It definitely did for the 7th annual Olivia Newton-John Wellness Walk and Research Run (WWRR) held this year in the city. Mr Rosanna and I signed up for the run last year when it was held at La Trobe University but pulled out due to sickness on the day. This year, I was joined by my colleagues in the Alumni and Advancement Office (below) as well as other staff members under the Team La Trobe banner given we are the event’s University and Research Partner.
I caught the train in from Clifton Hill station which was full of WWRR runners and walkers including those in green wigs and matching tutus! I spied Olivia Newton-John herself (below) doing media as I entered the Alexandra Gardens so was able to get a shot up close although her minder was keeping a watch on those who strayed too far in. It was great to find my friends at the Team La Trobe tent where we were able to check in our bags before setting off on our 5km walk past the Shrine and on to the Botanical Gardens (Tan) track going anti-clockwise. There were various cheers squads and live entertainment to keep us amused along the way and yes, they did play Let’s Get Physical as well as songs from Grease during the warm up!
While it was a bit overcast and cooler when I arrived, by the time we’d clocked half way around the Tan we were in full sun and after walking through the finish line and collecting our medals, I left the gardens in the heat of the day with the hot sun shining down.
I have been out and about this past week celebrating birthdays with family and friends including a mid-week dinner at Spanish restaurant Nomada located just off Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. My friend Mel had tried to book Rice Paper Scissors and Transformer Fitzroy on my suggestion but I was happy we ended up at Nomada as the food was beautiful – lots of seafood and vegetarian options and delicious starters including cuttlefish on mash, fresh oysters, eel on toast tapas, prawns or slow cooked lamb with a delicious broccoli, quinoa and lime salad finished off with freshly cooked churros donuts sitting in a hot chocolate sauce – delicious! There was a bit of break in between due to two big tables of diners including ours but I would definitely go back again for a meal.
Closer to home, I finally had lunch at Stix & Stones in Lower Plenty (above and below) on another beautiful sunny day and it was also very good. The Adventure Playground is closed and apparently in the early days, you could sit outside with a picnic rug but it’s now the main internal dining space and alfresco tables and stools outside. Mr Rosanna and I actually shared a number of starters including the salt and pepper squid and pork belly along with a Greek salad and fries. We also shared the sticky date pudding dessert and the service was great – we were very much looked after by the lovely team there. I only had two small criticisms – the 90s rock music was a little loud (we had older family members with us who struggled to hear) and I wish they had real not fake indoor plants but all in all, it’s good to have a place like it located so close to home. And for those lucky enough to be seated outside amongst the gum trees, it makes for an atmospheric natural dining environment.
It’s all happening in Lower Plenty as Shine On: A Night of Networking and Inspiration is being held at the Rosanna Golf Club on Wednesday 20 November from 7 – 9.30pm. Jules Lund is the keynote speaker and host and outside of his TV and radio commitments, he has founded TRIBE – a tech empire that connects social media influencers with leading brands. Tickets are now on sale and I’ve already got mine for the event which is being run by Banyule Business.
Love Your Bookshop Day was last weekend and it’s great to see some bookshops still flourishing despite others closing. Children’s books have weathered the storm of the digital age and one thing we’ve always done as parents is read to our kids since they were toddlers and passed on our love of books and reading, which apparently does make you smarter!
I attended last night’s sold out Bold Thinking Series lecture on Breaking taboos: What’s Off-Limits in Children’s Books? with children’s author and current Australian Children’s Laureate Morris Gleitzman, (pictured left of stage above) La Trobe academic Professor Jo Lampert, MC Francis Leach and Dr Juliet O’Conor, children’s research librarian at the State Library Victoria. This was one of the last events I organised before moving into the Alumni and Advancement Office early this year. I got to the State Library Theatrette just in time to take my seat at the back before the show began.
While all the panellists spoke beautifully on the trickiness of difficult subject matter in children’s books last night, Morris himself was delightful. Not all writers make great speakers but he has a voice made for radio! Lucky too in that ABC Radio National did record the event and you can catch the clever conversation once the podcast is shortly made available.
Some other related events include the Children’s Book Council of Australia Book Week that starts tomorrow and the Melbourne Writer’s Festival, which starts on 30 August and whose theme this year is ‘When we talk about love’.
Meanwhile locally, the Banyule Award for Works on Paper finalists’ exhibition opens on the 28 August and I remember meeting the very interesting self-proclaimed book sculptor Nicholas Jones a number of years ago at Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe and coveting one of his beautiful pieces. Given the awful weather outside, a bit of reading indoors might be the go this weekend.
It’s been an interesting election weekend – a lot of people voted early so it was pretty subdued at the local primary school compared with previous elections. I wonder if it reflects the state of the Australian psyche regarding all things political and I wonder too if Bob Hawke’s passing may clinch the deal for the Labor party.
I attended my first graduation ceremony at La Trobe University during the week – something I’d not previously done despite working at the University for three years now. While Olivia Newton-John received her honorary doctorate last year, this year’s recipient was Kon Karapanagiotidis (above) from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, twice a La Trobe alumnus, whom I was lucky enough to work with in 2017 for the Bold Thinking Series lecture on Social Cohesion in the Goulburn Valley held in Shepparton. My colleagues and I said a short hello to him before official proceedings and have been very proud to call him one of our own.
So while I had seen him previously speak in a public forum, his keynote speech to students was a rousing and impassioned one, if not a little evangelical in nature, where he asked graduands “what are you going to do with your power and your privilege?”. You can watch the full speech here. Kon had also brought his mum with him who was sitting in the row behind me and his speech was also very moving with him tearing up while talking about his parents’ sacrifices in his early days as the child of immigrants who could not speak the language but had a great love of this country. He spoke of love, of hope, of culture and community and the things that bind us together as people and his message regarding the fact that your integrity and your values are things that no-one can take away from you regardless of your circumstances.
On another note, I did want to mention that the next Bold Thinking Series lecture is on Can dogs heal hearts and minds? and there will be two therapy dogs present at the event being held at the State Library Theatrette on 13 June. I read with interest about a recent National Australia Bank study that found that owning a dog, cat or other animal was an overwhelming factor for improving our sense of satisfaction, life worth and happiness as the top influence adding to our wellbeing as recorded by economists.
Also on tomorrow is World Bee Day Celebration at the Alphington Farmer’s Market from 9am – 1pm and I must admit I’m always happy to see the bees happily buzzing around in my backyard which are one of the signs of healthy local ecology and environment. If you are a fan of bees, you might also love the handmade necklaces by UK designer Alex Monroe (above) available locally from The Fairfax Store. My current boss, who is British, has one in rose gold and it’s a lovely symbol to have around your neck!
Despite being raised in a family of girls, I now live with my family of boys and so have moved from fashion and frocks to football. We saw Melbourne play off against Geelong at the MCG last Friday night (pictured below) and it was a great atmosphere as much as I had a pretty hoarse throat by the end of the night. We joined over 90,000 people there and there’s just as many going tonight. Football at the G is one of those quintessential Melbourne experiences whether you follow the footy or not and may the best team win this season. There’s also some great street art featuring a couple of the boys currently on display in the city’s laneways.
It’s pretty warm today but I think the weather is going to turn tonight. If Mexican mariachi music is of interest the Heidelberg Symphony Orchestra’s Of light and darkness is on at Ivanhoe Girls Grammar School tomorrow, which isn’t something you hear everyday!
It’s what all of us want but not what all of us get. It is actually National Reconciliation Week and the 10 year anniversary of that moment in time when ex-Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Indigenous people and Stolen Generations of this land. The other lecture series at La Trobe University, Ideas and Society, will contemplate The Promise of the Future with Noel Pearson and Megan Davis on Thursday 14 June – a conversation that will examine the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Australia. I also wanted to mention that Hatch Contemporary Arts Space in Ivanhoe is showing From the Belly of the Snake by local Wurundjeri artist Judy Nicholson as part of Reconciliation Week.
La Trobe University actually has the highest number of Indigenous Australian students, as well as a significant number of students from regional locations and internationally drawn to our sprawling leafy campus, which houses a Wildlife Sanctuary and is the same size as Melbourne’s CBD. It’s been a very progressive and dynamic place to work over the past two years and I feel very privileged to be a staff member.
On a random note, this beautiful Art Nouveau house (pictures above and below) currently for sale at 11 Latham Street in Ivanhoe has caught my eye – it has some exquisite features such as the beautiful painted ceilings and intricate fretwork – as much as I also love modern architectural design – contemporary houses don’t have the same character as a period home, which can never be replaced once it’s pulled down. I do wonder how much the suburbs around here are going to change once many of the planned new housing developments and sub-divisions are completed.
While it’s not quite dumpling weather yet given the lengthy warm, sunny days, I have been eating dumplings at various places including my local favourite Golden Dragon Palace in Templestowe which has consistently good yum cha – I always book the last sitting at 1.30pm so it doesn’t feel as rushed.
My current work colleagues (pictured above) also love dumplings and we regularly visit the Polaris Dumpling Kitchen whenever we feel like a bit of comfort food including last Thursday when we were celebrating a colleague’s birthday. They’re pretty basic and so is the service but if you’re wanting something quick and easy – it’s a good go to place.
If you’re ever on campus at La Trobe University in The Agora you’ll find a great dumpling cafe upstairs (take the external stair case up from the Commonwealth Bank) where they make their own dumplings right in front of you as well as do a fantastic Hainanese chicken rice – great on a colder day. Again, they’re even more basic (order at the counter and take your number with you) but the food is great.
When I left my veganism lecture last Wednesday night, panelists Mo Wyse and Matt Ruby as well as some of their young friends were trying to work out where to go and I overheard ShanDong Mama in Bourke Street being mentioned, who apparently do vegan dumplings. Most Asian restaurants do vegetarian dumplings of some kind but it was the first time I’d heard about somewhere doing vegan ones.
I’ve nearly finalised my lecture topics for the second half year of the Bold Thinking Series keeping in mind the need to appeal to young people so that’s been an interesting exercise and I’m looking forward to locking them in and nabbing some relevant external speakers to complement our academics.
It’s the appropriately titled final Avant Card postcard printed in July by my ex-client and friend Pat Mackle signifying the end of a 25 year era and over 20,000 postcards produced. What a ride it’s been for her and her family and friends – many of whom have been involved in the business over this time across three separate states and all over Australia. We caught up today for lunch at Japanese raw food cafe Shoku Iku on High Street in Northcote right next door to the Good Vibes Yoga studio (owned by artist Kirra Jamison) near the Westgarth Theatre. There’s not many people I know who’ve had the courage of their convictions to follow their dreams and go out on their own so I take my hat off to Pat. Many young people now will have a very different life journey with as many as 17 different jobs across 5 different industries so the times they are definitely a-changing.
I had my sold out La Trobe Three Bold Thinking Series lecture last night at the State Library Theatrette which was a very big night for the three former student activists involved, who finally had their turn in the spotlight to tell their story and perhaps gain a sense of closure from the events of 1972 for which they were imprisoned in Pentridge Prison without sentencing. I was taken back in time to a very different era when the stakes were a lot higher with Anti-Vietnam war protests, conscription and the women’s and gay liberation movements taking place against the backdrop of global social, cultural and political change. I can’t help but feel we now live in a very corporatised, sanitised and more vanilla era compared to those heady times where the struggle was very real. What struck me was how all three men, despite their differences and the hardship and trauma they endured, were absolutely resolute in their belief about the right to protest and at no point in time were ever going to apologise to the University. To this day, as as much as it has impacted their lives, they still stand by their principles united in solidarity – it was a pretty amazing thing to witness. It was a bit ironic leaving the building last night to see the new La Trobe branding All kinds of clever splashed over a massive billboard opposite my old University RMIT on Swanston Street.