WOMEN OVER 50 – what shall we call ourselves?

 

Let’s start by listing what other people call us, we women over 50 – matron, old lady, granny, biddy, old bag, crone, hag, witch, are some of the names used.

There is nothing positive about these appellations. They are either neutral or negative.

They denote weakness, ugliness, helplessness and even evil.

They constitute a massive put down.

In a society that values women primarily for their youthful beauty, sexual and reproductive powers, the more we age, the more we lose value. Our currency as women is devalued.

Until we become invisible.

Ask around and hear how many older women will tell you they feel invisible. Discarded.

Men gain gravitas and authority as they age, women are enfeebled and disappear from the

public stage.

This does not reflect our true role in society.

Nor does it reflect who we women are and how we see ourselves.

We are a powerful force not only in the lives of our families, but also in the general community.

We include millions of women, the first generation in history, to have higher education.

We are the first generation of women in history who, en masse, entered the professions and         an unprecedented range of occupations.

We are the first generation in history to have spent decades in the workforce – full-time and

part-time.

All this while raising and/or caring for families – children, partners and parents.

We have a lifetime of expertise, skills, experience and knowledge.

And we just happen to be the largest demographic group in Australia.

There is power in our numbers.

It’s time for us to demand that older women be more visible and play a more prominent role in society. The campaign to have more women in leadership positions must include not only young women, but also older women. Older women should be present in all levels of government, on boards and in the media.

Older women must also be more involved in making policy and dealing with the critical issues facing women as we age – senior entrepreneurship, ageism in the workplace, poverty, homelessness, innovative housing and social solutions, aged care and elder abuse.

The existing approaches to an ageing population are outdated and collapsing.  And the political establishment has little awareness and no commitment to tackling these issues.

A good starting point is proper recognition and acknowledgement of the critical roles

women have played and continue to play. It’s time we got, what Aretha Franklin demanded –           R-E-S-P-E-C-T. As well as more decision-making P-O-W-E-R.

Changing the names we are called may begin to change the way we are perceived.

We should get to decide how we define ourselves and what we are called.

Earlier feminists didn’t want to be defined by their marital status so Mrs. and Miss were changed successfully to Ms as a form of address.

WomanGoingPlaces likes the appellation Matriarchs. It denotes respected status, power, wisdom, leadership and knowledge.  ‘A powerful and usually older woman in charge of a family, or the female leader of a society in which women hold power’ is the definition of Matriarchs given by the Cambridge Dictionary.

Nice.

We’d love to hear your suggestions of what you would like to be called and how you would like to be described. Go to our FACEBOOK page and join the discussion.

 

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Photo: Maye Musk 68 year-old model Matthew Priestley/W Magazine

 

Michelle Garnaut – My Top 5 Places in Australia

For centuries, empires, governments and global companies have vied with each other in displays of wealth, grandeur and power along the Bund in Shanghai. For close to a quarter of a century, one Australian woman has maintained her position on the Bund with no power other than the power of her reputation.

Michelle Garnaut AO, the CEO of the M Restaurant Group, has established restaurants and lounges that have pioneered independent fine dining in both China and Hong Kong.

M on the Bund, the restaurant she opened in 1999, has won numerous awards and was named one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World by Conde Nast Traveler. Michelle herself has garnered Australian and international recognition. This year, she was awarded an AO for distinguished service to Australia-China relations as a restauranteur and entrepreneur, and for her support of literary and cultural programs.

In 2009 Michelle opened Capital M in Beijing with its breathtaking terrace overlooking Tiananmen Square. And in 2016 she added Glam, a dining lounge and bar in Shanghai.

Her clientele includes royalty, government and business leaders, diplomats, celebrities and the media.

As an entrepreneur, Michelle has had the daring, skill and tenacity to successfully establish and sustain several enterprises in China – a feat that has defeated many foreign companies seeking to do business in China.

 

View from the terrace M on the Bund

M on the Bund

When Michelle began looking for a place in Shanghai to open her first restaurant in China, the Bund in the 1990s was not the glamorous, glitzy and spectacular strip it is today.

“The Bund was shabby then. Everyone told me to open in the French Concession, the more fashionable area of Shanghai where all the 5-star restaurants and bars were,”  remembers Michelle.

Nevertheless, she went against conventional wisdom and made what looked like a crazy investment in taking a 15-year lease on the 7th floor of a 1930’s Art Deco building on the Bund, overlooking the Huangpu river. This view would later be described by her diners as “ the most amazing skyline in the world.”

M on the Bund was Shanghai’s first independent, international standard restaurant, and it was an immediate hit. Michelle created her own niche with her distinctive combination of ambience, decor, and contemporary cuisine, including some Australian favourites such as M’s Very Famous Pavlova.

“We were in the right place at the right time with the right thing.”

Glam M Restaurants

Starting Out

Michelle Garnaut became a chef and restauranteur almost by accident. She had grown up in Melbourne, gone to Elwood High School, dropped out of Uni and headed off to Greece, because it was the cheapest ticket she could afford. She went by herself “ because I had no-one to go with.” After a year there she returned to Melbourne.

While flipping through a William Angliss Institute handbook, trying to find something to do, she spotted a course for a diploma in catering, cooking and hospitality. She and her 80-year old aunt, whom she describes as her role model, decided to do the course together. Surprisingly, she discovered “ I actually really liked cooking. And they said “you’ve got talent.”

But after completing the course it  was very hard to break into the profession in Australia. Women were not allowed to work in kitchens in many hotels and restaurants at that time. “Women had to fight much more back then. Today women feel they have the right and that is progress,” says Michelle.

Michelle Garnaut with staff of M on the Bund

 

Hong Kong

In 1984 she flew to Hong Kong. When she arrived she had no connections, she did not speak Chinese, and she was a woman  in a field overwhelmingly dominated by men. Yet by 1989, after working as a dishwasher, waitress, chef and caterer, she borrowed money and opened her first restaurant – M on the Fringe.

Here too she took a risk and went against conventional wisdom.

“When we opened in 1989 we had a new concept- a new style of restaurant. We opened in a nightclub area instead of the usual fuddy-duddy hotel area, and it was very successful “ says Michelle.

“When I opened the restaurant in Hong Kong I decided I didn’t want to be the chef. I could either be managing the business and dealing with customers or running the kitchen. I couldn’t do both. I did cook in the beginning because we were short-staffed. But I needed to be in charge,” she said.

Michelle developed her signature style of good food, chic and comfort in M on the Fringe and it remained one of Hong Kong’s best loved restaurants for 20 years, closing in 2009. Capital M in Beijing which had become a favourite destination, had to close this year, unable to cope with the restrictions placed on its location overlooking Tiananmen Square. It will be moving to another location in the capital.

Cultural & Artistic Hubs

Chamber Music at M Glam June 2017

Alongside running the M Restaurant Group, Michelle has vigorously supported the arts, the community and the empowerment of women.

Michelle opened up the M venues to function as cultural and artistic hubs.

She initiated the Shanghai International Literary Arts Festival, now in its 16th year. Over 1,000 of the world’s leading writers and thinkers have held talks and salons in her venues in Shanghai and Beijing. M on the Bund will host the 2018 Shanghai International Literary Arts Festival in March. The Festival will include Stella Prize winners and other leading Australian authors including Alexis Wright, Charlotte Wood, Fiona Wright and Richard Flanagan.

Michelle also sponsors the M Literary Residency Program that has provided residency in China and India for writers.

The M venues also host the Shanghai Chamber Music Festival and Competition that gives music students an invaluable opportunity to perform before discerning audiences, and provides a platform for chamber music in the city.

Village People Project

Far from Shanghai, along the old Silk Road in the arid, remote villages of Shaanxi and Gansu provinces, is where Michelle has set up projects with the local communities.

“Living and working in China I wanted to do something that was not just restaurants. There is enormous rural poverty and I wanted to work with women and children there. The lack of access to bathing facilities in poor rural areas leads to great physical and mental problems,“ says Michelle.

Michelle was a founder of the Village People Project, dedicated to building solar-powered bathhouses that are then run as businesses by local families. Four bathhouses have been opened.

Now the Village People Project is working to install bathrooms with solar-powered water heaters in the homes of more than 2,000 families in Qinghai Province.

“We want to provide solar panels to everyone in the village and help individuals to build their own household bathroom. It is a communal project with 3 out of the 5 committee members being women. It empowers the local women,” says Michelle.

Her commitment to empower women has also been behind her support of two other projects.

Mentor Walks

Michelle spearheaded  Mentor Walks in Shanghai and Beijing and they have now spread to Australia in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and even Wagga Wagga.

Once a month, women Mentors from a range of professions, take a walk with women starting out in business and the professions. Each Mentor, with 3-4 mentees in tow walks, chats and answers any questions they may have. Michelle was inspired to set up these walks because she heard from women that they remembered snippets of advice she had given them over the years.

“You get snippets that resonate with you and stay with you,” says Michelle. “I think it’s very important for all women to encourage and mentor the next generation. I laid the groundwork in my industry and I’m happy to share that with anyone who wants to learn from it.”

Participant in Educating Girls of Rural China program

Educating Girls In Rural China

Mentor Walks raises money for important project for girls and young women in China called Educating Girls of Rural China . Traditional attitudes valuing boys over girls still prevail in these areas and consequently, many families only educate the boys.

EGRC supports girls from impoverished rural regions in Western China to attend high school and get university education by providing financial sponsorship, personal support and mentorship.

To date, 842 girls from the poorest regions of China have been supported to attend high school and university with a 99% graduation rate.

Work & Happiness

“To be happy you must have 2 of 3 things — passion, prestige or payment,” advises Michelle.

“If you want to start a business, work is your life. You have to love your work and live your life in it.  All of that has made my life interesting,” says Michelle.

“You gotta keep doing things. Gotta keep making things happen. You have to be determined.”

 

Michelle’s Top 5 Places

 

Sydney N.S.W

Sydney Harbour

Sydney is so beautiful!  It’s the water and the hills. And the flora.

I was 19 when I first went. It’s wilder than Melbourne. Rocks with houses built on top, glimpses of beauty wherever you look. Always glimpses of the beautiful harbour.

I live in Hong Kong and that’s what I love – those flashes of beauty.

 

Mornington Peninsula Victoria

Mornington Peninsula – morpen.vic.gov.au

I’ve lived in cities all my life. When I was growing up in Melbourne I had friends with a holiday house at Balnarring beach. It was half-wild but also half-tame there.

I find the parts of Australia that are half-wild, half-tame enormously appealing. There are parts where you’re coming through a dark forest and then it opens on to a view of the beach.

The Mornington Peninsula is so dramatically beautiful. And now there are the vineyards and the food there.

 

Jervis Bay N.S.W

Hyams Beach, Jervis Bay NSW – australia.com

I stayed with a friend who has a house in Hyams Beach. There are spectacular cliffs on the other side of Jervis bay with walking trails. I love walking, but not climbing mountains. We walked along the cliffs and came down to the beach, did yoga and then found coffee.

I haven’t lived in Oz for 40 years, so when I am back it’s a mad, frantic visit to the cities to catch up with people, with some visits to beautiful places like Hyams.

 

Melbourne Victoria

Melbourne skyline – David Zycher  womangoingplaces.com.au

Melbourne to me is a place of family, of memories. It is a complex place. It also has a darker side, compared to Sydney which is a lighter city.

I left Melbourne in 1978 because I felt closed in. I went back for a year ( to do the hospitality course) and then left again.

But Melbourne has changed since I went to Elwood High School.

It has changed as dramatically as China has.

It is staggeringly beautiful and has amazing culture. It has all the variety of a big city. Its true multi-culturalism is fantastic.

I like the cultural side, the theatre and the food. But Melbourne is snobby about food.

 

Train journey across the Nullarbor Plain from South Australia to Western Australia

Indian Pacific 2 crossing Nullarbor Plain – australian-trains.com

In 2000, I took the train tip across the Nullarbor Plain by myself and it was incredible!

It took 2 nights and 3 days. I ended up in Perth.

There is a common myth of that the Nullarbor plain is flat and boring.

Yes, it’s flat, but fantastic and fascinating. There is this vastness.

You don’t  get bored – yes, it’s the same scrub land, but you don’t get bored.

Before the train trip, I drove from Adelaide to Ceduna in South Australia which is the last town on the border before the Nullarbor Plain. I had a good friend there who was doing an enormous cooking performance as part of the Adelaide Festival. I helped out.

We were doing oysters on the beach and feeding 1500 people.

You can fly into Ceduna to get to Streaky Bay where you can eat Streaky Bay oysters – absolutely fantastic!

 

 

 

Rosie Batty – My Top 5 Places in Australia

Rosie Batty made Australia listen.

Her son, Luke aged 11, was with his father playing cricket in the park when his father walked over to him and killed him. Speaking quietly from the depths of her horror, Rosie said “ No matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are, it can happen to anyone – and everyone.”

In expressing her personal grief, Rosie compelled us to see that family violence was our business. She made us see that the plight of thousands of women and children could one day be our plight, or that of someone close to us.

The numbers are indeed frightening: in Australia, two women are killed every week on average; almost 1,000 cases of child abuse are reported every day; one woman is hospitalised every 3 hours; and one in 3 women have experience physical and/or sexual violence.

Rosie has described family violence as an “epidemic”.

On what would have been his 13th birthday on 20 June, 2015, Rosie established the Luke Batty Never Alone Foundation to raise awareness, improve crisis services and advocate on behalf of the victims.

Earlier this year, Rosie joined the Aboriginal Alice Springs Town Camp in their Women’s March Against Domestic Violence.  “I’m very keen to support this group of women who are working in their community and ensuring the voices of Aboriginal women are heard.”

Rosie has spearheaded a public campaign and presented the Prime Minister, lawmakers, the police and judiciary with tens of thousands of signatures urging fundamental change in the way the system responds to family violence.

“The conversations around family violence are definitely occurring now, compared with previous generations. Those women had no-one to talk to or lean on. The attitude was ‘ you made your bed, now lie in it’. There is still much misunderstanding and victim blaming, but I am being told by women that they have more confidence to come forward,” said Rosie. “It will take time but I see it as the kind of generational change we need.”

Rosie worked closely with Fiona Richardson the first Victorian Minister for Family Violence Prevention, on the Royal Commission into Family Violence which delivered its report on March 2016. Ms. Richardson died recently and Rosie paid tribute to her as both a mentor and a friend.

“I wouldn’t be where I am now without her love and belief in me. And I wouldn’t have been able to do what I have been able to do without the practical support she made available to me in so many ways.”

Rosie & Luke Batty

In 2015, Rosie Batty was recognised as Australian of the Year.

“If I can be seen as a leader of women, even if I don’t feel it myself, as someone who can create change in their mid-50s, it’s what I want to do,” says Rosie.

In July this year, she delivered a statement to a parliamentary inquiry into family law and family violence. Her statement, which received 11,000 signatures in 7 days, decried the federal family law system for endangering children in particular.

“The family law system is another avenue for the abuse to continue,” insists Rosie. She condemns the practice of the courts to grant abusive parents access to the children. “The children are absolutely forced to have access visits and forced to continue relationships. Their mothers have to drag them to the car where they self harm and are suicidal. And the mother is threatened that if she doesn’t allow it she will lose (custody of) the child.…So she has to give them up and hope that each weekend they come home safe and are not killed like my son was.” [See the full video below of Rosie Batty’s appearance before the parliamentary inquiry].

Rosie came to Australia from England 30 years ago, not expecting to stay. She was shy and alone and she wanted to challenge herself through travel. One of her earliest memories is of being 16 and not wanting to get to 80 with regret for not doing things and “not pushing myself out of my comfort zone”.

Her grandmother, an incredibly strong woman who lived to 100, was her role model.

Rosie stayed in Australia after Luke’s death because “Australia has been supportive and kind to me.”

She is determined not to just sit and exist. Her mindset is to “live life to the fullest. There is still that sense of adventure and the unexpected ahead of me and I will keep doing that as long as I can.”

See Rosie’s choices of her favourite destinations in Australia.

Rosie’s Top 5 Places

 

Cape Tribulation, Queensland

Cape Tribulation Queensland

I was 24 years old when I first arrived in Australia from England. I back-packed up the east coast. When I got to Cape Tribulation, I worked as a cleaner in a hostel. Coming from England I couldn’t believe how remote and isolated it was. Really remote. It’s where unique, ancient rainforest meets reef. It’s difficult to find somewhere else in the world as stunningly beautiful as it is.

There were crocodiles and jellyfish, and you couldn’t put a toe in the water.

There were no sealed roads then, and 4-wheel drives and the ferry were the only way in or out. You didn’t have the comforts you take for granted, no electricity, just a generator.

It was incredibly humid. But if you go July – September it is the most beautiful weather – very comfortable, not humid. Even though the roads are sealed now, it is still remote.

I like lots of different types of holidays – the hustle and bustle of cities but also to be far away in nature, remote, tuned out, embracing the beauty.

Australia is incomparable in beauty and still so remote.

Larapinta Trail, Northern Territory

Larapinta Trail trek with Rosie Batty

In August, I led a dozen supporters on a six-day fundraising walk for the Luke Batty Never Alone Foundation, along Australia’s most iconic desert trek, the Larapinta Trail.  Already one of the 7 Great Walks of Australia, the Larapinta Trail recently joined the ranks of the top 10 walks in the entire world.

I think that the Australian Outback is quintessentially Australian in a way suburban and metro areas aren’t. It is amazing and beautiful. We live in a large continent and don’t take the time to explore and appreciate its beauty. It is so evident how old Australia is when you see the rocks. You get transported back in time.

I didn’t realise it until we started the Larapinta walk, but all the participants were all living with the impact of family violence – whether it was a family member, a friend, or their own personal experience. It was a deeply moving realisation. We felt confident to share our experiences and it was comforting.

The purpose of the walk was both to raise money for the Foundation and to give these people an opportunity to do something physically challenging, and something for themselves – to take time out to sit under the stars. I have done several treks, others on the walk hadn’t and it was very challenging.

The Larapinta walk came close to raising $30,000 for the Luke Batty Foundation and that’s a significant achievement.

Broome, West Australia

Cape Leveque Western Australia

Broome is a long way away, but you’re not doing it tough when you get there.

The restaurants and resorts are stunning, and I had some of the best meals I have ever tasted. You can sit having a drink while watching the sunset and the camels coming back along the beach. While there, I was shown footprints of dinosaurs.

Looking down from plane on the way to Cape Leveque  you see a vast expanse of untamed beaches. You see crocodiles, but you see no-one, just a beautiful uninhabited place, remote and untouched. You have to understand the terrain, it’s risks and dangers.

Compared to England which is small with nothing dangerous, and where you are always surrounded by people, in Australia everything is big and dangerous. You have a pioneering feeling, a feeling of adventure.

I love that in Australia we can go to so many vast places and have limited contact with people, where you are not queuing up, not milling around and surrounded.

 

Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

Wilsons Promontory National Park, Victoria

My greatest memory was of spending a week there with my brother.

We camped and went on long walks every day, stunning walks. I love walking. We saw everything, stingrays, koalas, wombats, kangaroos.

If you go at dusk you are guaranteed to see as many kangaroos as you ever could see. And stunning beaches – it’s just such a beautiful place, one of those gems. And not too far from Melbourne.

 

Sydney, NSW

Sydney is a fabulous city – so vibrant and beautiful. On a sunny day, with blue skies and views of Sydney harbour and Opera House, it is hard to find a better or more stunning city. I have climbed the bridge 3 times. I always take relatives and visitors from overseas to Sydney. It’s just vibrant and busy – lots of lovely restaurants with harbour views. I love the Rocks, the setting is lovely.

Sydney Opera House and Harbour

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Rosie Batty’s statement to a parliamentary inquiry into family law and family violence – July 24th 2017

 

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We, the Matriarchs…

We, the Matriarchs… are the first generation in history of older, highly educated women to number in the tens of millions.

We are the first ever generation of older women who have spent decades in the workforce in professions and skilled employment, and not in the sweatshops and the fields.

We are the first ever generation of older women who have accumulated independent wealth and economic clout, despite discriminatory wage practices.

And we are the first ever generation of older women who can expect to live into their 90s.

But now we are entering the age of retirement.

What next? What does society expect of us?

Well, nothing really. We are the most invisible segment of the population. If they see us at all we are only seen as stereotypes – kindly grannies, old hags, frail spinsters or old biddies selfishly occupying homes that could better be used by young families. I went to a luncheon for International Women’s Day attended by over 400 women. So little was expected of this large congregation of women that the only sponsor was a funeral home.

The Last Frontier of Feminism

Over the last decades, feminists have addressed the issues in the life cycles of girls and women – contraception, abortion, education and workplace equality, child-care etc . But only now are we feminists of the ‘60s hitting our own 60s. Only now are we ourselves facing the problems of older women and experiencing the magnitude of the discrimination.

Women ageing is the last frontier of feminism.

A National Asset

Older women are seen as a national liability, whereas in fact, we are a national asset.

We are actually the fastest growing sector of the Australian population, we have significant spending power as a group, and remarkably we are a key driving force in the creation of start-up enterprises. More older women are creating new businesses in the US, England and Australia than cool young males.

We are society’s unlikely innovators. Creating new enterprises, re-inventing ourselves and re-defining how women age.

And we have had to take matters into our own hands and find our own way because there are no good roadmaps for women ageing in contemporary society. Society offers us few options. Thirty years is a long time to babysit the grandchildren, garden or play golf.

Instead, we see the coming years as a considerable period in our working lives uninterrupted by child bearing and rearing. Years in which to deploy a lifetime of experience and expertise. We enjoy using our highly developed talents and skills, but few employers are willing to give us work.

“Like kryptonite to Superman”, ageism is a huge barrier to female employment, notes the incomparable Kathy Lette.

Senior Women Entrepreneurs

Undaunted, many women over 50 have taken to the internet in mass numbers and are setting up our own enterprises. Astonishingly, baby boomers are expected to contribute an additional $11.9 billion to Australia’s GDP, specifically by starting online businesses. The numbers of male and female entrepreneurs are roughly equal at present, but Dr. Alex Maritz, Professor of Entrepreneurship LaTrobe University predicts a surge in women senior entrepreneurs.

Vulnerable Older Women

Older women continue to work, not only because we can and want to, but also out of necessity. We all know how precarious the situation is for many older women, particularly those in their sixties and older with limited or non-existent incomes.

We were the generation that worked decades before super was introduced. Then there are the cumulative effects of a lifetime of discrimination: lower pay than men because women were not “ the main breadwinner”; part-time work; lower paid professions and the exclusion from the top professional and business levels. Add to this, the years out of the workforce to have children and look after family members. Re-entry to the workforce then becoming either impossible or with reduced pay.

Since statistically, women live longer than men and only 15% will have their husband alive when they die, most women will lose the couples’ pension. Living on one pension with the government relentlessly chipping away at it, is forcing women to sell their homes.

With pensions cut and no jobs available for older women, not surprisingly, in the past five years, there has been a 44% increase in older women becoming homeless.

I am reminded of a film I saw about a Japanese man taking his ageing mother on his back up a mountain to leave her there to die. That was a traditional way of dealing with ageing women.

Older Womanpower

We must speak out against our government’s policy of impoverishing older women.

But we must not frame the discussion around older women solely in terms of helplessness and national liability.

We must provide opportunities for older women to earn an income in dignity and speak out against ageism in employment.

Not all women want to open up their own businesses, but the many that do must be given the legislative support, funding and incentives provided to the start-ups of younger people.

Australia has an enormous reserve of skilled womanpower that we cannot afford to waste.

And we older women, don’t want to live this part of our lives in the straitjacket of society’s expectations.

That is the mandate of WomanGoingPlaces. To showcase the older women of Oz in all our rich variety, wisdom, strength and accomplishments.

 

Photo – Professor Lyn Slater- accidental icon.com

Maureen Wheeler – My Top 5 Places In Australia

Maureen Wheeler AO is a pioneer of landmark enterprises in both travel and in the cultural life of Melbourne.

She was the co-founder, with her husband Tony, of Lonely Planet books – guides as indispensable to travellers as their backpacks and suitcases. Lonely Planet volumes, translated into many languages, significantly contributed to the popularisation of travel worldwide.

Maureen was also the co-founder of the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne. This centre for books, writing and ideas played a critical role in Melbourne achieving its status as a UNESCO designated City of Literature in 2008. And in less than a decade since it was established, the Wheeler Centre has become one of the most dynamic features of this city.

“We wanted to create something that didn’t exist before. We came up with the idea of lectures, talks, big events, most of it free,” says Maureen. Their endowment makes much of it free to the public. Acknowledging its staff Maureen says, “The Wheeler Centre really delivers for Melbourne. It’s like you filled a hole that you didn’t know existed.”

Lonely Planet 1975 South-East Asia on a Shoestring

Lonely Planet Publications began in the 1970s because Maureen and Tony, as a young couple, loved to travel but could not afford it. In working out ingenious ways of seeing the world on a shoestring, they built a publishing empire. Lonely Planet reached its apogee 40 years later when it had become the world’s largest independent guidebook publisher and was sold in 2011 to the BBC for $224 million.

Maureen, who was originally from Belfast, Ireland, says that when Lonely Planet started “it was like a hobby. We would travel and do a book, sell it, then travel and do another book. It was just Tony and I for the first 9 years. We worked out of our house. We did everything. So we learnt on the job. How to put a book together, how to sell it, invoice it, how to pack it and how to take it down to the docks and put it on the ships. I used to drive around town in a station wagon dropping off books in bookstores.”

 

The Wheelers travelled with their children Tashi and Kieran when they were small, but once they started school, Tony continued to travel while Maureen stayed with them and managed the business.  “By the time I realised I was a businesswoman, I had been one for a very long time. It’s a big learning process. It isn’t always that you get it right. You make mistakes. You work it out somehow.”

Lonely Planet grew very slowly in the 80s and that is when it went from being a hobby to being a business. “But it took another 10 years. In 1984 we had about 12 people. We moved to the United States and set up an office there which was an incredibly bold things to do because various Australian publishers had tried to make it in America but had failed. No one believed that a company with 12 people would succeed. And it was hard for a couple of years.” Then an office was opened in France and partnerships were developed around the world in different languages. By the 1990s, they had more than 700 staff around the world.

With the growing success of Lonely Planet, Maureen and Tony set up the Lonely Planet Foundation in 1987 to give 10% of their profits to NGOs in famine relief, maternal and child welfare, micro-financing for women’s groups, education, clean water and hospitals. Maureen ran the Foundation for 20 years until they sold Lonely Planet books. Then the Foundation became the Planet Wheeler Foundation. Her daughter Tashi has taken over day-to-day involvement with the projects, but Maureen still gets monthly reports and is involved in decision-making on which projects to fund.

Maureen is now in her second year as Chair of the Melbourne Festival. Planning the Festival presents a challenge because Melbourne has so many cultural events. “The idea is not to compete, but to bring things to Melbourne that are amazing, incredibly exciting and that people wouldn’t get to see otherwise. So it’s about finding those events that people will go ‘Wow’ and talk about years later,” she says.

The Melbourne Theatre Company, the Malthouse Theatre, and opera also occupy a lot of her time. And in addition, she and Tony continue to be involved in publishing as partners in award-winning Text Publishing, a Melbourne-based independent publisher.

In 2014, Maureen and Tony Wheeler were awarded the Order of Australia.

 

Maureen’s Top Places

When I think about what’s really special about Australia, I think of these three regions:

The Kimberley

Kimberely Coastal Camp

I love the Kimberley region. It’s not a particular place in the Kimberley region. I love that area, I think it’s beyond beautiful.

There’s a place up there, the Kimberley Coastal Camp which I love. The Kimberley region is quite large and you’re either driving, camping or flying, and staying in really lovely places. Not a lot of places to stay. I do like Broome. Broome’s rather an interesting town. The Kimberley area is so stunningly beautiful. The colour is amazing. There is amazing rock art. I feel stunned by the beauty.

Dinosaur Footprints Broome WA – australiasnorthwest.com

 

The Northern Territory

I like the Northern Territory. I was on the (NT Tourism) Board up there for a couple of years and I got to travel around quite a lot, and there are some amazing things to see there. There’s a place out of Katherine,  canyons, and you can’t get there except by helicopter, and it has the most amazing rock art. It’s a fascinating area.

Aboriginal rock art sites in Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory – Tony Wheeler

 

Turtles & Fish Aboriginal rock art sites in Arnhem Land in Australia’s Northern Territory – Tony Wheeler

The Northern Territory is a really interesting place. I’ve seen Darwin change over the years. It’s not an Australian town, it’s a Pacific town. It reminds me of all the towns on the Pacific islands, it’s got that feel to it. It doesn’t feel as if it belongs to the rest of Australia. It’s quite diverse. It’s been interesting over the years to see the diversity of the population increase. When I first went up there were nearly all white people and now there are a lot of Chinese and Indians, backpackers going through from everywhere. So Darwin is an interesting city and what interested me was that it was the wild frontier for quite a while.

The Northern Territory has the most stunning colour. It’s very vivid, very red. The Kimberley is more blues and greys and greens. And the Northern Territory is very stark, very red, very blue skies and so much emptiness. You feel that it’s empty. And of course it extends down to Alice Springs and Uluru and up towards Katherine. Kakadu in the wet season is just wonderful, it’s beautiful. So again its scenery, the landscape is fantastic.

Beswick Falls, Katherine, NT – australia.com

 

Tasmania

I love Tasmania. I first went to Tasmania back in the 70s, and we drove around. I was also on the Tasmanian (Tourist) Board for six years in the 90s. I went down seven times a year, and I got to see an awful lot of Tasmania. And then I kept going back. I love Tasmania, I think it’s fabulous. I even love flying in. It reminds me a bit of Ireland. I love travelling around Tasmania. It’s so beautiful and there is so much to see, and now that they’ve got MONA in Hobart, that’s even better. I love Stanley, a beautiful little village on the north-west. I’ve been there quite a few times.

Stanley Tasmania – exploreaustralia.net.au

 

I like the walks – I’ve done the Bay of Fires, and I’ve done the Overland Trek, and I’ve done the Maria Island Trek, and I’ve done the Freycinet Trek. And the area around Coles Bay is absolutely gorgeous. And I love Hobart, I think it’s a great little town. Out of Hobart you’ve got places like Richmond, it’s just very pretty. And I love Bruny Island, That’s a great place to really get away.  Tasmania has changed over the years but it hasn’t changed so much, and places like Hobart have changed for the better. I think it’s fabulous, just a great little island with everything. It’s pretty, nice little villages, wonderful walks, a very interesting town Hobart and the history too.

Richmond Tasmania – tasmania.australiafoteveryone.com.au

 

Melbourne

Melbourne is great. Sydney is very lovely, but Melbourne is probably much more dynamic than Sydney in terms of what’s offered culturally.

Melbourne skyline – David Zycher

 

Tips for Travellers:

Take very little luggage and a large credit card.

 

 

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音乐大师西蒙娜•杨最心仪的澳大利亚五大旅游胜地 – Maestro Simone Young – My Top 5 Places in Australia

 

获得澳大利亚勋章的音乐大师西蒙娜•杨是世界顶尖歌剧和交响乐演奏团指挥家之一。她在指挥台上的优雅、游刃有余的力度及超强的敏锐度让她享有“超级指挥家”的美誉,也启发了她的交响乐团。她非常善于演绎瓦格纳、施特劳斯、马勒、布鲁克纳、布拉姆斯及一些现代作曲家的作品。

Maestro Simone Young - photo Klaus Lefebvre

Maestro Simone Young – photo Klaus Lefebvre

人们很容易回想起来著名指挥家的形象,也有很多传奇人物深深印在了大众的心中。但是其中女性指挥家却寥寥无几。在为数不多的女性指挥家中,Alondra de la Parra是这样评价西蒙娜•杨的,“当她站在国际的指挥台上时,她便在荒原中开辟出了一条路。”

Maestro Simone Young

Maestro Simone Young

用西蒙娜•杨自己的话来说,她出身在悉尼的一个非音乐世家,这个在曼利小岛的海滩边长大的小女孩受邀去指挥世界上最具盛名的交响乐团,她也成为了国际上广受好评的指挥家。她曾指挥过维也纳爱乐乐团、柏林爱乐乐团以及伦敦爱乐乐团。音乐名家杨迄今为止已经在世界上所有顶尖的歌剧院内指点过江山,这包括纽约的大都会歌剧院、维也纳国家歌剧院、伦敦的皇家歌剧院以及国立巴黎歌剧团。

在过去的十年内,她身兼双值,同时担任汉堡国家歌剧院和汉堡国家爱乐交响乐团的艺术和音乐总监。

2001至2003年期间,她担任澳大利亚歌剧团的艺术和音乐总监。

 

西蒙娜的五大旅游胜地:

 

曼利海滩 – Manly Beach

Manly beach, Sydney - australia.com

Manly beach, Sydney – australia.com

我就是热爱这个地方,虽然这个地方有时候没那么讨人喜欢,比如雨天有点儿讨人厌、周六的晚上又有点乱,但是当太阳出来、沙滩上吹着和煦微风的时候这里真的是非常的棒!

 

最近有一次从欧洲回到家乡,航班早的出奇,所有乘客的状态都是那种只有做了24个小时飞机的人才会有的灰头土脸。我没有叫醒我的老母亲,我让出租车司机直接开车到了曼利海滩。此时的晨曦还未露脸,就连路边的咖啡店也还未开始营业,我只是静静地看着太阳慢慢升起,我发现我的呼吸放松了,压力和疲倦也退去了,整个人沉静了下来。不久咖啡店开始营业,很明显,这里的顾客群非常的稳定,微微打着寒颤的冲浪者排着队点着咖啡,听上去的感觉很像加州故事里的场景(L.A Story),只是那些咖啡的种类到底是什么呢?就这样,一天的生活就开始了。慢跑的人给赶轮渡的上班族让路,也给上学的小朋友们让路,这些孩子们互相嬉戏打闹着,比较着最新的朋友圈状态。我对自己说,第二天一定要从South Steyne跑到Fairy Bower。如果你真的跑这条路线,不要忘记看看路边岩石中金色的小人像,或者索性带上你潜水的工具,自己去水下一探究竟。运动之后,绝对要坐在海滩边吃着鱼薯,晃着双腿,但是一定要小心那些海鸥,他们会从你的指尖把薯条抢走。

 

西澳宁格鲁礁 – Ningaloo Reef  Western Australia

Ningaloo Reef Western Australia

Ningaloo Reef Western Australia

我飞到了Exmouth,看到如此迷你的机场我会心一笑,钻进租来的小车,提前给我的绿色露营地和酒店打了电话,然后便出发了。很快我便发现我驾驶的小车是视线范围内唯一的车,路旁的房子都为我让路,熟悉的土地一望无垠,向我诉说着无尽的欢迎。一旦进入国家公园(这里的入园费是付到一个“自愿付款箱”里的,再点一个赞!),路上三三两两的袋鼠和鸸鹋就成为了我到达目的地前路上仅有的行人。我扔下包,没几分钟就跳进水里了,水下的礁石和海洋生物让我惊叹不已。

 

Whale Shark Ningaloo - australiancoralcoast

Whale Shark Ningaloo – australiancoralcoast

是的,我和鲸鲨一起游泳,这是我永远不会忘记的一段经历。在开阔的海域里和水中的大型绅士同游令我激动万分但同时又心存敬畏。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

新南威尔士州邦达奴 – Bundanoon New South Wales

Bundanoon, Southern Highlands, NSW

Bundanoon, Southern Highlands, NSW

有一个我还会再去的地方,而且这个地方距离悉尼非常近,那就是只要一天就可以往返的邦达奴(Bundanoon)。下一次我会体面的去那里旅行,住在有大壁炉和提供美食餐单的酒店。上一次去的时候,我们就像大家年经时那样,住在基督教青年会(YMCA)、骑着两人自行车去探索国家公园,一切都是那么的浪漫。

整个南面高地有很多可看的地方,据我所知从Bowral开车到袋鼠谷(Kangaroo Valley)是风光最好的一段路程,只要带着你的高速相机就行。

 

新南威尔士西部 – The West (of NSW, that is!)

West region of NSW - David Gordon

West region of NSW – David Gordon

我们的家离曼利岛不远,家门口台阶下的沙滩、广阔的地平线和不断变化颜色的乡村风光则是另一种异域风情。黎明时分鸟儿的歌唱不仅让我听得身心愉悦,也陶冶了我的音乐情操。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wattle -redzaustralia.com

Wattle -redzaustralia.com

但是现在是野花开放的季节,尤其是金合欢花,这些花儿抓住了我们的心,让我们一次又一次的回来。虽然在Yeoval和Cumnock中间有一段土路(好吧,当时是1982年),那里的金合欢花是非常漂亮的。

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

新南威尔士州的悉尼 – Sydney NSW

Lavender Bay Ferry Wharf - pbase.com

Lavender Bay Ferry Wharf – pbase.com

现在回到海边,回到悉尼,回到我最爱的地方之一——麦克马洪斯角(McMahons Point),在新年前夜或者有其它庆典活动的时候,最好不要去这里,因为人实在是太多了。但是其它时候,这里绝对是欣赏悉尼大桥和歌剧院壮观景色的好地方。通常来说,当我从市区经过大桥去城北的时候,我会稍微绕道一下,在那里的停车区稍作停留。我的女儿们则把这里选为她们吃三明治、喝奶昔、感叹海港人生百态的好地方之一。如果不赶时间的话,可以在这个区域的小街上散个步,看看那一栋栋挨在一起的历史老屋,看看这些风韵犹存的古建筑。你也可以把车停在旁边或者到薰衣草湾(Lavender Bay)码头的渡轮边走走,不管在草坪上还是码头上野餐都是个不错的想法。白天的时候这里异常忙碌,但神奇的是,在夜幕即将落下的时候,这里的空气是如此的柔软、码头里停泊着的船儿随着潮水温柔的节奏也敲打出有韵律的铃声。噢,我已经开始想家了……

 

想要了解音乐大师杨以及今后更多的表演,请访问 SimoneYoung.com

 

安娜·高兹沃斯 (Anna Goldsworthy) 最心仪的澳洲五大旅游胜地

安娜·高兹沃斯(Anna Goldsworthy)天赋秉异且一直致力于参加各种高难度的活动。今年她就参加了以下各种活动:舞台剧《钢琴课》(Piano Lessons) 巡演,她不仅参与演出而且还在其中演奏钢琴;作为天使三重奏(Seraphim Trio)组合一员共同演出贝多芬钢琴三重奏;还有她的卡巴莱演出《Cole》也将在阿德莱德卡巴莱节(Cabaret Festival)上进行首演。今年十月,她将第六次担任“神仙港春季音乐节”(Port Fairy Spring Music Festival)的艺术总监。

作为享有盛名的钢琴独奏家,安娜不仅在澳大利亚也在世界各地进行演出,范围之广,可见一斑。作为一名室内演奏家,她也是著名的天使三重奏(Seraphim Trio)组合一员。该组合成立至今已有二十一年,以首演澳大利亚作曲家作品而闻名。

安娜同时还以传记家、散文家、剧作家及剧本作者而闻名。2009年安娜出版了她的第一本书《钢琴课》,这本动人的自传描述了她成为音乐家的历程,也刻画了一名极富天赋的学生与其严格但富魅力的老师埃莉诺拉·斯万(Eleanora Sivan)之间的关系。这本畅销书被列入了众多奖项的候选名单并获得了“2010年澳大利亚图书行业新进者”(Australian Book Industry Newcomer of the Year)奖项。

成为母亲的她在其新的回忆录《欢迎来到你的新生活》中以热切、诙谐且尖锐的洞察力获得了好评。

欲阅读更多关于安娜的内容,请登陆她的网站www.annagoldsworthy.com

照片由Nicholas Purcell提供

Flinders Ranges South Australia

Flinders Ranges
South Australia

弗林德斯山脉

Flinders Ranges

弗林德斯山脉是很多孩子露营的地方。对于我来说这里是最具有澳大利亚特色的地方。这体现在它整体的色调、静谧及令人惊奇的各种声音,还有那一直挂在天边的星星。

Melbourne, CBD

Melbourne, CBD

墨尔本

Melbourne

我在墨尔本待了17年,在这里我遇见了我的另一半尼古拉斯(Nicholas),这里也是我两个儿子出生的地方,所以我对这里有情感上的寄托。但客观上来讲,这里也绝对是一个很棒的城市,因为它满足所有的必备条件,在这里你可以听到好的音乐、喝道好的咖啡、看到好的作品以及交到好朋友。

Port Fairy Victoria

Port Fairy
Victoria

仙女港

Port Fairy

在仙女港春季音乐节表演的时候我爱上了这个地方。在这个瑰宝小镇上有着无价的室内音乐节。这里也被投票为“2012年世界最适宜居住的地方”。6年前我因为种种机缘巧合成为音乐节的艺术总监,其中很重要的一个原因就是我觉得仙女港注定可以成为我的第二故乡。今年年末我会上交这个重职,但是我已经开始给自己找理由再来这个地方了。

Noosa Queensland

Noosa
Queensland

努萨 Noosa

自从我们有了小孩,度假的方式就变得不一样了。从前我从没有想过这里会是一个令人激动的度假胜地,但是在这度过的两个假期让我改变了想法,现在我们正在计划再去一次。去年我们去努萨的时候正好赶上当地的长周末节(Noosa Long Weekend Festival),我们非常享受那里的卡巴莱表演还有那里的海滩,真是一个两全其美的组合。

Epsom House Tasmania

Epsom House
Tasmania

塔斯马尼亚爱普生小屋

Epsom House, Pontville, Tasmania

我们去爱普生小屋已经有很多年头了,并且非常享受在那里的宴会厅听音乐会,重新翻修过的小屋给人与世隔绝的纯净之感,里面还有全国最好的音响设备之一。这间小屋就像是一颗来自优雅年代的时间胶囊,前来的参观者无不感到内心的满足感,特别是现在小屋的所有者杰奎(Jacqui)和杰夫·罗伯森(Geoff Robertson)给这里新增了两个英式花园。

旅游小贴士:

-关掉你的电子设备

-尽可能准备好一条“不在办公室”的信息

-随身带好一本书

*****

Ajok – Women of Oz

 

My name is Ajok. I come from South Sudan (in 2005). Before I came from South Sudan, it was all Sudan, not separate. But we are separate now, we are South Sudan now. And when I came to Australia, I go to Khartoum first then to Egypt. And we do the process with my husband and my kids. I born two kids in Egypt, and we came to Australia.

How long did you have to spend in Egypt?

Three years. We do process three years in Egypt.

Was it dangerous leaving Sudan and can you describe the journey from Sudan to Egypt?

When we come from Sudan to Egypt we have war in Sudan. That’s why we come to Egypt, with my husband. Egypt is very good.

 

 

What was the hardest thing for you when you arrived ?

When we arrived here ( in Australia),  I don’t know the language very well. We have Dinka and we have Arabic in Sudan before. But when we come here, we don’t know English. I’m listening, but I didn’t talk. When I came here, I didn’t go to school. My husband went to school first and I stay with kids. It’s hard. When my husband go to school I will stay with my kids and when we don’t have something in my house, we wait until my husband coming back home.

You couldn’t go out and do the shopping?

Ah no. I have small kids, two or three, no-one with me. I’m waiting for my husband coming. My husband learn to drive and this is helping. We do everything together. And now we are happy. My husband finished school in 2010. When we coming from Sudan, he had three years in uni. And now he finished here – medical doctor. And now my children – the older one now is going to the uni, designer, and we are happy. And the second one now in year 11 and we are happy too. And the last one in year 1. I have six boys and one girl. And my husband and me we are happy in Australia.

Not all kids, but some kids, they don’t listen to us. They say these rules in Australia is good. But when they go out, they don’t do good things. Your Mum not there, your Dad not there, no older ones to say to you “Don’t do this, Don’t do this. ” That’s why they do crime, crime in the streets, crime everywhere. And then every white people they see black people and think they don’t do good things. But not all. This is not our culture. This is the rule for Australia culture.

 

Ajok in Wyndham Women of South Sudan 2017 calendar

 

How does it make you feel?

We feel no good. For us, when you see on the TV they say black people do this, they do this, you not feeling good. You feeling like tell your kid and your family to go back in your country. But not safe in our country. That’s why we are here. We don’t do anything.

When we come to Australia, the Australia rule say when your baby or child turning 18, they go out. But in our culture, no. You stay with your kid. Your boy – when they have married they stay in the house, not go outside. And girls too, when they are married they go with their husband (family). And here rule in Australia this is a bad rule in Australia, that when the kid is 18 and then they go out to take care of themselves.  This broke our hearts. And we sad for this one.

But now our kids not listen to us.

We want to talk with the Australian people. We are good people. We are not bad people. This is kids who take the rule here. This rule is not our rule.

This is my dream, I pray to God, all my kids to be good, not take the Australia rule and all this. They follow the school and they follow good things, not follow bad things. This is my dream.

Wyndham Women of South Sudan 2017 calendar

 

*The Wyndham Women of South Sudan group was set up to provide English literacy skills and to build a community. The English class produced a 2017 calendar which features some traditional Sudanese recipes.

 

Fatma – Women of Oz

My name is Fatma. I come from Sudan with my husband. We have eight kids, six boys and two girls.

Where did you come from in Sudan?

We come from Khartoum and then we are moving to Egypt and then we come here in  Australia 2004. We are happy in Australia. Just I’m sad, I didn’t have anyone here, no sister, no brother, no anyone.

You left family?

Yeah, all there.

 

About your journey, how did you travel?

From Sudan to Australia, I live in Egypt four years, and then we do the process to Australia. From Egypt to Australia by plane.

And from Sudan to Egypt?

From Sudan to Egypt by boat.

Can you describe the journey?

It was difficult. Me alone with the kids, four boys, it’s very hard for me. And every day I pray, Oh God help me with my kids, until we get to my husband and I’m very happy about it.

Was it a dangerous journey?

Yes, very dangerous, very scary. Some people stealing some things, some people steal kids. I’m scared, I say, Oh my God, me alone – no-one to help me. Just me with four boys and all just small. Then we are coming very good, nothing happen to us until we get to Egypt.

And was it dangerous for you to leave your hometown?

Yes, it’s dangerous. It’s very dangerous. The people just kill people and everyone is scared. My Mum died and I didn’t see her and then my Dad died  too.

What was happening in your hometown when you left?

Just rebels, they took people and there were some bad people.

Was there hunger then?

Yes. Until now, it’s not safe. Everybody’s scared.

When you first came to Australia, can you describe how you felt?

Yes. When I first come, it was very hard. In Sudan, I would just go to school with Arabic. English, it’s a bit harder. And then I know A,B,C….I know some stuff. And when I come here, I don’t know the money. My husband start work straight away, my husband good, he have full English.

I call him when we need to go shopping and ask what do we do? He say “ Just take the money and give to some person and then take the money back.” And then when I go to shop, every day I give fifty dollars. I was scared if I give small money, maybe they say,    Ay, this lady steal.

One day I tell my husband, “See, a lot of money I put in the bin.”

He say, “Why put this change in the bin? “

I say, “ Nothing you can do with it, all this small.”

He say, “ No, no, no. This a lot of money.” And then we go to the bank, and they count the money and  give us five hundred for (the coins). They say “ This is  a lot of money Fatma, don’t do that.”

 

Fatma in Wyndham Women of South Sudan 2017 calendar

 

All my English, I get in the group (Wyndham Women of South Sudan English classes*).  I didn’t study school when I come here. Always I have kids, I have kids, I have kids. Ah, I say when can I go to school?  When my kids come home hungry nothing can eat, I don’t want to go to school.  And then when I get the group like that, I start group until my English now is good. Yeah, I’m very happy.

You love coming to school?

Yes, yes. This time I have only one daughter, 3 years-old. I don’t want any child now for the moment. When I improve my English, I need to find a job.

What sort of job would you like?

Any.

A lot of people don’t know a lot about Sudanese women. What do you want to tell them about yourself?

We are Sudanese. We have full respect. We don’t like trouble. We don’t like someone just shouting like here. Some white people like shouting at people. We are Sudanese, we are scared. And then someone talk with you, you put your eyes down, and then the Australian, he doesn’t like that. When you put your eyes down, he say, “Ah those people, she didn’t have respect.” We have full respect.

We don’t know how to eat outside. Everything I do it at home – cooking, cleaning – everything. You do everything at home on time, and then when your husband coming, you     respect your husband, give him food, eat the food, and then you take the dishes, do for him some tea. Everything we are doing at home. No-one go out, say I go eat out today. No, we don’t have that. We have full respect. Here some people just forgot the respect.

For the kids, not hard. When we’re come here, they  all young. Now, all have full English. Sometimes, I want to speak my language, the little one, she didn’t understand and then I push them. I tell them don’t forget your culture, don’t forget your language. Yes, just like that, every day I tell them that.

Australia now is good. We are just scared about our kids when grow up – a lot of trouble. It’s very hard for us.

Now I understand everything, I know the rules, I’m driving the car. Everything is good.

 

Wyndham Women of South Sudan 2017 calendar

 

*The Wyndham Women of South Sudan group was set up to provide English literacy skills and to build a community. The English class produced a 2017 calendar which features some traditional Sudanese recipes.

 

 

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Did you know that women are the reason we have those iconic, brilliantly coloured bathing boxes on the beaches of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria?

At the end of the 19th Century and through the early 20th, the city fathers tried desperately to stave off the shocking prospect of uncovered female flesh. They feared that if women were allowed to undress and change into their neck-to-knee bathing suits on the beaches, public immorality would inevitably follow.

The city fathers had already tried to divide some beaches into separate bathing areas for men and women following “indecent bathing during a heat wave”.

Their battle for respectability and decorum succeeded to the extent that many boxes were in fact built.  Now only 1300 survive and no new boxes or boatsheds are allowed, with the exception of places such as Brighton Beach. For that reason their value has skyrocketed, in some instances fetching more than A$350,000. Tightly held, the families that own them often pass them down through the generations.

Public morality no longer being of concern, they are now mostly used to have a good time at the beach. In summer, you will see owners sitting in the shade of the open box, deckchairs and tables arranged comfortably with food and cold drinks at hand, contemplating the sea only metres from their door. Or you will see them dragging their kayaks from the boxes, a few steps across the sand, and into the sparkling sea for a row along the bay. The owners are spared having to pack their equipment on cars and trailers to return home at the end of the day. But they do have to maintain the boxes in good order and pay fees for the privilege of owning a beach box.

We can enjoy them too. They add a riot of colour and cheerfulness to the beach in any season. So take a stroll along any one of the 26 beautiful beaches of the Mornington Peninsula, from Mount Eliza to Portsea, where you can feast your eyes on these iconic structures.

The guide below shows the places you can find these beach boxes and the number at each location.

Take a look at the slideshow to see some of these beach boxes.

Photographs and editing by Augustine Zycher

HOW TO GET THERE

The Mornington Peninsula is approximately an hour from Melbourne’s CBD and is easily accessible via the Peninsula Link freeway.

 

mornington-pen-map

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