A Positive Beginning To The New Week

Firstly, a new children’s book: Tippy and Jellybean by Sophie Cunningham.

Based on the true story of Tippy the koala, and her baby, Jellybean, which was one of the tales that broke hearts all around Australia during our devastating bushfires last summer.

Tippy was found by rescuers in the Snowy River National Park just after the fires raged through the area with a burnt back and paws. She was crouched over her joey, Jellybean, who was unscathed.

Sadly, many of our koalas were lost when they made the mistake of scrambling for the top tree branches when fires went through, offering them absolutely no protection whatsoever.

Tippy and Jellybean have since recovered and have been released back to an area with eucalyptus trees.

Proceeds from this book will raise money for the Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund.

Meet the real Tippy and Jellybean

And another Iso-Project successfully completed.

Ulladulla, Books and Empty Esky

My connection with the south coast of New South Wales goes way back. The beautiful coast is an area that was featured on the media over Christmas and New Year because of the apocalyptic bushfires. It was peak tourist season which made it both an environmental and economic disaster.

In normal years Easter would have been the perfect tonic for a semblance of financial recovery as families from Sydney and Canberra flock to the area for school holidays – and Ulladulla’s annual Blessing Of The Fleet celebrations. This is a ceremony which started back in the mid 1950’s when Ulladulla, which means “safe harbour”, was the port for the largest fishing fleet on the south coast and run by Italian immigrants who brought the centuries old tradition over from Sicily.

I have many fond memories of the Blessing Of The Fleet festivities including the year my sister and I were forced to get out of our cossies and to frock up in our Sunday best to meet the Special Navy Guest for the occasion, Admiral Crabbe, whom my  ten year old sister greeted with a “Welcome Admiral Crap”.

2020 has been anything but normal. We spent Easter in lockdown.

Back in the 70’s my Dad won enough money on a galloper named Rajah Sahib to buy a block of land on the hill overlooking Ulladulla harbour. In later years he would wait for the trawlers to return and watch the unloading of their catches from the comfort of his lounge room. Both his and my sister’s ashes were scattered in the ocean just outside the harbour and close to a favoured fishing spot.

Ulladulla, approximately 230 kms south of Sydney, is doing it tough just like so many other townships all along the coast.

Empty Esky is an initiative on social media firstly to promote business devastated by the fires and to encourage visits from tourists when allowed. They’ve highlighted breweries, bakeries, gift shops, jewellers and all manner of local produce to a broad audience.

My money is going to small business this year. I‘m a 1000 kilometres from the south coast so am unable to do much, but I can do a bit……….

………. starting with the Harbour Bookshop in Ulladulla, an independent book store on the highway that runs through the middle of town, which has an easy to manoeuvre website and posts all book orders over $60 at no additional cost. 

Thank you to my two Book Fairies for organising some new books for their old Mo and introducing me to this retail outlet on the coast.

Next month I’ll look into a boutique Gin Distillery I’ve discovered on Empty Esky just a little further down the coast.


Bats And Bouquets ( & Alice Cooper)

Rural Aid was founded in 2015 to provide support programs to rural Australia. Their grassroots beginning touched a nerve with the Australian public with the Buy a Bale campaign which saw the distribution of fodder, fuel vouchers and hampers delivered to rural communities.

Rural Aid have recently advised that in January 2020 they delivered 463 domestic water orders across Australia. Water requests have since slowed down due to rain, though hay is still in short supply with the drought. They delivered 4234 bales of hay on 104 trucks to 262 farmers to 25 locations, with multiple deliveries within these areas in January. So far in February, they have delivered hay to 38 locations to 159 farmers, with some being multiple deliveries within these areas.

Thank you, Rural Aid, for your accountability and transparency.

Makes a change, though I refuse to make any further comment on the current dog fight happening over the hundreds of millions of dollars in bushfire donations – other than I told you so.

So a girlfriend with a crafty bent attended a Workshop over the weekend to learn how to crotchet pouches and sacks to assist injured wildlife. The money she paid for the three hour course was donated to a wildlife organisation and she is now busy crocheting birds nests. Apparently, the needs of koalas, wallabies and possums have changed – it’s all about releasing them back to an area with plentiful feed and shelter which is now proving the problem.

The emphasis is now on birdlife injured or homeless because of the fires: owls, curlews, magpies, kookaburras, and cockatoos etc.

To fellow blogger, Gee Jen, who recently knocked the complacency out of me – thank you. Though my skill set does not include knitting needles nor crochet hooks, I can most certainly make a decent pot of tea. An afternoon of bird nest creation coming this way soon……

Curlew with chicks

NOTE: I just gotta say that I sat through last weekends 10 hour Fire Fight concert on the tele to raise further funds, and OMG, hasn’t 72 year old Alice Cooper still got it!

Happy Australia Day Long Weekend

In 2011, 24 year old Turia Pitt, was trapped in a grass fire blaze during a 100km ultra marathon in the Australian outback. She suffered full thickness burns to 65% of her body.

Turia spent over six months in hospital and underwent over 200 operations.

Pitt has mentored thousands through her online programs, raised funds and awareness for a variety of philanthropic concerns, and authored two books: *Everything To Live For, and Unmasked.

On the quiet she also visits burns victims whilst in hospital, including those from the recent volcano disaster in New Zealand.

The young mum has recently started a campaign called Spend with Them, with the intent to drive spending in tourist towns decimated by fire.

“For example, if you live on the coast, you can jump on to the Instagram page, Spend with Them, and buy something from a homewares store in Milton, or a bottle of gin from a microbrewery in Bega and you can help put the money into the pockets of those who need it.”

Empty Esky is another successful grassroots campaign and movement founded by three friends, that inspires people to go on a road trip to the many unique Australian towns affected by the bushfires and spend their money on local goods and services to inject money back into the community – take an #emptyesky and fill it with local produce, goods and treats. Empty Esky is a simple, effective, long-term way for the public, travellers and adventurers alike, to help those towns bounce back.

It’s not easy to participate in these activities when you reside in faraway Queensland, though both initiatives include opportunities to shop online. Again, something I’m not into but am getting the hang of quite easily:)

And a florist in Batemans Bay on the south coast of NSW, A Classy Touch, delivered a flower and fruit basket on my behalf and included two kilos of carrots for some of the local kangaroo population.

Shop local. Spend local. Spend big.


*Everything To Live For is a wonderful read which will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. This is the story of one strong, brave, funny, courageous Aussie lass. Love her to bits.

The Year Of Promoting Local…for a good cause.

It has been said that “we develop our desires and drives during our childhood then our whole adulthood becomes affected by these childhood experiences”.

There have been a couple of experiences as a child that I have carried through to my adult life and all pertain to my home life.

  1. I never touch walls and never have I been in a state requiring a wall to hold me up.
  2. I don’t breath on windows
  3. I never put holes in walls.

These behaviours exist because my father was not good with his hands, detested working around the house ( including cleaning windows and painting the family home) and because most houses of that era came with picture rails. Truely, he couldn’t change a lightbulb ……which seems to be hereditary.

I share this because I’m in a bit of a quandary. Yep, the knickers are well and truely in a knot.

The Old SchoolHouse Gallery is a community art gallery run by the artists which promotes the visual arts by instruction, information and inspiration. It aims to celebrate artistic expression by providing opportunities to exhibit projects for sale.

On the first Wednesday of every month the theme changes which provides an opportunity for different creatives to have their work featured. The February exhibition opens on Thursday, 6th of February, showcasing works by Nicole Darlington and Natasha Gibson-Scott. The theme “Our Country” features Australian native wildlife, flora and landscapes in a wide variety of media including ink, oil pastels, ceramics, jewellery, and acrylics.

Courtesy of event flyer

The artists are donating 25 per cent of all their sales to wildlife organisations to assist in the rescue and rehabilitation of fauna devastated by the summer bushfires.

I make an effort to visit the Old SchoolHouse Gallery once a month to view the ever changing exhibitions and occasionally purchase hand made jewellery items as gifts for family and friends.

Courtesy of event flyer

I’de really like a painting, and I’de really like to help this worthy cause. But I have no more spare hooks on walls and already have artworks and photos on tables being propped up by empty wine bottles.

A lack of wall space is not the issue – it’s the putting of holes and marks on walls which gives me anxiety.

The Old SchoolHouse Gallery is located at 124-126 Shore Street North, Cleveland Point and is open every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. Entry is FREE and there is onsite parking and wheelchair access.

  • Fire Update : Much needed rain has fallen along the East Coast of Australia over the past few days putting out many of the fires. One Rural Fire Service closed shop yesterday leaving a sign “ Gone To Jump In Puddles”. Wags, love ‘em. There are still fires blazing in the Alpine regions with hamlets being evacuated. Keep on doing those rain dances please.
  • Stringybark Publishing Update : Here are the books I received as Bookpack 1 of short story anthologies with all profits going to organisations assisting our native animals.

Stringybark & Short Stories

Stringybark Publishing is an Australian bespoke publishing house in operation since 2010. No, I am not sleeping with anyone within management, nor do I have any monetary affiliations within the organisation.

To be honest, it was only within the last twelve months and my retirement that I took any interest in short stories which is the area in which Stringybark Publishing specialises. Someone once said “A short story is the ideal place for a first meeting, a bit like making the first date for coffee rather than a meal.”

Stringybark Stories encourages Australian and international writers to create and share stories by running regular short story writing competitions throughout each year with a variety of themes. And no, this is not my area of expertise though my appreciation of tales with a decidedly Australian flavour has certainly been fuelled by my recent visits to country townships and a better understanding and appreciation of our unique history. See here for further details: https://www.stringybarkstories.net/index.html

Up until the end of February Stringybark Stories have on offer a choice of two Summer Reading Bushfire Packs containing six different anthologies of short stories written as part of past writing competitions. These cost $29.95 each and include postage within Australia.

ALL PROFITS from these sales will be donated in equal amounts to WIRES Wildlife Information and Rescue Service to assist with the immediate needs of Australian wildlife and Bush Heritage Australia (https://www.bushheritage.org.au/ ) to help protect biodiversity into the future.

I’m not a rampant consumer ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn) and I don’t participate in online shopping ( unless the product involves Errol Flynn). But, WOW!

* Bushfire Update: As a nation we do adversity really well. We rally, support and assist each other. We thrive in times of major dramas. It’s what we do best. We also proportion blame, bitch like six year old girls in the school yard, and carry on like chooks with our heads cut off. Move on kiddies. Pull up those Big Girl Panties and keep moving forward regardless of your politics. “ It will be okay in the end, otherwise it’s not the end.”

** New Participants in competitions most welcome.

And if you have an interest in writing competitions, WOW again.

NY, Errol and Bushfires

Just over twelve months ago my first task upon retirement was to head to the New South Wales South Coast, my old stomping ground and source of many wonderful memories.

It was an opportunity to revisit this part of the world as well as reconnect with two beautiful lasses who played a major role in my life some forty five years beforehand.

Highway along South Coast

The beautiful south coast has been under siege for days. New Years Eve saw the residents and holidaymakers of one coastal township flee to the beach for safety from the raging bushfires. The battle continues with the navy enlisted to relocate people to safer shores.

My South Coast

So frightening, so compelling, so awful. I had to switch off the tele for some respite from the news.

Thinking of one of those childhood friends I put the same Errol Flynn DVD that we watched together just twelve months earlier. * Errol, chocolate, and pink champagne – what a way to spend a day together.

Again. Again.

This beautiful friend still has no power connected and sleeps on the couch watching for embers. Two houses in her street were lost to the fires and despite a call to evacuate this brave, headstrong woman chose to stay and defend. Vision impaired and a widow. No snowflake this lass.

My other friend still has no power. Food and fuel are low, but positivity and kindness are abundant. She can’t get out of her pocket of the world as the highway could be closed for weeks.

Another heatwave looms this weekend. My thoughts are with those doing it tough, and the firies and emergency service personnel who have been kept on their toes for weeks. To my two gal pals, to a blogger friend with the chocolate labs, and to all those affected……….no words. Just hang in there……..

*I also wanted to share a traumatic scene involving crabs with my daughter which to this day frightens the bejesus out of me and caused lifelong scars. I’m pretty fearless, except for seaweed which is where octopi and crabs lurk. Blame Against All Flags and Reap The Wild Wind and a lack of parental guidance.

But the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and my adrenaline loving child was only interested in recipes utilising crab meat. My neurosis was quickly sideswiped. And yes, my Thai Crab Balls were a success.

Child minding.