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Intersection of Fitzroy and Grey Streets in St Kilda on a cloudy day

The Other Side of Fitzroy Street

I didn’t always love St Kilda. I grew up in quiet leafy Middle Park; my high school was in Windsor. St Kilda lay in between, a kind of Badlands to be crossed, every weekday, from behind the safety of Mum’s car windows. When the lights at the intersection of Fitzroy and Grey Streets turned green, she would release the hand break and the car would, for the briefest moment, roll backwards, like a horse retreating from a shadow-filled place: the...

I’m raising my children in a flat and the community that comes with it is worth it

My father lives in the next suburb, but I can count the times he’s been inside my home on one hand. Two fingers, actually: after the birth of my son and after the birth of my daughter. It’s not because we don’t get on – I love Dad and he loves me. But he is a boomer who bought a four-bedroom, three-garden house for $2 in 1974, and I am pushing 40 and live in a flat. Let me repeat:...

Just a Moment in the Woods

When I was 15, I fell in love with a boy and a man. The first introduced me to the second;Ben, more confident in my talents than I was, dragged me along to audition for a schoolproduction of Merrily We Roll Along. While he got a main role and I got into the chorus, weboth got our first taste of Stephen Sondheim. When artists die, perhaps it’s not the personthemselves that we mourn – who we haven’t met, didn’t know...

Gardening Australia – Where to Begin story

In 2021 I was on Gardening Australia, getting some advice from Jane Edmanson about the basics of growing things in my community plot in St Kilda. The segment was replayed in 2024. You can watch the story here: https://www.abc.net.au/gardening/how-to/where-to-begin/13577212?utm_campaign=abc_gardening&utm_content=link&utm_medium=content_shared&utm_source=abc_gardening...

When Did You Call Yourself a Writer?

28 years of diary keeping helped me realise I was one On my seventh birthday I started a diary, a tiny blue book with hearts on the cover, my stories — mostly about my love for Shauna the Grade 1 music teacher, and detailed descriptions of the lollies I bought with my pocket money — kept safe by a heart-shaped lock. These diaries have accumulated over the years. The physical ones — before I started storing my thoughts in a...

A stressed white female teacher sitting at a desk with her head in her hands

I Had to Become a Chinese Teacher to Discover the Writer Within

At 32, returning to Australia after a year studying Chinese in Nanjing, I embarked on a teaching course. I had come to the reasonably-late-but-not-too-late-in-life realization that teaching was my true calling, despite pushing it away for many years. Not that the other things I’d been doing were wrong, but that here was the perfect profession for me, something that would use all my skills, that would be rewarding, useful, helpful, and hopefully, fun. Oh yeah, and that would pay me...

Our country needs good teachers. I am not going to be one of them.

“That’s not going to be me,” I sniffed, as I read the statistics. Half of all new teachers leave within the first five years. But not me. I was different. How smug I was. Five years? I barely made a term. At 31, after a career in international development, managing projects in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu, I took a break and spent a year studying Chinese in Nanjing. I would indulge my inner Rudd and brush up on my...

Down and Out in Bath and London

Once upon a time, two Australian girls lived in a cupboard above the stairs, in a town called Bath, in a country called England. The girls were best friends. One was Liz and the other was Isabel. Liz and Iz. This is a true story and it happened ten years ago. Liz and Iz met at high school, and afterwards, went to Melbourne Uni together. After the first year of their Arts degrees, they decided that they needed to go...