A Love Letter To Lismore

image courtesy ABC News

Less than a week ago, we heard reports that Cyclone Debbie was brewing in far north QLD. Days later, the rain began sheeting down. By Thursday afternoon, the Lismore roads were drenched. I was getting SMSs from school and ballet to take care driving home, and that floods were predicted.

3am that night, the Lismore flood levee broke, and the water rose,

and rose,

and rose.

It reached 11.5m, which is a record high.

Water cascaded down the streets of the Lismore CBD. It flooded shops, cafes, schools, offices, homes.

The town was devastated. Brown, muddy water filled the streets, like an oversized, miserable swimming pool no one should ever swim in.

Even when the rain had stopped, the water filled the streets for days.

We only live about fifteen minutes up the road, but we were completely fine. Well out of harm’s way.

Yet Lismore, our dearest neighbour, lay sodden, drenched and distraught. People had lost so so much.

I was born in Lismore. My girls were both born in Lismore. We owned our first home in Lismore. And I spent the first few months of parenting life walking the streets of Lismore, carrying my baby in a hug-a-bub. I didn’t love the hill I had to climb in thirty degree weather. But I have always had a soft spot for Lismore.

When we moved from Lismore, to be closer to friends and family, my love for the town only grew. Spending days in Lismore op shops and cafes were my favourite. I loved the Lismore Star Court Arcade. The vintage shops. I loved Polli and The Blackbird. I loved Shoppe One 17 for quality kitchen supplies. I loved my hairdresser at The Boys. I loved the weekly farmer’s markets. I loved the carboot markets.

And I still do.

Over the last few years, there has been a burning optimism in Lismore. More and more cafes and restaurants have opened. Less and less shops are empty. And shops and cafes are not unlike those in gentrified Melbourne areas, if not better, because they are authentic and unpretentious.

And I keep coming back to Lismore for more of this authentic, and unpretentious vibe. Lismore doesn’t really try to be anything it’s not. What it is, is a vibrant and warm community. It’s people who love and appreciate the town. It’s people who embrace diversity. It’s creatives. Entrepreneurs. Hard working people.

Now my daughter is at school in the Lismore area, I’ve been looking at real estate there. The more time I spend there, the more I love the community.

And then came the floods…

The amazing thing, is that the moment the flood inundated the town, people drew together, and became stronger. Immediately, there were people offering accommodation, food, supplies, clothes, and help to clean.

Some people made music in the streets. My brother’s friend, Tom Papworth, made a sign “Running Low On Chicken Nuggets: Request Airdrop“. He was joking of course, but the humour was in good taste, and was needed.

The moment water was drained from the streets, almost everyone I know did something to help. People gave up work to help clean houses and businesses. The Lismore Helping Hands Facebook group is fast growing. It has gained another thousand members since I last looked. The Edge Fitness gym in Alstonville banded together to collect anything and everything from Alstonville and surrounds, which could be donated. Friends cooked warm meals for people who have lost everything. And my brother and his partner delivered chicken nuggets for Tom.

I haven’t been into the town yet. What I hear is that the streets are broken, and debris is everywhere. I’ve heard that interiors are caked in mud, and structures are destroyed. I’ve heard buildings smell like car oil and fuel.

I’ve also heard that businesses are already re-opening, only days after the flood. Supported by volunteers, Lismore people are getting back on their feet again. Slowly. It will take time, and maybe for some, full recovery is not possible.

My heart goes out to Lismore, where my heart first began, and will keep bringing me back. Lismore, we love you. And you will rise again.

Momo + Art Magic :: Remnant, Lismore Regional Art Gallery

Several months ago, I took the girls along to an art briefing with local {Japanese} artist Hiromi Tango for her art exhibition, Art Magic :: Remnant held at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery in September.

Art Magic is a community, collective exhibition designed by Hiromi Tango. Hiromi {who goes by the name of Momo for this project} explained what art magic is, and how to be part of the project.

Hiromi Tango Momo

Art Magic is this:

Take remnants of fabric, bells, balls, thread, wool – anything. 
Be inspired by nature, and make a rainbow forest out of your remnants.
Make with friends, or community groups. Imbibe your art with a piece of yourself; whisper your deepest fears, share your sadness, your hope, and wrap it into the art magic. Maybe you write a note, and wrap it in bubble wrap, and wrap it in fabric. Maybe you tell a friend something important, while you weave your art magic.

There are no real rules.

hiromi tango art magic

There is a pop-up shop set up for the exhibition in Star Court Arcade, Lismore every Thursday 10-4. You can go in, collect remnants, and learn about being involved in the project. You work on your project at home, or in a community group, then bring it back late August to the pop-up shop.

I took a homeschool group there a couple of months ago. We had fun making art magic with Aunty Figgy.

art magic

aunt figgy

making art magic

making art magic 2

Your art magic, and other art magic from around the community will be exhibited at the Lismore Regional Art Gallery 12 September – 24 October.

hiromi tango natsky

Hiromi Tango, Art Magic ™, Nest.1, Photographed by Natsky, 2015

Nest.2_HiromiTango, Art Magic, Photographed by Natsky, 2015 (Small)

Hiromi Tango, Art Magic ™, Nest.2, Photographed by Natsky, 2015

Hiromi Tango, Art Magic ™, Community, Photographed by Natsky, 2015

Hiromi Tango, Art Magic ™, Community, Photographed by Natsky, 2015

I love the idea of bringing people together. I love the idea of recreating a forest out of scraps. Fall in love with Momo.

Winter in and around Byron Bay with kids

The days are nippy. Not by Melbourne standards, perhaps, but by north coast standards. We are pumping the heaters and wrapping ourselves in scarves and jackets.

And yet the days shine. Today, the girls and Gregor tootled into town on their bikes. The other day, we sat out in the sun at the Arty Party festival.

In many ways, I kind of prefer winter to summer. We can sit for more than five minutes in the sun without frying. The streets of Byron Bay are quieter. We can get a park at The Farm.

Here are our three favourite winter-time things to do as a family.

The Channon Craft Market {or any market really}

The Channon is tucked away in the hills. You really feel like you’ve stumbled on a secret as you drive into the valley. The market is held in a showground. It’s surrounded by forest.

I have been coming to The Channon since I was a kid. Everyone I know who grew up in the area has a particular affinity with The Channon. It’s hard to say what it is, exactly. Perhaps it’s the easy community. The nature. The beautiful, handmade crafts. Maybe its the unpretentious, laid back vibe.

There’s a huge play park next to the chai tent. The kids hang out there most of the day with their friends. There’s sometimes pony riding, a jumping castle or a horse and cart in the centre. There’s music. Face painting. Performance.

All local markets come with good coffee, good food, good stuff and good people, but in my mind at least, The Channon has something a little extra. Many of my favourite winter days have been spent there.

The Channon craft market is on every second Sunday. It’s about an hours drive inland from Byron Bay. Take the Bangalow turn-off from the Pacific Highway, turn right at the round-a-bout, and head towards Lismore. Just before Clunes, there is a sign for The Channon.

Market Schedule

First Sunday – Byron Bay craft market
Second Sunday – The Channon craft market & Lennox Head market
Third Sunday – Lismore carboot market
Fourth Sunday – Bangalow craft market
Fifth Sunday – Lennox Head market

the channon market



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The Farm, Byron Bay

It was raining last Saturday.

‘Where should we go?’ asked my husband.

Usually, I wouldn’t know. Mum’s? But now, it’s easy. Because on a rainy day, we can hang out at The Farm, drink good coffee, eat pastries, and with a raincoat on, the children can play in the fields or in the playground.

The Farm is so perfect for Byron. It’s boho, rustic, authentic, stylish, organic, well-meaning and extremely well done.

You can eat a beautiful meal at Three Blue Ducks, or just buy pastries from the bakery. On weekends they have a spit roast, and serve pulled pork buns.

There’s a yoga studio, spaces for workshops, a bar, a grocery store, a bakery, a florist… There are hundreds of free range chooks and a few pigs. There are fields of crop. There’s a pretty smashing play park – all natural materials.

I like going there, because I can feel a little stylish and absorb the stylish atmosphere, but it’s completely kid-friendly.


11 Ewingsdale Rd, Ewingsdale
(02) 6684 7888

The Farm at Byron Bay

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the farm at byron bay 10-cheese

the farm at byron bay 11-cumquats

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The Pass, Byron Bay

I guess most people come to Byron Bay for the beach. Especially if you are coming from cold old Melbourne way. And look at these photos… plenty of people are out in the water! Not me. Too chilly. But still, hanging on the beach is perfect with kids. No matter what time of year.

I have been coming to The Pass since I was a child. I have early memories of wading in the shallow water with my younger brothers.

We sometimes forget to come to this beach, but it is so perfect for children. There are rocks to climb, little nature walks, and the waves are gentle and kind to young kids.

This particular winter afternoon, our children play with ease. They find an old bit of drift wood, and make a café. The oldest builds a coolamon out of bark and fills it in seaweed. She wants to launch it into the ocean. The youngest follows her around, captivated.

The sun is still warm, even in winter.


The Pass
Brooke Drive {off Lighthouse Road}, Byron Bay
paid parking

the pass byron bay

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Do you have any favourite spots around Byron Bay?

This post was written for the Put Yourself on the Map challenge through Kidspot. #ShareAusralia

Linking with Essentially Jess

Welcome to Wonderplace :: The Arty Party Lismore

Before moving to Lismore in 2009, I read in the paper that Lismore had the highest number of professional artists per capita in Australia.

If you were at the first Arty Party, held at Spinks Park behind the Lismore Regional Gallery yesterday, you’d believe it.

At about 10.45, the Arty Party was declared open, and hoards of children and their families milled through the arched gateway, into the Arty Party wonderland. And what a wonderland it was.

arty party

We wandered along the pathway, which was lined with creative activity fodder. Piles of bamboo and fluoro lycra for tee-pee building…


little book nooks for reading and dreaming…

book nook arty party

artyparty7_book nook

a giant loom and hoola hoops set up for weaving…

arty party yarn guerrillas



colour piles on a stage for performance…

arty party colour show

artyparty9-colour show

a paper caper tent for creating…

paper caper tent arty party



and an area for making music and dancing…



Clever percussionist Greg Sheehan {who I have seen on Playschool} lead the children in body percussion. Gorgeous Marissa from The Cassettes showed the children some funky dance moves to 80s dance classics. I was so impressed how quickly the children picked up the choreography!

Just about every child I know from the area was there. The sun smiled down on the festivity. Maybe the sun thinks celebrating creativity is a particularly good thing to do.

I am so proud Lismore pulled this off. I hope – I know – it will be the first of many Arty Parties to come.

What fun school holiday activities have you had in your area?

Pretty Little Finds ~ Bangalow Designers’ Market

Twice a year, hidden away behind the main street of Bangalow, you’ll find the Bangalow Designer’s Market.

There was so much lovely. My creative centres were firing as I walked around. But I was pushing a pram which contained one very tired little girl, so I only got to take pictures of a few of my favourite stalls. Still, better than none.



Macramake Bangalow Designers' Market

Bangalow Designers' Market Macramake

Bangalow Designers' Market Macramake

Yvette and Miranda Macramake



Luludu Bangalow Designers' Market ethical shoes

Ethical crochet shoes Luludu

Gypsy at Home

Gypsy at Home

Bubbles at the Head


Bubbles at the Head See more from these lovely markets at Seeker of The Lost Arts.

For more tales from the sunshine house, book ideas and imaginative activities, visit me over at Facebook. You might also like to visit my new website, The Quincys ~ Good Music For Kids.

Linking with Essentially Jess.