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I am a writer who lives in Melbourne, Australia.

My features, articles and other random outputs have been published in The Age, The Australian, Smith Journal, Dumbo Feather, Marie Claire, Treadlie, Sunday Life, Kill Your Darlings, and more. In November 2017 my non-fiction book, Made to Last: a compendium of artisans, trades and projects, was released by Hardie Grant. So far it has been distributed in more than 10 countries and published in English, German and Mandarin.

I am also an experienced copywriter and editor. In 2014 I launched Big Talk, a boutique writing and editing agency. Big Talk can help you communicate clearly and effectively across a range of formats and media. We work with content agencies, businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs, not-for-profits, and higher education institutions. We enjoy collaborating, can start from scratch or build on existing content, and always, always get the job done well.


  • Broadsheet
    August 2018

    A Brisbane-based artist is setting a Melbourne institution a-sparkle during Melbourne Fashion Week. In partnership with ACMI, we speak to self-confessed tinsel maven, Rachel Burke. 

    The first item of clothing Rachel Burke ever made from tinsel was a jacket. It wasn't just any jacket. The garment was for Patience Hodgson, the outlandish lead singer of Brisbane band The Grates, to wear on stage at Splendour in the Grass, 2015.
  • Made to Last: a compendium of artisans, trades and projects
    Made to Last: a compendium of artisans, trades and projects
    November 2017

    Made to Last: a compendium of artisans, trades and projects is my first book. Published by Hardie Grant in November 2017, it features 50 artisans from all around the world who are making useful, heirloom quality objects that will stand the test of time.
  • An illuminating partnership
    An illuminating partnership
    BBC StoryWorks
    October 2016
    It was a partnership with a Singaporean bank that brightened life in Myanmar for local families – forever.

    Sandar Win, a business woman in Mawlamyine township in Myanmar’s Mon State, warmly invites us into her living room where her husband, mother and a young girl sit on the floor, smiling as we enter.
  • Catching cachexia out
    Catching cachexia out
    BBC StoryWorks
    August 2016
    Halting the advance of a muscle wasting condition called cachexia could improve quality of life for cancer sufferers.

    For many years, oncologists and researchers thought the dramatic weight-loss of cancer patients was due to the cancer spreading through and consuming the body, with the loss of appetite and nutritional complications causing the body to waste away. But in fact, it’s cachexia, a severe weight loss and muscle wasting disease often devastatingly present in cancer’s later stages.
  • When peace fails
    When peace fails
    BBC StoryWorks
    August 2016
    Questioning why conflict resolution processes fail can help make effective peace.

    “After civil war comes conflict resolution processes and peace agreements. But they often fail to establish lasting and sustainable peace, and violence breaks out again. How can we help fractured societies to make more effective peace?”
  • A world without phosphate
    A world without phosphate
    BBC StoryWorks
    August 2016
    Finding an alternative to phosphate fertilisers now so we don't face a global food shortage in the future.

    Plant a seed, give it plentiful amounts of water and sunlight, and watch it grow. That’s all it needs, isn’t it? Not quite. Many plants, particularly high-yield food crops like rice and wheat also need phosphate-rich soil to flourish.
  • The autism discovery
    The autism discovery
    BBC StoryWorks
    August 2016
    Research into early detection is helping children thrive.

    Up to two per cent of the population is diagnosed with autism and researchers are continually working to uncover new insights and solutions to understand the autism spectrum. But what if the solutions were to encourage children with autism to really thrive in life?
  • Retro zen
    Retro zen
    Green Magazine
    May 2016

    The classic division between in and out of doors falls away in this tranquil north-facing dwelling, where the owners' twin love for Japanese aestheticism and 1950s modernism led the design.
    Once a nondescript single-storey yellow brick house, today the new build that straddles this property in a quiet heritage pocket of Melbourne's vibrant inner north has both the grandeur and reclusive hush of a Japanese mountain retreat. 

  • Why co-working with childcare should be the next big thing
    Why co-working with childcare should be the next big thing
    April 2016

    As I write, I'm having my third session at Melbourne's newest co-working space, Happy Hubbub. It has all the things you might expect from a shared entrepreneurial space: large tables for hot-deskers, loads of power points, wi-fi, meeting rooms, and copious amounts of coffee. But, in a first for Australia, it also has a dedicated short daycare space attached.
  • Culinary postcard: Copenhagen, Denmark
    Culinary postcard: Copenhagen, Denmark
    SBS Food
    April 2016

    Copenhagen is the capital city of Denmark. This one-time fishing village is now a major European city, and home to 1.2 million Danes.

    It's the country's art, culture and food capital. It’s also home to the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, and is imbued with a well-to-do air: the locals are friendly, and the streets feel safe – probably because bikes outnumber cars, and cyclists well and truly rule the roads. That makes Copenhagen a wonderful city to follow your nose in, cobblestoned streets and all.
  • Does liking housework make me a bad feminist?
    Does liking housework make me a bad feminist?
    March 2016

    Vanessa Murray has always been a feminist. So why does she feel like she’s betraying the sisterhood by happily doing the dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping, copious amounts of laundry, occasional ironing and even dusting?

    I’ve always been a tidy person. Clean, too. The two go together – after all, it’s hard to keep a place clean if it’s untidy, and it’s hard to keep a place tidy if it’s unclean. A sparkling kitchen makes me feel happy; a newly vacuumed floor as though I’ve got everything under control. When I dust (my least favourite chore) I feel like Mother Theresa.
  • The big bang
    The big bang
    Smith Journal
    Autumn 2016

    At a British science conference in 1987, a palaeontologist named Dr Bev Halstead's invited a woman on stage and politely asked her to drop her skirt. 

    A tense, collective breath echoed around the auditorium as the garment hit the ground. Halstead had a reputation as an eccentric, but, even for him the stunt seemed uncouth. What on earth was he up to?

  • Contributing writer
    Contributing writer
    365 Nature
    December 2015

    Book, publisher: Hardie Grant Explore

    Slow down. Simplify. Let go. 365 Nature does just this. It's your entry into a world that spins slowly and draws its inspiration from the earth, the ocean, the sun and the sky. Each turn of the page through spring, summer, autumn and winter will lead to a new discovery and a new project to help you weave nature and creativity through your everyday life. 

  • Contributing writer (Victorian section)
    Contributing writer (Victorian section)
    Friday, Saturday, Sunday
    December 2015

    Book, publisher: Hardie Grant Explore

    Get ready for the weekend with Friday, Saturday, Sunday: 52 Perfect Weekends in Australia, a curated guide to the best weekend getaways you can have anywhere in Australia. Written by checked in and clued up travel writers, this brand new travel guide from Explore Australia will show you how to have the best time at the best destinations in Australia, from Melbourne to Margaret River, the Barossa to Brisbane, with itineraries written for 52 weekends - one for every weekend of the year!

  • Tiny dreamers
    Tiny dreamers
    Green Magazine
    November 2015

    The pair who built the opposite of a McMansion. Cheap, ethical and cosy - a couple embrace their 'tiny' house.

    Andrew Bell was already living in a tent near Bendigo in a bid to simplify his life when his partner Alicia Crawford suggested they build a tiny together. A tiny? A tiny house; in this case, one measuring just 18 square metres, though technically speaking anything that comes in under 37 square metres qualifies as a tiny.

  • Higher ground
    Higher ground
    Interval World
    November 2015

    Finding fun in south-east Australia's Victoria certainly isn't difficult. Just head uphill.

    Fittingly, in Victoria’s High Country, the higher you go, the better the views get. Start down low and you’ve got valleys and fields flush with wildflowers, rustic old farm buildings and row upon row of grapevines. A little higher up, you can add tumbling rivers and majestic lakes. Higher again, and it’s winding roads, undulating hills, and sweeping sky-scapes making it into the mix. Oh, and mountains. Did we mention the mountains? 

  • Copper crop
    Copper crop
    Green Magazine
    August 2015

    The gardens of most rental properties are sorely in need of love – but not the one out the back of a red clinker brick house in Seddon, in Melbourne’s inner west.

    It’s the home of Travis Blandford and Harriet Devlin of artisan tool making business Grafa, whose range includes six aesthetically pleasing and practical gardening tools made from copper, bronze and wood. Of course, the pair work the soil with tools they make themselves, and you have to wonder if this is behind the garden’s rich, loamy soil and bumper crop.

  • House of Card
    House of Card
    Smith Journal
    July 2015

    It's been clogging up our recycling bins for years, but now some architects are touting cardboard as the building material of the future.

    When Tobias Horrocks was 12 years old, his parents gave him a book about how to fold paper aeroplanes. 

    It made a big impression.

    He spent hours trying out different designs and seeing which ones flew best. But his new interest landed him in hot water: he got kicked out of a shopping centre for perfectly landing one of his creations in somebody’s coffee – from six floors up. 

  • '70s Reboot
    '70s Reboot
    Green Magazine
    June 2015

    Savvy and sustainable design solutions transform a compact 1970s townhouse in Prahran, Melbourne, into an expansive, light-filled home imbued with a subtle nod to mid-century style.

    The modernist makeover of Wrights Terrace is the work of Thomas Winwood McKenzie, Principal at Thomas Winwood Architecture, who ably met his clients’ vision for a calm, light-filled space with creative thinking and refined detailing. 

    McKenzie took the modernist character of the existing building as his starting point, drawing this out with new features like timber batten ceilings, box frame windows and a stunning brass handrail on an exposed staircase. The refurbished interior feels uncluttered and spacious. McKenzie achieved this by implementing some savvy design solutions and creating an additional 21 square metres for the floor plan. 

  • Pushing the envelope
    Pushing the envelope
    Green Magazine
    February 2015

    It’s not every architectural practice that seeks to go above and beyond the energy efficiency-focused requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA)’s Section J. Technē Architecture + Interior Design make a point of it.

    “We’re always looking for additional ways to enhance the quality and internal climate of a space. It’s a key part of our overall consideration, from concept to completion,” says one of Technē’s two directors, Nick Travers.

    Travers and fellow Director Justin Northrop lead a 26-strong team of architects, draftspeople and interior designers to seek longevity and robustness in design. This shows in their choice of materials – hardwearing ones like steel and timber. Only recycled or renewable timbers, mind you, and of the latter, only Australian hardwoods pass muster. 

  • Amanda Palmer
    Amanda Palmer
    October 2014

    Performer Amanda Palmer talks about life on the road, the art of asking and her penchant for clunky old bikes

    Talking with Amanda Palmer, you get the feeling that she falls a little bit in love a lot – bikes included.

    She learned to ride in the early eighties in ride in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts on a “typical suburban tricycle”, then a two-wheeler with training wheels. 

    But the first bike she really fell for was a white BMX. It came the toy store in the mall, and it rocked her fourth grader world.

  • Coffee & sprouts
    Coffee & sprouts
    Green Magazine
    September 2014

    It’s common for cafes and restaurants to have their own kitchen gardens and produce seasonal herbs and vegetables to feature on the menu. But at East Elevation in East Brunswick, the concept has been taken to a whole new level. 

    Shiitake, and blue and pink King Oyster mushrooms grow on logs. They unfurl in dark, moist bags, and fruit in jars. Microgreens – tiny delicate greens that are sprouted from germinated seeds, and consumed in their entirety – in various stages of sprouting green up the space, and passionfruit vines curl and weave through the exposed trusses.

    The gabled roof space above the kitchen has been turned into a mushroom- and microgreens-producing greenhouse. Its unique bounty is for adornment, rather than menu staples, and often features at East Elevation’s presentation nights. Customers can also buy microgreens to take home.

  • Sexology 101: What does a sexologist do, exactly?
    Sexology 101: What does a sexologist do, exactly?
    The Vine
    August 2014

    What does a sexologist do, exactly?

    I was inspired to ask this after seeing this post from Melbourne-based sexologist Olivia Bryant of Tell Me Darling:

    “You know you're an obsessive sex nerd when you ask your partner to stroke 15 circles clockwise, followed by a microsecond pause, begin again until the timer goes off and then you take notes.”

    Bryant, of Melbourne, has dedicated her life to helping women to realise their sexual potential. She’s one of a growing number of sexologists offering to help people lift their game. Or find their game. Or simply have more fun playing.

  • What goes around...
    What goes around...
    Green Magazine
    July 2014

    Grown and Gathered is nourishing fruits, vegetables, flowers, herbs – and community – with a novel approach to growing for supply.

    There’s an acre of well-drained land sitting plum in the middle of the stately Tahbilk Vineyard, some 200 kilometres northeast of Melbourne, that is producing more than 500 varieties of fruits, vegetables, cut and edible flowers. Soon it will start to yield grains like corn, rye and oats too – and all without bringing any new inputs onto their farm.

    This is what’s called a closed loop farming system, and it’s the all of Matt and Lentil Purbrick, and a border collie named Pepper. The couple have spent the past few years forging a multifaceted living from the things they hold dear: growing and gathering, being sustainable and building community.

  • Diaspora Dining: Greek flavors Down Under
    Diaspora Dining: Greek flavors Down Under
    Culinary Backstreets
    March 2014

    A Greek restaurant balances traditional family dining and personal history with the best of modern cuisine in Melbourne, Australia

    Ah, Melbourne. It’s long been the go-to city for generations of immigrants seeking – either by choice or circumstance – a new place to call home, and now the city, which is Australia’s second-largest, has a reputation as its most culturally diverse.

    Greeks have been gravitating towards Melbourne, nestled in the southeastern corner of Australia, ever since the gold rush of the 1850s. The Greek Orthodox Community was formally founded in 1897, and the first Greek language newspaper, Australis, was issued in 1913.
  • People power
    People power
    January 2014

    We've noticed a diverse range of grassroots bike events springing up around Australia over the past few years, and they're going off. Vanessa Murray picks the brains of three organisers to see how they make it tick.

    “Being an organiser definitely detracts from being able to get fully involved. It takes a lot of enthusiasm, time and commitment. But it’s totally worth it,“ says Andrew Blake, one of five committee members of Melbourne’s Dirty Deeds Cyclocross.

    A no holds barred bike race that pits contestants as much against nature as against each other, Dirty Deeds seeds road riders take to the tundra (and the sand, pavement, trails, hills and mud) in short, intense, circuits.

  • The pros and cons of skinny-dipping
    The pros and cons of skinny-dipping
    The Vine
    December 2013

    We are all naked under our clothes, yes indeed. But me oh my, I've noticed lately that whenever there is a body of water bigger than a bath tub to hand, I'm wont to rip off my clothes and make my way in, quick smart.

    Combine said water with a hint of sunshine and a conducive atmosphere – an isolated beach, a crocodile free river or a champagne-filled jacuzzi (especially a champagne-filled jacuzzi) – and there's not a man, woman or chastity device that can keep my kit on. 

  • Yule be right
    Yule be right
    Sunday Life
    December 2013

    Christmas is coming. I can tell, because my local council has strung twinkly lights from lampposts on the High Street. Store windows are festooned with tempting trinkets, candy canes and the occasional, vertiginous smattering of fake snow, and a selection of headache-inducing festive tunes are on rotation at the supermarket. 

    When I was a kid, this sort of carry on filled me with so much excitement I could barely sleep. I fantasised about what Santa might bring me for weeks on end – and my parents made the most of my enthusiasm, reinforcing Santa’s preference for well-behaved children for all it was worth. 

  • Weekend with Rohan
    Weekend with Rohan
    September 2013

    Five years ago, Rohan Anderson was feeling guilty. Guilty about the impact his lifestyle was having on the earth, about his silent acquiescence to the state of the modern food industry, and about feeding his daughters crap food.

    “I used to feed my kids chicken nuggets. And I knew they were full of crap. If you knew what was in those things, you wouldn’t eat them! “

    So he made some changes. Big ones. He stopped shopping at the supermarket. He quit his job. He moved out of the city. He planted a garden, and started growing, gathering, hunting and cooking seasonally, out the back of Ballarat in north-western Victoria. And he began charting it all in a blog,

  • Why I hate the word 'panties'
    Why I hate the word 'panties'
    The Vine
    August 2013

    Panties! There, I’ve said it. Just. Fucking. Awful. I recently shared my hatred of the word on my social networks, and it turns out the majority of the women I know dislike the term, too. In combination with other words – moist, ripped or soiled all come to mind – we’re likely to throw up in our mouths.

    It fits into a rising phenomenon in the world of psycholinguistics: word aversion. A concept that has garnered increasing attention over the past decade or so, the term has been defined by University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Liberman as “a feeling of intense, irrational distaste for the sound or sight of a particular word or phrase, not because its use is regarded as etymologically or logically or grammatically wrong…but simply because the word itself somehow feels unpleasant.”

  • Meals on wheels
    Meals on wheels
    March 2013

    An innovative social enterprise and small business incubator is pointing bike culture in Brisbane in a delicious new direction.

    When architect and design educator Helen Bird heard that the Gold Coast is set to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games, it got her thinking. About how the city – Australia’s sixth largest – will manage the descent of thousands of spectators on its beachfront and hinterland, about how it will move them around. About how it will feed them, and how to present Australia’s burgeoning multiculturalism.

    Inspired by Asian, South American and North European hawker-style street food and bike culture, she came up with the concept of a kind of pop-up, bicycle-powered, mobile kitchen infrastructure that can be mobilised in line with local development, not just during but also after the Games.

  • Can sharing make us healthier?
    Can sharing make us healthier?
    New Matilda
    February 2013

    At its simplest, open data is information that is available for anyone to use, for any purpose, at no cost. It’s propelling our researchers towards a future where openly shared data can be mined for trends and patterns that result in discoveries beyond the capability of a single researcher or team.

    The Federal Government’s Super Science Initiative is investing millions of dollars in building world-leading data storage and collaboration infrastructure initiatives, but while it’s one thing to share observations of the southern oceans or climate data, it’s quite another to share an individual’s personal and health information.
  • Global roaming: Berlin
    Global roaming: Berlin
    November 2012

    Every Tuesday and Friday for the past century, Maybachufer Strasse, a pretty, tree-lined street running alongside the Landwehrkanal (Landwehr Canal) in Neukölln, has been coming alive with the hustle and bustle of Berlin's biggest Turkish market, the Türkenmarkt.

    Locals of native German and Turkish origin alike haggle over freshly made breads and cheeses, dips and dolma, produce, fish and meat, and goods imported direct from Turkey: jams, yoghurts, spices, coffee, and more.

    There's no need to wait until you get home to indulge: many of the munchies on display – like the wares at Hüseyin Ayvaz’s stall – are Turkish snack foods, designed to be eaten on the move. Hüseyin does a roaring trade in various types of dolma, or stuffed vegetables, börek pastries layered with spinach and tulum, a soft white cheese, and the house specialty, gözleme, an oven-baked, soft flatbread baked in a sač – a large, bell-shaped metal dish covered with ashes and live coals – that his niece, 20-year-old Gökçe Agezoğlu, deftly fills with cheese, tomato and rocket then rolls for easy handling and eating.

  • Wheel love
    Wheel love
    Sunday Life
    October 28, 2012

    Joni Mitchell had it right; you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. I’ve been experiencing this visceral if somewhat clichéd truth lately, as I deal with the sudden loss of a loved one who was there one moment, and not there the next; quite literally vanished into thin air.

    If I’d known then what I know now, I’d have done things differently. I’d have made sure we spent more time together. I’d have been kinder. I wouldn’t have sworn at her in public, or kicked her when things didn’t go my way. I wouldn’t have left her out in the rain while I dashed into shops, or neglected her basic needs, or failed to take her for her annual checkup.

  • Taking the cake
    Taking the cake
    Kill Your Darlings
    October 2012

    It’s been a busy couple of days, explains Kaye Howells, a slow walking, slow speaking woman in trackie-daks and glasses. As we – me, Kaye and a salivating bloke – unload crate after crate from the back of her freshly washed ute, a sweet, buttery aroma drifts up and hits me, right in the olfactories.

    Now, don’t get the wrong idea. It’s not me the blokes are salivating over, or Kaye. It’s the baker’s dozen of cakes we’re hefting into the brand new community sports stadium in Bunyip, a one-street, two-pub town lurking 80 kilometres east of Melbourne in the wake of the Princes Highway, like the mythological Aboriginal swamp creature the town is named for.

    It’s not a big birthday bash, or a christening, or even an overly indulgent afternoon tea Kaye has been preparing for. It’s a competition: the Country Women’s Association’s (CWA) cookery competition at the Bunyip Agricultural Show.

  • Vinyasa Playlist
    Vinyasa Playlist
    Hide & Seek Melbourne 2
    October 2012

    Yoga is a wonderful thing, but it can sometimes take itself a little too seriously for my liking. Namaste* this and happy smiling face that … Just last week I had my head so far up my own asana*, I had trouble seeing the free-range wood from the hand-reared trees.

    Finding a class to keep me on my yoga-loving toes is no easy task – but breathe deeply, yogis! I’ve found a class that will get your chakras* humming, and it’s taught by a yogi with her feet firmly planted in the modern world: Melbourne’s very own Jo Stewart. She bends, she blogs, she downward dogs*!

  • Solar System Walk
    Solar System Walk
    Hide & Seek Melbourne 2
    October 2012

    Dear Sir Richard Branson,

    We understand your need for perspective on humanity’s insignificance, your desire to break the bounds of gravity and take a giant step – a leap, if you will – into the universe.

    We totally get your curiosity about life on other planets, and your craving for moon cake. Virgin Galactic? A commendably modern and adventurous endeavour. But Sir Richard, please – there is really no need to leave our humble planet to get your space fix.

  • Table-toppers
    Inside Sport
    October 2012

    It’s not every day you see two sportsmen tucking in to a friendly pub lunch together just hours before they’re due to battle it out for a prize pot worth $70,000 and a place in the final at one of their sport’s newest and most important ranking events. But that’s exactly what two professional English snooker players, Mark Davis and Barry ‘The Hawk’ Hawkins, did one rainy day in July just gone in Bendigo, Victoria, at the Australian Snooker Goldfields Open.

    This is the second year running that the historic gold rush town, located just 150 kilometres north-west of Melbourne, has hosted the Goldfields Open. Last year it was Englishman Stuart Bingham who took the trophy, and this year?

  • Playground Ideas
    Playground Ideas
    Landscape Architecture Australia
    August 2012

    Marcus Veerman was in Chiang Dao, Thailand, looking around for something to do; something important, when the principal of a local organization, Makhampom, thatcommunicates and educates on issues like AIDS prevention through the medium of theatre, asked if he’d build them a playground. Veerman came up with a design comprising two see-saws, two swings, ad slide and a two-storey icosahedron cubby house thatched with leaves.

    “All the materials were sourced from local shops,” says Veerman. “It cost around $600. It was a great looking project, but it’s pretty simple compared to the way we do things now.”

  • After dark: Budapest
    After dark: Budapest
    Get Lost
    July 2012

    “Buda is like a garden, Pest is like a factory,” say the locals in Budapest, capital of Hungary. The pretty central European city is loved for its crumbling post-Communist grandeur, folksy culture and pocket-friendly prices. Yet, partying here in the non-political sense is a relatively new concept – from 1949 to 1989 the country was part of the Eastern Bloc and uncontrolled gatherings were forbidden. Now, the new generation of Hungarians, or Magyars, live it up like lab rats on caffeine, with an art-infused nightlife that’s possible to see any day or night of the week.

  • As bold as brass
    As bold as brass
    The Age/SMH Traveller
    July 14th 2012

    Pozdrav! Jesi li gladan? "Hello! Are you hungry?" shout smiling, bald-headed men who wouldn't look out of place on the door of a nightclub. Despite the smell of spit-roasting pork in my nostrils and their no-nonsense appearance, I'm too busy getting my bearings in the small, vibrant town of Guca (pronounced goo-cha) in Serbia's Dragacevo district to think about food - yet.

    It's early, and the stallholders are still setting up. They hang opanci - traditional folk shoes - and T-shirts, and arrange sajkaca (military hats) and beer mugs as bunting in the blue, white and red of the Serbian flag flutters overhead.

    Several stalls are already doing a quick trade in CDs. This is a music festival after all: the Guca Trumpet Festival, where once a year since 1961 this town of 2000 people in the west Serbian region of Dragacevo has been coming alive - intensely, excitedly, passionately alive - to the sound of Balkan brass music.

  • Armchair activism
    Armchair activism
    GQ Australia
    June-July 2012

    Last year was a big year for protesting. Dictatorships fell with dramatic intensity in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen. In Russia, a disgruntled public railed against brazenly rigged parliamentary elections, while Occupiers in more than 82 countries pitched tents against rampant greed in the financial sector.

    They’re the public face of protest, but you want to know where the real kick-arse, politician-engaging, change-making protest is at? Look to the folk operating behind the scenes to coordinate mass, online-based action: the armchair activists, clicktivists or, in their more extreme form, hacktivists. They’re not just the future of public protest; they already are public protest.

  • Fashion forward
    Fashion forward
    Dumbo Feather
    Second quarter 2012

    The Social Studio in Melbourne uses upcycled fashion as a vehicle for social change

    November, 2009. A small shop opens its doors on Smith Street in Collingwood, Melbourne. It looks like any other inner north-eastern fashion store; men’s and women’s clothing hangs in elegant folds from racks. Music spills from speakers, and there’s a tiny cafe serving coffee and handmade food.

    But it’s a little different. The clothes are designed and made on site from excess manufacturing materials sourced locally, for a start. The food is mostly African, and it’s not a business as such, but a non-profit social enterprise called The Social Studio that uses up-cycled fashion to prepare former refugees for careers in fashion, retail and hospitality. They’re here now, young people from countries like Eritrea, Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan, cutting and folding and sewing their visions into reality.

  • A stitch in time: slow fashion
    A stitch in time: slow fashion
    Dumbo Feather
    Second quarter 2012

    When I was teenager, my mother sat me down and tried to teach me to mend. But I was about as interested in learning how to darn the hole in my jumper as I was in joining a sports team, or understanding advanced mathematics, or crossing the road properly: zilch.

    It’s a skill her mother taught her and her mother before her, back through the branches of my family tree to a time before people even wore clothes. Back then, beyond the practicality of its verbal status, mending didn’t have a name. It was just the thing that was done to sustain the life of a garment, out of the necessity, desire and common-sensibility to get the most out of the least. But now, mending is an element of ‘Slow Fashion’, one of a clutch of movements in the art of slow – food, architecture, design, living – wending their way through Western consciousness.

  • Blood in the sand: Northern Spain farewells bullfighting
    Blood in the sand: Northern Spain farewells bullfighting
    Kill Your Darlings
    April 2012

    Catalonia, Spain, September 2011. The morning breaks quietly, the sun rising from the Mediterranean like a god and slowly heating the sprawling metropolis; at noon the sun is almost painfully bright. By evening, though, it has cooled to comfortable temperature – a relief, as our tickets are for the sol side of the Plaza de Toros Monumental de Barcelona: the Monumental Bull Ring of Barcelona.

    We arrive early, unsure what to expect. Four oval domes tiled in white and blue sit sentinel on the Monumental's upper perimeter, watching over thousands of well-dressed ticket holders milling about: politicians, personalities from the Catalan bourgeoisie, and lifelong fans who can't believe this day had come.

  • Two wheeled abandon at Burning Man
    Two wheeled abandon at Burning Man
    Treadlie Magazine
    March 2012

    The Black Rock Desert in Nevada is too hot to sustain plant or animal life. There is nothing here; just a dry and cracked desert floor extending for miles in every direction and the sky, an electric-blue dome arching far overhead. The atmosphere is filled with an unearthly quiet; I could be on Mars.

    Then out of leftfield comes a giant, iridescent-green chameleon shimmering in the relentless desert heat. I blink, but this is no mirage. As it slides closer, I realise it’s an aluminium-framed, LED-lit amphibious art car being propelled by four pedal-pushing people.

    Of course. Of course it is, and to be honest I’m a little lost out here, so I wheel my bike around and tail the lizard – official name Cyclameleon – over bumpy alkaline terrain back towards Base Camp. But a few hundred metres in I’m distracted, again, by a phone box emblazoned with the words ‘Talk to God’. I pull over thinking, why not?

  • To market: Gewurzhaus
    To market: Gewurzhaus
    December 2011

    Heady aromas draw me in as I approach Gewürzhaus, a European-style spice store that opened on Melbourne’s iconic Lygon Street in June 2010. The closer I get, the stronger the musky medley of aromas becomes: the piquant tanginess of Asia; the citrusy zest of Morocco; the rich earthiness of Europe.

    Owned and managed by 28-year-old Eva Konecsny and her 29-year-old sister Maria, Gewürzhaus has an exotic market feel. Large, airtight barrels containing more than 300 spices, sugars and salts from every region of the world line the walls, along with a selection of customised chocolates, cute kitchen aprons and stylish kitchen wares you didn’t know you were missing, but will probably have to have.

  • Sails like teen spirit
    Sails like teen spirit
    Red Bulletin
    December 2011

    There are few stretches as treacherous as the 630 nautical miles between Sydney and Hobart, Tasmania that are raced every year on Dec. 26. Gale-force storms known as “southerly busters” hurtle through the Bass Strait making the sea choppy and challenging. In 1998, six sailors lost their lives. Six years later, only 59 of the 116 starters completed their journey. 

    "The competition is very close and very competitive,” says Jessica Watson. “On top of the competition, the race is infamous for its challenging weather conditions. It’s going to be tough, and it could be dangerous, but we’re doing it because we want a challenge. We know what we’re taking on."
    Coming as they do from an 18-year-old skippering the youngest-ever crew to compete in the 66-year-old race, those words might be mistaken for youthful hubris. Of course, Jessica Watson is no normal youth.

  • Viennese whirl
    Viennese whirl
    Australian Doctor
    December 2011

    Flakes of snow fall in lilting drifts around our heads and pile gently on the cobble-stoned streets while the sweet scent of candied fruits mingles with the rich, nutty smell of roasted chestnuts and the heady spiciness of hot glühwein, or mulled wine. We're loitering with intent at the towering, gothic-style City Hall in the Austrian capital of Vienna, where the atmospheric, open-air Christkindlmarkts (Christmas markets), have been in full swing since mid November.

    Despite the subzero temperatures and an average of just two hours of sunshine per day at this time of year, they've been a must-do during the festive season as far back as the Middle Ages. Locals come here to socialise, enjoy the festively adorned trees and fairytale displays, shop for Christmas gifts, and indulge in seasonal treats like the aforementioned glühwein, which does much to keep us warm from the inside out.

  • A tale of two cities
    A tale of two cities
    Australian Doctor
    December 2011

    A traditional Turkish breakfast consists of a cheesy potato dish called kremali patates, hard boiled eggs sprinkled with flaked red pepper, peppermint and thyme, meats, sliced cucumber and tomato, bread and butter dripping with honey and hot, sweet tea.

    It’s autumn, but the sun is shining, so we dine on the balcony of our hotel. From here, we have a view out over the tumbling rooftops of the ancient, tourist-friendly heart of the old city, Sultanahmet, to the Black Sea beyond. Dozens of boats - cargo vessels, ferries and cruise ships - dot the sparkling harbour, while seagulls wheel and cry overhead.

    For centuries, this city – which has been known by at least ten other names, including Byzantium and Constantinople – has been a major European trading port. It still is. Situated on the cusp of Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a designated 'alpha world city': an important node point in the global economic system with more than two millennia of UNESCO World Heritage listed history to explore.

  • Collections of the heart
    Collections of the heart
    The Australian - Travel & Indulgence
    November 2011

    When I ask museum director Diane Grobe to show me her favorite piece, she quickly indicates a gilt-framed painting of a wintery country scene. In the foreground is a wizened, bare-branched tree, while to its left, barren stone cottage pulls my attention into the snow-covered distance.

    The work is by English artist Tom Keating, and is one of seventy or so fakes Grobe houses at the Faelschermuseum (Museum of Art Fakes) in a former wine cellar in Vienna's bustling Landstrasse district.

    Wait a minute. Fakes? Yes, art fakes. This museum of creative criminality holds more than 70 artworks by forgers who made a living fooling art experts and ingénues alike.

  • Bike. Mallet. Action.
    Bike. Mallet. Action.
    Spring 2011

    When hardcourt bike polo first hit the tarmac in Australia in 2007, it was viewed as a sideshow novelty; the kind of 'sport' two-wheeling hobbyhorses with a penchant for all things bike whiled away their Sunday afternoons on, while the 'serious' cyclists donned head-to-toe lycra and clocked up the kilometres.

    Three years on, and bike polo is played in every major city in Australia and New Zealand, and then some. It's played socially by mixed gender crews, and it's becoming a highly competitive sport in its own right, with its own acronymised governing body (the Australia Hardcourt Bike Polo Association, or AHBPA), national tournament schedule and rulebook.

  • Then we take Berlin
    Then we take Berlin
    Australian Doctor
    September 2011

    History and modernity sit side by side in any European city, but especially in Berlin. On any given day, visitors can wonder at the grandeur of historical structures like the Brandenburg Tor (Brandenburg Gate) and the Reichstag, gain insight into the devastating impact of World Wars I and II at numerous museums and memorials, and immerse themselves in the city's internationally renowned art and design scene.

    Berlin is a cyclist's city, so we make the locals and begin our day by renting bikes and cycling to the Eastside Gallery, where a 1.3km long memorial stretch of the art-strewn Berlin Wall still stands. Like Berlin itself, the Eastside Gallery is a work in progress, and is repainted regularly by both local and international artists.

  • Short circuit
    Short circuit
    FHM Australia
    June 2011
    Circuit bending walks a fine line between musical creativity and outright carnage

    Ask any music-loving bedroom tinkerer what he likes to do in his spare time, and there’s a good chance he’ll tell you he‘s into circuit-bending. Last night he created an orgy of tortured sound in his bedroom with a bunch of evil aliens, and wired Barbie Karaoke until she screeched like a monkey on crack. What the f@*k?

    Circuit-bending is the short circuiting of electronic devices to create sounds nature never intended. The domain of DIYers with little, if any, formal training in electronic theory and circuit design, circuit bending straddles the boundary between art and noise. Somewhere in the middle, there might be music. It’s like playing god with gadgets: you don’t know quite what’s going to happen, and you might just create a monster.

  • The next wave
    The next wave
    Inside Sport
    June 2011

    The future arrived at this year’s Australian wave kiting national championships

    A fifty-strong crew of kitesurfers have blown in to Logan’s Beach in Warrnambool in Victoria’s south west for the Australian Kite Surfing Association (AKSA) Wave Kiting Nationals. They’re in the right spot: this is an unforgiving stretch of coast scattered with shipwrecks and revered for its swell. There’s just one essential ingredient missing: wind.

    In fact, this windless, waveless calm is the state of play for nearly two of this competition’s three days. Them’s the breaks in this game ... But when the wind finally comes, it comes in full force, frogmarching towards the beach from the south west, blowing a bruised looking cloud bleeding sheets of blinding rain ahead of it. The kitesurfers know what’s behind the raincloud on the warpath: wind. And not just any old wind, but a cross-onshore sou ‘wester, coming at us at around 20 knots. They scramble to inflate their kites, lay out their boards, clamber into their wetsuits and harness up.

  • Royally relaxed
    Royally relaxed
    May 2011

    Lap up some five-star luxury at the Wolgan Valley Resort and Spa in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales

    Since it opened eighteen months ago, the $125 million Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa has played high-class host to some of Australia – and the world’s – hottest property: Cate Blanchett and Andrew Upton, Oprah’s entourage, Jennifer Hawkins and Jake Wall, Zara Phillips. And those are just the people we’re allowed to mention.

    Part of the Saudi-owned Emirates portfolio, it’s no surprise the Wolgan Valley is a retreat fit for future kings and queens... and me, your intrepid mX writer. I suffered people, I really did. After two days being treated like a princess at Wolgan Valley, I’m betting that when the newly hitched Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (a.k.a. Wills and Kate) visit Australia on their world tour this coming spring they’ll pop in to Wolgan Valley for a cup of tea and a lie down.

  • Speed humps
    Speed humps
    The Melbourne Age, Sydney Morning Herald
    May 2011

    Discover the camels that draw a crowd and the Afghan settlers that led the way there in Marree, South Australia

    “Don’t stand too close!” warns Pete Chantler, looking over his troupe of dromedaries (one-hump camels) as a crisp desert dawn breaks in Marree,  685 kilometres north of Adelaide where the Outback anecdotally begins.

    An impressive two or more metres high at the hump, Chantler’s 10 charges seem placid enough, but he is adamant they’re not to be trusted – and perhaps he’s right. Since arriving in Australia in 1860 to serve as the main mode of transport for the ill-fated Burke and Wills’ expedition into Terra Australis’ vast inland, they’ve gone feral. More than a million roam wild in our arid regions, and occasionally, Chantler and his best mate Greg Emmett catch one and race it in the Marree Camel Cup, held annually in July. It’s this sleepy desert town’s busiest weekend, and the first in a chain of camel races peppered throughout the Outback in the temperate winter months.

  • Why the cougar didn't die out
    Why the cougar didn't die out
    Sunday Magazine
    March 2011

    Be honest: when you first heard the term ‘cougar’, did you think it was any more than a silly buzzword that would soon buzz off? It was Canadian sex and relationship expert and social commentator Valerie Gibson – herself a woman with a penchant for younger men – who invented the term in her 2001 book ‘Cougar, A Guide for Older Women Dating Younger Men’. But back then, did we ever think it would stick?

    No, we all tutted, pointed out how men had been doing the same thing for centuries, and expected it to burn itself out in a matter of weeks. Yet here we are, 10 years on, and we're hearing the term ‘cougar’ more than ever. T-shirts proclaim their wearer is ‘Cougarlicious’; out and proud coffee mugs tell the world ‘Cougars 4 Ever.’ In 2007, the cougar even made it into the Macquarie Dictionary.

  • Monsieur Truffe
    Monsieur Truffe
    Hide & Seek Melbourne
    February 2011

    For the choc-Olympian within

    I’m not really the athletic type. My idea of working out is putting out the bins, and I’m breaking a sweat before I’ve even reached the gate. But if eating chocolate was an Olympic event, I’d win gold every time.

    Imagine my delight, then, at finding a cosy and intimate cafe brewing strong coffee, baking fresh cakes and crafting an irresistible range of quality handmade chocolates on the premises. Comfortable chairs, funky beats and wallpaper featuring bambi lookalikes are bonuses. It’s the perfect place to train, and boy, have I been training.
  • Walk. Don't walk
    Walk. Don't walk
    Men's Style
    June 2010

    I don’t know if you’ve been to Melbourne lately, but this city is a jaywalker’s paradise. Technically it’s illegal, but in reality, pedestrians rule the roads. Just loitering at the edge of the footpath will prompt oncoming drivers to give you an encouraging wave. Stepping out?  Prepare to bask in the glorious sound of screeching brakes as every vehicle within a 100 metre radius skids to a halt.

    This poses problems for any Melburnians foolhardy enough to leave city limits and travel to foreign lands, like Sydney. Last time I was in Sydney I made several ill-thought out attempts to cross the road and was hooted, yelled, and gesticulated back onto the pavement. One kindly older gentleman spoke very slowly and clearly as he told me, ‘We do things differently in the city, love’ and shooed me in the direction of the pedestrian crossing.

  • Not tonight, I'm screwing Lucy
    Not tonight, I'm screwing Lucy
    Men's Style
    June 2009

    Anything that has to invent new words in order to explain itself should be viewed with suspicion. And interest. Suspicion because we’ve obviously made it this far without the word, why do we need it now? Interest because, well, there must be something going on here.

    The word: polyamory. The meaning: having more than one loving, intimate relationship at a time. Not to be confused with polygamy (so Mormon) swinging (so fifties), or sleeping around (so so), polyamory - also termed polyfidelity, or poly - is the new relationship buzzword, code for having your cake and eating it too.

    Take Tom. Tom has been happily married to Cath for nine years, but spends two nights a week with Lucy, who is in turn married to Paul. Paul has been involved with Christina for eighteen months. Lucy is also in love with Martin, who doesn’t have another partner, but he’s happy to share Lucy.

  • A contemporary tale of classic desire
    A contemporary tale of classic desire
    The Age
    February 2009

    Melbourne artist Ross Watson laughs as he remembers the time he thought his most famous patron, Sir Elton John, was about to blow his top. "When he came to the gallery I'd just had an exhibition and it had sold out. He was flicking through a portfolio and saying 'Well, where's this one? And where's this one?"'

    "Finally he came to one that I'd kept. I was relieved; I could show him something! But I had to tell him 'This is the painting I've kept because my accountant advised me to a keep a painting from each series for my superannuation'."

    "Then I looked at Elton and he had the blank look of Edina from Ab Fab on his face and I thought 'Ross, he doesn't understand anything about superannuation!' But he heard what I said and seemed to respect it.