/ 7 min read

Glut instinct

Glut instinct
Wynne Prize 2023 finalist Robyn Sweaney’s Mullum magic, acrylic on canvas, 40.5 x 50.2 cm © the artist, image © Art Gallery of New South Wales, Jenni Carter.
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Welcome to Galah's weekly newsy newsletter, keeping you up-to-date with the regional headlines that matter, as well as a round-up of events around the country.

We’re having zucchini fritters for dinner. Again. The garden is exploding with zukes right now. A few of the buggers have gotten away from me, outgrowing their preferred size of a Cuban cigar to reach Zeppelin-like proportions. I didn’t foresee that all six plants in the tiny punnet I planted in spring would result in such miraculous fecundity.

It’s the glut season right now, my favourite time of year. The fridge is filled with cherries, apricots, yellow plums and greengages, all waiting for attention. In a perfect world they’d all be made into jam, or bottled, pickled or salted, squirrelled away for winter. Given the workload this week, the reality is more likely to be zip-lock bags stuffed with fruit and shoved in the freezer. Either works for me. 

This fruity largesse was gifted by friends with the enviable problem of too much fruit on their hands. I’m reminded of the line from Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal Vegetable Miracle about needing to lock your car door at this time of year, lest someone leaves a box of zucchinis on the passenger seat. This notion is not only giving me ideas to offload my own excess, it’s also advice I’m heeding. But regardless of whether you lock your car or not, when word gets out that you’re happy to take excess produce, boxes often end up left by the back door. When that happens, you’ve just got to go with your glut.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Michelle Crawford, Galah Weekly Editor

George Cooley - Moving Back to Country 2022 Adelaide Biennale of Australian Art 

Turf wars on all fronts

Lorikeets in trouble More than 200 rainbow lorikeets were taken into care around Grafton in northern NSW this week after suddenly becoming paralysed, with more birds in Qld also struck down by the mysterious condition known as lorikeet paralysis syndrome (LPS). The disease strikes mainly between October and June, with the highest number of cases between December and February. Most of the time vets can treat the birds, then they’re given to a carer for rehabilitation before being released into the wild. As if that’s not bad enough bird news, conservation groups are alarmed by the rapid expansion of the introduced Indian myna. Not to be confused with the native noisy miner, the invasive Indian myna's spread from urban to rural areas poses a significant threat to native bird species. By occupying tree hollows and preying on chicks, they disrupt ecosystems and contribute to native bird decline. Read more

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Renewable resistance The NSW government is forging ahead with the construction of high-voltage transmission lines across the state for renewable energy networks. But not everyone’s happy about the idea of rural communities and farmland being transformed into modern-day power stations. Politicians, farmers and residents of rural and coastal regions descended on Canberra this week to argue that construction of new renewables projects was having a negative impact on rural and regional Australia.

However, the State of Australia’s Regions annual report released this week indicates there could be massive regional jobs growth in energy transition. In the next decade, more than 200,000 new jobs and substantial investment are predicted to flow into the regions. Read more

Home sick Regional Australia’s potential is being stifled by severe housing shortages, as regional median house prices catch up with metropolitan levels from just three years ago. The Regional Australia Institute (RAI) says the housing and workforce shortages are hindering growth and the desire of 3.5 million Australians to move out of cities.

The rental market is no better, with vacancies at 1.2% in 2023, down from 1.5% the year before. Fewer than one in four dwellings in regional areas are rentals, compared to one in three in capital cities. The difficulty in finding accommodation is one reason for significant worker shortages in key areas such as medicos, nurses, carers and teachers. And while short-term rentals are easy to blame, the reality is it’s not always the case. At the National Regional Housing Summit in Canberra this week, the RAI stressed the need for smaller dwellings for essential workers, among a raft of other measures. Read more


What's on

Marikit Santiago, Filipiniana (2021) part of the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art.

All eyes on Adelaide It’s full-on festival season here. For the Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art (1 March-2 June), curator José Da Silva has taken the theme of Inner Sanctum and assembled the works of 24 leading artists and poets at the Art Gallery of South Australia. It’s the 18th biennial, the nation’s longest-running survey of contemporary Australian art. Expect free exhibitions of new and recent works, live performances, music and public programs. The biennial is part of the mega Adelaide Festival (1-17 March), which also includes Adelaide Writers’ Week (2-7 March). Read more

Wynne Prize 2023 on tour New England Regional Art Museum (NERAM) in Armidale hosts the next leg of the touring exhibition of Wynne finalists. It’s the first time Australia’s oldest art prize, focused on landscape, has toured regional NSW since its inception more than 125 years ago. Showing in Armidale until 7 April, then at Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, 20 April-16 June. Read more 

Feastival 2024 Head for the mountains. Join a three-day alpine feast of music, art, comedy, and food at Falls Creek, north-east Victoria. At Falls Creek Alpine Resort, 16-18 February. Read more

South West Art Now: A New Constellation Bunbury Regional Art Gallery (BRAG) is gearing up for its biennial exhibition of south-west Australia’s most significant artists. 16 March-21 July. Read more

Galah Issue 09 is available for pre-order

This issue contains multitudes: A man who will build a wing off his house for a taxidermied elephant (roof to be built after install); a completely original, beautiful garden thriving on mould-contaminated soil; two young girls making fishing flies in a cupboard under the stairs for their fishing-mad photographer father. There’s also a nurse saying: “One of the Three Little Pigs rode a big pig one night for fun. He ended up with a lacerated liver.” These are the people and places you’ll meet in Galah issue 09: Growth.

It’s our best issue yet.

We’ve just chosen the cover and soon, after a few finishing touches, it’ll be on its way to the printers.

It's an ideal Mother’s Day gift – mothers really love Galah – but may we suggest you also buy it for yourself. It’s that good.

All subscriptions and Issue 09 pre-orders placed before midnight Thursday 29 February receive free shipping (a saving of $10).

Subscribers also receive: 

In the flock

Max Brearley, food writer and editor

The love of a good story lies at the heart of Brearley’s writing about the Australian food and wine scene, agriculture, and occasionally stories further afield. As well as his newsletter Between Meals, he writes regularly for the likes of delicious, The Guardian, and he’s the contributing editor for the WA Good Food Guide

Where do you live and work? I live and work on Wadandi Boodja, the Margaret River region of WA. Moving from London in 2012, I spent only a short time in Perth. Regional life called. People told me that “being regional” would damage my career. If anything, it became an important point of difference. I always felt that the country or coast was my destination. Here, I get both.

Where’s the best place to eat and stay in regional Australia? Glenarty Road near Karridale is my local - true farm-to-table dining. Dahl Daddys in Margaret River is an amazing curry kiosk next to the skate park. At Alberta’s in Busselton, owners Ben and Kirsty have shaped what they regard as an atelier more than a restaurant. I wish I lived closer. To stay, the Petit Eco Cabin at Windows Estate.

What’s been absorbing your attention lately? My newsletter, Between Meals. It’s provided freedom as a writer, and I try to protect time for writing it. I’m plotting a huge change: creating a market-garden-cum-who-knows-what. My vision is early mornings in the garden, afternoons at the desk, and knocking off early. No doubt the journey will play out at Between Meals.

What’s a story you often tell yourself? It took age and a little bit of therapy, but I constantly remind myself that what I do isn’t who I am. I define myself by my values, how I live life, and my relationships. 

Who’s a regional person you admire? Artist Sarah Hewer. Handy, because we’re married. When Sarah told me she was exhibiting for the first time, I couldn’t quite picture her artistic vision. When I first saw the large-scale work hung in a friend’s winery I was in awe. She inspires me every day.

One last thing

There's a touch of hometown pride sparked by this ingenious riverside spit-roast invention that went viral this week. At a campground in the Huon Valley in southern Tasmania, a local discovered a remarkable sight on the rocky riverbank: a water-powered spit roast. This makeshift water wheel is crafted from yellow and blue thongs attached to sticks powering a spit loaded with assorted meats cooking over an open fire. Heading there now. Read more