The sea and the sky

Spring is almost here and it’s been great to feel a bit sun kissed this week despite the wind. While sloths and lamas seem to be reigning supreme in the world of children, it’s been the livestream of our penguins and falcons that has caught my imagination this week. I joined over 700,000 people watching the antics of our Little Penguins on Penguin TV at Philip Island as one was joined by a whole raft of penguins as they came in from the sea and up the beach to the safety of their burrows. I’ve found it just as fascinating to gain a bird’s eye view of Melbourne’s CBD falcons located at 367 Collins Street down the Paris end of town. The freedom to explore the ocean and the blue skies above is something that we’re all craving at the moment.

Images above and below via Penguin TV

With coronavirus cases dropping down to double digits this weekend, it’s been good to contemplate moving out of stage 4 restrictions and seeing the economy re-start especially here in Melbourne and Victoria. Click for Vic has been launched and it’s a great idea to help retailers and producers located in the city or regionally by purchasing from them. I’ve actually done most of my Christmas shopping over this second lockdown taking advantage of the sales and an income while I still have one.

Coupled with re-starting the economy is the need for us to do this sustainably as I think most of us couldn’t bear to have another summer marred not only by this global pandemic but another round of bushfires. I was lucky enough to see economist Ross Garnaut speak earlier this year at La Trobe on his book Superpower: Australia’s low carbon opportunity published by Black Inc. – part of the stable that publishes the La Trobe University Press. He has a fascinating and positive view of the road that Australia could take if it seized the moment to do things differently.

Image via 367 Collins St Falcons

Sustainability is something that La Trobe takes very seriously given our Net Zero target for 2029 of which we are well under way and I’ve been interested to read about the renaissance of science with technology over the pandemic period – scientists have become the new sexy! Literally in the case of our Victorian Chief Medical Officer Brett Sutton who has released his new video series answering all our COVID-19 questions.

Image above and below via Ministry of Cakes

It’s great to see hospital waste and hospitality waste now coming under the microscope and the launch of Responsible Cafes – a website with a coffee bean rating outlining cafes tackling the war on waste. Cafe owners have often taken a pioneering role in this area when you look at people like Melbourne brother and sister duo Jamie and Abigail Forsyth – the original owners of Bluebag cafes who respectively created BeetBox and Keep Cup.


Locally, I’ve been interested in local cake maker Harry from Ministry of Cakes in Rosanna who is not only offering a COVID-19 Small Birthday or Celebration Cake from $35 but a ready to bake Greek dessert (in 3 different varieties) called Bougatsa for $20 which you can pre-order online. I think it’s something I may need to take advantage of!


No show but bags of fun

The Royal Melbourne Show has been cancelled for this year but you can still order showbags from a number of different places. The sentimentalist in me loves the Bertie Beetle collection (a bargain starting at $5!) and you can buy optional bags that include camping mugs or a large canister. Showbags have become more sophisticated with eco-friendly Conscious Co (great value for money) and Nude by Nature bag options. They make a nice treat for little and big people alike.


While I don’t subscribe to monthly or seasonal beauty boxes like Adore Beauty or ’tis the box, I can definitely understand the allure. Given I have missed a hair appointment over this time, I did buy a couple of hair products from Adore Beauty as a once-off and love that you get a Tim Tam! It has cheered me up and you may be interested in the new Heide x Gorman collection inspired by Emily Floyd’s colourful sculpture Abstract Labour (2014) that sits outside the front entrance to Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen.


We are officially half way through Stage 4 restrictions here in Melbourne and I am counting down the days to Spring especially this bitterly cold weekend weather-wise. I’ve been cooking (homemade baked beans and zucchini and corn fritters) trying healthier options given I’m back to my usual weight and hope to stay that way. Not that any of us should be beating ourselves up at this time – it’s really important to be kind to yourself. Some of you might be interested in the 3 minute mindful meditation video by Master of Counselling Psychology alumna Cassandra Scicluna, which I helped produce for La Trobe’s alumni community. I’ve been trying to incorporate this during my work day along with some desk exercises or running up and down my deck stairs outside mixed with a bit of skipping or shooting hoops. I am missing the incidental exercise you get when working at the office.


I was also awarded a scholarship last week by my peak global body CASE (Council for Advancement and Support of Education) which was a big honour given I’ve not won anything since my Year 12 Legal Studies Award! I am glad I chose to pursue communications rather than law as a career – I’ve found it infinitely more interesting and rewarding, which is not to denigrate any lawyers out there, but I’ve been definitely more suited to this field. I was interested too in the ‘Who gets to tell Australian stories?’ report on media diversity and this related article by former Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane.


For me while the digital disruption has impacted the world of publishing it also means the democracy of publishing with me, and people like me, able to have a voice and presence in what has largely been a very white bread world and something I brought up back in 2011 to The Age Green Guide (scroll down to my Dearth of Diversity letter). The world has become an incredibly diverse place and Generation Z possibly the most diverse generation of all – we need to become much more inclusive in our boardrooms, in our media and in many other ways to represent who we now are as a multicultural society.


I will get off my soapbox now but it is gratifying to see some people leading the way. Food is a great leveller and while my kids have been watching The Secret History of Comics as DC and Marvel fans, I’ve been enjoying seeing 71 year old Asian Australian chef and entrepreneur turned SBS TV presenter Jimmy Shu and his Taste of the Territory food series in Darwin. My Dad has met him and I’ve dined at some of his restaurants here in Melbourne – Shakahari and Isthmus of Kra but I’ve now put Darwin on my Australian bucket list as a foodie destination. I love too that younger people are also leading the charge with Australia’s first crowdfunded publisher Somekind just releasing New Voices on Food: Diversity in food media anthology – good on them.


Jimmy Shu has shown that age is no barrier with many of us still yet to reach our peak! Young or old, you may be interested in this upcoming La Trobe lunchtime webinar on senior entrepreneurship – the fastest growing sector of entrepreneurship in Australia and something to consider as most of us will have 7 different jobs or career changes in our lifetime.

La vida local

Have you been discovering any hidden local secrets while in your neighbourhood? It’s been interesting looking at where the 5km border lies around your home and how far you can go. If you’re interested, Mr Yum gives you a snapshot of local takeaway service in your 5km radius and my friends have been using it since we went into stage 4 restrictions. If you have a special occasion you might want to consider lashing out and ordering something from Providoor – I hope all my friends and family who have had birthdays over this period get to celebrate at some future point especially those who’ve had a milestone event.


Providoor also does online cooking classses and I know Zoom gardening classes have been popular at Bulleen Art and Garden. It’s been a beautifully sunny winter weekend and it’s made me happy to see blossom on my trees at home knowing that Spring is coming. If you have citrus trees now is the time to treat gall wasps in your garden and Mr Rosanna and I will be tackling our weedy, derelict veggie patch in our back yard. Even if you don’t have a backyard but a courtyard, balcony or even a sunny indoor spot where you live then you may be as inspired as I was looking at some of the plants and pots sold by Plantsmith in Preston, especially with Father’s Day coming up.


Here you’ll find handmade pots by local artists including my friend Lene Kuhl Jakobsen whose pots look amazing in Plantsmith’s brass hanging planter below – I also love some of the beautiful pot and plant pairings that are available and finding out about plants I’ve not previously seen. Plantsmith also run classes, workshops and more on plant health and it’s good to focus on something living right here and now. I’ve found myself immersed in all things home beautiful this weekend and it’s been a great antidote to the collective anxiety we’re all feeling in this city at the moment. The countdown continues and I hope the news gets even better as we march through the next four weeks here in Melbourne.


I’ve been running at Rosanna parklands throughout both lockdowns and I saw an older gentleman with a kite the other day – there’s nothing like a bit of wonder in the wind to make you feel alive enjoying the present. If you’re getting sick of the view from your window, you might like Window Swap for a bit of online fun – windows to the world in other places far, far away from our current 5km borders.



A date with Destiny

Destiny Deacon that is. She is a contemporary Indigenous artist and La Trobe alumna whose exhibition at the NGV has been interrupted by the global pandemic. On Friday, I was lucky enough to attend an online private walk through and curatorial talk of her bold self-titled exhibition DESTINY, which is free, and housed on the ground floor of NGV Australia at Fed Square. Her monograph book (below) is also available from the NGV design store and her exhibition has been timely given the social and political commentary around Black Lives Matter here in Australia and overseas.


Culture may be our saviour at the moment with both the Melbourne Writers Festival Digital and Melbourne International Film Festival on this month. While we can’t escape lockdown, there is no place we can’t visit in our heads if you’re looking for more wonder and adventure in your life. Locally too, my friend artist Louise Kyriakou’s delightfully colourful Sunday Everyday is currently showing online at Outre Gallery if you’re a fan of her modernist work while Liminal: a shared distance is showing online at Hatch Contemporary Art Space care of Banyule Council.


I’ve heard the word liminal described as ‘the time within time’ and think it’s very apt – we are living in an uncertain time after the first wave and now trying to work out what life looks like after the second. I hope you are coping OK – for those of us lucky enough to be working from home there’s not been a huge difference between stage 3 and 4 on a physical level but I know it’s been affecting many of us mentally, which is completely normal. I think once we get to this Thursday, it will only be a month until stage 4 hopefully ends. Sunny days like today make things bearable and we will get though this time, we must and we shall.


Some of us have mastered the art of sourdough while in lockdown and if you’ve been baking up a storm, I love some of the more creative nods to bread (and milk) over this period. Local jeweller Ada Hodgson has produced a ‘flour’ range of jewellery including sourdough loaves and croissant pendant necklaces in gold and silver (above) which remind me of the taco-inspired jewellery from Lucy Folk. We’ve been lucky enough to have a bakery within walking distance and I love the reusable cotton Aussie Bread Bags (below) that can be used instead of having your loaves wrapped in plastic. Also with sustainability and inclusion in mind, you can actually recycle the plastic tags that come with bread loaves to Aussie bread tags for wheelchairs in Adelaide  – just put them into an envelope and once full post them off to good use.


Plastic is a scourge so I was also excited to hear about the great wrap company given the amount of plastic wrap that most of us use. Finally, while it’s not yet here in Banyule, I love that waste-free My Milkman household delivery of bread and milk (below) has launched in 19 northeastern suburbs – it reminds me of the days of old when the milkman used to deliver fresh bottles of milk to your doorstep. It’s a great idea not just for now but once the pandemic is over. It’s been heartening to hear about progress on the vaccine front and important to remember the big picture – this time may be for now but it will one day pass.


Gross National Happiness

I hope you are OK with the announcement of Stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne. My blog’s original tagline was ‘living la vida local’ and we are about to get very local with us all having to shop and exercise within 5 kilometres of our homes. Harry Hindsight has 20/20 vision as they say but part of me was a bit baffled as to why we didn’t go straight to stage 4 when we went into our second lockdown – in for a penny…


I know it has been a balancing act with people’s livelihoods and mental health at stake and will continue to be until a vaccine is found and perhaps, beyond that too – we were living in a time of great disruption before COVID-19 and if you can live with more of a ‘disruptive era’ mindset rather than wanting to ‘go back to normal’, it may be more helpful. I am on a culture committee at work where we have been trying to live the values we espouse of care, connection, innovation and accountability and incorporating these systemically in our business practice. We changed up our ‘Christmas in July’ celebration to ‘Hotter in July’ last week as we wanted to be more inclusive allowing our multicultural team to celebrate with festive clothing and decorations individual to them. Our Hotter in July online pop quiz is running a bit late but will happen this week. It did lift my spirits to hang some Chinese paper lanterns up especially at night in the glow of my living room.


With the pivot to online, we have created a ‘3 questions with’ video series with those who opted in to participate. It’s a quick and dirty of the celebrity version you may have seen called ‘73 questions with Vogue‘ and it’s been a fun way to show care and keep us all connected when we can’t be in the office all together. The innovation has come with me having to learn basic video editing skills interviewing 4 of my fellow staff members with the committee releasing two videos (or screencasts as they call them) per week from now until Spring.


Wellbeing and mental health have also been at the forefront of my mind. It was important before the global pandemic to consider our collective happiness and wellbeing. I’ve often thought Bhutan’s example of Gross National Happiness as a measure of their society says and means so much more than Gross Domestic Product used in western economies like ours which seems so impersonal and inhuman – yes we produce goods and services but it is the people of our country who do this. This week I’ve been working with a Psychology graduate to produce a mindfulness meditation video for our alumni audience and have also brokered a meeting between La Trobe and Smiling Mind as we have a number of alumni who work for the organisation including its co-founder James Tutton. My son’s school had a Wellbeing Day last week and La Trobe University staff will also have a Wellbeing Day later this month. Indeed, August will have a wellbeing focus in general at work for all sorts of reasons and I’m glad there is less stigma associated with mental health – it’s just as important as physical health and both are linked – something that my lifelong yoga practice has so clearly defined – the union between mind and body.


A number of companies are doing care packages  or online gifts for their staff and at an individual level, there’s an online service called Cardly who will post a card of your choice with a personalised message from you to your family and friends. I have used Jacob and Roy to send plants as gifts and I also love Bindle‘s Australian boutique gift hampers. I realise not everyone can afford this and it is the thought that counts – you may want to consider Angel Next Door Community if you’re in a position to help another person in your local area through your actions.

There has been commentary about the chasm between rich and poor in Melbourne which COVID-19 has brought to the fore- while it was initially the wealthy bringing the virus into Australia from international travel it is now the poorer suburbs in the north and west with the highest cases now that community transmission has happened. Those in casual work/gig economy jobs with less security have had to choose between going to work to put food on the table or missing a shift and going without. It is a great privilege to work from home and I don’t blame the people, I blame the system that allowed this to happen in the first place and this polarity needs greater consideration when time permits.

I watched our Vice Chancellor John Dewar speak on Friday at The Future of Universities for the State Library Victoria 6 weeks, 6 issues series with remaining talks to cover the future of the economy, of schools and of Melbourne itself (they’ve already covered the future of work and the new normal which you can watch here). There are no easy answers and it’s not going to be easy road for any of us over the next 6 weeks but we have to stay the course – my hope is that we not only suppress but eliminate the virus if we all work together. There is no other option now but to try and walk this path together and work as a collective. Our lives are in each other’s hands.

Finally, some inspiration for the week – this mid century marvel at 24 Castle Street in Eaglemont (above all photos from has hit the market which may be of interest if you have a larger family given there aren’t a huge amount of houses that have over four bedrooms. The current owners have done a great job styling it in keeping with the feel of its era while also making it very now. I hope it goes to a family who will thoroughly appreciate and enjoy it as their ‘forever home’.