Year: 2015

David Meldrum | Paediatrician

Paediatrician, David Meldrum, initially studied engineering at university, but left halfway through his degree. “I couldn’t stand it, quite frankly the maths was beyond me!” he exclaims, sitting in his office in Lismore Base Hospital. After a break working and travelling, David thought he’d give medicine a try, and hasn’t looked back. After finishing his medical degree in Melbourne, where he grew up, David took a year off to travel in Australia and overseas. He settled in Sydney when he returned, and there met his wife, Kim, who had also just been travelling the globe. It was 1996 and Kim had recently emigrated from England. The two met at a party and immediately hit it off, swapped suitcase stories, and it turned out they’d been to a lot of the same places, right down to both having stayed with the same family in the same yurt in a remote village in western China. David, Kim and their two boys, Ross, now 10, and Connor, almost 12, moved to Eureka in 2008 after David got a …

Camping with kids. Why do I even bother?

I’ve just recovered from our family’s most recent 36-hour, self-inflicted sanity test. Sometimes it’s called camping. I’m seriously thinking about re-popularising the literal description of this hobby, where it shall once again be known as ‘making camp’. Unless you have as many holidays as a private-school teacher, your trip will probably be so short that you will actually spend more time planning your trip, packing for it, and erecting the blasted tent than you will spend enjoying the company of your family or your see-through polyester abode. And if you have kids, that ratio goes off the scale. Plus, don’t forget that if you, like me, decide to pack up your tent in the middle of a lightning and rain storm then you need to factor in an extra day or two to unpack, dry, clean out and re-pack all of your belongings once you come home. ‘Un-making camp’, you could say. Now, if you’re one of those childless, van-owning free spirits who just grabs a book and a tray of sausages and sets off …

Micheal Connor | Woodworker, Luthier, Toolmaker

Micheal Connor doesn’t do things half-heartedly. “If you want to build a bit of furniture you want to make sure it’s going to be here in 100 years”, he says. A part-time woodworker, toolmaker and luthier, Micheal is fastidious about getting his designs right, spending time testing out his prototypes and making sure every component meets his high standards. Consequently, some of his projects have taken him a long time. “It’s the anti-Ikea furniture”, he says proudly. Micheal and his wife, Sue, live on 7.5 acres in Corndale, and their home boasts the fruits of Micheal’s carpentry skills. The dining tables, dining chairs, sofa, raised flowerbeds, pitched roof of the patio are all carefully designed and made. Even the outdoor chairs we are sitting in are thoughtfully crafted prototypes, made with hinged backrests which adjust to whether you are sitting straight up eating lunch or leaning back loosening your belt buckle afterwards.  I notice there are only two of this kind, though. “One of these days I’ll make some more”, he says, “but I’ve got …

The Waifs @ Bangalow A & I Hall

It had been a long time between drinks for me, since the last time I saw The Waifs was in 2009. That night they played at the beautiful Bangalow A & I Hall, with its walls and ceilings covered in pressed tin reliefs, and its flat, open floor worn smooth from a century of gathering. Last night, the same band in the same venue brought back memories of that first magical night, the relaxed crowd milling around, finding their spot, chatting as they carry their eskys and wine bottles, waiting for the first act to come on stage. This time Mia Dyson is the opener, brandishing her vanilla icecream-coloured Tone Deluxe Standard, a guitar built by her father. She takes to the stage and a few people mutter, asking who she is. The rest of us are tuning our ears to her soulful, heavy vocals and emotional electric blues, instantly recognisable if you’ve ever heard any of her music In the hot hall, though, without her band backing her as she revs up for each …

An Ode To Moving House

The pitfalls of renting are many and varied. From not having the long-term stability of living in one place year after year, to constantly being at the whim of landlords’ decisions to increase rents, to not being able to hang your mirror in a spot where you can actually see your head and your body at the same time. There are some upsides, like not being responsible for plumbing repairs or tree removal, but that about covers it. Aside from property, most other assets actually depreciate over time. That new car you just bought will be worth half what you paid for it in just 2 years, your office photocopier worth a little less with each tax return. Yet year after year, renters find themselves paying more each week for what is essentially an older, more worn out version of the building where they eat, sleep and do laundry. As sure as the sun rises, renters know one day they will have to move out. Unable to renew our 12-month lease, we had been put …

Graeme and Jen Stockdale | The Stockpot Kitchen

A tall man with a wiry beard and a flat cap greets me in the kitchen of the Bangalow Bowling Club. It’s only 10.00am but already he’s got a huge pot of pork belly on the stove. This is Graeme Stockdale, one half of the brains behind catering and restaurant team, The Stockpot Kitchen. Graeme and his wife, Jen, started their catering company after Graeme lost his job as head chef at Liliana’s Café when it closed last year. “I’d never had a job pulled out from under me before”, Graeme says earnestly. It’s only a moment, though, before he’s smiling again, resolute about their decision to go it alone. “Even if it falls on its arse and ruins me at least I’ve tried it!” When they first started The Stockpot Kitchen, Graeme says the goal was that after one year it would be his full-time job. In serendipitous timing, in July this year Graeme and Jen took up permanent residence in the Bangalow Bowling Club, serving their hearty, home-style fare for dinner Tuesday to …

Young Minds, Old News

Noah Rosenberg, Marc Fennell, Erik Jensen. These guys are the smooth forehead on the fresh face of journalism in the digital age. Not yet creased by wrinkles, leaning forward in their chairs, they chatter like excited schoolboys as they discuss how they’re writing their own rules and forging ahead in the post-print era. With newsrooms short on time and traditional media outlets cutting budgets, these three storytellers have found ways to report what they think is important in ways that consumers think are engaging. Rosenberg, Fennell and Jensen were among the speakers at the recent Byron Bay Writers Festival examining the tension between old media formats like newspaper and radio, and the new platforms of social media, websites and podcasting. Can they all co-exist? Should they? In the bright, Byron Bay morning light, New York City resident, Noah Rosenberg, is in conversation with Jacqui Park, Chief Executive of the Walkley Foundation. Rosenberg is the founder of Narrative.ly, a website dedicated to telling human stories, mostly in the shape of long-form articles, but also video and …

Peggy Young | Clunes

“There’s not a lot to tell about my family, I don’t think”, says Peggy, modestly. “Thanks very much!” replies Malcolm, her eldest surviving son. A sheepish smile emerges on Peggy’s face. “Well, there is a little bit to tell.” We are sitting in Margaret “Peggy” Young’s living room on a chilly winter day in Clunes, the reverse-cycle air-conditioner blasting welcome warm air over the three of us. “My great grandfather’s name was Hely,” Peggy begins. “His father, Frederick Augustus Hely, came out in 1823 to be principal superintendent of convicts.” The tale goes that Peggy’s great grandfather, Hovenden Hely, just an infant on the boat trip, became an explorer who accompanied Ludwig Leichhardt on his second expedition through Queensland. “They clashed. So Hovenden was in Leichhardt’s bad books. But Hovenden didn’t think much of Leichhardt either,” Peggy jokes. When Leichhardt set off for a third time in 1848 and vanished with his entire party somewhere west of the Darling Downs, Hovenden led the expedition to search for them. “So that’s my claim to fame.” Peggy …

Julie Casey | Milliner

The idea of leaving her career in banking had been floating around in Julie Casey’s head for some time. More time with her only son, Ben, and a change of direction were top of her list. Looking for something to do from home, Julie began testing the waters with a few millinery courses in Melbourne, the epicentre of the trade in Australia. She had begun to enjoy her new creative outlet, but it was a family accident eight years ago that finally forced her hand and cemented her decision. Aged seven and a half, Ben’s right foot got run over by the family’s ride on mower. It had to be amputated, and a prosthetic limb put in its place. Julie took three months’ leave to care for Ben and her mind was made up. “I said, ‘yep, that’s it.’ I wanted to be at home. It’s only a short time that your kids are with you, and I’ve only got one.” Growing up in Byron Bay, Julie and her husband, Paul, met at high school …

Back In My Good Books: A Story About Discovering Irish Authors In Cyberspace

I have previously written about my sense of malaise at not being able to remember what I was supposed to look up online, and about being underwhelmed by the web when I use my phone instead of my computer. I was annoyed with myself that my web surfing had been reduced to quick scrolls with a finger instead of delving down rabbit holes of wonder, and I was always being distracted by what was coming at me via email and various social media channels. My fault entirely, but still hard to get over. To overcome this, I have been consciously trying to go directly to webpages which I love, or blogs which make me happy, to see what’s happening there. That way I get to see stuff I am choosing to see, rather than the stuff choosing to see me (I’m looking at you, facebook). Recently I found this post on one of my favourite sites, Meet Me At Mikes, and it took my eye because of the reference to a podcast with the children’s …