Country Style Magazine

30 Years of Country Style

“In my old country, we never had a dream – and even if you had them, you couldn’t go for them. Here, we can have a dream for our future and while it may take us longer than others, we are willing to try. It’s up to us – that’s what I feel.” – Lal Lian

Kalangadoo Organic’s Chris and Michelle McColl loaned Lal, a refugee from western Myanmar, almost a hectare of highly prized organic soil so that he could produce his own crops to sell at local farmers’ markets. My November 2013 story of their inspirational friendship appears in Country Style magazine’s hardcover 30th anniversary compendium.

I have written many articles for Country Style over the years, and have made some wonderful friendships. I’m so thrilled that this gorgeous magazine endures.

Say Grace Café & Larder

Well, isn’t this food for thought:

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


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


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.


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

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.


Photo by Mark Roper

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

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.

cs July


Kalangadoo Organic in Country Style

Country Style’s April 2014 edition has arrived, complete with my article on apple growers Chris and Michelle McColl, who are based at Kalangadoo on SA’s Limestone Coast.

IMG_4319It’s perfect timing, with the apple season in full swing. We’re on our fifth box at our place – huge fans!


The McColls’ gorgeous maremmas Bruno and Yoshi also made the Dog Tale section of the latest edition.

CS April 2014

Pitching the right story

Golden rule of pitching freelance stories: know the magazine’s vibe. I just knew Country Style readers would love the story of Burmese refugee Lal, who was taken under the wing of organic apple growers Chris and Michelle McColl. (You can read the previous blog post here.)


Photograph by Sharyn Cairns

The story appeared in the November edition, and the feedback in the following month’s Letters to the Editor pages was heartwarming.

The tale of Chris and Michelle McColl giving refugees Lal Lian and his family new hope for the future touched me more than any story in Country Style. It served as a reminder that if we all considered others and shared our lives, such positive outcomes are possible. Thank you, Country Style, for sharing this story and giving us hope and the drive to help make other people’s futures brighter. – E.D., Kurrajong,NSW
…was so humbled to read the story of Lal Lian, and Chris and Michelle McColl in the November issue. Stories like these deeply hearten one’s spirit about Australians who do lend a hand to a stranger, and practise a generosity of spirit and a ‘fair go’. The McColls not only provided Lal and his family with the land to grow beautiful organic vegetables, but they also share meals with them regularly, which is even more impressive and requires commitment and energy. Of all the delightful stories in each issue, this one stands out as it reinforces that life is about ‘doing good for others’ and making a difference. The McColls make me proud to be an Australian. – L.T., Claremont, WA
The letters are in the gorgeous December edition – perfect summer holiday reading!

acs dec

The warmest of welcomes for a refugee

After moving to Australia as a refugee late last decade, Lal Lian was lured to Mount Gambier in 2010 by the promise of work in the horticulture industry.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns

But the opportunity that knocked was beyond even his dreams. Kalangadoo apple growers Chris and Michelle McColl offered Lal almost a hectare of highly prized fully certified organic soil to produce his own crops.


Photography by Sharyn Cairns

My story about this kind family man who accepted a helping hand in a new farming land is in the November 2013 issue of Country Style magazine. Editor Victoria Carey writes:

The story of how a couple of apple farmers at South Australia’s Kalangadoo gave Lal a plot of land on which to grow organic market vegetables, and the way he seized the opportunity with both hands, is one of the most inspiring we’ve had in the magazine recently.



I’m Gretel Sneath, an established freelance writer & storyteller. I work for magazines, newspapers & corporate clients. When I'm not on the road, you'll find me on our farm on South Australia's Limestone Coast or in Hawthorn, Melbourne.