Thursday, 28 February 2008

The organic joy of Koonwarra

Driving into the small Gippsland village of Koonwarra - a short jaunt from Inverloch or Leongatha - you could be forgiven for thinking you've entered some sort of children's fairytale - it's that pretty. Koonwarra describes itself as a contemporary village and is built around the premise of demonstrating sustainable living. But that doesn't mean it's ended up as some sort of twee theme park for organic life.
Instead there is a realness here, with a small but beautiful group of shops showcasing organic and locally produced food and wine, clothing, furniture and art. There's also a day spa, accommodation and - very exciting - an organic cooking school.

The Koonwarra foodstore serves great meals on long rustic benches, where you sit surrounded by a tempting display of produce from the verdant surrounding fields. There's pickles, jams, organic cordials, cheeses and wines. I'd known about the foodstore for time, but I had no idea there was so much more here.

Next door is the fabulous store Revamp, (closely watched over by the stunning and very friendly Billy the dog pictured below). Revamp sells recycled and found furniture and collectibles, as well as organic clothing.

Across the road is a day spa and the delightful sounding Peaceful Gardens Organic School and Farmhouse Kitchen. There you will find 1930s inspired meals plus an intriguing cooking school which promises to reconnect people to the simplicity and goodness of food. Who could resist?

There's also a great nursery called The Outside Bit and an organic fruit and veg - The Organic Fix.

A farmer's market runs every month and the village has also set up a Sustainable Communities Centre, which offers environment education and works to improve sustainability in this heavily farmed region.

Revamp furniture and collectibles (above)

Billy the Koonwarra resident

Artisan wares (above)

Pickles and jam from the foodstore (above and below)

Organic fruit and veg store (above)

For more information and inspiration, visit:
Peaceful Gardens Organic Cooking School:
Koonwarra Day Spa:
The Escential Shop:

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Nature inspiration from Phillip Island

Baby penguin peeping out, Phillip Island

Here are some more shots of the stunning natural coastline at Phillip Island

Another penguin happily in its burrow, Phillip Island
Coastal grasses, Smiths Beach, Phillip Island

Shell collection for sandcastle making, Smiths Beach

Stunning pink seaweed, Smiths Beach

For more information on the region, visit:

Monday, 25 February 2008

On the road: Phillip Island and Gippsland

The fishing co-op at San Remo

Baysidemama has hit the road for some late summer travelling so I thought it might be interesting to Victorian families (and those from further afield) who are looking to travel in this part of the state to take a look at some easy to get to holiday spots.

First up Phillip Island.
I can't say I'd ventured down to this famous island since I was a kid and my memories were of wholesome no-frills vacations - caravan parks and fish and chips on windswept beaches. Well the good news is that Phillips Island is still a very relaxed tourist hub with some fabulous examples of classic mid century beachhouse architecture and amazing beaches and wildlife.

Sure the middle is still filled with farmland with a dirty great big motorcycle track, however the coast is quite breathtaking. Smiths beach and Cape Woolamai are wonderful places to wander along and admire the majesty of Bass Strait while the small little towns which dot the island (except perhaps for bustling Cowes) are like stepping back into the sort of quaint, quiet little beachside holiday hamlets of yesteryear.

Little 'general stores' dot the island, 5pm comes and goes without a hint of commuter traffic and you can still get yourself a decent coffee - just expect to adjust to island time and wait a requisite 15 minutes while the store owners catches up on the weekend news from locals. It's that sort of place.

We stayed at the super new resort Silverwater, which is perched above San Remo at the entrance to the island. It is certainly a new standard for accommodation around here and I highly recommend it to families - it is within an hour and a half drive from Melbourne - so well within the cut-off point for 'small restless children in back seat of the car' syndrome.

The resort has brand new apartments all centred around a village green with playground and enough space for the most energetic child to burn fuel. Most have superb sea views but we opted for one where we could open the door to the deck and the kids could run free.

There is a great on site restaurant and bar which also serves as a cafe and two amazing pools - one indoor and one out plus a games room.

The whole resort sits above the very cute working fishing village of San Remo which has come along in recent years yet still retains its charm. Scattered among your traditional bakeries and pubs now sits a health food store, there's a great kids playground plus the best fish and chips we have tasted in a LONG time.

There is a working fisherman's co-op here around the gorgeous little pier and at the end sits the fish and chip shop, along with an upstairs viewing platform where you can enjoy your extremely fresh flathead and the most generous serve of chips we've ever seen! And remember if you're coming this way to catch the pelican feeding at the pier at 12 noon daily.

Who could resist a place which bills itself as a fish freeway?

Some useful links:
San Remo Fisherman's Co Operative:
Phillip Island nature attractions:
Silverwater Resort:

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Taking bub to work: A good idea or not?

Over at they recently posted on an interesting issue which got a lot of respones: is it a good idea to bring your baby to work with you.

For a long time, this situation was billed as the ideal, the ultimate form of so-called 'flexibility' - being able to work, while literally rocking the baby with the other hand.

I've tried this on several occasions - I've even had to take a newborn baby to a meeting on one nightmarish occasion - and it was a disaster. I had one restless child who suddenly decided he would only settle with a feed and seven sets of eyes expectantly waiting for me to talk around a boardroom table. I've watched other women try and do it too - great for emergencies but not a way to work, or to mother long-term. I think it just makes for a stressed mum and stressed bub.

Take a look at the original story at:

What do you think? Ever tried to take bub to the office?

Friday, 22 February 2008

Cookbooks: Do you actually use them...or just drool?

Some of my collection of cookbooks.

Are cookbooks officially becoming the new fiction? I must confess that looking at my collection of them, you'd think I used them often. I do. But not to cook. I frequently get trapped buying them because they offer an entree into a seemingly perfect world - the beautifully photographed domestic order of the celebrity chef.

Take Bill Grainger. I love looking through his books, including his most recent, Holiday. The photography is stunning in all its faded pastel, beachy Sydney glory. The recipes look delightful yet I have't tried to make any of them. Instead I enjoy a peak inside the interiors of his domestic life. It's so different to my kitchen and living room. And when you watch him on tv baking with the kids, it is a stark contrast to baking with my two-year-old, who breaks down in world-title style tantrums when he realises he can't eat ALL the unbaked cake mix. Another Melburnian I know reckons the issue with Bill's recipes for a Melbourne audience is because they are very beachside, waterside, BBQing Sydney - and don't translate as well to our southern climate.

Nigella's another of my untried but tested kitchen companions. Love the pictures in the books. Love the tv series and I have stored in my memory all those wonderful domestic bliss tips of hers. I'm planning to use them someday. Probably the same day my kitchen resembles Bill Grainger's!

When I look at the recipe books I do actually use, I can break it down to three that I go back to. And I top these up from recipes garnered from the Web - often from other blogs. My tried and tested cookbooks are:

The Cook's Companion by Stephanie Alexander: We got an edition of this for our wedding and it has been a great reference ever since. Not only does it have great recipes but also vital information about choosing certain foods, how to store them and how to cook them.

Cookery the Australian Way by Shirley Cameron and Suzanne Russell: This book, in one form or another has been with me since childhood. Earlier editions were the textbook we used in Home Economics at school and it is a fabulous base for building up food knowledge.

Fresh by Allan Campion and Michele Curtis: Campion and Curtis, as many will know, are actually local Bayside food stars and this book is a great way to approach cooking. It's premise is to cook what is actually in season and structures the recipe list around this.

Oh and when I do entertain the first thing I do is drag the Jamie Oliver books out - especially Jamie's kitchen - as I reckon he makes great salads.

And while we're on food, here are a couple of food inspired blogs I've been enjoying lately: - by local writer Ed Charles. A fantastic resource on food generally and specifically on the Melbourne food scene. - this one is in the US but good writing and a great recipe index.

Do you have an all-time favourite cookbook?

Thursday, 21 February 2008

What's going on around Bayside town

Rickett's Point foreshore: Monday morning.

Art Competition:

Inspired by the great landscape artists of the Heidelberg School, the En Plein Air art competition invites artists of all levels to create artworks in the open air. All that is required is that the artwork is created between March 7 and 14 and and you paint, draw and generally create your piece in the open air, inspired by the landscape from Brighton to Mentone.

Individuals, families and children are all able to enter. The contributions will be exhibited at Sandybeach Community Centre on Saturday March 15 and Sunday March 16 for judging and sale.

For more details and entry forms visit:

Garage Sale:

The Keysborough Animal Shelter is holding a monster garage sale, with all funds going directly to the care of the animals. Items for bargain prices include: linen, collectibles, books, ornaments, toys, sporting goods and more.
When: Sunday March 2
From: 8am - 12 noon
Where: Keysborough Animal Shelter, 10 Homleigh Road, Keysborough

For more details (and to view the beautiful animals they have looking for homes) visit:

School readiness program:

Wanting to help your child get better prepared for prep? A local school readiness program is running for children aged 4-5 by experienced teachers. It works on teaching handwriting, reading, spelling and counting skills.

For more information contact: Joanna on (03) 9587 6784 or Tamara on (03) 9890 4546.

Swimming Lessons:

Getting your child in to a swimming class in
Bayside is no easy task. With classes full to overflowing, you need planning and timing on your side. Klim Swim is nearly all booked up this term but word is that March 17 is the day they will be taking bookings for next term. So put it in your diary and make it your first task on the day!

For more information visit:

Turnover those toys:

Bayside Toy Library has been going strong since 1985 lending toys to children aged six months to 10 years. Included are many toys that families might not own - ride on cars, mini trampolines, slides, seesaws, mini kitchens and work benches. The library also stocks hundreds of DVDs, videos and CDs.
The library can be found at 212
Dendy St, Brighton East (next to Brighton Golf Course).

For more information phone: (03) 9598 5253.

Food Glorious Food:

The Bright 'n' Sandy food and wine festival is on this Sunday, February 24 at Green Point, Brighton. There will be demonstrations by lots of well-known chefs, wine educators and a day's full of entertainment. Time to eat, drink, wander and make merry.

For more information visit:

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

New weekly real estate column

Hot property of the week: Haldane Street, Beaumaris. This property is being sold by Hodges and it's special because it was designed by landmark architect Robin Boyd in the 1950s. It's asking price is a cool $1.85m but for that you get an amazing design with lots of natural light. Go see: and look under Beaumaris for more information. Picture: Hodges.

Let's face it. In Bayside, real estate is an obsession. We talk about it, read about it, spend a lot of time thinking about it and even once in a while some of us might spend a leisurely Saturday 'auction cruising' to get a bird's eye view of current prices - especially if they relate to your little pocket.

So here at Baysidemama, we've decided no site devoted to Bayside life would be complete without a weekly look at local real estate. It's also high time there was a regular look at the property market around here from a consumer perspective. So expect this column to look at lots of issues and trends.

Each week there will also be a focus on a great property or two for those of you who just like to take a look, and for those of you who are seriously about to hand over the cash and buy a new Bayside pad.

This week, I'm looking at two topics: are there pockets of Bayside left which are still reasonably (should we say relatively) untouched by the boom and ripe for buying and secondly, how to handle agents if you're a female buyer:


So you've got the vision but lack the million dollars. Are there still any houses out there?

In 1999 I clearly remember standing in front of a fabulous 1950s double storey brick home in one of Black Rock's beachside streets and having a 'difference of opinion' with my husband. At just over the $400,000 mark I thought the house, on a huge block, was great buying. He didn't agree, so we let it go. OK, so we now wish we'd had a crystal ball but we talk about that missed opportunity with awe because just a couple of years later, those little pockets of Bayside with that same room for huge growth are much harder to find.

In fact, with the property boom which has swept over the area, it's pretty hard to find any areas untouched. But from a buyer's perspective, there are definately areas which can still expect some decent growth for those who have vision but not quite the cash flow for the multi-million dollar all-expenses and little-left-to-do Bayside pad.

Take, for instance, the area around the Seaview shops in Beaumaris. The streets are quiet and tree-lined and in many cases, the blocks are big. You're surrounded by golf courses, still close to the beach and you'll find homes quoted in the $850,000 plus range, especially if they are original and ripe for conversion.

That's equally the case with that group of lovely Cheltenham streets just of Weatherall Road. Many of the homes were built in the 1980s so they have great bones and space but are still going to sell for a little less than they would if you found them, for instance, in Bayview Crescent, Black Rock.

John Speer of Beaches Real Estate in Beaumaris says to find any sort of reasonable Bayside prices, you need to travel even further along the coast.

"The market reall radiates out of Brighton and the growth over the last 12 months has really spread right through Beaumaris,'' Speer says.

"That's also the case for Cheltenham and Highett where you have hit the $1million for renovated family homes now.''

Speer says $700-$800 will net you an original home and land in North Beaumaris and that price - essentially land value - flies as high as $950,000 plus closer to the beach.

Speer says the savvy family buyer looking for value is now buying up the great 1950s solid brick homes on the other side of Nepean Highway in Parkdale and Mordialloc, putting a second storey on and turning them in to lovely family nests.

Brighton real estate agent Anne Forsyth, of DuffyForsyth & Co, says those looking for good opportunities in the area would do well to look around the streets neighboring the Beaumaris Concourse shops and that great little pocket of Black Rock around Sturdee Street. Sturdee is quiet, has a kindergarten, park and sporting facilities on its doorstep and still boasts rows of 1950s and 1960s solid brick homes awaiting conversion.

"There are still some areas of Black Rock and Beaumaris which seem to have the most potential as first entry points to the area,'' Forsyth says.

Forsyth also says that as bleak as it might sometimes seem, you've always got to show up at a sale to snare that one off opportunity.

"I said to my kids recently - who are looking to buy in Bayside - you've just got to turn up to every sale you're interested in, as you just never know.''


If you're female and have been to your fair share of open for inspections, you're most likely to have shared a universal experience: stumbling across an agent who is dismissive of women buyers or just talks to the husband.

Despite it being accepted that women are very often the decision-maker when it comes to buying the family home, you are likely to still sometimes encounter an agent who seem to find it easier to deal-make with the male of the species.

So what to do if you're a female property buyer? Well, in some ways, why not use it to your advantage. In the past when I've been inspecting a property I'm interested in and the agent has my husband in deep discussion, I just take it as a good opportunity to have a look without any hassles. Call it quiet time to visualise what to do with a space.

When it comes to the actual deal-making, it depends what you feel comfortable with. If you both want to be involved in that process, then let the agent know that. If you're the one selling a property, search for an agent you both feel comfortable dealing with. Don't be backward with getting questions answered if you're about to buy - yes it is important if you want to know how old an appliance is or whether the central vac system works - email your questions if you have to but don't let anyone make you feel they are anything but valid.

If you find yourself having to buy at auction, steel yourself to stand firm and not be intimidated or else, find someone you are comfortable with to go with you for moral support.

Have a suggestion for our real estate column. Please leave a comment below or email us at:

Friday, 15 February 2008

Setting your fitness goals: How to get motivated....and stay that way.

Walk, Don't Run, originally uploaded by vortistic.
Photo: Courtesy Flickr.

Here at Baysidemama, we are very lucky to have expert personal fitness trainer Tinika Van Dort write for us. Tinika has been training people for 15 years and has much experience helping people, including many Mums, set fitness goals and stick to them. Below is Tinika's guide to setting a fitness plan for the New Year.

Health and Fitness Goal Setting

There are no surprises to hear that one of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight and get fit. If we all are honest, we can probably recount a time in our past where this New Year’s resolution was one of our very own.

If you are trying to improve your fitness, lose a little weight, change your eating habits or make general lifestyle improvements then it is important to set realistic goals and monitor and re-evaluate your progress throughout your journey.

With this in mind, listed below are some considerations when setting your health and fitness goals. Individuals who plan ahead are more likely to succeed than those who don’t have a plan to follow.

Goal setting principles

1. Determine your goal and write it down.

  • The most import thing to remember when goal setting is to be realistic and set goals which are important to you, not anybody else.
  • Determine what is achievable for you right now and write this goal down.
  • Be very specific with your goal, don’t make a general statement. For example don’t say you want to lose weight - write down exactly how many kilograms you want to lose.
  • Remember it is important to set goals which you can measure, monitor and reevaluate throughout your journey.

2. Work out the best way for you to achieve this goal.

When determining your goal it is important to design a plan to achieve that goal. Without a plan you are a greater risk of failing to meet your goal. Different goals require different approaches. Let’s use an example of losing 5kg and look at some effective strategies to achieve this:

  • Aim to exercise for at least 30+ minutes on all or most days of the week.
  • Choose aerobic activities such as walking which will aid you in burning more calories.
  • Make improvements to your diet - cut back on junk food and increase your consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, include low-fat dairy products and wholegrain foods in your daily diet.

3. Break down your goal into steps.

Individuals who break their goal down in to steps are more likely to reach it. In doing this it is also important to remember to set a reasonable time frame to achieve your goal.

Consider your exercise routine a step towards achieve your goal. For example, one step might be to exercise on all or most days of the week. Steps should be set for every week or every fortnight. The more steps you have in place, the more motivated you will become.

4. Regularly monitor your progress.

Decide how you are going to monitor your progress and record every detail in a training diary. Some suggestions include:

  • If you are exercising to lose weight, keep track of your weight loss.
  • Measure your progress in specific ways. For example, if you weight train, write down the weights and repetitions for each exercise during your training session.
  • Choose the most appropriate ways to measure your progress. Bathroom scales don’t distinguish between muscle and fat, therefore it is more effective to take your measurements with a tape measure.
  • Write down your progress at set intervals such as once a week.
  • Always remember to celebrate your progress.

5. Be positive and adapt your goals to fit changing circumstances.

A busy life and changing circumstances will interrupt your training routine. Some things for you to consider include:

  • Plan strategies to cope with interruptions. For example, when on holidays you may not be able to train as you do at home however you can always walk or use the hotel fitness facilities.
  • Don’t abandon your goal if you are ill or injured. Instead, adjust the time frame and approach of your goal. For example if you can’t exercise make sure your eating habits are improved.
  • If you achieve your goal earlier than expected, stay motivated and set another goal.

6. Make your goals known to others.

Support from family and friend can go along way to helping you achieve your goals. Remember to share your goals with your network that will support you. If you are not getting the support you require from various individuals, stay clear of them!

7. Don’t be hard on yourself

At times you may find that your goal is too ambitious. Some things to consider:

  • The first few months of a new program are always the most challenging. Adjust your short-term goals (steps), persist and remember that things will get easier.
  • Always celebrate your achievements - no matter how small. Revisit your goal and appreciate how far you’ve come.
  • Don’t give up and always celebrate the steps you achieve. You are worth the effort.

Good luck – it is a new year….what have you got to lose?

Note: Always see your doctor for a medical check-up before undertaking any new fitness program, especially if you are over 40 years, overweight, haven’t exercised in a long time or suffer from a chronic medical condition. If you are unsure how to best achieve your particular goals, ask an expert. This may including seeing your doctor, consulting an exercise physiologist, physiotherapist or appropriately qualified and certified personal trainer.

Tinika has been a personal trainer for 15 years. She holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Physical Education, a Graduate Certificate in Sports Nutrition and a Masters in Sports Business.

If you'd like more fitness tips or want to know what's coming up on Baysidemama, email us at:

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Online inspiration - your guide to great motherhood sites on the Web

Another type of web spun yesterday in my front yard.

In putting together this blog, I have reason (well, that's my excuse) to explore the wonderful world of blogs out there. So I thought I would share some of my recent finds of great sites to visit. These are all run by mothers and you will notice many have a creative bent.
I've sorted them by country:

Townmouse: - site run by a childrenswear designer which always features interesting snippets and lovely photos, often of her own work.

Simply Living: - run by a mother and photographer, there's lots to read here about turning a traditional Melbourne backyard into a sustainable rural paradise.

Misc Mum: - a recent find, written by a mother talking about daily life and her forays into self publishing a children's book. Always a good read.

Clementine's Shoes: - lots of good writing, nice pics and inspiring ideas.

Living Creatively: - not sure if this is Melbourne based or else, but a great Australian site profiling people turning their creativity into a business.

Floating World: - Again, another blog with a craft/design bent but great inspiration and lovely photos.

New Zealand:
Anknel and Burblets: - A really inspiring site, full of the author's beautifully made objects. She has a great eye and includes lovely snippets of life with an infant as well.


The Artful Parent: - another new find but lots of great ideas on bringing art and creativity into your child's daily life.

Soulemama: - I've been a reader of this site for a year now. The author writes well about homeschooling, craft and her recent foray into publishing. She also takes a mean photo.

Write Mama Write: - Great US site about motherhood and other snippets, often with great humour.

Tree Fall Design - - I seriously swoon over this woman's designs and creative eye.

Sanctuary - - I love Scandinavian design and enjoy reading this blog, as well as the two below:
Modern Country -
White Country -

There are plenty more and I will publish another list soon. I'm also planning on regularly profiling mothers around the world who blog, so stay tuned.

Do you have a great blog you read regularly? Please share in our comments section.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

The man who changed the Bayside food scene

Achim Herterich with a batch of freshly baked goodies at Kuche (above)

Achim Herterich has made a huge imprint on the foodie streetscape of Black Rock and Beaumaris. Clare Kennedy talks to him about his approach to food and his new venture, Kuche.

German-born chef and entrepreneur Achim Herterich is quietly transforming the foodscape of southern Bayside. After working as executive chef at Windows on the Bay in Mordialloc, he has embarked on a hectic series of food ventures. Since 2001 he counts six different endeavours. Many will know his face from his time running Beaumaris Pantry & Larder in The Concourse, which introduced great deli culture and good coffee to the area. He followed that up with Providorium in Balcombe Road, Black Rock, which provided a much needed boost to that pocket's cafe and deli offerings.

Inside Kuche (above) and celebrity actor, dancer and foodie Paul Mercurio recently ran a cooking class there (below)

Now Achim has recently opened shop-cum-kitchen Kuche Inspirational Food, a welcome haven for the weary home cook seeking a healthier alternative to the standard take-away options. He offers classy take-home meals, catering and cooking classes – all at the same Concourse venue.

Herterich, in chef’s whites and striped-blue apron, chops and saut├ęs in his gleaming white kitchen, as he chats to customers about the day’s offerings on colourful display: chicken and mushroom lasagna, pesto lamb fillets wrapped in proscuitto and oxtail ragout - to name a few.

“My philosophy always in cooking is that the eye comes first. Before you even taste it your eye already speaks. If your eye doesn’t like what it sees, your tastebuds will be reflecting on that,” he says.

Herterich at work (above)

At a recent cooking class Herterich whipped up prawn cutlets tossed in a piri-piri spice mixture, pan fried and served with linguine pasta, and a napoli-sauce with fresh basil and sun-dried tomatoes. “The nice thing about it is you can create a meal in half an hour and have a really healthy nutritious meal, but very quickly made. That’s what people really want” he enthuses.

Herterich conducts most of the cooking classes himself around a sleek benchtop behind the counter (max 10-12 people) - with occasional guest-chefs. Master Patissiere Udo Eichelman recently demonstrated traditional European Christmas treats. At other Summer classes Herterich whipped up food for spring picnics and authentic country-style Italian meals. For those excited by a touch of glamour, local tv personality and keen cook Paul Mercurio was a recent guest-chef.

Herterich’s 25-year chef’s career includes a stint at the glamorous Drake Hotel, New York, and as executive-chef at Windows on the Bay, Mordialloc. He counts among the highlights being part of the Sheridan-sponsored team of chefs who won the 1992 Salon Culinaire Singapore world championships. His team’s winning entry included a carving of Captain Cook’s Endeavour, made from 150kg of chocolate.

Herterich’s latest venture is a perfect foil to Kuche Inspirational Wares, Herterich’s classy kitchen-wares shop, just over the road.

Kuche Inspirational Food, 19 South Concourse, Beaumaris, phone 9589 0900

Visit Kuche for food and classes at:

Sunday, 3 February 2008

School's there a little time for you?

School and preschool are officially back and maybe this is an opportunity to take some time to try and new class or activity. There's plenty on offer, but here are our top ten suggestions (in no particular order):

Many of us long to explore our creative side, often in a non-competitive environment. The Beaumaris Art Group is a bit of a local institution. Established in 1953 it has a long and proud history of supporting artists and artistic traditions in the area. They also have another of their wonderful twilight artists' markets planned for March. Classes in paining, pottery, drawing, multimedia and much more. The Group is still working on a website but can be found behind the Community Centre in Reserve Road, Beaumaris (just past the tennis courts).

If craft or sewing is more your thing, take a look at the classes offered this term at Brighton Rec Centre.

Like to read and would enjoy talking about it with others? What about joining a book club. Start your own or tap into an existing one. Beaumaris Books works with many book clubs.

Fancy yourself as a writer? Why not write a piece for us. We're always on the lookout for people wanting to contribute interesting pieces about aspects of parenting or life in Bayside. Just email us at:

If you prefer to get a little bit more active, have you thought about taking to the sea. Ocean Kayaking Australia runs kayak hire off Elwood beach, and other points and is currently offering Baysidemama readers a special hire deal. See the article below. Or if sailing is more your thing, think about taking an adult sailing class at Black Rock or Sandringham sailing clubs.

If you'd like to get involved in local conservation and perhaps participate in a foreshore working bee, become a member of the Beaumaris Conservation Society:

Getting fit is always on the top of New Year's resolutions. Many local gyms have childcare facilities, including Re-Creation in Tulip Street - - and Fitness First in Bay Road -

If you're planning on going back to work but need some retraining, there are lots of short courses around. Try Sandy Beach Community Centre:

There are plenty of great cooking classes around but these ones are meant to be fabulous and book out fast. Kuche Food:

Friday, 1 February 2008

Local artist profile: Anne Spudvilas

Images from The Peasant Prince (above).

Baysidemama hopes to publish regular profiles on local artists. In the first instalment, writer Clare Kennedy profiles local artist Anne Spudvilas.

The bay has long inspired the artists of Melbourne. Clarice Beckett (1887-1935) springs to mind; the early 1900s painter renown – after her death - for her misty paintings of Beaumaris. She, among others, tramped along the shoreline with her paints, capturing the Bay's many moods and shifting light.

And this body of water continues to inspire. Local resident, painter and portrait artist Anne Spudvilas recently staged an exhibition of photographs taken at the open-sea Brighton Baths.

Anne has also won acclaim as a picture-book illustrator – her most recent book The Peasant Prince, by Li Cunxin, is the children’s version of his best-selling memoir, Mao’s Last Dancer.

The picture-book traces the remarkable journey of Cunxin’s life: his poverty-stricken childhood in rural
China; being plucked from his classroom to train at the Beijing Dance Academy; his self-imposed determination to excel, and his dramatic transformation into a world-famous dancer.

Spudvilas used traditional Chinese ink and watercolour on rice-paper to capture the Chinese setting of the story, and glossy oil paints on canvas to evoke, by contrast, the glitz and glamour of America as perceived by Cunxin on his first trip there as a young man from Communist China.

She even travelled to
China with Cunxin for research, visiting his home village, the Dance Academy, and meeting his family and friends – all characters in the book.

The result is an inspiring picture-book for adults and children alike about following your dreams, brought to life by Spudvilas’s evocative illustrations.

For a look at Anne's inspiring images of the Bay and its surrounds visit:

The Peasant Prince by Li Cunxin, illus. by Anne Spudvilas
Penguin Group,
Australia, 2007