Monday, November 4, 2013

I’m grateful for the Channel Country Ladies Day

My first experience as co-pilot with Roger Crouch

I recently had the most wonderful experience attending the Channel Country Ladies Day (CCLD)   in Noccundra. I most likely would never have had the opportunity to cross the landscape that covers south-western Queensland and leads into South Australia and the Northern Territory, had I not been invited to be part of this annual event. The CCLD brings together women from across outback Queensland, and the gathering showcases the best of country hospitality and local -which can be anything in a 500km radius- arts, craft, fashion, and extraordinary produce (ie beef). Note: this is not the best place to be a vegetarian!

 Yoga at sunrise with Wendy Brabazon

As a keynote speaker talking about my writing journey and sharing some practical skills with soon-to-be-authors, I was grateful for many things, but at the top of my list are the following:

With the talented and beautiful Jacqueline Furey and Bev Killick

NEW TIDDAS: part of my journey to Noccundra was the chance to travel with other invited,  city gals; comedian Bev Killick  from Melbourne, and burlesque babe Jacqueline Furey from  Brisbane. We arrived together via a small plane into the town of Quilpie (see previous blog)  and then road tripped it out to Noccundra the next day. Stopping for photos of emus, cattle,  eagles, landmarks and lunch at the Eromanga Hotel – Eromanga   is touted as the town  furthest from the sea!

COMMUNITY CANVAS: Quilpie artist LynBarnes coordinated the development of a paining that over 30 women added their own touch to. I had a go myself, careful not to ruin the beautiful foundation Lyn had done. It’s the only attempt I’ve ever made at anything in terms of visual arts, and I am grateful to have been part of this communal effort. 


MARVELLOUS MOSAICS: I’ve always wanted to have a go at doing a mosaic table or mirror and with the guidance of artist Scott Maxwell I finally had the opportunity to learn the process and again be part of a communal piece of art. The finished piece will feature at the entrance to the Noccundra Campdraft Ground shed. 

ROGER and MARJ CROUCH: The event, like many around the country relied heavily on the  goodwill of volunteers. Two beautiful people I met at the ‘Hilton’ (okay, I really meant at the dongas where we stayed) were Roger and Marj from South Australia. Marj came to my  writing workshop with a plan for her book, and Roger gave me the most extraordinary time in his light aircraft at day break. Seeing the land from the air was breathtaking, and literally  left me speechless (and that’s saying something!). There are few words to describe the  scene so I hope some of these pics speak for themselves.

 Aerial shots of Noccundra

THARGOMINDAH: The tiny town of Thargomondah has a population of around 250 people and is famous for having the first energy station in Australia, and was one of the only three in the world at the time: Paris, London and Thrargomindah. 

I’m grateful for the ride back to Thargo – as it’s known as to locals – by Kitsa and Girta (pictured above) who are the own’s entrepreneurs, having opened their Coffee on Dowling café only three months ago. 

Situated in the revamped Echidna Place, next door to the Thargo Tourism Office and the local library, the café sits facing the crystal, cooling waters of the local pool. This café is bound to become the hub of local activity with it’s homemade cooking. 

Attached to the café is the Killili Room with walls lined with paintings reflecting life and 
labour on the land. City-slickness meets country hospitality and storytelling at it's best.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

'Lateral Violence' a poem by Dameyon Bonson

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Dameyon Bonson to my blog with a poem about something significant to him. Please read his intro below to understand context, and share with others you think may be interested, may appreciate and / or learn from.

Dameyon says...
In recent years there has been an unearthing of a phenomenon that affects minority groups such as us, the Indigenous peoples of Australia. It is a phenomenon, which acts as a cancerous agent of self-destruction among the disempowered. It is a behaviour that is exhibited when power is sought by those, individuals or as groups, which have been robbed of power. They seek it from each other is often harmful and destructive ways. This poem is a reflection of this disempowerment. This poem is about lateral violence. It is not about people’s behaviours, but rather how the disempowerment at the hands of the colonial might continues to affect our people. I am of Aboriginal and Torres Islander descent. I am of white Australia. I am an Indigenous Australian and these words below reflect my experiences also.

'Lateral Violence'
Am I not black enough?
Is my past too stolen?
Am I white too much?
Am I too outspoken?
Why do choose to abuse me?
Is it because I'm not from here?
Is it my skin tone?
Why do you choose to exclude me?
Am I not black enough?
Is my past too stolen?
Am I white too much?
Is my education, forboden?
Why do you choose to abuse me?
Am I not black enough?
Are my thoughts not jaded,
With a history stolen?
My stories raided.
Why do you choose to refuse me?
Yes, I'm not from here.
But I'm black enough.
You have no right to abuse me.
Yes I've travelled far,
From homelands faded.
Yes I'm black enough.
My bloodline is true,
It's not created.
My heart is swollen.
A family's big like yours.
My mob's strong like yours.
I am same same like you.
So please don't hate me.
Yes I'm black enough.
Together there is much we can do.

Dameyon Bonson
twitter @db_1974

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Thank you Quilpie, I’m grateful

 As part of being part of the Channel Country Ladies Day (blog to come) I spent 24  hours in the town of Quilpie, experiencing the best the locals had to offer. My gratefuls for my time there include:

Stunning Quilpie sunset at Eagle Gallery
COUNTRY HOSPITALITY: It’s true, there is nothing like it. The slower pace of life (newsagency opens at 9am instead of the usual 6am start in the city for example) lends itself to more time for talking to people; strangers in the street, the locum in the pharmacy, patrons in the pub and so on. I also had a yarn to two fellas outside the local bakery who’d been advised at their previous stop to try one of the local pies. It was 9am and I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, but they swore it was worth the stop.

Dancing in the dust was my fave painting of Lyn's
EAGLE GALLERY: My visit for sunset drinks and yarns at the Eagle Gallery was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as our hostess, gallery owner and artist Lyn Barnes welcomed us with wine and cheese under the gumtrees, a few cowboys to pose with, horses to stroke, a Shetland pony to coo over and local women to share stories with. All with the glow of an orange-pinkish setting sun as a backdrop. An extraordinary Thursday evening by any measure.

Cheery Courtney makes the best cuppa!
27 GALLERY ST CAFÉ: I’m grateful to Courtney at 27Gallery Street Café who makes the best coffee in town, delivered with the warmest smile. The space usually has walls adorned with artwork, boasts a small but satisfying menu each day, and a local clientele as friendly as you’ll get.

Bet these sheep are glad they're not outside the butcher!

STREET ART: Stone and metal installation artwork down the middle of Brolga Street reminded me a little of Wagga Wagga in terms of the innovative public art they have on display in Quilpie. Congrats to the artist and the local council and those who sponsored the work, it adds much to the character of the town.


QUILPIE HERITAGE INN: I’m on the road a lot, and I need my creature comforts to sleep well and get on with my work the next day. A big shout out of thanks to Rob McConachy (above) who runs the Quilpie Heritage Inn. For a city-slicker like me relying heavily on access to the internet to work while traveling, I’m grateful for Rob’s extra efforts to set me up early morning with wifi so I could get some work done before we hit Noccundra and there was no access at all.

Best shandy ever at the Imperial Hotel, Quilpie

IMPERIAL HOTEL/MOTEL: I’m not a beer drinker by any means but I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed an ice cold shandy at the local pub in Quilpie, sharing the space with their own version of Red Dog (only less red in colour) and friendly locals. Thanks to the barmaid who introduced me to Great Northern Beer for the first time, and to the restaurant staff who prepared one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. Kudos to you all.

Probably the least hospitable thing in town...

Thursday, October 17, 2013

I'm grateful for beautiful Brisbane eateries... but my waist isn't...

In recent weeks with my broken toe hindering my exercise routine (I haven’t been able to run since August23) I have gained weight. But as I was writing this, I came to realize it’s not just about my training, it’s about my eating! The rule is we need to expel more energy than we intake and I simply haven’t been doing that… as you’ll see! But boy have I had fun investing my newer, bigger girth J

Here’s just some of my favourite dining experiences of late, all places I recommend you try, some I have already been to many times.

Atmosphere, fab food and a great view at Popolo!

POPOLO: Given the number of times I’ve eaten at Popolo Kitchen and Bar   since arriving in April, it’s fairly obvious this Italian restaurant at River Quay is one of my favourite places in Brisbane. Most recently I was fortunate to get the last table available on the night of Riverfire. After struggling through what seemed like trillions of people – and why take kids in prams? – it was with sheer relief I sat down to the ultimate view of the action. It’s fair to say that my cousin Bernardine and I had the perfect view of the best fireworks Brisbane puts on. [I spent New Years Eve at Aquitaine and the fireworks were fairly underwhelming and no, that’s not my Sydney Harbor bias talking!).

 Perfect view for all the Riverfire action...
What I love about Popolos goes beyond the stunning view over the river to the city landscape; it’s the yummy cocktails, and the divine menu – I recommend the arrancini balls and the dessert platter with basil ice-cream. Added to this is the high quality but easy going personal service by the young, energetic, eager to please waitresses. I’d poach them for my own restaurant if I had one. So for a fab food, service, view and ambiance then head to Popolos. It’s the perfect setting for a romantic dinner, a girls night out, or if you want to impress an out-of-towner!

 Try to Cosmopolitan at Popolo - we did!

THE COVE: The Cove  is an oyster bar and I’m a big fan of the pre-dinner drink and love a glass or two of bubbles at The Cove where I can sip some sparkling and soak up the city skyline as well. The pic at the top of this blog was taken while perched on a stool, contemplating life while waiting for my friend to arrive. Not too shabby eh?

THE JETTY: The Jetty  sits between The Cove and Popolos and while I thought it slightly more pretentious and the delivery of our sides incredibly slow (were they peeling the potatoes for the fires?), the location and my cooked-to-order very well-done steak (read: cremated) made for an appreciative night out with friends Cathy Reid and Adela Blair whom have both blogged for me here recently.

GOMA CAFÉ: Possibly one of the most peaceful, breezy places to meet up with friends in Brisbane. Even when the cyclists are there early morning on the weekend the GOMA Café sits under a tree canopy near the Karilpa bridge. calm. I’ve had meetings, meltdowns and plenty of bowls of fries at this riverfront venue. It has a smaller menu (go the duck salad) but less people than the State Library Café and the waiter is as cheeky as the ibis that jump on the tables. It’s one of the places I’ll miss when I leave Brisbane shortly.

Sunday at Jade Buddha - the place to be!
JADE BUDDHA:  As I’ve been living a bit of a holiday lifestyle while here in Brisbane, Sunday means I’m usually looking for somewhere to chill out after Saturday night and catch up with the girls. One spot that I’ve found that is deceptive in terms of weather – that is you can’t feel the searing heat while there – is Jade Buddha at Eagle Street Pier. They have a great ala carte menu and cocktail specials – but I recommend the Sensual Sunday bbq between 2pm-5.30pm where $10 will buy you 1/2 Moreton Bay bug, prawns and fish skewer or $15 gets you the or surf’n’turf. Great meal, cheap price. Grab your girlfriends, like I did and sit, eat, be cool and merry!

A cool bubbly and a cooling breeze at the Powerhouse

THE POWERHOUSE: Similarly, head to the Powerhouse on Sunday, Grab a drink at Bar Alto and sit upstairs on the balcony. You may just feel a breeze you didn’t think possible, given the stifling heat you may have just left at the door. Yes I am speaking from experience. I was surprised the day we went, given we cursed the humidity on the way there. But, we grabbed a glass of bubbles and chilled alongside other patrons doing the same, and then headed downstairs to Watt, where unfortunately the restaurant service was confusing and questionable and didn’t match the friendly service of bar staff inside. Pity really, it’s a great spot to meet before or after a show, or just because.

Happy about a cool breeze on the deck at the Powerhouse...

EMPORIUM: I don’t mind a bit of Chinese and readers of this blog know that salt’n’pepper squid is on my ‘last supper’ menu. So I was pleased to venture to Emporium recently following my TEDx appearance. A busy restaurant in Stanley Street it’s advisable to book on a Saturday night, and as it was during Brisbane Festival there was atmosphere aplenty! Service friendly, but it’s fair to say much of dinner conversation was around the appalling planning done along both sides of the riverfront where patrons have to leave restaurants and use public toilets – and on the night we were there they were closed! No doubt a bloke did this planning!

SIAM SAMRAM: Siam Samram upmarket Thai restaurant is nestled into the front corner of the The Markets West End. Fairy lights give a romantic atmosphere, service is professional and unobtrusive and the food is quality – highlight for me the sesame and prawn toast, something I hadn’t indulged in for a very long time. Motto: Don’t be fooled by restaurants that are attached to shopping centres and face car parks, they could well be a gem like Siam. [My only gripe, as with most of dining out in Brisbane – there’s no loos in the restaurant, and one must go under into the car park and use public toilets.]

CHOP CHOP CHANG’s: One of the newest additions on Boundary Street, Chop Chop Chang’s  pan-Asian restaurant has a huge, bright yellow sign that captured my attention immediately, and I immediatwly want to go there. The perfect mid-week spot to dine after work, we were seated quickly, and aside from the waitress suggesting I choose my food before choosing my wine – listen lady, I know what I want to drink and I know what I want to eat so please just take the order – the dining experience was fantastic. Foods to die for include: salt’n’pepper cuttlefish, Chang Mai chicken curry and caramalised pork. The man in charge was friendly, the outfit new and roomy and our window seat gave us the chance to people watch as well. Definitely add it to your West End eating experience.

JAKARATA: WOW! One if the best dining experiences mid-week I’ve had in Brisbane. Jackarta  in Newfarm does a fantastic $22 banquet (loved the Balinese chicken, gado-gado and beef rending!). And we all left full. It’s licenced and BYO with a bottlo next door so you can expect a great night out for under $30. [Again, loos in the car park also!]

 Jakarta is the perfect setting for a birthday or book discussion!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Adele Blair - the personal concierge - is grateful!

Adele Blair is the Director of Blair Lifestyle and we met as part of the Women in Focus conference in Port Douglas recently. What was interesting about our first words on the shuttle from Cairns Airport was that we had a mutual friend in common. I have to ask: what’s the chance of two-degrees of separation when only 140 women from around the country have been invited to attend one event? It was simply meant to be. And today Adele is joining my gratefulness blog with some awesome gratefuls of her own. For me today, I am grateful that while we didn’t have a chance to chat at our mutual friend’s 50th a few months ago, Tropical North Queensland brought us together to share what we have in common.

Adele says: I am grateful that ……

….. I have such an amazingly supportive Partner (above), he provides me with the freedom to challenge myself and to push the envelope. No. 1 Fan J

….. I have health.  Last year I lost one of my dearest friends to Breast Cancer.  After her passing I felt guilty that I had not been there for her enough, and that I didn’t look after myself well enough either. To honour her and to create a healthy lifestyle for myself I set a running challenge, I continued to run 10kms events until I raised $5,000 for the Wesley Research Institute.  I am so grateful I could do that for us both.

Running in honour of late friend, wife and mother...

…. I have wonderful friends; having your own personal cheer squad support you in any endeavour is heart-warming.

… I was invited to attend the WIF conference.  To be invited was such a surprise an honour.   I had “heard” about the conference and the consistent feedback from those who had attended was “life changing”, so naturally I was very grateful to be included.

…… I was among such a supportive group of women (and a few men).  I learned that I should not compare my Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20, we are all at different stages of the same journey of entrepreneurship.

…… for the many wonderful and meaningful connections I have made since commencing my business.  Being able to develop these relationships has provided me with incredible support and encouragement in all aspects of my life, and some people I am now very happy to call personal friends, along the way.

…. my persistence (I like to call it subtle stalking or just downright stubbornness) have led to some amazing opportunities which have been life changing.

I am grateful …. everyday.  We have a gratitude jar in our office – when anyone is having a crappy day, we have to write one thing we are grateful for and put it in the jar.  At the end of the year we open the jar and remind ourselves how wonderful the year has been.

If you'd like to know more about Adele and her fabulous work, check out her website, follow her on Twitter!  And LIKE her on Facebook