May 28 - June 3, 2017: Issue 314
The man may take himself out of Pittwater but you cannot take the Pittwater out of the man.
Since commencing this local news service we have been approached by people far and worldwide sharing anecdotes from times past or wanting to get in touch with people who may still be in the area - the magazine has become a telephone exchange of a kind alike those in old country towns, only online!
Many of our overseas writers are clearly ex-pats checking in to see what's been happening. Those who contact us from within Australia herself are also those who have some connection with the area or were once residents here who regularly visit to catch up with friends, relatives and the tides.
From the outset one of our jobs as a news service is to cheer on those from here competing overseas in sailing regattas or visiting places where residents hope to make a difference, such as Soibada. We also love sharing insights from those travelling around this great southern land, Songs From the Road and, after they get back, Of The Road is locals sharing how parts of Australia are right now. We also share news from those many consider a part of Pittwater still - such as the wonderful Bridget and Jervis Sparks. Letting you know about their latest ventures so we can all support or cheer those from the 'home country' still is what this news service is all about.
This week we share an insight into a gentleman with a passion for music, something our younger readers have in droves, who also has been amongst much of Pittwater's 1980's and 1990's band culture that saw so many local venues packed to the rafters and jumping!
Trent Morgan grew up around here and has been into music since a student at Avalon Public School. He's playing still as part of 'Broadfoot' - who feature as our June 2017 Artists of the Month and are releasing their brand new double album. More about them in the Artist of the Month page.
First - a little from one of our own:
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Paddington Sydney in 1971
I moved around a bit when growing up. I first lived in a flat in Vaucluse as my father had grown up on Sydney harbour - he was a champion 12 foot skiff sailor. We moved to Bayview near the golf course until my parents split up. My mother later started seeing a guy called Frank Johnson whom she later married. Frank and my Mum were really good golfers - Frank won the Bayview club championship eleven times - he could have gone pro but chose not to. Mum won the Cromer club championship in 1979. My sister and I spent a lot of time on golf courses, I became very good at looking for golf balls.
Next we moved to Collaroy, in a house near Long Reef golf course and then in a flat at the southern end of Collaroy Beach overlooking the ocean. It was great being that close to the beach as a kid but I went to Collaroy Plateau PS and I used to have to walk home down Alexander Street - very steep - used to walk into Wicks Surf Centre then (late 70’s) and was given free Quiksilver and Balin stickers and others when the companies were quite young - the stickers had great artwork - very beautiful. Saw Grease at the cinema in Collaroy. Paddle Pops cost 20 cents. We’d play cricket in the park near my house and we’d use the old 44 gallon drum council bins as stumps - they had WSC stamped on them and I always thought it stood for World Series Cricket but it was for Warringah Shire Council. I was well into the Sea Eagles and saw the 1978 grand final win and used to visit Brookvale Oval at training times sometimes. Graham Eadie - the great Sea Eagles fullback was my footy hero and the funny thing is that now he works up here in a hotel near where I live and I once had to give him our band posters to put up - I felt I should have put them up - how could I let the great Graham Eadie do that! I remember when the Nivea double decker bus would sometimes visit Collaroy Beach on busy hot summers’ days at the beach and give out free samples - creams, hats, beach balls. Same with Moove flavoured milk when it came out.
At Collaroy infants school I have a memory of going to school after a weekend of being at the beach with really sunburnt shoulders and my mates would sometimes be the same and we’d always be careful not to slap each other on the backs. Another time a school friend wanted to mime a performance of Twist and Shout and I was told I could be John Lemon. This may have influenced me later on at Avalon primary school where I mimed to Bill Haley’s Rock Around the Clock and Long Tall Sally in class, and later to Buddy Holly’s Oh Boy in numerous school productions - right into high school. In the late 70’s my father bought a house in Palm Beach near the golf clubhouse and I remember my father asking me to read the surf report over the phone - live to air, to Doug Mulray on Double Jay. I think my father did the first surf reports for radio in Sydney - he had friends all down the coast where he’d ring to get the conditions for everywhere else.
In 1980 I moved to Avalon - Sanctuary Ave, until 1988
What I did for fun was usually hang out with my mates in our street which was a cul-de-sac, riding skateboards and bikes and playing cricket. I surfed a lot in my teenage years, walking down Park Ave and then over the sand dunes. As a ‘grommet’ I’d often surf at ‘suck up’ the little re-forming right hander breaking into North Av. and I have very strong memories of the old hardened mal riders who’d ride waves in from out the back and didn’t care one bit if you were in their way - they were merciless!
Later I usually surfed at middle Avalon to escape the crowds.
I raced in a Manly Junior out of Avalon Sailing Club for a few years and played cricket with the Palm Beach RSL club for a couple of years. I played soccer for the Avalon soccer club when I was 9 and went back for two more years in the late 90’s. Hitchcock Park has changed a lot since then. Back then it looked as if the council had filled in some swamp to make the playing fields and I’m guessing they had. Dunbar Park was also a soccer ground for younger kids and had a cricket net next to the units on the northern side which I spent a bit of time in.
Lorikeets used to visit our verandah to be hand fed and there was a period when peacocks roamed the area. I visit the street just about every time I visit Sydney and it doesn’t seem to have changed much which I think is nice. The funny thing is my future wife lived just down the road in Kevin Ave but I didn’t meet her until the mid 90’s when we both worked at Cipris’ fruit shop. My wife’s family had a house right on Bungan Beach but then moved to Kevin Ave, to the oldest house in the street. Her parents owned and ran The Chelsea Antiques in the 70’s on Old Barrenjoey Rd in Avalon which is now The Chelsea Tea House. I have memories of seeing my future wife walking from school and I must admit I was pretty scared of her then because she had long black hair with purple, pink and gold through it and wore black clothes and winkle pickers - it was the 80’s!
We both still feel as if we are away from home after living on the Northern Rivers for nearly seventeen years. The Northern Beaches feels like our home and we love going back to visit - often with heavy hearts. Houses on the peninsula back then were not just for the wealthy or those committed to a lifetime mortgage paid off by double incomes for the rest of people’s lives. There seemed to be opportunity for lower income earners to live there as well. I’m not sure if this is the case any more. Sydney’s burgeoning population and demand for Sydney housing seems to have pushed prices to incredible levels, some may say ridiculous. One of my songs is about this topic - ‘Free World’ from Broadfoot’s previous album ‘The Sun Warms The Sea’. I look back at the timing of the house price rise and jump in population and I reckon it may have had something to do with the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Sydney was on the world’s centre stage then and the vibe of Sydney itself seemed at bursting point with pride and showing off how wonderful it was. The Olympics seemed to have a side effect of being a giant advertisement for being there.
I went to school at Collaroy Plateau from Kindergarten up until the first term of 3rd grade. I enjoyed it there, and then went to Avalon Primary school. I joined the school band in 4th grade and played the cymbals all year. We played at the Opera House once and the someone up in the hierarchy reckoned I deserved some better quality cymbals so the school got some brand new ones which were bigger and of really good quality. I remember standing on the back of a truck playing these with the rest of the school band going past Palm Beach RSL on ANZAC Day - great fun.
Playing with the Avalon Primary School band in 1983 after an ANZAC March. Palm Beach - Governor Phillip Park.
In 5th grade the school got another drum kit and even though I was not in year 6 I was allowed to play one of them - I loved it. Same again in Year 6, drum kit and I was section leader of the percussion group - loved it very much. Playing in the band really helped to open me up. I look back on those days and think about how wonderful it was playing with all those different instruments - saxophones, tubas, flutes, clarinets, euphoniums etc. It was a big band a big sound. The teacher/conductor’s name was Peter Ongley and I had a sort of strained relationship with him - I liked his musical side and I think he liked my drumming but that was about it. I do remember he would throw his baton at kids doing the wrong thing like talking during rehearsal - not allowed to do that anymore!
Newport overlooking the ocean from 1988 until 1990.
Mum and Frank built a granny flat type thing for me above the garage - I loved this - it gave me heaps of space to be myself. I surfed a lot at Newport and Bilgola. I found it to be a bit of a culture shock moving from Avalon to Newport, it might sound strange but it was a big difference to a 16 year old. I liked Newport but I think I missed Avalon. I finished high school while living here and it was also when I bought my first drum kit.
My first drum kit, musical influences of the time and The Ramblers
I had never owned a drum kit and my interest in it was increasing a lot in later high school as I was part of the school rock band. Also, after a family gathering where I saw my mother’s cousin who was a major Jimi Hendrix lover and had been a guitar player in his own band years before, he sent me nearly all of Hendrix’s work. This had a huge influence on my life at the time - Hendrix’s music opened up other dimensions for me and I loved it.
So, I had saved money and I had enough to buy a drum kit but my Mum wouldn’t let me buy one. However, I was really determined so I drew up a petition basically saying that I should be allowed to buy a drum kit and I took it to school and I had my friends sign it, teachers sign it, anyone I could get. I ended up with two and a half foolscap pages of signatures. I presented it to my mother and I don’t think she spoke to me for about two days. Thankfully she relented and I bought exactly what I wanted - a second hand Pearl kit with Paiste Cymbals - I think it cost $850.
I set it up in my room which was separate from the house and put on headphones and played along with all my favourite music. My goodness my neighbours were kind not to shut me down. Triple M in Sydney with Doug Mulray as the breakfast host was playing old rock classics regularly and it tied in with my love for 50’s, 60’s and 70’s rock and it would fuel my musical ambitions. I played along with Hendrix, the Small Faces, Deep Purple, Barabajagal by Donovan, King Biscuit Boy, The Rolling Stones, Steppenwolf - anything I liked the groove of. It really tightened up my timing and I guess it helped shape the drummer I am now.
I jammed with some guys from school and then eventually joined a local band called The Ramblers whose drummer was leaving. I had really liked the songs they played at Barrenjoey High School dances, especially Pinball Wizard by the Who, Long Tall Sally by Little Richard and Cocaine by JJ Cale. I ended up moving into the ‘band house’ in Dee Why and that served as our base for ‘conquering’ the musical world.
Being a musician
After school I enrolled in a Civil Engineering course at UNSW in 1990 but I pulled out after 5 and a half weeks (it wasn’t for me) to be a gigging musician. My mother was gutted - I couldn’t understand it then but looking back I can understand why she would have felt like that then. I figured if I played three gigs a week and worked part time around that, with some spare time for leisurely pursuits, that that would be the lifestyle for me. To be honest I still like the idea. The hard part is making it happen!
I got a part time job at the Avon factory in Brookvale - a few days a week and I enjoyed working there - the company really looked after the staff - and the canteen had great food. One of my early gigs with the band was when I secured a spot playing at Avalon Market Day.
Ramblers photo - playing with the Ramblers, Avalon Market Day 1989, in front of McMillan Court.
The Ramblers were getting a bit of work in and around the city so one of them made the decision to move into the city to be closer to the work - it wasn’t me - I just went along. We lived in a run down terrace house in Surrey Hills and lived very meagerly playing gigs around Sydney. Eventually we moved to the 2nd terrace house from Redfern station still attempting to ‘conquer’ the musical world. Our ambition landed us a meeting with the head of BMG/Sony at the time but it amounted to nothing.
I was run down and disillusioned with the lifestyle so I moved to the Gold Coast to live with my father for a few months before returning to the Northern Beaches in 1992. Initially I stayed with my step father at Newport before moving in again with the band members - this time in a place above the Bilgola Bends with great views of Bilgola Beach and the ocean.
The large surf photo was taken from where I was living at The Outlook, Bilgola, North Bilgola Beach on one of the biggest days I've ever seen - some time in 1992, possibly 1993. The waves were enormous. I thought the photo might interest many people, especially surfers. Not many people would have seen waves that big and breaking that well off North Bilgola - not a renowned spot for great waves.
We played at various gigs and I really got into surfing the area as I now had a car. Unfortunately with my northern European skin and the incredible outdoor recreational opportunities available on the Northern Beaches I have probably spent far too much time in the sun and just in case anyone needed any more warning about the dangers of overdoing time spent in the sun, I had a squamous cell carcinoma (the 2nd worst type of skin cancer) removed from my temple in 2000 and more recently a basal cell carcinoma removed from my scalp, plus numerous other less severe treatments. I wore zinc and other suncream and was nearly 100% sun aware as an older kid and then as an adult. I think it was just sheer quantity of sun. Sitting out in the surf for hours you would never think about getting sun damage on your scalp when you have a full head of hair, but I never stopped to think that the part of ones hair is exposed all the time.
In 1994 we moved to a great place overlooking Whale Beach and I worked at the Amber Waves bakery and then at the Cipris fruit shop when they were located at Barefoot Boulevarde. Working here really inspired me to get out and go bushwalking as a break from being in doors.
In 1995 I did six months of a business course at Tafe. In 1996 I moved by myself to Palm Beach with a view of Barrenjoey Headland and I studied music at the Australian Institute of Music in Surrey Hills for the rest of the year.
In early 1997 I moved to North Avalon sharing a place with my sister and her boyfriend. I started a Bachelor of Music course at UNSW but switched to a straight Arts Degree halfway through. The music being studied was classical and jazz and although I liked it - especially the jazz, I felt it was too far from my musical background, I wasn’t as interested in the music as I needed to be. During this time I worked part time at the Amarie Thai Cuisine in Avalon. I quite enjoyed working there and I certainly got to eat some lovely food. I was the delivery driver for the restaurant and in those years I got to travel all over the peninsula, seeing many amazing houses in the process. At the time I think I knew every street from Newport to Palm Beach - it was a great way to really see the area. One delivery was to a house in Palm Beach. It was early in the run and I didn’t have any change left having just done a delivery. The actor Peter Phelps answered the door and didn’t have the right change either. He gave me the money and I told him I didn’t have the right change (it was supposed to be $5) and he just got really grumpy and slammed the door in my face - I was stunned! I think he must have thought I was fishing for a tip. I went off and did some more deliveries and when I had $5 in change I took it back and tried to give it to him. He sort of looked quite sheepish and seemed apologetic and said to keep it anyway. I could see why he was chosen for some of the high energy roles he plays.
In 1998 I switched to Macquarie University to continue the degree but also took on a Diploma of Education. I moved to a different place in Avalon. I graduated in 2000 majoring in Philosophy.
In 2001 - I left the Northern Beaches and moved to the Northern Rivers to do teaching and music. I was married to my lovely lady in 2003 and I have two wonderful children. I worked as a casual primary school teacher pretty intensely for about twelve years. Broadfoot started up in 2007. I’ve been in Mullumbimby for fifteen years now, mainly doing music with the occasional work for tradesmen mates.
Trent with his girls.
Work and architecture
As a musician who wanted to play as much music as possible it meant that rent had to be paid from income from other sources. A warning to all prospective musicians - being a musician (unless you are extremely successful) can be very limiting financially. I started playing pubs in 1990 and back then the Brookvale Hotel paid $400 for a gig - I think Mona Vale Hotel was $350. I think $100 each for a gig at that level was considered pretty standard. To be perfectly honest the prices haven’t really gone up much these days. When Broadfoot plays at The Rails in Byron now (27 years later!) we are paid $500. Musicians wages at that level have not gone up with the rest of society’s wages.
So, to make money I worked (often with my band mates) through a great scheme run by the government then through the CES (Commonwealth Employment Service). Basically employers who had casual work or something more would let the CES know and we could go and see what jobs were available. Because the work was short term it fit in with the music. I got work unloading shipping containers, gardening, painting, working for plumbers, spreading top soil on Elanora Bowling Green, packing work in factories - often in Brookvale. One fun job was operating the stop and go signs on the Palm Beach bends when the telephone or electricity cables were being put underground. It was seat-of-the pants stuff - no walkie talkies, at one time I had to control a blind corner by myself - not easy and very dodgy. Setting up the Christmas decorations in Grace Bros at Warringah Mall was great fun. One of the worst was digging golf balls out of the mud with a screw driver at Terrey Hills driving range in the dark before dawn in mid winter - about the coldest I’ve felt - the sun coming up was a blessing!
One of the jobs I used to do was some gardening for a couple in the 90’s who had bought the 1920’s(?) beach house on Whale Beach Road in Whale Beach where the surf magazine Tracks was made. The owner had even found some old Tracks page layouts for printing. The house hadn’t been changed - same old sea grass matting - beautiful cottage on a sandstone base - knocked down for development in the late 90’s. It’s one of my biggest bug bears about the Northern Beaches - that very few of the beach houses built early in the 20th century were listed as heritage and I saw one after the other being knocked down in the 90’s and beyond to make way for characterless bagged concrete monstrosities built from one edge of the property to the next, painted in what my family call a ‘death colour’ - often dark grey or beige, nothing vibrant or bright or vivid. For my wife and I this has taken a lot of the character away from the area - especially the further northern suburbs. The old beach houses seemed to sit much more in sympathy with the beautiful natural surrounds and they seemed to inspire imagination and reflected a time of more leisure - you could almost feel all the parties that had been in them! From Avalon and North they seemed to encapsulate the bohemian lifestyle which was present in the earlier days. When I lived in Avalon in my earlier days I was very mindful of what was older and what was newer and I was very attracted to the older architecture, the older culture - I sort of sensed what had been there and enjoyed that aspect of it.
Musical influences -
My family’s influences.
Dad - My fathers’ music collection had lots of music in it which I loved and apparently a lot of it was played when I was too young to remember what was being played but the vibe of it seemed to stay with me. A lot of this music was from the 60’s and early 70’s. He played Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John a lot and I liked a few songs on that. When I was ten he gave me Creedence Clearwater’s hits and I listened to that heaps.
In Bayview when I was really young Mum used to put on music for me to dance to - I really liked dancing when I was very young. She also played a Burt Bacharach compilation with What’s New Pussycat - I loved that and thankfully I saw him perform live the previous two times he toured out here - I love his music.
Me in 1974 or 1975 in the garden in Bayview
Frank my stepfather had all sorts of music on tapes I liked listening to when I was kid including a Beatles and Stones compilations. Also I really liked Buddy Holly. When my father found out I liked the Stones he gave me a double tape compilation of their music in the 60’s. I would listen to that for hours and hours - loved it. Huge influence on me. My mother also had some original Stones albums of his which I got into as well.
Mum and Frank used to play music on the stereo at home all the time - a huge range. In the 70’s - Betty Blockbuster (Reg Livermore), we loved Long Tall Glasses, ABBA, disco compilations, we’d go to dinner parties with their friends where the Bee Gees would be on - Saturday Night Fever. Also, things like the Kenny Ball Big Band, The Jack Jones theme to the Love Boat, Barry Manilow, Frank Sinatra, KC and the Sunshine Band, George Benson, The Sweet - especially Ballroom Blitz - they were a great band - really good musicians. The radio was on all the time too. I remember the radio playing the Rolling Stones Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out (live in 1969) in full and my mum just cranked the volume and it blared out over our front garden in Avalon and it was huge - utterly awesome - same with Joe Cocker’s ‘The Letter’ with those great sax and trumpet solos. We would sometimes go to The Rocks or Birkenhead Point and see live jazz bands and I really liked that - really good musicians. In the days of radio and tape decks I would wait for songs I liked and taped them.
My Mother’s mother was a piano/organ player who had her organised own music group going playing in local clubs and dances - probably in the 1950’s. My mother is way into music and she may have got it from her mother to a degree. My father’s parents were into jazz - groovy small jazz combos. I have fond memories of sitting relaxing as a kid (and as an adult) with my grandparents (often after being at the beach for most of the day) with music such as Dave Brubeck and Oscar Peterson on in the background - often they’d have a glass of wine in hand and it was a really lovely feeling in the room. I listen to a bit of this stuff now and I still love it, such good musicians and lovely music, often with some great grooves.
School and beyond
In the Avalon primary school band when I joined when I was nine they played the theme to Sesame Street which featured enormous drum fills from the then drummers - Paul Ives and Nick Pope. The way they played influenced my drumming, Paul was more steady at the time and the main drummer, but Nick (who later went onto become the president of NASA - North Avalon Surfing Association) really let himself go at times and was very creative with his drum fills. Both of these approaches to drumming had an influence on me early on.
During High School I got my first taste of live rock ‘n’ roll bands at school dances. I loved dancing to Bobby Sox - a Northern Beaches band who played some great stuff to dance to. I particularly loved their versions of the Easybeats’ She’s So Fine and Sorry. This woke me up to how good the Easybeats were. Bobby Sox had a guitarist called Milton Brown who later became my economics teacher at Barrenjoey High School. Milton stood out to me when I was a student because he was a guitarist and a surfer and that seemed pretty cool to me. (He organised a mini bus for four days to take students who were surfers to the best surf spots on the beaches as an end of year activity - needless to say he had to fend off some territorial locals at some spots who didn’t like him bringing a ready made crowd. I find the occasional territorial nature of surfing really ugly and unnecessary).
At our Year 12 graduation ceremony some of the students had put together a rock band to play a few songs. I surprised Milton by calling him up in front of the school to play guitar on and sing Jimi Hendrix’s Foxy Lady with us.
Playing at Barrenjoey High School's 21st anniversary concert - 1988
The lead singer of Bobby Sox - Brad Haynes further influenced my music in the late 90’s when he was dating my sister. I moved in with them and started getting more and more into funk - James Brown etc By this stage Brad had already been running the northern beaches dance band ‘Baby James’ - dedicated to mostly playing funk and soul classics. In this period Brad got me in to play congas and other percussion with Baby James which was really fun. Later on some of the last couple of gigs with the Ramblers were supporting Baby James at Palm Beach RSL - I’d play drums with the Ramblers then percussion with Baby James - all to a packed house and great fun.
Other important musical influences for me include (and there are many - I like lots of different music) - Curtis Mayfield - I love his sensibilities, early soul funk, Wilson Pickett, JJ Cale, The Who, Santana, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Daddy Cool, AC/DC, Cold Chisel, early Australian prog rock, The Meters, surf film soundtracks from the 70’s such as ‘In search of tubular swells’, The Allman Brothers, Steve Miller Band, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Animals and the New Animals, Eric Burdon and War (love them), Doobie Brothers, Beach Boys, Traffic, Cream, Free, The Band’s Last Waltz, more Small Faces, The Faces and a whole lot of jazz - Dave Brubeck, Oscar Peterson, Paul Desmond, Jimmy Smith and Tito Puente. The Beatles of course had an enormous influence on me as a musician - they were an awesome band - I also really like the music of Paul McCartney and Wings.
I would like to say that it is the music of these musicians I really like - it’s not necessarily their lifestyles or life choices - some of which would be at complete loggerheads to my social values and the way I live. It makes me really sad that many were lost young or affected adversely because of drug/alcohol/substance abuse. What a waste - I would so like to have listened to more of their music!
My favourite places in Pittwater and why
Barrenjoey Headland, utterly beautiful, with all sorts of variety of vegetation on it (more before it was burnt), with an amazingly magical feel to it with stunning views in every direction. I love walking around it - the rocks are very beautiful - I love the colours of the sand stone - vivid purples, bright oranges. I found out further stories about the cottages on the headland when my father-in-law’s best friend Bruen Finey told me about his time when he negotiated to live in the cottages with a group of friends in the 1950’s to set up a small artist’s colony. They helped restore the buildings and grounds and I think they had a great time.
Surfing at North Avalon on a big clean sunny day with the waves breaking so they can be ridden nearly to South Avalon. Again for the sheer beauty of it. Whilst sitting out there waiting for a wave I’d often wait further out and to the shoulder towards South Avalon (because on a big day I was worried the sets would break on my head). From this perspective watching an extra large wave form and break with North Avalon headland behind it, way out beyond the pack of surfers is an amazing sight - unbelievably beautiful in form and power and scale. I would automatically whoop with delight watching it - as I’m sure would many of the other surfers. From this vantage point I would often be lucky and pick up many of the wider breaking waves. Plus I wouldn’t have to compete for the waves with the likes of some of the area’s surfing professionals at the time. However, what I loved on these bigger days was that often there was this older group of surfers, usually on mals, who would end up dominating the line up. These were hardened men, locals from way back and the young blokes on their little performance boards would struggle to compete to get the waves, unless they dropped in - which did happen. Often these older locals kept a sense of order out there - they were fair and had a friendly disposition about them. One of these was former Pittwater mayor Alex McTaggart. I loved watching him and his mates dominating over the younger crew - Midget Farrelly would often be amongst them too at times.
The ocean pools - because you can swim in beautiful salty water getting superb exercise at no financial cost, they are cleaned regularly, you’re in lovely surrounds, and the pools have no chlorine and no sharks. There are no ocean pools up here (except for Yamba) and the shark situation has been so bad in recent years I have given up surfing.
I loved walking to Barrenjoey lighthouse, walking the trail to Bangalley Headland (the flannel flowers are stunning at the right time of year), doing West Head walks - Flint and Steel, Resolute Beach and walking around some of the headlands, especially around North Avalon and Barrenjoey Headland - I used to find these walks utterly inspiring. The rocks give out something which sounds a bit ‘north coasty’ if I try to explain it but they definitely have a power to them. I also once walked around West Head to see if I could do it - it was hard work!
I also stupidly did a walk from North Avalon to Whale Beach around the headlands. I had been reading ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’ by Tom Wolfe one afternoon and was feeling inspired by the utterly adventurous pioneering spirit of the characters in it and I felt like a good walk. It was getting reasonably late in the day when I decided to go. To walk from North Avalon to Whale Beach around the headlands is not possible without getting wet because of the ‘Ovens’ - that amazing crevasse in the headland around from South Whale Beach where the ocean goes into the headland in a sort of cave - it’s utterly beautiful and stunning but at the same time sort of sinisterly dangerous - not the sort of place you’d want to be with any swell around. I had seen photos of a friend’s friend jumping from the side of the southern opening to the ovens into the ocean and I thought that I must have been able to walk around to there if he’d got there. What I didn’t realise is that he had probably swum to there from the Whale beach side and climbed up. I walked around and got near to where I thought it was and came across a vertical chunk of rock face. Imbued with my adventurous pioneering spirit I tried going up and I instinctively climbed it knowing I wouldn’t be able to go back down because of the dodgy footings. I got to the top and saw where he must have jumped from but it was all slippery shale with large rocks to the side below - what a goose! I ended up having to jump into the mouth of the ovens fully clothed and walked wet back up the cliff and home - never to do it again - it was stupidly dangerous.
Follow your passion. When I graduated from university, an honours graduate in Philosophy gave a speech and this was her advice - I tend to agree with it. If you follow your passion or what really interests you I reckon there’s a good chance you’ll do well at it. For me it often seems to go hand in hand - loving doing something and doing well in it.
Also, if I ever find myself in a situation where I’m pretty stuck in making a decision, what helps me is to ask myself - ‘What is the wise thing to do’. This tends to help me to perhaps make a better decision.
The ANZAC Day 2017- me drumming at the ANZAC Day 2017 march in Mullumbimby. I’m at the rear in the straw hat. The drum group is my children, a friend's children, and myself. We’ve done this four times now. I’d like there to be a band as big as the Avalon Primary School band from my youth but I can’t find the musicians.