Magazine Articles

Meet the Tower Guy

I love writing stories on people living the dream…

As a mobile travel agent, Ben Deering’s office can be anywhere with Wi-Fi and a laptop, so why not make it on top of a mountain?

Photo credit: Ockert le Roux

Mount Gambier’s Centenary Tower had been closed for two years when Ben volunteered to become its caretaker. He has brought the 114-year-old landmark back to life, with visitors from across the globe soaking up the epic view of the surrounding crater lakes and beyond.

Photo credit: Ben Deering

During quiet patches, Ben dons his other travel hat, booking itineraries abroad for corporate clients in Adelaide and the eastern seaboard. He also takes some pretty epic photos from his castle in the clouds…

Photo credit: Ben Deering

My article on Ben can be found on the Brand SA website.

Chameleons of the Sea

A priceless underwater eco-revolution is underway at Point Lowly, South Australia, with population numbers of Giant Australian Cuttlefish on the rise.

Growing numbers of divers and snorkelers are heading west to witness nature’s wonder. Local diver, Tony Bramley, calls Sepia apama ‘chameleons of the sea’ due to their fascinating ability to change colour and texture according to their surrounds. He says to add it to your bucket list:

“Anyone can do it; you just walk into the water up to your neck, put a mask on your face and lean forward. There it is – one of the most amazing marine spectacles on the planet right at your feet.”

My article appears in RM Williams Outback Magazine’s Feb-Mar 2019 issue.

20 Years of Outback Magazine

It’s been 20 years of telling stories of the bush for Outback Magazine. How lucky am I to have been on board for the past six! #dreamjob. It was such a privilege to be invited to share what it means to be a contributor:

“Absolutely nothing beats an email from the Outback editorial team asking me if I’m up for a road trip. Any time! I’ve been to so many places I may not otherwise have ventured, sharing stories, tears, celebrations, secrets, campfires and meals with the most genuine people. Good people. And oh the laughs! (Especially when photographer Robert Lang is within cooee.)

Interviews turn into unbreakable bonds, with promises of return visits. On Wilpoorinna Station, in outback South Australia, Lyn Litchfield’s baked chops are well worth the 13-hour drive from my farm on the Limestone Coast. And I’m still in awe of the Anzac Day dawn service on the Birdsville Track’s Cowarie Station. I’ll be back, Oldfields!

I’ve slept in dongas, shearers’ quarters and swags under the stars, and will be forever grateful to the shift manager of the Prairie Hotel at Parachilna who took one look at me after a dusty assignment and offered me substantial room upgrade – add it to your bucket list! The one constant that I’ve encountered in my extraordinary role as an Outback contributor is the universal high regard for the magazine. It’s trusted, honest and frank – far from pretentious – but it’s also filled with optimism and friendship. Such wonderful qualities in anyone’s book.”

Australia in Style

Very, VERY excited to receive a copy of this incredible book produced by RM Williams Publishing in conjunction with The Tailor – Australia’s premier luxury travel specialist. 

I wrote two of the articles, and one of them involved a trip to Port Lincoln…immersing myself in the experiences on offer when you book a tour through Goin Off Safaris. Here’s some highlights:

Labour of Love – Australian Period Home Style

Step back in time to Australia in the 1890s, and the bold era of boom style classicism design…

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Extravagance, exuberance and even recklessness were the order of the day, as the nation toasted a post-depression period full of promise. When you add love to the equation, anything is possible, as evidenced by this exquisite country mansion completed in 1896 as a wedding gift to a lucky bride. An entrance hall with removable doors should you wish to dance…

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Delicate hand-painted stained glass specially delivered from Melbourne, sash windows so high that you could step straight outside, plus many more fine details for this farmer’s wife-to-be.

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The besotted groom wanted to leave a lasting impression, and the property remains as breathtaking as ever thanks to a couple of modern-day cupids who believed in the fairy tale. My story on this incredible country Victorian property appears in Volume 10 of Australian Period Home Style magazine.

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Border Inn Hotel’s Rebirth – Outback Magazine

The ‘closed’ sign had been on the door of Apsley’s historic Border Inn Hotel for more than two years when a group of locals figured it must be their shout. While the small farming community in Victoria’s far west had adjusted to the loss of its general store and fuel station, the pub was a different story; the town was missing its social hub.

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Just over a year ago, a 23-strong syndicate of locals brought the 165-year-old business back to life.

“We didn’t know each other particularly well, and when you first get a group of people together, it takes a while to find where you belong, but we soon worked it out because it never would have got up and running unless everyone rolled up their sleeves and got into it,” says cattleman-cum-publican Noel Ogilvie.

“People ask how we make it work, but we have made an effort to make it work because we are passionate about it,” says fellow farmer-shareholder Simon Robinson.

What does it take to get a beer in Apsley? Twelve farming families, a retired stockbroker and a ‘sold’ sticker.

What does it take to get a beer in Apsley? Twelve farming families, a retired stockbroker and a ‘sold’ sticker.

My story on this community-minded mob appears in the October/November 2015 edition of Outback Magazine. Amazing cover!!

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Flinders Merino – Outback Magazine

There are few similarities between outback South Australia and Hong Kong, but a group of wool growers have found a common thread by sharing the journey from the sheep’s back…

Source: Flinders Merino

Source: Flinders Merino

To the clothes rack.

Source: AWI Ltd

Source: AWI Ltd

During a field trip to Hong Kong, the Flinders Merino group was astounded to discover that the final year fashion design students at the Polytechnic University’s Institute of Textiles and Clothing didn’t use wool in any of their garments, so they offered to sponsor one of their annual fashion shows in the hope of encouraging such an influential market to take on their product. The ‘Flinders Merino Australian Tour Scholarship Award’ gives winning design students an opportunity to travel from Hong Kong to the Flinders Ranges to experience the life of a wool grower in a journey beyond the bale.

Source: Flinders Merino

Source: Flinders Merino

“When we were over there, we recognised that one way we could make wool very desirable to use in fashion design was to tell the story of where it’s from, and by bringing them here, we can give them the whole story – the family, the sheep, big skies, big pastures – it’s a good story to tell.”  – Julia Clarke, Pamatta Station.

It’s a Crocodile Dundee-type tale triggered by drought; transport a group of city slickers to the bush, and watch them fall in love with the landscape by spinning the ultimate yarn.

Source: Flinders Merino

Source: Flinders Merino

My story on this unique ‘student exchange’ appears in the June/July 2015 issue of Outback magazine.

Source: Flinders Merino

Source: Flinders Merino

“And what always amazes me is that they are so overawed by it all; they all love a lamb, but it’s also the first time many of them have been in a rural area and we will often find them sitting close together – they’re so used to being in a city environment, and it takes a long time for them to understand that sense of space that Australia offers.”  – Julia Clarke

Say Grace Café & Larder

Well, isn’t this food for thought:

graceWords of wisdom from Safe Grace Cafe & Larder in Casterton, Victoria.

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Owner, Penelope Farquharson, could see potential in this tiny country town with its main street layered in history and fit for a film set.

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Her store has become a destination for ladies who lunch, farmers, footy players…and freelance journalists like me, with a healthy appetite and a trained eye for a great story.

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Penelope’s story is in the June 2015 edition of Australian Country Style magazine.

The Growers Behind Penfolds Grange

The iconic positioning of Penfolds Grange in the global wine industry is undisputed, but how many people realise that the grapes that go into a bottle of Grange are sourced from all around South Australia? “If it’s the crème de la crème, we will take it,” says chief winemaker Peter Gago, describing the subsequent blending process as “that synergistic sum of the parts”.

Peter-Gago

Image supplied by Penfolds

I spoke with some of the growers behind Grange for SA Life magazine. Don Oliver, from Oliver’s Taranga at McLaren Vale, describes gaining selection as like winning the grand final – “And if you get a decent quantity, it’s like winning the lottery,” he said. Barossa Valley grower, Paul Georgiadis, is another regular contributor, and likens the achievement to climbing Mount Everest. “The first time I got in, I thought they were having a lend of me – I actually felt weak at the knees when I found out it was true,” he said.

Their story appears in the June 2015 edition.

SA Gardens – ‘Ellora’, Wrattonbully

Wrattonbully, in South Australia’s Limestone Coast, is serious wine country – local grapes were selected for the latest vintage of Penfolds Grange! Gardens also flourish in these fertile soils, however they’re fairly sparse in number, making the stately property ‘Ellora’ something of a head-turner.ElloraTucked beyond an exquisite stone wall on a long, empty road, Ellora commands a strong presence among its paddock surrounds. Ellora-2My story on ‘Ellora’ is in the May 2015 edition of SA Life magazine. BTW the owners also make fabulous wine!