Too tight to mention

It’s festival season in Melbourne – the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival is currently on and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival is about to start – good timing given Daylight Savings ends on 2 April which I’m always sad about as a summer person. The Melbourne Writers Festival has been brought forward this year to May and an early shout out too for Banyule’s Women in Business lunch on Friday 19 May with special guest Lisa Gorman. More on that closer to the time.

Speaking of writers, I’m looking forward to reading Australian writer Pip Williams’ second book The Bookbinder of Jericho which follows on the footsteps of The Dictionary of Lost Words. As a word nerd I’ve also been playing the New York Times Wordle, which is both my guilty pleasure and daily challenge!

Money is tight at the moment for our family and while it’s only a temporary situation, I can only imagine how difficult it must be to live without financial security on an ongoing basis and how much it can wear people down. What it has brought into focus are the important things in life – the love of my friends and family and spending time with them, and in nature. It’s pretty simple stuff and if you’re a creative person, there are all sorts of ways you can continue to enjoy life and make time for joy.

Speaking of simple pleasures Hounds of Heide (in collaboration with The Rose Street Artists’ Market) is being held from 10am – 3pm tomorrow at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen if you are have a (leashed) furry four legged friend, the Alphington Farmers Market is also on as well as the Marketplace Sundays @Eaglemont Village Eggstravaganza where the kids Egg Hunt is booked out but adults can celebrate Neighbours Every Day by bringing one of your neighbours along (as well as some cash and BYO bags). In light of Harmony Week, it’s lovely that the Neighbours Every Day theme is ‘Create Belonging’ – surely something that every person wants to feel.


Everything Everywhere

And just like that two dreams were realised with Michelle Yeoh and He Kuy Quan (the child actor better known as ‘Short Round’ from the Indiana Jones movies) winning Oscars on Monday. For Asians around the world, it was a win for us as much as them. Representation has meant a lot in a world that is predominantly white Anglo-Saxon in so many ways – from business to politics to government and the arts and media.

Autumn heralds the start of the footy season and the clash of the titans between Carlton and Richmond this week ended in a thrilling draw. I love that Asian food options are now available at Marvel Stadium with Cantonese fine diner Lee Ho Fook and at the MCC with the Lucy Liu Lounge (how’s that for alliteration!)

Duck Pastirma

As for me, I still have a Middle Eastern itch to scratch and had a long overdue catch up with some ex-La Trobe colleagues last night at Nazar wine bar in Kew. I hadn’t realised it’s part of Cotham Dining where I’ve had lunch in the same location that used to be Hellenic Republic Kew.


While the meal was superb and great value (if you’re splashing out on the $90 chef’s selection like we did), the dining experience was not as cohesive as it could be. I think staff were stretched between both dining rooms and service, which when it was provided, was professional and dedicated. It was quiet (we were only one of two tables there) so it made the ‘easy listening’ music playlist interspersed with what sounded like a private function doing speeches stand out.

Wagyu rump

Speaking of Kew, I’ve been reading about the updated Studley Park Boathouse re-opening soon and found out that you can do kids kayaking lessons via the Fairfield Canoe Club at Fairfield Boathouse if you have children in your life. Do watch out for the snakes – as a cyclist Mr Rosanna has seen three over the summer and some of them were big ones.

I’ve been doing swimming lessons since the start of the term and it’s been both challenging and relaxing. I think I failed to appreciate as a parent watching my kids learn to swim just how technical it is, but now as an adult progress is a lot faster because of that understanding. While I wasn’t an absolute beginner, I’ve now been put up, along with my new swim buddy Amanda, to Intermediate level with the goal being able to swim 400 metres. Let’s see how the rest of the year goes!

All At Once

I’ve relished the Labour Day weekend because I think I’ve definitely been doing hard labour work-wise since the start of the year. An extra day of rest is something to be savoured.

I had booked in for a massage at Endota Spa Kew a number of weeks ago to use a Christmas gift voucher and had a pretty heavenly Surrender experience on Friday. I miss the Endota Spa Eaglement as parking is a nightmare in Kew. After driving around the local streets off High Street looking for a park, I finally looked up and drove up the ramp off Walton Street to the 2 hour supermarket rooftop car parking – a tip if you ever do the same and the whole treatment was a luxury in these times.

It was International Women’s Day during the week and while there is still so much work to be done, I did want to highlight the Women of Colour Executive Leadership Program recently launched by my friend Brenda Gaddi and her organisation. They also have a mentoring program – a number of my close friends have mentors and women supporting other women is just a good thing to do as we aspire to close the gender pay gap, reduce domestic violence against women and place higher levels of value and income to those in traditional female-centric occupations.

Speaking of women, I read this article on Heidelberg fashion designer Charlotte Blau during the week and for those into vintage fashion and antiques, The Melbourne Fair is on next weekend – I only wish it was staged on this side of town but it has been lovely to see the runway parades for the Melbourne Fashion Festival being held at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.

The A1 Darebin Art Salon at the Bundoora Homestead Arts Centre starts on the 18 March and our public art galleries are doing it pretty tough at the moment with reduced opening hours and delaying of conservation work. Over 60 public galleries and art museums in Victoria welcome more than 5 million visitors each year, deliver 1500 education programs annually and provide art therapy to communities after natural disasters. I hope the Public Galleries Association of Victoria is successful in its bid to have a new funding model introduced known as the ‘minimum art gallery service guarantee’. Art is for everyone, not just a chosen few.

Speaking of art, Alpha60 x Brendon Huntley’s Sense of Direction exhibition has opened at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen and there are two upcoming Heide Markets on 8 April and 13 May where you’ll see my friend local artist Lene Kuhl Jacobsen selling her ceramic wares.

Besides having a massage, I’ve mainly caught up with family this long weekend and had yum cha with my side at Secret Kitchen Chinatown in the city yesterday afternoon – a fairly dark and cavernous space unless you’re seated near the Little Bourke Street windows or upstairs. I’ve had dinner previously at Secret Kitchen Doncaster (which has lovely views). Meanwhile Mr Rosanna has been playing the traps, this time at The Thornbury Local the other week while I was mid-air flying home to Melbourne, followed by a night out with his mates at The Keys in Preston (see all pics in this post) which looks super cool.

People were lined up to see Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at The Princess Theatre and my highlight this week was overhearing a conversation between a Venezuelan man and Indian man on the train- both of them not from Melbourne but talking about what a great city Melbourne is (despite the weather!) for its culture and its soul. A city with a soul – we’re very lucky to live here – enjoy the holiday today if you’re in Victoria.

The Quick and the Deadly

ANZSOG’s 2023 First Nations Public Administration Conference last week was a resounding success and I flew home from Meanjin Brisbane on Friday night exhausted but exhilarated. There’s nothing like working three or four 12-hour days in a row to get the adrenalin pumping and it does make it hard to fall asleep when you eventually make it back to your hotel room to flop.

My team and I arrived late Tuesday afternoon joining other colleagues who’d flown in earlier or who are based in our Brisbane office. We did a quick reccy of the ginormous Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre at South Bank footsteps away from our hotel before going out to dinner in nearby streets all lit up. Brisbane is an hour behind Melbourne so I found myself up early on Wednesday and went for a walk by the river past the man made lagoon (where my boss Emma went for a swim one morning!) joining the many walkers, runners and cyclists enjoying the best part of the day.

After two years of running online meetings, it was fantastic to bring the Alumni Advisory Council together for the first time in person – eight of the 12 current members were there from different jurisdictions (states and territories) including Aotearoa New Zealand and it was delightful for them and us to finally meet in real life. Official proceedings in the Great Hall kicked off after lunch although my colleague Nataly and I were also responsible for the ANZSOG stall in the open Marketplace area where catering was held (and yes we will be selling our ANZSOG First Nations T-shirts so stay tuned). It was good to have a presence amongst the various First Nations organisations and retailers.

There were some beautiful wares for sale by First Nations artists including Blakbird Designs (who I bought some earrings from), Little Butten, Delvene Cockatoo-Collins (the partner of Indigenous ex-AFL player Che Cockatoo-Collins) and briefly the Aboriginal Art Co. (from whom I bought a couple of small things for my sisters as gifts). It was good to meet the co-founder Amanda Hayman who was also taking ANZSOG delegates on a First Nations public artwork morning tour finishing at her gallery and retail space.

Our conference itself was ably hosted by ABC journalist Dan Conifer who spoke (often getting briefed just before walking back onto stage) to over 800 people gathered in the hall (later breaking out into smaller rooms for ‘yarning’ sessions where delegates could ask questions of speakers and panelists) and over 200 people who attended virtually. There was a palpable buzz in the air and I think many people were just very grateful to be able to come together after so long apart.

Networking drinks and nibbles the first night were a big hit with people staying right until the end, which was emulated the following night with our gala dinner hosted by Aboriginal comedian Steph Tisdell (who was hilariously funny) and featuring Indigenous Australian second year dance students from nearby QPAC and a fierce and powerful performance from Kapa Haka entertainers. I stayed until the end hosting a table of alumni guests and some of the Maori crowd went on to party further into the night in Fortitude Valley.

With work events, there’s never much time left over to do anything personal unless you extend your time and take leave (which some of my colleagues have done) so I had to look longingly at the outdoor pool from my hotel balcony but did take my team out for dinner to ChuThePhat (pun fully intended) in the Fish Lane Arts Precinct (highly recommended). If you do visit the Brisbane Exhibition & Convention Centre, it’s worth a look at the Plaza Terrace gallery full of large scale Indigenous artworks where we held drinks just prior to the gala dinner and heard from Dame Naida Glavish DNZM JP. For anyone who saw her speak on the last day, she is wearing my scarf after feeling the cold in the Great Hall. She came and thanked the whole ANZSOG team after the conference on our efforts. There is nothing like a Dame! We are a lucky bunch but I’m very glad to be home in Narm Melbourne. There is no place like it.