Feature Writing

James Morrison’s Academy of Music is where?

James Morrison could have chosen anywhere in Australia to set up his musical academy devoted entirely to jazz. He settled on South Australia’s largest regional city – Mount Gambier.

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Photograph by Marcus Jones

I interviewed James about his bold new venture for the February 28 edition of SAweekend magazine, and he shared his view on why this country location offers the best learning environment for students: “In a big city, there are too many distractions, but if you move away from home, particularly to a place where almost everyone else doing the course is also ‘away’, then there is an immediate momentum towards forming a community. When class ends for the day, instead of all going their separate ways, the students can hang out together and maintain the jazz atmosphere. It’s not that there is nothing else to do – it’s that the hippest thing in town is the academy.”

Click here to read the article in my portfolio.

James is fabulous interview talent, and I love his re-telling of a conversation he had with this year’s artist-in-residence from LA, Jeff Clayton: “He is a professor at five universities in the US, including UCLA, and has absolutely no reason to leave America to go anywhere, but when we talked about it, he said ‘This is the place that I want to teach, I want to be there…now where is it exactly?’” It’s the new Aussie home of jazz!

 

Poetry on a Plate in Bourke, NSW

The most memorable meals often happen during travels, and the poetry dished up on a plate in Bourke, NSW, was no exception. I was passing through with my family on the way home from Cape York, and the editor of Outback magazine asked us to stop to investigate Andrew Hull and Sarah Goulden’s unique recipe for success – beef casserole, lentil stew and lemon-curd tart served with a generous helping of poetry and music at Kidman’s Camp.

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From April – October, up to 100 campers line up here for a welcome reprieve from ‘yet another barbecue’.

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“We didn’t want to make a generic product, and because the stories and food are original and local, it makes a whole experience out of it,” Andrew says. “It’s not just turning out a meal from a canteen; it’s a real event.”

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Outback Cover copy

Lucindale – The little town that could…and did.

I am forever intrigued by country towns – how they came to be, and how they manage to survive. Lucindale, in South Australia’s Limestone Coast, is the ultimate rural role model of sustainability. I shared the story of this little town that could (and did) in the February/March 2015 edition of Outback Magazine.

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“Small town, big vision” is its motto, and you would expect nothing less of a place which welcomes 22,000 visitors to its annual South East Field Days (the usual population is 400).

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The town also has a host of sporting clubs – including a triathlon club and a karting club – a country club, caravan rallies, camp drafts, music festivals and the unique exhibition Art in the Sticks, hosted by local farmer-artist Hamish Macdonald. He sums up Lucindale well: “Most little towns are dying, but our town has stayed alive because the town has decided it wants to exist.”

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Living off the Land – Outback Magazine

While farming has never been so innovative, the same can be said for the current crop of sons and daughters coming off the land. Income diversity is the goal, and in the latest edition of Outback magazine, I shared the story of four inspiring people who have used their properties as a launchpad for exciting off-farm careers.

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Victoria’s Geordie Simson is surely living the dream; in addition to running sheep and cattle at his Casterton property, he flies helicopters. The company he works for has contracts to spray pine forests, spread superphosphate, and cull feral animals in the Simpson Desert, the Coorong and the Nullarbor Plain.

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Other weeks, he could be conducting mining surveys or tagging sea lions in the Nuyts Archipelago.

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“It’s the best paddock on the farm, the old flying,” he grins. “I still love the land, but I didn’t just want to be a farmer and have to rely on that income – I wanted to be able to achieve something else and have a fantastic time doing it.”

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Country Style Home: Robe, SA

Summer holidays meant catching up on a stack of magazines. The November 2014 Country Style featured my story on ever-so-stylish Robe couple Kristina Alexander and partner Christos Stoios.

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Photo by Mark Roper

Home is a row of cottages filled with gorgeous finds – reminders of a blissful life beside the ocean.

Chef Profile: Kirby Shearing

I have interviewed prominent Limestone Coast chef Kirby Shearing several times in recent months.

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Photo by Joanna Fincham

Kirby’s hunter-gatherer food philosophy is shaped by regionality and seasonality, and in a recent story I wrote for Outback magazine, he shares the thrill of the hunt; landing in fungi heaven after venturing deep into the woods:

“I was almost ready to give up after searching for about 45 minutes, but I turned a corner and came across the thickest mat of pine mushrooms, parasols and slippery jacks,” he says. “It’s true organic produce; wild mushrooms that have just popped out of the earth – there’s no one planting them, no one spraying – they have just grown at the perfect time in the right place.”

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Photo by Joanna Fincham

Here’s one of Kirby’s dishes: Native spiced kangaroo, coastal herbs and organic chickpea puree – delish! The recipe is in the October – November issue of Outback Magazine.

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Real Weddings: Nadia Coppolino + Jimmy Bartel

Nadia and Jimmy Bartel are deeply entrenched in wedded bliss now, but the memories of their wedding day endure, with my story on their big day appearing in the Autumn/ Winter edition of Real Weddings magazine. Kristen Cook took the photographs and you can view a gorgeous collection on her blog. Flawless styling by The Style Co is shared in detail here.

Photography by Kristen Cook

Photography by Kristen Cook

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Photography by Kristen Cook

Recent freelance adventures

Freelance work has literally been taking me all over the countryside lately. Yesterday, I flew to Melbourne to conduct a video interview on Collins Street at Harley House. Imagine working so temptingly close to Hermes…

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Melbourne. Could it get any funkier?

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Last week I was in Lucindale, SA’s agricultural heartland – so pretty in spring.

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And last month, it was Bourke, NSW. The post office looks straight out of the movie Australia.

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Can’t wait to bring these stories to life…

What lies beneath – Kilsby’s Hole, SA

I recently discovered the secret to the success of a South Australian sheep property, and it was locked in a vast underground chamber…

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Kilsby’s Hole lies beneath the pastures of Bringewood in SA’s Limestone Coast, and in addition to being a priceless water source for owner Graham Kilsby’s successful prime-lamb operation, it’s rated among the world’s best cave diving sites due to its exceptional water clarity.

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Image supplied by SA Tourism Commission. (No – I’m not the diver!)

This is why I love being a freelance writer – such a privilege to be able to share stories about such interesting people and places. My article on Kilsby’s Hole appeared in the Aug / Sep 2014 issue of Outback magazine, and I’ve added a link to my Portfolio.

Cottage stay in Penola – Country Style

I’ve been waiting for my story on this delightful Penola accommodation to appear in Country Style, and here it is, in the new July 2014 edition!

cs2It’s called Shurdingtons, and it’s located on the corner of the famous Petticoat Lane. This historic street has been the source of many stories for me over the years. A picture-perfect gem.

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