisher’s note: these may be the stats but, in reality, times are changing — my Archie does nearly all of the housework!  And among my friends he is not alone.

First whales of the season arrive in Victoria

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It was the first day of winter and the whale hotline started to buzz with sightings. Right on cue, humpback whales appeared in Port Phillip and along the coast of Phillip Island. Even more exciting was a sighting of a pod of killer whales at Port Phillip Heads on the same day. 

Victorian whale watchers have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of these amazing marine mammals as they move from the wild Southern Ocean into warmer waters along Australia’s coastlines. For many years, Victoria mostly missed out on seeing these whales. However, over the past decade whale numbers have grown and we are now seeing the migration of humpback whales spilling into the coastal waters of Victoria’s Two Bays region. 

The Dolphin Research Institute is keenly interested in monitoring whale movements, and with sightings becoming more regular it established the Two Bays Whale Project, a citizen science initiative specifically designed to capture information on visiting humpback, southern right and killer whales. This is a partnership with Wildlife Coast Cruises. 

“The project has been an amazing step forward for the monitoring and management of large whales in our coastal waters,” said project co-ordinator David Donnelly. “In fact, just last season our citizen science community were instrumental in tracking a humpback whale entangled in cray pots.” This information was shared with wildlife managers to assist with the emergency response. 

This year, whale spotters are asked to keep watch for a young whale with a massive wound on its tail. Last year this little whale was photographed off Wilsons Promontory. Through the citizen science network it was matched to photos of a calf with a fresh gaping wound, taken 47 days earlier in Hervey Bay. We suspect the calf had been attacked by sharks. In a remarkable feat, the mother whale was able to rescue her calf and travel more than 2000km to Victoria in 47 days. She would have also fed it about 100 litres of milk every day. We suspect they would have travelled to the sub-Antarctic waters to feed over summer, so are very keen to see if it survived. 

The Two Bays Whale Project is calling for citizen scientists to contribute sightings through PodWatch, its recently launched app. It’s really quite simple — go to and click on the sightings link. For convenience, the system can be saved to your smart phone’s home screen and used like any other app, provided you have network coverage. 

The best land-based locations to see whales in the Two Bays region from June to September are Barwon Bluff, Port Phillip Heads, Cape Schanck, The Nobbies, Pyramid Rock, Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island, and the Bass Coast. Remember, though, substantial penalties apply to people deliberately approaching a whale closer than 200m on a vessel, 300m on a jetski, and lower than 500m in an aircraft or with a drone. 

Hunted to the edge of extinction during the industrial whaling era, humpback whales have made an impressive comeback, with eastern Australian numbers expected to reach around 35,000 individuals this year. This is quite remarkable when you consider the post-whaling population was estimated to be only 200-400 individuals. Unfortunately, the news is not so good for the southern right whale, with their southeast Australian numbers estimated to be between just 250 and 300 individuals with little noticeable increase in population. 


True gentleman waves goodbye

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We love books at Mornington Peninsula Magazine, so we were sad to hear of Robinsons Bookshop founder Philip Robinson’s passing on Monday, June 10. Philip was a pioneer of bookselling in Australia and opened the Frankston store with his wife, Moira, in 1963 in what was then known as Frankston’s Central Carpark. It is Victoria’s oldest general independent book store and one of 12 across three states.

Philip’s dedication to connecting people with books and each other means he will be remembered with great fondness and shall be missed dearly. 

A shining light within a library-free landscape when it opened, the first Robinsons Bookshop brought a world of possibilities to a community that was ready to explore it, and to this day customers still mention the impact that both Philip and Moira had on them. 

Mornington Peninsula Magazine is always amazed at the number of enthusiastic authors there are on the Peninsula and the great array of book stores that house their stories. As Frankston’s first book store and a place where the community could and still can gather to discuss and share experiences, both Robinsons Bookshop and Philip are indelibly etched into the Peninsula’s love affair with literature. In his late ‘90s, Philip passed away peacefully surrounded by his family and friends. 

What a wealth of storytelling he has left behind for all of us to share.

Current Robinsons Bookshop co-owner Susanne Horman says: “There has been a huge response on community noticeboards and social media in relation to the passing of Philip, with so many stories of the lovely experiences and treasured memories people have about the Robinsons over the years.”

He was a true gentleman. Condolences to all his family and friends. From us to you. 


A trip down the bay

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The heyday of excursion ships on Port Phillip lasted more than 50 years from 1886 to 1942. After the 1920s, the availability of motor vehicles and improved roads provided Melburnians with more opportunities for a weekend outing than the previous choice of a ‘trip down the bay’. The arrival of the Ozone, the first of three large paddle steamers, began this extremely popular service. 

Many trips to towns around the southern end of the bay were day trips, but the paddlers also provided transport for people having an extended holiday at one of the hotels or guest houses. Usually they called at only two or three ports and the procedure was for the vessel to remain for several hours at the final destination before returning to Melbourne. Picnics to Sorrento were particularly popular with family groups, larger social groups and business associations. They were also popular with church groups, workers’ associations such as butchers, and market gardeners. Many large businesses also held picnics for their employees. Often a brass band played while the children enjoyed their games and the adults enjoyed their picnic.

After the success of the Ozone, which began in 1886, two other large paddle steamers joined her in providing a similar service. These were the Hygeia in 1890 and the Weeroona in 1910. All three of these vessels were built in Glasgow and made the voyage to Port Phillip under their own power. The smallest, the Ozone, had a length of 79m and carried 1600 passengers. The Weeroona, at just short of 95m, carried about 2000 passengers and was one of the largest excursion steamers ever built. 

Services were provided on many weekdays as well as weekends during the warmer months. In keeping with the times, both ladies’ and gentlemen’s lounges and dining rooms were available as well as similar shared facilities, all fitted out with luxurious furnishings and decorated panelling. Dancing to popular city bands, strolling on the wide promenades and socialising in the bars were all popular. The final voyage of the Weeroona in March 1942 brought the era to a close.


President, Peninsula Ship Society

T: Maurie Hutchinson 9787 5780

E: [email protected]

The Peninsula Ship Society meets at Hastings Yacht Club on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10am. Visitors always welcome.

There’s a Lolly among the vegies at Hawkes Farm

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At a year old, Lolly keeps everyone on their toes. Every night when her owner Richard Hawkes gets home from a long day at Hawkes Farm in Boneo, she proceeds to climb all over him, nipping his ears and nose. It’s almost like Lolly’s on a sugar high because she just goes berserk — this is an exclusive treat for Richard because she’s sweet on him. After the pair play-wrestle and Lolly’s excitement wavers, it’s time for her to snuggle into his neck on the couch as the puppy cuddles induce a pre-dinner nap for both.

This not-so-little lady also keeps her human friends guessing what breed she is. People at the dog park often guess great dane, kelpie, pointer, bull arab, labrador or even a staffordshire. Really, she’s anyone’s guess! And the truth is Lolly is one of a kind. She’s got a little of this and a little of that. She came from a rescue group in NSW that found her mother giving birth. Her mother looked something like a pointer cross/labrador cross/blue heeler. And the dad? Well, he’s a total unknown, which makes Lolly a very special bitser. 

“We think she’s a little bit of many things so she doesn’t look like anything particularly —except beautiful,” said Richard. “We’re pretty passionate about rescuing dogs rather than contributing to the massive oversupply of dogs and irresponsible breeding out there, but it was also nice to bring home a young dog that we could train from puppyhood. We got our last rescue when he was six, and he came with some whacky habits — which only made us love him more.” 

Her unique name was from the creative minds of Richard and partner Georgie’s children. As a wee pup she was nicknamed Lolly-pup; however, now she’s reached 32kg she looks less like a sweet little lolly — but still adorable! 

Toy tractors are her go-to playthings. She actively chews them, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’s a farm dog through and through. Her human siblings of course aren’t too fond of their beloved toys being munched on, but just look at those eyes! Who could get mad at this sweet lass? Lolly also has a need for speed because she enjoys running at top speed in circles around her backyard. Richard’s kids encourage her and cheer her on from the spectator box — or rather, the top of their cubby house — and watch as Lolly completes her aptly-named ‘zoomies’. You’d think she’d have learnt her lesson after she was picking up speed at the farm when she failed to realise that the grass was ending and the dam was starting, so she bolted straight in! She was one very surprised and wet puppy!

As any female is, Lolly is a social butterfly. She thrives when she visits the farm because she excels at customer service and greets every customer in the carpark, or runs into the packing shed where she’s not really welcome, so more often than not she’s restricted to office jobs with Georgie or assisting with jobs out in the paddock far away from the action.

Happy tail wags are plentiful, whether she’s playing with other dogs at off-leash areas, munching on baby carrots or joining the kids for a bedtime story.

“She’s got pretty good manners for a pup, is excellent at high fives and we’re practising ‘play dead’. She’s much smarter than our last dog,” said Richard.


Digging in for a Queen’s Birthday Honour

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The recent Queen’s Birthday long weekend was extra special for The Diggers Club founder Clive Blazey, who was made a Member of the Order of Australia for his ‘significant service to horticulture, to conservation and to the community’. 

Clive and his wife, Penny, founded The Diggers Club in an old tin shed in 1978. Their first seed catalogue was published the same year. Since then, Clive’s written eight books and numerous articles for the Diggers Garden magazine, The Diggers Club has grown immensely to become Australia’s largest gardening club, and Clive has toured the country on numerous speaking tours. 

“It really is a shame these awards can’t be made in twos,” Clive said. “Penny and I started the Diggers journey together and she deserves equal credit. It's so exciting for us gardeners to get public recognition for passionately linking gardening with the preservation of our environment.”

The past 40 years of hard work has paid off, and Clive is delighted to be recognised for his contribution to organic gardening, seed saving, and introducing heirloom seeds to Australian gardeners. Clive has been and will continue to be a diligent advocate for conservation and the environment. In 2011, the Blazey family even established a Diggers Foundation to guarantee that Clive’s important work will continue. This included gifting the Diggers Club’s priceless gardens, Heronswood in Dromana and The Garden of St Erth in Blackwood, to their foundation to make sure these gardens remained open to the public in order to inspire Australian gardeners to create productive and beautiful gardens using organic principles, and to preserve the finest heirloom varieties and gardening traditions that Clive is so passionate about.

“It’s wonderful to have gardening acknowledged in this way, and Penny and I have been delighted by all the support from Diggers Club friends and members. When we started the Diggers Club 41 years ago, we had no idea it would grow to become a club of 75,000 members. Similarly, when we bought and moved into Heronswood, we couldn’t have imagined the role it would play as a public garden today.”

Clive is also a prominent opponent of genetically modified seeds and the commoditisation of our society’s supermarket-driven food supply. He’s also behind the rescue of heirloom vegetable and fruit varieties in Australia. 

Congrats, Clive and Penny, and long live subversive gardening! 


Twins’ determination fuels the Bo’Ness monster

Callum and Jackson McPartlane are helping raise money for the Alannah & Madeleine Foundation through sales of their t-shirts.

Callum and Jackson McPartlane are helping raise money for the Alannah & Madeleine Foundation through sales of their t-shirts.

Callum and Jackson McPartlane haven’t paused for a second since we last spoke to them two years ago. In fact, these Mornington Peninsula identical twins just keep surprising everyone with their determination and maturity. The 15-year-olds make up the band Bo’Ness, named after their grandmother’s home town in Scotland. Having just recently opened for Reece Mastin again at the Publican in Mornington, they’re on a high — and why shouldn’t they be? 

“Reece Mastin’s manager called after seeing a video of us on Facebook and asked us to come and support Reece again,” said Jackson. “Reece wants to write with us too. He knows how difficult it was to start in the industry at a young age, so he’s very supportive.” 

Seven years ago they were teaching themselves to harmonise perfectly and secretly practising in their bedrooms, and now they’re among only 20 students to be chosen to attend the junior course of The Academy in Tamworth from July 6-12. During the country music-style course, the twins and their mum, Sally, will learn about the music industry from award-winning insiders and professionals in areas of songwriting, music business, promotion, media, interviewing techniques, recording and performance. 

And they’ve just performed again at the National Celtic Festival at Portarlington. “The manager of The Lumber Jills walked by and heard us,” said Callum. “They then asked our mum, who is our manager, if we’d come over to Canada for the Arcadian Festival if they flew us out. It’s very exciting. Next we’re aiming to release an EP, hopefully when we go to Nashville for a holiday. We’ll be working on songwriting with Sam Hawksley, and he’s got some songs set aside for us too.”

With Sally working in the music industry, step-dad Pat a sound engineer and country singer Adam Brand as their godfather, they’ve grown up immersed in the music industry, specifically country music.  The house is filled with music memorabilia, including Adam Brand’s guitar and drum skins signed by Jimmy Barnes in the music room. Shannon Noll has even been over for a coffee, and Chris Cheney from The Living End went to school with Sally and is more than keen to write with the boys in his home studio. Chocolate Starfish and Vanessa Amorosi have also spent some time talking music with the pair.

After experiencing bullying first-hand, they’re passionate about wearing their ‘Kind is Cool’ t-shirts to spread the important message of kindness and stand up against bullying with other musicians; $1 from every t-shirt sold goes to the Alannah & Madeleine Foundation, which works to keep children safe from violence. 

Callum’s written his first song and scored the lead in the school play at Mount Erin, which is only fair because Jackson scooped it up last year. The pair continue to busk and donate a portion of their takings to charity or a friend in need of new shoes. From playing at nursing homes, fundraisers, or such events as Motivate Mums at Melbourne Arts Centre or Brain Cancer Research at Crown, they’re simply unstoppable. 

You’ve got to hear them to believe it. Check out their sound on Facebook at @BoNessmusic


Planting trees is second nature to these kids

Photo by Penny Mackenzie

Photo by Penny Mackenzie

On Wednesday, May 22, dozens of keen young conservationists descended on Keast Park in Seaford to help ranger Kathryn plant habitat for wildlife in the dunes. These children and their families are part of an environmental group called Natured Kids.

“There are now hundreds more native grasses, tea-tree, saltbush, banksias and pigface in the sand dunes that will help reduce erosion and provide stable habitat and food for our coastal-living lorikeets, skinks, blue-tongue lizards, echidnas, possums, bush rats, cockatoos, little bats and our beneficial insects,” said naturalist, teacher and group founder Narelle Debenham. 

Narelle runs a nature playgroup for children up to six years old and Bush, Beach and Botanic School for four to 14-year-olds. “We have been meeting weekly in and around Frankston for nearly 15 years now, participating in projects for nature with many local environmental groups,” she said.  “Our mission is to inspire lifelong connections with and care for nature via outdoor play, exploration and education in our local community. 

“Giving young people opportunities to contribute to local environmental projects helps them develop hands-on skills and a sense of great connection to where they live. There are a few similar opportunities coming up if you’re keen to participate with your children.”  

For details about joining future Natured Kids efforts to assist the Peninsula’s natural environment, phone Narelle on 0431 791 379 or email [email protected]

Meanwhile, Sunday, July 28, is National Tree Planting Day, and from 10am-noon Peninsula families will be able to help Frankston City Council rangers plant native grasses, shrubs and trees at Wittenberg Reserve to provide vital food and shelter for the reserve’s native birds and animals. Tickets are free and are available via Eventbrite.

Making music with attitude and smarts

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Nathan Smart is 21 years old but you wouldn’t think it with how much he has achieved. He’s been working towards a career in music since he was 15, and now six years later he’s hunkered down and even more determined to carve out a multi-layered artistic niche in a world where resolve and talent are intrinsically intertwined. Working from his upstairs office in his parents’ house in Frankston, this former Flinders Christian Community College student doesn’t stop. He’s on the road to pop stardom and won’t quit until he’s landed where he wants to be. 

Nathan explains: “I really admire Beyoncé. She writes, sings, produces, choreographs and works behind the scenes with lighting and sound. Basically, everything you see in the video is her. That’s the type of career I want. I went to the US in April to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California, which was brilliant. The pop scene in Australia isn’t that big but it is huge over there, so I suppose that’s where I’ll be heading eventually. Right now I’m happy to launch song by song and focus on making the best videos I can. Quality is more important than quantity.”

Nathan began his love affair with music and performing when he was nine years old when he got up on stage in the musical Oliver. The rest is history, as they say. He wrote and recorded his first single You Had Your Chance for his VCE portfolio at Rowville Institute of the Arts, where he studied music, drama, media and performance, and has released three more singles on his YouTube channel, Spotify and Apple platforms since. He plays piano and guitar, writes, sings, dances and produces music videos for himself and other Mornington Peninsula artists he supports through his OOMPH! Media network.  

He continues: “I suppose you’d call my music style pop synth with a bit of hip-hop thrown in. I love tracks that make you want to get up and dance. I’ve just released my latest single Future after Jailhouse last year and You Ain’t Got Me before that. I’ve been working hard on the production side of the videos and developed a custom lighting show for my music videos. Sometimes it’s tricky to keep working at it when you are taking care of every aspect, but my parents have been really supportive. Every few months I come downstairs and show them what I’ve been working on and they are amazed. You’ve got to be resilient and never give up. The music industry is very competitive. Some days are good and some are bad but I want to work for myself and create a unique identity, so I suppose there’s no choice.”

With an attitude like that it won’t be long before this multi-faceted musician makes his musical mark here and abroad. Check out to find out more.


Animal activist meets mentor in Merricks

Michelle with orphan elephant Musiara, Kenya

Michelle with orphan elephant Musiara, Kenya

When I first heard that English primatologist and anthropologist Dame Jane Goodall was going to be having dinner at Merricks General Wine Store on May 12, I flipped out. But there you have it — it happened, and animal activist Michelle Forrester was there. 

Michelle has been holidaying on Marine Drive in Safety Beach with her family since she was a kid and continues the tradition with her two sons today, albeit at a different property closer to the boat ramp. She remembers the big garage out back and the banging parties her brother Steven threw with the crew from the caravan park, Fleetwood Mac and Bowie blaring. She remembers getting stranded on Mud Island, the stingrays swaying into shore and her sister Karen, who has cerebral palsy, floating on a tube and watching the water lapping. She was always a nurturing and inquisitive kid who loved the water, her garden and the animals who lived there. She’s spent most of her life looking after them, and at 55 she has no intention of stopping. 

She explains: “It was a dream of a lifetime to meet Jane because I’ve always been drawn to looking after animals, especially ones in distress, and I’ve followed her career since I was at school. I was at an Orangutan Project seminar in Melbourne and met Balnarring local Sean from The Thin Green Line Foundation, who helps protect rangers worldwide, who asked me if I’d like to come along. As if! It was a low-key event with about 80 people enjoying a three-course vegetarian dinner with great wines. I was beyond excited. I sat opposite her on another table and just stared.  Watched her every move. She gave a speech about “not losing hope despite the bleak outlook for conservation and biodiversity” and talked about her Roots & Shoots program, which encourages people to work on environmental and conservation issues. I finally had the nerve to go up to her and told her that she’d been such an inspiration to me and we agreed that the only way forward was to continue to have hope for the future. You know, she’s 90 years old and still travels 300 days a year.”

Michelle’s commitment to rescuing and saving animals is unwavering. From picking up stray animals in the middle of the road to working with assistance dogs and supporting animal rights in South Africa, this is one busy woman. She’s organised donations for orphanages in Vietnam, has two adopted orphan elephants in Kenya and continues to be as philanthropic as her time allows. She explains: “There is a real human/wildlife conflict happening as we speak. One of my elephants’ trunk was nearly cut off with a snare and around 20,000 lions are being held captive. Cubs are being used for tourists to pay and pat, then go on to continual breeding and when redundant are sold to hunting lodges to be shot. It’s disgraceful.”

Yes it is. Thank goodness for people like Dame Jane Goodall and Michelle Forrester. Perhaps there is still hope. Fingers crossed.


From Mount Martha to on-screen on the Gold Coast

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This month, Kate Sears put former Mount Martha resident and current Nine News Gold Coast reporter Maggie Raworth in the hot seat. Maggie, 26, speaks to us about her experiences being first on the scene and how her Post Graduate Degree — Graduate Diploma of Journalism at RMIT started it all.

How did you get to where you are now?

I was lucky enough to land my first job as a reporter in regional news, working for a regional television station. The role was in Toowoomba, Queensland. I didn’t know a single soul and Toowoomba is far from the beach, but still I jumped at the opportunity. While I was in Toowoomba I was asked to work for Nine News. I was so happy I nearly cried and called my dad straight away. Nine was starting a local news service and I was to come on as a journalist in Ballarat, Victoria. The Ballarat newsroom was small but extremely busy. I learnt a lot there. After about a year I received a call from my now boss asking if I wanted to join the Nine newsroom on the Gold Coast. It was a definite ‘yes!’ from me. I was missing the beach and eager to live in a city. I am now working with a team of about 40 people. It’s made up of journalists, camera operators, editors, producers and more. The Gold Coast often has lots of breaking news, so there’s plenty of opportunity to report on national stories.

Did you always dream of being an on-screen journalist?

I can honestly say I have always wanted to be a journalist. As a little girl I’d watch journalists like Mal Walden and Jo Hall in awe. When I ended up working with Jo Hall, I couldn’t help but feel a little star-struck.  

What's been the most memorable day on the job?

Meeting people from a range of backgrounds makes it hard to narrow my most memorable day down to just one. From the happy to the sad to the serious to the absurd, I’ve seen a lot on the road. I’ve reported on a man who refused to come down from a tree. I’ve reported the emotional stories of those who survived traumatic sexual abuse at the hands of members of the Catholic Church. I’ve reported from the top of the tallest roller coaster on the Gold Coast and contributed greatly to the Australian Government changing a law. Each day you can expect something different.

What do you find the most challenging?

While I have wonderful days at work, equally there are bad days too. I’ve been first to arrive at some rather gruesome scenes. I’ve helped people put out their burning house; I’ve also held children back when houses couldn’t be saved. I’ve seen horrific fatal car crashes, some that have stayed with me. Witnessing such scenes though has led me to develop a stronger respect for our emergency services.

What's an average day look like for you?

An average day for me can be long. Right now I am training for a marathon, which means my alarm goes off at 4.30. After my morning run, I am reading the newspapers, listening to radio news reports, checking online news, social media and my emails, looking for potential stories. Usually, something has happened overnight; someone of interest might be in court or I have something I’ve been working on up my sleeve. Once I arrive to the newsroom I am assigned a camera operator for the day and we start the chase — making calls, locking in and picking up interviews before writing a script. My script is then developed into a news story. From the Today Show to the morning news to the afternoon news to our 6pm show, Nine News has a range of shows running all day. Depending on the story I may be required to do a live cross or write a story suitable for the timeslot. It’s a fast-paced job and usually a race against the clock to get the script in before deadline.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I hope I am still working as a journalist in 10 years. I love my job and feel it’s a great platform to generate change and help people.

Do you have advice for those aspiring to pursue the same career?

Work hard and be kind.

And finally, what's your favourite thing to do on the Mornington Peninsula?

My dad and brothers live in Mount Martha. Simply going out for brekky with my brothers or a long walk with my dad makes the trip from the Gold Coast worth it. For me, the Peninsula is home.

Young skier turns up the heat — again

Photos by Toshi Pander

Photos by Toshi Pander

When I last spoke to Mount Martha resident and avid skier Gus Broersen in December 2017, he said: “I'm going to keep working hard and hopefully I'll get to represent my country in the future.”

I repeat the 15-year-old’s goal back to him during our recent second interview and he’s a little taken aback by how it’s come to fruition. “Oh wow! I just said that in passing. I never thought it’d happen. And it did.”

You see, since Gus shared with us nearly two years ago his five-year streak of winning the Slopestyle at Hotham and a Thredbo Big Air, he’s been a very busy teenager. He was approached in February by the Australian head ski coach, who expressed shock that Gus hadn’t completed an expression of interest to compete at the Junior World Free Ski Slope Style Championships in Sweden. One week later, Gus was accepted and set off to represent Australia with six other Australian skiers, of whom he was the youngest.

“Unfortunately, I slipped on my landing,” he said. “But it was a great experience. I’ve got one under the belt now.”

This year he’s become an ambassador for Hotham for the first time. But what does a skier do when there’s no snow to chase? Well, there’s trampolining, surfing, skating and of course schooling, which is completed through online distance education to fit in with his training schedule.

“These winter holidays I’ll be solo training at Hotham before heading to Perisher Winter Sports Club in the Snowy Mountains as I was offered a full scholarship, then back to Hotham for spring. Hotham is my favourite resort to ski at because of the awesome terrain and the great community.”

And it is a great community, with many friends, family members, coaches and fellow Hotham skiers texting Gus’s mum, Tammy, at 1am saying “We’re watching with you” as Gus tackled the ski jumps in Sweden at the Junior World Free Ski Slope Style Championships.

The only way to get Gus to take a day off from training is to take his lift pass from him — but he reveals to his mother’s displeasure that he’ll just buy another. After being offered a half-scholarship to the Wy’east Mountain Academy in the US, Gus and his family held a fundraiser, and with the support of the Mornington Peninsula community and Hotham generously donating raffle prizes, Gus was able to hit the slopes in Oregon. It was an invaluable training experience for the professional skier, who got to train for four months with like-minded young skiers from all over the world.

I asked Gus for another goal that we can put in writing so that it might also come about.

“The next Winter Olympics is in two years, or maybe I’ll aim for the Winter Olympics after that as I’ll be 22 years old by then. I wouldn’t be here without my sponsors Volkl, Oyuki, Picture Clothing, Spy Optics, Hotham, my many coaches and of course my parents, Tammy and Rob.”

Check out Gus catching some air on Instagram @gus_broersen


Medical musings make for a memorable read

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Gillian Nikakis has worked as a midwife, a community health nurse, and a credentialed mental health nurse before becoming a counsellor in her own practice. Already a published author (He’s Not Coming Home), she drew on her extensive medical career for her self-published semi-autographical novel, Medicine, Maggots & Musings. She’s been on ABC talk shows around the country and in New Zealand, and she received the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to mental health. 

Tell us about Medicine, Maggots & Musings. 

The story was initially intended to be a lighthearted social history of my nursing career. As it progressed I knew there were many events I could not omit as they have been so influential in choices I have made in my life. I have been working on the book for the last five years, interviewing different people to find out what they considered the biggest changes that have happened over the last 50 years. The answers have been fascinating. I have included many events in my life that I felt people would relate to. This included the breakdown of my marriage, single parenting, re-partnering, and the loss of loved ones. I hope this book will amuse, appal, even educate and hold the reader’s interest while offering an alternative view of specific events.
Why did you decide to write this book?

I have been witness to some terrible things in my career, and writing these things down has helped me to understand and appreciate how I came to be confronted with these things. Because of the privileged position I was in I wanted to document the events as the material I have is unique. While working with adult survivors of childhood abuse I made a commitment to alert the community to the depth and extent that abusers will go to keep their victims silent. I have come across many inspirational people and have pondered long about how I can honour them without abusing their trust or betraying their confidence. The people I mention have all assured me that if their story helps other people, they are happy for me to mention them.

Tell us about receiving the Medal of the Order of Australia.

This was such a huge surprise and honour. For many years I worked in a voluntary capacity for the Cunningham Dax Collection. This is the largest collection of mental health art in the southern hemisphere. I was the co-ordinator of the Child Trauma Collection and on the acquisition committee. In 2003 I organised an art exhibition to run alongside an international conference on trauma. There were 400 pieces of art drawn by clients during their therapy from around Australia. Clients could draw things they could not talk about. It was such a powerful way for counsellors to understand the impact of the abuse on the child.

Who do you think your book will appeal to?

I expected good feedback from nurses but have been surprised at how many people relate to the events in the book.  It is not just for nurses as so many things I have experienced strike a chord in others.


From the Peninsula to LA and back again

Georgina Haig is back on the Peninsula filming a new TV drama series, Secret Bridesmaids’ Business. Photo by Ben King

Georgina Haig is back on the Peninsula filming a new TV drama series, Secret Bridesmaids’ Business. Photo by Ben King

It takes time to catch Georgina Haig, but when I do her voice is seductive and vibrant, raw yet refined. Think good strong coffee with cream and a dash of “don’t mess with me” spice. With a two-year-old at home, a filming schedule that often begins before the crack of dawn and a slathering of auditions thrown into the mix, this Flinders Kinder, Red Hill Consolidated School, Toorak College and sometimes-living-in-LA actor is currently filming Seven Studio’s newest drama series Secret Bridesmaids’ Business on the Peninsula. Yep, you got it. She and the cast have been staying at the Flinders Hotel and soaking up the colours of autumn while shooting at Panton Vineyard and surrounds. 

As we chat over the phone I envisage her curled up on a comfy chair down south like a cat in culottes. She’s excited to be on home turf doing what she loves. We get right down to the nitty gritty and discuss the notion of LA glamour. “Glamour — ha! I don’t know where people get that one from. The red carpet. It’s so stressful. There isn’t much glamour associated with it. Your shoes are killing you and . . . ” Her voice tapers off with an exasperated giggle. 

For a girl who grew up on 2ha in Red Hill with chickens, guinea pigs, blackberries and cherries, LA seems a long way away, but you can tell Georgina takes it in her stride and enjoys the LA lifestyle just as much as she adores coming back home. She explains: “There were these tiny bright red apples when I was a kid in Red Hill. You’d bite into them and they would be so white and crisp. Snow apples, I think. Then there was the billy cart derby every year and the endless days at Shoreham and Point Leo beaches. We were always outdoors. It was ideal. Dad is a writer and film producer and Mum is a fine artist so I suppose it makes sense that I and my little brother are both in the creative arts. He’s an actor too.” Georgina’s husband, Josh Mapleston, is a scriptwriter.

But back to secret business. “We are staying in Elwood while filming Secret Bridesmaids’ Business. It’s good to be home with family and old friends, but we have a strong group of friends in LA too, especially after having Greta. You make friends with other parents. My role in Bridesmaids is great. My character, Olivia, who is a winemaker, is tough one minute and then crumbling the next and wears her heart on her sleeve. She has a near-death experience with leukaemia, which changes her outlook on life. The journey of the three main female characters is complex and the writers on the show are so good. How lucky am I to be filming on the Peninsula? It seems a bit surreal.”

Georgina has carved out an impressive bio at just 33 years old. From her first gig in a Jeans West commercial where she had to bounce up and down on a trampoline with a pair of jeans wrapped around her neck — “I just couldn’t stop laughing. It was so bad I had to think of something pretty grim to stop” — to snagging an agent in LA and almost getting the booking for Spiderman, this Aussie actor continues to expand her creative repertoire. She continues: “After I graduated from WAAPA in WA, doing the jeans ad, then an indie movie directed by Ben Lucas, which showed at the Toronto Film Festival, I began getting international auditions and got flown back and forth to LA a few times. We made the decision to move to LA to give it a go. My first international role was in Fringe, which was filmed in Vancouver, then Reckless filmed in Charleston. I then did Limitless and I played Elsa in Once Upon a Time.”

I ask her why she acts and she replies: “I want to find out why people do what they do and to understand human emotions. I’m pretty analytical too. I love the psychology of it. For a while I thought I might be behind the camera because I love the technical side too — the shape of the scene, the rhythm of it and getting caught in the truth of the moment.” Like motherhood? “Yes,” she replies. “Greta Elaine, named after my great aunt Elaine, who was a midwife, is completely in the moment. She demands all of your attention and all of you. Amazing.”

Sure is, Georgina. Simply amazing. You’re rocking it from the Peninsula to LA and back again. Keep your eyes peeled for Secret Bridesmaids’ Business promos on Seven. 

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