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ISSUE 31 Hidden In The Hills Spring Poems Platypus Festival 1000 Portraits Cafe Tarts Review Plus More...

Summer 2018

The hillscene is created in partnership with Burrinja



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Sunday of the Month





Testing the Bomb. Maralinga and Australian Art 1 DEC 2018 - 10 FEB 2019 | Burrinja Gallery In the 1950s Australia became the nuclear testing ground for the British Government. A total of 12 atomic tests were conducted. Sixty years after the events Black Mist Burnt Country revisits the history of the test program at Maralinga, Emu Field and Monte Bello Island, through works by Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists across the mediums of painting, printmaking, sculpture, photography, music and new media spanning seven decades. An award winning Burrinja national touring exhibition. “Powerful, though-provoking, moving - a must-see.” - 2017 Audience member Image: Adam Norton ‘Prohibited Area’. Copyright: the artist.

VCE Showcase

A weekend of art, participation and celebration. Feb 15 to 18 | Burrinja Gallery VCE Creative Showcase is an annual celebration of our emerging artists and their artwork. Come and experience an exhibition, public program as well as professional development opportunities while celebrating the achievements of local emerging artists from the Yarra Ranges. An event for everyone, come and see through the eyes of our young artists as they take over Burrinja. Image Credit: Juzzlyn Perry Dubbeld, Leaked Thoughts, 2017.

Burrinja | Cnr Glenfern Rd & Matson Drive, Upwey ph: (03) 9754 8723 | w:


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Editor’s Rave T

hey say that spring is a time of renewal. For many of us, the hills are a seemingly boundless source of energy, nourishment and inspiration. I was treated to a healthy dose of the latter in early 2016 – when, at somewhat of a loss as to my proverbial direction – I was given the chance to write for former fellow Dandenong Ranges publication, The Local Voice. One review became another, and then another. It was developing these pieces – previewing and reviewing the PAVE and hillsceneLIVE festivals, with the kind and compassionate guidance of my editor, Gülsen Öser – that led me to consider working with words as a feasible, potential path. Simultaneously, a romance with the hills was born. Skip ahead, to today. Having recently completed a degree in publishing, it feels apt, and curiously fully circular, that the opportunity to work on the hillscene cropped up at this particular point. It’s been energising, nourishing and inspiring to work alongside guest graphic designer, Amelia Campbell. We’re indebted to the generosity and support of Adriana and the many curious, creative, community and environment-oriented individuals with whom we have come into contact to bring this iteration of the mag together.

Guest Editor: Steph Lightfoot Guest Designer: Amelia Campbell Cover: Georgia Steele Editorial Committee: Steph Lightfoot. Adriana Alvarez, Bluzal Field, Toni Main, Ross Farnell. Contributors: Adriana Alvarez, Bluzal Field, Steph Lightfoot, Amelia Campbell, Justine Walsh, Tiffany Morris-North, Cameron Semmens, Fotoula Reynolds, Linda Harding, Megan Ashmore, Maroulla Radisavic, Dianne Porter, Peter Hibberd, Lisa Roberts. facebook: The Hillscene blog: For submission and advertising enquiries email: Printed by Ferntree Print on Envirocare 100gsm recycled paper. © Copyright 2016

Among these passionate individuals: our fabulous cover artist Georgia Steele; matchless musician Pia Nesvara and determined conservationist Jordan Crook.. Nestled among these pieces are a number of spring-inspired poems. Selected by Cam Semmens, these poems are a legacy of the winter-centric haikus that graced the Winter hillscene. This time, Cam asked participants to pen a poem that mentioned one colour, one type of plant or tree, and one placename from the Dandenong Ranges. We do hope you enjoy perusing these, and all else comprised within this edition.

The hillscene is created in partnership with Burrinja Proudly supported by

Open Spring, 2018 by cover artist Georgia Steele. Editor’s rave – 3


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Words by Steph Lightfoot

All images courtesy of the artist.


unsurprised to learn of this ethos. Happily, generously, Georgia agreed to have her beautiful ‘Open Spring 2’ featured on the cover of this issue.

Much of Georgia’s printmaking draws from and speaks to the natural world. She says, ‘I have always loved being in nature and the majority of my [work] is based on nature and its effect on humans.’ Enamoured of the style of her work, we were

Born in 1995, Georgia grew up in Upper Beaconsfield, spending the ‘majority of [her] childhood climbing trees, feeding the chickens and spending time with the family.’ So that she is close to university and studio, she now calls Port Melbourne home. But her enduring ‘soft spot’ for the Dandenong Ranges carries through in her life and her work, with her fostering close personal and professional links to the hills environment and communities. As well as exhibiting at Burrinja with Growing Pains, she has also shown works at The General Store cafe in Emerald. Before deciding to pursue fine art, Georgia undertook two years of Contemporary Dance at Deakin University. It was here, via electives, that she realised her ‘real interest in taking fine art seriously’ and decided to apply for

oming together at Burrinja in late September to plan this hillscene, we got to talking about which artist would best grace its cover. We talked about the attractive, aptly artful affiliations of this abundant time of year. We then got to talking about the Growing Pains Initiative exhibition: ‘Let’s Talk About Text’, which had opened upstairs just a few days earlier. For those unfamiliar, Growing Pains is a creative network offering an infrastructure and platform of support, education and experience to young artists. It is supported by, and located at Burrinja, and funded by the Yarra Ranges Council. One of the artists exhibiting their work in the show was Georgia Steele.

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Wow, Great Cover! a course in printmaking at RMIT University. When her application was successful, ‘the rest just kind of evolved from there, I kept staying inspired and asking questions. I found that I was a good fit as an artist.’ Georgia is a self-described ‘process-driven artist’ and cites this as ‘another reason why I was drawn to print-making.’ Of her process, she says: ‘I often start off by collecting imagery, found material or photography I have taken myself. The making of the work often begins as a collage and is then

e artist.

translated to the print medium.’ ‘I dabble with many mediums […] my concept or idea will determine what print medium is best. I enjoy cyanotype, dry point and photographic print processes such as screenprinting and etching. I generally get out in nature, go hiking and take photos.’ Space and place are key to Georgia’s work. Having recently completed her graduate year of Fine Art at RMIT, she was spending ‘most of [her] time making works in the printmaking studio’ there. Her passion and dedication are patent: ‘This year I have been spending most of my time in the screen-printing studio. My studio wall is covered with artworks that inspire me as well as my own.’ Yet her practice continues to be grounded in its relationship to nature: ‘Due to my work being based on nature and the imagery often comes from this area I like to show my works in situ where the imagery came from. Currently doing a series of works on the Blue Mountains in New South Wales and have made

a connection with a gallery up there and hoping to show my body of work in the area where the imagery [that] inspired my work comes from.’ Of course, some inspirations hail further from home: Czech artist Alphonse Mucha, for his ‘his expressive linework and focus on the female figure – ‘I have always had a love for Art Nouveau’ – and the Austrian symbolist, Gustav Klimt. Her work resembles the work of neither, yet these are the artists that ‘inspire me most. The Macquarie defines ‘growing pains’ as ‘difficulties attending any new project’ – and yet the emerging artist has achieved much relatively swiftly. She has interned at the Print Council of Australia, as well as in Germany, assisting Berlin-based artist Erik Schmidt for two months in 2017 through the Artbound Initiative. Not only was this ‘rewarding and a great learning curve […] it also solidified my interest in becoming an artist.’ Currently, she is the Australian ambassador for Artbound. Georgia has her sights on both the short and long term: for now, her ‘aim is to keep chipping away, possibly do my honours in Curation and move over to a Masters [...] Potentially open a gallery one day.’ She says, ‘I just want to keep making and stay connected to the happening arts community in Melbourne and globally.’ Already, her curatorial instinct is evident: recently, she curated the exhibition COMMISSIONED EDITIONS, the Print Council of Australia Biennial Print Exchange that showed in November at Collins Place Gallery in the Melbourne CBD. Beyond this, Georgia says, ‘I would enjoy spending some time at Print Club London – they have the most amazing screen-printing studio! And possibly would love doing a residency at Megalo Print Studio [+ Gallery] in Canberra.’ Keep up to date with Georgia’s work on Instagram: @georgiasteeledesign. For more detailed information on current and past exhibitions and blogposts:

Wow, Great Cover! – 5


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Hidden in the Hills: Open mic and open minds at Sooki Lounge

Pia Nesvara playing at Open Mic

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Words by Steph Lightfoot Photography by Amelia Campbell


e spoke with local musician Pia Nesvara about her music, running a weekly open mic event, and the importance of fostering inclusive and supportive creative spaces. Tell us a bit about yourself. How would you describe your music? My name is Pia Nesvara. I’m 20 years old and I’ve lived in the hills my whole life. I first started playing music when I was 10, the violin being my first instrument. I then picked up the guitar and started singing during my late high school years. I come from a Chilean background which I’d say has added a certain flavour to my sound. I would describe my music as soul/roots/Latin/jazz. My main focus at the moment is an original neo-soul/ roots trio made up of myself, my sister and my cousin called ‘Spiritus’. What is your relationship with performing live? I absolutely love performing live. My first encounter with the magic of live music was when I was 12 years old, playing the violin in the Melbourne Youth Junior Strings. I’d hold back tears when I played, it made me feel so intensely emotional and passionate. That’s when I knew that this thing with music was going to be something I pursued my whole life. There is something so empowering and vulnerable about performing. Of course, it’s scary and challenging in so many ways, especially performing original music. What do you enjoy about the hills community? Has it had an impact on you as a performer? Being connected to community has always been really important to me; it’s a massive part of Chilean culture. When I first began performing, I saw how strong the hills community was and I knew that I wanted to be part of it and contribute to it in some way. The hills music community is a damn strong one, there is always so much support and guidance. Our community’s willingness to give support and share their tools has no doubt made an impact on my sense of purpose within the hills and my eagerness to contribute.

What led you to create Hidden in the Hills? When did it begin? Hidden in the Hills – Open Mic was created by myself and the team at Sooki Lounge at the start of 2017. We shared a vision of creating a relaxed space for people to come together, connect, perform, collaborate and support live music. It’s all about bringing people together, learning from each other, supporting each other, sharing our stories through performing. What drew you to Sooki Lounge as a venue? Sooki is a phenomenal music venue that attracts so many diverse artists of such a high standard. Ever since I started playing live and started to get more involved with the hills community, Sooki just seemed to be linked to it all. I was like, ‘There’s some magic over there (at Sooki) that I want to be part of’. The setting of the beer garden is ideal for this open mic as it naturally makes performing less daunting and more relaxed. The best work from a creative (person) comes when you’re feeling relaxed and comfortable in your setting and in yourself. I see performers really thrive in this setting because of this. Does Hidden in the Hills attract regulars? We have regular performers and local punters that come each week that have formed a mini community. It’s been amazing to watch the progress of the regulars over time, especially the few that had just picked up an instrument and experienced their first time playing live at the open mic. You get to watch how each week they become more and more comfortable performing and build up the confidence to start playing gigs. It’s inspiring to be part of someone’s creative process and so many connections are formed through this. Since first starting in early 2017, this open mic has seen regulars form bands together, Hidden in the Hills – 7


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book gigs with each other and even love has been found! You never know, you might just meet the love of your life at Hidden in the Hills! As a performer, how has running this open mic influenced you? Observing how other people perform has made me realise what I want to see, feel and experience as an audience member. This has impacted how I am onstage and has also led me to realise that as an audience member, I just want to see the performer be themselves, feel comfortable, have fun and bring their own originality to their performance. What’s next? Hidden in the Hills has brought together a younger crowd and created more opportunities for upcoming artists to be part of our local music scene. It’s made me want to contribute more and create more platforms for upcoming artists to share and connect. This led me and Sooki Lounge to create our new event, ‘Hot off the Press’. This has recently launched and runs once a month on a Thursday, featuring three totally different emerging original artists from local and surrounding areas. We wanted to bring something new and fresh to the table, as well as support our upcoming artists and give them more opportunities to thrive within our community.

If someone is interested in performing at the open mic, what is the process? Hidden in the Hills – Open Mic runs every Sunday from 2–6pm in Sooki Lounge’s beer garden (or indoors depending on the weather). You can pre-book your set (approximately 15 minutes) or sign up upon arrival. Arrive early to ensure you get a spot when you’d like. For more information or to book your set, head to the Hidden in the Hills – Open Mic on Facebook and send a message via the page, email pia.sookilounge@gmail. com, or drop by Sooki Lounge (1648 Burwood Highway, Belgrave) on Sundays from 2–6pm. To learn more about Hot off the Press, head to The next Hot off the Press events run on Thursday 29 November and Thursday 27 December.

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Musican Matt Scott performing at Open Mic.

Above: Guest performer. Below: Audience at Sooki Lounge. Hidden in the Hills – 9


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Four Gardens to explore this summer

Top: Botanical Gardens. Bottom Left: Sherbrooke Forest. Bottom Right: Pirianda Gardens. 10 – Hillscene Summer ‘18


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Words & photography by Amelia Campbell.


ecently I revisited and photographed four of my favourite places to explore in the hills. Whether it’s for a picnic, fitness or just to relax and have some time with yourself these gardens leave you with a fresh appreciation for nature. We’re so lucky to have these places only minutes away from our homes, it’s worthwhile taking advantage of them. All have free entry, walking paths, and kilometres of beautiful flowers, trees and lakes. Now is one of the best times to take yourself, everything is so green and flowers are in full bloom.

1. Dandenong Ranges Botanical Gardens

Formally known as the National Rhododendron gardens, the botanical gardens in Olinda are magnificent. There are 15,000 rhododendrons, 12,000 azaleas, 3,000 camellias and 25,000 daffodils in the gardens. Visiting at this time of the year provides for an explosion of colour. It is a very popular tourist destination, so if you can, I would try and visit during the week when they are not as busy. This gives you a chance to walk around and explore at your own pace. If you’re a keen photographer I highly recommend paying these gardens a visit, there are fields of cherry blossoms, serene ponds and glorious views. There are quirky little things hidden throughout the gardens such as the telephone box and stone table and chairs.

2. Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Growing up in Sassafras, Alfred Nicholas Gardens was my favourite place to explore as a child. There is something magical about the winding paths leading down to the boathouse and lake. On the walk down you can see colourful rhododendrons and azaleas, the blackfish pond and a combination of ornamental and native trees. Everything about the gardens is truly spectacular. I recommend packing a picnic and sitting on the island over looking the bridges and lake. In 1965 the gardens were donated to the people of Victoria so you can visit 7 days a week for free!

3. Sherbrooke Forest

Sherbrooke forest isn’t a beautifully designed garden like my other favourite places, however it is my top spot to go for a run/walk in the Dandenongs. There are multiple loops you can do depending on your fitness levels all of which display stunning scenery. Within the forest you can discover the Sherbrooke falls, Jacobs Ladder which leads to Sherbrooke Creek and many picnic spots. My favourite thing about running through the forest, especially in the morning is seeing the sun shine peer through the trees, and hearing the lyrebirds in song. The forest provides natural habitat for birds, wombats, echidnas, possums and wallabies, so keep an eye out!

4. Pirianda Gardens

Alfred Nicholas Gardens.

Pirianda gardens are located on Hacketts Rd, in Olinda just off Olinda-Monbulk Rd. They are the least visited gardens in the Dandenongs, and potentially one of the most under rated. Not being as much of a tourist destination as the other gardens means a visit will always be a peaceful one. I find Pirianda gardens one of the best places to take a walk and clear the mind. The paths are steep in parts which is a great way to get some fitness in at the same time. Majority of the trees and shrubs are botanically important, expect to see lots of ferns, large Blackwood’s and Mountain Ash. Four gardens to explore – 11


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Platypus Festival turns 10

Words by Adriana Alvarez


he Platypus Festival turns 10 this year. I spoke with Jackie Glen, the organiser of the festival, about what it has achieved over the years. Why did you start a Platypus Festival? Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group (SDLG) started Platypus Festival 10 years ago. The inspiration for the festival was children’s environmental education, while offering a free, family, fun event. It was also created due to confirmation of platypus being spotted in the Monbulk Creek and to create awareness at a local community level of the importance and value of wildlife habitat plus keeping waterways clean. Another aim was to bring attention to local volunteer environmental groups and to encourage participation. At the end of the first few festivals there was a Platypus Watch at dusk which was run by the Platypus Conservancy or Belgrave Platypus group. The name of the festival was Awesome Ornithorhynkids Festival, created from the scientific name for the platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus. We found later that ‘Platypus Festival’ was a lot clearer for the public. In the beginning it was also a sausage sizzle fundraiser for a local community group or school. It has always been run with grant monies and guidance from the Yarra Ranges Shire Council.

Platypus creation artwork, artwork by Amanda Wright.

What were your aims for the festival and have they changed over time? The festival aims have not changed. It has always carried the theme of creating a free, fun environmental education day for children and adults. Drawing attention to the importance of preserving our local habitat and bringing awareness to the special place in which we all live. The Platypus Festival has been going for 10 years. What do you feel has been achieved in that time? The Platypus Festival has definitely grown over the last 10 years. We did start off very small. The first few were held at the end of the car park at Belgrave Lake Park. We had locals volunteering for the day running craft stalls and our music was a CD played through a stereo. Tilly the Platypus (who is now Billy) would be the main attraction, plus a small face painting stall and a story tent. It has grown every year, with the introduction of live music, interactive stalls and live native animal education. Advertising has also improved, and we found we have been attracting not only locals but also those from other areas away from the hills. Therefore, we are reaching a wider group of people and spreading the environmental word. It has also inspired the beginning of other environmental education groups for children.

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With the benefit of hindsight what would you have done differently? In all honesty, I don’t think there is anything we could or would have done differently. The festival has grown organically every year and also with our own visions of what is achievable.

Looking forward, do you think this festival will continue? And if so, what do you hope to achieve in the next 10 years? Yes, we hope it continues every year and we hope to educate and inspire each new generation, while continuing to create a fun and safe way of learning.

How vital and important is it to hold events like these? It is vital to bring people together in the community to build stronger kinship and appreciation for where we are lucky enough to live. Each year we have attracted new people to the festival, so with every family that attends we are spreading the word of platypus and environmental education. With our aim of inspiring people, on making environmental changes at home where necessary, bringing awareness of what lives in our waterways and the impacts we as humans can have.It is also creating interaction and learning for our future generations and generating and encouraging participation in local environmental groups.

Where can people find out more? You can keep an eye on the Southern Dandenongs Landcare Group or the Platypus Education Group Facebook page.

Above: Jaquie Glenn & Cr Len Cox. Below: Festival Banner.

Above: Platypus Festival planting. Bottom:Platypus festival education stall. Platypus Festival turns ten – 13


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long for Emerald, the fragrance of leaf blanketing the damp earth, the glisten of dew on wattle blossom.

Spring showers filling the watercourses that snake their way through lush ferns. The bellbirds, the bush... the chug and hiss of an ancient engine in the distance. – Linda Harding


eep within the foothills beneath Olinda when the sun strikes a precise angle

a stand of giant mountain ash shuffle into a perfect circle their towering bulk, a dusky green and gold curtain sweeping around our primal moment.

– Lisa Roberts


airytale vistas amid fern-filled hollows emerge from fog. Even on the hottest days common fringed lilies suggest

exotic dancers in purple fringed dresses in the spotlight of sun-rays. Cockatoo – abundant birdlife amid summers sun-drenched haze.

– Dianne Porter


iding a trail bike through the Dandenong Ranges is like touching the face of God. Rolling over the

undulations, roots and rocks. Finding the perfect pace to flow from corner to corner. Flashes of olive, grey and burnt timber blur past my sweat drenched vision. I smile. He smiles back.

– Peter Hibberd

Photography By Amelia Campbell

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Spring Poems

– 15 Spring Poems


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Spring Poems Continued...



a green shoot under the knowing gums

as a wider sun stretches

calling and guiding me on.

and warmly welcomes Spring.

– Megan Ashmore

– Fotoula Reynolds



herbrooke forest:

ibbons of gold and rose

returning from dormancy within

I too renew –

weave through stringy barks.

Sherbrooke forest purrs

ome with me… to go... somewhere better. I promise you!

he hidden path flies to Belgrave directly like the crow.

Where the gum trees are tall like giants

Yellow sprays of wattle heralding Spring

and the blue sky is closer

dotted on its verges

in the heavens of Mount Dandenong.

illuminating the way to simple pleasures.

– Maroulla Radisavic

– Adriana Alvarez

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A Parents Journey Anonymous


hen you become parents for the first time, it opens up a whole new way of living and experiencing the world. You don’t expect that your newborn baby will later identify with a group of people whom are often victims of society’s hatred, ignorance and hostility. We are just a regular family, living in the hills, with great friends, community and school connections – we are fortunate in many ways. This is a snippet of the journey we have been on with our now 15-year-old transgender daughter over the past few years. From kindergarten-age, we came to realise that Sam* was not a typical boy. It didn’t bother us at the time, but we were curious and a little worried about their future path. For Sam, kindergarten and primary school were mostly positive, but as we headed into Grade 5, it was becoming increasingly apparent that we needed support from professionals, not to guide our child in any particular direction, but to walk with us, as Sam worked out what was going on. From the age of 12–14, Sam’s inner conflict resulted in increasing anxiety, withdrawal, a loss of confidence, enthusiasm and concentration. At some points, they wished they were dead. Whilst this is not atypical for many teenagers, it was very apparent to us that gender questioning was a big part of our child’s struggle. We linked into a Gender Clinic at the Royal Children’s Hospital which, whilst supportive, very much sat back and watched and waited for a period of three years, allowing Sam to work out these complex feelings. It was early in 2018 (aged 14), that she requested we use female pronouns and a new first name. She and her Dad went to Europe for term 1, to visit family, and to give us all much-needed time and space away from what had become an extremely exhausting, heart-wrenching and miserable existence, for us all. Importantly, the time away from school, the scapegoat for much of her anxiety and low mood, gave her an opportunity to advance and process these complex emotions around gender. In Europe, she lived freely, and safely experienced being the same person, internally and externally.

That time away (January–March) heralded a new beginning for us all. With her permission, we began letting in trusted family, friends and eventually, at the end of April, we wrote to the parents and classmates in her year level at her school, who also reached out in a very supportive way. This gave her and us confidence in her being supported and accepted by all those around her, and whilst it took until August 2018 to get her back to her school, we have a much happier, articulate, confident and engaged 15-year-old. Transphobia exists, in fact sadly, it is thriving. We hear about it every day, in the media, from our politicians, both in Australia and overseas. To now, we have not experienced this at a personal level. ‘What if I, a woman, was so easily mistaken for a man, that I had to pretend to be one’, is a quote I’ve read recently, and suggested as a way for cis† gender people to try and understand what it must be like to be transgender or gender diverse. There are thousands of children in Australia who are trans and gender diverse. And thousands of parents supporting these children, quietly, under the radar, for fear of that burden of hate. I wish for a day where people no longer told me how brave my child is, for being transgender and living her authentic life. Unconditional acceptance by society would no longer require these children to be so brave. For those of you who are supporting a trans or gender diverse or gender-questioning young person, and are looking for a starting point and support, the following links may be helpful: 1. Parents of Gender Diverse Children 2. Transcend 3. Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Clinic 4. Queerspace - Drummond Street Services (Carlton) *Not their real name. † a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.

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Jordan Crook:

Protecting our forests, protecting our hills Words by Steph Lightfoot


chatted with local conservationist Jordan Crook, who ran as an Independent for the seat of Monbulk in the recent state election, about his path and how ‘politics is the problem but it’s also the solution.’ This drive to find the positives from a perceived problem is one of the original principles of permaculture, and shows the strong links between Jordan’s background and his tireless environmental advocacy. Besides his studies of permaculture, Jordan holds a Diploma in Conservation and Land Management and is currently undertaking a Diploma of Arboriculture (put simply, the study of trees and tree health). A horticulturist by trade, Jordan wears a number of different hats working and volunteering throughout the Dandenongs and the state. At the moment, these include local tree work; volunteering his time in local Indigenous plant nurseries and tackling citizen science and engaging the local community by leading tours into threatened public forests in the Yarra Valley with WOTCH (Wildlife of the

Central Highlands). Not to mention, the ‘mischief’ of guerrilla gardening and weeding with mates – planting trees where they used to be and removing ivy from where it shouldn’t be. Further afield, Jordan worked for eight years ‘on the boats’ with not-for-profit conservation group, Sea Shepherd. At just 26, this is an impressive biography. Jordan has lived ‘in and around the Dandenongs and Yarra Valley all [his] life’ and has ‘always been very connected to the local bush’ here and in the wider area of Victoria. From an early age, this connection has manifested in action; he has ‘always done what [he] can for the hills.’ He says we are ‘lucky to have National Parks in and around the Dandenongs’ – of course, people love, and choose to live in the area for this reason. Ironically, human habitation and behaviour are destroying the very aspects of the environment that we are drawn to. He tells me that at this point, the main problems facing the Dandenongs and the native species that call them home are feral cats and deer, environmental weeds and clear-fell logging. For Jordan, there is an urgent need to push back against

Leadbeater’s Possum photograph taken by Trent Pattern 18 – Hillscene Summer ‘18


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these issues and protect the landscape so many of us enjoy and perhaps, take for granted: ‘It’s an asset – we’re lucky to have it, so we should look after it.’ He says, ‘the Australian environment has always had people looking after it’ and ‘we need to fix up the messes that we’ve created.’ For Jordan, it’s critical that the Wurundjeri people, the local traditional owners of the land, are at the centre of these conversations and actions conserving and looking after Country. He has worked with the Wurundjeri in the past, at Coranderrk, naming remnant bush country. Jordan tells me about the clear-fell logging of the habitat of the Victorian state emblem, the Leadbeater’s possum, and the greater glider. These two animals are classified as critically endangered and threatened – respectively. Both species are hollowdependent, requiring small pockets of old-growth forest for their habitat. In Jordan’s opinion, these public forests are ‘not being managed for the public’ – let alone these species – but rather ‘for the paper industry.’ Industrial clear-fell logging releases the vast amounts of carbon stored in old-growth trees and the new, young trees that follow require a much greater volume of water. This in turn increases fire severity. For Jordan, the fact that ‘we are about to lose our state emblem’ is just the ‘cherry on top;’ the Leadbeater’s possum and greater glider being two of the species affected. The Sooty and Powerful Owl, and native fish, the Barred Galaxias, are also under threat. He tells me that ensuring the habitats of these animals ‘will secure the future for about 30 threatened species,’ many of which are unique to Victoria. Speaking about his grassroots campaign, Jordan had both mates, and ‘people [he’s] never met’, that got in touch via social media, volunteering their time. It was ‘a really good surprise’ to find so many volunteers. From his conversations with people on the street, he says it’s obvious that ‘everyone knows there’s a problem’ but that ‘most people feel really disempowered’ to tackle these big, hard issues encompassed by climate change, even when they’re ‘in our backyard’. Of our shared awareness of – yet

Jordan Crook

paralysis towards – the problem, Jordan says ‘It’s like standing on the shore, waiting for a massive wave to hit.’ Despite the immensity of these issues, Jordan radiates a relentless and enthusiastic optimism. And though disempowerment, disillusionment, and disenfranchisement are rife, it’s ‘very easy to empower people.’ He says, ‘Everyone I’ve spoken to is doing their little bit’, and these ‘do add up.’ But to change collective practice, ‘we need to back each other up – no matter the political side – and all act for nature.’ Jordan’s ultimate goal is to raise awareness for the need to look after Australian wildlife and wild places, encouraging people to change their habits so that it’s just ‘the “Australian” thing to do.’ I come away from our half-hour chat with new knowledge, insights and hope. With people like Jordan on their side, I have a quiet confidence that the Leadbeater’s possum, the greater glider, and all of the other creatures for whom he is fighting, are going to be alright. Protecting our forests, protecting our hills – 19


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1000 Portraits Words by Adriana Alvarez


ow many people do you stop in the street to find out their story? Probably very few, if any, but that is what Jesse Graham does for his 1000 Portrait Project. Stopping people on the street to take their portrait, ask them some revealing questions and post it online for their 15 minutes of fame. Then repeat 1000 times. The challenge Jesse set for himself was to take 1000 portraits in three years. When Jesse started working as a journalist at the Mail newspaper in Healesville as a young 19-year-old, he was told if he wanted a photo to go with the story he should take it himself. So he dusted off his camera and started taking photos for the paper, but he found the constraints of taking portraits for the paper a bit prescriptive because it’s about what’s happening, not about the person. For example, photographing someone in front of a building that’s going to be demolished. ‘You’re really framing them in a particular context,’ says Jesse. ‘I really love lovely portrait photography like Steve McCurry from National Geographic. I absolutely adore just simple portrait photography with a blurry background but you don’t get much of a chance to do that working on the paper so I started to do that in my spare time. Whenever I ran into people or stopped people on the street I’d ask them for a quick portrait.’ That’s how the 1000 Portrait Project began. He wanted to learn how to use a camera properly so he undertook one of those online challenges to take and upload one photo a day for a year. But while it

meant he learnt a lot of skills it nearly broke him as well. Having to take a photo whether he was sick or having a crisis, there was never a break. ‘I learned how to use a camera, but after, I wanted to keep taking photos but not to do an everyday thing,’ says Jesse. Wanting to focus on portrait photography and learning how to do it well was the motivation for this project. When it began, he was uploading photos and mostly putting technical information about how he took the shot. But he soon decided that was not very interesting except for photography ‘nerds’ so he started asking people about their stories and posting that instead. I’ve been asking people usually the same three questions and then giving them a chance to say what they’d like as well. What’s one of the best things that’s happened to you this year? What’s something you struggle with or have a hard time with? And what’s something you look forward to? And it’s really interesting to see the difference between those answers … You get a nice little insight.’ Jesse has been going into the city with his friend and trying to photograph people from different places because the first 200 or so people were very Healesville-centric. He’s also keen to spread the word on social media, by offering a free portrait to people. ‘If you’d like a free portrait you can use for anything commercial or otherwise get in touch. It helps me to get new stories and faces and it helps you to have a photo,’ says Jesse. Once he was confident taking digital shots, he started taking film photography as well. It gives a sort of ‘delayed validation’ because he takes a photo and has no idea how it will turn out –

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their story. It’s sort of great because when I ask people about things they usually tend to talk about a project they’re working on or a business they work for, you get to see all those in one place, just see all the little things people are working on.’

‘you have to just trust that you’ve got it’. Talking with Jesse, it’s clear he’s caught the photography bug. He admits he’s ‘fallen down the rabbit hole’ where you can find yourself looking for ‘obscure camera things’, like old Soviet-era lenses that produce special effects and even stocking up on a favourite film stock that was being discontinued. He has several cameras, some of which he had with him when we met and he’s obviously passionate about photography and this project. In July, he had an exhibition at the Mooroolbark Community Centre of a selection from the first 500 portraits. And ideally, he would like to have pop up exhibitions in different locations. In Belgrave or Boronia, for example, of all the photos he’s taken there. He’s putting in an expression of interest for Healesville next year of the people he photographed at the very start, revisiting and retaking some of the portraits to see how their stories have progressed.

‘But the end goal is to have a book, a printed publication of all 1000,’ says Jesse. ‘The photos that no-one’s ever seen because they weren’t the ones that I put up on social media, and tell a bit more of

Now he’s about halfway through, I ask if he is still enjoying it. Despite the horrific administration process of keeping records and photos, ‘I really, really love it,’ is his enthusiastic reply. He even contemplated whether he would continue on after the three years and do 10,000 portraits! It’s easy to see why he does. Jesse’s journalistic background allows him to speak freely with people to find out their story and his love for photography will no doubt be strengthened by this project and possible future ones. All that is left to do now is to take my portrait. So now I’m part of the 1000 Portrait Project too. If you’d like to have your portrait taken, or for more information go to 1000 Portrait Project on Facebook.

All images from Jesse Graham’s 1000 Portrait Project 1000 Portraits – 21


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Talking film and story with Tadji Ulrich Interview by Justine Walsh


6-year-old Tadji Ulrich is a local emerging director and filmmaker, whose short film Outcasts Anonymous recently won the 2018 Trop Jr Award. He is a very inspiring and eloquent young man who is clearly passionate, determined and already highly skilled in his art. I had the pleasure of talking to him about Outcasts Anonymous, his process, his advocacy for storytelling and his dreams for the future.

J: Outcasts Anonymous explores some heavy themes in a darkly humourous way. Did any of your direct experiences inform the story? T: I’ve always experienced a bit of the ‘otherness’, I think every kid has in some way ... I’ve always been drawn to these people, and I like the idea of kids who are very different coming together. J: Who was your favourite Outcast character to write? T: I couldn’t decide a favourite, they were all so much fun to write. It was interesting writing Dan, the human character surrounded by these supernatural beings ... so I guess in a way Dan is sort of me. I liked exploring the idea of what is ‘normal’ and what is ‘outcast’ when you’re working on different scales like with supernatural beings. J: What was the biggest challenge you found? T: Bringing it under 7 minutes … the first cut was about 13 minutes long. I spent a few good weeks cutting it down. J: How long did the process take, from initial idea to final product? T: About 3–4 months in total. Once I had the initial idea I started on the script, which took about 2 months. I’d go to school during the day and at night I’d write some more of the script, change bits around, tweak the ending … that was one of the most challenging parts, getting the end right. We shot it in one day a few weeks after finishing the script, and then it took a month to edit. J: What was the funniest behind the scenes moment? T: Some of the funniest moments behind the scenes came from the actors staying in character when they messed up … I’d let them say what they wanted on the

Tadji with his prize.

day, quite a few improvised shots stayed in the film. It was incredibly funny to see someone in character mess up but stay in character. J: How did you source all the actors and the production team? T: All the actors are friends of mine I met during the school production. I knew exactly which characters I wanted to write for which actors … It was the first time for me working with proper actors, getting to work behind the camera and then just direct them … it was my first experience just directing other people and it was a really great experience and a lot of fun for me. J: Did you learn new skills while working on the film? T: Definitely. It was a big eye-opener. Directing, working with actors in depth, making sure they had good ideas about their characters … we did a few rehearsals at school and I also would hand them sheets on their characters – what sort of movies they would like, what accent they would speak in or where they were born, so they could build their character out of this criteria and add their own life to them. I learnt a lot about script-writing, a lot about directing, and about lighting – having the challenges that we did. Also

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Tadji (center) with the cast of ‘Outcasts Anonymous’

my first experience of working with a crew, bringing them all together. Every time I do something else I am learning more and more. J: What sort of futures are you imagining for yourself? Have they changed since winning Trop Jr? And what is next for you? T: I felt a kind of shift after this film. When I was younger I loved Alfred Hitchcock, horror … but I like the idea of having an intimate feeling where the audience could see themselves in the characters. My next film which I have just shot that I’ve been working on for Tropfest senior is a love story. It’s my first time directing a film where love is one of the main motifs. I really enjoyed that, quite an interesting dynamic working with actors, and working with love and what love does to people. So the future I guess I would love to work on feature films as a director, that’s my dream. When I was seven or eight I wanted to be a director and an actor, and I still do have a love for acting and a deep respect for actors and what they do, but I have definitely felt myself drifting more towards the directing side – having an entire vision for a film and then bringing it together with other people. I also made a documentary while I was up in Central Australia last year. It was really interesting to make a documentarystyle film, an intimate connection with real life. I met a lot of incredible people. I was exploring the power of storytelling in Australia, and how dreamtime storytelling and songlines can affect how Australia connects to each other … I got to meet some elders and some famous authors and find out about how they write and how they feel storytelling is important to the future and past

of Australia, it was a very interesting experience to me … I have a real love for documentary filmmaking too, finding all these interesting people and locations. I sat down with one Aboriginal elder and turned the camera on and he just told me stories for 2 hours, all of it was incredible … trying to edit it down into a 15-minute documentary was quite tricky! I guess it’s really helpful to be a young filmmaker, a lot of people are happy to work with me and lend me their time. A lot of people don’t know these stories. I think everyone knows how important storytelling is to us, we grew up with our parents, teachers and friends telling us stories, but people don’t realise that there are stories embedded in our land. There are a lot of different tribes and cultures around Australia, it’s not just one culture, everyone’s local area has different stories and very few people know their local stories. Obviously I didn’t find out my local stories, I went up to the Northern Territory and talked with them, but I think it’s a really important way for us to connect with our land. I wanted to do a documentary to raise awareness around that, and to inspire other young people to go and talk to elders, to anyone who knows stories about the local culture and land and maybe document them too. J: How do people keep up to date with your work? T: I’m still working on getting my website up and running which will eventually have all my work on it, but Outcasts Anonymous is on YouTube. Once I get my website up and running it will be

Talking film & story – 23


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Images courtesy of the artists and Burrinja Cultural Centre

Above: Pieces of Silver. Bottom right: Edward Willoughby. Opposite Page: Dani-Ela Kayler. 24 – Hillscene Summer ‘18


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More than just a LIVE arts festival:

Words by Bluzal Field


illsceneLIVE is a unique nine-month artist gestation program that culminated in a two-day festival on the 17 and 18 November, set in the beauty of the Dandenong Ranges. Since 2014, hillsceneLIVE has been supporting artists to create bold new work that explores all facets of live experimental art, including sound, dance, installation, audiovisual and especially work that doesn’t fit into these categories. This year, there were 15 new intriguing works being presented at the festival as part of the program. hillsceneLIVE Festival Director, Toni Main, says: ‘We ask artists that apply to our program to come to us with an idea, or a question that needs to be explored, and not a finished piece of work. We create a space to delve into that exploration, with a series of incubators, professional development sessions and experimental art workshops over a nine-month period. Throughout that time the hillsceneLIVE team are there to support, provoke and converse with each artist as they make their new work. Take local musician Edward Willoughby for example, through this program he has explored not just sound-making but the experience of stage fright and created an experiential work that is part-theatre and part-sound that places stage fright at centrestage in a cumulative revelation of a private, inner song.’ The result of this process is depth. The strength and integrity of the work presented at hillsceneLIVE are achieved because of the opportunity and support provided by the program. This year saw the inclusion of local, Melbourne and interstate-based artists heading to the Dandenong Ranges, enticed by the quality of the program. hillsceneLIVE aims to bring new life to disused or underused spaces throughout the Dandenong Ranges. The festival was set in unconventional spaces; in the past it has been staged in an old office, in empty shopfronts and even the main street of Belgrave, with its hidden alleyways and secret corners. This year, the festival inhabited the

Discover hillsceneLIVE beautiful natural landscape of Birdsland Reserve in Belgrave Heights. Main says: ‘What sets hillsceneLIVE apart from other art festivals based in the city is the inspirational natural landscape. Many artists have chosen to make their work in response to the landscape, incorporating the wetlands, sloping hills, fields and vegetation into the work. They have spent time investigating the surrounds and embedding the natural environment into their performative offerings.’ There are many examples of this, but highlights included local performer, Dani-Ela Kayler’s ‘Desquamate’, a dance with the tall grasses as she sheds her layers, or ‘...pieces of silver’, developed and presented by Louise Morris and Kirsten Prins who created an installation and performative response to the Birdsland site. Drawing upon the theme of violence against women, the installation responds to two specific areas on the site – the old heritage cottage and the hidden and forgotten walkway down near the swamplands. They collated research to reflect the number of women who have been affected by violence since the land was cleared for grazing and crop production 150 years ago. The festival was designed to be an experience, offering ticketholders a variety of workshops such as Bush Poetry with Leo Lazaurus, where you could use the power of writing and the energy of the bush to tap into internal and external worlds; or learn how to juggle with French juggler Anso. If participating wasn’t for you, then you could get deep into conversation with our extensive critical conversation series that discussed the challenges, insights and obsessions of the artists engaged in the hillsceneLIVE program. All packed into two days in Birdlsand reserve. hillsceneLIVE is a festival supported by Burrinja since 2014. This year saw the festival expand its scope thanks to funding received from Yarra Ranges Council and Creative Victoria. hillsceneLIVE Festival was held at Birdsland Reserve, Belgrave Heights to find out more visit hillsceneLIVE – 25


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Cafe Tarts - Nevedya Upwey


C Review by Tiffany Morris-North


f anyone is a regular reader of my cafe reviews, you’d notice that I love my meat – an absolute carnivore. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I dislike vegetables, I love them too – all vegies – so I was excited to try out Nevedya, the new organic vegetarian cafe in Upwey. We sat out the back on a gorgeous spring day in the sun-filled courtyard and studied the menu. Everything on the menu looked interesting and varied. I ordered the mushrooms on toast with haloumi and a creamy saffron sauce. The locally grown oyster mushrooms tasted amazing and the dish looked colourful and enticing. My fellow cafe reviewer ordered za’atar and feta scrambled eggs on toast. Again, a deliciously colourful and substantial meal.

After our savoury mains, the dessert counter was calling. We ordered a chocolate raspberry cake and a chocolate brownie with chocolate avocado mousse. Both were delicious and decadent and paired well with the coffees we ordered. We had a choice of two different coffees, one a milder Mexican blend and the other was a stronger East Timor coffee. One each to keep us both happy. Also on the drinks menu are a turmeric latte, a matcha latte and a red rooibos latte – a drink for all the colours of the rainbow. The food was filling and substantial, tasty and fresh. I didn’t miss my meat fix at all! 52 Main St, Upwey

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“ must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower” - Hans Christian Anderson.

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Photograph by Amelia Campbell


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Profile for Adriana Alvarez

Hillscene Summer issue 2018  

Fascinating articles and stories from and for The Dandenong Ranges.

Hillscene Summer issue 2018  

Fascinating articles and stories from and for The Dandenong Ranges.

Profile for hillscene