As a kid growing up in the leafy, benign suburbs of Canberra, there was time to dream. Sure, I was supposed to be training as a child prodigy pianist, but when I wasn’t wandering the Brutalist halls of the Canberra School of Music, I was doing what every kid does – reading books, imagining, wondering.
Why can’t I fly? Why is Rick Astley on Video Hits… again? Why don’t they make houses out of Kit Kats?
Kids are full of curiosity, dreams and quirky questions. Maintaining this curiosity is one of life’s great challenges.
We are born to dream, to be curious, and to ask questions about the world around us. But how can we keep that spark of curiosity burning?
Somewhere amidst the musical chaos of my childhood, my parents took me to a small building in Ainslie. Exhibits were scattered around the space, staffed by volunteers, and I spent the next hour playing with unusual toys.
I remember a ball staying up in the air, kept there by a steady jet of air from a silver tube – it wobbled, it bounced, but it stayed. This was Questacon, Australia’s first interactive science exhibition, and it gave me a new sense of wonder – how does it work?
Questacon showed me that science and wonder go hand in hand.
As I grew older, the sense of wonder morphed and shifted, but wouldn’t go away.
As a teenager, I’d hit the road with my friends and explore the caves around Canberra. We’d explore the dark mystery of these subterranean spaces, their stalactites glistening in the torchlight.
Dreaming in these caves led to curiosity – why are these beautiful structures here? Is there a system to this, or is it all down to chance?
Thankfully, you can study cave science, I did a degree in Geology, and fell in love with volcanoes, lava bombs, and cave-riddled karst country.
These days I explore how communities can use science to make decisions about social, environmental and economic issues.
Questacon is now a grand, multi-storey complex, and one of Canberra’s most popular tourist attractions. It also runs a traveling exhibition called ‘Science on the Move’, which is coming to the Bega Commemorative Civic Centre from August 12 to 19 during Science Week.
Kids can explore science in a fun, hands-on environment, asking questions like ‘how does a periscope work?’ and ‘what is a thongaphone?’
Science can help us to keep our curiosity burning for a lifetime.
Kate Burke is a sought after vocalist and musician based in Candelo and is completing her Masters in Science Communication at the Australian National University.
“At Mnemosyne, we have had many discussions about the term – feminism,” organiser Jodie Stewart explains.
“We have all had difficulties defining who we are in relation to a movement that has produced so many definitions of womanhood. We continue to search, to probe and to speculate.”
Perhaps I am not alone in the push and pull of Feminism?
Mnemosyne was the Greek goddess of memory and mother of the Muses, who were the goddesses of inspiration in literature, science and the arts. The story of Mnemosyne and her Muses centres on the skill and storytelling of oral cultures and the power of memory.
Those behind Mnemosyne the group/journal describe themselves as, “A feminist collective made up of PhD candidates, undergraduate students, creative writers, poets, musicians, filmmakers, historians, and librarians.”
“Our aim is to help raise the voices of women on the South Coast of New South Wales and to amplify them through the publication of the Mnemosyne: South Coast Women’s Journal,” the group’s website says.
To date, their writings have lived in the digital world, but the group is working towards a print edition of their ‘muses’.
Member, Noe Lumby says, “Our journal will reveal the stories, opinions, research and creative work of all south coast women.”
For any men still reading this, you are invited and welcome to Mnemosyne’s July 26 forum in Bega.
“Mnemosyne hopes to foster a chorus of voices and men’s voices are an important part of this discussion,” Ms Stewart says.
“We have invited a young local man to be a part of our panel, Tas Fitzer, who stood as a candidate in last year’s local government elections.
“A range of experiences and insights are an important part of an open forum on contemporary feminism. All are welcome and we encourage everyone to come along,” Ms Stewart says.
Other panelists include Dr Annie Werner, Indigo Walker, and Lorna Findlay, with the discussion chaired by Ms Stewart, who is a PhD candidate and tutor at the University of Wollongong (UOW), Bega.
Dr Annie Werner is head tutor in the Faculty of Arts at the Bega campus of UOW. Her current research addresses the sexual and social challenges of living in a non-reconstructed post-breast-cancer body.
Indigo Walker is the founder of local business Topsy-turvy Intimates which makes underwear out of recycled materials. Indigo also represents the new generation of feminists and women’s social justice advocates.
Lorna Findlay is a feminist historian who studied law in Melbourne in the 1980s and then worked in the field of domestic violence.
Lorna’s research interest lies in the development of second and third wave feminism. She hopes to investigate the similarities and shared beliefs that remain and whether feminism has lost its political voice.
In speaking to About Regional, the forum’s chair is expecting some interesting discussion influenced by the forum’s rural setting.
“Like the rest of the country, there is still much work to be done here in South East NSW,” Ms Stewart says.
“At a practical level we need more women in leadership positions in our community and more women making decisions that affect other women.
“Women are also under-represented in higher paying jobs and over-represented in underpaying jobs,” she says.
“This has a significant impact on social justice outcomes for women in our community.”
While acknowledging the influence a female Mayor and a female General Manager of Council will have in the Bega Valley, Ms Stewart believes challenges still exist.
“It’s an important step forward and an important part of social and cultural change, but there remains a significant barrier in terms of social attitudes and pervasive gendered expectations,” Ms Stewart explains.
“Women are still funneled disproportionally into ‘caring roles’ both inside and outside of the workforce because these roles are still seen as inherently female,” she says.
Sexism and the equality issues that forged the feminist movement decades ago are still relevant now in the Bega Valley according to Ms Stewart.
“Sexism is the elephant in the room,” she believes.
“Sexism is institutionalised and is part of the everyday experience of being a woman, compounded when you are Indigenous, a woman of colour, if you are part of the LGBTQI community or a woman with a disability.
“In our community, it is still advantageous to be a white male,” Ms Stewart.
There is much of what Jodie Stewart talks about that I don’t understand or can relate to, I am one of those white males after all which no doubt blinds my judgment.
There is clear evidence though from those walking in different shoes that something needs to change, which gets my attention and opens my mind.
The ‘Feminism in the 21st Century’ Forum is on Wednesday, July 26 at the University of Wollongong, Bega from 5pm-7pm – a local opportunity to be part of a bigger discussion that is being led at a national and international level by writers and commentators like Clementine Fordand Jane Caro.
Light refreshments will be provided and entry is by gold coin donation, all funds raised will go towards the publication of Mnemosyne’s first hardcopy edition.
Long before Donald Trump turned America’s back on the Paris Agreement, Australian families decided that investing in solar energy for their homes and businesses made sense, in fact Australia has the highest take-up rate in the world.
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritageis keen to build on that and have just been in the region, dropping in on towns where the take up of solar panels hasn’t been as great as it has been in other communities.
Free community seminars in Queanbeyan, Cooma, Eden and Ulladulla have helped “Demystify Solar Power’.
OEH staff were on hand to answer questions and lead discussion – explaining the different options for businesses and households wanting to switch to solar; saving money and saving the planet.
The Paris Agreement was part of the conversation that took place at these seminars, but this all happened just before Trump quite, not that I think the local response would have been different.
Mark Fleming, from OEH said the seminars will explain in plain-English the different types of solar technology available and the trends in solar power use in Australia and around the world.
“We had such a positive response to the last seminars that we are again encouraging people to come along and get the info they need to make decisions that are best for their circumstances,” Mr Fleming said.
“We’ll also explain the different options available for local businesses wanting to switch to solar and save money on bills.
“Businesses and households often get unsolicited approaches from companies wanting to install solar panels and while most people agree that solar is a good thing, it’s hard to compare these offers.
“At the seminars, you’ll find out the exact questions you should ask suppliers if you are thinking about installing solar panels,” said Mr Fleming.
Mark Fleming talks to About Regional, click play…
Around 800 people attended the seminars held last year across the region and since then more than 50% of those surveys have either installed solar or are in the process of getting quotes.
“Our goals to make people comfortable to ask the questions on their minds and leave with a much clearer understanding as to if solar is right for them,” Mr Fleming said.
Tuesday, 16 May 2017, 2:00pm to 4:30pm @ Queanbeyan City Library, Rutledge St, Queanbeyan.
Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 8:30am to 11:00am @ Alpine Hotel, Sharp Street, Cooma
Wednesday, 17 May 2017, 2:00pm to 4:00pm @ Eden Fishermen’s Club, Imlay Street Eden
Thursday, 18 May 2017, 1:00pm to 3:30pm @ Milton Ulladulla Ex-Servos Club, Princes Highway, Ulladulla.
The pink and purple coastline that stretches south from Twofold Bay at Eden has long inspired bold and daring feats, and it continues to do so in 2107 with the launch of a new eco-tourism venture.
Light to Light Camps rolls out the red carpet for small groups of hikers, the first party of four ‘mature‘ ladies has just returned beaming about the experience.
Jenny and Arthur Robb have seen the potential this distinctive environment embodies, both from a business perspective as a new tourist attraction and at a personal level for those who lace up their boots and walk the track over two nights and three days.
This 31-kilometre adventure spans the ever-changing coastline of the Ben Boyd National Park on the Far South Coast of New South Wales.
The ‘lights’ that inspire the name are Boyd’s Tower and Green Cape Lighthouse.
Walkers travel between seven and 13-kilometres every day, an ‘intermediate’ walk taking between three and four and half hours after a good breakfast.
The first people of this country have known the track for thousands of years, the Yuin People have a history of hunting for whales from this shoreline and collecting shellfish, one midden in the area dates back 3,000 years.
White man history is perhaps more obvious to hikers and was a highlight for Mary Pearce and her girlfriends, the first to do the walk under Jenny and Arthur’s watch.
“Something I knew about but had never been to, and it was very poignant, was the Ly-ee Moon Cemetery, just a little bit north of Green Cape,” Mary says.
At around 9:30 pm the ship struck the rocky reef at the foot of Green Cape Lighthouse, which had only been in operation for the three years prior.
Seventy-one men, women and children lost their lives, the cemetery Mary points to is the stark reminder of the disaster. Sixteen people were heroically rescued in the darkness by the Lighthouse Keeper and his assistant.
Mary says Arthur and Jenny’s knowledge of the history dotted along the track makes for great campfire conversation at breakfast and dinner.
History is your starting point on day one of the walk under Ben Boyd’s Tower, on the southern edge of Twofold Bay.
Boyd was a Scottish stockbroker and entrepreneur with big ambitions in the new colony that was taking shape far from his London HQ.
The tower was built in 1847, Boyd keen to establish a lighthouse to guide his fleet of steamers and whaling boats home. His big plans failed on all fronts, but his tenacity is dotted around Eden to this day. I’ll leave Arthur and Jenny to tell you more.
While the history you will experience with Light to Light Camps is rich and varied, it’s the environment that is front and centre during this experience.
“It was absolutely so memorable,” Mary says.
“We’re keen birdwatchers, and we were really after a sighting of the Eastern Ground Parrot, which is quite elusive and rare.
“Arthur had us all clued up for it, he also told us we needed to be quiet,” Mary laughs
Two sightings followed on the stretch between Bittangabee Campground and Green Cape.
“Quite beautiful, quite spectacular, and very special,” Mary says.
Idyllic but basic campgrounds managed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service at Saltwater Creek and Bittangabee Bay have always offered respite and sanctuary for walkers doing the track, but camping in that traditional sense is not an option for Mary and her girlfriends, who are all aged in their late 50’s, early 60’s.
What Jenny and Arthur offer, makes camping possible for people who otherwise wouldn’t and without a doubt they take it to a new level.
“We had the camping without the pain of camping, Jenny and Arthur took away the pain.”
Click play to hear more about Mary’s adventure with Light to Light Camps…
Mary says the walk itself is not terribly hard and remembers walking into Saltwater at the end of the first leg to be greeted by her hosts.
“We walked into this most gorgeous set up,” Mary recalls
“There were twin tents, beautiful camp stretchers with mattresses and white sheets and white, crisp pillowcases.
“We had a shower with hot water and we had gourmet food and wine, it was just like the Hilton at Saltwater,” Mary says.
The smile on the veteran teacher’s face broadens as she remembers the snacks and treats she nibbled in cool shady gullies along the way, and the fresh salad wraps that were eaten at lunch after a swim in the brilliantly blue waters of a sandy cove.
Hostess, Jenny has lived in the local area since the early 1980’s, Arthur since the mid-1990’s.
They are driven by sharing this unique landscape and it’s wildlife with people and providing a connection and experience not possible without their efforts.
The trail moves beside rocks dating back over 400 million years, a marine environment with incomparable diversity, coastal heath and forests of Banksia and Ti-tree, side by side with ancient Aboriginal culture.
“The stories of Eden’s whaling days are also part of the journey and the incredible and long-lasting relationship between whalers and Killer Whales,” Jenny explains.
“There is a lot to take in, and we invite people to explore it all at their our own pace without the burden of tents, food and extra water.
“We are there at the start and end of every day to spoil you with delicious dinners, a hot shower and a luxurious camp set up – we’ve got you covered,” Jenny beams.
Any new business comes with a good dose of nerves and risk. Being bold and daring is part of the required toolkit.
Mary thinks Jenny and Arthur are on a winner.
“I can see overseas tourists just loving it,” she says.
“It’s a truly Australian experience, it’s not mass-produced and plastic, it’s really as we are, the potential is just amazing.”
Light to Light Camps comes from and is inspired by South East NSW, About Regional is a proud partner and supporter.