Adrian Hanks – Psychophonetics Therapist

Interviewed by Prue, edited by Mick.

“… we had a swim in the ocean in the middle of July … and that completely sold us.” – Adrian Hanks

1 Intro pic

Oh my goodness. I have just come back from interviewing Adrian Hanks and had so much fun with him and his wife, Arleen, that my attempt at keeping our chat to two hours was an epic failure. Arleen cracked me up with her version of events on how she and Adrian got together – she was adamant she wasn’t going to have a relationship with him. She had already had two husbands and wasn’t planning on a third. Eh hem! Together their stories are amazing, but Adrian’s in particular is so varied he had me continually back tracking, trying to keep up with what he has done in his life.

Our chat started over a water filter, of all things. Well, not exactly a water filter, but an alkalising system. This gadget sat on the kitchen bench and told you, complete with mock Japanese/American accent, the ph level of the water you were about to consume. Apparently, novice alkaline water consumers should begin their experience on a pH level of 8.5, graduating to level 9.5, the optimum level, after a couple of weeks. Talk about fast track high achieving – I like it. The reason for this graduation is apparently due to the detoxification qualities of alkaline water. If the novice water drinker starts on 9 it could give them a bit of a toxicity rush… it’s too intense. But once the body detoxes a bit, one can graduate to level 9. Woo hoo. As it turns out, Adrian sells these systems… and there I was thinking he was a plain old psychophonetic therapist…

Formerly from Armidale (approximately 500kms north of Sydney), I asked what brought them to this beautiful neck of the woods? 
Well, we had a swim in the ocean in the middle of July … that completely sold us. Think about it… Armidale and ocean??? …and Armidale in the middle of July? Actually what really happened was Arleen was running a week-long course in Tweed and we decided to check out Byron on the way home. After that dip in the ocean, we were almost convinced to move here.

Arleen is originally from Cape Town in South Africa, and when we married (in 2005) and moved to Armidale, it was a bit of an affront for her. She never liked the place. Basically we were there because my kids were there. So when we proposed moving to the Byron area, three of them moved with us.

What, you have more than three?
Yes, we have six between us. You know… blended families and all that.

2 Family picsArleen’s mother (Granny) with Adrian (is it me, or could she pass as Adrian’s mother?), and Arleen with Timeeah – one of the six kids

Crikey, six kids! And only three came to Byron. What did the others do?
Well, Arleen has two kids and I have four. One of Arleen’s, Travis, lives in South Africa with his father, and the other one, Timeeah, lives with us. She’s 12, but moved to Australia with Arleen when she was five. Travis is about to come and visit us for a month because he’s just finished year 12 and is taking a gap year. In the past he has come and stayed with us twice a year. I have Solomon who is 24. He has just come back from being deployed in Afghanistan…

So he’s a soldier? That appears to me to be quite a contrast to how you have lived your lives, given your earlier mention of Rudolph Steiner. Were all the kids educated in the Steiner system?
Yes, and Solomon was the first. He was my intro to Steiner, but he’s always had leadership qualities and he’s taken that through to the army.

What would Rudolph Steiner have to say about producing a soldier?
I think he would say it’s his Karma. It’s his passion, it’s his mission.

As a father, how do you feel about it?
My take is… I support him to follow his life’s journey… I support and follow him but I don’t have to like his choices. I also see the army as an initiation for him. It takes courage to go to deployment.

Oh absolutely. We could obviously talk at length about what it is like to have a ‘child’ deployed but there are three others to cover here, so, back to the other kids…
So the next one is Alexander, who just had his second child and my second grandchild.

Whoa, a grandfather twice and not yet 50! How does that feel?
Interesting, because for a while I struggled with what to call myself, then I spoke with a good friend and she asked, ‘Why don’t you own it’? You know, own the title of being a grand dad and call myself ‘grand dad’. I couldn’t argue with that, so I’m really stepping up to the plate with the ‘grand’ aspect of my life.

Then there’s Oliver. He’s just finished year 12, then Genevieve who’s 16. All the kids have lived with us at some point, but predominantly with their mother.

Ok, so you moved to Byron Bay, did you have anything in place on the business or home front?
Well, first up we found a house on Friday Hut Road, closely followed by studio space in Byron. Then we put the kids into Cape Byron Steiner School.

What did you need a studio for?
We offered a range of healing modalities- counselling and psychotherapy, life alignment and massage.

2 Office details
Office and studio details

Wow. Who did what out of all that?
We both did Psychophonetics. Arleen is the life alignment practitioner and teacher and I’m the massage therapist.

So tell us a bit about Psychophonetics and Life Alignment
Yehuda Tagar founded Psychophonetics at Persophone College in South Africa… it is based on the work of Rudolf Steiner .

It’s a form of coaching, counselling and spiritually based psychotherapy. The essence of the work is working with sound and movement (if needed), hence phonetics. For example, if a client came to me because he/she felt they were struggling to move forward, we would ask them to describe visually how it feels, we call it a gesture… we ask them to gesture the feeling of the experience with their hands and/or full body. Then we might ask them to step away. We call that ‘enter, exit and behold’ so you enter into the process, then you step out of it, take a look at it and observe it. This is beholding it. Our role is to help people find their passions and restore their full potential.

6 Playing the didjThe master didjeridoo maker, and player, carrying out some healing work.

I’ve steered away from counselling to some degree and stepped up coaching with Conscious Life Development Foundation. I have put all the work I do under one umbrella ie my mens work, my eco soul bush experience and coaching and counselling. As you know Prue, I have a regular monthly newsletter which usually discusses a particular topic, for example, endings and new beginnings.  We support local businesses by posting free ads and we do an events page as well. I also do a book review and a people profile.

Wow that sounds like a lot of work. Do you do it solo?
Yes, but I also encourage and accept other peoples articles.

And you also have a blog?
Yes, called ‘The Boy and the Cake’ which is about Little Adrian and Master Adrian. It’s a take on how we can easily get pulled into the emotions, reactions and actions from – if you like – the needy inner child. Through stories I share how I have personally overcome those challenges.

7 CakeThe boy… and the cake… Adrian, you haven’t changed a bit!

So it seems you eat, breathe and practise what you preach?
Yep, I try very much to walk my talk.

I also have a book coming out in mid 2013 entitled ‘Where Am I Right Now’. It’s part personal development, part life story, and it also has exercises and tips on how to stay present and reach one’s full potential.

I understand this is your second book because you self published a kids’ book a couple of years ago.
Yes, that’s ‘Wendy and the Fairy Ring Secret’ which I distribute through my website www.conciouslifedevelopment.com and locally in Byron Bay at outlets such as, Natures Child and Essentially Byron. My second book however, has been picked up by a publisher, which is really exciting.

8 WendyThe author with his first book, ‘Wendy and the Fairy Ring Secret’ – what an achievement.

Seven years down the track, you are clearly set up in business and in home life. What then are the joys of living in this area and what are the challenges?
I love the warmth, I really love it. And I really love living in Bangalow… it has a different energy to Byron and the village atmosphere in Bangalow is really gratifying. In this area there is always something to do whether it’s music, plays, workshops, the beach, bushwalking, snorkelling… there’s just so much.

And the challenges, do you have any?
I think working from home instead of a regular nine to five work place is challenging… although I don’t see what I do as work – more a passion and vocation – living in a holiday and beach environment does make it challenging to focus and requires a fair bit of discipline. For example, when I go down to Byron for a meeting and see the beach, it takes some discipline not to stay.

Oh yes, I’m sure we all get that. But hey, you hold your meetings in cafes, that surely aint all bad? Do you have a fave?
Yes, it’s either at Utopia in Bangalow or Why Not in Byron – they make the best LSD (Latte Soy Dandelion). I also love the Conscious Café in Byron. They are organic, dairy and soy free… and their salads are phenomenal… the colour, the taste, everything. If Arleen and I go out for lunch we struggle to go past the Cardomon Pod and we like The Balcony for their tapas. You can always get good vego with tapas.

Do you eat out much?
No, mainly at home.

I have discovered working from home entails preparation of three meals a day. Do you ever tire of cooking like I do?
Well, we have a live-in cook… everybody calls her Granny. Her name is Eileen, and she’s Arleen’s mother, and she cooks five days a week and we cook on the weekends. Sunday is often pizza night … I was a baker in a former life.

9 garden pics
Adrian has also studied Bio-Dynamic Agriculture… is it any wonder his veggie patch is thriving? And check out  where the path leads to…
5 shed pics… to his shed… complete with pool. Some shed! I’m sure there are thousands of blokes out there with massive shed envy.

What style pizza base do you do?
I have my secret pizza… it’s one word. Basil! When I make my dough I add basil… generally thin bases and tonnes of garlic.

Whats your fave combo topping?
Slices of tomato, with fresh basil leaves tonnes of sea salt, so the toms soak it up and plenty of garlic and cheese.

So you are total vego… where do you get your protein from?
Eggs… and the natural proteins in organic vegetables.

I am so jealous of Adrian and Arleen with their live-in cook – what an amazing arrangement. Lucky them. There was so much more to explore with these two warm, open, honest people, like Adrian being a master didjeridoo player and maker, how Arleen is Adrian’s psychotherapist (how scary would that be, living with your psychotherapist???!!!) and the story of how Adrian wore down the very adamant Arleen and married her. Perhaps there will be a part two? Thank you Adrian for your time and enthusiasm… it was a complete joy.

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Peter Westheimer – Musician

Interviewed by Prue; edited by Mick

“To perform and share my music in a contemporary arena like Splendour is a total honour.” – Peter Westheimer

From a seven year old novice violinist to leader of the Victorian Youth Symphony Orchestra, to a degree in Medicine, to political street theatre performer, to writing and performing in bands, to composing music scores for film and TV, to a term as a councillor in the Byron Shire… Peter Westheimer’s list of achievements just goes on and on. Check out his website and you will get my drift. Also check out his latest project on youtube Tranzworld Express. Wow!

I met with Peter on a seemingly rare sunny day in Brunswick Heads for a coffee and a chat that lasted for as long as his bio. Clearly there was a lot to cover. Starting with the usual Very Byron question of ‘When and why did you come to the Byron Shire?’

Peter Westheimer

I came to Byron because I was interested in alternative culture, spirituality, and a hankering to reconnect with the land and country. I had grown tired of suburban Melbourne and after spending time in the warmth of Indonesia, studying Tai Chi and meditation, I chose to live in a warmer climate. When friends mentioned Mullumbimby I jumped on a train in 1974, not long after the Nimbin Aquarius Festival, and got off at ‘Mullum’. I eventually moved here in 1978 and after twelve months bought into an MO (Multiple Occupancy) near The Channon .

What did you do once you made the move?
I gained knowledge about the bush and building, and immersed myself in music full time. I wanted to venture beyond my classical music background so I tried Rock and New Wave… started playing in bands, writing and singing. Technology was beginning to emerge so I could put my music into the public arena myself, without a record company. I produced my first EP called ‘Laminex Lovers’ and it happened to get quite a lot of airplay on Triple J (Double J then). Then I enrolled in an Audio Engineering course at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology).

You already had a degree in Medicine. Wow, you must really like studying?
Not really. I was well and truly over it so I didn’t sit any of the Audio Engineering exams.  I wanted the knowledge, not the qualification. I even rebelled against reading music scores.

So did you ever practice as a doctor?
Yes, until five years ago I practised part time in the fields of occupational health rehabilitation and in the legal side of medicine.

Was it a good time in your life?
Yeah… Medicine gave me an income to support my music. I practised for about nine years and in that time bought a house, renovated it and built a home studio. I was also doing a lot of composing for TV and film in Sydney. One day a director friend did a video clip to one of my tracks and it was nominated as one of the Top 10 Australian video clips of 1985 by the producer of Rage – Mark Fitzgerald.

In 1992 you were also invited into the ‘Musicians As Artists’ publication. How did that come about? Do you also paint?
For my 1992 album ‘Transition’, I painted a canvas to reflect moods and concepts of each track and launched the album in an art gallery restaurant. A friend of a friend was putting the publication together in Los Angeles and he had a spare spot. He thought it would be good to have an Australian inclusion… a case of right place, right time.

Book - Musicians as Artists

What an amazing experience. You share equal space with legends… John Lennon, Carly Simon, Ron Woods, David Bowie… the list goes on. If you are struggling to read the above list of legends, click here for a clearer image… it really is a spin out.

Peter’s paintings appeared along side legendary names like John Lennon, David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Ringo Starr, in the publication Musicians as Artists

So the creative process… when did you become aware of creating intuitively?
When I was a Med student I lived in a share-house near Melbourne Uni… lots of people would come through the house and we’d jam (me on the violin) and I soon realised I could create original music pretty easily. When I was in the right space, without getting too esoteric, I kind of channelled it. I use feeling and intuition for making music… I’ve rebelled against formalities of form and genre.

How do you get into the right space to create?
I simply spend time in my studio, or wherever, with the tools of songwriting… a laptop, good headphones, small mixer, decent speakers and good software.

I essentially do jam sessions with multi-track recorder software and overlay tracks… endlessly experimenting, adding and subtracting and ultimately honing  the sounds. For my current album, Tranzworld Express, I brought in Amir Paiss on Persian Santoor, and Parissa Bouas on vocals.

The creative splash of this album happened a few months after my mother died and I felt the need to look inside for a while. I took off across Europe for two months where I spent a lot of time on trains. It was then that I wrote Tranzworld Express… hence the strong train theme.

Publicity for Tranzworld Express

Interestingly, there is a train theme running here also – you arrived in the area by train and you are Vice President of TOOT (Trains On Our Tracks) … the local action group trying to get the Byron train running again. Have you always been a politically active person… is that why you became a councillor?
I‘ve been political since I was 21. At Uni I lead a protest about the way medical students were being treated. I also did a stint of funded political theatre. I was in a group called the The Portable Players, which was funded by the Australia Council and the Amalgamated Metal Workers Union.  We were paid to perform plays that questioned the establishment from an informed, and probably wholistic perspective, although that word was not in my lexicon then! I was also involved in street performance… protesting against the Vietnam War. When I came to this area I became involved in a variety of issues. In ‘92 I was part of the Suffolk Park Progress Association and we successfully took developers and Byron Council to court for over-development. I was also part of the Club Med push (a successful protest against Club Med building a resort in Byron).

Protestin for TOOT and Club Med
LEFT: TOOT lobbyists campaigning for reinstating the Casino to Murwillumbah train. Pic courtesy of toot RIGHT: Protesting against the Club Med development. PIC courtesy of John McCormick

I decided to run for Council because I was involved in so many local political issues I figured I may as well be on Council full time where I could be better informed and potentially have more influence on what was going on in the Shire. I also wanted to take a break from my music and be more involved with people. I had put out an album the year before I got onto Council… it was like a sampler, or taster for music to be synchronised in films, so it could do its thing in the background while I focused on my role as councillor.

What were some of the key things you hoped to achieve?
I wanted to support creative industries. I wanted to protect and enhance the environment… particularly biodiversity. I wanted to be a voice on Council to get trains back on our tracks, to build more cycleways and for public transport development throughout the Shire. I supported a Byron by-pass, but only if it was in conjunction with a Park and Ride system.

What was your greatest achievement as a councillor?
Getting the Mullum Civic Hall restored. It wasn’t part of my platform but I took it on as part of a personal initiative. It wasn’t the only thing I did but it took a good part of the four years I was there. The effort I had put in to make the restoration happen was enormous and the relief of its completion was very emotional. I am currently completing a stint as chairman of the Hall’s board of management, trying to introduce air conditioning, a portable stage, solar panels, improved acoustics, Internet capability and improved audiovisuals. Council staff obstructed these improvements when I was a councillor.

Was being a councillor a thankless task?
No, a lot of people thanked me. Some even gave me a hug. Generally I found it a positive experience. Not so much the hugs, but more the privilege of being a representative of such a vibrant, creative community. I have thought about running again but it is all-consuming… too many dealings with mediocre bureaucrats, too much mundane reading and too many sweet biscuits at too many meetings… and it’s stressful. You get paid the equivalent of the New Start Allowance… that’s a problem for many people who might consider being a councillor.

Do you think Australia is over-governed?
Definitely, Prue. My model would scrap the State Government tier and have larger regional councils answerable to the Federal Government. Too many local decisions are not understood and overridden by State bureaucracy. That sucks when your driving motivation for being on Council is your passion for the area.

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Given Council elections will be in September this year, what advice would you give to a new, successful candidate?
Make the most of your first term. Choose two or three key areas in which you want to achieve something because as a councillor you are pushed laterally all the time… and be prepared to spend an inordinate amount of time reading material that’s not your core interest. Be positive, responsive and gracious with all the amazing people in this Shire. I did feel it was a privilege to be voted in… to have that amount of support. It was a great feeling.

One of the reasons I wouldn’t return to Council is I have found another vehicle, in the form of my music, to express myself politically. That’s one of the reasons I’ve been asked to perform at Splendour.

Do you consider it an honour to be invited to perform at Splendour?
Yes, absolutely. To perform and share my music in a contemporary arena like Splendour is a total honour. My show is evolving… it incorporates contemporary issues into the lyrics and partially fulfils my desire to speak out. For example, one track I’ll be performing is called ‘Change Now’. People don’t like change but the lyrics are all about it. Another track is called ‘Peace Dance’, which proposes if life is a dance then we might as well dance for peace.  I’m also singing about 100% renewable energy. I feel there is now a positive, achievable solution to this issue, so it’s worth trumpeting.

When are you performing?
I’m performing twice… at 9pm on the 27th and 28th July on the Temple Stage at the Global Village. The show will include videoclips of each track, costumery, masks and vocal overlays.

Bringing it back to Byron… is there anything else you like about living here?
I love the creative and political community and the extraordinary coastal and hinterland beauty. I do a lot of land and ecological restoration and I find every day I’m nurtured by this environment. It helps give meaning to my life. I like Byron, Bangalow, Mullum and Brunswick Heads for the urban fix, the people-part of life. I feel very fortunate. Generally I like the climate, except for summer…  it’s a bit hot.

Where in the Shire do you currently live?
I live on the land not far from Mullumbimby. It was pretty much all cleared when it was bought. I have been revegetating large sections of it… restoring the wildlife corridors with tree plantings and bush regeneration.

Are there any aspects about life here you find challenging?
One thing I still find challenging here, and why I remain politically active, is the terrible public transport. I grew up with good public transport in Melbourne and I have seen how effective it is in Europe… I’ve seen how disempowering the lack of transport is, particularly for the elderly and youth. I remain really passionate about that… hence my involvement in TOOT.

I am also guarded against rampant over-development. As beautiful as the Northern Rivers is, there is still a lot of degradation, and it is in our own interests, as well as tourists, to preserve and improve the natural attributes of this jewel in a challenging and challenged world.

What are your thoughts on tourism?
Tourists are inevitable… the question is how we manage them. The pressure of 1.5 million visitors a year on the Shire’s infrastructure is enormous. We don’t get enough financial support to accommodate the influx. I see good public transport as an essential.  A tourist bed tax would work too, if the State Government would allow it. They did it for the Sydney Olympics.

In the context of development, how do you see Byron Shire in 20 years time?
We are still operating under a 25 year state regional plan that started about 6 years ago. That plan sees neighbouring Shires ear-marked for growth, whereas Byron is not. We will still develop, I just hope sustainably… for example, where people aren’t so reliant on cars. I am optimistic that in 20 years time the Shire will be better than it is now more vegetated, cleaner rivers better transport and clean air.  However the newish NSW Liberal/National coalition could threaten the rural/village mosaic. We will need conviction councillors who are prepared to speak up for environmental protection, enhancement, and sustainable development.

Finishing up with some lighter questions… what’s your favourite local eating place?
Lulu’s (Mullum) for healthy and hearty food… The Poinciana (also Mullum) for ambience and the Top Shop and The Balcony for Byron ambience.

Do you have a favourite shop?
I’m a real fan of the markets. I go to the Mullum Farmers’ Market often. I like Santos and Edens Landing in Mullum for organic foods.

What’s your locals’ tip for tourists?
Oh, you must do the walk from the Pass to the Lighthouse via Little Wategos and stop in at either The Pass or Lighthouse Cafés… and Broken Head track from the caravan park is sensational for coastal views.

Cape Byron arial imageThis gorgeous arial image of the lighthouse (that has been graffitied by Prue – apologies Craig) is courtesy of Fotografx Photography, contact Craig Ching 02 6680 7977 fotografx@iprimus.com.au Top: The sensational views from the Broken Headwalking track

What’s your favourite thing to do in the Byron area?
I love walking in the hinterland bush and on the beach and having coffee with friends… and my music gigs… pretty simple really!

Simple huh? Well I should think so… with such a long list of achievements, I would be exhausted and seeking simplicity too had I achieved so much! Thanks again Peter for your time, it was incredibly generous, inspiring, somewhat overwhelming and a complete pleasure to meet you.

Very Mick – Very Catholic!

Very Mick Mono“…three years earlier I extended my father’s eulogy to the point where mourners demanded an intermission…”

My 88 year-old Mum had been worrying herself to death over what I might say in her eulogy. I said, “Mum, you can’t hear me when I’m standing right beside you, so what makes you think you’ll hear anything through a padded coffin six metres away?” But no, Mother wasn’t about to relinquish control of anything… while she was alive… or dead. So what better way to overcome the problem than have her write her own eulogy… an exercise in creative writing that gave her a new lease on life. So, much to the family’s relief, Mother’s eulogy was signed, sealed and only needed to be delivered… well, so we thought.

The Catholic Church had other ideas. Bishop Christopher Prouse, head of Mother’s local Diocese, immaculately conceived a new set of funeral service guidelines, thus burying Mother’s best laid plans. Chris deemed the new guidelines were necessary to stem the influx of modern, secular activities into the funeral mass. No longer would heathen paraphernalia such as loved ones’ video clips or favourite poems be permitted because this was making the ceremony too long, presumably affecting what was once a lucrative churn and burn ritual.

Chris decreed that in future, the ‘Eulogy’ would be referred to as ‘Words of Remembrance’ and should not exceed five minutes. This gave Mother great cause for concern given she had just penned a six volume manuscript detailing her life’s journey. She was also cognisant of the fact that three years earlier I extended my father’s eulogy to the point where mourners demanded an intermission. And to think, all that valuable church time devoted to a chap who spent more time doing his tax than paying homage to God.

The new guidelines stipulated that only appropriate hymns were to be sung during the funeral service. Mother now feared her final two minute anthem, Kamahl’s soulful rendition of ‘Sounds of Goodbye’, might not be acceptable to the ears of The Lord, thus negating her 88 years of religious devotion. My suggested alternative, Led Zeppelin’s Stairway To Heaven, failed to gain favour, not just because she was unfamiliar with the tune, but because God hadn’t specified the number of flights. This was not surprising since Mother was a pragmatic soul. Two years prior, I suggested travelling from Byron to Melbourne to see her before a hip replacement, just in case she didn’t pull through. She replied “Don’t worry about it, you saw me last month”.

And Chris’s list of changes didn’t stop there. No longer were we permitted to refer to the upcoming service as a Celebration of Mother’s life, but rather ‘A Requiem Mass for the repose of her soul’. ‘Repose of the soul’ has always been a bit antiquated for me, a bit girt by sea. But in the Church, it seems tradition is sacrosanct… surprisingly it still doesn’t burn spinsters at the stake for promoting Witch Hazel for warts. This constant deferral to the past is incredibly trusting of one’s fellow man to accurately relay the word of God. Who knows who penned what, way back when? Why only fifty years ago as a kid, I forged my Mum’s signature so many times my mates called me Phyllis.

Of course there was no surprise with the Church’s inability to cope with the words ‘Celebration’ and ‘Life’ in the same term. The very idea leaves no room for guilt, the bedrock of the Catholic faith.

And while The Church continues to look backwards while purportedly driving forwards, its Gen Y market share is grinding to a halt. Admittedly it’s a big ask… convincing this faction of the flock that funerals are not always about them, and that Skyping the deceased is not cool. And so, while Mother Malloy continues to outlive us all, The Church continues to write its own Eulogy.

Very Mick – Losing the Byron Name Game

Very Mick Mono‘Just what is the attraction to names pilfered from ancient cultures, cultures as relevant to Byron Bay as a ‘Swim Between The Flags’ sign is to the citizens of Atlantis?’

When we arrived in Byron Bay ten years ago, the de facto, Prue, phoned a local computer crowd to discuss her bits and bytes. The dude she was dealing with, called himself Sagaro. Prue, who harbours an overly inquisitive nature, stated ‘That’s an interesting name. Where is it from?’. He simply replied, “It means Ocean”, leaving her none the wiser as to whether he was one of us or something related to ET. A week later we found ourselves at a ‘Sunnyasin’ party where we met an entire flock of ‘Sagaros’. Whilst Varij, Pavita and Roti were all very friendly, we felt like The Murdoch’s at a Truth Convention. We learnt then that the Sannyasins were followers of the Indian guru, Osho (a Jesus with baggage), and that they came to the area for The Nimbin Aquarius Festival in the early 70’s. In search of free love, enlightenment and sizeable chunks of prime real estate, it’s debatable how much enlightenment they found, but they certainly paid nothing for their love or real estate. Continue reading

Very Mick does Social Media for Dummies

Very Mick Mono“…it appears I’m about to spend this entire class just trying to log on.”

My very first ‘Social Media For Business’ class at the ACE Community College in Mullumbimby, and of course, out of ten students, I’m the bunny who knows bugger-all about Facebook … the bottom rung on the social media ladder. What’s worse, I’m in front of a PC for the first time and unable to find the button that turns the damn thing on (a sad reminder of my first dating experience). My pain is exacerbated by a competitive streak wider than Ian Thorpe’s fin-span. I don’t do classroom-loser well. This can be attributed to chocolate, for in my primary school days whole blocks of the stuff were the learning enticement to win at everything from Times Tables to Let’s Find Wally. Even now, in my fifties, I’m convinced being first to finish a yoga class will fast-track my enlightenment. Continue reading

Conversation with Mick Malloy – Screws ‘n Bolts Man

“Santa was about to present me with Tommy tumor, a colostomy bag, and a possible text message saying tidy up your affairs” Mick Malloy

Mick Malloy is joining the team of Very Byron this week as a regular contributor. We have high expectations of Mick since he recently won The Echo‘s ‘Best Letters to the Editor’ award. However, before you become familiar with his quick draw pen and humorous anecdotes on life in Byron, we thought we would introduce his darker side ie moonlights as the Managing Director of Screws ‘n Bolts Handyman Services. We dropped in on him this week for a ‘look-see’ and found an on-the-job stand up comedian. We hope you enjoy the laugh as much as we did. Of course the interview is much more serious!!!

We had to double-check which Michael Malloy we were interviewing because there are two of you in the Byron area.  You must have had a laugh over that?
Yeah, I’d say I’m the only dude who can claim to have found himself within a week of arriving in Byron. When we arrived we rocked up to the Writers Festival where we ran into a volunteer with my name pinned to his shirt. In terms of surnames, the spelling of mine is unusual (Malloy) …  so I’m lookin at this bloke actually wondering if he was like me. Can you believe that? He sure as hell didn’t look like me and as it turned out, he was very high profile. A few years later he started copping flak over some of the politically charged letters I was writing to The Echo, so much so, he had to write in to say he wasn’t me. To help him out I started calling myself Mick Malloy, but then people confused me with the Melbourne comedian, Mick Molloy, a dude who is half my height, twice my weight and ten times funnier. Continue reading

Conversation with Stephanie Dale – Award Winning Author + Book Giveaways

Well if we were presenting an award to this woman it would go something like this… Please put your hands together for the mother, grandmother, vegetarian, radical feminist, free spirited, Byron transient, inspiring and highly engaging award winning self publishing author – Stephanie Dale. Recently returned from New York with a big gold medal around her neck… we found Stephanie not short on a word or thought provoking opinion. We loved every minute of it. She shared some of her valuable time with us prior to the Byron Writers Festival where she continues her path of helping others pursue their passion for creative writing, along with insights and tips on the world of self publishing.

“I am at the edge of my own existence” – Stephanie Dale

Stephanie Dale - My Pilgrim's Heart
Stephanie Dale promoting her first book ‘My Pilgrim’s Heart’ at the Bangalow Markets

So Stephanie, what brought you to this area?
I’d been living in Adelaide for seven years and then Lismore for three years in the early 90’s. I loved Byron but it was too much of a party town back then, and whilst I was happy for the kids (teenage daughter and son) to party, I didn’t want them to be living with the distraction and lack of accountability. I wanted them to be able to escape it and have somewhere to come home to. So I chose to live in Lismore.

So you’ve been here since the early 1990’s?
On and off. It’s my place of return. It’s the place I come back to when I can’t think of anywhere else to be. Also my daughter lives on the Gold Coast and has two children 12 & 14. After raising a generation and a half of children I feel like I can finally leave home myself. They have been too precious for me to do anything like leave. Continue reading