Monday, 18 May 2015


Time for a look at interesting stuff and great things being done by good people. It's the return of...

Self promotion alert: the Rocky Comedy Cartel, AKA local comics Damien Challen, Annie G, Thabo Tshuma and me, has a shiny new website.  You can see us in action, find out more about our merry band, and get in touch.

Stonecutter Records are a new Rocky-based music store, concentrating on vinyl, cassettes and CDs.  Stay in touch on Facebook and Instagram to find out where they'll be and what goodies they have in stock.

May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month, and Anglicare Central Queensland (disclosure: I work there) is rounding out the month with the AnglicareCQ Boy's Night at Eldino's Cafe on Friday, May 29.  Grab some mates, bring a few drinks, and settle in for a night of great music, live comedy, and a little bit of information on the side.  More info here.

Rockhampton Little Theatre's next outing Black Comedy opens on Friday, June 12 at the Walter Reid Cultural Centre.  More info and tickets here.

Yeppoon Little Theatre, flush with the success of Cosi, is tooling up for their next project: short play festival Pull Up Your Shorts.  They're auditioning on May 25 and May 27.

Winterfest Weekend is a celebration of the Bundaberg region's glorious produce on the weekend of July 11 and 12.  There'll be farmers' markets, a degustation dinner, and other delectable events.  Check them out on Facebook to find out more.

Speaking of that weekend, the Rockhampton River Festival runs from Thursday, July 9 til Sunday July 12 with free entertainment, art, food, and all sorts of good things.  Including some comedy!  I'll be there along with some of our other local comics, but I can't tell you much more right now.  I'm not being mysterious, we're just not finished working out the trifling details of who's doing what where when.

Speaking of things I can't mention just yet, leave the night of Friday, June 26 free.

When storms in the Hunter region forced many local schools to close due to power cuts, the local ABC Radio crew had to read a long, long list of closures.  Then it turned into a remix.

Have you met We Want Plates?  It's a Twitter dedicated to documenting the weird things food is served on/in these days, from slabs of slate and marble to shovels and shoes.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day to mothers and mother-types everywhere.

Mum and I meet a local at Lightning Ridge

Monday, 4 May 2015

Stop fetishising paper books

I love books and I love reading, but I'm not on board with the romanticisation of paper books over their digital counterparts, as though physical books have some sort of moral superiority over ebooks.

They don't.  They both have their good and bad points.

One of these things is... much like the others, really

The batteries never go flat in a paper book, but you can't adjust the text size or contrast.  If you want to read a paper book in the dark you'll need a light of some kind, but depending on the device you're using to read your ebook you may find the illuminated screen causes eyestrain or insomnia.

There's nothing like rummaging through the cheap book bin at an op shop and finding something good in among the old Dolly Fiction and 70s cookbooks.  But with hard copy books you're limited to what's on the shelf or what you can have shipped to you, and transporting paper books takes takes time, money, and fossil fuels.  On the other hand the sheer size of the internet's cheap book bin means poking around without a clear idea what you're looking for is unlikely to dig up gold.  But if you do know what you want and it exists digitally, you can have it right now regardless of how old it is, how obscure or unfashionable, and how many physical copies exist.

You can store a whole library in a digital device, but it's not socially acceptable to perve through someone's Kindle to get a snapshot of their personality the way you can snoop on their bookshelves.  And bookshelves are lovely, but physical books are bulky and heavy and if you move around a lot - like I have - sooner or later some of your precious collection is going to either get damaged or disappear without trace.

I've personally never understood the excitement about "old book smell".  Maybe it's a sensory processing thing.  Or maybe it's because my own old books are mostly either bought from op shops or have spent years in cardboard boxes under relatives' houses, so they smell less like vanilla and ancient wisdom and more like cat pee and mothballs.

(Another thing I don't understand: the hate for organising books by colour.  They're your books, sort them however the hell you want.  But if you're buying books specifically for the colour or to use as decorations rather than to read, maybe it's time to look at your life choices.)

You can underline things and make notes in the margins of physical books more easily than you can in digital ones, but you'll have to get online or use other books to check references, verify facts or look up unfamiliar words or ideas.  My Kindle is an older model and not built for internet browsing, but it has a built-in dictionary you can access by pressing down on the word in question and can usually cope with a quick visit to Wikipedia.

Reading's not just a very good way to pick up useful knowledge and skills, but it exposes you to different opinions, point of view and experiences.  It can take you to different places and times and give you an opportunity to walk in shoes very different from your own.  Reading is important because the words and the stories are important.  The format really isn't.

So use whatever works for you.

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Lest we forget

Today's ANZAC Day marks 100 years since the landing at Gallipoli.

Noel Selway's done a great deal of research into the military history of his stamping grounds in the South Burnett, and when I worked for ABC Wide Bay we caught up to share his knowledge with the world.  His explanation of the historical context is really interesting.  For instance, for all the ideals of noble sacrifice and patriotism, a lot of the men who signed up had much more pragmatic reasons:
"You have to remember to the state of the country at the time. They were in one of the worst droughts the country had ever had, there was a lot of unemployment, and even the ones who were employed were just hanging in there. There wasn't a lot of money around.  Then of course there was the thrill of adventure, which I think more than patriotism was the thing that drove most of them to enlist."
Noel says many of the men who returned faced ongoing hardships, through the physical and mental battle scars and trouble reintegrating to civilian life.
"Some of the men were so badly injured, mentally and physically, they couldn't work again. The trauma of the war had its affect, and once the bond generated by fighting together or being together through those sorts of circumstances was broken, men were set adrift.
"A lot of men were unsettled. A review of the electoral rolls show a great movement of people out of the district, because the unsettled nature of the men meant that rural life held no attraction for them anymore. Lots of them moved interstate or into the cities, farms were sold off or just abandoned.  It was just like someone had stirred up an ants nest up in the country, and there was a great movement in the population."
Here are some photos from ANZAC Day in Orange a couple of years back:

Rosemary for remembrance, handed out by a Legacy volunteer
The firies had a good spot to watch the parade
Lest we forget

Saturday, 18 April 2015


Time to have a look at cool stuff and clever things...

That random foot-selfie is from a photography scavenger hunt, part of ABC Open's Lines and Curves project. You'll find the photos we took this morning, and others from around the country, on Instagram here.

Jess Marsellos has put together a mouthwatering guide to the food of the Bundaberg and North Burnett region.  Flick through it here.

Yeppoon Little Theatre's production of Cosi is on from April 24-May 2.

Terri-Anne Kingsley has put together a detailed and fascinating history of the last man hanged at Bendigo.

The Bimblebox 153 Birds exhibition - including my contribution Notes from a Bar Shouldered Dove - opens in Brisbane on May 6.  In related news, Bimblebox: Art - Nature - Science is on now in Toowoomba.

If you're in Rocky, keep an eye on Eldino's Cafe's Facebook page because they have all sorts of great stuff going on.  They're our host for our all-ages open mic show Amateur Allsorts as well as Allsorts' dirty older sister, the 15+ all-comedy show Feed the Beast.  They also run a trivia night, and you'll often find a random musician or comedian riffing in the corner when you wander in.  Get amongst it.