Sweeping plains

My weeks seem to be flying by at the moment.  I was in Bendigo last week for my Bold Thinking Series lecture at the beautiful Capital Theatre, which went well although you see different things when you visit a place for the second time – there is a darker element to Bendigo and nearby Heathcote and an underclass of people from a lower socio-economic background who live there.  No-one wins when there is such a marked disparity in our society but I will leave that for another time.

Capital Theatre – front
L-R: Rob Hunt, Tasneem Chopra, MC Francis Leach, Dr Julie Rudner, Margot Spalding and VC John Dewar

I stayed at boutique hotel The Schaller Studio, which was gorgeous – I’ve recently come across The Larwill Studio at the Royal Children’s Hospital and both of these Art Series Hotels have a great look and feel to them.  The rooms are small at the Schaller Studio and it’s not suitable for families but if you’re a business traveller – it’s a perfect place to stay and I had breakfast and lunch the following day at the in-house cafe The Pantry.

Above & below: The Schaller Studio hotel room and balcony view


I also met a friend, who happened to be in Bendigo for work, for coffee at the Bendigo Art Gallery cafe which looks out onto Rosalind Park and I had been lucky enough to have had dinner in the Sculpture Annexe next door the night before with La Trobe University’s Vice Chancellor John Dewar and VIP guests.

Mr Rosanna and the kids came up on Friday night for the weekend and we had a great time as a family visiting some of the places we hadn’t been to on our previous stay in Bendigo a couple of years ago.  We spent a lazy Saturday morning having brunch at El Gordo in Chancery Lane and I had a chance to shop at Robe next door, which stocks some beautiful Australian and overseas designer brands.  We discovered cut-price barbershop Royal Jims which had a line of men and boys waiting to get their $15 hair cut so my two sons ended up joining the queue for the walk-in service.

We also visited the Golden Dragon Museum, which had extra special meaning for me as many of the Chinese diaspora came to Australia in the gold rush era, including those from my family’s area Sze Yup (‘Four Counties’) in Guandong province.  It was a great way to spend a hot afternoon in the relative cool and quiet of the museum.  We had a late lunch in the teahouse cafe there as well as spent time in the adjoining gardens and temple.  I would have loved to have visited the Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Eaglehawk or the amazing looking historic house Fortuna Villa, if we’d had more time.

We tried for a last minute booking at The Woodhouse but couldn’t get a table so ended up having a gastro pub meal at The Old Boundary Hotel that night for dinner, which was lovely.  We love a good pub meal at the best of times and drove past the popular Toorborac Hotel & Brewery, which was surrounded by a sea of cars, on the way home via Heathcote, which is the more picturesque way to go.

We’d never been to Heathcote before and grabbed a quick lunch at the Heathcote Wine Hub which has a lovely outdoor dog-friendly courtyard at the back.  Mr R ducked across the road to stock up on shiraz at Heathcote Estate while we both enjoyed wandering through the antiques and homewares stores with adjoining cafes on the main road.

All too soon we were back in Melbourne and back to school and work.  I’ll be back with more on what I’ve been up to, including some events you can book into if interested, later this week.

King of the mountain

Art Deco house Bukit Raja is one again for sale in East Ivanhoe for any of you lucky enough to have deep pockets.  Mr Rosanna and I had a look pre-renovation over five years ago and I’m glad the owners have done a fairly simple and subtle update keeping all the period features intact and enhancing what was already there.

Bukit Raja image via Real Estate View

Speaking of architecture, there is an Archi Tour at co-housing estate Murundakah in Heidelberg Heights on Friday.  I work with a number of people in their twenties and there’s a lot of discussion at work about the lack of housing affordability for young people.  I do wonder whether we need to re-think housing in Australia and perhaps try more innovative solutions such as this.

Image via Cultural Diversity Week

It is Cultural Diversity Week next week and there will be a free Multicultural Music Festival & Market on Tuesday 21 March in Bell Street Mall from 11 am – 2 pm.  Before that of course, is the annual Twilight Sounds free music event this coming Saturday featuring headline act Ella Hooper, which will be followed the next day by the Kids ArtyFarty Fest.  We did make it down to the Festival fairly late in the afternoon last year, which was a nicer time to go given the crowds had dissipated.

Image via pbsfm.org.au

Alphington Primary is holding its school fair on Saturday while on Sunday, you might like to try the Melbourne Tomato Festival at All Nations Park in Northcote, Wild About Melbourne Makers Market in Thornbury or catch some live music at the Kingsbury Bowls Club.  There’s definitely lots happening around the place!  Have a great week.

Image via Banyule Council

Moving and shaking

The past 10 days seem to have gone by in a flash!  Events season is well and truly upon us as well as this Indian summer that we seem to be having.  La Trobe University turned 5o on Wednesday, which was also International Women’s Day, and I was lucky enough to spend my night at the Hyllus Maris Memorial Lecture which was largely an all-female event save for Isaiah Firebrace’s performance at the end.  Indigenous writer Dr Anita Heiss gave the keynote address on Education being the key to a better life, and was also very funny – she could have been a comedian as well referring to VIPs in the audience as ‘very Indigenous people’!  For me, the highlight was the Indigenous Academic procession into the Union Theatre heralded by a lone didgeridoo player, I had tears in my eyes both when the academics in full gowns entered and when they left – the significance of such an achievement as one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged people in this country, was incredibly moving.

Dr Anita Heiss image via 5oyears.latrobe

I spent last Monday night with my fellow Bundoora Homestead Art Centre Board member and Chair Valentina Maxwell-Tansley presenting to Darebin Council at Preston Town Hall in the hope that they may increase funding at the Homestead.  Council has a difficult job in determining how monies get allocated across the community but Darebin itself is a very creative municipality which values the social, cultural and economic contribution a visual arts asset such as the Homestead makes so I was very grateful to have been given air time to state our case.  Stay tuned for the result.

Nathaniel Andrew & Isaiah Firebrace image via La Trobe University Twitter

Valentina has also been run off her own feet organising A Weekend in the Gardens event at the Botanic Gardens which kicks off from 4 pm today with John Farnham, Boy & Bear and Icehouse playing at three different concerts.  She’s been working with the same group of people who run the A Day on the Green winery concerts and there will be thousands attending each of the concerts for the first time at the Gardens this weekend.

A Weekend in the Gardens image via Ticketmaster

The Melbourne Moomba Festival 2017 starts today and it’s a beautiful weekend to be in the city if you’re staying in Melbourne this Labour Day weekend.  Closer to home, the Heide Makers Market is also on tomorrow and if I didn’t have other things to do, I’d be attending this one.  Have a great long weekend and I’ll be back soon as there are stacks of events being held locally over the next couple of weeks as well as the launch of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Travelling home

It’s a bit of a cultural week for me with the opening of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival  this week and my pick of the events would have been the already sold out Pleats x Three runway show at 7pm on Friday 10 March at Alcastan Gallery featuring Kara Baker, Nevada Duffy and Edgeley showcasing the work of artisanal company Specialty Pleaters.  I love a good pleat at the best of times and have long been a fan of Japanese designer Issey Miyake.

Pleats x Three image via Eventbrite

Also opening this week is the aforementioned show ‘Travelling Home’ by Art Fix at Lulu cafe and gallery at 506 Queensberry Street in North Melbourne featuring the work of 75 visual artists and poets from 20 countries to explore the idea of home and travel by the contrasts that link them together.  It follows previous Art Fix events in Canada and will also include live music and spoken word performances.  Opening night is this Thursday 2 March from 5.30pm, tickets are $8 at the door with all artworks for sale.

Bruno Malfatti image via Art Fix

Charles Blackman: School Girls opens on Saturday 4 March at Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen.  Blackman’s Schoolgirls series, produced between 1952 and 1955, marked a turning point in the artist’s career as a significant painter of modern life in the post-war era.  This exhibition includes more than fifty major paintings and related works on paper as well as a fascinating array of archival material.

Felix Girard image via Art Fix

There is also an Art Deco walking tour in East Melbourne being held on Saturday 4 March by Architours Melbourne, which sounds like a lot of fun.

East Melbourne Art Deco Walking Tour image via Eventbrite

I’ve been run off my feet (excuse the pun!) the past few weeks gearing up for both La Trobe University’s 50th Anniversary in 9 days’ time as well as my first Bold Thinking Series lecture being held in Bendigo.  Have a great week!


Local profile – Shane Scrutton

I’ve known Shane for a number of years now and we are connected in numerous different ways.  Despite being more of a sports person, Shane is also pretty up there with his music knowledge as I discovered one year when we were on the same table at a music trivia night!  He is a man of many talents…and I’m lucky to be doing a little bit of consulting on the side for such a terrific person and his business.  He’s also very modest in that he is still competing at a Masters level in tennis.  Read on for more about Shane…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Name: Shane Scrutton

Occupation: Tennis Coach

Lives/works: Heidelberg/East Ivanhoe

How long have you lived here? 10 yearsOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Describe yourself/what you do: I have been the Club Coach at Eaglemont Tennis Club since 2002. I have been involved in tennis for over 35 years, having played tennis on a US college scholarship and professionally all over the world as well as being a qualified secondary teacher with a Journalism degree. I enjoy coaching players of all ages and standards and working with my Yarra Tennis coaching team to get the best out of every student and make the game of tennis as fun as possible. I also still enjoy playing competitively at a high level so I can coach and challenge the club’s top juniors.

Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne’s north-east: As an active sports person I’m very lucky to live close to where I work and enjoy the green parklands of Yarra Flats. I have enjoyed developing some great relationships through my coaching program and with the local community. Heidelberg has a very rare combination of parklands and space while being so close to the city – which is probably why it’s become so popular and busy!

For more information:

Website: yarratennis.com.au

Facebook: Yarra Tennis Coaching

La dolce vita

My family’s love affair with all things Italian actually pre-dates my time in that my mum’s family grew up with Italians in 1950s and 60s North Melbourne, going to local Catholic schools and becoming best friends with Italian people.  My sisters and I have continued that tradition by also having European best friends and I’m hoping my girlfriend Celestina one day takes me to the Museo Italiano (below) in Faraday Street, Carlton.  I’ve also been intrigued by the Museo Alpino sign (also below) in one of the derelict buildings at La Trobe University and have assumed that at one stage there was an Italian ski museum.img_5513


Mr Rosanna and I happened to be in Carlton on Friday and grabbed a quick coffee and cannoli at stalwart cafe Brunetti‘s although I’ve also been reading about Black Star Pastry opening at 56 University Street in Carlton featuring possibly Sydney’s most Instagrammed dessert – the Strawberry Watermelon cake.  My 21st birthday cake was in fact a croquembouche profiterole cake from Brunetti of which I still have fond memories!  I also love that the Italians make such an effort to dress up and there was one lady at Brunetti dressed in a Chanel-style jacket and matching bag complete with oversized dark sunglasses – she looked like she’d just walked off Via Condotti in Rome.

Image via Brunetti

I’ve had a couple of restaurants recommended to me of late including Pinotta in North Fitzroy as well as Tinto in Hawthorn – maybe something to keep in mind with the weather about to change season and more time spent indoors.

Image via Pinotta

I just wanted to mention a few children’s events on this coming weekend – the Kindergarten Open Day in Banyule is being held this Saturday from 9am – 12 pm and Rosanna Golf Links Primary School is turning 60 this Sunday – apparently Anniversary Fun Fair celebrations include a Colour Run if you’re a fan of these.

Local profile – Carlie Ward

I’ve had a bit of a thing for Turkish towels for a while now so was thrilled to come across Carlie’s wares at Cinch PT in Macleod not so long ago.  Carlie is a ‘slashie’ like me who wears a number of different hats and I’m always impressed by people who have an entrepreneurial bent and a love of beautiful things.  Even better is that Carlie is a local and her towels and bags are extremely affordable.  Please read on for more about Carlie…


Name: Carlie Ward

Occupation: works in Human Resources and has a small e-commerce business

Lives/works: Macleod

How long have you lived/worked here? Approx 10 years


Describe yourself/what you do: Part of my husband’s business involves importing and wholesaling products from various countries, including Turkey. We’ve noticed the fantastic textiles available and in particular, the versatile and fashionable Turkish towels so I decided to take the plunge and set up a business, Anatolian. Anatolian sells mainly online, and through word of mouth, Turkish towels and bags. Being a small e-commerce business, it’s something that I can manage outside of the traditional 9-5 hours and it fits in with other working and family commitments. The low operational costs also mean that customers can obtain a quality product, but at a reasonable price, which is important to me.



Best thing(s) about living/working in Melbourne’s north-east: I love the sense of community, whether it’s at the local training studio, kid’s sporting clubs or local cafes.

For more information:

Website: www.anatolianhome.com.au

Email: carlie@anatolianhome.com.au (Please contact directly via email for free local delivery and sale of products)

Instagram: anatolianhome