Hillscene 34 - Winter 2019

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nm d enviro n a e r u cult munity,


Issue 34, 2019

Winter The hillscene is created in partnership with Burrinja

a time for reflection


facebook: The Hillscene

website: www.hillscene.com.au

blog: hillsceneblog.wordpress.com

Welcome to Winter ... it’s a time for reflection ... I have a favourite poet, his name is John O’Donohue; he was an incredible Irish thinker and feeler. And he spoke eloquently of the uniqueness of Winter, and not just the external expression of this season, but also how it is internalised within us all. He said, “Sometimes, the period of greatest deepening is the Winter time. When the colours are gone, when your nature has retreated inside itself because it’s cold and sore. And somehow, often, in that darkness an incredible springtime is being prepared.” And I would like to add, that sometimes, Winter can feel like something to be endured. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

I hope that the poems sprinkled throughout this edition can be like seeds for your heart; to help you find the beauty rooted in the earth and remember the little joys that can only ever sprout and unfurl in this cosying, wood-fire season. And I hope the articles about hiking and dancing and the loss of animals and the gaining of freedom and really listening and really watching and domestic juggling and interstellar gaming inspire you into thought and action; that they deepen your connection to the earth, to yourself; to others, and to this beautiful community in the Hills. Yours with mittens on,


John Cranmer

© Copyright, August 2019. Guest Editor and Designer: Cameron Semmens. Front and back cover photos: Ramak Bamzar. Editorial Committee: Adriana Alvarez and Toni Main. Contributors: Cameron Semmens, Adriana Alvarez , Toni Main, Bluzel Field, Tiffany Morris-North, Gülsen Özer, Lisa Ford, Melanie Clempson, Tadji Ulrich, Ben Guerrine and all the gifted, generous poets! For submission and advertising enquiries email: hillscene@westnet.com.au

With red-gold frost-light This hope-filled day emerges Intimate River

Words: Adriana Alvarez. Photos of artist: Cathy Ronalds. Photographic artworks: Ramak Bamzar.

Ramak Bamzar!


t the Open Studios exhibition earlier this year one particular work caught my eye. It was a striking portrait of a woman looking out at the audience. In her hands is a bowl which looks a little like an inverted earth cradling a foetus. Her alabaster skin is luminous but her eyes look dark and sad, like she’s lost something. It is reminiscent of a Baroque painting with it’s dark tones and intense gaze but it’s modern clothes, smooth surface and contemporary theme makes you wonder if it’s a painting or a photograph or something in between.

This is the work of Ramak Bamzar, an Iranian born artist who now calls the hills home. Her work is generally portraits of women. Focusing on their inner journey, not just their outer beauty. In m Iran, e where she did a Bachelor of Art in photography 20up! years ago, she couldn’t take photos of women in this way. It was only when she moved to Australia in 2010 she was able to be more open and express herself with photography the way she really wanted to. That’s when she started creating conceptual and surreal photography with women’s


bodies. “Because I think all of us have natural beauty but the way we’re showing that is different. It’s not just [about] sexuality,” says Ramak. The eyes are particularly important in Ramak’s portraits. She often enlarges them in Photoshop, where she manipulates her photos. For her they are what shows all the expression and emotions. For Ramak making art is about telling a story. For example the portrait in Open Studios ‘A sense of silence’ is about the female journey of pregnancy and motherhood. The image came to her after she had a miscarriage, a common experience for many women but it’s one that people generally don’t talk about. Although Ramak explains, that this portrait is not just about her personal feelings of loss; it’s depth comes from trying to express a universal emotion, of something that is missing. Ramak says it’s about “a journey that women go through. Like pregnancy, having kids and even after that. So much... and the feedback I got from that image was interesting. Some people really didn’t like it because, it’s a sad image, it’s a really

She has done many series with women, telling a story that is not the typical ideal of a woman. While Ramak doesn’t consider herself an extreme person she concedes that her images have feminist overtones and that she is fighting for women’s rights. Subverting the images we often see in the media and on TV showing women as beautiful with perfect bodies. But these outer images we present don’t show the full picture. Many of her images are set in nature and invoke a dreamlike quality. Ramak’s interest in dreams, and an emotional inner life makes for a unique vision. ‘Earth Bound’ is a one such unique story she shows me on her website which encompasses all these ideas. It’s a series of photographs using a ‘chubby lady’ as a fairy. Ramak had seen photos of this model before and was surprised that they were all focusing on her sexuality, having her on a beach in bikinis for example. She felt this wasn’t right for her. So she thought of a different story. One of a

solitary, sometimes melancholy fairy, smoking, listening to music on headphones and dying her hair as she contemplates nature. The wings were added later as she couldn’t find wings that she liked. The natural landscape is impossibly beautiful and yet the fairy seems a little sad and lonely. Ramak admits that many of her portraits seem quite sad. Ramak believes there’s a dark side inside us which is not often shown. Having dealt with depression she knows that this dark side is something that people often keep hidden, choosing instead to put on a happy face. “I love to show the other part of people, like I know in society we can be really good, be nice, wearing our make-up and looking really good and happy but that’s not the reality, the reality is something else.” Using herself as a subject is more from practicality than a from a desire to tell her own story. For example, when she was camping she could just go down to the lake’s edge and take an early morning photo without having to find a model. Since some emotions, feelings and dreams are not only personal, they are universally felt, the model is not as important as the idea. Looking around Ramak’s lovely home, set in a beautiful part of the hills, it’s hard to image that dark side that Ramak talks about. Perhaps her work encompasses the same contradiction. Beauty, depth and sadness all mixed in together, women are complicated creatures full of mixed emotions, dark edges, deep sensitivity and a secret inner life. It makes me think of a statement Ramak made about the reason they left Iran and came to Australia which perhaps sums up her work. “The most important thing for me is that we really want to be ourselves”. Something, possibly, we are all searching for – the freedom to be ourselves. www.ramakbamzar.com.au

Fotoula Reynolds

sad image and some people they really love it and it wasn’t something in between.” She intends to make her work in series’, since a series can tell a story in a more powerful way than just a single image.

To know of flowers and faery powers one must enter gardens in the rain Silence sings by the bank of a small creek it never just supposes but simply brings you home again

Don’t stop dancing Words: Toni Main

Photo: Australian dance icon Elizabeth Dalman, 80 years of age, performing Mirror Image at the Experimental Theater in Taipeiin 2014, courtesy of Dancecology.


outhful and athletic bodies are all well and good, but senior dancers bring refinement, emotional depth and a wealth of lived experience to the stage.

reaction to unprecedented inquiries about seniors’ dance programs and recommendations for dance teachers with suitable experience and qualifications.

In July 2019, Cardina Shire Council in partnership with Creative Victoria will create a performance group for people over 55 years of age. Comprised of a series of facilitated morning sessions participants will come together to move, share ideas and help shape the beginnings of a dance performance.

The research shows that participation in ongoing dance programs improves health outcomes for older individuals. It can reduce the risk of dementia, improve balance, core strength and coordination leading to a reduction in falls, it increases social connectedness, mental health and well-being, while improving physical condition and mental acuity.

This workshop series has been designed and presented in response to a national study from Ausdance Victoria titled Leading and Teaching Dance to Ageing Populations. Between November 2017- February 2018 Ausdance Victoria undertook research into the breadth and prevalence of dance programs delivered specifically for older people in Australia. The research has been a 6

This local workshop series led by professional dance artist Gulsen Ozer will focus on the expressive possibilities of dance. The sessions will include a gentile warm up, activities to stimulate the body and mind and a morning tea break. The active sessions will include standing and seated movement activities for all abilities.

The program will be rounded out with a short performance presentation. The project comes in the form of a contemporary dance residency and weekly sessions will focus on developing dance technique and improvisational and performance skills mainly within a contemporary context. It is anticipated that the group will consists of people from a variety of dancing backgrounds and styles that will influence workshop content and choreography. “Participants might just like watching dance but have never tried it for themselves. All are welcome.” says Ms Gulsen Ozer, project facilitator. The sessions are designed to develop each individual’s skills using a variety of creative contemporary dance styles in a fun and supportive environment. It is also an opportunity for participants to meet and socialise with other like-minded people whilst gaining the physical and mental health benefits associated with dance activities. “Our aim is to provide a friendly but focused atmosphere and a satisfying and enjoyable experience that gives a boost to participants’ self-esteem through the process of creative expression. A passion for dance doesn’t diminish with age” – Ms Ozer, project facilitator. Gülsen Özer is a dancer and choreographer living in Upper Beaconsfield. Working in the independent dance sector for over a decade,

Gulsen has created work in a variety of contexts; from small ensemble contemporary dance works to large-scale community dance events. Her work has been presented at Malthouse Theatre, Dancehouse, Arts House and Theatre Works in Melbourne and Tarrawarra Museum of Art and the Yarra Ranges Museum of Art. In 2018 Gulsen collaborated with members of the Lilydale Seniors Citizens community to development a dance project reflecting on memories of dance in the region called ‘This is where it happened.’ WHAT: Standing and seated active sessions leading to a short performance WHEN: Every Wednesday from 10.00 to 12.00 during term time (July 17 till Nov 13 with a single performance at end of Nov) WHO: Open to men and women over 55 who live in Cardinia Shire, no experience necessary, everyone welcome! WHERE: Koo Wee Rup Community Centre, 215-235 Rossiter Road, Koo Wee Rup, Vict 3981 And it’s FREE, just register your interest via email: F.Almeida@cardinia.vic.gov.au Proudly supported by Creative Victoria through their Creative Suburbs funding initiative and Cardina Shire Council.

Somewhere between denial and despair...

HOPE Words: Lisa Ford


tep out of your Hills house on a chill winter evening. Breathe in satisfying lungfuls of earthy, eucalyptus-soaked fresh air. Gaze upwards to the crystal-clear inky night sky, losing yourself in its glittering Milky Way. Breathe out. Return to earth and spy a tawny frogmouth swooping for its dinner from a nearby gum tree. Hear brush tail possums screeching in the distance, settling their usual marsupial disputes for home, food and family. Step back inside your own warm home, feeling that all is right with the world. We are blessed to reside in the Hills; a place of fresh air, trees, fertile soil, creeks, wildlife and abundant nature.


Yet we are also aware of our environmental challenges; the devastation of invasive introduced species such as weeds, foxes and cats, the increasing urban pressure for middle-density concreting of our forest villages, the consequent loss of our tree canopy, pollution, degradation of our

waterways, and the threats from all of these to the survival of our native flora and fauna such as the platypus, lyrebird and wombat. We are also aware of the broader dramatic backdrop to these challenges; the biggest bogey on our environmental horizon, climate change, with its increased risks of bushfire, flood, food shortage, species loss and habitat loss. Yet somehow, we still seemed unprepared for the real impact of these challenges to be called out in the recent UN report on biodiversity loss; namely, that 1 million species are now at risk of extinction. To put that into context, this looming loss currently threatens not only half of all known species on the planet, but also human survival, with clean air, clean water and food all at risk. In short, we are in the midst of the Earth’s sixth mass extinction event, and we humans are both

its cause, but will also be among its many victims. This is not easy stuff to take in, and in the scale of our short human living memory of growth and plenty, perhaps it is almost impossible to imagine. Perhaps it is this failure of imagination that leads so many of us to do like the ostrich: simply pop our heads into a metaphorical hole, distract ourselves with individual concerns, and hope against all mounting evidence that the scientists are wrong about climate change, wrong about mass extinction, or that at least we personally won’t be around to endure the predicted environmental holocaust. This is denial. Perhaps this response is also tinged with despair, that nothing can or will be done. Al Gore identified both responses, denial and despair, in his 2006 climate change call-toaction film, An Inconvenient Truth. Yet importantly for us, Al Gore also identified a place somewhere between denial and despair, where we can take positive action to address climate change. He called it hope, and he invited us to embrace it. He was right – all of us can still take hopeful actions. Many Hills people already embrace hopeful environmental actions: they join local landcare groups, powder wombats with mange, pull weeds instead of using Roundup, count platypus and lyrebirds, keep their pets in at night, switched to LED lights, grow organic vegetables, use solar power, cycle or take public transport to work, keep a water tank, recycle, compost, plant native flora to attract local birds and insects, buy secondhand and more. This is all laudable, and every single action matters.

Victoria Streeton-Cook

I admit to wondering sometimes, though, as I read the latest bad news, is it enough? Is it enough just to look after my own little patch,

and to trust that others elsewhere will look after the rest? Given history to date, this hope may be misplaced. There is a bigger picture at stake beyond the Hills. So how can we Hills people take hopeful action as Australians and as citizens of the world, beyond our own backyards? I am thinking of hopeful, next level actions, such as: educate yourself by reading books and articles so you better understand the causes and solutions; put your superannuation into green funds so you are not inadvertently funding the fossil fuel industry; ditto check with whom your bank and your energy company do business and be prepared to change them; buy one of the new generation electric vehicles now hitting the market (e-bike or car) and back it up with a solar-connected lithium battery at home; talk to friends, family, colleagues and neighbours about climate change; join an online environmental interest group who can join the dots and further the cause across cities, countries and the world with your help; vote for people and parties who prioritise the environment, or go one better and join a political party to influence it for good. These actions are based on being informed, putting your money where your mouth is and influencing the governments and industries who make the big decisions which affect the environment. I reckon if we could all take these hopeful next level actions, we might just be able to pull our heads out of the denialdespair ostrich hole, take a really good hard look at what’s going on around us, and have a bigger, better impact on our world. And if you need some more inspiration about hopeful next level actions, check out Damon Gameau’s recent film 2040 and join the regeneration.

Rain barrages the coarse aluminium roof. Yet – despite this constant besiegement ringing in my ear, and the dark, intimidating, pervasive world beyond the window, I am safe; circumvallated by a barrier of woven wool.

Hike it up!


iving in the Dandenong Ranges you would imagine that a walk in the bush is a regular outing for locals to undertake. But often our busy lives mean that we just don’t get around to it, or we end up taking the well trodden path of our regular spots and we eventually get a bit bored. That’s where a company like Hiked can help you get in touch with nature again. For Kate Southall, the founder of Hiked, creating this business was a way to make her love and passion for hiking, fitness and health, a life choice. “I wanted to provide packages for the community that helped them to reconnect with community and nature,” says Kate.


Their aim is to motivate the community to safely achieve a healthy mind and healthy body. They are not a traditional fitness organisation. Instead their mission is to create membership packages that provide adventure, outdoor fitness that includes hiking the best trails, health services and

Words: Adriana Alvarez

mindfulness... all this while caring for the world around us. They are the only hiking and fitness company that offers a membership option. Hiked is a licensed tour operator and activity provider that offers a wide range of appropriate, organised recreation activities on public land. These organised recreation opportunities are conducted across varied environments, ranging from remote national parks to metropolitan parks close to Melbourne. Hiked offers more hikes per week than any other hiking company in Victoria. They offer midweek, weekend, interstate and overseas adventures yearly. Being a local business, they offer hikes in the Dandenong Ranges because the hills “offers so many adventures, beauty, wellness and health to the mind and to the body,” says Kate. “There are literally hundreds of trails to explore.” They also offer overnight hiking,

camping, personal and group training, as well as adventure trips, volunteer trips around the world, health coaching and nutritional consultation. “We offer all these with our memberships to ensure an affordable and motivating way to keep fit and healthy and out on adventures,” says Kate. For example they recently did a weekend hike in Lorne with organised accomodation. Next month they plan to go on a Daylesford hiking weekend, including transportation and glamping accomodation. When I ask if anyone can join even if they aren’t very fit? “Absolutely,” is Kate’s reply. “We are a group of inclusion. Our one rule when joining a hike with Hiked is ‘we start together, we walk together we end together’. We offer ways of building confidence, fitness and understanding of hiking through our Fit to Hike programs,” says Kate. This program offers 4 one-on-one hikes with a leader prior to the customer joining a group hike. While you could go for a walk anytime by yourself, Hiked provide a professional, safe and a reliable service to others that focuses on the customer experience, injecting good humour and a spirit of fun into everything they do. With clear and thorough communication at all times, they are committed to helping their members achieve their personal goals. Their leaders are highly qualified with many years of experience and share the values of an optimistic and flexible approach to challenges and caring for people. If you’re not already convinced here are some of the benefits of hiking according to Kate which reads like a poem.

To find out more about Hiked go to www.hiked.com.au. Instagram: hiked_hiking_fitness Email: info@hiked.com.au Phone: 0456 228 660

Hiking is healthy and makes you happy. Hiking can ward off depression and makes you less stressed. and helps you improve creativity. Hiking is easy to learn and is real. Hiking is forever.


Hiking boosts memory I wake up to frost on the windows, I’m grateful to have a place called home. It’s small, but warm and full of love. As the rain patters against the windows, I’m content with my cup of tea.

Creating a landscape

Words: Cameron Semmens.


linda has an all new play space for the kids. And it’s not just a play space – it’s also an art space!There’s sand and rocks and water and slides and swings and a flying fox and ART! Why isn’t more of the world like this? And I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of the development and preparation process of Emma Jennings’ dramatic new public art sculpture for the Olinda Play Space. And that’s what I’m sharing with you here; to show you the process too! I’ve known Emma for a few years now, and I’ve always been amazed at the exquisite precision and the innate beauty that imbues all her work – and this public artwork is a perfect example of this. And it’s something that the whole Hills community can share in as well. This is what Emma has to say about it: “I really


Photos: Emma Jennings.

enjoyed designing something to suit a unique site, for people of all ages and abilities. Having spent many years at playgrounds with my own children I was very aware of making something that might be interesting not only for kids, but for the adults too. I love that the work reaches a new audience – people who might not come across my work in a gallery, being able to come back time and time again as their children grow and their experience of the site changes.” Emma’s sculptures are designed to sit in the landscape, as if emerging out of the ground like the hills in the distance. The colours and patterns are site specific, and she spent many hours designing and refining the six panels which have been etched into aluminium, made by the team at Lump Studio. And alongside Emma’s sculptures is the work of other incredibly talented local artists: beautiful

moth and butterfly mosaic installations by Jessie Yvette Journoud-Ryan; colourful collaboration by Jeanette Jennings with Sassafras and Olinda Primary School students; and extraordinary carved owls, echidnas and koalas by chainsaw artist and woodcarver Shlomit Moria. So, whether you have kids or not, go and check it out! You’ll discover how well designed pubic artwork can sit within beautiful nature and be enjoyed by young and old.

Maroulla Radisavic

The Olinda Play Space sits on top of the hill at the old Olinda Golf Course, with views to Silvan dam in the valley below and the hills of the Yarra Ranges beyond. Winter, my love... your rain are my tears of joy your snowflakes are the softness of my heart I convert your coldness into loving verses a song been sung by many lovers

Managing the juggle


t’s time in this Hills girl’s life to explore ‘The Juggle’. Sure, at 40+GST, I have come to this a little later than most. I put this down to my non-planning, let life happen as it ought type philosophy. Not so much a philosophy, perhaps, as just thoughtlessness. I really don’t plan ahead. Ever. For anything. I know that there are people out there who grow up with a firm idea of how they would like their life to go. They tell their careers teacher in year 10 that they have always wanted to be something, the careers officer points them in the right direction re studies, apprenticeships, work experience et al. They plan their wedding from the age of 5, down to the stitches on the frock or bow tie, and the centrepieces on the tables. The Partner will be this type of person, with that coloured hair, from this or that belief system, blah blah. They will have x amount of children, who will be called Astrid and Timothy…or something. Great. Well. That’s not me. I learned fairly quickly that often times when making a plan, certain factors can come along and scarper them. Factors such as life. Divorce. Death. Other people’s needs. Lack of money. Stuff.


Also, I did not ponder how and when I would marry, whether or not I would breed, all of that. No. All I knew for certain was that I loved

Words: Melanie Clempson

to write. I loved making stuff up. I loved making comments that made people laugh, emote, disagree or think. I knew I was good at it. I really liked it. It made me feel tremendous. When I went to my careers advisor at school in rural Gippsland, however, and told him I wanted to be an actress and writer when I grew up, he suggested I might as well tell him I wanted to be a waitress, because that’s what I would end up doing if those were my career goals. So I tried to think of something else. I floated along with the rest of my schooling with no idea what I was going to get up to after year 12. With no job skills, and no idea, I went to Uni to do an Arts degree in literature and film, as you do. I supported myself, no doubt to the delight of said careers dude, working in hospitality. From there, I was poached by a businessman with whom I had become friendly, and my career in Admin was born. Meanwhile, I had fallen in love. We had three children, when my body told me to, and they are the loves of my life. I have given myself wholly to their care and development, leaving my job and diving, clueless, into parenthood. The ‘non planning’ plan came in very, very handy at this point. Fast forward to 2019, the

Groom and offspring have all survived my care to become a family of sport crazed Hills nuts. We are balls deep into local junior AFL and Basketball. The Groom coaches and Presidents, I have committeed, volunteered and supported. I have returned to work in admin for a local domestic spare parts eBay business 15 hours per week. I ought to be happy. Life is fuller than I can keep up with, at times. I thrive within the social life provided by our evolution as a proper Hills family. Walking up the streets of Upwey, Tecoma, Belgrave, Monbulk, Kallista and The Patch, I cannot tell you the joy I experience when there is chit-chat with other locals. I feel that we have become woven into the local fabric and the warmth that comes with that is one of life’s great pleasures. And yet… the 5-year-old who wanted to be a writer and an actress when she grew up did not go anywhere. She quietly hid, tugging now and again on my brain, my soul, my need to write. She led me to Facebook, without me realising it was her way of giving me an avenue to express and reach an audience. The comments from my friends and family started to play on my mind. Maybe I did have something to offer? Maybe I had finally discovered that I really DID want to be a writer when I grew up. This epiphany, around the occasion of my 40th birthday, felt so right. The downside, of course, was that I had no idea at all how to make that happen.

Linda Harding

As happens, life did again get in the way, this time in the form of my mum suffering the end stages of Cancer from an Unknown Primary (CUP). The back and forward of hospital visits for treatment, drug trials, chemo etc were all consuming, and left little time for my actual life, let alone my creative desires. The grief that followed her death knocked me on my arse for the best part of 3 years. I don’t recommend it.

After the fog cleared, that urge, that wondering if I had something valuable to say, remained. The Groom saw it gnawing away, and bless him, he booked me a place in Catherine Deveny’s Gunna’s Writing Masterclass. The experience was invigorating. That magnificent woman gave me more than I’d anticipated. She showed me that yes, I did have something to say, and that whether anything I wrote ever saw the light of day or not, was irrelevant. What matters is that I NEED to write. I write despite myself. I watch an episode of Game of Thrones, I’ve got to pop something on Facebook about it. Have to. The stories I want to tell that whirl and weave in my thoughts have me feeling nervous excitement. What are these going to become? How will I find the opportunity to tease these ideas out? When will I be home from work, the housework done(ish), my children at school, my boss able to manage without my help, The Groom slaving away in corporate world, the dogs walked, the garden weeded? No sporting commitments, friends to support, graves to visit, family to catch up with, phone calls to make? I’ll tell you when. It’s got to be now. I cannot contain myself any longer. I look around at the wealth of creative people in my own little circle, and I see them making it happen. I see family and friends making paper flowers, painting, crocheting, spinning, landscaping, knitting. I see them tending to THEIR creative needs. I see ladies I know making a living from their expressions of creativity. I yearn to explore my own. I just need to find out how they make it work. Let the investigation begin. Not finding the answer isn’t an option anymore. It’s time for me to do what I want to do now that I’ve grown up.

I go to the hills, the high places, to feel the cut of wind and cold in frigid forest. In the icy water of a creek, I touch, with pain, the frozen stones beneath the stream. Winter’s willing victim, I do this is only for the glory of the thaw; the sweet release in warm retreat to fireside and friends; the promise that this Winter, too, will pass … and I will know the melting of the heart.

Learning to give ground Interviewer: Lisa Ford. Interviewee: Emma Taylor from the community group Giving Ground. Q. Exactly who are ‘Giving Ground’?

Q. What was your inspiration?

We’re a small bunch of local hills people. We are not affiliated to any one group, party, persuasion, denomination or political stance. We got together because we want to practise civil conversations/disagreements.

We’ve been able to find some great resources of similar projects happening globally, one being The Civil Conversations Project by the On Being team. Also, there are a couple of projects that tackle increasing loneliness in our communities by simply taking out chairs onto the streets with the banner ‘stop for a chat’. Ultimately, we looked at how we can get outside of our echo chambers, challenging us to seek out different points of view.

Q. What is your motivation?


Born out of noticing how there seems to be a culture of outrage, fake news and online trolling, we increasingly feel that we seem to have lost the art of listening across differences. We wanted to find a way to practise how we can have conversations and disagree better; holding the tension of opposing ideas, thinking and beliefs while remaining respectful, compassionate and true to our own individual voice. This follows the idea of finding some common ground and moving towards ‘the other’ – ultimately finding in the conversation the space to ‘give ground’.

Q. What has Giving Ground done to date? We decided that the social temperature in the lead-up to the recent Federal election offered an opportunity to start a conversation with other locals. So we found a spot to set up a pop-up conversation space on Main Street in Belgrave. We made a simple flyer which

we posted amongst our social groups on Facebook. Using a blackboard with a few conversation starters on it and some chairs, we arrived 9am Saturday morning to find someone who had travelled from Croydon having seen the Facebook post shared, who was interested in what we were doing. We spent 3 hours on the street conversing. There were many people intrigued by what we were doing, with people interested in stopping to chat. Some of those were really willing to talk across differences with great respect and healthy robust disagreements. For many, they wanted to know ‘who we were’, expecting us to be there with some sort of group agenda, often surprised to learn that we spoke only on behalf of ourselves as individuals. Q. What have you learned? We could have probably been a bit braver in our subject. We could have potentially been more direct in posing some bigger social questions. The people of Belgrave we met seem interested in entering into respectful challenging conversations. Q. What’s next for Giving Ground? Well it seems appropriate that in doing a couple of pre-election conversations, we should also do a follow up for post-election conversations too. This will be coming up over the winter (date TBC). We’d like to make this a more common feature of our township, creating a space for people to practise with us connecting with this type of dialogue across different ages and backgrounds.

We have started a Facebook page. Keep an eye out on when our next pop-up conversation may be happening and come along to practise the art of civil conversation.

Erica Woolgar

Q. Can anyone else get involved or find out more somewhere? Afternoon mist, shadows and pale sunlight orchestrate a polonaise of sea and sky — andante, legato – soon the call of an owl, tidal swash of the waves — moonlight sonata.

In remembrance of...


leaves fall as the season changes summer flowers become winter fallow ancient rhythms renew life again

Mary-Anne Johnson

You held an unbroken light like A brand new-ancient language Where the globe’s sunlight spun Leaves of falling russet and gold Magnanimous trees shedding words

Fotoula Reynolds

Living is to grow; autumn leaves glow gold, gleam red – old poet dying.

Joan Ray

Oh, my blue and yellow orchid! She posed for me among the autumn leaves exposing ephemeral beauty and ancient wisdom, re-incarnated year after year after year...

Maroulla Radisavic

Seasons of the Human Heart If pride does come before the Fall does that make Summer prideful? Does that make Winter humble as the fall made it insightful? Then Spring becomes complacent which soon cools to Winter’s pride, As the cycle moves to prove the ancient proverb justified. 18

Simon Camilleri

Autumn waking on Country Give thanks with the Ancients, as rising sun turns mist from Big River... to gold!

Awe-full in death primal exquisite beauty baptised by crystal dew of nature’s tears fallen leaf

Catherine M Barnard

Carolyn Vimpani

a fresh fallen leaf imprints my misted windscreen primeval footprint

Avril Bradley

Any old Autumn afternoon in Melbourne By 2.30 the day is perfect. Belated birthday coffee with a friend lemon-lime tart, girlish giggles – who says we’ve aged?

After a summer scorching a quiet calm descends Light turns amber from lower angled rays Forcing us to reflect on those last warming days Cockatoos like ancient beasts flock and forage Crumbs on the ground ready us for winter’s cottage.

Andrew Barnes

Leigh Hay

When I was younger old was ancient and grey now in the autumn of life like the leaf once green many colours are seen.

P G Baker

Emerald Star Cottages


s I drive out of Emerald and up the dirt track flanked by tall trees, I never would have known that tucked away on Stewart Road is a gorgeous collection of accommodation now known as The Emerald Star Cottages. I met with owner/manager Kylie MckellarLewis as the sun was setting behind the trees, and she took me on a personal tour of the property. Kylie is very friendly and tells me how she and her builder husband Tony, unexpectedly bought the property last year, “We live just around the corner and by chance my husband saw the place for sale. We were not the winning bidders at auction in October 2017 but as some twist of fate would have it, in March 2018 we were approached again to buy as the sale had fallen through. From late July to late November 2018 we worked tirelessly to transform this property from its fallen state, while respecting the history and character of the original buildings.”


Words: Toni Main

We start at reception, a rustic little barn with a beautifully intriguing wall made from decorative white doors. Kylie explains that they are the old wardrobes from inside the bluestone cottages originally sourced from Pirianda Gardens. “Many antiques were used to outfit the cottages, including functioning stovetops from the 1930s, but unfortunately most of the antiques were destroyed during flooding to the cottages (we still have one of the stoves).” There are five unique lodgings on the property, the most distinctive being the large hand-built mud brick cottage known as “Myrtle Loft”. Inspired by G.F Middleton, (a renowned leader in mudbrick house construction), the cottage was built by wellknown mudbrick builder Alistair Knox of Eltham and took 2 years to construct. Inside you can see that the hard work of Tony & Kylie has paid off, and the cottage looks very inviting with many modern features, but you can’t ignore the ornate stairs heading to the

loft or the large open fire place. Upstairs Kylie tells me more of the history as she points out a secret little elf-like face moulded into the mud bricks. The story goes that in 1976 a young man had a vision to find some land as a retreat from city life, to build something earthy and rustic for like-minded musicians and artists to come together to share music and ideas. For many years during the 80’s the property was carefully crafted, home to many inspiring parties and musical jam sessions. The main mudbrick cottage and its adjoining bluestone cottage were intermittently rented as accommodation for the many people that came to visit including well known playwright Louis Nowra. The cottages became known as Pumpkin House and for a time featured an Art Gallery with Devonshire teas available. Many amazing spaces were created during this time including the erection of the old style barns, the much loved fruit orchard and the chicken enclosure.

the Dandenong Ranges. Right now, yes we are an accommodation venue but in the future we may well be more than that. This beautiful property we have acquired has such diverse opportunity, it is hard to ignore.” Kylie has already started conversations with local artists and creatives, with the vision of hosting on-site artist studios and possible exhibition opportunities. In part of the tour she shares with me the “unfinished” section, with small studio sized dwellings that would be the optimal location for artists to be inspired to create surrounded by the lush vegetation. She tells me “there is still a lot of work to be done, but anything is possible…” and with Kylie and Tony on the job, I believe her. Emerald Star Cottages can be found at 10 Stewart Road, Emerald. For more information visit their website emeraldstarcottages.com.au To find out more about the architect Alistar Knox, visit his website: alistairknox.org

As we walk around the landscape of property, Kylie, a trained horticulturalist, describes the work they’ve done on the gardens. In ’76 the block was a cleared council block with little remnant vegetation left, but over the years the owner has let the native vegetation come back, especially at the rear of the block. The rare emerald star bush, the property’s namesake, can be found growing amongst the vegetation and Kylie wants to work with local conservation groups to regenerate the plant growth and support the return of local bird life.

Bella Byers

Kylie and Tony have done a lot of work to make Emerald Star Cottages what it is, but they are not finished yet, Kylie says, “We don’t just want the ordinary, we want to create a future of immersive and creative experiences to suit all that come to explore

Black and grey clouds roll over a heavy sky. Nothing but dullness, like all is a charcoal picture. Cold and dark, the thunderstorm floods the city With despair. But still, in the morning, I know there is a warmer light shining out.

Children’s cinema in The Hills! Words: Tadji Ulrich.


he Children’s International Film Festival, also known as CHIFF, is an Australian festival that brings local and international films to young film lovers. The festival debuted in 2018 and was shown at three locations across Melbourne. And in June 2019 it again returned to the hills at Cameo Cinemas in Belgrave – revealing Cameo to be not just another boring cinema. And this year, CHIFF teamed up with Little Big Shots short film festival to add in a large selection of short films made by both kids and adults. Little Big Shots is the largest short film festival for kids in the Southern Hemisphere. The festival was also showed in 2 other cinemas in Melbourne and an all new venue in Sydney. The Cameo Cinemas in Belgrave has always been a part of the Hills’ active, artistic community, providing a hub for film that feels much homelier when compared to usual franchise-owned cinemas. Independent cinema has always been a big part of supporting independent film that would not have an opportunity anywhere else. As an entrant of film festivals that celebrate films made both FOR kids and BY kids, I can say that they are an excellent way of showcasing films to larger audiences that would likely never get to see them. Film festivals like CHIFF celebrate smaller films that people have put lots of time and effort


into, that don’t benefit from the kind of marketing received by projects from the big studios. For many, kids movies are often the blockbusters you get from America that tick all the usual boxes and are for the most part a lot of fun, but often kids aren’t exposed to many different kinds of films. Festivals like CHIFF bring films from around the world to local cinemas so that kids can see something different and broaden their cinema horizons. For many budding filmmakers, being exposed to a variety of different films at a young age is what inspires them to want to make film, which is something I experienced. Seeing the huge variety of ideas and filmic techniques being put on screen can spark creativity in many young minds, leading to them wanting to explore these curiosities. Every child has a creative side that is often suppressed by today’s high intensity digital world, and an experience such as going to a cinema can offer a place to see and enjoy creativity in a truly focused environment. Films in the festival came from all over the world, from countries as varied as Estonia to South Africa to India, just to name a few. The festival offered a large selection of feature length films targeted at kids aged 4 to 16. Due to the festival partnering up with Little Big Shots, the program also offered curated sessions of short films from around

Youth voice the globe. These sessions were usually arranged by themes or ideas that the films shared, whilst offering a range of different films with unique aspects. The addition of Little Big Shots short film festival also brought an array of filmmaker workshops for kids of all ages and curated panel discussions with industry professionals, as well as prizes up for the best films. The prizes were over a range of categories, including Best Childmade Film and Best International Film, as voted by a child jury. As a previous entrant of Little Big Shots, I personally know what short film festivals like these can do for younger people interested in filmmaking. I’m a young filmmaker from The Dandenong’s and Little Big Shots was my first ever film festival. The experience of seeing my short film on the big screen and meeting other filmmakers around my age gave me a huge boost in both confidence and enthusiasm. I then went on to volunteer at the festival and got to know the festival director well, which gave me an excellent insight into how festivals are run and the effort they put into making sure every filmmaker feels welcomed and excited to be a part of the festival. Festivals like these are passionate about us young budding film creators.

Britney Pham

After their most successful festival yet, CHIFF will be returning in 2020.

A glassy bead sits upon the hill of a leaf – it is a stud impaled into a fleshy tongue. Roll, droplet, roll. It falls into the open arms of the sun, where gold meets green in a battle of dying hues. Soar; dive into the depths of day…

Off to another world!


have been doing art my whole life, which isn’t really that long as I am only 14. Some thing I’ve noticed is whatever I like, I draw and right now I draw ‘Starbound’ stuff. Starbound is a computer game, created by Chuklefish (a games developer). Starbound is a very interesting game; it starts with you, the player, on a planet called Earth; its you’re graduation day, you’re graduating to become a protector, the protectorate are an organisation who travel the universe and try to make peace with distant races across the universe, but during you’re graduation something goes terribly wrong, Earth is attacked by a planet sized creator called the Ruin, you manage to escape on a damaged ship and blast into space... When you wake up, your ship is orbiting a uncharted planet, you have no more fuel, so you have to beam down to this world and try to survive. You find an abandon mine, there’s still someone working there. They tell you that the mine is now infested with creators. You find a strange tower, then a porthole opens, telling you to go though, you do as directed, and find yourself at a place called the ‘outpost’, a place where people go for all types to trade, buy and sell or perhaps just to socialise, so after you have explored the outpost you find a


Youth voice Words: Ben Guerrine

staircase made of the same material as the tower, you go up, you see an old woman in a hover-chair, and she tells you the whole story of why you are here. Now I’ll just say this, the game does not have ‘you must follow this story line in order for the game to work’ type of thing. You can do whatever you want in this game, and it is incredibly fun. I’d say this is possibly one of the best games I’ve ever played, and its been fantastic for my drawings, so I guess the moral of the story is I found joy and inspiration in this game and expressed it though art. I love having my art on display, and getting feedback from people. The first time I displayed my art, it was on a lantern, it was part of a teepee, I was 10 years old and into Pokémon, so as you can most likely guess, I drew Pokémon. The teepee was used in the Belgrave Lantern Parade and then later used in the hillsceneLIVE festival at Birdsland Reserve. This year I had a go at performance art in Belgrave with other teenagers, lead by a local artist and dancer, it was called ‘Here me’. I had so much fun that I did feel sad for a few days after it, and missed everyone. I have lived in the foothills for my whole life. We’re always doing things in the area, exploring the forest. Speaking

Check out some of Ben’s amazing artwork inspired by Starbound:

of forests, there is a spot in the forest near Kallista that reminds me of the Dagaba complex where Yoda from the 5th Star Wars film lived, especially when it’s misty. Art inspiration is everywhere.

Cathy Scott

Back to Starbound... something that Starbound does is make your character feel real, less like a person and more like a character in the vast universe of Starbound. The drawing down below are some of my Starbound characters; one is a Floran and the other is a Glitch. When you first

start the game you pick a race, them being: Human, Apex, Avian, Floran, Hylotl and Novakid. Each of these species has their own story and speech patterns. Starbound has ‘Steam Workshop’, Steam being a gaming platform to buy games and Steam Workshop being a place were people who play the game get to add to the game things that they have created. So there’s a whole community out there involved in the game. I doubt I will ever find a game like this because when I play I feel truly Star-bound.

Water – falls unchecked from eyes, to cheeks, to floor… gushing with gut gouging emotion and wave of sound released with breath hot and misty echoes through time and space of eternity until it settles in pools of pain and final healing.

Earthly Pleasures


s you enter Belgrave from the foothills you are welcomed on the left by an impressive stone building fronted by gorgeous lush gardens. Earthly Pleasures Cafe is now the custodian of this historic building that was once one of the areas first doctor’s surgeries. We sat inside on a cold wintery morning in the impressive brick lined double-height main room, there’s a fire going in the fireplace which makes the space very inviting. There are also tables on a mezzanine level. On a beautiful day you can sit outside on the terrace which overlooks the large garden complete with a fountain, perfect for letting kids run around. Earthly Pleasures prides itself on having a delicious menu using seasonal produce and constructing some creative vegan and vegetarian choices as well as meaty options. We tried the Big Vegan breakfast which indeed


Words: Tiffany Morris-North

was big! It consisted of crispy polenta, mexican beans, avocado, mushrooms, spinach and tempeh. It was hearty and tasty and wasn’t lacking anything. We also tried the mushroom omelette made with locally grown oyster and lions mane mushrooms, served with cherry tomatoes, rocket and goats cheese on toast (with a side serve of bacon!). Again, delicious!! The coffee was good, my only criticism was that it could’ve been hotter. Even after we ordered a second coffee and asked if it could be hotter, it really wasn’t. The selection of cakes and muffins was very tempting but we couldn’t squeeze another thing in. Overall a delicious breakfast in superb surroundings. Next time I’m having cake! 1627 Burwood Hwy Belgrave www.earthlypleasurescafe.com

Suzanne Downie Waiting for the platypus to shimmer as it surfaces from the creek I enjoy a winter wonderland that most seek. Quiet, apart from the echoing sound of dogs splashing up stream as their people rugged up with mist-filled breath convene. The cold exudes life at our gem in the hills.

Florence Lisner Recollections of dozy summer days and sleepy somnambulance give way to soggy fog‌ a cold wet watery world seeping into bones jump-starting the mind to winter wakefulness.

We are the mirror, as well as the face in it. We are tasting the taste of eternity this minute. We are pain and what cures pain. Soul of the world, no life, nor world remain, no beautiful women and men longing. Only this ancient love circling the holy black stone of nothing. Where the lover is the loved, the horizon and everything within it.

LOOK at me!

– Rumi

Artwork: Ramak Bamzar