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$7.95 Winter #47


When the Stars Align


Rising to the challenge


East Gippsland Winter Festival Wild Harvest Seafood Festival


The go to town

+ Regular Features Horoscope Positive Lifestyle Tips Millie’s Adventures Canine Corner ISSN 1838-8124


P (03) 5662 2327 F (03) 5662 2642 E edney@dcsi.net.au www.edneysleongatha.com.au LMCT 1500

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editorial winter #47 Winter in Gippsland This time last year Gippsland was caught in the grip of covid-19 and we are all hoping that we don’t get a repeat of what happened last year. The threat of covid still looms large but hopefully in time we all get vaccinated and in some way this will hopefully offset this nasty virus. On a brighter note, once again my team of writers have worked hard to put together some great features and the photography in particular from the RAAF feature is simply spectacular. We have struck up a great relationship with the Department of Defence and their assistance has been invaluable. We welcome to the team the following writers, Danielle Ralph who was our first writer has come back to us along with our new writer Lori Napier and for a special occasion it was great to have Wendy Morriss back again. Another newcomer to the team is Sonia Hogg, Sonia for many years was involved with the National Vietnam Vets Museum at Newhaven, Phillip Island and Sonia is now looking after all the sales in East Gippsland. It is wonderful to finally be able to promote events in Gippsland, and mark your calendars for the East Gippsland Winter Festival and the Wild Harvest Seafood Festival in Mallacoota. East Gippsland has been starved of tourism, so lets all support these events, all details are inside the magazine. Well, that is it for me, this magazine continues to grow, and that is down to our wonderful advertisers and to the people that purchase the magazine and yes we do subscriptions, details inside. Stay warm and safe in Winter!

Douglas Pell | Editor

our winter front cover

Cutlers Beach Photography | Doug Pell www.gippslandlifestyle.com

our autumn back cover

Virtue Homes Building Excellence www.virtuehomes.com.au


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our content 8-9 CURTIS AUSTRALIA – Opals Time for a much closer look 10-11 WGCMA – Innovation in Dairying WARRAGUL CAMERA CLUB – The 48th Warragul Exhibition 18 23-25 YARRAGON – The Go To Town 30-31 A GLASS GEM IN THE HEART OF YARRAGON – Kathleen Hentschel 34-35 COLOURFUL WELCOME AT STATION – The Station Gallery in Yarragon 36-41 THE BACKYARD ADVENTURER – The exploits of Beau Miles 43 BIG RED – Gone but never forgotten MORWELL NEWSPOWER CENTRE – A friendly newsagency in town 44-45 46-47 CHARITY DUCK RACE – In the Latrobe river 48-49 WEST GIPPSLAND LIBRARIES – School Holidays 50-53 THE BUSINESS OF BUILDING DREAMS – Virtue Homes Mick Nicola 54-56 MATT STEVIC – Leongatha’s own rising to the challenge 58-62 WHEN THE STARS ALIGN – Marking a year of military milestones 64-65 HEART & HOME – Natalie Guest is leading the way in interiors 70-73 THE BIOPHILIC SPACE – Isley Sutherland is Architecture Meeniyan 74-75 GRACIOUS GLASS ART – Samantha Abbott Jewellery connoisseur 78-79 GIPPSLAND ART GALLERY – What’s on in Winter 80 TAITS INTERIORS – Winter Warmth 82-83 VIRTUE HOMES – Building excellence 86-99 PHILLIP ISLAND ADVERTISERS AND FEATURES 100-103 A GRAND DESIGN – At French Island 104-107 METUNG HOT SPRINGS – Rejuvination of Nature’s Gift 108-111 COACH BRINGS THE WRIGHT STUFF – To Kilcunda Bass FNC 113 WILD HARVEST SEAFOOD FESTIVAL RETURNS To Mallacoota 114-116 THINGS TO DO WHILE OUT AND ABOUT In Mallacoota 118-121 WHERE THE EAGLES DARED – Flick Jones Little Oberan Fish Creek 122-126 CONNECTING THE OUTDOORS – Yallock-Bullick Marine & Coastal Park 127-129 BACKYARD WORLD – Playing it for real 130-132 NIC HUIGSLOOT –Winter blooms on the Island of dreams 133-135 MILLIE’S ADVENTURES – Millie in Paradise 138-139 CANINE CORNER 140-141 CHRISTINE GRANT – Venus Bay’s Local Dog Whisperer 142-143 LOCAL HEROES – Rocky Furnell 145 KERRY GALEA – Winter Stars 146-147 DISC GOLF- Shark Disc Park Tarwin Lower 148 EAST GIPPSLAND WINTER FESTIVAL – Discover the treasures 152-153 ERIN MILLER – The Slow Life 154-155 CHRISTINE BOUCHER – The Wellness Wheel 156-157 CHRISTIE NELSON – A great deal can happen in a decade 158-159 FRANK BUTERA – Temperature from vineyard to glass 160-161 NEWRY GENERAL STORE – Selling the regional dream

our advertisers 20 150-151 84-85 81 77 63 14 32-33 15 67 26-27 22 112 149 3 57 25 77 162 69 29 29 144 76 12 117 77 16 28 136-137 12 42 67 5 68 13 99 66 17 29 20 42 164 49 21 7 19 28

BACKYARD WORLD-Cubbies, sheds and carports BASS COAST HEALTH-Doctor Renee Kelsall BASS COAST SHIRE-Touring the Bunurong Coastal Drive BBQ GALORE TRARALGON-Heating to suit every home BOAT HARBOUR JETTY B&B-Rest & Relaxation in Port Albert BRENT SINCLAIR CATERING-Mobile catering & take away meals CARPET COURT-Dream It, Style It, Live It COMMUNITY BANK TRAFALGAR & DISTRICT BRANCH CPK MCLAREN MOTORBODY-Motor Body Vehicle Repairer CRAWFORD MARINE-Live the dream! Campion boats and more CRYSTAL OCEAN-A sea of tranquillity awaits CURTIS AUSTRALIA-Bairnsdale’s very best in jewellery DESTINATION GIPPSLAND-Wild Harvest Seafood Festival EAST GIPPSLAND MARKETING-East Gippsland Winter Festival EDNEYS LEONGATHA-New Nissan Navara EVANS PETROLEUM-BP Leongatha renovated FOZIGOBBLE CAFÉ-Healthy Food & Drinks GARY BLACKWOOD MP-Member for Narracan GIPPSLAND ART GALLERY-Must visit in Sale! GROWMASTER TRARALGON-Garden, Fashion, Giftware solutions JIMMY D’S DINER-The home of the American styled burger KEITH’S SISTER-We bring beauty to life in Yarragon LAURIE COLLINS-Visit the Sculpture Garden & Red Tree Gallery LEONGATHA RSL-Family friendly venue LIME AND CO.-Mexican street food cantina in Inverloch MALLACOOTA DISTRICT & BUSINESS ASSOCIATION-Mallacoota MELALEUCA NURSERY-Indigenous & Native plant farm MOOS AT MEENIYAN-Eat Drink and have a good time! PENNYWORTH O’LOLLIES-Great variety of chocolates PETS DOMAIN-The home for pets RIGBY HOMEMAKERS-Gippsland’s finest furniture and bedding ROSEDALE BUTCHERS-Family owned country butcher RUSSELL BROADBENT MP-Federal Member for Monash RUSSELL NORTHE MP-State Member for Morwell STONY CREEK GO KARTS-Fun for all the family, Go Kart Hire TAITS INTERIORS-The trusted name in Quality, Fabrics, Service THE GROVE-Restaurant in Krowera THE GURDIES WINERY-Refurbishing award winning winery THE MELBOURNE FURNISHING CO-Quality furniture store THE 3 CHEEKY MONKEYS-Unique toys, books and games plus TOWNSEND’S NURSERY WONTHAGGI-Large variety of natives VAN STEENSEL TIMBERS-We have everything for winter VIRTUE HOMES-Building excellence WEST GIPPSLAND LIBRARIES-Discover your library on demand WEST GIPPSLAND CATCHMENT MANAGEMENT AUTHORITY WONTHAGGI LOTTO-Authorised Tattslotto Agency WONTHAGGI PLAZA-Variety of shops including K Mart YARRAGON MILKBAR-15 Flavoured Milk Shakes and hot food

Russell Northe is your local MP for the Morwell Electorate in the Victorian Parliament’s Legislative Assembly

”Gippsland, such a great place to live, work and visit.Through natural disasters and even pandemics the generosity and goodwill of Gippsland people always shines through” RUSSELL NORTHE MP M E M BE R F O R M O RW EL L

Proud Parliamentary representative of the following local towns and communities including:


12 – 14 George Street Morwell, VIC 3840 (03) 5133 9088 Russell.Northe@parliament.vic.gov.au russellnorthe.com.au

Boolarra, Callignee, Churchill, Cowwarr, Glengarry, Hazelwood, Jeeralang, Koornalla, Morwell, Newborough, Toongabbie, Traralgon, Traralgon South, Tyers, Yallourn North & Yinnar

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Authorised by Russell Northe, 12-14 George Street Morwell, Funded by Parliamentary Budget




SOUTH GIPPSLAND PUBLISHING PTY LTD. Trading as Gippsland Lifestyle magazine ABN 81 144 063 089 ADDRESS PO BOX 862 WONTHAGGI VIC 3995 PHONE 0404 301 333 EMAIL gippslandlifestyle@bigpond.com ONLINE DIGITAL issuu.com/james448 WEB www.gippslandlifestyle.com FACEBBOOK facebook.com/lifestylegippsland INSTAGRAM gippslandlifestyle WRITERS Chris West, Anita Butterworth, Lia Spencer, Trevor Stow, Kelvin Lau, Camilla Hullick, Ken Roberts, Lori Napier, Danielle Ralph and Wendy Morriss

Through continual research, we seek and find new products and innovative manufacturing processes; implementing energy saving efficiencies, removing potential waste and harmful processes affecting the environment.

CONTRIBUTORS Erin Miller, Kerry Galea, Frank Butera, Christie Nelson, Christine Boucher, Natalie Guest and Millie Roberts

Southern Impact adheres to all current governing laws and regulations set down by the State and Federal Governments in relation to Environmental and Conservation Acts.

SPECIAL CONTRIBUTORS Roland Pick (Phillip Island Nature Parks and Paul Henderson (Curtis Australia)

Southern Impact is active in ensuring all their disposable waste materials are disposed of in accordance to those laws. Regular audits are carried out on the companies they use to ensure they follow the strict guidelines set out by these laws.

PHOTOGRAPHERS Doug Pell, Kelvin Lau, Ken Roberts, Trevor Stow, Danielle Ralph, Lia Spencer and Wendy Morriss ADVERTISING Maxine Sando - Sales Manager Sonia Hogg - East Gippsland Sales Consultant and Doug Pell - Sales Consultant EDITOR Doug Pell

Vegetable based low Volatile Organic Compounds and VOC free inks are used and all of their paper waste material is recycled. As a result, their factory and current printing processes are some of the most environmentally friendly on the market today.


CREATIVE media101 DISTRIBUTION Gippsland the Lifestyle Magazine is published quarterly, usually available at the beginning of each season and distributed to selected newsagents and retail outlets within the Gippsland region and surrounding Melbourne regions and parts of Victoria. Issues are also available to read online, on desktop and mobile devices. Unsold magazines are distributed to cafes, health waiting rooms, hotels/motels, bed and breakfast establishments, galleries, hair and beauty salons and Council information centres.


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Southern Impact (VIC) Pty Ltd www.southerncolour.com.au

Southern Impact (VIC) Pty Ltd is environmentally conscious. They take action to minimise their waste and recycle their waste products; ethically and responsibly.

WHERE YOU CAN GET YOUR COPY GIPPSLAND LIFESTYLE OUTLETS Bairnsdale newsXpress 21 Bailey St Bairnsdale Dahlsens Mitre 10 19 Dalmahoy Street Bairnsdale Main Street Newsagency 212 Main Street Berwick Newsagency 29-31 High Street Briagolong Post Office & Newsagency 4 Avon Street Boolarra Store & Newsagency 9 Tarwin Street Bunyip IGA 2-6 Main Street Churchill Newsagency Hazelwood Village Shopping Centre Cowes Newsagency 44-46 Thompson Avenue Dalyston General Store 4213 Bass Highway Drouin Newsagency 93 Princes Way Fish Creek Alison Lester 1 Falls Road Fish Creek Discount Pharmacy Plus 25 Falls Road Foster FoodWorks 37 Main Street Garfield Licensed Post Office 77 Main Street Glengarry General Store Main Street Grantville Newsagency & Post Office Shop 2, 1503 Bass Hwy Heyfield IGA 18-22 George Street Inverloch FoodWorks 10-12 Reilly Street Inverloch Paperplay 10 A'Beckett Street The Jindi Caf 1070 Jacksons Track Korumburra Michael's Supa IGA 1 South Railway Cres Lakes Entrance Newspower 297 The Esplanade Lang Lang IGA 32 Main Street Leongatha Authorised Newsagency 30 Bair Street Leongatha Michael's Supa IGA Cnr Church & Bruce Sts Maffra newsXpress 144 Johnson Street Mallacoota Foodworks 48|50 Maurice Avenue Marlo General Store 14|16 Argyle Parade Metung Village Store 62 Metung Road Moe Nextra Lotto Shop 2, 1-3 Moore Street Morwell Newsagency 174-176 Commercial Road Nar Nar Goon, Clough Fuel 1975 Princes Hwy Neerim South IGA 147 Main Road Newry General Store 44 Main Street Omeo Post Office 155 Day Avenue Orbost Foodworks 70|78 Nicholson Street Poowong IGA 17-19 Main Street Port Albert Interiors by Jade Gift Shop 65 Tarraville Road Rosedale Butchers 32 Prince Street Sale Newsagency 308-310 Raymond Street San Remo IGA 135 Main Parade Stratford IGA 67 Tyers Street Swifts Creek General Store Great Alpine Road Tarwin Lower IGA 45 River Drive Tinamba General Store Maffra-Rosedale Road Toora Fancy Goods & Relics 26 Stanley Street Toora FoodWorks 66 Stanley Street Trafalgar IGA 5 McCrorey Street Traralgon News & Lotto 51-53 Franklin Street Trafalgar Newsagency 97 Princes Hwy Traralgon Seymour Street News 83 Seymour Street Ventnor The Anchorage Caravan Park Ventnor Road Venus Bay General Store 139 Jupiter Blvd Warragul Newsagency & Officesmart 43 Victoria Street Welshpool Supermarket 18 Main Street Wonthaggi Newsagency 31 Murray Street Yanakie General Store 3640 Meeniyan-Promontory Road Yarram Artichoke Books 1/243 Commercial Road Yarragon Fozigobble Café 79 Princes Highway Yarragon Keith’s Sister Shop 5, 97 Princes Highway Yinnar General Store 44 Main Street

EVANS PETROLEUM OUTLETS Fish Creek 2 Falls Road Foster 94 Main Street Inverloch 25 Williams Street Johnsonville 1760 Princes Highway Korumburra South 2-8 Commercial Street Leongatha Westside 7 Anderson Street Leongatha 95 Bair Street Mirboo North 106 Ridgway Newmerella 5327 Princes Highway Rosedale Prince Street Sale 344-350 Raglan Street Toora 26 Foster Road Wonthaggi 103-105 McKenzie Street Yarram 325 Commercial Street

RITCHIES SUPA IGA Stores Churchill 5-8 Georgina Way Maffra 102 Johnson Street Paynesville 3-5 Wellington Street Sale 177 York Street Wonthaggi 160 Graham Street

WONTHAGGI NEWSAGENCY & LOTTO OPEN SIX DAYS A WEEK | CLOSED SUNDAY 31 Murray Street, Wonthaggi Vic 3995 Tel: 5672 1256

Gippsland the Lifestyle Magazine is published quarterly. This magazine is distributed throughout Victoria. All photographs in this publication are copyright to Gippsland the Lifestyle, and if any are used in other publications or used in a commercial sense, you are liable to prosecution. Permission to use any photos in the publication must be obtained by contacting South Gippsland Publishing Pty Ltd via email to: gippslandlifestyle@bigpond.com Disclaimer: © South Gippsland Publishing Pty Ltd 2021, All Rights Reserved, has the discretion to add or remove words or photos that are deemed unsuitable for the magazine. South Gippsland Publishing Pty Ltd is not responsible or liable for any inaccuracies, omissions, or use of information contained within these pages, offering no warranties, either expressed or implied with respect to any material contained within the pages. Material in this magazine cannot be published or reproduced without South Gippsland Publishing Pty Ltd's written consent. Failure to heed to this could result in prosecution. The opinions and views expressed within this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers.

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Often triplets have a thick clear layer that is domed to magnify the colour of the thinner opal inside. Which one you choose depends on your budget and preference, however solids are usually the most desirable, being entirely natural gems. A quick run through of some of the different types of opal includes boulder opal. As the name suggests, boulder opals are found in ironstone boulders, and there is often a layer of ironstone on the back of the gem. Because the veins of opal in the large boulders can be quite fine, the opal cutter has to be very careful to how they shape, form and polish the gem, but the results can be truly spectacular, with stunning flashes of colour throughout the spectrum.

Opal has a rich history, and some of the world's finest are found in our remarkable, rugged landscapes. Often tons of earth are dug out just to find a few small opals in hot, dusty and dangerous conditions that sap the resolve of all but the most determined hunters, - and that's only part of the remarkable opal story.

Andamooka opals are another fascinating gem. Sometimes called matrix opal, this darker gem has gem opal throughout in tiny crystals that catch the light in rainbow colours – they look terrific against the darker background and fantastic in jewellery.

Opal is a very popular and truly distinctive gem, synonymous with Australia and it's found, not only in different places, but in different forms too. It's a pretty deep subject, but I'll attempt to provide an insight for you here. Of course if you want to know more, an experienced jeweller will help. Curtis Australia in Bairnsdale has a wealth of knowledge, a unique selection of opals and can help answer the questions you really should be asking.

Crystal opals are considered to be among the finest found, and can be 'black' or coloured, showing harlequin colours to vibrant blues and greens to gold, orange and pink - even reds. 'Black' are among the most desirable of opals, and they aren't actually black, but simply have a darker body tone that contrasts beautifully with the flashes of bright, iridescent colours that shimmer and change at every movement.

Glenn Curtis first visited Coober Pedy in 1975. Since then he has worked with many opals and has a great deal of knowledge he'll happily share with you when it comes to choosing your unique gem.

White or 'milky' opals often have the same flashes of colour as black opals, but the background is whiter, so the effect is perhaps more subtle – which brings us to another point – always choose your opal in the daytime, so you can really gauge the colour, character and iridescence of your chosen gem. Whiter or pinkish opals often work well with diamonds, with the flashes of light created by both creating some stunning designs.

Opals can be loosely grouped into three different types – you'll hear terms like solid, doublet and triplet. A solid opal is just that and wholly reliant on the skill of the craftsman to shape, polish and bring it to life. A doublet is made of two elements, a piece of opal and a backing material, often black, that enhances the colour and adds thickness to the piece of opal on top. The least valuable is the triplet, a fine slice of opal with a clear layer on top, and a black backing.

Fire opal is a variety that has a bright orange, yellow or red background – almost a flame effect when moved in the light. A STUNNING WHITE OPAL PENDANT FROM CURTIS AUSTRALIA'S 'BEACH' COLLECTION

This type of opal is less common and most people seem to prefer black opal.

With over 50 years experience in jewellery design & creation 8

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The art of shaping and polishing opals is just that, a real art form. From symmetrical shapes like ovals to unusual freeform shapes, the really skilled gem artist brings out the best in every gem. Shape and polish too far and the opal is effectively lost. No two opals are ever the same, every one is unique and this is just part of what makes them so very special. Why not call in to Curtis Australia next time you're in Bairnsdale – you'll see beautiful one of a kind opal jewellery that's ready to wear, - or you could even choose your own unique opal and combine it with other gems to create something spectacular just for you. A few well chosen diamonds add even more to the thoughtful designs that Glenn and his team create. You can chat with Glenn and Heather Curtis in their comfortable showroom, and another significant plus is that everything at Curtis Australia is created on the premises too. An important point - because opals vary so much and have truly individual characteristics, you shouldn't choose an opal online, they really are best seen in person. Be aware that there are synthetic and even imitation opals too. A photograph can only show so much, so to really appreciate the individual characteristics of an opal, see it for yourself and in daylight if possible.


WHEN YOU'VE JEWELLERY TO REPAIR, RESTORE OR EVEN REMODEL, GLENN AND HIS TEAM AT CURTIS AUSTRALIA IN BAIRNSDALE ARE READY TO HELP. You'll be assured of a warm welcome, and more importantly, the professional service and care your jewellery deserves. Next time you're in Bairnsdale, pop in and say hello – there's a lot to see. Browse and be inspired by their unique jewellery collections, see a growing range of exclusive Australian made solid gold Curtis watches and wonder at their ranges of beautifully imagined silver pens, all created in house. This really is more than just a jewellers, this is a destination too.


Have fun discovering the fascinating magic of opal!



You can see more at Curtis Australia’s stunning work at www.curtisaustralia.com or, next time you are in Bairnsdale, why not pop into their studio at 129 Macleod Street. Ph | 03 5152 1089

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Vicki Hiscock at a recently installed pipe and riser irrigation valve

INNOVATION “We have an image of the old dairy farmer in the gum boots and the towelling hat,” says Tinamba dairy farmer Vicki Hiscock as she busily manages her 300-acre farm where she milks 300 cows using flood irrigation.

That old stereotype hits a harsh reality check when you spend just a few minutes in Vicki’s company. It would be hard to meet a savvier and more determined operator in any field nor one that is as determined to continue improving her farm’s production with the use of efficient and smart technologies. Over the thirty years Vicki has been on this property she says the changes have been enormous. “It is unbelievable how much dairying has changed in 30 years. I think back to our practices then and we would set the water going overnight. It used to run down to the end of the bays and into the drains. Basically, we were paying thousands of dollars to bring this water onto the farm and then allowing it to run off, loaded with nutrients down the drain and into the rivers and Gippsland Lakes.” Now, Vicki says not a drop of water leaves the farm with the use of recycling dams created to catch any water running off the paddocks so that it can be re-used to grow more grass. The key feedstock for the dairy herd. Tinamba Dairy farmer Vicki Hiscock


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Not far away, Andre Meyer milks somewhere between 550 and 570 cows on 488 acres, again using predominately flood irrigation.

Andre, originally from South Africa, shares Vicki’s view that innovation is the key to running a successful enterprise, not only increasing production and profit but also demonstrating the social licence that dairy farmers hold. “It helps demonstrate to people that as dairy farmers we are responsible people. We love our land. We want to be on our land. We don’t just want to abuse the land and mine everything we can out of it.” Both farms have benefitted from initiatives that saw a contribution from state government to assist farmers improve their irrigation efficiency. The Macalister Irrigation Efficiency Incentive Scheme is managed by Agriculture Victoria and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority with the aim of assisting farm businesses to use irrigation water as efficiently as possible with a resulting reduction in their environmental footprint. For Andre, the focus of investment in recent years has seen the development of larger ponds to capture effluent that can be re-used on the property as well as converting some paddocks to high volume spray irrigation. Both investments that, like on Vicki’s farm, sees every drop of irrigation water used to its most efficient potential and valuable nutrient kept on the farm. Andre Meyer Brad Missen and Billy Marshall looking at a Whole Farm Plan on Andre's Tinamba farm

Tinamba dairy farmer Andre Meyer with new efficient high volume irrigation sprays

Sustainable Agriculture Project Officer Brad Missen from WGCMA Billy Marshall Irrigation Extension Officer with Ag Vic and Vicki Hiscosck

IN DAIRYING The employment of spray irrigation into paddocks that had historically been difficult to apply flood irrigation to has seen significant boosts to grass growth and milk production.

“We can definitely see there is a rise in the (milk) vat and this would be a direct result from growing more grass… Also growing the grass better in some of these areas we’ve been able to get this water to also helps look after the pasture with less weeds, the pasture doesn’t thin out so when the cows go into those paddocks, they’ve got good food and that sees them producing more milk.” For Vicki, the investment on her property has seen efficiencies in flood irrigation and a ‘fast on, fast off’ approach to irrigation. “It’s so much easier to grow grass,” says Vicki. “Because I can get 12 megalitres (per day flow rate), which is a lot of water, to rush down the paddock. I’m only wetting the top two inches, where the roots of the grass are."

Andre Meyer at the control of a new hard hose irrigator

"You don’t want water sitting on top of a paddock for 12 hours (as was the case with the older flood systems), because all that is doing is seeping deeper and deeper into the ground. I don’t need it to go any deeper than two inches because that’s where I grow my grass.” Innovation and a desire to improve production and profitability combined also with a deep commitment to protecting the environment will drive farmers like Vicki and Andre forward in coming years. For both, the journey is an ongoing one with the development of emerging tools using the Internet of Things to again increase production and efficiencies already being rolled out. While the gum boots and maybe the terry towelling hat are likely to be a feature of dairy farming for ever, the baton has certainly been passed from the stereotypical environmentally indifferent and risk averse dairy farmers of the last century to a new breed, eager to embrace technology and best practice to continually move the industry forward.

The Macalister Irrigation Efficiency Incentive Scheme is funded through the Victorian Government’s Sustainable Irrigation Program.

Andre Meyer next to a recently improved re-use dam on his Tinamba property

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furniture & bedding

"Gippsland’s finest furniture & bedding store"


furniture & bedding 24 INVERLOCH ROAD, WONTHAGGI Ph 5672 5906

Mexican street food cantina – takeaway – order in store OPEN 7 DAYS FOR LUNCH & DINNER KEEP UP TO DATE ON INSTA @_LIME_AND_CO 10B A’Beckett Street Inverloch 3996 VIC ph | 5674 6151 www.limeandco.com.au 12

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Check our facebook or Instagram for menu and opening hour updates

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WE NEVER COMPROMISE PREMIUM QUALITY & SAFETY STANDARDS CPK McLaren MotorBody is recognised as one of the State’s leading Automotive Repair Facilities, one of only 5 Regional Finalists over 3 years in the VACC Industry Awards Best Body Repairer, Passenger Vehicle Category.


Environmentally friendly automotive refinishing technologies. Diagnostic, Fault discovery & Safety Restraint System equipment.  ALL VEHICLES INCLUDING PRESTIGE  CLAIMS ASSISTANCE  GENUINE VEHICLE PARTS ONLY  GENUINE CAR GLASS & WINDSCREEN REPLACEMENT ONLY  24 HOUR TOWING  COMPANY FLEET VEHICLES

insurance claims assistance

17-19 Roughead Street, Leongatha | 5662 4173 | info@mclarenmotorbody.com.au













RESERVE A TABLE CALL 03 5664 0010 EMAIL eat@moosatmeeniyan.com.au

www.moosatmeeniyan.com.au MOO’S AT MEENIYAN 89 WHITELAW STREET MEENIYAN VIC 3956

Photography by Mark Thurman | Nicky Cawood



Great Set of Teeth by Emma Fleetwood

This exhibition held in Warragul at the West Gippsland Arts Centre was a huge success and it was great to see the public back again. People from all over Victoria visited Warragul especially to attend the exhibition, and were surprised and delighted with the calibre of the photography. Three hundred and fifty three images by 92 photographers were displayed in the newly renovated Fountain Room at the West Gippsland Arts Centre. The spacious setting meant that visitors could take their time to examine every detail of the images and commented that they were some of the best images they had seen. Here are some of the selections that were at the exhibition.


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The Enchantress by Barry Feldman

TOWNSEND'S NURSERY WONTHAGGI 315 West Area Road Wonthaggi VIC 3995

Bare rooted fruit trees available in June | $7 range of natives & exotics Lots of other varieties at marked prices

OPEN 6 DAYS A WEEK | CLOSED TUESDAYS & PUBLIC HOLIDAYS (03) 5672 1982 | 0488 322 777 | kandltownsend@yahoo.com.au www.facebook.com/townsendnursery




Backyard World is a leading SteelChief supplier and custom builder for cubbies, forts and playgrounds, sheds and workshops, decks and pergolas, portable homes, custom man sheds and pet enclosures for Gippsland and the Bass Coast. Headed up by the Director of the Business is a qualified carpenter and registered commercial builder with over thirty years’ experience in the building industry. Backyard World is a family run business, well-equipped to help you with your next backyard project in Gippsland and the Bass Coast



BACKYARD WORLD 4212 Bass Highway, Dalyston VIC 3992 Tel: 0429 667 825 | Em: chantelle.backyardworld@gmail.com www.backyardworld.com.au 20

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Yarragon the go to town

Yarragon is located between Warragul and Trafalgar and is one of only two towns not bypassed by the Princes Highway between Melbourne and the Latrobe Valley. Yarragon is very much a tourist town, with an interesting selection of antique shops, craft shops, galleries and cafes attracting many visitors. Attractive gardens, pathways, shelters and a large rotunda provide a buffer between the busy highway and the variety of specialty shops and attractions that Yarragon has to offer.

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Yarragon The Strzelecki Ranges provide a scenic backdrop to Yarragon, with much of the land around the town devoted to dairy farms and the ever increasing b&bs that are popping up.

Crystal Ocean & Metaphysical Shop has a wide variety of beautiful crystal gift ideas, natural crystals, and polished crystals and gemstones. Just ask Julie and Sarah and they will assist you with any query.

There is plenty to do in Yarragon, you can visit the Kathleen Rose Glass Studio and take a look at the stunning mix of stained glass windows and many other items for sale and call into Jimmy D’s Diner next door for an American style hamburger and all the extras.

Fozigobbles Café focuses on providing high quality, home-style food that not only tastes delicious but is also good for your body. The ever helpful staff are on hand and the food is great so is the service. The 3 Cheeky Monkeys offers great value in unique toys, books, games and puzzles, see Doug and Tara to assist you in a fun friendly shop.

Call into Keith’s Sister for all your babyware, cushions, baskets, bags and I am sure that Julie who is the owner can help with you anything you want. No visit to Yarragon is completed without a visit to Pennyworth O’ Lollies, this shop has just about every chocolate bar and chocolates, lollies you could want. Hershey Bars, M&Ms , Yorkie Bars, are my favourites, and you can always buy toys, number plates, puzzles, jigsaws, model car kits. Just up the road from Pennyworth is the Yarragon Milk Bar and this is no ordinary Milk Bar, it is the home of the local famous Housebrick Hamburger and believe me, try this burger and you won’t be eating for another 12 hours, and you can splash the burger down with one of the 15 flavoured milk shakes.

And call into the Station Art Gallery at the Yarragon Railway Station which is a quaint building which has been converted to cater for the artistic community while still maintaining much of its stunning historic features. The K Class Locomotive was a branch line steam locomotive that ran on Victorian Railways from 1922 to 1979. Although its design was entirely conventional and its specifications unremarkable, the K class was in practice a remarkably versatile and dependable locomotive. It went on to outlast every other class of steam locomotive in regular service on the Victorian Railways, and no fewer than 21 examples of the 53 originally built have survived into preservation. Plenty to see and do in our wonderful towns of Gippsland. Just because they are on the highway, don’t pass them, stop and call in and most of all shop local and support the towns and their lovely people.

The K183 Steam Train relic

Top facility for netball


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Sam King Green at the Yarragon Bowling Club

Dowton Park Reserve home of football, cricket and netball

View of the town from above

Yarragon Trail


Fozigobble Cafe focuses on providing high quality, home-style food that not only tastes delicious but is also good for your body. Once upon a time Mother Nature, decided to give birth to a special creature, someone that symbolised good health, wellness, and deliciousness. She lovingly lowered her hand, touching a vegetable patch, magically giving life to a happy, go-lucky creature, consisting of a Broccoli head & body, carrots for arms, chilli eyebrows, and capsicum feet. She admired what she had created and called the creature, Fozigobble.

79 Princes Highway Yarragon Vic 3823 Tel: 5634 2853 Like us on facebook

Fozigobble was given the task to go out and spread the message of good healthy & delicious eating to all the locals. This is the legend of Fozigobble! gippsland lifestyle winter ����


Genuine Andara Crystals

High Grade Caribbean Calcite Heart

A sea of tranquility awaits at Tucked into a cosy corner of Yarragon’s main street, is a calming spiritual haven. Gleaming with crystals, tumbled stones and fragrant soothing essential oils, Crystal Ocean is an oasis of serenity and healing. Founded by Julie Greensmith in 2000, Crystal Ocean brings together her 25 years of experience in psychic development, mediumship, crystal healing, shamanism, singing bowls and spiritual development. Previously located in Tooradin, Crystal Ocean found its current home in Yarragon nine years ago, and has amassed a loyal following, as well as attracting travellers from all over Gippsland and beyond. Stocking an impressive range of crystals and minerals, jewellery, candles, smudge sticks crystal singing pyramids and Tibetan singing bowls, Crystal Ocean’s calming warmth is evident through Julie’s daughter, Sarah, who works alongside her mum. “Mum had her first crystal shop when I was 12 or 13 so that was my first job,” Sarah says. “And I certainly went and did my own thing and got educated and travelled. But it’s kind of in our blood. I love the crystals, I’ve been brought up around them, I love the customer service, I like meeting all of the lovely people we get in.

Crystal Singing Bowls with Flower of Life Symbols


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My brother helps out a lot as well. He loves the rocks, so we have an awesome time.” More of a community than a staff, Crystal Ocean’s practitioners include Energy Healer Kate Hourigan and Psychic Intuitive Readers Lindy Stratford and Kasey Cull. It’s the perfect destination for anyone who’s just dipping their toe into the world of crystal healing and collecting, as well as devotees. “There’s a whole range. You get people who are going through a lot and who really want to have a deep chat, really want to talk a lot about what they need and what might help. And others that already know what they want, and they just want their quiet time, just want to enjoy the atmosphere. And both are really nice.” With decades of knowledge, Julie and Sarah are able to help guide visitors to the store or allow them to take their own journey. “Our advice is normally to trust your intuition. Come in, see what grabs you and we can go from there. But I think some of the most popular things for someone that’s just getting into it are smaller crystals, things like energy sprays, they are really sensory, anyone can enjoy them.

Genuine Moldavite Pendant

Labradorite Pendant


And the sound – we do crystal singing bowls and they’re really felt – physically as well as energetically.” Crystal Ocean is a treasure trove of everything from the tiniest of crystals, to stunning crystal caves. And if what you’re looking for isn’t in store, they’re happy to try and source what your heart desires, through their extensive network of ethical suppliers.

95 Princes Highway Yarragon Vic 3823 Tel: 03 5634 2869 Mobile: 0490 965 163 W: crystalocean.com.au Like us on Facebook Instagram We are OPEN on weekends! Mon, Wed, Thur, Fri, Sat & Sun 10.00am – 5.00pm Tuesdays Closed

Whether you’re in need of healing, calm, or expert knowledge on the alluring world of crystals, minerals and more, Crystal Ocean’s sea of tranquillity is the perfect place to put down anchor.

Practitioners Singing Bowls

Large Celestite Geode

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At Pennyworth O'Lollies we offer big choice for great value. We stock all your old favourites, including boiled sweets, chocolates, jubes, jellies, liquorice from Australia and around the world including English, Scottish, Dutch, American and much more! We also stock a range of giftware for men including: Metal Signs, Die Cast Cars, Die Cast Tractors, and much more……


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We bring beauty to lif e f o r Mu ms a n d B u bs w i th our g reat range of Snug g le Hu n n y K ids and Hy de & Seek Ba bywa re S h o p 5 , 9 7 P r i n c e s H i g h w a y Ya r r a g o n V i c 3 8 2 3

Jimmy D’s Diner is a family owned and family run business bringing to Yarragon, a 1950’s style diner with a twist. The talented and proficient team present an ever evolving menu that highlights fresh and local produce; incorporating American style burgers with all the extras! The unique atmosphere that has been created provides both a visual AND dining experience; making Jimmy D’s Diner a destination on its own.

HOURS: Mon-Fri 7am-4pm | Sat + Sun 7.30am-4pm and Fri + Sat Nights 6pm-9pm

Shop 1/83 Princes Highway, Yarragon 3823 TEL: 5634 2103 www.jimmydsdiner.com.au

Unique toys, books, games and puzzles Shop 3-97 Princes Highway Yarragon Vic 3823 Mon – Sat 10.00am – 4.30pm | Sun 11.00am – 3.00pm Tel: 03 5634 2861

www.the3cheekymonkeys.com.au gippsland lifestyle winter ����


A GLASS GEM IN THE HEART OF YARRAGON Rockstar’s airbrushed onto vintage mirrors, a stunning mix of stained glass-windows, vibrant paintings, and quirky knickknacks. These are some of the eclectic gems you will find inside Kathleen Hentschel’s Yarragon studio. Kathleen Rose Glass Studio is nestled in the heart of the main street, located on the ground level of the family home and next to their popular retro café, Jimmy D’s Diner. Both the diner and studio ooze a certain kind of cool that many would associate with the hipster streets of Melbourne and not country Victoria. But Yarragon is bustling with culture, so it is fitting the family set up their unique businesses- and their home- right in the middle of it. “We are very much a family run business,” Kathleen says. “My husband Barry and daughter Nikki run the café and my son Jack helps me in my studio.” It’s a studio I feel privileged to be invited into. A space where Kathleen, a very private and humbled person, goes to blare Rolling Stones and think without interruption. It’s a bright and welcoming workspace filled with bits and pieces meaningful to Kathleen to encourage her creativity. Ultimately, it’s where the magic happens. Jack, who must have acquired Kathleen’s impressive creative gene, has even designed a beautiful mosaic mural in the back corner of the studio. Whilst the studio is very much a personal space, the shop at the front of the studio is where locals and visitors are invited to come and view the glass works and purchase unique items for their own home or for special gifts. They can also speak to Kathleen about other special services or commission projects. “I opened the shop in November of 2019 because I knew I had a lot to offer,” she said. “I have always wanted my own studio to explore and experiment more. Yarragon was the perfect spot to open the studio. It’s a beautiful town with lots of creative people and energy about it.” But Kathleen has been working with glass long before opening her studio. And though she does not like to refer to herself as an ‘artist’, there is no denying that her artistic abilities are second to none.


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Kathleen Hentschel in her Yarragon studio



“I love to draw and paint and have this ability to think outside the square,” she said. “I used to do oil painting and air brushing. I remember one report at school where an art teacher said she would recommend that I get into the arts (when I completed school).”

“I get a lot of work from word of mouth, people know who I am and what I do,” she said. “It’s great to have that interest and appreciation. In Yarragon, there are a lot of different creative people and it is great. We can’t all be the same, otherwise life would get boring.”

Whilst Kathleen’s first artistic love was painting, she quickly grew an interest in working with glass. “I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands. I moved to Bendigo when I was seventeen and my first job there was at a hardware store. I did a lot of framing and building kitchens, which is when I started working with timber and frames. There was a glass place down the road and I went there and checked it out,” Kathleen said. “Glass is such an amazing and fluid medium to work with, and the possibilities are endless. I melt it, I paint it, I cook it, I incorporate it with timber and steel. I love everything from the historical part of it to forever trying to find new ways to use it. I am always experimenting.” Kathleen went onto to do a lead lighting course and worked with the instructor for several years before branching on her own. She continues to keep in touch with him and other teachers she has had along the way - and she has had plenty. “I’ve done a lot and a lot of workshops and courses,” she said. “I love learning. I am always learning.” Because of her unending desire to learn, Kathleen has a vast number of skills under her belt including-but not limited to- beadmaking, powder painting, casting, fusing, kiln work, glass blowing, neon signs, airbrushing, sandblasting, copper foiling. She uses these skills not only to create her own works of art, but to do a range of services for clients, including commemorative pieces, feature windows, repair work and more. And though she cannot pick her favourite project, she does take great pride in making others happy. “It’s always great to restore something that someone loves,” she said. “It’s exciting to give back that item to them after I’ve repaired it. I love it.” Those satisfied clients have been responsible for keeping Kathleen busy by spreading the word about her expertise and impeccable service. And in a niche industry like Kathleen’s, community support is very important.

Kathleen Rose Glass Studio is located at Shop2/83 Princes Hwy, Yarragon. Check out Kathleen Rose Glass Studio on Facebook or visit ‘kathleenroseglassstudio’ on Instagram for more information, including upcoming details of a course Kathleen will be offering at the studio in the near future.

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Community Bank Trafalgar & District Investment

Supporting the Yarragon Bowling Club est. 1961



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Community Bank Trafalgar and District branch is a locally owned and operated company with a franchise agreement in place with the Bendigo Adelaide Bank. The Community Bank branch in Trafalgar opened in November 2003 and supports local community investment. The Community Bank story began in 1998. Unlike other banks, Bendigo Bank’s Community Bank model is based on a ‘profit-with-purpose’ philosophy, which means profits are returned directly to the local community which would not have been possible without our customers.

Community Bank Trafalgar and District branch have invested close to $1.6 million back into our local community which would not have been possible without our customers. We are proud to be Australia’s bank of choice to our customers and support our local community whilst still providing our customers with a high level of service. If you are not already a Community Bank Trafalgar & District customer, please think about calling into the branch located conveniently on the Princes Highway and speaking to one of our friendly staff about your banking needs.


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Anita with a mosaic by the late Maery Gabriel

Like a warm smile from a friendly stranger, The Station Gallery is a vibrant welcome to locals and visitors of the bustling town of Yarragon. Like its name suggests, the gallery is located at the Yarragon Train Station, a quaint building which has been converted to cater to the artistic community while still maintaining much of its stunning historic features. Anita George, the President of the Baw Baw Arts Alliance, said that during the quiet months during Covid restrictions last year, the gallery was given a much-needed revamp with a fresh coat of white and teal paint, and the removal of bars on the surrounding windows. It was a fitting transformation to highlight the beautiful works on display. The Station Gallery is not-for-profit artist run initiative which welcomes creatives of any calibre, in any genre, from near or far. The showroom is hired by artists monthly, allowing for a rotation of a diverse range of works for viewing pleasure. Visitors to the gallery can then purchase unique items in the adjoining shop.

“Visitors are always amazed at the variety, quality and price of our artworks. With changes each month and the shop items selling, there is always new things to see,” Anita said. “The shop is run by volunteers, some of whom are the artists, and as all work is unique to the artist and it is a great place to shop for gifts.”

After a funding boost in 2015, the BBAA was able to open a creative workshop premise in Trafalgar, where anyone can get in touch with their own artistic side or expand on their creative skills. Activity groups at Trafalgar Station Gallery: Mondays Painting(untutored) 10.30-2.30pm Tuesday Weaving and Crafts 10.30- 3.00 Tuesday Hand building Clay 7.30-9.30 Wednesday Hand building Clay 10.30-12.30 10.30 - 3.30 Thursday -Mosaics Thursday Drawing 10.30 -3.00 10.15- 3 Friday- Printmaking Friday 10.30- 2.00pm Fibres, knitting, crochet. Cost is $5 for members or $6 for a non-member. Newcomer’s welcome, The Station Gallery is open 10.30 - 4pm Wednesday to Sunday. The Painting Group exhibition will be on in June, artist Cathy Smith will have an exhibition in July and the BBAA Printing Group will be exhibiting in August. For more information, visit www.bawbawartsalliance.org.au or call 0490 173 103 between Wednesday to Sunday.

Anita said Yarragon was the ideal location for The Station Gallery as it was middle ground for members who reside all over the area- from Drouin to Moe to Hills End, and everywhere in between. But furthermore, hundreds of people travel every year to the area to tantalise their tastebuds with delicious food and aromatic coffee at one of the several cafes, or to do a spot of shopping at the antique stores or quirky shops. And, thanks to the creative community, residents and guests can also enjoy the arts culture on offer. And for those people who want to do more than just view or purchase artistic works, there is always an option to get directly involved by joining the BBAA. Anita moved to Yarragon thirteen years ago and, as a Calligrapher with an interest in the abstract, it did not take her long to find new likeminded friends with creative flares. Known for her passion for the arts, Anita was later asked to join the Baw Baw Arts Alliance committee. She says her role with the BBAA has changed her for the better. “I used to be quite nervous and anxious to speak in front of people, but I have gained so much confidence,” she said. “I am very comfortable with these people. We are more than a committee; we really are friends. We always check in with each other and enjoy spending time with one another.” Members of BBAA are invited to enter two different exhibitions a year at The Station Gallery, with each pertaining to a different theme. Members also participate in several events including the Warragul Arts Market, Drouin Art Show, Harvest Festival and much more. But you do not have to be a BBAA member to showcase your work at The Station Gallery, or to participate in one of the many workshops on offer at a sister premise in Trafalgar, just a quick drive down the Princes Highway.

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BEAU MILES Through his adventures close to home in Jindivick and further afield in the great outdoors, Beau Miles is making his mark on the world by daring to be different. He’s quite a hard man to pigeon-hole, whether you’d best describe him as an adventurer, film-maker, YouTube influencer, endurance athlete, academic, husband, doting father and Mr. Fixit. The truth is, he’s all of those things – and more. Author can now be added to that list following the recent release of Beau’s first book, which carries the appropriate title The Backyard Adventurer. The man with the trademark ginger beard, a penchant for licorice and an even bigger appetite for adventure has been taking on various kinds of challenges, often bordering on the bizarre and usually physically demanding, for many years both overseas and locally. By having captured these escapades on film, Beau has assembled a catalogue of content on his YouTube channel that has now amassed 363,000 subscribers around the globe. Examples of his endeavours include kayaking 2000 kilometres around the southern tip of Africa, crossing Bass Strait in a kayak, twice walking around 90 kilometres to work, spending a night up a gum tree on his property, running a mile an hour around his block at hourly intervals over 24 hours to complete a marathon while also fixing things, eating a diet of beans for 40 days and retracing the route of the disused railway line between Warragul and Noojee. That is just a sample of the growing list of somewhat unusual challenges Beau has put his mind and body through. As the title The Backyard Adventurer suggests, the book focuses mainly on his more recent exploits close to home in West Gippsland rather than the earlier expeditions overseas. “It provides the back story to all the adventures over the last seven or so years of my life,” Beau says. “The beginning of the book sets the scene by covering the transitional shift I made from being a go anywhere adventurer doing long range expeditions overseas to finding new challenges in and around my own stomping ground here at home. There is so much more that goes into each adventure that what I can show in a short film and so writing the book has enabled me to add another dimension to those stories.”

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The Backyard Adventurer was launched on 5th May and is available through all the major bookstores and online book sellers. Links to online sales are also located on Beau’s website and via his YouTube channel.

“Mate, I’ve landed with my bum in honey all my life,” he insists.

Beau was approached by book publishers from New Zealand and Sydney to pen his story after his 90 kilometre walk to appear at a lecture at Monash University’s Clayton Campus in 2018 was the subject of a photo spread in The Age newspaper.

“Yes, there’s been hardship in there, but not real hardship. The problems I’ve had have just been part of life.”

“It was in the same week that Malcolm Turnbull was overthrown and the story about my walk was the most read article in the newspapers that day, more than the Prime Minister getting ousted,” he remarks. After considering his publishing options, Beau decided to go with Brio Books in Sydney and says he is pleased with the end result of his considerable toil on the project. Beau has dedicated The Backyard Adventurer to “anyone who has lived a hard life in order to get by” but is at pains to point out that he is not an example of such a person.


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Beau and his extremely supportive and patient wife of three years, Helen, live on a five acre property at Jindivick, which he refers to as their own little patch of Eden. The couple’s first child, a daughter named May, arrived in October 2019. “There had been times in the past decade when I had questioned the whole point of life, but Helen and May coming along changed all that. I knew when I proposed to Helen that if she’d have me it would be the best decision I’ll ever make and then came May’s birth, which created another seismic shift in my reason for being alive,” he states. In the acknowledgements within the book, Beau provides an insight into the importance of family in his world. Despite his parents separating and re-partnering when he was young, he remains extremely close to his artist father Gary and mother Cherry, who he describes as his “hero and a practical, make-it-work force of nature”.

Beau does not feel he carries any scars from his split of his parents. “It’s quite funny how things turned out,” he reflects. “Mum went from being with a wacko artist in dad to marrying a conservative lawyer in Melbourne, whilst dad ended up with a flight attendant. Everyone’s happy and in many respects having step parents is great because you benefit from four sets of world views and four sets of parenting.” Beau is also thankful that his parents encouraged him to spend time outdoors when he was young. Home back then was on a seven acre block in Drouin West, where his dad still lives today. “I had a wonderland of trees and dirt and other stuff to do outside the house, but importantly I had parents who said go out and do it,” he remarks. Amongst Beau’s many childhood memories, during a period living with his mum near Warragul Golf Club, he fondly remembers spending time searching for golf balls while secretly hoping to find a body part in the swamps and marshes.

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THE BACKYARD ADVENTURER With such an active imagination and an innate ability to find something interesting in the mundane, Beau can’t really remember ever being bored.

One of Beau’s adventures involved crossing Bass Strait by kayak in 2016, a feat which was the subject of his PhD.

“As kids, my three sisters and I were able to make our own fun. Nowadays, you have to force the hand of children to create their own sense of the world and fun and games. If it’s not on a phone in front of them, they don’t have to reach for anything. They don’t have to create,” he laments.

“I wanted to do my PhD on expeditionary learning and expeditionary thinking,” he explains.

Beau spent periods of time living alternatively with his mother and father during his youth and as a resulted attended four different primary schools. His secondary education began in Melbourne and was completed at St. Paul’s Anglican Grammar School in Warragul from Year 10 onwards. “I can’t even remember what the catalyst was for me deciding to coming back to live with dad, but attending St. Paul’s for my VCE years was a real turning point,” he says. “Some of the teachers at St. Paul’s really resonated with me and became mentors. At one point I was so close to pulling out and doing an apprenticeship to become a chippy, but my English teacher, Mrs. Pepper managed to convince me to stick it out at school.” Travelling to Europe and Israel for a World War 2 Holocaust study tour while in Year 11 at St. Paul’s also left an indelible impression on Beau. “It was an absolutely mind-blowing experience,” he remembers. Beau turned seventeen on the way home from the study tour and it proved to be the catalyst for the many overseas adventures that would follow in the years to come. After completing his VCE, Beau was accepted into Monash University but deferred for a year and instead stayed on at St. Paul’s to undertake a traineeship in Outdoor Education. He then attained a double degree at Monash – a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation, majoring in Geography. “I spent one of those four years abroad in Canada as an exchange student,” he says. “Then I went off and did all sorts of things for six or seven years before doing my Masters.” In his early adventures travelling to different continents, Beau says he didn’t have a very worldly outlook on life. “I was still a pretty sheltered boy. It’s taken me a long time to get to the mindset I have now,” he reflects. “I thought things like hiring a motorbike somewhere in Asia and riding without a helmet and going wherever you like were just amazing. I didn’t stop to question anything or consider the risks.”


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“An expedition nowadays is no longer about finding gold, or a new country, or a spice. You’re after a certain version of yourself. That holds a fascination for me, as do the phases of that from planning and preparation through to the doing and then the reflection phase. So I thought it made sense to do it on something I like. “I never wanted to do a PhD on myself, but the panel recognised a curiosity in me about finding out how I tick, so they suggested I turn the lens on myself and do the ethnography and as an auto-ethnography.” Beau says he temporarily lost of bit of his personality pushing himself to write the PhD, which was completed in late 2017 following three months of intense re-writing. “It’s bloody hard work,” he emphasises. Beau is proud to have earned the title of Doctor of Philosophy, but doesn’t wear it as a badge of honour. He only seeks to use the Doctor title in certain settings, predominantly when amongst similarly qualified people in the world of academia and at times when hosting lectures or fulfilling speaking engagements. It was while writing his PhD that circumstances led to Beau redefining the horizons of his adventures. “By the final year in particular I realised I had become an inside person. My fingers were pink and had lost all the cracks in them,’” he remembers. “I thought to myself, this is bullshit. I need to be outside more. One day when I was having a mental block with my study I decided to run one lap of my block and then resumed writing. It wasn’t a penny drop moment, but I thought it was a nice little reset. It was one of many moments during that period where I came to recognise that in terms of adventuring I could get a lot more bang for my buck at home.” But conjuring up unusual escapades to capture on film doesn’t necessarily pay the bills and for ten years Beau’s primary source of income was as an educator at Monash University, lecturing in the Outdoor Education program. Then, in late 2019, he suffered a major professional setback when Monash cancelled the course in a cost cutting measure.


“I knew the course was on thin ice, but not me with it, so it did come as a shock,” Beau concedes. “It was the first time I had been out of work since getting a job as a paper boy at thirteen. I could have stayed on at Monash as a general educator, but it meant I would not have been able to go camping again under their auspices, so I pulled the pin. My loyalty was lost in that moment, but within a few days I felt better and was ready to start again.” Although fans of Beau’s work regard him as a great motivational force, he tends to downplay his abilities and his capacity to inspire others. “If I’ve got anything, it’s work ethic,” he suggests. “I’m not overly smart. I’m not overly talented as a runner or a paddler. But I’m good at those things. When you mix all that up the result is that I can say I’m bloody lucky. Life is pretty extraordinary. Of course I see all the bad things as well, but you’ve got to be optimistic, and that is my default I think.” Beau is always flattered but often a slightly bemused or even overwhelmed by some of the glowing feedback his films receive on his YouTube channel. When one of his subscribers described them as a masterclass in life, Beau posted a courtesy reply but humbly insisted that his films are just him being himself. “I’ve never deliberately set out to inspire anyone,” he states. “When someone tells me I’ve changed their life in some way I’m very enamoured by that, but I’m a little intimidated by it too, because I know within myself I’m just this bearded bloke Beau going about his business.” Anyone who has viewed one of Beau’s short films or documentaries will understand why they have found such a widespread appeal and acclaim. His adventures are homespun yarns that are beautifully shot, insightful, thought-provoking and leave you feeling better for having watched them. Beau’s dry sense of humour adds another layer of authenticity that shines through in his films. Run the Line, in which he retraces the disused Warragul to Noojee railway line, is a particularly enchanting piece of cinematography that was judged of sufficient excellence to become a finalist at the prestigious Banff Mountain Film Festival. Beau attributes great credit to his filming and production crew, including Mitch Drummond, Chris Ord and Brett Campbell. “Mitch is a former student of mine from Monash. He and I are now intertwined, having established a company together called Beard and Wicket,” he reveals. Beau’s next film project, Bad River, is already in progress. It involves him paddling four of Australia’s unhealthiest waterways, even if that does represent a deviation from his previous decision to base his adventures close to home.

Beau will be accompanied when paddling the Murray by former Monash work colleague Brian Wattchow. The first of the four films will be released on World Rivers Day in September and then one more each month until Christmas. Anyone unfamiliar with Beau’s work could just imagine him as a hybrid concoction of some of the best known faces of adventuring and documentary film making. He is part Bear Grylls, part Louis Theroux and part Russell Coight, without the mishaps and misinformation that were synonymous with Glenn Robbins’s alter-ego’s All Aussie Adventures. A fair proportion of Beau’s YouTube subscribers consider him a certified nut-case, but he is way too clever to be categorised as any sort of lunatic. Beau is as fair dinkum as they come; the sort of laid back, knockabout, true blue Aussie bloke who most men would like to have a beer with, and possessing the kind of emotional intelligence and natural charm that many women would find endearing. Whilst his films often seem a little random or haphazard, that’s certainly not the case. There is method behind the madness. “I’m actually quite calculating and meticulous in planning my adventures, but I also know what I can leave behind,” Beau says. “I’d hope to think that what you see of me on camera is what you get in real life, however, I do want to ensure there is an element of surprise and spontaneity in my films,” he adds. Hollywood actor Johnny Depp was once quoted as saying: “I think everybody’s weird. We should all celebrate our individuality and not be ashamed of it.” It’s the sort of statement that Beau identifies with. “I struggle to think I’m a rare breed,” he comments. “Everybody imagines doing all sorts of things all the time, but I suppose the difference is that I follow through on my ideas.” It is not lost on Beau that his films, and now his book, are showcasing the beauty of West Gippsland to the world. “I haven’t meant to put my address on anything, but it’s out there. People certainly know where I’m from,” he says.

“I’m proud of this region and lucky to have the life I enjoy. You could put a tee-shirt on me with West Gippsland emblazoned on it and I’d happily wear it for the rest of my days.” Images | Chris Ord + Mitch Drummond

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ROSEDALE BUTCHERS Local Family Owned Country Butcher

Three generations of Vaux Family owned and operated business since 1977.

Smallgoods made in the premises from ham and bacon to a range of cabanas, plain, garlic, chilli, cheese and chilli. Ready to heat home style meals. Fresh Gippsland fish on Wednesday’s. Maffra and Gippsland cheese, as well as other locally sourced Gippsland products. Call now for your Meat & Smallgoods needs or call us to conveniently place your order

32 Prince Street, Rosedale 3847 Ph 5199 2210 Follow us www.rosedalebutchers.com.au

Full range of Water Tanks, Building Materials, Gates, Rural Supplies & Nursery. Available for pick up or delivery. To Order Phone 5678 8552

GRANTVILLE Cnr Bass Highway & Dalyston-Glen Forbes Road, Mon – Fri 7.00am – 5.00pm Sat – 7.00am – 12.00pm | Sun – 9.00am – 2.00pm

OFFICER 421 Princes Highway

Mon – Fri 7.00am – 5.00pm Sat – 7.00am to 12.00pm | Sun Closed

E: grantville@vansteenseltimbers.com.au | www.vansteenseltimbers.com.au 42

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BigRed As I write I can't help shedding a tear for this huge, beautiful, iconic creature that was once a part of our lives for so many years. Big Red, as we named him, was bought with his disturbed mother at Dandenong Sale Yards. He was a Saler breed and a magnificent calf with impressive, maturing horns. He initially spent a year on a Seymour property before we relocated him to a leased paddock in Epping. Red somehow always managed to be 'not quite right' for the next load of cattle to be sold. I believe, in hindsight, we were curious to see how big he and his horns would grow. Once the farm was purchased in Middle Tarwin, we transported Big Red to his new home, but first we had to walk him around to the neighbour's open race, as he had outgrown ours. By then, Red's back reached a height of six feet and his huge head carried the most beautiful set of horns protruding approximately two feet outward on either side. Encompassing his solid build was his glistening, red, curly coat, while the end of his long tail boasted a contrasting blonde colour. He was stunning and proud and we were extremely fond of him.

We could never edge closer than a metre or so to Red before he would throw his head and horns around to warn us off. This wasn't done aggressively, just enough to let us know he didn't want us to touch him. Mind you, he never hesitated to eat out of our hands, especially when we offered him coffee scrolls. He had such a sweet tooth and loved the random treats with which we spoiled him.

It was warmer for him there with plenty of sheltering trees. He seemed to enjoy his new area and soon became the daily attraction to many passing admirers, especially the school bus, which frequented our road twice a day. The kids looked forward to seeing Red and would ask the bus driver to slow down, hoping the magnificent bullock was grazing near the front gate.

Drenching time was challenging. We couldn't walk Red into the crush, so we placed him in the smallest wing of the timber yards. It was an effort trying to back-drench him while he was turning in circles! Red was noticeably relieved, as we were, when the task was completed, allowing him to escape our clutches to wander into an enticing, fresh paddock.

Red was also an efficient watch dog, as strangers visiting the farm would look and think twice before entering our property! The sheer size of him looked frightening, and I'd given up counting how many times I was asked, "Is that a Texas Longhorn bull?"

As it happened, Big Red instinctively became the leader of the pack. He introduced arriving cattle to their new surroundings and led them into the strip-grazing paddocks as we dropped the wire on alternate days. He knew the farm well and played a significant role in bringing the cattle up to the yards. This meant crossing the steers over the dateless bridge above the Tarwin River, which flowed through the property. It was a challenging task, especially before fences and laneways were erected, but Red was sensational at his job. His sheer presence demanded respect from the other cattle and they followed him like curious sheep.

by Camilla Hullick

Sadly, Big Red faced his final hours after a long and happy life of sixteen years. Old age and progressive arthritis finally prevailed, and we had no choice but to gut-wrenchingly let him go. He is buried on the farm and will always be remembered as the statuesque, proud and stunning creature that he was.

"People had warned us not to become emotionally attached to our farm animals, but we wouldn't trade one moment with Big Red."

As time went on and Big Red grew older and slower, arthritis crept into his back legs. He was consequently retired from his leadership position and relocated to lawn mow down the drive-way and around the house.

Luckily we have many beautiful portraits of him, his young fans had drawn over the years, hanging on our fridge, and many amazing memories to cherish. We will forever miss the big fella ...

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MORWELL NEWSPOWER For almost three decades, Ray and Jeanette Burgess have been the friendly faces behind one of Morwell’s most-loved businesses. A business that’s occupied the same location in Commercial Road since the 1920s. Since the 1990s the business has grown, suffered an arson attack, navigated economic downturn, been reborn and continues to reinvent itself in a digital age. As a scientist with the State Electricity Commission (SEC) since the late 1970s, Ray was on a good wicket. With his kids settled in school and rural life in Trafalgar with wife Jeanette, life was ticking along nicely. But privatisation and downsizing of the SEC loomed and it was time for the Burgess family to reassess. After taking a payout from the SEC, Ray began looking for a business to purchase, and settled on the Morwell Authorised Newsagency. The family started at the helm of the newsagency on February 8, 1993, initially commuting from Trafalgar before moving to Morwell soon after. Ray, Jeanette and their son Christian threw themselves into the business, giving every spare minute into making it a drawcard. The store became Morwell Newspower in 1997, undergoing a major renovation which included purchasing the adjacent property and expanding. Along the way the family purchased the shop, bought the lottery licence which was located in Manny’s Market and created a complementary business selling educational supplies. Once again, things were on the up and up for the Burgess family, until 2005, when the newsagency was targeted in an arson attack. “When we got burnt down, it’s amazing what people in an emotional, stressful situation do - and they really gathered around us,” Ray said. “We had customers putting their arms around us and telling us we’d be alright. You know, the joint’s wrecked, burnt to the ground - but they told us it would be alright. And because it was an arson attack, it was quite a threatening situation, but people were really supportive. And that was really nice. We knew then that people had accepted us into the Morwell community.” Morwell had more than accepted Ray, the community had taken him on as its champion. Not only had Ray spent many years building his own business, but he’d also committed to helping others do the same. In 1997 Ray became a founding board member of Advance Morwell and has sat on several other community-minded committees.


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“When I latch onto something I generally give it the best shot I can,” he explained. “As a passionate guy, I can’t help myself getting involved! This has got me into a little bit of strife over the years. We had the Future Morwell rejuvenation project and some townsfolk were upset about parking. It was disruptive for 12 months while we constructed it, but my contention was that we needed to reimagine the street and reimagine Morwell as a different place to what it was when we were growing up. It’s not going to go back there, so we needed to have a big change, a quantum leap if you like into a different future. After quite a few years of committee meetings, lobbying and construction we certainly got that!” Ray contends that the street is now one of the best in Gippsland. In 2009, just four years after being destroyed by fire Morwell Newspower was awarded firstly, the Victorian Newsagent of The Year, then went on to win the Australian Newsagent of the Year. It was testament to the determination of Ray and Jeanette, to rebuild and invest in their business. Ray understands that the success of their business helps the success of the entire Morwell CBD. “We’re a retail leader, we’re a destination store. Historically, this business has been on this premises since 1926, and prior to 1926 which is coming up 100 years in this building, it was just along the street a few shops. It’s been in this part of Commercial Road in everyone’s living memory. This strong historical and community link to the town means that when the fire burnt us down, it wasn’t Ray and Jeanette’s newsagency - it was the town’s newsagency. Everyone was feeling the anger and pain and grief of it. It’s been a nice journey in that sense, feeling that people care for you and support you.” But like most businesses, Ray says the newsagency has had to ride the waves of success and hard times. More recently, the popularity of online news has meant a blow to some of their core revenue streams. “A lot of traditional retail is being undermined by online and the internet. This new technology has disrupted a lot of traditional business models, and the newspaper industry is one of them, the magazine industry is another, the book industry is another.

Pictured from left to right Christian, Sandi, Jeanette and Ray Burgess (owners)



“These are all core products that we have. We have an excellent range of greeting cards and sales of these are doing well. The lottery has been exposed to online, but people still like to shop in store and see a smiling helpful face.” Ray says he’s thankful for a fiercely loyal customer base but is always conscious of attracting the new generation. The business has pivoted with the times, diversifying what it offers to its customers. From the traditional books, magazines, newspapers, stationery and lottery to giftware and even clothing. “Five years ago, Therese, who had a gift shop along the street was closing down so we invited her to bring her business and come and work with us. We bought her excess stock and we moved her and her business in here: Impressions That Last. Therese has done a great job helping us learn what’s a good gift, what’s appropriate for our community, what price points to sell at and how to present it in store. I reckon we’ve got a great little gift shop.”

Pictured from left to right, Sandi, Debbie and Therese

The educational supplies arm of the newsagency has also allowed the business to not only build its customer base, but help other local newsagencies find alternative ways to increase sales. “Valleywide Education Supplies, which is a separate business to the newsagency business, wholesales to newsagents. So, Morwell Newsagency along with six other newsagencies are customers of Valleywide Education. We built Valleywide Education so that newsagents could have access to textbooks at better margins by leveraging better economies of scale.” At 66 years-old, Ray admits he and Jeanette are heading towards retirement, whatever that may look like. If the business stays in the family, he’s keen to take on a legacy backup role. Or if it moves on from Burgess family hands, he’ll happily watch it shine with its new owners. Because, as Ray eloquently puts it, he’s given everything he has and more to not only his business, but the entire community of Morwell. “I’d like to think my epitaph will read: ‘He Had A Go’.”

Morwell Newspower Centre 174|176 Commercial Road Morwell Vic 3840 Tel: 03 5134 4133 www.newspowercentre.com.au Like us on face book

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Rosie and Simon competing in the Human Duck Race


SIMON AND ROSIE DUCK, WHO ARE THE PROPRIETORS OF GIPPSLAND’S POPULAR NOOJEE HOTEL AND LITTLE RED DUCK CAFÉ, RECENTLY HOSTED THE ‘NOOJ PUB ANNUAL CHARITY DUCK RACE AND FAMILY FUN DAY,’ TO RAISE MONEY FOR VARIETY – THE CHILDREN’S CHARITY, VICTORIA. BY WENDY MORRISS | IMAGES BY WENDY MORRISS & RAYLEEN SLEGERS The event was a huge success due to a great, combined community effort involving several local businesses, schools, organisations and many volunteers. Rosie said it was great to see so many people come out on the day after last year’s cancellation due to Covid restrictions.

Variety the Children’s Charity supports children and families who are facing many challenges through sickness, disadvantage or living with special needs. This is done through grants, programs scholarships and children’s events.

The venue provided by the Noojee Hotel along the Latrobe River was the perfect setting for families to enjoy the various activities including a sausage sizzle, jumping castle, lolly and novelty stand, an animal nursery, a display of Variety Bash vehicles and colourful plastic ducks racing in the river.

The Bra Bus team, with the theme of Dr Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, are Jan Doull, Garry and Bev Falls, and they are joined this year by Rosie Duck. They thanked the many people who supported the event including the hotel, The Little Red Duck Café, Neerim District Community Bendigo Bank, D & C Foods Morwell, Neerim South IGA, Little Corner Boutique, local schools and the many individuals who helped out leading up to and on the day.

Red ducks ran in The Little Red Duck Café Stakes. Yellow ducks ran next in the Nooj Pub Bash and green and pink ducks featured in the corporate race. Several volunteers then braved the cold water to compete in the human duck race with some hilarious results. The event raised almost $5000 to support Variety Bash Car 3600 ‘The Bra Bus’ with their fundraising for Variety the Children's Charity. This brings the amount raised this year by The Bra Bus team to more than $20,000.


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Rosie said the hotel was used as a meeting place and to raise money. “We’ve been pretty lucky to have somewhere to sell things like raffle tickets and to have activities like the duck race, and it’s a really good family space. “We sold ducks for three months before the event and on the day, and then everyone worked tirelessly every night for a week before the race including friends, staff and family from kids to grandparents. People were so generous; we asked to borrow stuff for the day from everyone and they all said take it.”

Spectators watching Pub Duck Race

The Bra Bus and 2021 crew - Jan, Rosie, Garry and Bev

Bev said they use the same ducks every year, which were initially donated to the cause by a man from Lara. “When we saw 132 red ducks we could use for a Red Duck Café race and 242 yellow ducks for a Pub race, it was like it was all meant to be.” The ‘Bra Bus’, a 1991 Toyota motorhome was purchased by Jan in 2018. She said at the time she was selling Intimo lingerie and planned to travel and sell from it in different communities. The plan however, didn’t come to fruition, but it was how the name came to be used for the Variety Bash vehicle theme. The Bra Bus team will continue to raise funds for the charity and on August 11, they will head off for 12 days on the 2021 Variety Bash, Australia's longest running and most famous charity motoring event.

They will visit local towns, stopping into schools and organisations to visit the kids and will see the direct impact of their fundraising efforts along the way. Teams participating in the Variety Bash pay a total of $660 to enter and have to raise a minimum of $7000 for the charity. They fund their own vehicles and all their expenses. Rosie said the event is all about having fun in support of Aussie kids. “It’s a great cause, it’s a lot of fun and everyone involved with the Variety club are really good people.” For more information or to donate to the charity search for: Variety Bash Car 3600 The Bra Bus on Facebook

Emily Hobbs, winner of the Human Duck Race

Sausage sizzle volunteers

Racing in the Latrobe River

Face painting

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But even when it’s cold and wet outside, there is always opportunity to be active around your home and neighbourhood.

Libraries provide a wide range of engaging and entertaining activities and events for young people year-round. West Gippsland Libraries hosts book clubs and social groups, topical classes, and community programs. Libraries are a great place to meet, feel comfortable, join in, and take part.

A quick online search will turn up blogs from Mum’s across the world wide web with tips of indoor activities for rainy day fun suitable for children of all ages. With literally hundreds of ideas from craft, to baking or fort making and movie marathons. There is no doubt that these ideas are great, usually inexpensive ways to entertain the kids for a little while. But when it’s raining and it’s time to get out of the house with the kids, it’s rare to find indoor activities outside your home that don’t cost you a cent. Indoor play centres, cinemas and even just a trip to the café or shop with the kids can end up costing more than you planned. What is surprising is one of the vibrant places to take the kids, that won’t cost you a thing, is often the last place most people consider.

All school holiday activities at West Gippsland Libraries are free. Events range from workshops in art and craft, experimenting with science, tinkering with tech and games for all ages. West Gippsland Libraries hosted a bumper Easter School Holiday program with popular activities including paper plane workshops, slime making, salt painting, treat making for pets, a dinosaur craft extravaganza and even a robot maze runner challenge. And it wasn’t just the kids having all the fun!


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This year, the Victorian Government’s Youth Week will be held during the school holidays, from 26 June to 2 July 2021. Youth Week provides an opportunity for young people to express their ideas and views, act on issues that affect their lives, and create and enjoy activities and events — and importantly have fun!

Libraries provide welcoming, safe spaces for young people to build social connections and have fun to support their health and wellbeing. During Youth Week, West Gippsland Libraries will host a range of free and interesting events for young people to explore and enjoy. Keep an eye out for these event listings closer to Youth Week on wgrlc.vic.gov.au Bookings are recommended and tickets to free school holiday activities, including Youth Week events will be available online from Tuesday 1st June. So before you take your wallet out, check out what your local library has to offer. With so much variety, you are bound to find something to spark the kid’s interests. West Gippsland Libraries strive to support communities by helping people connect, belong and learn. By being responsive and bringing people together, being inclusive and working with you and providing free resources that allow minds to explore and create. Located across Baw Baw, Bass Coast and South Gippsland Shires, your local library is a space to explore and a place to belong. Learn more wgrlc.vic.gov.au


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At only 10 years-old Mick Nicola knew he wanted to be a builder. But he didn’t just want to build houses - he wanted to create dream homes. He went on to become the founder of one of Gippsland’s most respected building companies, making not only homeowner’s dreams come true, but his own. Mick was fascinated with construction and building from childhood, and his desire to become a builder only grew stronger in his teen years. Born and bred in Traralgon, he started his carpentry apprenticeship with Gippsland Group Training when he was just 16. An enthusiastic learner, he had enough experience under his belt at 23 years-old to become a registered builder. And it wasn’t long before Mick’s dream of creating amazing homes became a reality. “Virtue Homes started in 2003 and I was just working from an office at home up until 2012,” Mick explains. “I had started to really establish myself as a building business and the Virtue name. I moved from home office into a new office built at Stratton Drive. I really had to establish a team and employed Nerida Hamilton who had experience in residential construction and together we started to put in place a team to help the business grow.

“Wanting our market focus to be on custom homes we employed Ryan Cawcutt as in-house draftsperson. This really created the foundation we have today in completely designing clients’ homes so they were unique and different. We also employed Jason Walker as our experienced supervisor. Our small team of four really invested long hours into building up the company.” With the core business in place, Mick and his small team focused on using quality, local trades to build only superior homes. And it wasn’t long before Virtue Homes’ reputation for quality builds spread throughout the region. “Word of mouth recommendations are the backbone of our business. As our reputation grew, it was 2016 when we began to really grow leaps and bounds.” From humble beginnings on strong foundations, Virtue Homes blossomed into a powerhouse in the Gippsland building industry. “Today we are in our new office in Standing Drive, Traralgon, which has really taken the Virtue Homes brand to the next level. With state-of-theart facilities which include a colour design and selection centre, staff gym, beautiful modern offices and staff facilities and has created such a beautiful environment for our clients to come and really be part of the building experience.”

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THE BUSINESS OF BUILDING DREAMS Along with two display home locations in Traralgon and Warragul, Virtue Homes now directly employs 50 staff including carpenters, apprentices and a team of supervisors. “We have continued to make sure our sales and drafting team are leaders in their designs and client relationships, and it is very rewarding to see the enthusiasm and energy they have with our clients.” And Virtue Homes’ continual pursuit of excellence hasn’t gone unnoticed, attracting several prestigious awards over the past nine years. From the HIA Awards to the Master Builders’ Regional Building Awards and the Gippsland Business Awards, the accolades are recognition of the Virtue Homes’ team’s dedication to its craft.


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“WE SET A HIGH STANDARD FOR OUR HOMES AND MAKE SURE THEY ARE ALWAYS COMPLETED TO THE BEST OF OUR ABILITY NO MATTER THE TIME IT TAKES OR THE COST. QUANTITY OVER QUALITY IS NOT IN OUR VOCABULARY NOR WILL IT EVER BE.” “It has become part of our culture and our team’s culture to be part of these awards, allowing everyone to be involved in the process, presentation, marketing, the actual awards evening which the team really look forward to and they are always a fun night together. It makes me proud to see my team celebrating the wins and being proud of what they produce and the relationships they form with the clients.” Virtue Homes has built more than 300 new homes, but no matter how large the business grows, Mick says the standard will always remain lofty. Virtue Homes is also highly aware of its environmental footprint as a business, and conscious of creating sustainable homes for clients. “We put a lot of time into choosing and sourcing the right suppliers that also focused on this and making sure it reflects in their products. Being conscious of advantages at the design stage of the home and how certain design aspects can help the home be more efficient in its climate control.” Mick says Virtue Homes’ key to the success is his staff, who are more than just employees. “Without a great talented team that has the same passion and determination we would not be where we are today! I am very lucky to have a such great team, they really are the best at what they do, and it shows in our homes! “We are big on the one percenters and when a team puts them all together, they really add up. As a company the Virtue Homes’ team are close, and we would like to think of ourselves as a family company.

"We have a great social network and will gather for group walks, lawn bowls etc. In the office we have a lot of working mums, so we allow as much flexibility as possible. I believe we have the mantra ‘family first’ and we make sure our team know we care as much about their home life as their work life." “We have high expectations with our quality and delivery of this and our teams are all ruthlessly focussed on reaching our shared goal of ensuring our customers receive the best experience we can deliver." "Our team is involved with us in planning our goals and reaching our targets and we believe we can all share in constructive ideas and improvements of our service to our customers.” With an enviable attention to detail and relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction, Virtue Homes has its eyes firmly set on the future. “We are extremely proud of a new mentorship program we have established with our apprentices this year. We recognised that 2020 was such a difficult year for everyone’s mental health and especially our younger generation so we focus on their needs from training and learning perspective, but also from lifestyle and personal care perspective.


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MATT STEVIC Rising to the Challenge by Danielle Ralph He has umpired more than 400 games over the span of 17 years at football’s elite level with 8 AFL Grand Finals under his belt. Yet, you still may not know by name the guy that wears number 9 on the back of his shirt.


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He doesn’t get the recognition and praise like the star players of the AFL. But Gippsland born Matt Stevic, now 41 years of age, has had a remarkable career as an Australian Rules field umpire. Those stats are undisputable and admirable. And he’s not done yet. “It's such an incredibly hard job and I don't think I've ever walked off after a game and felt complete. I think it's dangerous to strive for perfection because you end up disappointed. But it's good to strive for excellence. That’s why I've been in this role for so long, it continues to challenge me every single game,” Matt reflects. He began umpiring in the Ellinbank and District Football League as a young man for pocket money and to keep fit. With the support and influence from his hard working mother Pam, Matt developed and climbed his way up to umpiring in the VFL. Then, the coveted AFL debut came in round 1, 2004. “I started when I was 12 and I made the AFL when I had just turned 24. So it has been a long journey,” he says. Season 2020 was certainly character building on all fronts. As we know, covid-19 locked down Victoria, sending the AFL into turmoil. On the other hand, Matt’s personal life was also changing. His daughter Hazel was born the same day the AFL season was shut down. With wife Millie and a 13-week-old daughter, the new family where then headed to Queensland for hub life. “It was an opportunity for me to keep working and for us to get away from covid-19,” Matt recalls. “It was meant to be about four weeks away. We ended up in Queensland for four months.” Matt earned his spot to umpire the unprecedented AFL Grand Final in Queensland. Every performance of every umpire is assessed across the season to form a shortlisted finals squad. Then, only the best make it to the big dance. “That was such a unique experience, being the first time in history the game was outside of Melbourne. We got some really positive reviews about our performance, both internally and externally. So we were wrapped with that,” he says. Although away from extended family, time off the field wasn’t so bad in Queensland. “We were looked after incredibly well. In a season so unique and like no other we will ever experience, the support, love and commitment shown by my wife Millie to myself and little Hazel is something I’ll forever be grateful for.”

With the exception of the first two weeks which involved a strict lockdown for the young family, they then had a great deal of flexibility. “With a newborn, you're not venturing out and doing much usually anyway. We could go for walks along the beach and we were in a beautiful location. We just didn’t have our extended family. Our parents were in Victoria and were desperately missing Hazel,” Matt shares. At the time of our interview, the 2021 season was kicking off and Matt had just returned from umpiring on the Gold Coast, which soon after emerged as a potential covid-19 hot spot. Out of precaution, we caught up over the phone. At any point, Matt could find himself again asked to make a big call in a short space of time and relocate. But that’s a skill an AFL umpire must have.

“The mental application, for me, is the greatest challenge to our role. For two hours, you're constantly making hundreds of transactions in split seconds. At one scrimmage in a game, an umpire could be processing several thoughts. Did he shrug? Did he have prior opportunity? Was the tackle legal? Was the ball disposed correctly?” And our umpires do this, all while thousands of passionate fans are voicing their views. It’s certainly a unique working environment. While Matt says the professional relationship between the players and umpires on and off the field is outstanding, at times the public voice can be extremely negative. It’s a topic Matt is glad I raise. “It is a brutal industry, whether you're an umpire, player or a coach. (But) I think the sentiment or the conversation is changing, and I really sincerely mean that. I think there's very much now an acceptance that it's a really hard job to do.” “I say to younger umpires who are hoping to have long careers that it’s inevitable that you are going to make the wrong calls and it's going to be back page of the Herald Sun or The Age or on TV. We need to get around each other and provide a lot of support because we're the only ones that truly know the experiences we go through when the heat is on and an umpire is coping criticism.”

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Matt Stevic umpiring the 2020 AFL Grand Final

MATT STEVIC That’s not to say Matt doesn’t appreciate passionate club supporters as well. One of his career highlights is an Anzac Day match where the 50/50 spilt of diehard Essendon and Collingwood fans brings a memorable atmosphere. “The 2009 Anzac Day game was also my 100th game and I was on the field with my two best mates, Shaun Ryan and Brett Rosebury. It was just an unbelievable game. There's something very special and unique about being involved in that day,” Matt says

For all that he has achieved, Matt should certainly have fans in Gippsland. He speaks with great intelligence and has a desire to influence the development of those who follow in his shoes. “As long as I feel like I'm performing to the level where I can keep contributing to the game, I’ll be on the field for as long as I can.” “Who knows what the future holds and the game is ever evolving, but I want to try and help the next generation of younger umpires coming through to be great at what they do.” Photos kindly supplied by Matt Stevic & AFL

Millie’s twin sister's wedding which we were able to attend by chance because we were in Queensland at the time. We got approval to attend given there were only four people attending plus us – was a small private ceremony.


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gippsland lifestyle winter ����





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W H E N R A A F B A S E E A S T S A L E ‘ G AV E BIRTH’ TO ITS RAMBUNCTIOUS R O U L E T T E S D E C A D E S A G O, J O H N C U R T I N WA S O U R P R I M E M I N I S T E R , A N D O U R C U R R E N C Y WA S S T I L L I N THE FORM OF POUNDS, SHILLINGS AND PENCE. Now, they’re known as the ‘Stars of the Sky’, commandeering our atmosphere with their awesome aerobatics and amazing feats of gravitydefying action. Last year, the RAAF Roulettes celebrated a momentous milestone. Fifty years of service. But being the year of cancel culture that it was, 2020 proffered little chance to celebrate. While there were a couple of low-key media events involving an ABC weather presenter suiting up and taking to the skies for a high-speed ride, thanks to COVID restrictions, all major events were put on hold. Now here we are in 2021, a year we all pinned our hopes on as providing salvation from the tumultuous times we endured last year. And so far, apart from a few minor hiccups here in Australia, it’s delivered. This year, the Royal Australian Air Force celebrates 100 years of service to our nation. Another incredible milestone which, thankfully, has been marked at a variety of events over the course of 2021, honouring the extraordinary men and women of the Air Force who’ve not just served but have achieved beyond boundaries and borders.

AIMING HIGH If you happened to catch the Roulettes’ flypast at Canberra’s centenary celebrations on 31 March, you would have virtually met Roulette 7, Flight Lieutenant Aimee Heal. She had her two feet planted firmly on the ground that day as she helped run commentary on the aerobatic display throughout ABC TV’s coverage of the event. Bundaberg born and raised, Aimee has been flying since she was 16 years old and her achievements as a successful female RAAF pilot are also something to be celebrated. “I just always wanted to fly, and the Air Force gave me a good option to do that,” Aimee said. “I’ve had an awesome time and I’ve had some experiences I never expected. The thing I love most is the variety; no two days are ever the same. That’s what I really love about it.” Like many of her colleagues, Aimee feels privileged to be involved in the milestone events making up 100 years of Air Force, including the Australian International Airshow scheduled for later this year. But in looking forward, she also takes a look back at her experiences and what she believes got her to where she is now. “I really looked for a mentor when I was going through course and I didn’t necessarily have the female instructors that were around, but I found female mentors who were in other roles and this really helped me,” she explained." “I want to be able to provide that back to the students who are coming through. My next step is to do Flight Instructor Course. That’s something I’ve always looked forward to, because I think you’re always at your best when you’re able to break something down and teach someone else how to do it.”

A BASE FOR THE FUTURE Home to No 30 (City of Sale) Squadron, RAAF Base East Sale supports about 1000 personnel, making it one of the busiest bases in Australia. Since opening as a training base in April 1943, it’s played a major role in training the next generation of Air Force personnel including new officers at the Officer Training School, mission controllers, air traffic controllers and of course, pilots. RAAF Base East Sale Senior ADF Officer (SADFO) Nigel Ward said it’s a great time to be based in the region.

“As of right now, this place finds itself as the busiest base in the Royal Australian Air Force in terms of air movements,” Nigel stated. “It’s evolved over the last 10 or 15 years to now become the centre for officer aviation training for the RAAF, so if you are going to join that part of Air Force, you’re going to come through this base.” Originally hailing from the UK, Nigel made the transition to the Royal Australian Air Force from his native RAF in 2006 with 20 years of experience to bring to the table. As his first Australian posting together with his family, Sale holds a special place in his heart. Sixteen years later and on his second East Sale tour as the base SADFO, Nigel has nothing but praise for this vibrant, thriving entity in a location which he believes, is the best place in Australia to raise a family. “Look at where it is! It’s in this lovely country town in the middle of a picturesque part of Victoria and if you have kids, there probably isn’t a better place to raise a family in this country,” Nigel proclaimed. “It’s also a place where we invite people to come back and impart their knowledge and experiences to the next generation and in so doing, we’d like to think we choose the very best people to do that, so that probably makes it a professionally motivated place where people are more likely to enjoy that kind of work.” The region’s residents are well accustomed to the base’s air movements that treat local aviation addicts with regular flypasts and if you’re lucky enough to catch it, the occasional aerobatics practice presentation. Minister for Defence Personnel and Member for Gippsland, Darren Chester said links between ADF personnel and Gippsland have been built over several decades.

“THE GIPPSLAND COMMUNITY HAS A LONG AND PR OUD R E L AT I O N S H I P W I T H D E F E N C E AND THE EAST SALE RAAF BASE IS V I TA L T O G I P P S L A N D’ S R E G I O N A L E C O N O M Y,” M R C H E S T E R S TAT E D. “This relationship was only enhanced during the Black Summer bushfires, where RAAF Base East Sale played a vital role in coordinating defence support to the region. “Importantly, as these ADF personnel move to different postings around the nation, they sell our beautiful region to their friends and families and encourage others to visit.”

SIGN OFFS FROM THE SKY The Roulettes are currently in planning mode for their appearance at the southern hemisphere’s largest air show in December. If you happen to catch their dynamic display at the Australian International Airshow at Victoria’s Avalon Airport this December, make sure you give a special wave to Roulette 1, Squadron Leader Jamie Braden, as it will be his final journey at the helm of his beloved Pilatus PC-21 aircraft. “Avalon will be the last display as Roulette Leader and then I hand over to the incoming leader,” Jamie said. “If everything goes as planned it will be pretty exciting indeed. It should be a huge event with the Formula One display two weeks before Avalon. It’s very fitting to mark the end of the 100th year of Air Force, showcasing what the RAAF and the ADF do.” Jamie, who began his third season as Roulette Leader at the beginning of 2020, recollects some amazing moments from his 5000 hours of flying time since joining the Air Force in 1999. But as the sun sets on this chapter of his career, he’s very much looking forward to seeing out his tenure based out of RAAF Base East Sale. “I am Victorian so I might be a little bit biased, but we love it here in Gippsland,” Jamie laughed.

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“WE LOVE THE AREA BECAUSE WE’RE CLOSE TO THE SEA, WE’ VE GOT BEAUTIFUL LANDSCAPE AROUND US BUT ALSO THE HIGH PLAINS AS WELL; TO BE ABLE TO GO UP THERE A N D G O S K I I N G , B U S H WA L K I N G AND CAMPING AND ALSO JUST F O R M E F LY I N G O V E R S U C H A VA R I E D L A N D S C A P E . I T ’ S AW E S O M E ! " “Once I’ve finished with the Roulettes, I am looking forward to being home for the weekends to watch the kids’ sports. Also, just to continue training new instructors and hopefully motivating them to become good instructors.” Flight Lieutenant Lachie Hazeldine, aka Roulette 3, 6 and most recently 5, appeared on these here pages of Gippsland Lifestyle Magazine almost seven years ago after being selected from a highcalibre company of flight instructors from the Central Flying School. And he’s just hit a milestone of his own, wrapping up his seventh season with this high-octane squad of flying machines. Having appeared in his final display in May as Roulette 5, Lachie reflects on “the best job” he’s had in the Air Force. “This is my second time in the Roulettes and I will again miss the exciting flying and the experiences the trips have to offer,” Lachie said. “However, the idea of having weekends at home again and more of an opportunity to get out camping with the family is a nice positive.” Like many other dedicated Defence personnel, Lachie has had to spend lots of time away from his family, but is likewise grateful for the amazing, shared experiences he’s had with a likeminded group of motivated plane-mad professionals. “I love that feeling of personal satisfaction you get at the end of a display that the crowd has really enjoyed,” Lachie stated. “But over the next few years, I look forward to supporting continued improvement to the Pilot Training System and spending more time enjoying the local region.” For more information about the Australian International Airshow head to www.airshow.com.au Photos supplied by Department of Defence


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We also offer catering for many other occasions including birthdays, weddings and engagements. You can find us at Markets around Gippsland and we can prepare our menu to suit your event.

Contact us today on 0447 728 547 or brent@brentsinclaircatering.com.au

During the COVID restriction period we are offering TAKE AWAY MENUS. Please visit our Facebook @BrentSinclairCatering for weekly changing menus and specials. When looking for a superior culinary experience from an intimate gathering to a lavish banquet choose Brent Sinclair Catering. Relax and have the Brent Sinclair Catering team handle all the details and tailor any menu to perfectly suit your event. Call Brent Sinclair on 0447 728 547 146 McCartin Street, Leongatha, Vic 3953 E: brent@brentsinclaircatering.com.au www.brentsinclaircatering.com.au

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heart & home

After only a few minutes of talking with Natalie Guest, it is clear to see why she is a highly sought-after interior specialist. Natalie speaks with such passion about design and textiles, and her enthusiastic energy is infectious. It is this positive attitude, paired with an extensive experience in the design industry, that has transformed her business Taits Interiors into a booming award-winning success. But there was a time when Natalie was unsure where her artistic interests would lead her. “In Year 11 and 12, I had an amazing Art, Textile and Ceramics teacher Mrs O’Connell- or Mrs O- and that’s where my love of textiles came from. But I did not think it could take me anywhere and I felt very limited to what I could achieve when I left school,” Natalie said. “But thankfully, Mrs O was very encouraging and told me about a Studio Textiles course in Brunswick.”

But after several years, Natalie found that she needed a change and a challenge and she accepted a job offer by a well-known florist in the area. Whilst she enjoyed the work, Natalie yearned to get out of city life and back to her roots in Mooroolbark. That move eventually lead her to Taits Interiors. “I was working at a winery when I saw an ad in the paper for a showroom assistant. I rang the boss and had a chat with him and, because of my experience, he hired me on the spot. The rest is history.” In 2014, after fifteen years working at Taits Interiors, Natalie purchased the business and has never looked back. “I love what I do,” she said. “I have a lot of pride in my work.” And her work speaks for itself, with word of mouth responsible for keeping a revolving door of new and returning customers calling on Natalie for her advice and expertise.

The course was very exclusive and required Natalie to produce an impressive portfolio and sit an interview. Fortunately, Natalie won the panel over and was accepted to study at the private college. There, she learned a vast number of practical skills including weaving, printing, photography, textile technology, drawing and design, small business management and more. Following the completion of the course, Natalie continued on an impressive journey in the world of design.

“When a lot of people shop for window furnishings, they often think they should get something off a shelf because its quick and easy; or they want something their friends or parents have or something on popular renovation TV programs. They don’t take things into account like the shape of their window, the lighting, their own personal likes or dislikes,” Natalie said.

“I was reading the newspaper and saw an ad for a job traineeship in soft furnishings at Calico House in South Yarra. I got the job and ended up working there for seven years,” she said. “I had a really good repour with the owner, Grace. She was Heaven-sent! She taught me so much and was very influential.”

“To me, it’s easy and it’s logic. I know what I am talking about and it is important for people to have the right information." "Just like when people go to a nurse for medical information or an accountant for finances, they come to me when they need help with window furnishing ideas. And for me, it is a privilege to be invited to do that for them. It takes a lot of trust.”

Natalie worked closely with Grace importing home and giftware from India, putting together ranges of cushions and rugs, sending away samples and approving finished products. Eventually, Natalie became the supervisor of Calico House.

Natalie said her main goals were to help people make the right decisions so they do not waste their money or time on meaningless, cheaply made product that won’t last.


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She said it was important that her clients choose quality over quantity and invest in pieces that were personal yet practical. “It’s important that people making decisions do it once and do it properly. I don’t want people to spend their money on crap,” Natalie said.

“They need to make choices that will work with the bones of their home and fit in with their family and their everyday lifestyle. Ultimately, I just want them to be happy with their choices and enhance their homes because I love making people happy.” Anyone wanting to learn more can visit www.taitsinteriors.com.au or check out Taits Interiors on Facebook, Instagram or on the popular Houzz app.

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TAKE A DETOUR TO THE GURDIES WINERY With New owners, but that same great taste with more variety all in one place Gurdies Winery is undergoing a complete makeover and offers eight varieties of Estate-grown grapes, using traditional wine making processes. Wines are cool climate in style.

Our most popular wines being Riesling, Verdelho-Chardonnay, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cab Sav & Shiraz Stunning location overlooking French Island and Westernport Bay Grazing platters including local Bassine Cheeses or bring your own picnic, bbq facilities available. Gippsland Cider, Ocean Reach Beer & Loch Brewery also available

215 Gurdies-St Helier Rd, The Gurdies VIC 3984 O P E N F R I DAY T O S U N DAY 1 1 A M T O 5 P M Phone (03) 5997 6208 66

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Email info@thegurdieswinery.com.au




71-77 Chickerell Street, Morwell 3840 P: 5134 6522 E: info@crawfordmarine.com.au www.crawfordmarine.com.au


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Stony Creek Go-Karts is now well and truly one of the highlights of South Gippsland.


■ Hire Karts ■ BYO Kart Membership (Day/Yearly Rate) ■ Corporate Days ■ Group Bookings ■ Birthday Parties & Functions ■ Driver Education ■ Phoenix Kart Agents ■ Kart Sales & Spares ■ Café Please check

website for dates and times.

PH : 5664 7272

EM: info@stonycreekgokarts.com.au For more information visit stonycreekgokarts.com.au Please Note: When Stony Creek Racing Club is holding a race meeting the venue will be closed. During the winter period the venue is closed mid week unless prior booking is made.

Please check our facebook for updates Some changes are in place to keep you healthy and safe. 1. Bookings are essential. Please call to book your time. 2. There is a maximum of 12 karts only. 3. A 50% deposit is needed to secure your booking. 4. If you are sick, please stay at home. 5. Karts and Helmets will be disinfected between groups.





For advice, range and quality. For an experience and a garden encounter that will enchant you. For solutions, inspiration and motivation. WANDER THROUGH THE LAYERS OF OUR BEAUTIFUL GARDEN CENTRE, EACH STEP LEADING YOU INTO ANOTHER CHAPTER OF IDEAS FOR YOUR HOME, GARDEN AND LIFESTYLE.

Hours | Monday to Sunday 9.00am - 5.00pm 62 Argyle St, Traralgon Vic 3844 Ph: (03) 5174 2861 Em: growmastertraralgon@yahoo.com.au www.growmastertraralgon.com.au



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The region of South Gippsland might very well become a victim of its own success. The very same qualities that attract visitors and new residents alike – open spaces, natural environments, and intimately connected communities – potentially face the risk of being lost amongst the anticipated population growth and urban development. Compared to a 3.7% population increase between 2011 and 2021 in the region, South Gippsland Shire Council projects a local area growth of 7.7% by 2031 in its Population Growth and Land Supply Study. Recent challenges in metropolitan housing affordability, combined with a post-pandemic cultural shift favouring home-based employment, may have also accelerated this trend in recent months. For some, urban development has brought an anxiety that the local spaces they grew to love will either disappear or be irreversibly transformed. Isley Sutherland, an independent architect based in Meeniyan, believes that the application of thoughtful design and planning principles can ameliorate some of the social and environmental concerns of unchecked development. She also believes it can enhance the relationships and experiences that people have with the spaces they construct. Sharing the same appreciation of the beauty and natural appeal that others dearly hold for the region, Isley’s connection to the area began at a young age, with regular visits from Melbourne to her family’s property in South Gippsland. She moved to Walkerville with her husband in 2005, having found an opportunity to design and build their own home in the area. Like others before, they were drawn by the spaces and captivating surroundings. “I think what we love about the Gippsland region is the same as what other people love too. Perhaps a more laid-back lifestyle; the simple things in life. I love being by the sea and the trees, enjoying the wonderful food, and waking up to the open spaces. Building the house was a bold step; we thought that we could just move back to Melbourne if it didn’t work out, but we ended up staying put.” Originally trained at the University of Melbourne in planning, design, and architecture, Isley’s professional approach became strongly influenced by her industry mentor, Byron Bay architect Christine Vadasz. “Christine is a practitioner of ‘organic architecture’, and I liked her philosophy around nature and how our built and natural environments interact with each other. In contemporary practice, these concepts fall under the label of ‘biophilic design’, where designers look at the patterns and systems inherent in nature for inspiration. By having an awareness of these natural systems, and making careful choices in our materials, we can create spaces that work in harmony with the environment rather than act against it. Christine was a great role model for me, both as an independent practitioner and as a female professional within a predominantly male industry - and we still keep in touch.” Isley’s experience with Christine has continued to resonate, with biophilic design principles playing a significant role in shaping her current professional practice. “Others might think of the external form of a building as the important thing. I tend to design from the inside out, as I consider architecture to be an experience that affects not just our sight, but all our senses. I think about how we inhabit spaces; how natural and built environments impact our bodies; how the built can be made to be as nurturing as the natural; and how these considerations can play a role within a given site context. For me, the interior becomes critical to our experience of the overall building.” Isley’s passion for design that is both environmentally aware and humancentric is reflected in her previous client commissions and overall engagement with her community. “I became an active member of the Walkerville Foreshore Reserve Committee of Management after we settled down in the region, and I grew my connections with the local community over time. I was approached by clients who shared the same values that I had - clients that wanted to design and construct spaces that were meaningful to interact with whilst being highly functional. Besides residential projects, I’ve been involved with the Koonwarra Village School’s first stage, and the Phillip Island Village School’s master plan. I’ve also been consulting with local councils on planning foreshore areas, including seawall projects and responses to climate change. My clients know that environmental sustainability and experiential place-making are important to me and my practice, so I think it’s a case of being likeminded and having values that align.” She also believes that architecture as a discipline should be utilised to tackle current social inequities and has shown herself willing to personally step forward.

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ISLEY SUTHERLAND IS ARCHITECTURE MEENIYAN “Architecture impacts us in ways that we don’t necessarily think about, but we interact with it every day. Areas such as public spaces have a direct impact on all of us, and we as architects can provide a positive influence towards the development of such spaces. Last year I collaborated with South Gippsland Shire Council and Vic Health to engage ‘Girl’s Own Space’, a community project that promoted gender equity, safety within public spaces, and community connections. It was a positive experience for the women who participated in our group, being given the opportunity to design and utilise a public space in a way that respected their voices. I co-facilitated our group in Mirboo North with a female friend who is a carpenter, and the young women in the group found the construction tasks to be an empowering experience.”


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Isley finally moved from a home-based architectural practice to her current premises in Meeniyan three years ago, when her children were old enough to attend primary school. Relocating to a dedicated studio space provided the chance to expand IS Architecture as a business, recruit additional staff, and further grow its capacity for taking on new clients. She has developed a reliable network of industry professionals and is able to offer a complete start-to-finish project management service. “I offer a very personalised service, from design to delivery. I try to give my clients a great outcome, and I have an ongoing relationship with them throughout the project collaboration.” The move has provided opportunities to strengthen her links with local businesses, professional peers, and the general public.

It has also provided the breathing space for Isley to explore her emerging leadership skills. ‘Future Thinking’, an expert panel discussion forum that she organised in March with the assistance of the Trulli team in Meeniyan, demonstrated her desire to foster a dialogue about contemporary design concepts and issues within the local area. “The feedback for the event was really positive. People appreciated the opportunity to meet other architects doing interesting work, discuss fresh ideas, and connect with people over the beautiful local food. It was really beneficial in terms of coming together as an industry and making more connections.” With regards to population growth in the South Gippsland region, Isley expressed a sense of optimism and opportunity.

“It has always been challenging for regional businesses to find good resources, as we just don’t have the pool of people to draw upon as you would in Melbourne. But our access to these kinds of resources can only improve with population growth within the Gippsland region, along with the post-pandemic decentralisation of the workplace.” One can hope that her advocacy for a more nurturing and sustainable approach to architecture will resonate amongst new arrivals and future generations in the region. “It’s not about creating something fancy and expensive, producing glossy images, or generating star architects. It’s about enriching the lives of people through their everyday experiences of spaces and places, and living in a sustainable, beautiful, and meaningful way.”

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Gracious Glass


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“Oh Gippsland, could we be in a more inspiring place? Gippsland has everything from rolling mountains, the ocean, so much history and so much beauty,” Samantha begins. “I’ve always been close to the ocean, and you can see this influence in my work. Gippsland is somewhere I'll never leave because the people are incredible. I feel like my success is a little representation of the amazing people in Gippsland.” Looking around at her masterpieces, it’s easy to see why not just Gippsland but 500 retailers who stock her jewellery have fallen in love with glass by Samantha Abbott. The unique blends of colour, the craftsmanship and the stories that Samantha has lived are what owners of her pieces take home. “People get a lot of satisfaction out of having something that was made by someone that can tell you how they made it and what's gone into it. I think that’s something really precious,” she shares.

“I’ve learned from taking classes that everything you make reflects your own experiences, the way you see things and your attitude. We can be given the same colours, raw materials, instructions and tools to make something and come up with something completely different.” She remembers how influenced she was by her Grandmother. Speaking of her brings emotion. “Before it was cool like it is today, my grandmother was a collector of pieces from op shops. Her love for colour, glass and eclectic collecting started my addiction.” There is a gorgeous pair of blue earrings in the store that Samantha shows me. The little flecks sparkle like the sprinkles from the sun on the ocean. “My Nana's house was called Aqua Vista, and it used to be on a clifftop overlooking the bay. We lived next door. And so, I made these when she passed away. They are pretty special to me,” she reflects. “When I was a little girl, I loved led light windows and how when the sun shines through the glass, it reflects on to everything in the house. It's just beautiful. So, I was kind of addicted from that minute. That's all I ever wanted to do, despite my parents saying, ‘no you don't want to be an artist!’” Samantha recalls. “When I was 12, I got the opportunity to do led lighting beginner's course at the community house where I grew up on Phillip Island.

I then learned to work with scrap glass and do these little funky creations, bowls, butterflies and dragonflies. This went on for years and I still make those today actually.” Samantha has been consumed by her craft, which even took her to Italy. “I've had the opportunity to meet some amazing people who have taught me different aspects of glass. I learned how to do the hot glass and the bead making that really set me on a path,” she says. Today, she is out and about at local markets, trade fairs and in her very own retail store. She has collectors who proudly own hundreds of her pieces. She mentions the Spring Fling design as a signature as they were a good artistic challenge. Samantha hasn’t shied away from being tested in her life. After a serious car accident, she had to re-teach herself everything. Something she was totally devoted to was gone. “I couldn’t remember anything,” she recalls. “I taught myself to do it again and was accumulating a lot of pieces. People were wanting me to get back into it.” So, she did. And the rewards came. Her business has grown exponentially. “My goal now is to grow employment and start these workshops,” she says. “The most rewarding achievement as an artist has been employing somebody and realising how much I've got to teach and to share what I’ve learnt over my lifetime. And then seeing that person reach their potential and develop their own small business.” “There's nothing I don't see as possible. I'm so glad that I persevered. I've come up against adversity, but I was always going to do something that impacts people positively. If you believe in the dream, don't let anyone tell you it can't be because it can be."

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New Members Welcome. Reciprocal rights with RSL'S in Victoria, South Australia & Tasmania

LEONGATHA RSL CONTACTS OFFICE: 5662 2012 RECEPTION: 5662 2747 BISTRO: 5662 4487 www.leongatha-rsl.com.au Find us on Facebook


Corner of Smith Street & Michael Place, Leongatha



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Wellington Centre | 70 Foster Street SALE VIC 3850 Open Mon-Fri 9.00am - 5.30pm Sat-Sun and Public Holidays 10.00am - 4.00pm T (03) 5142 3500 E galleryenquiries@wellington.vic.gov.au W www.gippslandartgallery.com

Jock Clutterbuck Wisdom Journey: Prints and Sculpture 1967-1972 22 MAY – 1 AUGUST

Clutterbuck is a regional printmaker and sculptor, active since the early 1960s, who has forged a distinctive journey through artmaking that singles him out as an enigma within his field. Guided by the urge to create and to understand, his art represents both a oneness with eternity and a quest for material coherence. Wisdom Journey examines the years between 1967 and 1972 within Clutterbuck’s extensive oeuvre. A formative period for the artist, commencing with a year of work in Gippsland and culminating in his rise to national prominence, the exhibition reveals through printmaking and sculpture how Clutterbuck navigated his pathway from emergence to maturity. Fifty years on from this period within Clutterbuck’s long career, Wisdom Journey reaffirms his continuing relevance and achievement today. Jock CLUTTERBUCK Pool, 1971 Etching and colour stencil on paper, 74.8 x 49.5cm (platemark); 98 x 74.8cm (sheet) Collection Gippsland Art Gallery. Purchased, 1972


29 MAY – 29 AUGUST Timelines presents a cross-section of artworks from the collection that focus on the passing of time and its effects - in some works this is clearly apparent through material decay, while in others it is less tangible. While some works bear the physical imprint of time others encourage us to consider the changes in attitudes, customs and values that the passage of years has brought about. In most cases Timelines brings these changes into sharp relief by presenting artworks from differing epochs in close alignment. Complementing the Gallery’s permanent collection is the striking presence of Mr John King’s Station (1861) by Eugene von Guérard, the primary subject of which is not the eponymous King (who is instead seen fence-mending in the middle distance), but a Gunaikurnai family wrapped in government-issue blankets. Commissioned by John King, whose station ‘Snake Ridge’ envelopes what is present-day Rosedale, this is a surprising and unusual ‘property portrait’ in that the artist shifts the focus on to the Traditional Owners, whose losses on country were directly mirrored by the gains of European colonists. Eugene VON GUÉRARD Mr John King’s Station, 1861 / Oil on canvas laid on board, 40.7 x 83.9cm / Private collection


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Middle Ground


Focusing on the work of seven significant artists in the Gallery’s permanent collection, Middle Ground showcases the diversity of the works and highlights the ways in which these women artists have impacted the creative industry. Artists showcased are Polixeni Papapetrou, Angela Lynkushka, Siri Hayes, Tanya Dyhin, Jo Scicluna, Lydia Wegner and Izabela Pluta. Polexini PAPAPETROU The Wanderer, 2009 Pigment inkjet print, 105 x 105cm (image and sheet, visible) Collection Gippsland Art Gallery. Purchased with the assistance of the Gippsland Art Gallery Society and the Robert Salzer Foundation, 2009

Coming Soon: The 2021 Archibald Prize


Gippsland Art Gallery is delighted to announce it has been named by the Art Gallery of NSW as the sole Victorian host venue for the 2021 Archibald Prize Regional Tour. The Gallery will host the prestigious prize for portraiture in its centenary year, in what promises to be one of the biggest art events Gippsland has ever seen. The Archibald Prize is awarded annually to the best portrait, 'preferentially of some man or woman distinguished in art, letters, science or politics, painted by any artist resident in Australasia’. This open competition is judged by the trustees of the Art Gallery of NSW. Finalists are displayed in an exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW before commencing a year-long regional tour of Australia. Yvette COPPERSMITH (Winner 2018 Archibald Prize) Self-Portrait, Scarlett Wave Motif, 2018 Oil and citrine on linen Collection Gippsland Art Gallery. Purchased with the assistance of the John Leslie Foundation, 2020

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As Winter 2021 sets upon us, it’s time to think about keeping warm inside. We can’t rely only on our Throw & Blankets to keep ourselves cosy, as wonderful as they are.

Consider your Window Furnishings. Are you feeling a draught when you watch TV at night? Do you get light streaming through your Curtains as you wake every morning? Do your Blinds cover your Windows efficiently. You don’t have to spend a fortune to cover your Windows with Custom made Window Coverings. It’s all about prioritising and finding the best product for the space. For example, make sure Bedrooms have Blockout Lined Curtains or Roman Blinds. Use a Pelmet over the top for total thermal coverage Your heating bills will thank you for it! Pelmets are an air trap, keeping warm air inside which is so important during the cold months of the year. They are also brilliant for keeping out the light as well – especially for shift workers or light sensitive sleepers. You can either have them painted to match your wall, fabric covered and padded to co-ordinate with your Curtains & Blinds. They can be made in many shapes and sizes, depending on the size & styling of the room.

A lot of my clients like to use them to cover the tops of their Roller Blinds too, so they don’t notice the tubes and mechanism. Linings behind Curtains are really important. Sometimes it’s a lovely , soft flowy look to just have Sheer Curtains on a window but they don’t really do too much when it comes to insulating.

When I make Custom made Curtains for clients I generally use a 3 pass Thermal Blockout Lining behind the face fabric. That gives the best possible coverage for Winter and Summer by keeping the warmth in and cool out and vice versa. The comfort factor is quite incredible, the cosiness is wonderful as well as the privacy. This is THE best way of reducing your heating bills too – it cuts it down dramatically – up to 50%. This is a massive saving for your home budget and also the use of energy. The past couple of years I’ve done quite a few Door covering Curtains as draught stoppers. The use of a lovely fabric over a doorway can bring in some interest as well and also act as an artwork. A lot of older homes are draughty and don’t have particularly good insulation or tight coverage at Doorways and you can really feel that when in the room.

Maybe it could be time to invest in some better fitting Blinds or Curtains with a quality Blockout Lining. Give me a call to have a chat about how your home could be warmer this Winter. I’d love to share my ideas with you. Visit www.taitsinteriors.com.au to view our full range of fabrics available or phone Natalie to discuss options and order fabric sample cuttings for your next Window furnishings project.

Natalie Guest



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Whether it's the barbeque, or a gas or wood heater, Australian's love affair with the flame will never die. We're all drawn to the flame. It's where memories are made, with the people that matter most. At Barbeques Galore Traralgon, we help you create these moments, with the largest range of styles and designs. Unrivalled specialist knowledge and the convenience of installation from our qualified team. We have an extensive range of Gas & Wood  heater options available for all spaces, styles & budgets.

The home of wood and gas heating

309 Princes Highway (Cnr of Stratton Drive), Traralgon P: 03 5174 6734 E: info@bbqs3844.com.au






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DISPLAY HOME LOCATIONS Acura 38-243 Copelands road, Warragul Mclaren 35-5 Regiment Lane, Traralgon AWARD WINNING BUILDERS





Visit our showroom at 41-45 Standing Drive Traralgon

Phone: 03 5176 5997 Email: info@virtuehomes.com.au

www.virtuehomes.com.au Photography by Open2ViewGippsland

Eagles Nest


Shack Bay

Twin Reefs


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Eagles Nest

The Caves

The Oaks

Flat Rocks

Shack Bay

Cape Paterson

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Phillip Island Index 2

G.J.GARDNER HOMES-Build your dream home with a local builder


GRUMPY’S CRAZY GOLF-The home of Mini Golf on the Island


FLOWERS OF PHILLIP ISLAND-Creating wedding flowers plus more


DESTINATION PHILLIP ISLAND-Phillip Island & San Remo Drink & Dine


BLUE GUM GARDEN CENTRE-Everything to keep you warm this winter




PHILLIP ISLAND RSL-A family friendly modern venue, great food


PHILLIP ISLAND NATURE PARKS-Tiny Trackers Little Penguins






FINDING THE GRAIN-Handcrafted reclaimed timber furniture


HEATHER FAHNLE-Mosaic Artist-Mosaics by the bay classes




DAIKIN AIR CONDITIONING-The best air everywhere


BOWENS PHILLIP ISLAND-Introducing Bowens online store


PHILLIP ISLAND GRAND PRIX-Go Karts and racing fun


ALEX SCOTT AND STAFF-Real estate from the mountains to the sea

Open 7 Days a week

Ph: 03 5952 3060 152 Thompson Avenue, Cowes, Phillip Island Look out for the Cow on Thompson Avenue Email: grumpyscrazygolf@gmail.com



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Flowers of Phillip Island has a history of creating wedding flowers for the most discerning couples for over 30 years With so many designs to choose from, it may initially appear daunting but be assured, our qualified and experienced wedding florists will guide you from button holes to bouquets giving you the confidence that your flowers will be a lasting memory of your wedding day. To cope with the never ending changes within the wedding industry, we have created a superstore – four times larger than the original that has a "wow" factor inside and out for you to feel excited when we meet you. It’s packed with a stunning array of body products, plants, flowers and gifts –so much to see and experience.

In addition to assisting with your floral needs, we can help with venue set up and styling we pride ourselves on our local venue knowledge. Please contact us to make a personal no obligation consultation on (03) 5952 2235

Servicing Phillip Island, San Remo, Bass and welcome Gippsland bridal enquiries.

Weddings, Events & for all your Special Occasions

Shop 1/96 Thompson Avenue, Cowes Phone: 03 5952 2235 | Email: info@flowersofphillipisland.com.au Instagram: flowersofphillipisland

Facebook: flowersofphillipisland

Web: www.flowersofphillipisland.com.au gippsland lifestyle winter ����




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PHILLIP ISLAND AND SAN REMO DRINK & DINE TRAIL From beachside cafes, burger joints with beer gardens, modern cocktail & tapas bars, and restaurants serving up panoramic ocean views, to traditional pubs offering classic Aussie fare - you truly are spoilt for choice when it comes to dining out in San Remo and Phillip Island. Follow our Phillip Island and San Remo Drink & Dine Trail to discover a wide variety of eateries, from traditional favourites to new discoveries. And, of course, most of our licensed venues are proud to pour our regional wines and crafted beers, which you can also enjoy straight from the source by popping into the cellar doors and breweries.


Plant based delights Island Whole Foods, Cowes Bay Views and sunsets Saltwater Phillip Island, Newhaven Off The Beaten Track Wild Food Farm Café, Rhyll Pub Fare Westernport Hotel, San Remo Italian passion Pinos Trattoria, Cowes

Discover welcoming venues at visitphillipisland.com.au touring trails

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Open 7 days Monday to Friday 7.30am - 5pm Saturday 8am - 3pm Sunday 9am - 1pm

Public Holidays 9am to 1pm

886 Phillip island Road, Newhaven, Vic, 3922

Tel:(03)5952 3855 Email info@bggc.com.au Web www.bggc.com.au

92 Dunsmore Road, Cowes, Vic, 3922



Great European Brands, Exceptional Quality & Brilliant Customer Service 134 - 138 Thompson Avenue, Cowes 3922 | Phone: 03 5952 2515 Follow us on Facebook @islandshoesphillipisland 90

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Phone BH: 03 5952 1004 Enquiries: functions@pirsl.com.au www.pirsl.com.au


PHILLIP ISLAND’S LITTLE PENGUINS Marine scientists have attached sensors described as ‘penguin Fitbits’ to Phillip Island’s little penguins to follow their journey into the ocean to discover how they search for food at different stages of their lives. By unlocking the secrets of penguin foraging, Phillip Island Nature Parks’ scientists hope to secure the supply of penguin food into the future, to ensure the population continues to thrive. The study followed 10 male penguins over an entire breeding season to give a feeding snapshot of the entire population. The penguin Fitbits can tell where penguins go, how deep and how often they dive, giving a full picture of their lives at sea.

“Penguins have been around for 2.4 million years and have mastered the art of fishing,” said Nature Parks’ marine scientist Dr Andre Chiaradia. “Our study showed penguins are remarkably flexible when searching for food. They vary their feeding strategy at short notice to get the best food, and choose different foods depending on where they are in their breeding stage. The penguin diet is quite diverse – from jellyfish to sardines and small barracoutas.” “Studying penguins at sea is hard, so we relied on sensors like Fitbits to explore how penguins forage and what distance they travel. While most studies follow penguins for one feeding trip, our study followed individual penguins for the whole breeding season.


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By unlocking the secrets of penguin foraging, Phillip Island Nature Parks’ scientists hope to secure the supply of penguin food into the future

What we’ve learned has shown us that we shouldn’t always rely on information based on a single feeding trip.” Dr Chiaradia said they discovered a remarkable difference between feeding trips in each stage of the breeding season. For example, when incubating eggs, penguins can travel long distances as one parent sits on the eggs while the other forages at sea, with no hurry to return to the colony. But when the chicks have hatched, the male penguin needs to return quickly and regularly to feed the chicks, so they travel closer to the colony to ensure they have enough time to come ashore at dusk and feed their young. “This is another crucial piece of a puzzle in understanding the lives of penguins at sea. Future studies on penguins and marine animals in general will benefit from knowing that individual penguins vary dramatically in their foraging strategies."

"Every piece of information we gather assists us in protecting the little penguin population into the future.” This study on diving and movement of penguins was conducted in conjunction with Phillip Island Nature Parks, the Australian Antarctic Division, Western University in Canada and scientists from several French organisations. It was published in the prestigious German Journal of Marine Biology. For more information visit www.penguins.org.au

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south coast furnishings



All your interior needs with coastal themes. Flooring and window coverings, plus ...       

Beds Sofas Dining suites Over 70 rugs to choose from Cushions Lamps Manchester and Linen

Give your home its own personal touch and decorate with style, pick up a unique rug, lamp or cushion to finish the look. We custom make a wide range of window coverings to suit any style of home or commercial building for both indoor and outdoor applications. We make it easy for you as our experience and local service is readily available not to mention our prices are extremely competitive.

155 Thompson Ave, Cowes 3922 T: 03 5952 1488 E: tania@southcoastfurnishings.com.au | W: southcoastfurnishings.com.au 94

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Finding The Grain is able to produce life lasting, hand crafted furniture created from reclaimed timber. COMMISSION AND CUSTOM DESIGNS A SPECIALTY WITH ATTENTION TO CUSTOMERS’ NEEDS. Salvaged from local demolition sites around Phillip Island, this timber has historically been sent to landfill. Finding The Grain is dedicated to reclaiming that timber, and not only reducing our carbon footprint, and allowing the timber to live on preserving nature’s history.

Beautiful furniture and home dressings are created on site from all types of magnificent timber Red Gum, Native hardwoods, Huon Pine, Jarrah - the list is endless.

Mark Davis 0418 355 148 | 40 Phillip Island Road, Newhaven VIC 3925 www.findingthegrain.com.au

Heather Fahnle mosaic & ceramics artist Art therapy Workshops-group or personal

Phone or Email Heather for Bookings

e: heather@fahnle.com.au |

p: 0417 562 625 |

bookings required Commissions available Do yourself a favour & give it a try! Mosaics By The Bay

www.heatherfahnle.com gippsland lifestyle winter ����



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WHALE HELLO THERE WINTER ON PHILLIP ISLAND What’s so special about being on Phillip Island during winter? Witnessing the arrival of Humpback and Southern Right whales into our coastal waters. There’s something to be said about rugging up and seeing these majestic creatures.

WANDER THIS WINTER ON PHILLIP ISLAND The whale season occurs from late May until October and excites visitors and locals alike. If you are eager to go in search of whales, book onto the highly popular Wildlife Coast Cruises Winter Whale or Whale and Dolphin Cruise - an experience not to be missed! If you prefer to stay on land, explore the Phillip Island and Bass Coast Whale Discovery Trail, featuring some of the finest whale lookouts in the region, from Phillip Island to Inverloch. Grab some warm clothing and a pair of binoculars and head out to one of the trails fantastic vantage points. Popular locations for sightings include Cowes, Summerlands, Cape Woolamai, George Bass Coastal Walk and Kilcunda. For up-todate whale sightings in the area, don’t forget to download the Wildlife Whales App. This year, the Island Whale Festival is expanding to Island Whale Month from June 11 – July 11, and will include a collective program of special events. The key highlight will be the Island Whale Festival weekend taking place on the 2 – 4 July  at various venues across Phillip Island. Local community and visitors alike have the opportunity to engage with a range of activities that will not only entertain but also allow you to appreciate the wildlife and natural habitats of Phillip Island and the Bass Coast region. The month is set to feature various activities and events, including talks, workshops, whale spotting, whale cruises, comedy dinners and more! Stay up to date with the latest announcements, including the program at islandwhales.com.au or follow us on social media at @islandwhales. For inspiration on cosy winter stays, dining and things to do and see visitphillipisland.com.au

...Wander this Winter on Phillip Island! gippsland lifestyle winter ����



1/60 Genista Street, San Remo 5678 5190 After hours commercial breakdown office@picra.com.au www.coastalrefrigandaircon.com.au




The Grove Gippsland is an idyllic 60-acre Olive Grove, regenerated eucalyptus forest, restaurant, remote wedding venue and farm stay located high in the hills of the Bass hinterland with stunning views across the rich farmland of South Gippsland to Western Port Bay.

Spend a romantic night or escape for a long weekend in our cosy Tiny Homes nestled amongst the oak trees. Indulge in a four-course dinner in our restaurant and savour a glass of red wine or two tucked away in the trees, disconnect and rediscover the beauty of the countryside.

Our restaurant endeavours to support local businesses and small-scale farming families by gathering the best quality produce the area has to offer and using these ingredients to form the core of all our menus.

The Grove is an immersive food and nature experience in South Gippsland, and we encourage you to stay, eat and explore our dreamy home in the hills. For seasonal opening hours and to book please visit www.thegrovegippsland.com

27 Uren Rd, Krowera, 3945 0457 111 026 | info@thegrovegippsland.com

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A Grand Design AT FRENCH ISL AND by Angela Borelli | Photos supplied by Debra Thramer Gearon


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When he was a boy, growing up on a farm in Clyde, Mike Gearon would climb trees and look over Western Port Bay towards French Island. He asked his father ‘What’s that? Is that Phillip Island?’ His father said ‘No. It’s French Island. It’s a penal colony’. “Mike was intrigued”, says his wife Deb “Pirates and all that. It was pretty cool for a boy with a vivid imagination.” This global couple met on the Internet and found the location for their future dream home the same way. Meeting on an online dating site, Deb, an American living in London, and Mike, working in Taiwan, finally met face to face when Deb was spending summer with her sister in Melbourne. When she returned to London three months later “Mike went back to Taiwan and we were in contact the whole time. He came to London and never left!” They returned to Australia and married “We always had the intention that we were going to live in Australia. He has family here and I love the sun, sea and everything about Australia. We came back looking for a place; we both enjoyed sailing and wanted a place with views of the ocean, real views - not just a sliver of blue off in the distance. I liked Brighton but anything that was beachside was crazy prices! So when we were looking to buy something beach front, he thought about French Island again”. They found the 148-acre former apricot orchard, Belle Isles, on the Internet. It was a bit unloved but had huge potential for two newlyweds with a vision. Mike and Deb converted the cool room of the old packing shed and lived there while building. “It was a bit rustic”. They had looked at house designs around the States, Colorado and Tahoe. “We really liked the Lodge type homes, big wood, stone fireplaces, lots of glass. I said that’s the kind of house I want, I don’t want modern, and it has to have space, and Mike’s thing was that he wanted views. So we designed it ourselves”.

The three-year building process of the 60 square house was filmed for the Australian Grand Designs TV program (Season 7, episode 12). “Grand Designs is one of Mike’s favourite programs. We applied to be on the program a few times before we were accepted. There is no payment for being on the show, but appliance companies did sponsorship deals for a mention on the credits –Fisher Paykel fridges, dishwashers, microwave ovens, a wine cooler…” French Island, separated from the mainland by a narrow strip of Western Port Bay, has been the isolated home to a small farming community for over a hundred years. The Island has few mainland services and is completely off-grid. When a regular ferry service was introduced in the 1970’s, tourism opened up. People could visit the pristine wilderness of the island and return home the same day. Apart from camping, there was little accommodation on offer for visitors. This has changed. The Island is now much more accessible, with an excellent ferry service, Westernport Ferries, doing multiple runs every day from Stony Point and Phillip Island. There is also a vehicle barge from Corinella, the Spirit of French Island, which travels back and forth all day according to bookings and tides. It was the barge that brought over all the building materials for Belle Isles. Complications caused by a small strip of water can cause logistical nightmare, no matter how well planned. Laying the massive concrete slab required about 20 concrete trucks, coming onto the island by barge one at a time. There was a relay of one truck waiting, while the first travelled to the site and poured the concrete. Some days ended early because of tides. Pouring concrete for these dimensions took days. The underfloor heating system is an ingenious display of Mike’s inventiveness. Being off-grid, the hydronic system is heated from a wood fire, connected by copper pipes in a hidden room behind a bookcase. It takes days of fires to heat the water for the whole house, for which different rooms can be switched on and off. Mike shows the system, which went through a few trials before being perfected, “I was like an old steam engine driver, I put my hand on top and could tell the temperature”.

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A Grand Design at French Island The wood-fired heating is old school, as are the industrial sized ‘Big Ass’ ceiling fans. “Mike even designed and made the brass handles that adorn all the sliding doors. I found some I liked in America but they were $1,000 each and we needed six!  Mike made them for a tenth of the price and they are solid brass.” Whenever they needed something special Mike could usually produce it. “There’s so much of both of us in this house” says Deb. With the house’s high-pitched ceilings, heavy beams, Dromana stone walls and floor-to-ceiling windows taking in the spectacular views it all works and is a testament to their design backgrounds.

“To keep him connected with what I was doing here I was constantly sending him pictures of the farm” says Deb “the sunsets, how the garden was doing, the greenhouse, the birds, because we get a lot of birds here, the swans and their signets and the ducklings and the plovers. We’d talk at least twice a day and he was seeing all these things on Skype, and he got homesick. He was particularly missing the greenery; hopefully he was missing me too. We have an apartment we lease in Taiwan, there’s no plants or anything. So he started buying plants, He kind of went a little overboard!”

With the house almost complete, the Gearon’s returned to their normal life. Mike travelled back and forth from his factory in Taiwan and Deb spent the Australian winters visiting her mother in Nebraska. But in 2020, the whole world was shut down.

Mike finally made it home for Christmas, after a claustrophobic spell in hotel quarantine. The first thing he did at home was to construct access for the other method of island transport – he built an airstrip.

With Mike stuck in Taiwan, which had been relatively unaffected by the Covid virus, Deb was left to run the farm by herself. French Island was a perfect place to live in lockdown, you can walk for miles and not see another soul, the Island’s only general store began to stock more necessities, while the mail, which comes over daily in a boat from Corinella, was working overtime delivering increased online purchases. Belle Isles’ hothouses, gardens and paddocks provided an almost limitless supply of produce, and Deb sold or bartered the excess. But Mike could not come home.


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In his 40’s, Mike had a terrible car accident and was told he would never walk again. In rehab for over a year, this was a life-changing episode. Determined to walk again, he began a lifelong fitness regime. Having previously owned a chain of exercise equipment shops, he recognized a spot in the market needing to be filled. So he designed and built what has become one of the premier rowing machines in the world. “He had been tinkering with an idea for a variable speed water rower, something new”. His  rowing machines are now manufactured in Taiwan and sold worldwide.

Always an adrenaline junkie, having raced motocross in his youth, Deb said ‘No’ to motorbike riding, but Mike asked if she had a problem with flying lessons. I said ”Yeah sure, but don’t expect me to go up there!” He sold the motorbike and is now a licensed pilot. He owns three small planes “One of them, a microlite, is just cloth and everything’s open. But two people can get in it. But I’m not going to get in it!” He has put in an airstrip on a flat, treeless paddock, with a ‘Men’s Shed’ and hangar at the end, so he can “shoot the breeze with his flying buddies from Tooradin and Tyabb”. It also opens up the option for guests to fly onto French Island in their own planes.

Belle Isles has four stunning guestrooms, along with two, two bedroom self-contained cabins and two studio cabins. The property will eventually have enough room for two dozen guests and has breathtaking views and gardens. It would be the perfect venue for a small wedding party. And two of the islanders are licensed celebrants. Deb decorated the house as homage to their travels. There is a huge Inglewood fireplace and most of the furniture came from the States.

There is a separate guest lounge full of indoor distractions like a billiard table, karaoke, musical instruments, big screen TV with Foxtel and Netflix. There is also a sheltered outdoor BBQ area with pizza oven, gym and spa. But French Island is an outdoorsy place, and with no town or shops, the Gearon’s have provided many activities on the property, including bikes so you can explore at your leisure. Paddleboards are available for guest use on the biggest dam, (sail across to the island in the middle). Other dams are stocked with fish. The bayside dam is good for swimming (if you cannot be bothered walking 200 metres to the sandy beach).  There is also a croquet court, horseshoe pitch and badminton - plenty to appeal to even the most active guest. “I’m always telling Mike to slow down.” says Deb, but it’s unlikely that either will settle into the quiet life on offer on French Island. Deb lists other projects – breeding American turkeys,  a pottery studio, a plant propagation program, airplane hangars and a rustic physical fitness course … This beautiful house is complete and ready for guests, but the farm is a work in progress.

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It’s been a dream several years in the making. To bring back to the small village of Metung the beautiful, geothermal hot springs that once connected the community. Thanks to the ambition and drive of Rachel and Adrian Bromage, in partnership with Charles Davidson from the Peninsula Hot Springs, and backed by the State Government’s $3 million dollars in grant contributions, Metung’s natural gift is coming back to the people. Stage one of the Metung Hot Springs development is set to open December 2021, with the rejuvenated site to stay open all year round. “It’s such a game changer for Metung,” Business Owner and Operations Manager Rachel begins. “We're going to break down that seasonality gap because the best time of the year for bathing is the middle of winter.”

The location is magical. The glorious rolling hills overlook the picturesque stretch of the Gippsland Lakes. Permits are now in place and construction begins in July 2021. “We’ve been working for the last three years to get to this point. So now that we've had the funding announcement, things will actually move very quick because all of that ground work has been done,” Rachel says. Stage one will have two parts. First up is the glamping, consisting of 10 safari tents, and a bathing village on the main site that spans across 25 acres. The secluded, romantic setting is likely to attract couples to enjoy their own private hot spring on their accommodation deck as well access to a floating sauna on the lagoon, a reflexology walk, massage tents, cold plunge pools, relaxation spots and scenic walks. The next phase will see a hot spring developed right on the Kings Cove Golf Club. “We're calling this the ‘19th Hole’. This lovely facility will accommodate about 40 people at any one time and there will be three bathing pools, a sauna and a steam room as well as a double massage pod. It's also the only facility where there'll be memberships available.” This second phase is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2022. “Then we hopefully go straight into our stage two, which is the main Bathing Valley. Facilities will keep rolling out as the site grows. The Bathing Valley will include a main reception, change rooms and restaurant on site. It will be similar to the Bath House (down on the Peninsula), which is open to everybody.” This new addition will mean the original development will become an adult’s only retreat. “There will be big boulders and waterfalls and streams. So as soon as you arrive, you'll hear that water. That's where the natural geothermal water source will start bubbling up. So it's just going to be stunning,” Rachel describes.


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Just like the heaven on earth experience on the Peninsula, the hot springs of Gippsland will be a place to connect with nature…and with each other. “If we can deliver that here in Metung, where people can leave feeling connected, I think that is a huge thing. That’s when we will see it as a success,” Rachel shares. Her passion and love for Metung is so evident. “Every time you drive into that village, you never get sick of it. It is that village atmosphere, and that's really important for us that we don't lose that as well. We all want to bring people and we all want to let the village survive through the quieter months, but we don't want to lose that village charm.” The Metung Hot Pools as they were known where originally drilled for oil in 1929 with the springs cemented into public pools by 1976. As the pools were a free, public activity they eventually closed in 1996 due to maintenance costs, security and vandalism issues.



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“It was these fantastic hot springs that you could just rock up to after a day out on the boat or whatever you've been doing,” Rachel recalls. “We used to go there as kids and it was the best thing ever. We loved it. I think that's what really stuck with us all these years. We've got to bring that back to Metung.” The local community at the time tried to work out ways to reopen the facility. But it proved too difficult. The old bore wasn't producing enough water, and the site was not set up for the growth that was happening. So the Shire decided to close it. After the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism industry, this reinvigorated attraction will contribute to stimulating Metung's economy.


After the devastating impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism industry, this reinvigorated attraction will contribute to stimulating Metung's economy.

A significant number of jobs from construction to marketing and everything in between will be created.

“For stage one, we're anticipating around 30 jobs during construction, and about 35 to 40 at the completion of stage one. When we reach stage two and stage three, that will be into the hundreds,” Rachel says. Rachel and husband Adrian have a wealth of knowledge from working in the tourism industry, having previously managed the Moorings at Metung for eight years before developing the Five Knots Apartments and then moving on to take over the McMillans of Metung Coastal Resort. They also operated their own boat charter business in Metung and rebuilt the reputation of the Riversleigh in Bairnsdale.

Having developing savvy business skills as well as not being shy to get her hands dirty is what makes this current undertaking a good challenge for Rachel. Having the support of the right people has also been pivotal in moving forward with her biggest project to date. “Charles Davidson really came on board as a mentor. He was always ‘How can I help?’ It's the hot springs culture. He wants the great Victorian Bathing Trail to develop and that's what's happening now, which is really exciting,” she says. “We just did the move back to Metung, which feels like home again. It’s wonderful because we did live here for 14 years. We have amazing support from the community, they're backing us all the way as well.”



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Senior Coach Steve Wright about to address the players



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1981 VFL Ardmona Big League Series 1 – South Melbourne

“We played two finals in each of those years but unfortunately lost all four games,” Steve rues. “In those days all the finals matches were played at either the MCG or Waverley. There were no home finals, which was unfortunate for us, because we were pretty hot at the Sydney Cricket Ground. We kicked 30 goals three weeks in a row there in 1987.” Upon finishing his career at the top level, Steve moved to Tasmania where he was the playing captain coach of Clarence for three seasons from 1993 to 1995. It proved to be a very successful stint at Clarence, winning back-to-back premierships in his first two seasons and then finishing runner up in 1995. Steve then finally hung up his boots and moved to Adelaide after accepting the coaching role at the Central District Bulldogs in the South Australian National Football League. He steered Central District to only its second ever Grand Final appearance in 1996 but the result unfortunately did not go their way. Steve continued at the Bulldogs in the 1997 season, where they again made the finals but eventually finished in third position on the ladder. The following year Steve accepted a new challenge and spent the next three seasons coaching the NSW/ACT Rams in the Under 18 TAC Cup competition.

1982 VFL Scanlens South Melbourne

When Steve Wright’s decorated 246-game playing career with South Melbourne and the Sydney Swans ended in 1992, his immediate progression into coaching ensured he would continue his direct involvement with the game. Almost 30 years later, he finds himself immersed in his latest coaching assignment with the Kilcunda Bass Panthers in the West Gippsland Football League in 2021. It has been a long road on his football journey which began in Melbourne as a junior with Oakleigh District, which at the time was competing in the now defunct Federal Football League. “I grew up in Oakeigh East, or Clayton North as it was known back then, just around the corner from the footy club,” he recalls. Steve joined South Melbourne in 1979 through the zoning system just after his eighteenth birthday and later became part of the club’s evolution to become the Sydney Swans in 1982. He played his first senior game against Collingwood midway through his first season in 1979 and went on to enjoy a stellar career in the red and white colours, winning the club’s Best and Fairest award (Bob Skilton Medal) on two occasions in 1985 and 1990 and also earning the prestigious honour of being named in the South Melbourne/Sydney Team of the Century. Rotating between the midfield and forward pocket, Steve was a dynamic and courageous footballer. He kicked 247 goals for the club and played under seven different senior team coaches – Ian Stewart, Ricky Quade, Bob Hammond, John Northey, the legendary Tom Hafey, Colin Kinnear and, lastly, Gary Buckenara. Steve remembers the club’s relocation from South Melbourne to Sydney as being less than glamorous in the initial years. “It was pretty tough at first. We were promised a lot but early on there wasn’t much delivered,” he recalls. “During the first year in 1982, we lived in Melbourne and flew up to Sydney for home games. On one occasion my fiancée Kerrie and I went up there to find a house to live in and nobody met us at the airport. It wasn’t until after the end of the season in December 1982 that we made the move. Kerrie and I got married on a Friday and then drove to Sydney on the Sunday.” The razzamatazz that was associated with the Sydney Swans did not materialise until after Dr. Geoffrey Edelsten bought the club in 1985. A number of high profile recruits helped transform the Swans into serious premiership contenders, as they reached the finals in 1986 and 1987.

“We had some great talent coming through. In my first year there we had Lenny Hayes, Mark McVeigh, Craig Bolton, Ray Hall and Nick Davis all drafted into the AFL system,” he reveals. Steve then coached both Queanbeyan and Western Creek in the ACTFL competition for one season each, before returning to Victoria to coach North Ballarat for two years. He then moved back to Melbourne and coached Caulfield Grammarians in the Amateurs for three seasons. Next stop on his coaching journey as at Highett in the Southern Football League before returning to his former home club Oakleigh District and then to Murrumbeena in the same competition. It was after his stint at Murrumbeena that Steve’s more recent association with football in Gippsland commenced when he was appointed coach of Meeniyan Dumbalk United. The club was then competing in the Alberton Football League, but is now in the Mid Gippsland League. “I coached MDU in 2018 and 2019 and was also going to coach there again last year but the season was abandoned due to COVID,” Steve says. “Kerrie and I have owned a house on Phillip Island for about fifteen years and have been living here nearly four years. It had always been our intention to live here eventually. We moved down in October 2017 and I started coaching MDU the following year.” Steve knew he was coming to a pretty difficult assignment when he accepted the position at Meeniyan Dumbalk United. “I had a friend there Tony Blake who played 380 games at the club and he mentioned they were looking for a coach,” he recalls. “As a coach I want to make footy clubs better and saw it as an opportunity to hopefully make a difference. While in the first year we didn’t win a game, we did show a bit of improvement in the second year.” Steve then made the switch to Kilcunda Bass in the West Gippsland Football League after being contacted by the club last year during the COVID hiatus. He weighed up the pros and cons before accepting the position, with significantly reduced travelling time being a major contributing factor in his decision. The fact that the Panthers have also been struggling on field in recent seasons was no deterrent to Steve. “I think in the two years prior to COVID, the club had only won a combined total of five games, but I regarded that as a challenge,” he states. “Similar to when I commenced at MDU, I have just gone into Kilcunda Bass with the aim of improving the footy club and making them better than when I arrived.”

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Steve Wright about to leave the coaching box to address his players at quarter time

COACH BRINGS THE WRIGHT STUFF Steve has the support of two playing assistant coaches – Campbell Brown and Tony Butera. Brown is a high profile arrival, having enjoyed a 205-game AFL career at Hawthorn and Gold Coast which finished in 2013, whilst Butera was assistant coach at MDU and has followed Steve across to Kilcunda Bass. Steve took charge of his first training session at the Panthers last November and was pleased with the potential in the playing group. “Before my arrival, an ex-player Scott Anderson who had been coaching Stony Creek had come back to the club, mainly doing recruiting, and had recruited very well,” he says. “So, I knew it was a better squad and I had more to work with. I actually knew some of the players he recruited through having previously coached against them.” Prior to coming to Kilcunda Bass, Steve had previously been to a few West Gippsland Football League games, but didn’t really know fully what to expect. “With everyone having a year off for COVID, you’re probably a bit blind to what teams are going to be like. We haven’t really set any specific goals. Our approach is just to try our best to win every game and hopefully improve as we go,” he states. Kilcunda Bass kicked off its 2021 season on Easter Saturday with an extremely difficult test – an away trip to face the powerful Phillip Island.


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“It was a hot day, which caught us out a bit, and they ran away from us kicking seven goals in the final quarter,” Steve reports. “However, we were happy to start the season against Phillip Island. They’ve been the best side in recent years and it gave us an indication of where we’re at.” The task didn’t get any easier in Round 2, when the Panthers were again soundly beaten away to Warragul Industrials. “They were very well coached and well set up. Just like the game against Phillip Island, we got another football lesson, but it enabled us to sit back and identify the areas we have to improve in. It was clear to see that we still have some work to do.” A first victory for 2021 then followed when the Panthers hosted local rivals Dalyston on the eve of ANZAC Day. “It was a big day for the football club,” Steve says.

“We remembered Dave Brown, a gentleman who had been at club for 63 years who died last year and with it being the day before ANZAC Day we also honoured those who served in the wars. It turned out to be a memorable day for us, with wins in all four grades – U16s, U18s, Reserves and Seniors.”

Campbell Brown in centre of pic (Assistant Coach)

Josh Wright

Josh Wright playing for Kilcunda Bass

Kerrie Wright – Steve’s wife and daughter Jessica at a recent club function at Kilcunda Bass

STEVE WRIGHT Steve was pleased with the style of football the Panthers produced against Dalyston. “It really showed some of the things we’ve been talking about and practising are starting to come through,” he suggests. Campbell Brown made his playing debut for Kilcunda-Bass and against Dalyston and kicked four goals from full forward. “His experience and enthusiasm was fantastic for us,” Steve comments. “His games will be based on availability around his media commitments, but when he has time he will certainly play.” Also on the playing list at the Panthers is Steve’s 35-year-old son Josh. “Josh has played at a few clubs I’ve coached over the years,” Steve notes. “He is still living at home with Kerrie and I on Phillip Island, but our daughter Jessica who is two years older than Josh lives in Melbourne and is getting married later this year.

“Over the years, only a few of my coaching appointments have been full-time positions, so I’ve generally had to supplement them with outside work,” he says. “I’ve done a bit of everything in the past and the football clubs I have been involved with have often helped me with employment. I drove trucks in Melbourne for about ten years and was window cleaning when I first came to Phillip Island.” Steve recognises that the people who work hard behind the scenes at footy clubs are often the unsung heroes.

“I’m very thankful to the committee for the opportunity to coach the club,” he says. “We’ve got some fantastic volunteers here, like all clubs do, but there’s always the need for more. At most clubs you invariably find there are too few doing too much. These people are the lifeblood of your footy club and I try to make sure that the players in every team I’m coaching appreciate those who year after year give their time and support out of their pure love of the place.”

Steve is enjoying life on Phillip Island and recently secured a maintenance and cleaning job with the local nature parks at the Nobbies Centre and Penguin Parade.

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Wild Harvest Seafood Festival Returns WILD HARVEST SEAFOOD FESTIVAL | MALLACOOTA, EAST GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA Saturday 18th – Monday 20th of September 2021 Free & ticketed events available. Tickets available on the website for more information visit wildharvestseafoodfestival.com After a hiatus for Covid restrictions in 2020, the Wild Harvest Seafood Festival have announced that the much-anticipated event will make its return on the 18th – 20th of September 2021. Running over three days, the Wild Harvest Seafood Festival will celebrate the connection that the Mallacoota community has, and has always had, to the ocean. The very ocean that provided a refuge of last resort during the bushfires that threatened this idyllic coastal village during last summer. The Wild Harvest Seafood Festival will offer a unique opportunity to celebrate the secrets of the sea - from Abalone to Sea Urchins, Crayfish to Banded Morwong and everything in between. The festival program is beginning to take shape and looking to exceed the high expectations set by the first Wild Harvest Seafood Festival, held in 2019. Live music will entertain the crowd throughout the weekend, and market stalls will sell the freshest seafood and local produce. Chef Alejandro Saravia, who has just opened Gippsland-produce focused restaurant Farmers Daughters in the Melbourne CBD, will be on hand with a cooking demonstration. Award-winning food and wine writers Richard Cornish and Max Allan, will share their extensive knowledge and passion for the ocean’s bounty. Alongside the exceptional food, drink and entertainment, there will be plenty to engage younger sea-lovers with the popular Parks Victoria Junior Ranger program running a range of free activities for kids to inspire their curiosity. FishCare will be on deck again this year, running their popular fishing clinics and you can explore the pristine Mallacoota lake system while learning about estuary health and its habitats aboard the M.V. Loch-Ard for a Mallacoota Inlet Tour. The three-day Wild Harvest Seafood Festival is run by Mallacoota Events and funded by Visit Victoria, Victorian Fisheries Authority and East Gippsland Shire Council. It includes free and ticketed events, with all information on session times and ticket prices available on the festival website wildharvestseafoodfestival.com

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Not for the faint hearted and well worth it, with breathtaking scenery and great bird life.

Bucklands Boat Hire has nine boats in the fleet that can carry up to eight people.

This is an adventurous and challenging hike that ends with some rock hopping and vertical climbing on sturdy ladders. Reaching the summit lifts you from the shaded track into the open, giving you space to absorb the jaw-dropping panoramic views.

The boats are easy to drive and operate. A boat licence is not required for the half cabin boats. For the serious boaters and fishermen, we have Polycraft boats which require a Boat Licence to drive, with Minn Kota electric motors and Hummingbird fish finders. We are situated 5km from the township on Lakeside Drive, near The Narrows.

Location: Distance: Duration: Grade: Start/Finish:

Genoa, Croajingolong National Park 1.5km return 2 Hours Level 3 Genoa Peak Car Park

Please note: Part of the Crojingolong National Park were affected by the recent East Gippsland bushfires, best to check with the Parks Victoria website to ensure that the walk is safe to do so and adhere to any warnings.

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Or if want to see the beautiful waterways of Mallacoota then book a trip on the M.V. Loch-Ard Lake Cruises | Scenic Crusises | Eco Tours | Bird Watching Guided Walks | Picnics | Private Charters | Bush Walkers Transfers for Nadgee Wilderness | Coach Tours from Gypsy Point

Images kindly supplied by Destination Gippsland, Scott Kingman & Doug Pell

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Skimming the water’s edge on this pathway gives you prime access to four fishing platforms about 1.5km along the track. Enjoy views of Wallagaraugh River, Rabbit Island and Goat Island. Finish up at The Narrows waterway which connects the bottom and top lakes in Croajingolong National Park

The Mallacoota Coastal Walk will take you on a journey through Mallacoota’s scenic coastline.

Location: Mallacoota Distance: 5.4km Duration: 1.5 hours Grade: Level 2 Start: Buckland Drive Finish: Lakeside Drive Car Park (between Bucklands Jetty and Karbeethong Jetty)

From Mallacoota, the track leads through tall forest and rainforest gullies, along the banks of the tranquil Davis Creek, through stunning coastal heathland woodland to eventually reach the quiet waters of the Betka River. Lookouts along the way provide fantastic vistas of the coastline, taking in vast sweeping beaches, Cape Howe and Gabo Island. The total walk is 9km one way, but there are many different sections you can join in or exit along the way. Various walks included are: Casuarina Walk The Heathland Walk Davis Creek to Betka Beach Walk Betka Beach Walk to Pebbly Beach

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1.8km one way 0.8km one way 1.8km one way 5.5km one way

destination gisspland

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"I was staying on my parents’ farm at the time but they were also planning to sell it, so I needed a place of my own. Now comes the part that might seem silly to some. We were on our way to Fish Creek one weekend looking for a quiet place to have lunch, when I saw two giant eagles flying over the Gecko Gallery building. I thought that was interesting, as I’d always considered the eagle to be my spirit guide. That rekindled my interest in the location, so I returned that following week with my father to inspect the property. Once again the same thing happened, with eagles flying above on my second visit. I read that as a positive sign. As we looked through the building I discovered the residence behind the gallery space, and the beautiful garden – a perfect space for Theodore to grow up. I made the decision to move here once I opened the back gate and walked directly into the local kindergarten. Everything was perfect." “I was ready to close one chapter of my life and begin a new one. The Meeniyan Store actually did quite well as a business during the pandemic. We were selling around ten times the amount of fresh produce that we normally would. The supermarkets were running out of stock, presumably from supply chain difficulties and panic buying, and people started to say ‘I think Flick’s shop has veggies, so let’s go there’. People finally started to buy local, and it was really exciting."

"The reward for us was in making a positive difference, by educating others about ethical food supplies and witnessing a change in the buying habits of the community. I sold the business in February 2021 after moving to Fish Creek, whilst getting Little Oberon up and running.”

Flick opened the Little Oberon café in Fish Creek during January 2021 in the same location that was once home to Gecko Studio Gallery, a well-renowned art gallery that closed its doors over the new year period. Gecko had been operated by local artist Kerry Spokes, and had supported the creative community within the region for over a decade. Announcement of Little Oberon’s opening sparked intrigue amongst locals and frequent visitors alike – and when the doors to Little Oberon opened, many wondered if its space would once again be filled with art and inspiration.

Flick didn’t have a set plan for developing the commercial side of the Fish Creek premises. “I had decided to leave it open, but I also wanted to do something completely different to The Meeniyan Store. It started with the café side of things – with coffee, light meals, and cakes, that sort of thing. I wasn’t entirely sure that I was going to continue the art gallery. After a few weeks of being open I realised that this was exactly why people came here; to have the art experience. There are so many little galleries around here with a whole eclectic range of things happening, so I decided to keep things going and get some art back on the walls. I had connections with the maker community, but I was fairly new to the local art world. I felt like I was back to basics again."

It is worth noting that Flick is no stranger to the South Gippsland community. Neither is her bold entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to try something new in the region. Flick had moved there upon returning from overseas residency in 2013 to live closer to her family, and within three months she had set up The Meeniyan Store - an innovative grocer and delicatessen that featured a showcase of locally sourced produce. “It was difficult finding a job that required my expertise when I first moved to the area, so my mother, Kirsten Jones of Mirboo Farm, suggested that I open a shop with her. She said that she was sick of buying tomatoes from Queensland at her local supermarket, whilst her neighbours were growing a whole pile of them. Why wasn’t there a store that sold local produce? So, we decided to open one - a store that utilised local suppliers and respected the idea of low food miles. The Meeniyan Store began as an idea in August 2013, and we had it up and running by October.” Within a year, Flick had gone from not knowing anyone to being a wellrecognised member of the local community, running a successful business that provided something new. “I’m fairly brave, and I tend to follow a gut feeling. The locals didn’t know what to make of the store at first, and it took a while for me to establish relationships with some of them – but I’m a pretty friendly person, and things just grew from there. I considered the difficulties at the start as a challenge, rather than discouragement.” Flick’s eventual move to Fish Creek began sometime in December 2020, when she needed to find a new place for herself and newborn Theodore to live. She considers the opportunity to start afresh in Fish Creek as emerging from serendipity and fate, rather than careful strategy and wilful design. “I have a good friendship with Kerry, and knew that she had placed Gecko on the market. Things were going well at The Meeniyan Store, but I was interested in branching out and trying something different."

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"I decided to just get out there and reach out for connections wherever I could. I ended up collaborating with fibre artist Zetta Kanta to start our first show this February, and I have continued to schedule new feature exhibitions every month as I meet more local artists." "Lian Casson from Meeniyan Art Gallery and Drouin artist Helen Timbury were extremely helpful in guiding me with the nuts and bolts of operating an art space. It turns out that quite a few of my previous Meeniyan customers are artists, and this has helped me connect the dots amongst the art community.” Aside from the legacy of the previous Gecko Studio Gallery, Little Oberon also carries over the principles of local support and sustainability that were foundations for Flick’s previous enterprise. “I’ve taken on the staff that Kerry had set up here previously. We all operate on the principle of zero waste, so all the containers and food scraps can be recycled or composted in the town’s composting systems. We source as much local and organic supplies as possible for our meals."

It’s lovely to ring our suppliers and talk to a real person, then go to their house to pick things up – instead of placing weekly orders to a big company. As for the other traders in Fish Creek, we don’t consider each other as competition; we are all working together to improve and make a name for the town, and we help each other out.


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Like other businesses in Fish Creek, Flick has witnessed a steady increase of visitors to the town. She shares the hope that future development of the town infrastructure keeps up with this growth in demand. “I’ve been participating in a community group that is working really hard to get things set up so the town can continue to thrive. I hope that Council will recognise our enthusiasm and respond in kind.” Although Flick has chosen to follow the footsteps of her predecessor, she is doing so whilst making her own path and finding her own direction for growth. By naming the business ‘Little Oberon’, she has identified it as her own creation. “I named the café after Little Oberon Bay and Mount Oberon, at Wilson’s Promontory National Park. There have been moments in my life when I’ve needed some direction, and I’ve gone to Mount Oberon to sit, meditate, and clear my head. Each time I’ve been able to come to a conclusion and see what path I’ve needed to take, so that has always been a special place for me. As for Little Oberon, I’m sure things will change over the years. But at the moment, it’s pretty much how I would like it. The community has warmly embraced us, and my new business is thriving. I’m really glad to be here in Fish Creek.”

Flick Jones


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CONNECTING the outdoors

As part of the wider $105.6 million ‘Victoria’s Great Outdoors’ initiative, the Victorian Government is investing almost $20 million towards the establishment of the Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park. The new park will combine existing park and reserves along 40 kilometres of coast between San Remo and Inverloch to better protect natural and cultural values, improve access, and enhance recreational opportunities. It will also bring under its wing other parcels of suitable adjoining Crown land. Fittingly, the park’s name recognises the Yallock-Bulluk Clan of the Bunurong People whose Country spans across the park areas. Yallock translates to ‘river’ and Bulluk to ‘swamp’, which are amongst the prevalent landscape characteristics of the region. A detailed Draft Access and Infrastructure Plan for the YallockBulluk Marine and Coastal Park has been developed by consultancy Hassell Studio on behalf of the Victorian Government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria and Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation.


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Based on ideas from the community, advice from stakeholders and Traditional Owner partners, the plan seeks to create a connected ecological corridor between San Remo and Inverloch by amalgamating the existing Bunurong Marine Park, Bunurong Coastal Reserve, KilcundaHarmers Haven Coastal Reserve, Wonthaggi Heathlands Nature Conservation Reserve, Punchbowl Coastal Reserve and parts of San Remo, Kilcunda and Cape Paterson Foreshore Reserves. Two stages of community consultation, firstly via online sessions in 2020 and more recently through a series of face-to-face engagement sessions conducted in various locations across the region in April this year, has played an important role in helping to shape the vision for the new park. A range of technical studies have also been undertaken to help inform the plan, examining a raft of important considerations including Aboriginal and post-colonial heritage, environmental assessments, traffic and car parking, universal access, and projections of future visitors over a 20-year timeframe.


George Bass Coastal Walk

Of the $19.6 million committed by the Victorian Government, a considerable sum has been set aside for land acquisition which would be needed to enhance connectivity of the various reserves and trail network. Few people are as familiar with the local area and the details of the plan as Parks Victoria’s Ranger Team Leader for Bass Coast Parks & Reserves, Brian Martin. Brian has been at the coalface of the project from the outset, being a member of the working group helping to bring the plan together alongside other Parks Victoria colleagues and representatives from DELWP, the Bunurong Land Council and Bass Coast Shire Council. He helped deliver the recent community consultation sessions and was pleased with the turnouts and the positive feedback from attendees. “We held advertised public drop-in sessions in Kilcunda, Wonthaggi and Inverloch, along with some random pop-ups in various other locations in the region, whereas last year’s initial community consultation during COVID in 2020 was all online,” Brian explains.

Ecological burnoff at Wonthaggi Heathland

Wonthaggi Heathland

Enjoying the George Bass Coastal Walk

“Feedback from last year led to a number of improvements around car parks, lookouts and trails being incorporated within the draft plan. This year’s sessions gave us the opportunity to provide further information about what is proposed within the plan and again allowed the public to put their views forward. Our role was to listen to the people and note their feedback. A lot of the comments this year were around what and where recreational activities should be permitted.” Brian says it is important to explain the scope of the plan and its nuances. “With the Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park, we’re not going through a park management planning process. At this stage it’s more about delivering improved infrastructure across the new park. At some point in time after the park is established, we are likely to go through a management planning process, where in consulation with the community we’ll have a closer look at what and where recreational activities are permitted. A coastal park like this is a bit different to a National Park, in that it allows for more recreational opportunities provided they don’t adversely impact on the environment or the overall visitor experience,” he notes.

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The dedicated team at Parks Victoria Wonthaggi

“The major emphasis of establishing the park is a set of trails that basically link San Remo and Inverloch. There will be numerous trail opportunities, particularly from Kilcunda onwards where the coastal reserve widens out. Some will be shared trails for the use of cyclists and walkers; some will be for walking only. A lot of the comments we received during the community consultation sessions were around the establishment of those trails. There will also be some opportunities to do some re-vegetation works that will enhance the existing plantations that have been carried out across the landscape over many years."

As a keen cyclist himself, he is also looking forward to the prospect of new shared linking trails being established on and off park.

Brian believes the new park will bring numerous long-term benefits for the region.

“We are aiming to have the plan finalised around the middle of this year and hope to have work commence on the ground during 2023,” he reveals.

“Something like this has been talked about for a long time. The South Gippsland Conservation Society was one of the original drivers going way back and at our team at Parks Victoria has worked in close consultation with them over many years, but the State Government has made the project possible and it’s wonderful that we’re now seeing the plan come to life. The timing could not be better, as we have certainly been experiencing increased tourism pressure coming onto the Bass Coast. I don’t think I’ve seen anything like what we witnessed this Easter. There is no doubt that more people than ever have been heading to the outdoors wherever they can since COVID, especially with no international travel at present, and I know that bike sales have gone through the roof around here,” he comments.

“The priorities will focus on most of the work in the plan being around upgrading the major access points into the park, including improvements to the trail heads and car parks. That’s where the major funding will be directed. Upgrade work has also been earmarked for parts of the George Bass Coastal Walk, which is very much needed. However, we have to appreciate that the roll out of the works will be progressive, and over time there will need to be further investment to cover everything in the plan.”

“All our local environmental groups, community groups and various Friends groups have done a fantastic job over the years in enhancing our environment, but I think we’ve reached the point now that if we continue to get increased visitation we really need to invest in better infrastructure to cater for those increasing numbers of visitors.

Another passionate advocate for the new park is State Member for Bass, Jordan Crugnale MP, who liaises regularly with the project working group.

“We need plenty of recreational opportunities, so the trails are going to be a great avenue for attracting more people to get out and enjoy the outdoors. Visitors to the region of course contribute significantly to our local economies, but if we are going to attract more people here we need to improve our car parks and trail heads. Over time, we need to work towards improving the trails and all the sort of infrastructure that goes with park management.” Brian is excited by many initiatives within the plan, including the proposed construction of a lookout at the end of West Area Road just outside Wonthaggi, adjacent to the Desalination Plant Ecological Reserve, which he says will offer spectacular 360 degree views.


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Brian stressed the importance of ensuring that all infrastructure improvements should be delivered in such a way as to minimise the impacts on our valuable and fragile coastal environments. He says it is important to understand that the delivery of the project will be in phases based on available funding.

Important consideration is also being focused on understanding how the plan may evolve over time, including the way that local villages and towns interface with the park, and how new and existing services and businesses may grow around the experiences that are created.

“This significant election commitment from the Victorian Government is about accentuating the experience in nature, respecting cultural heritage and showcasing this unique part of the world. What we want is to create an absolute iconic walk, protect the environmental and cultural values while making it a stunning destination for locals and visitors to enjoy into the future,” she says. “The potential is really amazing and all the activities, experiences and events that can springboard from the creation of the new park are so numerous. This area is exquisite and has so much to offer from an environmental, eco-tourism, adventure, recreational and agribusiness perspective. I look forward to the Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park becoming a location where we can all immerse ourselves in nature while also learning about and appreciating the rich history of this area that goes back to the beginning of time.” She is full of praise for the efforts of the Parks Victoria and DELWP representatives who have collaborated on the project, along with the crucial input from the Bunurong Land Council and Traditional Owners.

CONNECTING the outdoors

Wonthaggi Heathland

Cutlers Beach

“They are an amazing team and have done an incredible amount of work despite having had a pandemic thrown at our feet last year. We have worked very closely with the Bunurong Land Council and Traditional Owners in the whole formation of the park, which has been really important and rewarding part of the project. The community consultation across both 2020 and 2021 has been another vital part of the process and it’s been great to see such tremendous interest and support from the public across all channels of communication, from online survey responses to attendance at the information sessions. So many people have brought their voice, knowledge and ideas in shaping the plan’s creation, design and future direction. With all the groundwork now almost done, it will be so exciting to see the vision become reality.”

over the years has also done a lot of fisheries enforcement work.

BRIAN MARTIN PROTECTING THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT Parks Victoria’s Ranger Team Leader for Bass Coast Parks & Reserves, Brian Martin has always had a protective and nurturing spirit, and felt at home amongst nature. His love affair with the Bass Coast began at age seventeen in 1977 when he abandoned a carpentry apprenticeship and left home in Melbourne to be close to his younger brother who had escaped city life and was living in a tent amongst the dunes at Williamsons Beach. “I was a surf bum on the dole for a while back then,” Brian remembers. Brian found a home in Wonthaggi and soon met and fell in love with local girl Sue Marcolongo, the daughter of an Italian immigrant coal miner. Their first child Daniel was born in 1979 and soon after came Jarrod and Wade. “Sue and I have now been married forty years and, to date, we have seven young grandchildren, with an eighth on the way,” he states proudly. On 21st September 1981, Brian commenced work as a ranger with Crown Land Management in Inverloch, a position he secured through a local unemployment scheme. Crown Land Management was a government agency that following a succession of mergers of departments eventually evolved to become Parks Victoria in 1996. Over the past 40 years, Brian has been involved with just about every imaginable aspect of working amongst nature in the region. He has done considerable work with bird counts around Anderson Inlet and Corner Inlet, and has been at the forefront of efforts in the protection of the Hooded Plover and other bird species. He is a trained boat operator and

Brian Martin working in the office at Parks Victoria Wonthaggi

Another major project Brian has been involved with saw him devote around 13 years working on Parks Victoria’s koala relocation program on Snake Island between 1997 and 2011. He has also previously been assigned to koala relocation work on Raymond Island and French Island. Wildlife rescue and response has also been part of his job brief, involving all kinds of native animals on the land and various sea mammals including seals, dolphins and whales. In his role as the Ranger Team Leader based at Wonthaggi, Brian currently is responsible for three Ranger/ Field Service Officer direct reports and also regularly tasks the local fire team, which comprises six Project Fire Fighters. “I’ve been involved with bushfire response over many years,” he says. As a Planned Burning Operations Officer, he recently oversaw a burn-off in the Wonthaggi Heathlands.

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George Bass Coastal Walk

the outdoors

“The Heathland planned burns are very important in safeguarding against problems with encroaching coastal tea-tree and also provides a variety of vegetation age classes that enhance the habitat for a number of threatened species,” he observes. Brian says it has been a difficult period for his team on a personal level since the death of long-time colleague Bill Slade, who was killed by a falling tree at Anglers Rest near Omeo while fighting fires in January last year. “That tragedy impacted heavily on the whole team and his loss is still being felt,” he comments. “Bill is buried at the Grantville cemetery and behind there at the rear entrance into The Gurdies Nature Conservation Reserve a brand new gate has been installed which we’ve called ‘Bill’s Gate’ as one of our tributes to our colleague and friend.” Reflecting on his career over the past four decades, Brian says he continues to enjoy his job and the people he works with enormously. “It goes beyond just the team at Parks Victoria. I’ve done a lot of work liaising with community groups and Friends groups over many years including the South Gippsland Conservation Society, Bass Coast Friends of the Hooded Plovers, Friends of Wonthaggi Heathlands and a number of other local volunteer groups,” he states. “And, of course, along the way I’ve always had incredible support from my wife Sue.” Fitness and health also plays an important part in Brian’s outdoor lifestyle. He took up triathlon after turning 40 and remains an active cyclist, riding about 400 kilometres a week. His many achievements on the bike include cycling from Perth to Melbourne and he has also ridden some of the best known cycling routes in Europe including the French Alps, the Pyrenees and the Dolomites.

Seat dedicated to naturalist Sherry Collins on the Collins Track at the Wonthaggi Heathland

IN REMEMBRANCE Throughout the existing parks and reserves within the Yallock-Bulluk Marine and Coastal Park there are some examples of commemoration for local people who have contributed significantly to the wellbeing of the natural environment. Amongst these are tributes for Sherry Collins and Harry Kiekebosch within the Wonthaggi Heathlands. Brian Martin remembers both men, who passed away several years ago. “Sherry was a naturalist and former school teacher. He was a member of the Friends of Wonthaggi Heathlands who made a major contribution to that group and was acknowledged as an expert on all the flora and fauna inhabiting the area,” he recalls. “Although I never actually saw it, it is said he had a humpy out there at one time. Sherry bravely fought cancer for many years, but his name lives on through the Sherry Collins Track in the Heathlands. Half way along the track is a timber bench seat inscribed in his honour.”

Brian rides his bike to and from his home in Inverloch to the office in Wonthaggi every work day, marveling at the natural wonderland around him as he cycles along the Bunurong Coastal Drive.

Brian also recollects Harry Kiekebosch’s important contribution to the environment within the Wonthaggi Heathlands.

“We’re so lucky that we’ve got so much open space on our doorstep,” he says.

“Harry did a lot of tree plantings with intellectually disabled people before unfortunately being killed in a car accident in Queensland,” he remembers.

“The Bass Coast is a great spot. I’ve travelled through places like France and Italy and many other coastal areas, but what we have here is as good as anything I’ve seen.”

“The Harry Kiekebosch Memorial Plantation, or Harry’s Patch as it is commonly known, was established in the Heathlands in recognition of his endeavours, with a thousand trees having been planted there in his memory.”


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The opportunity to start a successful small business is often a serendipitous moment. For Chantelle Poulton’s father, a builder with 40 years of experience in the industry, the moment occurred after moving to the Bass Coast region from an increasingly metropolitan Mornington Peninsula. He was faced with a growing number of grandchildren, and an accompanying need to keep them occupied during their frequent visits. Keen to give these little people their own space, he set out on a quest to find a local tradesperson that could construct a cubby house in his own backyard. Unfortunately, this search was fruitless. Poulton Snr realised during this search that he already possessed the skills and industry connections to complete this task himself.


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He also discovered that many others in the area were also seeking cubbies and play areas for their growing families. It was from this personal and community demand that Backyard World emerged. I spoke with Chantelle and her father about the history of their Backyard World business. We talked about its origins, its development, the core principles that guide the direction of the business, and the future directions they intend to take. “Backyard World is currently a partnership between myself and my father. "It all started about four years ago as a shed in his backyard. We outgrew this space quickly once local demand for our products began to pick up, and eventually relocated to our current location in Dalyston."

"The level of interest in our cubby houses was surprising, to say the least. Currently I manage most of the day-to-day operations, whilst my father coordinates the on-site activities such as quotes, deliveries, and installations. We have one other person on the team that assists with installations, and we hope to step things up in the future as the business grows." “Backyard World began with providing cubby houses for residential properties, but we extended our product range to include domestic play spaces for both the young and young-at-heart. This includes detached structures such as garden sheds, studio workshops, jungle gyms, and ninja obstacle courses. Structures less than 10sqm generally don’t require council approval, but as licensed builders we are able to assist customers seeking to build a larger project.”

They have also diversified their offerings to include handmade wooden toys and other accessories that complement a legacy approach to play that the business represents.

“For me, fond childhood memories are evoked whenever I see these types of wooden toys. It turns out that these experiences are shared by the teachers and parents that I’ve met at our local schools and day care centres, so we’ve decided to meet this demand by offering them for purchase.” Chantelle’s responsiveness to community tastes also led to a successful foray into supplying Christmas trees and decorations for the holiday season. There are plans to expand the business with a pop-up café, and they hope to develop the site as a market for makers who share their passion for traditional craftsmanship.

The products being offered by Backyard World seem to be a wonderful panacea for the growing dominance of virtual digital playgrounds amongst children and adults alike. In contrast to the frenetic audiovisual ephemera encountered on-screen, their products encourage a slowerpaced grounded interaction with enduring tangible environments, physical activity, and face-to-face human contact. “We specifically chose to work with suppliers that are based in Australia – preferably local – and operate using Australian-sourced raw materials and workmanship." "In practical terms, we found that cubbies constructed using Australian wood are considerably more durable than the imported items, especially amongst our local coastal climate. Parts and repair items are also easier to source. We are also glad to be supporting local businesses from an economic perspective. Our traditional wooden toys are manufactured and supplied by a toymaker based in Drouin, whilst the cubbies and sheds are provided by SteelChief – a well-established business that is based in Ballarat."

"We believe that we offer a level of quality that isn’t available amongst more massmarket offerings.” The Poulton family’s social conscience is also evident in their support of Bryn’s School, a Victoria-based registered charity that supports and develops schools within some of the most disadvantaged locations around the world. “My father sees the business as a way to positively contribute to the younger generation and connect to the local community, whilst moving away from the stresses of his previous full-time building work."

"Bringing joy to children is what motivates us to work hard and develop this business.” Backyard World 4212 Bass Highway, Dalyston VIC 3992 www.backyardworld.com.au

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WINTER BLOOMS on the Island of dreams

The rugged cliffs, rolling surf and lush farmland of Phillip Island have long been a breeding ground for artistic talent. There’s something about its unassuming majesty that sparks the imagination. And the Island has awakened its latest creative - a humble musician who finds joy in the depths of his home’s wildest season. Words by Anita Butterworth

Growing up on Phillip Island Nic Huigsloot, 25, was an all-rounder at school. If there was a sport to play or an extracurricular activity to join at Newhaven College, he was front and centre. But he points out, his focus was ‘never the books’ - it was always music. “I’m what I like to call a Muggle-born, for Harry Potter fans. Mum and dad weren’t very musical, but mum was really, really encouraging of my musical passion,” Nic explains. “And think she built that up from a very young age. Like when I was a small child she’d play me classical music. “I don’t believe in talent. I believe in environment, and I think she created a really good environment for me to draw a passion towards music and she also helped me nurture that. I started going along to my sister’s piano lessons, and I was too young to play the piano, but I was soaking up all the lessons that my sister was having, it was getting imprinted in my brain. Until I was old enough to start learning, I took to it really well. “Pretty much piano lessons was mum’s way of going, ‘Well we can’t get you guitar lessons yet but we can get you piano lessons’. Like a steppingstone. And then I turned 10 and mum bought me my first guitar and then I just became obsessed. I learnt off a local music teacher called Berry Hermanto. He was an amazing teacher, very encouraging and lifelong friend. All of my teachers for that matter, Rob Turton as well. They’re lifelong friends, I still talk to those guys and have really good relationships with them.” After playing music and singing all through school, Nic started gigging at 18. He was a passionate and dedicated musical student, even having a brief flirtation with teaching. “I actually did a few lessons in music teaching. I was just teaching my little cousin, and he was a super-enthusiastic learner. Like everything I said he listened to it, he would really put in the time and effort and practice and every week I’d come back to him and see progression and it really made me happy. And I thought it was cool, that it was something I could do. And so, I got some more students. “And the other students were not the same. For me, I was a student like my cousin. My guitar teacher would say something and I’d want to do it. I remember once one of my guitar teachers said, ‘Look I’m really disappointed in you this week, you didn’t practice enough.’ And that week I woke up every morning at 6am before school, got the backing track out and just practiced and practiced and practiced until it was perfect because I was so driven and wanted it so bad. I wanted to connect with my craft.” To keep up with a steady stream of gigs, Nic drew on his vast catalogue of musical influences to build up a varied setlist. But as Nic matured musically, he was naturally drawn to more mellow genres.


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“When I was young, I went through stages of being obsessed with bands. At one point it was AC/DC, then it was Nirvana and then it was Rage Against The Machine, lots of rock and roll, Red Hot Chili Peppers, things like that. But today, and as I grew older, I took more of a liking towards blues and folk. So, I got right into Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Pete Murray, guys like those. Angus and Julia Stone, love their stuff. Just a wide variety really. And it’s cool as well because I don’t necessarily define my sound to one genre. Particularly when I’m playing live gigs, I’ve got a three-hour set, you’ve got to come up with three hours of material, it’s good to have that very broad spectrum that can cater for most people.” Eventually Nic felt a pull towards writing his own music, and he didn’t have to look far for inspiration. “The biggest inspiration is the environment. You should put yourself into that environment that’s going to inspire you. One song that I released last year called Winter, that was written in the depths of the cold Gippsland winter. I find a lot of joy in winter. I find that there’s not many people around, you get the beach to yourself, it’s cold, but it’s good if you put on the layers and you’ve got a nice warm fire and a nice hot cup of tea. Those are the things that really get me up in the morning in winter.” But before he put pen to paper, Nic sought some sage advice from an Island legend. “I probably wrote my first song about five years ago; I’ve always been a passionate musician and it just got to this point where I had to start writing songs. I got to start coming up with ideas and pushing myself creatively. I approached a local songwriter and musician Dave Prideaux. He was also my grade six teacher and I said, ‘I’ve got these ideas and I want to start creating songs, what advice can you give me, how do I structure a song?’ And he just said the best way to do it is to just start writing. The more you write the better you’re going to get. He said, ‘It’s like turning on a tap, you turn on a tap that’s outside, lots of gunk and lots of bad stuff will come out before the good water starts flowing.’ “That being said, the first song that I ever did write, it’s a special one to me. I still play that one today. I’ve made lots of changes to it, but I really love that song and I think I’ll play it forever.” Just as Nic was hitting his straps gigging and writing, the world went into lockdown, and his momentum came to a grinding halt. “It was a bit of a double-edged sword to be completely honest. I did do a lot of writing. I was lucky enough to do some recording at the start of the year before the lockdown happened. But once that momentum hit a halt, I found it really hard to keep pedalling. To keep active, to keep gigging. It’s been quite good though because I feel like I’ve had time to hone in my craft a bit better and write more music and revamp my setlist and then now that gigs are coming back, it’s good because I’ve had that time to relax and gather myself together work out how to approach things. It’s been sad to lose the live music, but it’s nice to have the time to find the joy again in it.”

Nic Huigsloot

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Nic Huigsloot And then, just as Australia was emerging from its Covid coma, Nic finally released his first professionally recorded track: Winter. It was a chance to polish one of his original songs and share it with the world through Spotify. “I’m super grateful to have had the chance to work with someone like Greg Walker. He’s got a beautiful studio; a really nice guy and he was super encouraging and easy to work with. "

“For me I don’t care if I never get on the national stage or a festival line-up, all I can hope for is that some kid out there who plays music or hears music or likes my stuff, all I can hope is that one of my songs connects with them and they can draw inspiration from that." "I used to live with a young couple from Norway. And in the middle of summer here, it’s winter over there and he sent me a video of him driving through the snowy mountains in Norway, listening to my song Winter, and it just brought me so much joy. It nearly brought a tear to my eye just knowing that someone out there is finding joy in what I’ve joyously created." For Nic, recording his own music is a chance to showcase the magic of the Island. “It’s like when I see a kid from Phillip Island surfing well, I think, yeah wear the Phillip Island badge, wear it on your sleeve, fly the flag high.” And Nic’s own brand of Island magic is set for a spellbinding future. “At the moment I’ve got a lot of unrecorded new music I’m hoping to make some progress on. Sometimes that progress takes longer than you think. But it’s good to have a fresh bank of new music that I can hopefully get out into the world.” www.facebook.com/Nichuigsmusic


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Millie in Paradise

Photos & Words by Ken Roberts


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Millie in Paradise

If it wasn’t for Millie and our continued quest to see and experience local areas I wouldn’t see what is before my very eyes, even in my own backyard! This time we visited other unspoilt gems, on the way to the gateway to the Alpine region. It’s shameful to say that I had not visited a magical place only forty minutes from home when people travel for hours from the city and regard it jealously as an almost secret hidden pleasure. I have known about Paradise Valley, an area on the Macalister River above Lake Glenmaggie, all my life but had just never gotten around to going there. I really have been missing out. It is a stunning location. The sweeping bend of the river fronts a wide grassed plain for 1.5km and is the ideal spot for camping. Still a working sheep farm the 60 acre property was originally established by John Gell in 1884 and was held in the Gell family until 2018 when Steven and Cheryle took over. The camping park was started in 1974. Steven and Cheryle have refreshed and updated many aspects of the park with the main emphasis remaining as a family friendly experience. Not open to day visitors it means that the campers have the pristine stretch of the river to themselves and on our visit it was so evident how relaxed and enjoyable their experience was. Even in the peak school holiday time there was still enough space to find a quiet area to yourself. One key part of the visit was that dogs are welcome but because it is a working farm they must be on a lead at all times. Talking to these friendly and genial hosts they explained that there is no mobile phone reception in the camping area. They said that this meant that families could disconnect with technology and connect with each other. I did witness at the top of the hill near the farm entrance a line of people with their phones using the signal available there!

The river and nature are the star attractions in this special place. “Bring the kid’s bikes” Steve told a doubting newcomer when booking. When these campers were leaving the kids were in tears because they didn’t want the experience to end. In times of smaller backyards and apartment living this is an ideal and safe place for families to let their hair down and enjoy the natural wonders on offer. It’s very obvious that people were having a ball! We saw a regular event of kids being dropped off at the swimming hole with all manner of floating devices and then being met again at the far bend after a lazy float downstream. The whole place actually reminded me of the simple days of my childhood with simple fun. Some people were kicking footballs, there were badminton nets set up and we watched time after time as parents supervised their kids going down mini rapids. Camps were often set up in groups and a campfire spot was obviously a focal point. Good clean fun! There are a variety of camping options available with powered and unpowered sites and three cabins available. It’s no wonder people book well in advance and repeat business is the norm. The vibe is terrific and the hosts are marvellous. Millie and continued our exploration driving further into the high country. I have another confession, I was a boy in the back of Mum and Dad’s car when I last came this way, that was a LONG time ago! The scenery is breathtaking, the vision of the blue tinged high country hills is absolutely gorgeous. Grassy farmland soon converts to bush as the road winds and climbs up then down. Fabulous vistas of the river abound, sometimes from high above and other times level with the car. The landscape is varied and always lovely.



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Before long we arrived in Licola, what a unique place that is, in so many ways! I discovered it’s the only privately owned town in Victoria and also the only town totally powered by solar energy. It is probably the “greenest” town in the state as it also treats its own water and waste. It’s the gateway to the Southern Alpine region and is a mecca for 4WD enthusiasts, hikers, hunters, fishermen and tourists. The town was centred around a timber mill which was sold in 1969 to the Lions Club. They operate the Licola Wilderness Village which was originally created to "provide programs for disadvantaged children and special needs groups." But over the 50 years since it was created it has expanded to include facilities for weddings (it has its own chapel) as well as to "provide outcomes based programs for schools, clubs and other organisations." It prides itself on its environmental credentials and its ability to develop self confidence and leadership skills in school students. The accommodation is available for the public to book when programs are not running. The village can hold up to 250 people in 16 houses. I had prearranged a short tour with one of the knowledgable staff and was so impressed by their passion and dedication to the Village. Each of the houses is adopted by a Lions chapter who then take care of the care and maintenance of the building. The facilities, as well as the river and natural surroundings, are fantastic. Children from across the state are welcomed here into the care of experienced staff and enthusiastic volunteers. Gippsland is so fortunate to have such an amazing place in its region. The heart of the town is the General store and caravan park. It has petrol, a post office and “everything that travellers forget”! Darren and Tracy have run the store for a 5 years and are very knowledgeable about the area. As we were chatting outside a ute pulled up and Dennis who is a member of the local CfA joined us. It was so genial and informative having a chat with these three and I learnt so much about the town and the area in such a short time. It was amazing to be reminded of past events and how the area has advanced. There were bushfires, a major flood in 2007 and of course results of lockdown. I later viewed incredible photos in the information shelters that illustrated events. The town surrounds are beautiful, set on the banks of the pristine Macalister River with ample places to park and enjoy. It also recently benefitted from mobile phone service being available in the town centre. What surprised me was that this “isolation” was only just over an hour away from major centres like the Latrobe Valley. So easy to get to and experience unspoilt country, even just for a day trip, or better yet stay there. Millie and I slowly headed home, appreciating along the way again all that we had seen. It is just truly magic country and just as stunning were the friendly welcoming people we were so lucky to have met. Yet again Gippsland proved that we are so spoilt for choice in such a variety of different areas to explore. Thanks again Mills for taking me to places seen and unseen!

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canine corner

Vineyard Dog - more scratches please!

Tov - What???

George - Are we playing ball or what? 138

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Vineyard Dog - working dog

USA Dogs - on alert

Tinka - is this the last pic?

Millie - Ken, saddle up, we're on the move

Fingers - who's that over there?

Dusty - I'm ready to run!

proudly brought to you by

Dory & Thor - It's our blanky

Deisel - i'm happy here

Tilka - I'm just chilled today

Bunny - i may be small but I can yap

our best friends

Do you want to place a photo of your dog in Canine Corner ? It's easy, just email us your pic and their name at thelifestyle@dcsi.net.au

...just pawfect

Arthur - is it food time?

Sally - best couch ever... gippsland lifestyle winter ����


Venus Bay's

Local Dog Whisperer Christine Grant, a passionate, wise, empathetic woman, has treasured an innate connection with canines since early childhood. She adores the four-legged creatures and is unable to imagine her life without them. by Camilla Hullick / Images by Doug Pell Born and raised in Leongatha, Christine worked as a disability support worker for many years. In 2000, an opportunity arose that was too good to refuse. Christine, her partner, and two cherished Labradors headed north on a road trip to commence work on a small cattle property in New South Wales.


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It was there Christine stumbled upon a cattle dog trial, exhibiting the skills of working dogs and the amazing relationships they shared with their handlers. She was instantly in awe of the clear communication between man and beast, and the physical abilities, beauty and grace of the animals. It was on that exceptional day Christine discovered her calling.

During the inspiring event, Christine met Mick Davis, who would become her mentor, teacher and lifelong friend. Mick was a well known, respected horseman, cattleman, dogman and showman. Rough around the edges and direct, he would tell it like it was. Sadly, he passed away in 2019. Mick would be gone with his dogs in tow three to four months of the year, travelling throughout New South Wales and Queensland to work as a stockman on cattle properties. Upon his return his twelve dogs were trustingly placed in Christine's care. Possessing the capacity to house them, she happily took the hard-working pooches in to feed, exercise and interact with daily. During the months Mick was home, he returned the favour by sharing his extensive knowledge. He visited Christine three times a week to collectively train his and her (by then), six beloved dogs with encouragement, but stern harangue. “It was tough at times,” Christine claimed, “but I would do it all again in a heartbeat.” Over time, additional canines joined Christine's pack and she too, headed up north for three years to work as a jillaroo on rugged cattle properties. She particularly enjoyed handling young cattle; teaching them to be respectful of the dogs, while being guided by them. A perfect example of symbiosis! In 2007, through a sudden turn of events, Christine, her partner, and her then ten, precious, working collies returned to a farm in South Gippsland. Acclimatising wasn't easy. In an attempt to fill a void, Christine sought out a local dog working group in Berrys Creek. At the time, this proved to be the perfect pursuit for herself and her furry friends. The connection shared among the dog enthusiasts, through a love for working dogs, was sincere and nurturing. For over two years Christine thoroughly enjoyed engaging with such a wonderful community, while learning a wealth of information.

In that time frame Christine also successfully completed Certificate III in Dog Behaviour and Training, offered by the National Dog Trainers Federation in Melbourne. Gaining accreditation as a comprehensive dog trainer, it was at the end of 2008 she excitedly launched her business 'Everydog Behaviour & Training'. She consequently began feeling her way within the industry, working locally, one on one, with dogs and their humans. By 2010, life had taken another twist and Christine relocated to stunning Venus Bay with five dogs by her side. Sadly, all five companions have since passed on, however a new, adorable friend, Fingers, arrived nine months ago. The two are inseparable, a pleasure to watch, and renowned in the area. Christine delights in her coastal lifestyle and takes great pride in her dog training venture. She strongly believes teaching dog owners to read their pets' subtle body language so as to understand their communication, is vital towards gaining mutual respect. Christine affirms, “It's not rocket science. If dogs are settled, the relationships between them and their owners flourish. It's about training people to train their dogs.” Christine, fuelled with passion and expertise, has successfully assisted many breeds of dogs and their human families or individuals to bond on a deeper level. Her unique, kind and intuitive manner with canines is remarkable. For this reason, she is recognised throughout the community and surrounds as the local dog whisperer. Everydog Behaviour & Training www.everydogbehaviourtraining.com 0412 874 318

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Local Heroes


Furnell By Trevor Stow

Rocky was born in Bairnsdale Hospital but brought up on her parent’s sheep and beef cattle farm at Buchan South. Of course she grew up with animals on the farm and dogs were always part of her life. She never lost the love for them.

A loved affair continues to this day with, not only Dean, but with Labrador dogs. The Furnell’s enrolled Connor in the Bairnsdale and District Dog Obedience Club Puppy School. This was the start of a long association with the club and also with dog training.

Rocky attended Buchan South Primary school. This was just a small country school with about 15 children attending from the local farming community. Later Rocky attended Bairnsdale High School. She would catch the school bus at 7am, ride for an hour to school and return home in the evening at about 5pm. A big day for a young child. Later, Rocky’s parents moved to Lakes Entrance where they purchased holiday units to give their children better opportunities but she still had to catch a bus into Bairnsdale each day as Lakes Entrance Secondary School had not been built.

Rocky competed in various types of dog competitions in those days. Connor was a regular competitor at obedience events and he continued to improve and eventually competed at the highest level in Obedience. He also competed in jumping and endurance. Later Dean and Rocky got interested in Retrieving and Connor was exposed to that sport also.

As an 18 year old, Rocky worked for her father for a brief period of time, before attaining a job at Lakes Entrance Post Primary School as a trainee administration worker. Rocky has well and truly graduated from the trainee roll but she continues her job as a school business manager and has worked for a number of schools over the years. She is presently employed at Bruthen Primary School and loves working with the kids and staff. With her pleasant dispossession, Rocky is a popular member of staff at the school. In the 1980’s she met and later married Dean Furnell. In 1999 Dean surprised Rocky with a Christmas present, a Labrador pup called Connor.


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During this time, Rocky was on the committee and was eventually awarded the Club’s highest honour, a Life Membership. She was also an instructor for many years with the club and ran obedience classes for young and advanced dogs. The club conducted classes for young pups and their owners and Rocky was very active in conducting these classes. A few years later Rocky and Dean purchased another Labrador pup, Saint. Saint also competed in Obedience at the highest level and finally was awarded an Obedience Championship title. Saint was then introduced to Retrieving trials where he attained his All Age Retrieving title and later earned his Retrieving Champion title. He was a good all-round dog that successfully competed in “tracking”, “endurance”, “RATG” and “rally” and got his title in all these disciplines as well. He lived to a ripe old age and was still being taken along to trials to watch his younger kennel mates compete until he passed away of old age recently.

Rocky's and Jet training

Rocky and Jet gundog training Rocky's award winning dog Jet

Rocky, her dog Jet and Retrieving Judge, Ray Temple

At this stage Rocky became more focused on Retrieving Trials. These trials were first run over 100 years ago when hunters often argued over who had the best gun dog. There was only one way to find out; run a competition. In those days, live game was used. Now-a-days, these Retrieving Trials are still popular but there is no live game used and shotguns are used to fire blank shells only. The trials are set up to resemble true hunting conditions. Competitors in these trials travel all over Australia competing. Their dogs require hours and years of training and are highly skilled at what they do. Any of these dogs make great gundogs in the field as they are so well trained. Although Rocky and Dean had good results with Saint, Rocky was on the lookout for a young, well-bred pup that she could train from the beginning. She located such a pup from well-known Labrador breeder Julie Cramond. Julie had been importing Labradors from the USA for some years. These dogs are very athletic compared to current Australian Labradors. They were also very smart and well suited to Australian hunting conditions. Julie’s dogs were, and still are, being used by customs and police departments with great success. As a result, Rocky chose a young female black Labrador, Adderslot Jet. Rocky then undertook the long task of training Jet up to the required standard to compete in Retrieving trails. By the time she was 14 months of age she was ready to compete in her first Novice event. Jet proved to be a good dog and well trained, soon progressing to Restricted and later into All Age events. All Age trials are for the best dogs.

Jet is now 5 years old and reaching her peak. She has now won 2 of these events and has obtained her title of “Retrieving Dog Champion” at a recent trial held at Harts Morass, Sale.

This is quite an achievement as Jet competes against the best gundogs in Australia every time that she steps out. Rocky is ramping up Jet’s training, with the help of Dean, as later this year Rocky and Jet will be travelling to Queensland to compete in the annual National Championships against all-comers. Rocky’s husband Dean also competes in Retrieving trials with his own dog Huntogun Taz and he had also had good success in the sport, recently becoming a Retrieving Trial judge.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS Rocky won the Gippsland Retrieving Club Easter trial recently held at Harts Morass, Sale. Rocky is only the second woman to have her dog awarded a RTCH (Retrieving Trial Champion) title. She competed against a quality field of dogs that travelled from Queensland, NSW, Tasmania, and Victoria to compete.

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Set in Jindivick’s rolling green hills discover an acre of recycled metal sculptures and browse the gallery space hosting the work of contemporary artists and Laurie’s small stories sculptures. Call in anytime, no cost and see the studio (amongst the metal chaos!)


In June we have Lynne Coade with her exhibition Lasting Impressions.


July sees Julie Gray Wickham return with a show of mainly her own works.


August has Cathy Smith return with a mixed show of sculptural and 2D works. Always quirky! Grand Ridge Road

For more info visit www.redtreegallery.com.au Thanks Laurie Good on ya

420 Main Jindivick Road, Jindivick VIC 3818 P: 5628 5224 | E: info@lauriecollins.com.au


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23 Sep – 22 Oct

21 March – 19 April

Communication is not going to flow easily. Nobody is listening to you and to tell you the truth, you are not listening to them either. Concentrate and look for what is not being said. Body language is more than half of communication. Creativity is rising and you want to appreciate all the good things in life. This brings in greater self-expression and a youthful state of mind. Late-season, catering to the needs of others will lead to greater effort at work, or in taking on extra responsibility. Essentially, you will do what you see at important, not necessarily what authorities see as important.

The push to achieve an outcome gets bogged down in details. Relying on other people to get things done is expecting too much of them. The more you try and put in plans and create rules or boundaries, the less happens. Without goals, you are destined to repeat at least one ingrained pattern mid-season. What are your goals? List the top 5. A goal can be to start a specific new habit. Or you can decide to be kind to yourself and others. Or to save for something special. Later in the season, it seems everything takes twice as long to achieve. Pace yourself.

23 Oct – 21 Nov

20 April – 20 May

Study or learning is difficult, but its only temporary. Ideas and plans will begin to grow and you make a start building or working around the home or with family. Authority figures will push you to do what they want. It’s your choice whether or not to push back. Mid-season is a good time to resolve family tensions or to finally fix up what is broken in the home. If it has not been working, then do something different. The ability to talk and communicate in an easy manner keeps improving. Late-season, you are energized and will not want to be hidden behind the scenes.

You are rushing! Hurrying to finish, to explore and to experience cannot be met in 2 lifetimes, much less one season. Being in this rush, especially at work, will mean something will be missed. Mid-season, your career, work or role in the world is strongly emphasized. While there is the promise of some advancement and opportunities, there is also challenges and disruptions. Late-season, ask questions, set yourself some new goals and look towards the future. You need to see the big picture, but involve your loved ones, or friends, in these plans. Cooperation is key.

22 Nov – 21 Dec

21 May – 20 June

Your ruling planet, Mercury is going backwards in your sign, making this a very slow and confusing time. While it’s not a good idea to make final decisions, it is perfect to research, draft and revise. Ask for clarification and double check everything. You will try and push outcomes but go slow and steady. Mid-season, it all turns around and it is a big month for communication, talking and connecting. It will flow easily but you will have the tendency to think of the details rather than the big picture. Keep asking questions.

Vitality is reduced, but just for a while. While you appear quite on the surface, there is lots going on underneath. You may expand your mind with study, travel, or by meeting those who have the knowledge that you seek. Other people cannot make decisions, but resist making decisions for them. Mid-season, is a time of exploration and stepping outside your comfort zones. Are your comfort zones really comfortable? Sort out paperwork or legal documents. Later in the season, your ambitions are raised and you want success. It may lead to issues with authority figures when you stand up against them or challenge them.

21 June – 22 July

This is a great month to meet people, and to showcase yourself. But you can get derailed by dwelling on the past. Look at both sides of the equation. Ask for help if needed. We all have buried beliefs which can trip us up. Soon you need to sort out financial dealings. This can be with loved ones, in partnerships, in business or with debts. You are going to be focused on money for a long while, so have clear goals. Later in the season, your head is so full of ideas that you need to think before speaking.

22 Dec – 19 Jan

Thinking that other people’s ideas are idealistic and not based in solid fact can lead you to missing information as their intuition can be right! Your social life increases if you say Yes. Taking a risk will result in loss of money or resources so make sure it’s worth it. Mid-season, you may find out more than you expect. What you share with others needs reorganizing. This includes sharing secrets, deep truths, and shared finances. What needs to be released? Are you reliant on other people for your own sense of identity? Late-season, seek meaning in simply Being. We are human beings, not human doing.

23 July – 22 Aug

Looking behind you will not solve anything. Being pro-active and taking action will help. There will be unexpected situations in your working life. Other people do not want to change or to adapt to new situations. Soon you have the goddess Venus entering your sign, and she brings a bit of sparkle. What is difficult improves, and what is good, gets even better. What’s done now will not be forgotten. Smile and inspire, and the world smiles back. Late-season, take stock of what resources that you have and decide if you have what it takes. These resources can be financial, mental or emotional ones.

20 Jan – 18 Feb

Sticking to routines, responsibilities, duties, and keeping to your normal roles, will be the feature of this season. But there will be inner tension when you do it for others rather than yourself. This brings imbalance out into the open. Mid-season, the important people in your life are energized and restless. You may have trouble keeping up with them. Or underlying tensions can build. It is a chance for issues to be bought to the surface or you work together. Late-season, friends and loved ones are finding out new information and it will change their reactions and their decisions.

23 Aug – 22 Sep

This is a great month to be involved in group or community pursuits. While the ultimate goal may be worthy, it’s the friendships and networks that you build that is valuable and inspiring. Authority figures will say one thing and mean another, so don’t take them at face value. Soon a sense of inner restlessness and unease builds, along with a sense of being blocked. But these challenges can be a blessing in disguise helping you to wait until the time is right. Late-season, your energy and vitality are high, and help is available. And you will find that you are able to communicate with ease.

19 Feb – 20 March

Flashes of inspiration are … well the best word that I can think of… is… inspiring! Follow where it leads you. And some of that will be knuckling down to hard work. But the benefits that this brings can be motivating. Taking care of your health is important. Mid-season, you will be finding plenty of work. Every time you use your mind you will find more ideas which results in more work! So please rest your mind on occasions. Some of the work will be beneficially, some of it will be repeating past patterns Late-season, other people are motivated and empowered. Aim to compromise on both sides.

KERRY GALEA ASTROLOGY, PALMISTRY AND ANCIENT MOON GARDENING Email: kerry@kerrygalea.com.au | Web: www.kerrygalea.com.au gippsland lifestyle winter ����





The first official tournament was held recently at the beautiful Shark Disc Park at Tarwin Lower. A very encouraging turn out was witnessed by all that were there and this sport looks to have a great future. The course is set in a beautiful bush setting, located behind the Tarwin Lower Football ground and to get the course in the great shape that it is currently in is the work of many volunteers and lovers of this relatively new sport.

If you were a Frisbee player from the old days then this is the sport for you, if you have never thrown a Frisbee then you should join up and have a go. You will meet nice people, you will get good exercise and you will visit the bush while you are looking for your disc from time to time. There are different discs to use while you are trying to finalise a hole. Instead of plunking a small ball into a hole in the ground; the aim is to fly the disc into a metal basket.

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Why wait? Contact Leroy Sharrock via leroysaratonin@hotmail.com or check out the face book page Shark Disc Park Club.

Disc Golf is played much like traditional golf, instead of a ball and clubs, players use a flying disc similar to a Frisbee. The sport was formalized in the 1970s.



You don’t need to dress up, nor do you need spikes, probably advisable certainly in the summer months to wear good runners as there are natural hazards like the occasional snake lingering in the bush, but overall, it is fun, fresh air and good for fitness.









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East Gippsland Winter Festival… Discover the treasures of East Gippsland

Be welcomed by friendly locals and creative communities for a series of collaborative events across three weeks, from June 19 to July 11.

Here in her home in the Tambo Valley, Tracey is involved in the Great Alpine Gallery, an enthusiastic group of local artists who are also quick to embark on many art adventures.

The festival salutes winter’s long nights with pop-up events, lavish winter feasts, art installations, lantern parades, tours and workshops.

There are a number of other artists helping with the workshops including Julia Tresize, Rachael Pollack and Melanie Murphy, plus a groups of artists in Lakes Entrance led by Lee Nickless also making large lanterns to be installed by the lake for the parade.

Star Lantern Making Workshop is being held on June 29 and this is a must see and do event being held at the Great Alpine Gallery at Swifts Creek. Tracey Johnson has a background in arts projects in a community setting, including lantern and illumination projects, public art and other multi-art projects.

For further details of this great event and any of the events planned for the East Gippsland Winter Festival check out the website www.egwinterfest.com.au for further information.

Photogrphy by Kylie Martin


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DOCTOR RENEE KELSALL HAS GIPPSLAND'S HEALTH AT HEART With regional health experience now front and centre, Renee spent a lot of time at Latrobe Regional Hospital, including several rotations as a junior doctor and again during Geriatric training. Many of the patients that Renee treated were over the age of 50 years, and wanting to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of a large majority of the Gippsland community led Renee to undertake Advanced Training in Geriatrics, becoming a specialist Geriatrician. * 47 per cent of the population in South Gippsland are aged over 50. It was as a Geriatrician in 2018 that Renee started work for BCH in the Sub-Acute ward at the Wonthaggi Hospital. At the same time, she continued to study, focussing on leadership in the health system. “Being interested in leadership and wanting to work and influence the greater Regional Health led to me having discussions with our CEO Jan Child about upcoming opportunities. Jan was so supportive of me and here I am, three years later, the CMO of Bass Coast Health.” Renee is the youngest CMO in the State, arguably one of the busiest and according to her colleagues, one of the best. She supervises the doctors and manages the health programs at BCH and still provides day-to-day care to patients at Bass Coast Health. She provides training for new doctors, makes sure the medical programs are appropriately accredited, she recruits specialists and forges partnerships with other health services such as Monash and Alfred, and she keeps medical staff up-to-date on regulations, procedures and public health and medical issues. “I stepped into the role of CMO two weeks before the Global Pandemic impacted Australia. My second baby was seven months at the time, so I was easing into the role. When the Pandemic hit, it was clear that I had to go back to work full-time. Doctor Renee Kelsall

Bass Coast Health’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Renee Kelsall’s passion for Gippsland and the health of the community was always close to her heart. Born in Leongatha, Renee grew up on a hobby farm with her family amongst the rolling green hills of the South Gippsland township of Meeniyan. For as long as Renee can remember she had dreams of becoming a doctor. “I wanted to be a doctor from an early age, my mum was a nurse in Leongatha for many years and my dad a radiographer in the same hospital for 30 plus years. So, I spent a lot of time in hospitals waiting for them to finish work. I was also exposed to healthcare early when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 39years old and again at 44 and I experienced first-hand the difficulty accessing healthcare in the country!”

“And it’s been such a dynamic time! “ The processes and policies from the State Government to stay abreast of the Pandemic when it first hit and during the lockdowns constantly changed. We would start implementing and re-educating and informing staff of changes each day and 12 hours later it would change again.” Then there was putting in place services for the Hospital to be a COVID Sub-regional facility. “We moved our sub-acute services to Gippsland Health Services in Korumburra. Our Maternity services moved to South Gippsland Hospital in Foster to allow us more acute medical beds. Our surgical services went on hold and our surgical ward became our medical ward and we employed many additional staff. We set up COVID testing facilities. Organisations, like Parks Victoria, came to work in roles where we could accommodate them. We had a huge influx of people to get the job done because we needed additional people to provide services to the large number of patients in the local community.”

Throughout her time in primary school in Meeniyan to finishing high school at Leongatha Secondary College, Renee did not lose focus. She graduated from Year 12 with acceptance into Monash University to be a doctor and was one of the first students at her high school to get into medicine!

While maternity, surgical, sub-acute and services have resumed at Wonthaggi Hospital, Renee says that things are still subject to change. She spends much of her time digesting information to equip staff on the ground at BCH so they can help prevent the spread of COVID and at the same time look after the ongoing health needs of the Bass Coast community.

“It was so exciting to be off to Monash University to do five years of medicine with options to undertake studies regionally. My dream of becoming a doctor was to work in regional and rural hospitals to make a difference to rural health outcomes.”

Renee said that the health, safety and wellbeing of the local community is her number one priority. “To work as a doctor and now a CMO of a significant sub-regional Hospital and local healthcare service is my passion. I care deeply about the services we provide.

And that’s exactly what Renee did. During her Intern and medical training at Monash Health, Renee spent a lot of her time working regionally.

“My family live in Inverloch and my extended family live in Gippsland, who also rely on our services just like other patients. I pour my heart and soul into the role because of my personal connection to health in the area.”

“My third year of medical training was at Latrobe Regional Hospital and during my fourth year I worked at Mildura Base Public Hospital and in the surgical ward at West Gippsland Hospital Warragul, before compl)eting my final year back at Monash Health.”


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Despite all the changes to stay on the front foot of the Pandemic, particularly during the two lockdowns of 2020, Renee said that great progress was made at Bass Coast Health during that time.

Doctor Renee Kelsall with patient

“The key highlight was BCH setting up and opening an Integrated Care Centre (The L. Rigby Centre) at the Wonthaggi Hospital, offering our community, Chemotherapy and Supportive Therapy, Infusions and Cancer Care closer to home in Wonthaggi. Prior to this, cancer patients had to travel long distances often to Melbourne for treatment. “But there were many other highlights too,” explained Renee. “We have modernised our medical model and employed a team of Medical Specialists in obstetrics, breast care, oncology, geriatrics, blood diseases, ear nose and throat, heart, respiratory and orthopaedics and General Practitioner Specialists to support our patients locally. We are implementing an Electronic Medical Records system, so that no matter where patients have been treated in the region we will have an up-to-date inpatient records. We have continued the expansion of the Wonthaggi Hospital that will deliver 18 emergency treatment spaces along with specialise ED areas and short stay cubicles – not to mention state-of-the-art facilities. The hospital’s surgery capacity will double with three new theatres and a procedure room along with an additional 32 inpatient beds, and a new Radiology precinct all of which will be open to the public by late 2023. Renee said that the aim of this additional capacity is to reduce the need for locals to travel to Melbourne for care and help meet the future demand in the Bass Coast Shire. *The Bass Coast Shire population is expected to double by 2032. “And we continued to progress with a Community Hospital at Phillip Island, which is on-track to open in 2024 to provide outpatient care, and community-based health and social care services to visitors and locals. “I am so proud to be part of the BCH team. We were all very committed to keeping our community safe, whilst also completing these service development projects through the Pandemic. And we are very proud to deliver safe health services to the community, and more services, so they don’t have to leave the area or travel outside the region for care.” The sentiment of care is clear when Renee speaks of the current demand for services and her passion to ensure local community needs are met. “During the last two waves of the Pandemic I think that people were scared to access healthcare because hospitals were seen as places that people went to with respiratory illnesses, infections or COVID-19. And here at Wonthaggi, we were the designated Sub-Regional COVID Hospital. There was a public perception that you should try to avoid visiting a hospital. As a consequence, peoples’ chronic illnesses have been neglected. They have not received the usual preventive measures that they normally would. This means people are presenting later with cancer and people with heart and lung disease have not received their regular check-ups. This means that our local population’s health is much worse than we would normally see. Sicker people are now presenting to our Emergency Department, and many more of them.” While the patient numbers and sickness levels have increased, Renee said that the projects achieved during the Pandemic have helped to improve the services of BCH as a whole.

Doctor Renee Kelsall

“The new services at Bass Coast Health improve the health of our community so people don’t have to delay things for travel to Melbourne. Our Community can see their specialists here locally, many as public patients, without out-of-pocket fees, and they can see highly skilled specialists of the same quality that Melbourne people enjoy. It’s been a lot of work to make this happen, but BCH has an extraordinary team, and it’s been a true privilege to be a part of the team” During the Pandemic lockdowns, Renee explained that BCH had to change the way it worked to deliver its services. “A good example of this is Tele-health,” she said. “Our clinics were converted to Tele-health and people who might not have previously got their appointments for one reason or another were consulted in their homes. This has enabled us to increase our in-reach services, preventing local admissions into aged care facilities. So it’s been amazing times when you think about it.” So what is the key focus now? Three key things: The first is about maintaining a strong focus on safety and quality. This has always been the key priority for BCH but as we get busier, and treat sicker, and more people, our focus on this is even more important. The second is about taking care of each other. Healthcare staff, and most community members, have experienced huge changes, and many people are fatigued, and that is definitely the case for health care workers. We must stay focussed on caring for our staff to make sure that they look after themselves, including their physical and mental health. The third, according to Renee, is that people in Gippsland seem to be complacent about COVID-19 because it doesn’t feel like the virus is here. “Even in Australia, as a whole, it does not feel like we are in a Pandemic. COVID was front-of-mind in the previous two waves, but COVID-19 is still a problem impacting Australia. “Experts are saying: it’s not a case of if but when the third wave of COVID-19 will hit Australia!” “We have so far been so lucky, compared to other countries, but things can change quickly. Gippsland is not immune from COVID-19. You still should socially distance. You still need to maintain your hand hygiene. Wear a mask in crowds. Get tested if you have any symptoms and isolate yourself from others. And please get vaccinated because that is going to protect you, your family and all of us here in Gippsland.” *Population Sources - The Australian Bureau of Statistics

Bass Coast Health 235 Graham Street, Wonthaggi Vic. 3995 Phone: 03 5671 3333 Fax: 03 5671 3300 basscoasthealth.org.au gippsland lifestyle winter ����


slow life


By Erin Miller


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S LO W M O R N I N G S S LO W DAYS T H E S LO W L I F E THIS is my preferred pace, and I thoroughly enjoy any opportunity to BE just this!

CAN I BE THE BEST VERSION OF ME? Each time I am tempted to ignore my natural nature, each time I catch myself in the old narrative of slow = laziness and unmotivated, I am quick to remind myself that the slow life suits me and when I am feeling good, and honouring my natural nature


But this has not always been the case-for years I thought this made me lazy and unmotivated. Especially when surrounded by 4 high energy and dynamic males! Believe me, I have tried, so many times I have tried- to keep up with them. Which I can for a while in bursts, I can keep pushing through....

And as Ralph Waldo Emerson puts it,

Yeah, sure I can do it, I can totally keep up, I can absolutely keep pushing through, keep denying and ignoring what feels good for me and what I am naturally drawn to-

B U T AT W H AT C O S T ? What is the detriment to me?

~ Adopt the pace of nature, her secret is patience ~


How does that then impact my relationships? Can I then be the mother and wife I really desire to be?

Erin Miller is a NLP life coach, mentor, writer and proud mama to 3 very active young boys. Her previous career roles have been quite diverse and she has a background in hospitality/travel, disability/mental health and business management. Trained in a variety of modalities including NLP, Life Coaching and as a Soul Modes Mentor, she has had the privilege to work with clients all around Australia and also runs empowerment workshops, retreats and group events.

For further information please call 0418 328 441 or visit my website www.erinmiller.com.au or follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Do you have a question or a topic you would like Erin to write about? Send her an email at erin@erinmiller.com.au

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WellnessWheel financial intellectual mental + emotional occupational physical social spiritual environmental

health Wellness seeks more than the absence of illness; it searches for new levels of excellence. Beyond any disease-free neutral point, wellness dedicates its efforts to our total well-being in body, mind and spirit. Greg Anderson


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SURVIVING We are complex creatures, and our Health and Well-Being is comprised of many dimensions. A Wellness Wheel is a model that represents the eight different areas of wellness: Financial, Mental, Physical, Social, Intellectual, Occupational, Environmental and Spiritual Health. All dimensions of a wellness wheel are necessary to have a balanced and happy life. If your wellness wheel is out of balance, you may be suffering influencing your life, your family, your colleagues and even your community. The Wellness Wheel is a tool for self-exploration that can help  you survey choices or situations that affect your overall wellness. Each of the dimensions are interconnected and equally important. When one area is negatively impacted this can influence other areas of our wellness and life. How balanced are you? Assess your Health and Wellbeing with the Wellness Wheel. The Wellness Wheel represents a person's life and their total well-being. It works like this:     

Each wedge represents one dimension of your health and wellness Use the inner rings of the wheel to rate yourself in each dimension of health as 1 being low (inner circle) and 10 being high (outer circle) After rating yourself, you assess your well-being: The more it is like a functioning wheel, the more you're thriving The more it looks like a broken wheel or flat tire, the closer you are to the surviving end of the spectrum

THRIVING They also now offer clients the services of a Wellness Support Officer helping to improve the other dimensions of health and well-being. Offering mental, physical, emotional, and social health and well-being support. The objective of supporting more than one area of health and well-being empowers business and farming families to be productive, perform optimally, improve profitability, and assist with decision making. The first step is to take stock, assess the situation, and then with the support of professionals implement proven strategies to be well and thrive at work and in life. Each one of us is unique and different. No two-wellness wheels will look the same. RFCS offer a custom-tailored approach to support clients and ensure they are linked up with the correct local resources with the ongoing check ins to overcome any barriers that may get in the way of achieving optimal health and well-being. Try the wellness wheel and assess your current situation. If you are, feeling overwhelmed do not hesitate to reach out for the confidential and personalized support that you need today. Stay Healthy, Chrissy

The benefit of this tool is that it provides you with a quick visual assessment to determine what areas of your life are thriving and what areas you are just surviving. This self-assessment provides you with the information to help plan and implement healthy strategies and resources to improve your wellness wheel and therefore improve your overall health and wellbeing. I love this simple tool and use it all the time with my clients. Why not give it a go? Gippsland farming families and business have endured an extremely tough time lately, considering years of drought, followed by bushfires, and topped off with a global pandemic. We have been exposed to a series of environmental health impacts adding overwhelm and stress to daily life. Businesses have had to close their doors on more than one occasion resulting in significant financial loss. As our wellness dimensions are interconnected, a loss in one area can affect another area. For example, many businesses have been impacted financially and as a result, this has had an influence on stress and mental health. A local organization: The Rural Financial Counselling Service Gippsland are taking a proactive, individualistic, and whole person approach to supporting the community. The RFCS support the financial wellbeing of rural business operators and farmers.

CHRISTINE BOUCHER of Natural Health Balance is a corporate Health and Performance Coach transforming organisations to work productively and cohesively as a team. Improving the health of staff and the well-being of business through performance management, health coaching and team building to improve productivity, performance and profitability. Christine is dedicated and passionate about Health & Wellness. Holding a Bachelor of Nursing Degree, MBA and specialising in Intensive Care Nursing. With over 20 years’, experience working in the healthcare industry.


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Photo credit: Mel Cameron Photography 2011



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The universe delivered and I ended up meeting a man who I didn’t know I was looking for; we fell in love and everything felt worthwhile again. My family quickly turned into the Brady Bunch, grew from three to eight and totally turned my little bubble upside down, but for the better. I then decided to change careers to accommodate and cope with the needs of big family, be more present and enjoy a second chance at love. I crammed in an Education Diploma which led to flexible work, made the tough decision to proceed with major spinal fusion surgery as advised by surgeons and entered a health reset and recovery from the inside to out and from head to heart to body and gut.

As I approach my twenty first birthday yet again (ahem, okay 40th), it has prompted me to consider where I was in my world, what my priorities and ambitions were, what my family dynamic looked like and most importantly who I was surrounded by when I was thirty, compared to now. It is an exciting, not dreaded thought, to consider what the next ten years will look like after continuing to embrace personal growth and development and simply being brave enough to make choices in recent years. The adage that ‘with age comes wisdom’ rings true, but hand in hand with age, a lot of the direction your life might steer towards, comes from the big “D word”; decide. The decisions you make, your level of commitment to do what you say you are going to do, what you say yes or no to and the inner courage that every person has hiding inside of them to make big moves which impact their lives, all shape who they are today and who you might like to become tomorrow.

“MY GOAL IS NOT TO BE BETTER THAN ANYONE ELSE, BUT BE BETTER THAN I USED TO BE.” Wayne Dyer There is no doubt that 2020 created space for reflection and new beginnings for many but there’s no reason this can’t continue into this year as we ease back into our busy worlds with much gratitude because we are lucky enough to do so. I’d love you to note my favourite phrase and feel free to use it; ‘complainers are drainers’. Let’s consider how blessed we are to be in such a position of freedom in Australia and why not make the most of the opportunities we have right now if you’re seeking change?

My recovery process led me to the decision to say yes to a health and wellness businesses opportunity that has been my ultimate motivator on so many levels for the last five years and I also created my own online business and therefore been able to help and inspire so many people take positive steps and formed many life-long friendships with like-minded people. I am still doing all these things but have funnily enough gone full circle and now work my businesses alongside my original Real Estate career that I have loved so much since I was eighteen years old. However now, I have new skills, huge future plans and literally a stronger backbone. I’ve discovered I’m still the same person I was at thirty, but an improved version who isn’t afraid to challenge myself.

YOUR EXPERIENCES CAN EITHER MAKE YOU OR BREAK YOU. I have worn my heart on my sleeve and shared my story not for sympathy or merit but because I am the person I am today because of the choices I made yesterday. I know there are other people facing challenges in their worlds who may benefit from knowing it’s okay to change their path if they’re feeling stuck or want more for themselves. Find that inner courage to say yes to the job opportunity, be open to new ideas because if you want something you’ve never had, do something you’ve never done before. Invest in your health so that everything else flows when you’re feeling good, preserve your energy and only surround yourself with those who lift you up and are cheering you on through the wins, big or small.


When I was thirty in 2011, I would never have predicted that by 2021, the last decade would have had me making the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make and muster up inner strength I didn’t even know I had. In that time frame, I decided to end an unhappy marriage, which meant I was a single parent for a few years to a then one- and four-year-old, working full time and subsequently working myself into the ground, in a career that I had loved for fifteen years. At the same time, I was also battling a debilitating injury, which resulted in me stopping love for myself and my job in the end due to a lack of capacity. After quite some time, I decided to choose happiness again following a bit of a knock with a velvet sledgehammer, (a dear friend’s wise words) and wanted to pull myself out of a deep state depression, reclusiveness, mental and physical struggle and made a conscious effort to snap out of a horrible funk and only surround myself with uplifting, caring people who matched my frequency.

Christie is a busy mum, dual health and wellness business owner, business builder, professional social networker, President of the Southern Business Women’s Network and also a licensed estate agent. Christie’s personal businesses can offer solutions and products to those seeking a positive change in their world.

For further information, please email youcanactivewear@gmail.com or go to www.youcanlifestyle.com.au | www.christienelson.arbonne.com youcanactivewearandlifestyle youcanactivewear christienelson0827

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Temperature from Vineyard to glass By Frank Butera


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Temperature is critically important to viticulture, wine-making, wine maturation and wine service, each in very different ways! Temperature is widely considered the most important climate factor to affect grapevines, although other factors such as sunlight, rainfall, humidity and wind are also important. Vines in our cool Gippsland climate start growing in the spring when the mean (average) air temperature reaches 10°C. The rate of vine growth and development then increases to maximum at 22 – 25°C, before falling away at even higher temperatures. Vines and soils are warmed by sunlight which has major effects on grape berry temperature, leaf temperature, grape composition and wine quality. Soil temperature can affect the vine temperature particularly at night. The composition of the soil, its colour, drainage and duration and angle of exposure to the sun are all important factors. Soil and air temperature at particular stages of vine growth or during ripening will have specific effects. Winer and early spring temperatures control budburst in the spring, air temperature variability determines the risk of frost damage after budburst. Temperatures around flowering contribute to the differences and variation in fruit set. This is a critical period as bunches transition from flower to berry and ideally under consistent warm to high springtime temperatures. In southern Victoria, adverse temperature during flowering resulted in very low yields across many regions. Temperature and temperature control are of critical importance in making good-quality wine. Temperature has direct effects on the rates of biochemical reactions involved in fermentation and on the slower reactions involved in clarification and stabilising wines. Low temperatures are vital are vital prior to process grapes. The potential quality of white wine can be lost if attention to grape temperature during this phase is not observed. Temperature control in particular for white wines is critical during the fermentation phase. White wines are fermented at lower temperatures than red wines to conserve aromatics. Fermentation temperature in red wines is equally important, however for red wines higher (but not too high) temperatures are preferred. The higher temperatures assist in releasing tannins and anthocyanins and flavor compounds. When it comes to enjoying our favourite bottle of wine, many will pour a glass without any consideration for its temperature. Sure, we know that red wine should be served at “around room temperature” and that white wine should be served chilled, but it isn’t actually this simple. In fact, each wine variety has its own optimum drinking temperature, which can actually enhance its taste. Ideally, it’s the magnitude of expressions and flavours that keep you searching in the glass for more. A wine is a sum of the vintage, winemaker, storage, glassware, temperature, accompanying food and most importantly your mental and physical state at time of drinking. We often say you can judge the vintage after the wine has been bottled and poured.

So, why does temperature matter? The temperature of the wine in the glass is of the utmost importance - more important than the shape of the glass it is served in or whether it has been allowed to ‘breathe’ or not. This is because the temperature has a direct effect on the flavour of the wine in your mouth - along with the aromas, and the balance between subtle and dominant characters.

It is recommended to enjoy the following red wine varieties at these temperatures.  Pinot Noir: 12 - 14°C  Tempranillo: 14-16°C  Cabernet Sauvignon; Merlot; Shiraz: 16-18°C So, if you have a nice bottle of Gippsland Pinot Noir, don’t dive into it without regard for the temperature. Chill it so that it sits between 12-14°C. It’ll taste so much better. That may mean popping it in the fridge for 20 minutes before serving. As the wine warms in the glass it will continue to unfold.

The optimum drinking temperature of white wine If you have a liking for white wine, the same attention to the temperature of the bottle is essential for ensuring it tastes as good as possible. Many of us will be well-acquainted with the foul taste of an over-warm white wine, but you shouldn’t underestimate just how unpalatable a white wine can be if it’s too cold. The colder a white wine is, the more acidic and “tarty” it will taste due to the suppression of the fruit characters. An over-chilled white wine will appear to be dulled and lacking in varietal character.

Follow these temperature recommendations for different types of white wine varieties:  Sparkling; Sauvignon Blanc; Pinot Gris: 6-8°C  Riesling: 8-10°C  Chardonnay: 10-12°C If you store your white wine in the fridge, try taking it out around 30 minutes before you intend to serve it. This means that your wine will have a chance to transition from the standard fridge temperature be chilled within the standard fridge temperature (typically 0-4°C), to the optimum drinking temperature before it is enjoyed. Another trick is to smell the wine before serving. If you can’t smell the aromas, chances are that the wine is too cold and the flavours have become muted. Leave it to warm up for a while longer and smell it again. If in doubt, it’s better to serve a white wine too cold instead of too warm.

Get the most out of your wine by serving it at the right temperature. Frank Butera is the winemaker at Bass River winery. frank@bassriverwinery.com

As the Chief Steward of the Gippsland Wine Show, controlling the temperature of the wine prior to judging is critical. All wines are cooled to the appropriate serving temperature and then tasted soon after pouring in a climate-controlled room. Serving wine at the wrong temperature can have an enormous impact. It’s not dramatic to state that if two glasses of the same wine variety were served, one at the correct temperature and the other at the wrong temperature, the dissimilarity in taste would be outstanding.

What is the optimum drinking temperature of wine? Every single wine variety has an optimum drinking temperature - the temperature at which it tastes best. Although it is generally acknowledged that red wine should be served warmer than white wine, the details are more intricate - down to the very degree Celsius. 

The optimum drinking temperature of red wine Red wine lovers may enjoy the ease of not having to chill a bottle of red wine before drinking it - grabbing it from your kitchen bench where it has been sitting at room temperature is fine, right? Wrong. Generally, the optimum drinking temperature across the red wine variety lies between the 15°C and 18°C mark. If red wine is served too warm, it risks tasting too alcoholic and the flavours will be totally overpowered.

gippsland lifestyle winter ����




Nothing announces that you’re in the country more than an old-fashioned general store with a post office appended. The quaint façade of the general store and post office in Newry, located north-west of Maffra in Gippsland’s dairy district, is like many others of its kind around Australia. Reminiscent of simpler times, their wares are somewhat limited but nevertheless meet the needs of the locals who frequent these one-stop-shops. They’re the regional community hubs which serve not only as a destination to buy your weekly staples, but as a meeting place complete with a friendly face. Like any small business, the regional general store comes with its own set of challenges. Back in the BC period – BC being ‘Before COVID’ – times were proving tough in our regional centres thanks to dwindling populations, with estimates indicating a 20 percent population loss in Australia’s rural communities over the past 50 years. If it weren’t for people like Leanne and Denis Huffer, a courageous couple who ditched their corporate careers in Melbourne to return to their regional roots almost 40 years ago, the permeating presence of traditional businesses – like that of the general store slash post office – would most definitely have struggled to survive the test of modern times. “Denis and I purchased the store and post office in 1984 when we decided we wanted to own our own business and raise a family in Gippsland,” Leanne explained. “At the time, we both had banking careers in Melbourne. We were fortunate enough to find this business and house for sale close to the towns we had both grown up in. It was perfect.” For the past 38 years, this dynamic husband-and-wife team has been the face of the Newry General Store. Together with their children Dean and Craig, the Huffer clan enjoyed the laid-back lifestyle that is synonymous with country living, revelling in the beauty of their Macalister Valley locale and taking solace in the simplicity of their chosen way of life.


gippsland lifestyle winter ����

Despite the perceived challenges of owning and running a small business in a regional town, the Newry General Store has proved a prosperous and sustainable venture for this entrepreneurial family, who service not only their immediate community but the Coongulla district as well. “We’ve loved working together as a husband-and-wife team in a peaceful, friendly community and being able to be here when our boys came in from school every day,” Leanne explained. “Being able to provide a consistent, mixed service as a general store and licensed post office to our customers both here and in Coongulla has been amazing. The lifestyle in regional Victoria is just what we wanted. We can clearly see the starry skies at night and we experience the most beautiful sunsets from our store window.” The year that was 2020 saw a lot of Australian small businesses brought to their knees. While most Australians started working from home during the pandemic, not much changed for Leanne and Denis, who just kept doing what they’ve been doing since the early 80s. Working from home! They stayed open – up to 12 hours a day, seven days a week – and they kept smiling, well, trying to through their masks, and have come out the other side a little wiser, albeit also a little jaded. “We learned that a lot of people lip read and wearing masks are unfriendly so we should have painted smiles on our masks!” Leanne laughed. “But yes, the pandemic was a tough period of our business life. Even though we’re classed as an essential service and it was business as usual, we felt the uncertainty of it all and did feel vulnerable with our upfront service.” Sadly, these local store stalwarts are in the throes of selling their regional dream. Pandemic aside, they just know it’s time for them to move on. Because if we’ve learnt anything from COVID, it’s that people are looking to move to regional areas, rather than away.



As the sun sets on the Huffer’s tenure as Newry’s General Store owners, the couple proffers some sage advice for anyone thinking about taking up the tenancy on their beloved store. “Customers first!” Leanne proclaimed. “Treat them well and they’ll do the same back. Also, be patient. It can take time to find your own ways of working and inevitably what works best for you.” “We will miss it when it sells, but we know it is now time for another younger ‘Leanne and Denis’ to enjoy this country lifestyle.”

“We’re looking forward to making a new home with a nice garden close by,” Leanne said. “There are places we’d like to go but not at the moment. When it’s a healthier world out there we’ll think about making some travel plans but settling into a new house will be sufficient at the moment.”

Who knows? With the exodus of people moving from Australia’s capital cities to regional areas expected to continue as a fallout from the pandemic, the next owners of the Newry General Store and Post Office might just be on the cusp of making their own ‘escape to the country’.

With their sons both grown up and living in Melbourne, Leanne and Denis won’t be moving too far away from the place they’ve called home, and work, for all these years.

gippsland lifestyle winter ����




Photography by Open2ViewGippsland


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47 Gippsland lifestyle winter  

Welcome to Winter, this issue is packed with great reading, get cosy and get reading with Gippsland's No.1 Magazine. This issue, Celebrating...

47 Gippsland lifestyle winter  

Welcome to Winter, this issue is packed with great reading, get cosy and get reading with Gippsland's No.1 Magazine. This issue, Celebrating...

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