Month: August 2016

Writing as Salvation | Byron Writers Festival 2016

The smell of menthol wafts from the sodden woodchips lying in the muddy grass. You can’t escape the wet, it’s coming up through the soles of boots, and down from the heavens. If the punters at a writers festival needed another reason to stay indoors and read books, the weather at this year’s Byron Writers Festival would’ve been a good one. Thumbs up then, to the record number of attendees at the event, adorned with raincoats and gumboots, scarves and beanies, braving the latter stages of a mighty low-pressure system hovering just off the coast. I spent a lot of the festival in volunteer mode, fundraising for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation, rattling the can and handing out brochures. It was my virgin volunteer experience, and I absolutely loved it! You should’ve seen me, smiling away, wedging myself into people’s conversations with the utmost charm and enthusiasm. The foundation has been the official charity of the festival for the past three years, and it was heartening to see so many people keen to donate their leftover …

The Buckleys | Musicians

Musical talent runs deep in the Buckley family. Mick, Sharon and their four youngest children have recently returned from the USA, where their family band, The Buckleys, played shows in Nashville, wrote songs with Grammy-nominated country music songwriters, and met with record labels. They played at the famous Bluebird Café, on the same stage where Bob Dylan and Taylor Swift have trodden. “For them to get invited to play there, that was cool, man,” says Mick. Sisters Sarah and Molly are out in front on guitar, mandolin, ganjo and vocals, while brother, Lachlan, plays bass and dad, Mick, keeps time on the kit. “We’ve been around instruments our whole life,” says Molly. “We’ve always been writing songs,” ads Sarah. The US trip was a dream come true for the girls, who love country music. “When I was 12 years old, I was going to get to Nashville by the time I was 16,” says Sarah. “So everything in the last 4 years has been leading up to that.” Lachlan prefers ‘70s and ‘80s rock and …

Thomas Rehbach | Educator, Carer, Hitchhiker

Thomas Rehbach has been a preschool educator, an administrator, a respite carer, a teacher, a courier, a soccer coach and referee. He’s lived in the area long enough to see kids he’s taught now becoming parents and teachers themselves. Tom was born in Australia to German parents and grew up in Rosehill. At age 9, Tom and his brother went to live at Dunmore House, a boys’ home in Pendle Hill. “We got into enough trouble that we had a choice to go to one of two boys homes,” Tom says. It’s a time he remembers favourably, being part of a large family unit with children of all ages. “I think that was the best thing that ever happened to us. I don’t hold any animosity towards my mum for making that choice.” After hitchhiking from Sydney to Cairns a few times in the early 1980s, Tom came back to the Northern Rivers and never left. He met his partner, Gail, through Clunes Preschool when they both had sons who were attending. The couple live …