Wrangle Dangle

A bit of sunshine makes all the different on the back of a long, cold winter which it has been. While I know it’s been expensive and crowded, I’ve still been envious of friends who’ve managed to venture to Europe and other places to enjoy some warmth over these past few months. My weekends have been busy and week days even busier so that’s been one upside to this cold season – I haven’t really had time to dwell on it.

ANZSOG’s new Dean and CEO was announced last week and the current Victorian Public Sector Commissioner Adam Fennessy starts in October so it will be the end of an era with Professor Ken Smith AO, who my team reports to, stepping down. Higher education as a sector continues to go through seismic shifts and structural change at this time like many industries and I do wonder where it will all end up. I have experienced a lot of change this year and while I’m riding the wave, I am looking forward to some time to refresh, recharge and reflect at the end of the year. There are still a number of very busy months ahead and possibly some travel in store for me so no rest for the wicked.

I’ve felt very grateful to have been able to spend time with friends and family these past two weekends including a birthday celebration with my bestie Jules at Lollo at W Hotel last Saturday night. It’s an Adam D’Sylva restaurant with an Italian/Indian-inspired menu for which we shared a number of different platters amongst four of us. It made for a very glamorous dining destination and has an intimate feel with its mood lighting and clever dimmer lamps on every table.

Kingfish starter – Lollo restaurant

Last Sunday night was a bit more grungy – Mr Rosanna and I went and saw our musician friend (and producer) Marcel Borrack and his band perform a set from his latest, and very funky, instrumental album Telecaster Diaries at The Merri Creek Tavern in Northcote down the Westgarth Theatre end of High Street. Very cool and a lot of fun at an extremely civilised early evening hour, which meant we had time afterwards to grab some pizza at Primo across the road.

While I’ve not yet visited the Melbourne Music Vault at the Arts Centre, I noticed there is a Melbourne Music Bus Tour you can do from October to December with Melbourne music identity Bruce Milne and music journalist Mary Mihelakos as part of Always Live. There are some big acts touring Australia later this year including American singer Leon Bridges (who we saw perform pre-COVID at The Corner Hotel) and Australian band Rufus Du Sol who I think would be massive at clubs and music festivals.

Besides Marcel Borrack, I’ve been enjoying listening to local band The Meltdown‘s new album, and new single with Emma Donovan ‘It’s a long road’, which indeed it has been these past few months and years.

Finally, with the new season almost upon us, I’m also loving Nancybird’s latest clothing range ‘River’ (first and second images above) inspired by nature and the landscape around us. When things get tough, there is always that and I feel very blessed to be living in our small green patch of the world. Have a great week and hello Spring!


Pleats please

It’s been a sad time in the world of music and fashion with the passing of Australian luminaries Olivia Newton-John, Archie Roach and Judith Durham and Japanese designer Issey Miyake.

I will always think of Olivia Newton-John every time I drive past the ONJ Cancer Wellness and Research Centre in Heidelberg and know a number of school mums who’ve had breast cancer treatment there including one who sadly lost her battle last year. I’m also thankful to have done the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Walk and Research Run back in 2019 before our lives were all forever changed by the pandemic.

My then-colleagues at La Trobe University and I had a great day out at the Alexandra Gardens (below) and I couldn’t believe my luck at the start when I spied the great lady herself in front of the media doing her thing (above). I managed to get fairly close to take a photo of her from the side and remember being surprised at the time at her lack of entourage or close personal protect (bodyguard), which was lovely – she really was one amongst the people. I do think she was a beautiful person inside and out and her legacy in the health and wellness space as well as her music will live on – she was one of the early wellness industry pioneers with her Gaia Retreat in the Byron hinterland.

With Judith Durham and The Seekers, I often think our unofficial Australian anthem is I am, you are, we are Australian which is more inclusive. It was the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples last Tuesday and we had a special treat at ANZSOG with presentations on the movement towards Treaty here in Victoria and the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand. It was lovely that Archie Roach was also paid special tribute to at the National Indigenous Music Awards 2022 in Darwin last weekend.

Meanwhile, I think Issey Miyake hit his peak in the 90s with the release of his namesake perfume for women and I remember Collins Street fashion store Cose Ipanema (which more recently had an outpost in Ivanhoe that has sadly closed) stocking his clothing including the fabulous pleats he was known for. Locally, I’ve had my eye on Melbourne label Alpha60’s pleated scarves in black or cream which remind me of Miyake.

Image via Alpha60

My work weeks continue to be pretty full on but it’s made a difference having a full team and someone to support me in the alumni space. Social events too, have meant winter has passed relatively quickly – my work team had our quarterly lunch the other week at Lygon Street stalwart DOC Carlton and the cinema end of the street frequented by locals has fared a lot better than the city end.

I had a girls’ night out in Fitzroy last night with a yummy, reasonably priced express dinner (some of our shared dished pictured above) at atmospheric Lebanese restaurant ISME in Kerr Street (tip: there is 4 hour parking closer to Smith Street if you’re ever in the area) – we arrived late for the earlier session so had to leave by 8pm but had a leisurely stroll down Brunswick Street with all the pretty young things ending up outside under the heaters at Farro Pizzeria for some hot drinks to keep us warm.

If death by cheese is more your thing than chocolate this winter, you might want to head to That’s Amore Cheesery in the backstreets of Thomastown. While Mr Rosanna and I have had their cannoli in the West Heidelberg industrial estate, we might need to venture further out next time.

No money no fun

Ain’t that the truth. After moving house over three months ago, the fun has come to an end now that heating, painting, flooring, cabinetry, carpeting and lighting have all been done. We had tightened our belts anyway with taking out a new mortgage but had allowed a bit extra to do those cosmetic things. We still have some further cabinetry, cornicing and window treatments to go but our house looks a lot better than it did with its different coloured walls, floors and velvet curtains! I take off my hat to serial renovators or those of you who’ve done large scale structural renovations or new builds.

High tea tiered platter – The Hotel Windsor

Money of course is on a lot people’s minds with rising interest rates, inflation and the cost of living let alone building or renovating which has been a fraught exercise for many people. We have friends who’ve been lucky to have been on a fixed contract with their builder so will actually have their house finished at Christmas (a year later than originally planned) while others who’ve delayed renovating due to prices for everything being so crazy. I feel for people seeking to work in regional locations who can’t even find a house to rent and I was very sad to see the homeless man begging outside the front of the Ivanhoe Woolworths supermarket this weekend – it’s very confronting when it hits so close to home.

While you can give people money, it’s trying to ensure they don’t end up in those circumstances in the first place that’s more important and teaching them job and life skills, which I know is easier said than done. Working in higher education meets public sector these past 18 months for me has highlighted the responsibility that lies with leaders to deliver public value for the common good. Most ANZSOG students and alumni I’ve come across are incredibly earnest and greatly believe in what they are doing – it is almost vocational for them as I’ve previously mentioned and I admire their passion. I’m not sure I could ever do what they do – especially at the highest levels.

Work itself has been very hard – my team has been spread very thin and as much as cavalry is finally on its way in terms of a new staff member starting this week- we’ve been one down since last November and it’s taken its toll. We’re not the only team or organisation where this has happened with the current skills shortage but it’s made life very challenging juggling multiple balls and trying to keep things moving forward. I am very much looking forward to Spring and it’s tantalisingly close.

With belt tightening budget-wise, holidays are on hold and we are doing more entertaining at home, which isn’t a hardship. I’ve been relishing the less frequent dinners and events out given they’re now more for special occasions only. It made catching up with my uni friends last weekend in the private dining room at The Windsor for high tea feel all the more special and I can greatly recommend it. I’ve got different catch ups with my closest friends and family on every weekend for the rest of August so that’s the one good thing about getting through this winter. While it’s felt like a long winter – the end is now in sight.