For those who think life’s too fast.™
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Issue six 2010/11
One musician’s journey in a sustainable world Story by Genevieve Barlow
photo essay by Brendan McCarthy
wishes there were more hours in A day
why it’s back
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LITTLE GIFTS can surprise you in little, but special, ways. Take for instance a recent rummage through my mother’s stamp albums. Looking through the pages prompted the first little gift. Memories of the two of us around our 50s’ chrome and Laminex kitchen table soaking used postage stamps in water, slowly, until the paper fell away enough for us to tweezer them carefully onto paper towel to dry. Afternoons fell away too. No talk of television or somewhere else to go. Just two patient philatelists travelling the world with a humble collection. The second gift was a flower Mum had pressed in between the album’s back pages. It was a hibiscus from the garden, and although it was lacking in colour … it was gracefully sitting waiting to be discovered, and perfectly intact. It was such a reminder of days gone by, when leafy flowering shrubs dripped with water from the summer sprinklers we jumped over – cooling ourselves off the best way we knew how.
I started to recall how many pressed flowers were inserted within the pages of my mother’s and grandmother’s books. Placed for a little surprise decades later – delicate pieces to remind me of how these women loved nature, their gardens, their homes and their families. When I’m dashing about, I don’t enjoy these little gifts, but when I stop to enjoy leafing through pages of some old journal … the slow nature of keepsakes catches me and draws me in. So, as you turn the pages of this latest edition of Slow Magazine, enjoy the little gifts it may bring. The timely stories, the heartfelt humour and the images that are so carefully placed on each page. This is our Christmas edition, the perfect occasion to wish you a wonderfully festive season … a season that may slow you down enough to notice the little corners of life, and the little moments that can bring you little gifts of joy. Jacqui Mott, Publishing Editor
SLOW MAGAZINE SCOOPS DESIGN AWARDS: November 2010 At the 2010 Publishers Australia Awards in Sydney, Slow Magazine scooped two major awards – Designer of the Year (consumer magazine) and Designer of the Year (across all categories). Slow’s designer Louise Fisher proudly accepted the awards, while Slow Magazine was also awarded a Highly Commended ranking for Regional Magazine of the Year. “Slow Magazine is enjoying its second year in publishing, and it’s clear readers and advertisers already recognise the excellence we produce, so it’s very gratifying that our peers do as well,” said Jacqui Mott, editor. Publishers Australia was founded in 1964 and represents the country’s magazine industry. www.publishersaustralia.com.au
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credits Editor Jacqui Mott email@example.com Art Direction Rob Hickman, Louise Fisher Sub Editor Grace Currie Contributors Genevieve Barlow, Jeffrey Booth, Tom Bourke, Michael McCoy, Lauren Mitchell, Sue Peacock Special Contributors Alexander Perry, Catriona Mitchell, Marian Quanbeck Dahlberg Photographers Rob Hickman, Brendan McCarthy and David Johns Editorial Design Louise Fisher Advertising Design Meg Norris Hair/Makeup Lisa Kane Production firstname.lastname@example.org Regional Advertising Sales (03) 5472 2700 Business Manager (and metropolitan advertising sales) Barry Hickman email@example.com 0416 088 851 Publicity DMCPR Sydney (02) 9550 9207 Distribution: Australia-wide by Gordon and Gotch Australia Ask for Slow Magazine at your nearest quality newsagent anywhere in Australia, and also Borders and Readings Books stores in Victoria. Printing Slow Magazine is printed in Australia by Printgraphics Pty Ltd under ISO 14001 Environmental Certifications. Printed using vegetable based inks on an elemental chlorine free paper. Sourced using sustainable forestry practices and manufactured using the ISO 14001 environmental management systems. No old-growth forests were felled to make this paper. Paper fibre is from certified and audited sources.
Slow Magazine is proudly published quarterly by CoffeeStain Creative Pty Ltd A member of Publishers Australia abn 43 135 925 254 Postal address PO Box 96, Castlemaine, 3450, Victoria, Australia Tel +61 3 5472 2700 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.slowmagazine.com.au Slow Magazine has the right to accept or reject all editorial and advertising material. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All rights reserved. Letters addressed to the magazine will be regarded as for publication unless clearly marked: Not for Publication.
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MELLOW CELLO: Going solo and eco, as part of her Slow Ride Album Tour, performer Kristin Rule pushbikes on a road less travelled. Story by Genevieve Barlow on page 14. Album review on page 67.
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.com.au ONE MUS ICIAN STORY BY GEN ’S JOURNEY IN A SUST AINABLE WOR EVIEVE BARL OW LD
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CONTENTS Cover story
The unconventional cellist On a road less travelled, performer Kristin Rule pedals by
Stay in Ballarat, and enjoy an Unknown World
Slow down and up the anti
Lazy day? Let’s serve up antipasto
10 Snail Mail 12 Be There Quality, and sometimes quirky events you can’t miss 22 Totter: Port Fairy Oh, we do like to be beside the seaside 30 Slow Spy Tis’ the season for giving 34 Dwell: Cosy convoy Leaving home for a truckin’ life? 9 slow magazine
104 100 42 Counter Culture Three designer macarons A foodie’s Big Mac scene that’s anything but fast 50 Bottleneck Fresh, young and very approachable, we taste pinot grigio 52 Simmer: Roast pork Alexander Perry sets the table 54 Eco Slo: Rice, play, love A Balinese man who is going with the grains 60 Books Time for a slow read 66 Music Your playlist this summer 67 How Slow is Slow? Dip your toe into the sea of slow info 68 Stitch in Time Sewing’s not old hat Sewing is back. And Slow shoots the fashion 80 Regional Romance Singer, Tiffany Eckhardt Life in the folk lane … and why she loves Winch 82 Slow Art: Iron man More art in the pipeline for Wayne Robbie 85 Notes from the Wasp All aboard for another Vespa adventure 10 slow magazine
86 In Between: Lasts and lasts We capture bespoke bootmakers, Morris and Adam Perkal through the lens
96 Slow Cooker: Could do a pud? Christmas pudding ‘a la crockpot’ 98 The Clutter Busters Dejunking? Who you’re gonna call? 102 Taking Root Maxing out or taking it easy? In summer, your garden is where the action is … or isn’t 104 Time Away: The big crossing Travelling across a treeless plain for Christmas 112 Slowology Time to shift into low gear
S NAI L MAI L Every magazine likes feedback. And here at Slow we’re no different. So if you have something to say, just drop us a line. Of course, given that Slow Magazine is a quarterly, you’ll have plenty of time to think about what you want to say. We wouldn’t want you to dash off any old thing. In your neatest writing, preferably with pen and ink, mail your letters to PO Box 96, Castlemaine, 3450, Victoria. If you really must use email, then send it to email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you. Soonish. Insightful, inspiring
To all the people who have made Slow possible. I’m not a magazine buyer as such. I get all the rubbish I can stomach in the waiting rooms of doctors and dentists. So it comes as a surprise – especially to me – to know that I make sure of buying every issue of Slow Magazine. I absolutely love it and have a tendency to read and re-read every bit. Interesting, insightful, entertaining, informative, uplifting, inspiring, passionate and I’ve run out of adjectives. I’m sure many of your readers could add to the list! At the moment I’m in the throes of establishing a new garden with all the triumphs and heartache that go with it. However, after hours of working, I try to take time to just sit (with or without a beverage). I stop and reassess, and remind myself that growing things is a slow process. Mother Nature will take her time and so must I. Anyway, it gives me time to read my Slow mag again. Look forward to the next issue. Cheers, Jenny Jarman Chewton, Victoria
Settling in to Slow I’ve tried to slow down, but I just can’t. Well, that isn’t completely true. Now that I’ve found your magazine, I’m very happy to settle down, with a glass of fine wine, and read. And shock horror, I’m reading a genuinely interesting modern magazine … I’m sure other readers love the authentic nature of your Slow editorial as much as I do.
Well done Slow Magazine team. You’ve come up with a great concept that is regional, national and international … timeless … long may Slow sail into the hearts and minds of those who think life’s too fast, and who love absorbing good photographs and good words. I should have handwritten this letter to you, but I haven’t learnt enough slow yet to accomplish this. All the best, Rachel Morrison New Farm, Queensland
Thank you so much for sending me the latest copy of Slow. It’s a great publication – good stories, informative, entertaining and relaxing – great to read sitting in the sun in spring, and in bed at night. Well done. Yours sincerely, John Brumby Premier of Victoria Slow goods This is the first time I have come across your idyllic Slow Magazine. Congratulations on your first anniversary. Enjoyed the article on ‘The Weekender’ house. I appreciate your focus on regional towns. I am curious to know whether you have previously published any articles about Mildura/Sunraysia region. Mildura is by car 12 hours from Sydney, six hours from Melbourne, five hours from Adelaide and one hour from Mungo National Park. It literally is at the ‘gateway’ to the outback! A few years ago I wrote an article ‘In Search of a Slow Goods Movement’, an emphasis on ‘slow goods’ and ‘bio regionalism’. It mostly fell on deaf ears. Someone suggested my terminology could be confused with the Slow Food movement and that there is no association between the two! My interpretation of the term slow goods: for example using one’s creativity making ‘slow’ goods at home from clean old clothes, vintage fabrics and salvaged materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Deconstruct old things and craft them to be reborn as a one-off ‘new’ original piece, be it practical gadgets, fashion items, hats, toys, furniture … the list could go on. This creates an opportunity to earn a casual income by selling one’s surplus home-made goods at local markets. We are extremely isolated in comparison to Bendigo, Beechworth and Castlemaine. Our dilemma is we are out of reach of markets where ‘weekenders’ regularly visit. In my opinion Farmers’ Markets would be the ideal location, to trade such slow goods. Same clientele! However, Farmers’ Markets only allow the sale of edible goods, emphasis on home grown and home made. This is a real disadvantage for someone who trades home grown/home made products who is also an artistic crafter and cannot sell ‘slow’ goods at the same market, keeping in mind that both categories are created/grown at the same home location/household. Greetings, Krystyna Schweizer Mildura, Victoria PS. Good things are not done in a hurry! German Proverb
THE NEXT ISSUE OF SLOW IS PUBLISHED ON MARCH 1, 2011
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December to February Christmas Tree Light Up December 3 In the central Victorian city of Bendigo, there’s a gathering in Rosalind Park and Queen Victoria Gardens – located alongside the historically scenic Pall Mall. It’s a time to enjoy an evening surrounded by beautiful plantings, while celebrating Christmas by witnessing the ‘Downtown Bendigo Christmas Tree’ light up. Families are encouraged to bring a picnic, find a spot on the grass and welcome the start of the festive season in style. www.bendigotourism.com
Terribly British Day December 5 Motors aren’t just motors when it comes to the vintage British variety. From Austins to Zephyrs, this day is all about bringing together the very best of British road-goers, while enjoying a picnic day suited to the whole family. This colourful event is held on the Patrick White Lawns, just behind Canberra’s National Library. It’s a day to cruise and check out the 300-plus cars, commercials and motorcycles on display, or you may want to shift up a gear in search of rare and unusual British-made vehicles … they’ll be here, that’s for sure. Open 10am to 3pm, with free entry. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 0419 249 109
Eveleigh Farmers’ Christmas Market December 18 From succulent turkey, to fresh ham, to organic eggs, to sweet cherries, to savoury treats, Sydney’s Eveleigh Market is gearing up for Christmas, offering you the freshest produce. This is the city’s
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only all-weather Farmers’ Market, and with the season hotting up, so is the selection: cherries from Windy Hill Orchards; smoked ham from Eumundi Smokehouse; traditional turkey from Thirlmere Poultry and delish lamb from Mirrool Creek. Marketeers are treated to Christmas pud, ice cream, jam, relish, biscotti and other delicious products made with love and affection. Then, there’s the choir singing jolly tunes, a Christmas banner competition and the market’s long community table set up for those who love brunching and munching. It all happens at 243 Wilson St, Darlington and it’s on Saturdays from 8am to 1pm. Bring your basket. www.eveleighmarket.com.au Phone: (02) 9209 4163
Moyneyana Festival December 24 – Jan 26 The historic and family-friendly seaside destination of Port Fairy shows off to boot during this summer holiday festival. For visitors, our advice is to pick up the town’s comprehensive event guide, because every day there’s something on. Historic homes are open to the public, notable cannons are fired in a fun ceremony at Battery Hill, there’s music on the village green and jazz in the park and time to quieten the soul at yoga classes. Don’t forget the Moyneyana New Year’s Eve procession too … you’ll have a whale of a time. www.port-fairy.com/moyneyana
Woodford Folk Festival December 27 – January 1 At this grassrootsy event, which has evolved from humble beginnings into one of Australia’s largest and most iconic festivals, you’ll catch 3000 performers and artists, thinkers and cultural activists, environmentalists and comedians, and two former Prime Ministers. They’re all descending upon the forested valley of Woodfordia to join the cheer, as the event celebrates its 25th anniversary. The festival streets are alive with roving street theatre, parades, art and spontaneous performances day and night, and the musical line-up includes Vika and Linda Bull, The Cat Empire, Katie Noonan and The Captains, Tim Freedman, Archie Roach, plus Shane Howard and his band. www.woodfordfolkfestival.com
Australian Open Road Cycling Championships January 6 – 11 Victoria’s regional city of Ballarat hosts the Australian Open Road Cycling Championships in an event that combines all three national road disciplines – time trial, road race and criterium (that’s a bike race held on a short course). The city comes to life at this time of year, and this national championship offers an opportunity to enjoy an excellent network of on and off-road cycling, presenting recreational cyclists with a special time to also enjoy the surrounding countryside and soak up the history of the region. www.aorcc.com www.visitballarat.com.au
Cygnet Folk Festival January 14 – 16 What makes the Cygnet Folk Festival so special? The answer is simple really. It’s Cygnet. A 50-minute drive from Tasmania’s capital city, Hobart, will take you to the sleepy township. Except, during the festival it’s anything but sleepy (and locals are saying you won’t find a friendlier festival anywhere). It’s the state’s premier folk and world music event of the year, offering the most musically diverse program on the Tasmanian arts scene. Concerts, workshops, dances and street events run continually from Friday afternoon to Sunday night. And while you enjoy the comfort of indoor venues, within a short walk of each other, it’s also the right time to soak up the breezy village atmosphere. Slow down enough they say, and Cygnet is a great place for renewing old friendships and making new ones too. www.cygnetfolkfestival.org
Lake Moodemere Regatta January 15 – 16 Held on Victoria’s Lake Moodemere this regatta is the oldest continually run event of its kind in Australia. Hosted by the Murray Rowing Association (a joint venture between Corowa, Rutherglen Lake and Wahgunyah Rowing clubs), this is two days of tight competition, with events happening every three minutes from 8am to 5pm. So head on over to this beautiful
billabong and enjoy a regatta that’s been voted the most popular regatta on the state’s rowing program. Location-wise it’s five kilometres west of Rutherglen on the Murray Valley Highway. Entry is free, and you’ll be guaranteed an oar-some time! www.rowingvictoria.asn.au
Murray River International Music Festival January 24 – 30 This festival is all about catching the vibe on a riverboat; at a cellar door or at one of the many regional arts venues open for this lively event. It’s a fine music festival presenting world-class Australian and international musicians in unique river locations with performances matched with master-classes, workshops and school activities. Beginning life as an initiative of foodinista Stefano de Pieri and regional identity Helen Healy, this event is now in its sixth year, and packed with a dynamic program that includes regional locations such as Mildura, Wentworth, Swan Hill, Echuca, Katunga and Shepparton. www.artsmildura.com.au
Kilcunda Lobster Festival January 23 This free community festival, all about lobsters and fun, is hosted by the small Victorian community of Kilcunda, located on the pristine and rugged South Gippsland coastline between Phillip Island and Wonthaggi. The day’s activities include helicopter rides, an animal farm, demonstrations and displays, live music, refreshments, market stalls, and, of course, the event involves the creature from the deep. Yes, lobsters are for sale, as a lunch with salad or whole; or win a lobster by entering the spinning wheel competition. The fun starts at 9am and continues throughout the day until all the lobsters have been won or sold (and that’s usually about 3pm-ish). Bring the whole family, and your seafood appetite, for a great day out. Email: email@example.com 0417 590 881
Sustainable Living Festival February 12 – 27 Let’s start thinking greener, and head to the Sustainable Living Festival. It’s an event that will inspire and empower you to think about sustainable living, and prompt you to make changes to help the planet. This two-week happening culminates with the festival’s Big Weekend at Federation Square in the heart of Melbourne. It’s a time to celebrate the very best examples of ecological and social sustainability, with interactive workshops, talks, demonstrations, artworks, exhibits, films and live performances. You’re invited to join in the celebrations and help accelerate the uptake of sustainable living. www.festival.slf.org.au
Tropfest February 20 This prestigious and iconic short film festival is coming to Sydney for its 19th annual event. Held at various venues on this one night in February, Tropfest is an event offering diversity, colour and pure entertainment. It’s built on opportunity – so whether you’re a novice or have a few films under your belt, Tropfest will showcase the works of anyone eager to tell a story through film. Entrants have the opportunity of seeing their film screened to hundreds of thousands of film fans across Australia and international film industry luminaries. www.tropfest.com
Big Catch fishing competition February 26 – 27 Get hooked, and come along via Victoria’s stunning Great Ocean Road, to Apollo Bay for a great weekend of fishing and pleasure. The competition is open to all anglers and you’ll be using your talents to haul in the ‘big one’ at both fresh and saltwater destinations. There are competition categories for species and entry sections for boats, kayaks and landbased catches. And what’s even better news is the event helps to raise funds for the Apollo Bay Surf Life Saving Club. www.fishvictoria.com
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the Unconventional cellist When Kristin Rule heads down the highway on her big cello taxi, it’s GENEVIEVE BARLOW she speaks to about her Slow Ride album tour. One day a girl on a motorbike arrived in a town. She called at the café and told people a concert would take place at the rotunda in the clearing on the town’s outskirts. That evening, as planned, she pulled up at the rotunda, unlatched the trailer from behind her motorbike, opened the trailer, pulled out a cello, an amplifier and a sun-powered electric battery, connected them all and began to play. Word spread quickly and soon many people gathered to hear this most unconventional cellist. They brought rugs and, in the evening air, were set adrift from routine and bathed in the restful dirge of the cello.
Photography by Brendan McCarthy
This was how Kristin Rule conducted her first national tour. From town to town she travelled, conducting impromptu concerts in town halls, schools and from park benches. That was in 2008. » 17 slow magazine
This is not just about cello playing. It’s also about trying to promote a different way of life. » Now the 34-year-old musician and composer is back on the road, this time on a bicycle, to launch her new CD, The Knife that Cuts a Tear. Her Slow Ride Album Launch, as she’s calling this latest venture, is likely to take her to who knows where. She will arrange performances as she travels. The first legs are in regional Victoria, and will include Bendigo, Castlemaine, Mildura, Mount Gambier and then, early next year, Tasmania. Already a group of cyclists, led by renowned chef Stefano de Pieri, plan to ride out to meet Kristin as she nears Mildura. Elsewhere, others envisage doing the same. The tour is about much more than launching and promoting her album. She will rely on power generated by the sun, as well as her own muscle, to complete the ride. In addition to the 25 kilograms in her custom-made panniers, the 30 kilogram of the bike itself and the 11 kilogram, 130-year-old case-bound cello, a gift from her late father, Peter, Kristin will haul a 22 kilogram trailer with an inset solar panel. 18 slow magazine
Dubbed the watt-bot, the trailer and its contents will be big enough to generate power to do everything from amplifying a concert, to making a coffee and boosting her up-hill hauling capacity. “This is not just about cello playing. It’s also about trying to promote a different way of life,” Kristin says. In 2000, she graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a degree in music and her heart set on becoming a composer. Her father’s death soon thereafter stripped her of the motivation to continue further and, so, with her small inheritance she went bush, bought 10 acres and proceeded to search for the ‘heart’ in her life. Today she and her partner, Andrew Stretton, live in an off-grid, solar-powered home in central Victoria. They produce food from a 200-square metre vegetable patch, have 135,000 litres of storage capacity in their roof-fed water tanks, have two roosters and four hens and do not own a car. Indeed they cycle to collect their mail in nearby Clunes, a 30 kilometre round trip. They aim
to earn no more money than they need. They live a life some might think borders on the absurd in the fast-paced age of lifestyle convenience that underpins 21st century Australia. It’s very slow, very connected with nature and highly energy-aware, a theme very much reflected in the music. It’s also very much reflected in Kristin’s life journey from graduation to meeting Andrew and her emergence as a solo cellist and loop artist. Looping includes recording layers of music while performing live. Kristin says looping allows one cellist to create the effect of many cellos being played all at once. “I love playing in a group but that’s logistically difficult when you ride a bicycle so looping makes it possible to perform solo. I absolutely love looping. It’s the ultimate in creative freedom. Basically I now have the opportunity to do what I love whenever I like. With looping, I compose and perform my own music, improvise, play the cello, create amazing sounds. What could be better?”
The new CD tells the story of her journey, of her life’s learning and of her overcoming her fears as a performer, composer and musician, and as someone wanting to build awareness that our connection with nature is vital for our survival. “I’ve put so much thought into it,” Kristin says. The first compositions are listed as Fear, Clarity, Power, Insight and Self, all grouped under the heading The Enemies of Learning. Rather quixotically, there is no composition called Fear on the CD. It does exist and Kristin will play it for the first time alongside accompanying moving images at Victoria’s 2011 state festival, in Castlemaine. Other titles are Impermanence, Ending Illusions, Affirmation, Nature of Reality and finally, The Knife that Cuts a Tear, suggesting something of the pain that precedes wisdom. “The Enemies of Learning (Clarity, Power, Insight and Self) is based on a native American prayer – ‘let me know that my only enemies are within myself ’,” Kristin explains.
Impermanence is about entropy, the slow decay in the natural systems of the world and the universe. Kristin says people’s reliance on fossil fuels and careless disregard for their impact, once expended, are speeding up that process at an alarming rate, driving humanity towards chaos. Hence the environmental theme of her compositions and her drive to travel by bicycle. She’s not alone. In the United States two other looper cellists, Ben Sollee and CelloJoe, are doing the same. CelloJoe cycles with professional musicians, called The Pleasant Revolution, who rely on audience members to pedal to create amplification power. Kristin says her partner Andrew has challenged her greatly to be herself. Now 49, he was diagnosed with a bone marrow disorder in 2000. For two years, he kept up his corporate life, but the illness became so debilitating that he left his job, along with the $120,000-a-year base salary, the corporate car, the business class air travel and other perks. While visiting an oncologist, he was struck by
the sight of so many children, bald from cancer treatments. “I thought how lucky I was to make it through to 40 when most of these kids weren’t going to make it to 10. I gave everything I had away, quite literally – the money, the houses, the lot – because I realised none of it had brought me happiness,” he says. Now he and Kristin go slow as much as possible. “It’s very difficult because the world is constantly urging you to move fast,” Kristin says. “So even when you decide to pull out and to slow down, you find yourself being pulled back into it. Maintaining what it is you believe in and living the way you want to is really very tricky. It’s a daily, conscious struggle but it’s rewarding. It makes you think about the consequences of the choices you make.” It’s these consequences that she will need to attend to on her Slow Ride tour. If she uses more power than is generated while cycling, she risks running down the batteries and reducing their life, just as might happen with off-grid (battery stored) domestic solar power. » 19 slow magazine
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» Andrew, who will ride a similarlyoutfitted bicycle alongside Kristin, designed the watt-bott solar panel trailer. The 54 x 60 centimetre solar panel feeds a 24-volt battery – powering a motor that can be engaged with a handlebar throttle. “A few electric-powered bicycles run on solar but this is probably the only one in the world that recharges the batteries as you ride,” he says. “We have a fuel gauge on board, known as a cycle analyst, to tell us how much energy we have used and how much energy is left. The battery can be fully charged to 26.5 volts but shouldn’t be run lower than 22 volts.” On this basis, Andrew says it’s possible to cycle up to 80 kilometres or about four to five hours, depending on wind and gradients “If we have a strong headwind that range could be reduced to 30 kilometres. It’s a very educational experience. It means we have to monitor our energy use as we travel and if we know we are going to run out before our next planned stop, we either have to just pedal and use the motor selectively or pull up in a sunny spot on the side of the road and wait until the batteries recharge.” It’s most apt for their unhurried way of life. Kristin will kick off her Slow Ride Album Launch with a concert in Melbourne. She wants people everywhere to join her for a leg of the tour. “At their own peril, of course,” she adds. “We ride slow.” www.kristinrule.com.au
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Port Fairy Whether you’re a holiday maker, a seachanger or a fair dinkum local, this special spot will catch you … hook, line and sinker. We explain Port Fairy’s magic.
EACH JULY, schoolgirl Bella Cavalieri takes herself down to the freezing waters of the Southern Ocean not far from her family home and throws herself into the sea. It’s an annual birthday ritual that speaks of the teenager’s spiritual connection with the place she grew up in. “It’s just something I’ve decided to do, a tribute to where I live,” she says. Where she lives is Port Fairy, a tiny former whaling village, now a professional fishermen’s base and tourist town, about three hours’ drive west of Melbourne on the far south-west coast of Victoria. In winter and spring, especially around September and October, storms can whip the sea into a frenzy, lash the Norfolk Island pines planted by settlers that mark the original town boundaries, and chill even the hardiest locals. By November, winter’s melancholic fury fades into days of glorious sunshine. In these conditions, Bella swims or paddles daily, rising early to cycle through town, across the bridge of the Moyne River and out to Eastern Beach where holidaymakers and locals alike are out greeting 24 slow magazine
the morning sun and conducting their constitutional boost – a walk, a swim, a surf, a paddle or even some yoga. It’s this time of year that’s best for strolling along the riverfront, past the pleasure craft and fishing boats and around to the sea to take in the beauty of a largely (well almost) unspoiled place. It is unspoiled despite the hundreds of holiday homes now lining the beach and river fronts. What’s preserved Port Fairy is that its a heavy duty drive from Melbourne and about an hour on from the end of the Great Ocean Road, one of the world’s celebrated oceanside drives. Distance (some might call it isolation) has been this little town’s saviour, now and always. Many of its old buildings, some with half-metre thick walls and dating back to the 1840s, have survived intact – apparently there are 50 on the National Heritage register – simply because, until 10 years ago, developers stayed away. One lost a more recent bid to build houses above the Eastern Beach dunes, thanks to ferocious local opposition and concerns about the coastal impact of rising sea levels.
Census figures suggest the permanent population changes little. It grew by 76 to 2599 in the five years to 2006. James Purcell, a sometime political candidate and local mayor, predicts it’s unlikely the permanent population will ever change much. “It’s been 2500 for the past 100 years,” says James, who hails from one of the district’s long-time farming families. He says any development is in rental and holiday accommodation. Indeed the town’s accommodation facilities, including hotels, motels and guesthouses alone, can sleep 1800 people. Then there are caravan parks and private holiday houses. Those who do live permanently are descendants of Irish farming settlers and whalers, retired farmers from the surrounding Western District whose families have holidayed here for generations, and seachangers. Some work at a local pharmaceutical manufacturer which has operated for 90 years, the local hospital, the council and others create their own employment. »
It’s Victoria’s No. 1 tourist destination, so don’t miss a visit.
This historic seaside village has spectacular allure, delightful ambience and a versatility which will amaze – incredible ocean views and river views, award-winning restaurants, boutique shopping, a wide range of accommodation, delightful beaches and more. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, family-friendly or pet-friendly break, or just a peaceful, relaxing beach holiday, Port Fairy is your ideal destination. www.visitportfairy-moyneshire.com.au email@example.com 1300 656 564
Unwind in Port Fairy Choose to stay at a relaxing caravan park and enjoy the beauty of Port Fairy and surrounds. Gardens By East Beach and Southcombe By The Sea caravan parks are both centrally located, a lovely stroll from the town centre and beaches.
There are still four pubs, a legacy of the hard-drinking seafarers and Irish farmers drawn to the area
At both locations, the camping grounds boast excellent facilities and friendly staff. It’s this high quality that will make your break in Port Fairy a memorable one.
Gardens By East Beach Caravan Park 111 Griffith Street Port Fairy 3284 Tel: (03) 5568 1060 gardens@ portfairycaravanparks.com
Southcombe By the Sea Caravan Park James Street Port Fairy 3284 Tel: (03) 5568 2677 southcombe@ portfairycaravanparks.com
» Retired superannuants work a few hours in tourist jobs to refrain from digging into their life savings. There are still four pubs, a legacy of the hard-drinking seafarers and Irish farmers drawn to the area by the whaling industry, and when the enterprising Northern Irishman, James Atkinson, bought about eight square miles or 2072 hectares (5120 acres) in the 1840s hoping to establish tenanted farming. He called the town Belfast. “Atkinson needed small settlers, and the ideal small farming settler was an Irish Catholic immigrant who would farm six acres and have a few cows, till the soil and grow potatoes or other cash crops,” says Marten Syme, a retired business economist who, since moving permanently to Port Fairy 12 years ago, has written books documenting the area’s history. The Irishness has stayed, permeating the district’s culture in degrees unprecedented in Australia. Just recently the community at nearby 26 slow magazine
Killarney, after a long wrangle with the Catholic Church, bought a nearby church and hall to establish an Irish cultural centre. Irish language and dancing lessons are calendar regulars. The enormously successful Port Fairy Folk Festival which draws thousands of people each March and which celebrates its 35th year in 2011, is rooted in Irish music. Hearing the great Australian (London-born) folk musician, Danny Spooner, singing sea-shanties against the bluestone wall on the Port Fairy village green, is a cultural must for those wanting to learn something of the hell, hardship and loneliness faced by the early whalers and seafarers of this district. Such hardship is well past now. Affluence and a lot of community gungho have created a town with unsurpassed facilities for its permanent population. The local hospital has 15 acute beds and 82 residential aged care beds. There are six doctors. There’s a heated indoor swimming pool, a no-plastic bag policy, a school with a Stephanie Alexander food garden, a classical music festival (the Spring Music Festival co-ordinator
is the very accomplished pianist and author Anna Goldsworthy), a push to keep pokies out and a Transition Town Movement working towards preparing for a post-peak oil age. For all this, people blow their personal carbon dioxide budgets just to come here to eat. The number and variety of eateries is astounding. Rebecca’s Café, one of the longest established cafés, is the morning gathering place. Here, after the town’s cyclists (numbers vary from two to 14) have done their Saturday 60 to 70 kilometre ride, they’ll stop in for coffee. Midweek they cycle about 30 kilometres a day setting out at 6am. Says one, “Winters test our resolve!” There’s everything from very fine dining (including the Merrijig Inn which has two hats from The Age Good Food Guide) to less formal, but equally well-patronised, restaurants and cafés. Indeed the town’s reputation for dining is spreading, drawing foodinistas, chefs and restaurant operators from Melbourne and as far as Italy. »
Blarney Books & Art
Hearns Beachside Villas
The Stag Restaurant
Slow down a little, with us
Collectibles to collect
Luxury beachfront accommodation
Come, share our food and wine
A secondhand bookshop with contemporary art space, Blarney Books & Art is located in a spacious, former Masonic Hall. Enjoy the enormous range of books, tinker on the piano and let the kids find their special corner. Soak up author discussions, literary events and regular exhibitions of regional works. Host Jo Canham will welcome you, however check the website, as opening times vary.
If you find yourself fossicking for collectibles in Port Fairy, the place to go is Periwinkle Antiques. Slow down, and enjoy browsing through the spacious shop, full of precious chinaware, tempting vintage fashion, fabulous collectibles and other classics. As an extra treat, you can visit the online gallery, keeping you updated with new, treasured stock.
Nestled in the sand dunes of the Southern Ocean, a destination with absolute beach frontage awaits you. Watch the ocean’s many moods through floor-toceiling glass, relax in the spa or sun yourself in the courtyard. Architectural in design, the (one, two and three bedroom) villas are ideal for couples and groups offering supreme seclusion. A comfortable stroll or short drive to Port Fairy’s heart, Hearn’s Beachside Villas are fully selfcontained with all linen provided. Rates from $300 per night.
Housed in our charming 1847 dining room, The Stag offers casual, quality dining. Our menu features great local, seasonal produce, sourced from the surrounding countryside and matched with a small exquisite wine list featuring biodynamic and organic wines. Our private dining room with open fire, welcomes parties up to 14 people. Watch our website for Stag Long Table Dinners. Recommended in The Age Good Food Guide 2011. Open for dinner Thurs to Mon.
37 James Street, Port Fairy Tel: (03) 5568 2174 www.blarneybooks.com.au
24a Bank Street, Port Fairy Tel: (03) 5568 2244 or 0408 174 480 www.periwinkleantiques.com.au
Tel: (03) 5568 3150 www.hearnsbeachsidevillas.com.au
22 Sackville Street, Port Fairy Tel: (03) 5568 3226 www.thestagportfairy.com.au
Whale Bone Gallery
Enhance your visit
Sense the difference
Boutique and gifts
Head to the Port Fairy Visitor Information Centre where friendly, professional people will greet you. Learn about attractions, activities and events plus up-to-the-minute advice on travel, and with outstanding local knowledge, the staff can provide an abundance of brochures and free guidebooks to make your stay a comprehensive one. The centre is part of a network of accredited information centres across the state, open seven days (except Christmas Day). A must do.
The passion and experiences of a lifetime shape the art on display, here at Whale Bone Gallery. You can find that perfect piece, for your soul sing along to … and art that connects … that you’ve been searching for, to make your home complete. Take some time out, because inside this gallery the artists are always happy to share their vision and inspiration with you.
From weekday to weekend, Isabella’s Boutique has you covered with an ideal range of easy-wear clothing for everyday living plus accessories (think handbags, belts and jewellery!). Select sizes from 10 to 24, including quality labels such as Yarra Trail, Meredith, Geoff Bade and more – and treat the men to a choice of fashionable Gazman garments. So step inside this exquisite store, you’ll enjoy slowing down in style here.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find better Italian dining in this whole region, than at L’Edera. Owner Giovanni De Cicco’s passion is for food, warmth, hospitality and provincial flavours are the focus. This foodie destination is set in a gorgeously historic bluestone building – with an elegant interior and a courtyard to tempt you to dine al fresco style. This breezy atmosphere will enhance any meal, while a menu of fresh quality ingredients and local produce is designed to satisfy.
Railway Place, Bank St, Port Fairy Tel: (03) 5568 2682 www.visitportfairy-moyneshire.com.au
39a Bank Street, Port Fairy Tel: (03) 5568 2855 www.portfairygallery.com
31 Sackville Street, Port Fairy Tel: (03) 5568 3277
20 Bank Street, Port Fairy Tel: (03) 5568 3058
» Two years ago inner-city Melbournites, Tanya Connellan and her partner Elizabeth Foreman (Liz), took up The Stag Inn. They offer a menu with strong emphasis on locally produced food. They buy their meat, for example, from the butcher in the nearby farming village of Koroit. “We never want people to say the food here is good for a country place,” says Tanya, whose career has included cooking at Rhumbarellas, Chez Phat and Fitzroy’s The Green Grocer, all in Melbourne. “We want people to say it’s good food in its own right.” Giovanni De Cicco and his partner, Ashley Miller, recently opened L’Edera, offering authentic Italian regional cuisine in the elegantly re-appointed former council chambers. The couple fell for Port Fairy when visiting friends one recent New Year’s Eve. Others who’ve left the comfort of city to run a country eating place are Philippa and Steve Hocking, who ran Miss Marples Tea Rooms in Sassafras on Mount Dandenong near Melbourne for 15 years. Their hope was to create a beachside business that allowed more family time with their children Harrison (seven), and Margo (five). They’ve appropriated an English tradition, serving high teas in a very non-traditional but romantic seaside setting, where the views of the sea are at their splendid best on days fair and foul. But of all the foodies who have arrived in Port Fairy recently, Antonella Bettazzi and Marco Dabizzi, who moved from Prato near Florence in Italy to open a shop selling luxurious, Italian-made Slitti chocolate, reflect the town’s appeal. They bought 1.6 hectares (four acres) at Killarney, where they plan to grow vegetables and enjoy country life. » “We moved to a small town in the Tuscan hills near to Slitti (the chocolate maker) to try to enjoy a more country lifestyle but it wasn’t enough for us,” says Marco, 47, who also writes algorithms for computer software. » 28 slow magazine
portfairyaccom.com.au Tel: 03 5568 3150 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Shop 2/54 Sackville Street, Port Fairy Vic 3284
Closed for winter signs are rare these days. » “Tuscany is not real country any more. There is an explosion of people. The density of population in Italy is not thinkable in Australia. I read once that some very important things you cannot buy are silence, peace and time, of course. We came to Australia for a holiday for three months. We discovered this part of the country and, well, I would like to say we fell in love with it, but it was more rational because we were looking for a place with good services. Here you have Warrnambool for the services and Melbourne is not too far to go for business or pleasure.”
“I think he was very surprised when he arrived here. He’d never been to Australia before and, of course, he knew that Port Fairy was about three hours from Melbourne, but he was probably expecting a such bigger town. It was the end of April, cold and wet, there was no-one around. He was wondering where the people was (sic), who was the chocolate for!” Semi-retired electrical engineer and seachanger, Tim Mellor, who runs one of the nation’s few remaining kite shops in Port Fairy, says that 15 years ago many businesses would shut their doors come winter because there were so few tourists around. Not any more. Closed for winter signs are rare these days. 30 slow magazine
Photography by Rob Hickman and Tourism Victoria
Marco recalls bringing the globallylauded Italian chocolatier, Andrea Slitti, to Port Fairy to show him where they’d opened the first Slitti chocolate shop in Australia. They drove along the Hamilton Highway from Melbourne ‘through 350 kilometres of nothing,’ as Marco calls it.
5 slow things to do in Port Fairy INDULGE: in high tea, by the high sea. Sup on savoury delights such as finger sandwiches, mini frittatas, currant and rhubarb or strawberry and vanilla scones, meringue stacks with Persian pashmak (fairy floss), roasted macadamia brownies or raspberry macarons at Time and Tide, overlooking the ocean. Try the traditional three-tier plate or minigrand high tea. Perfect for daydreaming and perusing the tributes to the great early 20th century Italian soprano, Lina Cavalieri, in the Pierro Fornasetti wallpaper. Bookings essential. 31 Thistle Place. Ph: (03) 5568 2134 FLY: a kite. Make the most of Port Fairy’s breezy climes and take to the beach with a simple diamond kite (great for kids aged up to eight) or a two-string stunt kite (for aged eight and older). Radio-controlled aeroplanes are a buzz for big people too. The Kite House also offers free kite flying lessons available during school holidays from 3pm to 5pm – pop into the shop for more information. 27 Cox Street. Ph: 0408 312 422
BIKE: everywhere. Port Fairy is perfect terrain for cycling. It’s largely flat. Try tripping around Griffiths Island, though you’ll have to carry your mountain bike for some short sections. Take the off-road limestone trail to Koroit (18 kilometres) for a good day out, and continue on
around Tower Hill to Warrnambool (a further 19 kilometres, albeit diverting in part along the busy Princes Highway). There are bikes for hire locally including at The Kite House.
ABSORB: art. Browse fine art spaces throughout the port, and pick up the Art Walk brochure at the Visitor Information Centre. Your trail can include the light-filled Wishart Gallery (19 Sackville Street), an elegant adventure with works on the walls, unframed originals and jewellery, while an order of coffee and cake downstairs is delish. Blarney Books & Art (37 James Street) with an eye on regional art, is the home of the Biblio-Art competition, with diverse book-inspired art on show – June and September each year. And the Whalebone Gallery (39a Bank Street) is a creative space and local artist co-operative, showcasing paintings, jewellery, sculpture, ceramics – and lots of gorgeous handmade glass.
LEARN: about wind energy. Take Tim and Carmel Brady’s tour of Australia’s first commercially-owned and operated wind farm at Codrington/ Yambuk, 28 kilometres west of Port Fairy. You’ll be alongside 34 towers (50 and 70 metres high) and have all your questions answered. Organised tours for all levels, from school groups to engineers. Allow two hours. Book at least a week ahead. Ph: 0418 188 715
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s low spy
Slow spy with our little eyes, something beginning with …
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READY FOR CHRISTMAS Besides the lights, there’s lots of sparkle and colour on Christmas trees; there’s ornaments, garlands and tinsel. The tradition of decorating an evergreen tree at Christmas started in Germany in the 16th century, now in the 21st century, decorations are made from newly formed materials. Enter Natalia Heath. She’s a mum, a Sydneysider and a lady with an artistic streak, fascinated by resin material. These lovely stars for Christmas are some from her lovely range. Natalia Christmas Stars Find at www.designsbynatalia.com.au RRP from $6.50
REAL CHOCOLATE Now you can make traditional hot chocolate at home, with an Italian product designed to send you to heaven with every sip. This chocolate is on a stick. You heat enough milk for a cup to about 26 degrees. Put in your Girotto stick and stir until it’s melted … and within just two minutes you’ve made an energy-giving sweet break made from fine, fine ingredients. Synonymous with quality in Europe, the Slitti family specialises in excellent coffee and creating exceptional, handmade chocolate. The good news is – it’s now available in Australia.
ROLL IT A smooth operator in the kitchen, this garlic press is created by award-winning, Dutch designer Ineke Hans. Crush the bulbs with the flat side of this good-looking, stainless steel rod and then go for it, using the ribbed area to gently rock back and forward, crushing the garlic. No need for tricky little pressing devices that take fanatical washer-uppers too much time to clean properly. Here there’s no waste, and the gorgeous garlic juices remain on your board too, ready to slide right into your saucepan. Ideal as a slowfoodie gift and terrific for crushing lemongrass too. Garlic Crusher by Royal VKB Find at www.milkandsugar.com.au or Instyle, Gisborne, Victoria, call (03) 5428 1266. RRP $44.90
Girotto by Slitti Find at www.slitti.com.au RRP: $3.90 (one) $14.90 (box of four)
REMARKABLE BALANCE It may take a wee bit of time to adjust to these Swiss designed ‘anti-shoes’, but once you do, you’ll feel stronger with every step. A bit like a Pilates lesson, MBTs are designed to activate neglected muscle groups in your body, helping to tone and shape while you walk. They assist your posture and with this curvy-look sole, the shoe forces your body to balance up and walk naturally. However, the only way to know is to put your best foot forward and buy a pair. MBT, The Anti-Shoe Find at www.mbtshop.com.au RRP from $369.00
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RIGHT TIME FOR TEA “I am woman, hear me roar,” sang Helen Reddy all those years ago. Now the tea world is brewing its own go-girlfriend attitude with she-tea, created by two great ladies located in Daylesford, Victoria. Blended with black, white and herbal teas, they’re designed to warm and nurture, offering the goodness of tea, the inspiration of art and the element of humour. These beautiful tea blends suit almost any occasion in a woman’s life, with each tea canister featuring artwork by artist Jodie Fergusson-Batte. Great gifts, and great beside your kettle. Hey, it must be time for a cuppa? Yes? she-tea Find at www.she-tea.com.au RRP $21.95
RED ANTLERS Only great things come from this Melbourne designer, and now you can hang your hat and coat up with style, thanks to UTE. Attaching easily to a wall, these powder-coated aluminium bentwood-styled hangers are ideal for space-saving interior design, whether it be at home or office. UTE uses a blend of traditional styling and cutting edge technology for this familiar, yet strikingly new product. Butterfly Coat Rack by UTE Find at www.ute.net.au RRP $129
RETRO HANKIES Whether it’s a tearjerker of a movie, hay fever season or time for a honey and lemon drink in between too many ah-choos, let’s face it – everyone needs a hanky. Showing off some fun designs, and presented in recycled packaging, Hanky Pankys are made from 100 per cent organic cotton – and they’re a sweet idea for a gift. There are 273,000 unrecyclable tonnes of used tissues ending up at our national rubbish tips each year – so choosing hankies over wasteful purchases makes a lot of sense. Hanky Panky, Designer Hankies Find at www.hankypankyhankies.com RRP $12.95
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REINDEERS ETC … If you don’t slow down enough before Christmas, but you enjoy authentic handmade cards, contact this small manufacturer and stock up! Made from specialist papers with die-cut stars, letters and scalloped squares – these cards can feature stitching, buttons and jewels. Greeting cards are an important means of communicating good wishes and love to a person. They carry a personal touch, and these lovely handmade cards convey an endearing and very special message. Handmade Cards Find at www.antheam. wordpress.com RRP from $5.50
RICH ‘N’ FRESH Remember the taste of your mum’s fruit mince pies? If you can, you’ll be excited to know these fresh, traditional flavours and textures are back, with a range of Christmas goodies by Michel’s Fine Biscuits. In fact, nothing says Christmas more than the sight of these icing sugardusted parcels waiting for the family’s arrival – with some decorated with symbolic stars, reminiscent of the three wise men’s journey to Bethlehem. Be wise too, these yummy provisions are a fresh, natural, preservative-free choice, designed to satisfy those who enjoy a little slow time in summer. Fruit Mince Pies by Michel’s Fine Biscuit Co. Find at www.michelsfinebiscuits.com.au or call (03) 5472 4274 for stockists RRP $13 half-dozen pack; $25 dozen pack
RIDE ON BAG Manufactured from quality materials such as reclaimed and vintage canvas, sturdy webbing, reclaimed PVC – this pannier comes from a wonderful range of strong bags, by Ron D Swan, located in central Victoria. It’s designed for Commuter Cyclists. And with an innovative hanging system that is well thought out for comfortable use off-bike, you can stroll around and enjoy the practicalities of this bag while it rests on your shoulder with a comfortable, adjustable, seatbelt webbing strap. So, on ‘yer bike, go get one. Pannier Bag by Ron D Swan Find at www.rondswan.com RRP $170
Ron D Swan bag – Giveaway Offer Sample the quality that Ron D Swan bags are famous for, simply snail mail us (or if you must, use email) with your name, phone number and address, including the subject line DO-RON-RON and you’ll be in the draw for one of Ron’s A4 bags. As sturdy, compact, everyday shoulder bags, they’ll fit all the basic necessities for your workday, or your slow day. Slow Magazine has eight bags to give away to lucky readers. Post to Slow Magazine, PO Box 96, Castlemaine, 3450, Victoria or email to email@example.com (don’t forget to include your contact details and the DO-RON-RON code! Good luck.) Winners will be notified by phone, and names published in Slow Magazine Issue 7, out on the newsstands March 1, 2011. Offer closes February 1.
Cosy convoy Need a spare room? Why not try a house truck? Rob Scott can make magic out of an old Bedford, as GENEVIEVE BARLOW finds out. At the age of 13, Hailey Scott moved out of home. Across the yard of the family farm, she heaved and ho-ed her books and bed, fabulous fabrics and all things precious, to her new bedroom atop an old farm truck. Fear not. Here was no petulant pre-teen defying norms and flouting parental guidance. No. Hailey’s bedroom in the old red-cabined International was built by her father, Robert. She left home with her parents’ consent. After all, for a girl on a farm what could be more marvellous than a cosy cocoon of her own parked permanently overlooking a verdant valley and a creek below, (a splendid view to feed a girl’s imagination), with home, hearth, food, bathroom and bothersome brother just a dash across the yard should she really need his company. Hailey’s bedroom is what others might know as a house truck, a place of residence built on wheels. Unlike a caravan, it is not towed. The room is built on the tray of the circa 1960s truck. The bed area sits, mezzanine style, over the cabin. There is space for drawers 36 slow magazine
before two steps lead to the space below, where there is room for more drawers and a table. At both ends are windows to the world, one a tri-panelled recycled timber and the other, overlooking the valley – a bay window rescued from some old house. There are power points, and just as caravanners do, the bedroom is plugged via an electric lead into the house supply. The walls and ceiling are insulated with fibreglass batts and lined with timber. House trucks are not common in Australia. Wikipedia suggests they began appearing around New Zealand in the mid 1970s and that the concept for them grew out of the counterculture movement, epitomised and celebrated at that country’s famous Nambassa hippy festivals. The housetruckers of that era tended to convert old trucks into mobile homes and move nomad-like around the country in convoy. The emphasis was on sustainability. Peace and love too, of course. Forty years on, architect graduate and farmer, Rob Scott, has adapted the concept to create »
Photography by Brendan McCarthy
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I got really sick of seeing granny flats that were just square boxes with sandwich panel aluminium walls and roofs and cold-looking aluminium windows, Lino floors, fluorescent lights and toxic kitchens. » what he calls the romantic’s spare room, the inexpensive character-laden add-on, a kind of high-class alternative to the caravan that can be parked in the back yard (and perhaps driven, depending on the truck’s roadworthiness and condition). He’s made three so far, one for Hailey, one on a 1962 Bedford (the 16-square metre interior features stained glass windows rescued from a long-gone Art-Deco home) and another gal-iron shell atop an International that’s ready to be fitted out to meet a buyer’s whim. Perhaps they could best be described as quality getaways, but the emphasis is definitely on compactness, anathema to today’s over-built, over-big, many-roomed houses that are consuming the farmland fringes of our capital cities at an alarming rate. “Old farm trucks are romantic. They look nice,” says Rob, explaining the architectural whimsy that took flight when he returned to his erstwhile university dollar earner as a builder’s labourer in the middle of drought a few years back. Dry years had clipped the family’s farm income earned from
breeding and grazing Murray Grey cattle, White Suffolk sheep, mini pigs and chooks (their oldest daughter Madelaine 16, runs the egg business and they have a son Arthur, eight) on their certified organic farm about an hour north west of Melbourne, so he and his entrepreneurial wife, Colita, began researching the potential of the house truck. “The drought forced me into building and with a friend we’ve bought land and been renovating some timber houses on it. That got me back into building. I got confident with the tools again. “I had the old truck that’s now Hailey’s room in the shed and I’d always intended to build something on it. It came with the farm when we bought it and cost $10. I pencilled up a design. I got really sick of seeing granny flats that were just square boxes with sandwich panel aluminium walls and roofs and cold-looking aluminium windows, Lino floors, fluorescent lights and toxic kitchens. Nobody was offering a nuts-and-berries granny flat, a beautiful
space to be in. I wanted to build green grannies as it were. To build the frame for these green grannies was going to cost $2500 to $4000 for a decent base that would have to be lifted up by a truck or dragged, so I thought I can buy old trucks for $2000 to $4000 and I’ve got the base and a way to transport them. I’ll only buy the ones that go now.” Enter the old farm truck, that benign beast with its rounded front that poked and rattled around the nation’s roads at a far less ambitious pace than its sleek and fearsome-looking double and triple-bogeyed contemporary descendants. How many are languishing in sheds, trapped by sentiment among generations who have inherited them from long-gone fathers and grandfathers, or dumped uncared for in paddocks? “They’re precious to some people for sentimental reasons, which is why I use them,” says Rob. “They’re not made for road travel. They are parkers. You’d put them somewhere and park them. They can be spare rooms, granny flats, studios, offices or bedrooms. » 39 slow magazine
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» And if you want power off the grid, you could put solar panels on the roof and add an inverter and plug into a 240-volt wiring. The next ones I build will have kitchenettes too, because it seems people really want that.” Colita thinks they’re perfect for teenagers. “So many people we know have children who’ve shared rooms, but then one will reach their teens and want their own space. You could spend $30,000 adding a new room or you could get one of these for far less. Hailey has been in her truck for a year. She still has a bed inside our home if she wants, but this has allowed her to leave home without leaving home. People still have the idea that a room has to be fixed rather than temporary, but teenagers are not going to be home forever.” Moving a truck house can be easy – get an unregistered vehicle permit, add an oversize sign if that’s what the road rules suggest and turn on the motor. If the motor no longer works, Rob adds a towing facility. He drove the old Bedford from Yarra Glen, about two hours away 42 slow magazine
… there is appeal in the small space and romantic nature … by ordinary measure. The Bedford’s top speed was 80 kilometres an hour. Responses to advertisements for the house trucks vary. Truck enthusiasts tend to be bedazzled by the truck and miss the idea completely. Rob laughs as he describes a conversation with them. “Some guys ring and say ‘what sorta engine’s it got?’ I say, ‘I don’t really know – just a typical International engine.’ Then they say ‘Ooo, yeah, does it run well?’ I say ‘yeah’ and wonder when they are going to ask me about the room on the back. Then they’ll say ‘can you get that shit off the back?’ I say ‘mate, just go and buy an old truck without the shit on the back – it’d save you a lot of money’.
Then they say ‘why, ‘ow muchya godonit?’ They ignore the room. All they can see is the truck!” For others, there is appeal in the small space and romantic nature of a free-standing room, handcrafted in old timbers or high quality materials. Colita, for one, thinks the time for the reincarnated house truck is here. She and Rob argue that Australia’s tax laws, which make the family home capital gains free, are encouraging people to build bigger and bigger homes for their superannuation. But this they say is out of step with what’s going on in Europe. “There, people are really getting into building small, high quality housing. We think Australia will eventually follow.”
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COU NTER CU LTURE
macarons to make you feel ‘all French’ (& famished). Marie Antoinette Melbourne macaroner, Jaque Qian, adds the finishing touches of edible silver leaf and pearls to the decoration for this sweet, light and luxurious Marie Antoinette-inspired rose vanilla bean creation by Pierrick Boyer, head pastry chef at Le Petit Gateau. It’s time to roll out the royal red carpet as a mixture of vanilla butter cream, dark couverture chocolate and raspberry jam, adorned with yummy sparkles, is encased in a chocolate collard. French, chic et classique! Le Petit Gateau 458 Little Collins Street, Melbourne Tel: (03) 9944 8893 www.lepetitgateau.com.au
Photography by Peter Casamento 44 slow magazine
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The Seurat Tower Hungry? Then simply join the dots … because just as artist Georges-Pierre Seurat created his French post-impressionist works, full of dabs and dots (made up of tiny brushstrokes) this connoisseur custom-built macaron fortress makes a point of showing off a spectrum of arty colour with its delicate, eggshelllike crusts. Green tea flavours get up close and personal with lime and vodka in this masterpiece by National Gallery of Victoria Tea Room impressionists, Eryl Wheeler and Selvana Chelvanaigum.
4A Collier St Woodend 03 5427 4406 www.naturesgarden.com.au
It feels like home. Woodend’s stunning bookshop has a range that is handpicked and eclectic, always growing and changing.
Tea Rooms National Gallery of Victoria 180 St Kilda Road, Melbourne Tel: (03) 8620 2222 www.ngv.vic.gov.au
Drop by and also enjoy a beautiful miscellany of homewares, furnishings, garden equipment and toys.
Caprese A dual prizewinner at Melbourne’s Best Macaron competition, this delicate truss of macarons (yes, they’re not really tomatoes!) is the creation of the star at Cacao, Tim Clark. An exciting combination of cherry tomato consommé with strawberries and basil, within traditional almond meringue layers, is an outstanding success, and OMG, you can chomp into the chopping board – because it’s fine chocolate. Specialist makers of quality macarons in traditional and new styles, you can shop online – or visit their Melbourne stores in four tasty locations. Cacao Fine Chocolates & Patisserie Pty Ltd Stores in Doncaster, St Kilda and Melbourne city. www.cacao.com.au
Cnr Anslow & Collier Sts Woodend 03 5427 3772 http://newleaveswoodend.blogspot.com Closed Mondays (except Public Holidays)
Blue Orange Concepts Lifestyle products & gifts for the home 03 5427 4500 Shop 2, 130 High St Woodend
Cuisine, Culture, Gardens & Shopping Shanghai/Beijing ‘Books and Cooks’ 13 DAY TOUR: 10-22 MARCH 2011 Includes Shanghai International Literary Festival
Thanks to the Melbourne Macaron Competition 2010 www.melbournemacaron.com We couldn’t eat another thing, really.
‘The Gables’ 19 Brooke Street Woodend Tel 03 5427 1155 dianamarslandcooking.com.au
Published on May 30, 2011
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