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Hanging on by a fingernail

Hanging on by a fingernail
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The interiors of our house are being photographed next week and I thought, misguidedly, that as well as tidying up the joint, it would be a good idea to redecorate two rooms.

The interiors of our house are being photographed next week and I thought, misguidedly, that as well as tidying up the joint, it would be a good idea to redecorate two rooms. Writing this newsletter amid the scaffolding, I’m now questioning that decision. Currently the living room is stuffed full of furniture and piles of books while we paint an adjacent dining room. Upstairs we’re squeezing a wallpaper installation between guests; downstairs another 20 kilos of plums arrive on the doorstep to process, and the accountant is chasing me for paperwork. It’s chaotic: the house is a mess, laundry is piling up and someone is enjoying $200 worth of our groceries that were delivered to their address by mistake. Nothing for dinner aside, I love the madness that a crazy deadline brings. It’s exhilarating, it gets stuff done, and when it’s over I look forward to collapsing on the couch when I can find it. As our wise editor-in-chief said to me this week, “As long as you can hang on by a fingernail you can get through whirlwind times. It's when you fall off that it's trouble.” I am just hanging on by a fingernail, and I couldn’t be happier.

Enjoy your Sunday.

Michelle Crawford Galah Weekly Editor

Sancintya Mohini Simpson. Photo by Sid Coombes (Sica Media) appearing in Tales from Land and Sea.

Wild weather, bananas and the great tinned beetroot shortage

More on renewables We received some thoughtful letters in response to last week’s Galah Weekly news of widespread concern that new renewables projects on farmland are having a negative impact on rural and regional Australia. Lack of consultation and the continuing misconception that “rural Australia is the middle of nowhere” were some of the points raised. It’s been a particularly challenging week in the energy industry, with a mess of power failures after Victoria’s wild weather and a wind turbine starting a fire in South Australia. Amid these big headlines, we were interested in a small story about a sheep farmer in Wellington, NSW, whose flock is thriving under solar panels that provide shade and a consistent quality of feed throughout the year. Read more

Newsletter partner Join the 33rd Orange360 FOOD Week, Orange’s annual regional food and wine festival. With autumnal weather arriving in the NSW central west and a packed program of events (5-14 April), it’s the ideal time to plan a trip. Want to experience all FOOD Week has to offer? Hop aboard the FOOD Train, a three-day guided trip from Sydney to Orange hosted by local foodies and regional hospitality faves. Tickets include access to Forage, the renowned multi-vineyard experience. Discover more

City with No Grandchildren In more news on the regional housing crisis this week, the NSW Productivity Commission warned that Sydney could become the City with No Grandchildren as millennials leave the city in droves in search of affordable housing. This can only exacerbate regional housing shortages. While local authorities in the NSW central west trial a novel “rent-a-spare-room” program, other regional towns including Dubbo are planning small high-rise developments. Read more

Banana and beetroot blues Bananas hit the headlines earlier this week with hopes that a campaign by major supermarkets to promote cyclone-blemished bananas will be a catalyst to change consumer preferences for perfect fruit. But is it consumers demanding perfect produce or is it supermarket driven? Either way, some enterprising uses for imperfect bananas are developing, including distilling bananas to make vodka. By Thursday, it was beetroot making headlines, as news spread that tins of the essential burger ingredient are missing from supermarket shelves. It seems Cyclone Gabrielle decimated Golden Circle’s beetroot farms in New Zealand 12 months ago, and domestic growers weren’t given enough notice to pick up the slack. Fresh beetroot is unaffected, so we’ll have to start pickling our own. Read more

Sturt Gallery on hold It came as a shock to many that one of Australia’s pioneering design centres, Sturt Gallery, owned by the Mittagong girls school Frensham, is pausing operations. The announcement came suddenly, leaving artists creating works for scheduled exhibitions in shock. Sturt was established by Winifred West, Frensham’s founder, and the 80-year-old gallery has made the reputations of many Australian artists and craft makers, as well as staging creative workshops in the community. Later in the week, Sturt announced it would honour exhibitions and residencies until mid-year. Read more


Orange360 is a joint regional tourism initiative between Orange City Council, Blayney Shire Council and Cabonne Council, the three local government areas represented at Orange FOOD Week.

What's on

Jumaadi, Telling Tales (2016), from the exhibition Tales of Land and Sea.

Tales of Land and Sea Three major projects at Bundanon Art Museum explore storytelling, mythological narratives and migration. Feature artists are Jumaadi, Sancintya Mohini Simpson, and Isha Ram Das, and included are works by Arthur Boyd in collaboration with printmaker Indra Deigan. Illaroo, NSW, on 2 March-16 June. Read more

East Coast Harvest Odyssey Known as ECHO, this festival celebrates the traditions of harvest, old and new. Hosted in picturesque wine country on Tasmania’s east coast, this year’s program brings together chefs, winemakers and producers along with artists, musicians, storytellers, scientists, entrepreneurs and thought leaders. At Swansea, on 22-24 March. Read more

Clunes Booktown Festival From dawn to dusk in the historic township of Clunes in regional Victoria, this two-day festival features author and artist talks, workshops and live entertainment. On 25-26 March. Read more

Writers retreat The NT Writers Centre and Campfire of the Heart team up with NT authors Renee McBryde and Dani Powell to offer a weekend writing retreat just outside Mparntwe/Alice Springs. Expect a peaceful weekend of uninterrupted time and space to write in the surroundings of Arrernte country at this fully catered, self-guided writing retreat. On 5-7 April. Read more

Pre-order Galah Issue 09 for Mothers Day

Show Mum that you love her with Galah. Pre-order or subscribe before midnight Thursday 29 February to receive free shipping (a saving of $10).

In Issue 09 you’ll: learn how an amateur musical changed a small town; celebrate the life of master artist John Olsen; chart the Great Regional Migration with Gabrielle Chan; take the plunge with the underwater gardener; read about the late blossoming of an opal-mining artist; talk radical garden design with Kurt Wilkinson; pack the picnic blanket for autumn lunch; get hooked on fly fishing, obsession and mindfulness; discover how building a library can rebuild a life; follow an insider’s travel guide to Orange; make a sea change, with oysters; and, visit the land where chocolate grows on trees.

Subscribers also receive: online access to Galah’s back catalogue of magazine stories; extended regional travel guides; Annabelle’s fortnightly email full of regional ramblings from her pecan farm on the NSW-Queensland border; first dibs on any Galah new releases; and early access to Galah events.

In the flock

Image credit Hannah Puechmarin.

Shannon Garson, artist     

Known for her ethereal ceramic vessels featuring hand-drawn details inspired by nature, Garson also teaches all over Australia and runs boutique group tours that highlight the beauty, creativity and diversity found in regional Australia.

Tell us about where you live? I live in a town called Maleny in Jinibara country on Qld’s Sunshine Coast hinterland. It’s a subtropical rainforest where the silhouettes of mighty bunya pines tower over the canopy, collecting clouds and funnelling moisture down to the dark forest floor. It is a beautiful, artistic little town with creeks full of platypus and views of the Glasshouse Mountains to the sea.

Favourite place to eat and stay in regional Australia? My hometown Maleny is a charming place. Maple Street meanders from east to west, spanning Sapling Textiles, which is bursting with block-printed fabrics from India, and a beautiful new wine bar called Spill. Stay in the rainforest at Spicers Tamarind Retreat, with an excellent restaurant serving Thai-inspired modern food.

What's been absorbing your attention lately? At Beaver Galleries in Canberra, I've just opened an exhibition of moon jars inspired by the rock pools and geology of the Tessellated Pavement at Eaglehawk Neck, Tasmania. Now I'm planning my next Creative Voyage tour in July, which explores the hidden beauty and creative spirit of Maleny. The tour includes a day working with porcelain in my studio, and Trevor (my husband, and cheesemaker at Cedar Street Cheeserie) shows participants mozzarella being made for our lunch. This is an example of the way art, food, music and life are connected through creativity.

What’s something about your profession that you do not understand? Why doesn't everyone use handmade cups? It's an everyday luxury that connects you to artists and enhances your tea.

One last thing

NSW Central Coast surfer Molly Picklum has etched her name in surfing history by becoming the first woman to achieve a perfect 10 at the famous Pipeline surf break in Hawaii. The 21-year-old ultimately lost the heat at the Pipe Masters event but not before making surfing history with her perfect score and defying any notion that Pipeline's waves are too gnarly for female surfers. Women were prohibited from surfing the break competitively until 2020. Watch here