Thread Together

Thread Together

Prior to the October bushfires in Northern NSW that destroyed my father's home - and 63 others - I hadn't heard of an organisation called 'Thread Together'. Among the thousands of messages of support and offers of assistance I received in those first horrible few...

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Guy Francis | Living With Tourette’s

Guy Francis | Living With Tourette’s

Imagine being the person that people point and laugh at. Imagine being the person that people might be afraid of because there's something about you that makes you a bit different. Perhaps you've seen someone with Tourette's Syndrome at the shops? Did you think they...

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Iva Davies has no time for your CD vs vinyl argument

Iva Davies has no time for your CD vs vinyl argument

Iva Davies is one of Australia's most accomplished musicians and composers with a career spanning over 30 years with his band Icehouse, and as a composer for film and theatre. It was a privilege to produce this radio special in 2014. The Interview The number one song...

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God Only Knows – Brian Wilson

God Only Knows – Brian Wilson

  I’m a firm believer in the adage that experiences are more important than things and that investment in meaningful experiences that enrich your life in some way are a greater source of happiness than the latest gadget or iThing. Don’t get me wrong, gadgets and...

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Dan Lepard – Good Food Month

Dan Lepard – Good Food Month

Dan Lepard's 2004 book,  The Handmade Loaf, gained a cult following amongst bakers and remains the 'go to' guide for anyone seriously interesting in baking. In Sydney for the SMH Good Food Month, Melbourne-born Dan regularly visits family in Australia and was a judge...

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Newcastle Walking Tours

Newcastle Walking Tours

Some very clever and lovely Novocastrians have created a series of fabulous, self-guided walks around the city. These have been prepared and written by David Hampton, one of the splendid people who make Newcastle Museum amazing. The audio of the walks has been...

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Newcastle Shoreline Walk

Newcastle Shoreline Walk

Free printed maps are available at the Newcastle Museum or the Visitor Information Centre located at the Maritime Centre both located in the Honeysuckle precinct.   Heavy Walk - 3hr / 3.2km Explore Newcastle’s maritime and surf culture through a self-guided...

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Newcastle Architecture Walk

Newcastle Architecture Walk

Free printed maps are available at the Newcastle Museum or the Visitor Information Centre located at the Maritime Centre both located in the Honeysuckle precinct. Newcastle Architecture Walking Tour Easy Walk - 1hr 30mins / 2.2km Explore Newcastle's Architectural...

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Working through 2015

Working through 2015

  2015 has been an interesting year and, fortunately, most of it has been OK. Not easy, but OK. The hundreds of redundancies forced upon my colleagues at the ABC have been a shock to a lot of people and very difficult for some. Losing your job is incredibly...

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Malcolm Fraser | Change of Heart and Spirit

Malcolm Fraser | Change of Heart and Spirit

Damn you, Malcolm Fraser. You've gone and died on us just when we needed you most, but I'm fairly certain you'd be pretty pissed off with your timing. During my many years with the ABC I strived to ensure that whilst my humanity was always on show, my voting...

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Vale Tom Uren – the ‘conscience of Parliament’

Vale Tom Uren – the ‘conscience of Parliament’

Tom Uren lived an incredible life and I had the privilege of speaking with him in 2007 prior to his trip to Maitland to deliver the annual Harry Boyle Memorial Lecture for the National Trust. Tom served during WWII and witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima. He was a...

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Rob Hirst – The Sun Becomes The Sea

Rob Hirst – The Sun Becomes The Sea

  Rob Hirst has a new solo album out - released under his own name instead of one of the innumerable musical units that he's part of. The Midnight Oil drummer and songwriter celebrates his new songs with an unexpected collaboration with his artist daughter, Gabriella...

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Breaking the poverty cycle with education

Breaking the poverty cycle with education

Nearly 640,000 Australian children live in a 'jobless' family. These children are, on average, up to three years behind their peers in reading and maths by the time they're 15 years of age. But this doesn't have to be the case. HSC completion rates in lower...

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Don Walker talks Cold Chisel and other words

Don Walker talks Cold Chisel and other words

Don Walker is a notoriously private man. He just does not talk about the personal stuff. But he does talk about himself, about music and words and prose and work and Chisel and just about anything else you choose to throw at him. He speaks slowly, deliberately, and...

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Being a Muslim woman in Newcastle

After a recent visit to Newcastle's Mosque I was invited to take my family to the Newcastle Eid al-Adha celebrations. I took the opportunity to try and bust a few myths about being a Muslim woman by asking a group of them to tell their own stories over vast quantities...

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Megan Washington | Describing a sensation

Megan Washington | Describing a sensation

  Megan Washington says that 'Skyline', one of the tracks on her new album 'There, There' is about 'choosing hope'. "I think that's a choice we have to make daily. Choosing happiness and choosing positivity is something that you have to make a priority. For me,...

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Eddi Reader on Scottish Independence

Eddi Reader on Scottish Independence

Scottish musician Eddi Reader has spent decades travelling the world after leaving Scotland for England at just 18 years of age. Having been back in Scotland now for the last 13 years, Eddi says she's had to make the effort to learn about what the deal that created...

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Fat is flavour

Jennifer McLagan says she grew up eating fat and never realised it was supposed to be bad for her, "We bought lard from the butcher's store and I think it was through the 1970s in Australia that it started to change. In the US, people were trying to find out why heart...

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James Reyne

James Reyne

James Reyne has an enviable career in the Australian music industry - first appearing on ABC TV's Countdown in 1979 with both of his arms in plaster after being hit by a car in Melbourne. Australian Crawl held court around Australia's pub rock scene for just seven...

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Joe Camilleri

Joe Camilleri

I've had the privilege of interviewing many of Joe Camilleri's Australian music peers and I've often remarked on how many of them were 'ten pound Poms'. Joe Camilleri says he was a five-pounder, but not a Pom, "We came on the five-pound scheme from Malta. There was...

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Jerome Rugaruza – Australian

Jerome Rugaruza – Australian

I've been fortunate enough to interview Jerome Rugaruza on several occasions. Jerome arrived in Newcastle in 2009 after spending years in refugee camps after fleeing his home in a rural Congolese village. In 2011, he was reunited with his wife, Imaculee, and their...

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The Birdwood Flag

Gionni Di Gravio, archivist from the University of Newcastle describes the Birdwood Flag as a 'big bag of confetti'. "It's a bit of a shock when you first see it, but it's thanks to Bronwyn Orrock that we knew about the Birdwood Flag. We knew of its existence but we'd...

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Hugh Laurie. Some thoughts on the cult of celebrity.

Hugh Laurie. Some thoughts on the cult of celebrity.

I heard the click from somewhere behind me, followed by Hugh Laurie suddenly looking a bit pale and sick, "Oh god, don't open the door! Don't open the door!" He looked at me, I turned toward the source of the click and realised that one of the theatre staff had opened...

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Iva Davies – March 2014

Iva Davies – March 2014

The number one song on the Australian pop music charts in 1980 was The Buggles 'Video Killed The Radio Star', accompanied through the year by such gems as Michael Jackson 'Don't Stop Til You Get Enough', The Village People 'You Can't Stop The Music', Split Enz 'I Got...

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Russell Morris

Russell Morris

"This album (Sharkmouth) was done out of a labour of love because I like roots and blues music and I’d always wanted to do a roots and blues album." "I chose Australian history because I’ve always loved any type of history. You’d think the two kisses of death for a...

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Kylie Kwong on insects as food

Kylie Kwong on insects as food

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says insects are the food of the future and that Western consumers need to open their minds. Australian cook and restaurateur Kylie Kwong already serves insects in her Sydney restaurant. "It's just so exciting, I've...

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Denise Kelly – Wiradjuri Woman

Denise Kelly – Wiradjuri Woman

Denise Kelly is a Wiradjuri woman who has been working with Liz Mullinar's Heal For Life Foundation since 2005. Denise is now translating her experience in culturally appropriate education to helping support Aboriginal people who are survivors of child trauma and...

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Nigel Westlake – Smugglers of Light

Nigel Westlake – Smugglers of Light

In 2008, Australian composer Nigel Westlake's son, Eli, was killed in a tragic road rage incident. With the support of his family, and his son's friends, Nigel used his love for his son to establish a music and film program to support young indigenous Australians. In...

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Liz Mullinar – survivor of child abuse

Liz Mullinar – survivor of child abuse

Re-post: First published 23 May 2010. It means a great deal to me that I still receive correspondence from people about this story. With the NSW Special Commission and Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse I thought it might be timely...

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Malcolm Turnbull. Or, too much fun.

Malcolm Turnbull. Or, too much fun.

On the eve of Malcolm Turnbull's visit to Newcastle, the New Zealand parliament voted to redefine marriage as a union between two people, becoming the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so. It's one of the great privileges of my job that I get to run...

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Immunisation and a preventable cancer

Immunisation and a preventable cancer

On the Friday night before Christmas 2012, I spent six hours in an operating theatre with a dearly loved friend. The only time I'd ever been conscious in an operating theatre was during the caesarean births of  my sons. When someone tells you something like "I have...

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John Schumann on writing an icon

John Schumann on writing an icon

When it comes to Anzac Day, Australian singer/songwriter JohnSchumann says, "There could be a hundred of me and there still wouldn't be enough to go around!" referring to the huge success of his 1983 song, 'I Was Only 19'. I first met John when I started working for...

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Patricia Feenan. Accidental activist.

Patricia Feenan. Accidental activist.

When senior NSW Police Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox told ABC TV's Lateline programme that the Catholic Church had covered up crimes by paedophile priests, silenced investigations and destroyed evidence to avoid prosecution - the public outrage triggered a Royal...

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War letters

War letters

My uncle brought them home from Borneo during WWII - we think. He spent time in New Guinea, Malaya and North Borneo with Water Transport providing supplies. I understand it is an older script and have had some attempts at having it translated previously as, ideally,...

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Norwegian Wood – a story of cancer

Norwegian Wood – a story of cancer

  And when I awoke, I was alone this bird had flown.   My much-loved friend has throat cancer. No, he is not a smoker. I was by his side for six hours of complex surgery. Literally. Most meaningful and wonderful thing I have ever done. It was a privilege to...

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Ben Gillies. Life after Silverchair.

Ben Gillies. Life after Silverchair.

Daniel Johns, Chris Joannou and Ben Gillies were just kids doing work experience at a Newcastle radio station when I first met them nearly 20 years ago. Those three boys have gone on to become strong and confident men and wonderful musicians - collectively and...

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Bikers Against Child Abuse

Bikers Against Child Abuse

Imagine being a child who has to testify in court, give evidence, against an adult who has abused you, sexually or otherwise. An adult you have trusted. An adult you have loved. This adult has also abused you, perhaps sexually, they might have threatened you, told you...

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Rob Hirst. Midnight Oil, The Break.

Rob Hirst. Midnight Oil, The Break.

  Midnight Oil have had a stellar career from their beginning as 'Farm' in 1972, changing their name in 1976. With 11 studio albums and 2 EPs worth of musical meanderings, I spoke with the band's drummer and songwriter, Rob Hirst, on the eve of the launch of...

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Rory Steyn – Mandela's bodyguard

Rory Steyn – Mandela's bodyguard

Rory Steyn has had a unique career, to say the least. After rising through the ranks of the South African police force, Rory ended up chief of security and personal bodyguard of Nelson Mandela. What Rory learnt from the man, once seen as a terrorist by South African...

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John Paul Young

John Paul Young

In 2012, John Paul Young is celebrating 40 years in the Australian music industry with both a solo tour and another turn in the massive Long Way To The Top concert production. John Paul Young was the child of one of the wave of British families that emigrated to...

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Inspiration

Inspiration

Today I saw something wonderful. And unexpected. My kids know about real food. Fresh food. They don't think cakes come from packet mix because mum says if you're going to have chocolate cake, have a real one. They know how to make dumplings. They've had chooks in...

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I admit it. I don’t understand…

I admit it. I don’t understand…

... child abuse. I understand frustration, annoyance, exhaustion, exasperation, fear ... but I do not understand it when children are intentionally harmed or intentionally placed in danger.  Nor do I understand how sometimes people stand by and let it happen - KNOWING...

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My love. My motivation. My heartache.

My love. My motivation. My heartache.

Maroussia.  The perfume.  Russian.  Cheap.  Strong.  Not bad if you're into cheap, strong Russians.  (Ahem.  My husband is half-Russian ... ) What's that got to do with the rather graphic photograph of my youngest son? It's one of my strongest memories of this...

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Honour

Honour

Social media makes the world smaller.  And it makes my life richer.  Because I have conversations (sometimes only in 140 characters!) with people from around the world who are generous, warm people who share the stories of their lives - the happy, the sad, the...

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Michael Kirby

Michael Kirby

Why do I like the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG so much?  I've thought hard about this, and there are a whole host of reasons ... his outspoken nature, his dissent, his passion for human rights, gay rights, support of arts, his warmth and humour ... the funny thing is that...

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Why I Love My Job #2

Why I Love My Job #2

Here's another reason I love my job.  It is the third anniversary of the June 2007 long weekend storm, a tempest that left us with an 80,000 tonne coal carrier on one of Newcastle's main beaches.  The coast around the city beaches is littered with shipwrecks, the...

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Why I Love My Job

Why I Love My Job

Sometimes I don't.  Mostly I do. It's a funny thing - making people talk, tell me stories, things that perhaps they're happy to tell me, sometimes they're not. I love feeling like I've made a difference.  Or at least tried to. I hate the criticism that can sometimes...

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My Mother Hated Swimming

My Mother Hated Swimming

So why she wanted her ashes scattered into the sea, I'll never know. But she always used to say ... to all of us ... "I don't want to be buried.  I don't want anyone tied to a place.  Just scatter me off the heads." We used to go to this place a lot, mum and I....

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The Red Shoes

The Red Shoes

I don't do shoes.  I don't have the shoe gene.  I mean, I like them, but I don't need them.  I have very few. But when my mother died, I decided to wear red shoes to her funeral. My mother was an original.  She never desired to fit in.  She always wanted to be free....

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