Swimming with Whale Sharks

Have you ever ticked off a bucket list item without realising it was there in the first place?

Back in 2014, Andy and I took an impromptu trip to Coral Bay in Western Australia after our original destination was on fire. Literally. We counted our lucky stars when we rerouted and found ourselves surrounded by glorious clear blue water and tropical fish. But one (giant) fish we would not see was the Whale Shark. We’d missed the season by a few weeks, so vowed we would return one day.

That day came in May this year. Much like the first time, we flew to Exmouth, picked up a car and drove to the tiny town of Coral Bay, passing giant termite mounds along the way.

We arrived in paradise

The following day we did our Whale Shark safari, which included some snorkelling stops as well. We booked with Coral Bay Eco Tours, who were fantastic. It’s a pricey day ($410 each) but well worth it, they actually send up a plane to scout the Whale Shark locations.

Turtely awesome

Our first snorkel spot of the day. I will never tire of swimming with turtles ❤

Our first Whale Shark was content to lazily circle for an hour while we jumped in and swam alongside all 6 metres of him.

Long boy

There was a strategy wherein the boat would drop you in front of the Whale Shark so you could watch it go past and then swim madly to keep up. It was incredible how they hardly seemed to move but cut through the water so quickly.

It’s really hard to get a sense of the scale of them. If you look at the people behind the Whale Shark in the photo below you can kind of tell how huge they are:

We split into groups so we could constantly rotate between swimming and hauling ourselves up onto the boat to move ahead of the Whale Shark to drop in again. It was amazing and tiring. The most thrilling part was when the shark would suddenly decide to turn and would swim directly at you until you scampered out of the way.

Our 2014 trip was the first time I ever used a GoPro and I’m happy to say my underwater photography skills have improved since then! Andy bought this great dome mount that makes it easier to take these over/underwater shots:

We toasted to the day.

And watched the sunset back on dry land.

100% would recommend swimming with Whale Sharks.

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Wearing matching pyjamas with my sister, Sarah. She and her husband Nady are in Melbourne for the imminent arrival of their baby, my first niece or nephew. An exciting time! It’s been so nice to hang out without a time limit (for now). Sarah and I were inspired by the SNL skit ‘Backhome Baller‘, a comedic song that describes the nuances of visiting your parents with painfully hilarious accuracy, when we bought our $9.50 flannelette pyjamas from Kmart. V comfy.

Reading Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. I am not completely fine with how fantastic it is! Can barely put it down. Make sure you read it before Reese Witherspoon’s production company turns it into a not-quite-as-good movie.

Planning a wedding. The most frustrating part of which is the lack of vendor pricing information available online. It’s a huge waste of my time and the florist/videographer/white dove wrangler’s time to send emails back and forth only to find their prices wildly outside my budget. At least give a price range!

Watching a combination of 30 Rock, The Handmaid’s Tale and Fleabag. Some comedy to balance the soul crushing experience that is an hour inside Gilead.

Eating stuffed sweet potatoes. They’re perfect for winter. My favourite topping is a Mexican bean medley with adobo chillies, guac, feta and hummus. I’ve also been eating a lot of dumplings, I wish I could blame this on the weather but they really are a year-round staple.

Wishing we had booked a winter getaway somewhere warm. With babies and weddings and other things a holiday has fallen off the agenda for the first time in a very long time. I miss having something to look forward to. Major first world problem.

Wondering how people are finding Instagram now that you can’t see how many likes have landed on a photo? Better? Worse? The same? I quite like it, I never realised how I let the number of likes guide how I felt about a photo until now! Sounds so lame but I suppose I’d see 100+ likes, double tap and keep scrolling. Whereas now I seem to take more time looking at what’s in front of me.

Buying lots of secondhand vases on Facebook Marketplace to try and create this kind of vibe. Boy do you have to be quick to nab them before they are snapped up! And then you have to drive to the far outer suburbs to pick them up. How come no one that sells anything online lives within a 10km radius of me?!

Enjoying seeing more kids in the city over the school holidays. The holidays are over now but for two weeks there were noticeably more backpack-adorned children wondering around, marvelling at things I’d long stopped noticing about my immediate surrounds. Like the little boy who stopped to sniff every bunch of flowers in the stand outside my office and the kids huddled together watching the construction of a new train station. A good reminder to stop rushing and look up from my phone occasionally.

Please send book recommendations and have a great week x

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Sorry Marie Kondo, objects shouldn’t spark joy

Last weekend, like millions of others overcome with Kondo induced hysteria, I dutifully gathered all the clothes from my wardrobe, the hall cupboard and the spare room and laid out a material mountain on my bed. Just as Japanese de-clutter Queen Marie Kondo dictates in her book and recent Netflix show ‘Tidying Up’.

The purpose of this is to fully appreciate just how many patterned sun dresses you own and don’t wear. Or that’s how it felt when I stared at the bulbous pile overwhelming the bed. The next step, according to Kondo, is to pick up each item and decide whether or not it ‘sparks joy’.

So I grabbed the first Country Road knit atop the pile with both hands, ready for the material to transfer a spark of feeling through my skin and up my arms and into my heart… and I felt… nothing. I picked up the long printed wrap-dress I wore to my sister’s wedding… nothing… A black strapless Natasha Gan cocktail dress I bought on holiday in Bali… nothing… a simple blazer from Zara… nothing. This continued until I picked up a white Uniqlo tshirt, visibly stained that sickly yellow/grey from deodorant, and felt revulsion. Somewhat miffed about the hollow absence of joy, I sorted my clothes until I had four large bags straining to contain my discards. Those bags were promptly transferred to my car and then I sat down, exhausted from the process and overwhelmed with naked coat hangers.

During the week, items from the car slowly crept their way upstairs, into my apartment and onto my body. The grey summer work dress carelessly tossed aside just days prior might not spark joy, but it was my only summer work dress. And while ‘joy’ is probably a stretch I was certainly happy that throwing it on my body meant one less decision I had to make that hurried morning. I realised that asking my clothes to ‘spark joy’ was a tall order.

For me, ‘joy’ is the highest experience on the totem pole of happiness. I feel joy watching my brother’s dog zoom along the beach, tongue flapping in the breeze. I feel joy when my mother, sister and I are paralysed with laughter over something as trivial as the absurdity of the Korean skincare sheet masks sliding down our faces. When I’m dancing in the car with my friend-since-year-10 on a ‘road trip’ to Melbourne’s outer sprawl. When my friend’s son, who has already captured a hefty chunk of my heart, breaks into his toothless grin. But standing in my spare room, clutching yet another stripy long-sleeved top? Completely joyless.

I do believe in the joy of owning less and spending money on experiences over things. This is well evidenced by that time Andy and I sold everything to travel for 16 months.  Sure, I like to shop and I enjoy having something new and fun to wear but I think it’s more important to reign it in at the purchasing end and not the purging end. Some clothes serve an important, albeit boring, function of guarding against public nakedness. A minimalist wardrobe that gives you grief every time you need to dress in a hurry won’t spark joy. Also, the way our capitalist society functions is on the premise that objects diminish in perceived value over time, which is why we’re always upgrading our iPhones. So asking clothes to ‘spark joy’ could end in a revolving door of buying and purging. Our charity shops are already overwhelmed with Kondo inspired ‘joyless’ clothes, and what to do with the excess is another blog post entirely.

So I’m not going to feel guilty about allowing some discarded items back into the house, if they’ll come. The joyous experiences I’ll have in my joyless clothes is good enough for me.

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My top 5 things to do on the Isle of Pines

The Isle of Pines (IoP) is a super popular cruise ship destination but well worth a longer stay. We arrived by plane and hadn’t booked the shuttle bus to our hotel, so it took some awkward attempts to speak French to the ground staff to organise for a taxi to take us. If you haven’t read my previous post please book everything in advance!! We stayed at Hotel Kou Bugny which is right in Kuto Bay, has a pretty good restaurant and a two minute walk to Kanumera Bay. Here’s what you should do:

Grab a car to explore the island

Unless you are on a cruise day trip or some other tour, it’s impossible to see the island without a car. Kou Bugny has a fleet of three or four hire cars which make it really easy to explore the island. There is a small shop not far from Kou Bugny where you can pick up supplies for a day of sightseeing. The roads wind between small towns and reach spectacular view points. You could even pump the Moana soundtrack on the way around like we did.

Snorkel in the Piscine Naturelle (natural pool)

I did a lot of research on how to get to the natural pool and found many accounts of people unable to find it?! We found it clearly signposted and very simple to get to. We followed Google maps, parked the car, paid a couple of dollars and walked on in. Beautiful beach with some great snorkelling, make sure you BYO snorkel and mask. A friendly doggo joined our walk along the estuary to the pool and hung out for a lot of the day, barking like mad at someone’s drone.

Plenty of fish and easy swimming in the natural pool

I like to be, under the sea

Ol’ Squinty McGee

Sail around Upi Bay in a traditional outrigger

We weren’t keen to join a bus trip from our hotel to Upi Bay in the morning because we thought it might be cloudy so we decided to wing it and head out there ourselves in the afternoon. The receptionist at our hotel had called ahead to organise us a trip with a local man on his boat.  When we got there the tide was out and we we found a man who was willing to take us out if we could push his beached boat into the water. We still don’t know if we ended up with the man the receptionist had contacted or not?! Either way we loved putting along amongst the giant rock formations.

Pushing the outrigger into the water. I love how high the gent on the left has his shorts rolled up.

Upi Bay

GoPro selfie

Remember that time we went volcano boarding in Nicaragua? Andy’s singlet does

Enjoy sundowners at Kuto Bay

The IoP isn’t the kind of place where you stroll along a beach heaving with bars with extensive cocktail lists and colour coordinated beanbags. It’s just not that populated or touristy. If you want to catch the sunset while sipping a Pina Colada head to Kuto Bay.

The only bar at Kuto Bay is this one at Hotel Kou Bugny

Yes I like Pina Coladas

Snorkel around the sacred rock at Kanumera Bay

Kanumera Bay is a hop, skip and a jump from Kuto Bay, Hotel Kou Bugny and Oure Tera beach resort. It looks like this above water:

It’s disrespectful to climb the rock FYI

And like this under water:

This was the sassiest little fish

Was not keen on me photographing him


What do you think? Your kind of holiday?

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10 things you should know before travelling to New Caledonia

Back in August Andy and I celebrated my 30th birthday with a week in New Caledonia followed by a week in New Zealand. We couldn’t decide on sand or snow so we decided to squeeze in both! I’ve been dying to share photos from our trip, better late than never hey?

To get to New Caledonia we flew Melbourne to Brisbane and then direct to Noumea, New Caledonia’s capital. We spent a night there before flying out to the Isle of Pines, one of New Cal’s many beautiful islands. Our first day was completely rained out, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I caught up on lots of sleep. Luckily the weather turned around big time:

Isle of Pines

After the Isle of Pines we flew to the lesser known island of Ouvea, which was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. We had such a fantastic week- I really can’t recommend this island paradise enough. Here are 10 things you should know before going there.

1 English is not widely spoken outside Noumea

A long winded way of saying ‘no entry’? Who knows?!

Even on the Isle of Pines, a cruise ship destination and arguably the most touristy island of them all, English speakers weren’t hugely abundant. I should emphasise it is definitely our fault for not speaking French, not the other way around!

On the more obscure island of Ouvea it was painfully awkward trying to communicate in our pathetic grasp of ‘French’. One night at our guesthouse Andy spent an uncomfortable 10 minutes with a staff member and Google translate, trying to order dinner while I cringed nearby. We didn’t understand that we had to ‘book’ dinner in advance and almost went hungry until the staff took pity on us and cooked us up two plates of prawns- which Andy is allergic to. Whoops! The locals aren’t used to tourists that aren’t French and sometimes didn’t seem to understand why we couldn’t speak the language. We did get almost stranded once, but apart from that we managed to get by, even hitching a ride and negotiating a boat ride with a local fisherman.

2 Book in advance; you can’t wing it

You really need to book all your accommodation, including airport transfers, in advance. When we arrived on the Isle of Pines, the airport’s only three hire cars had been booked out and we had no way to get to our hotel on the other side of the island. Eventually we managed to pronounce the name of our hotel correctly enough to someone (see point 1 above!) for them to realise we needed a taxi. New Caledonia is the only place I’ve ever been where the airport doesn’t have taxis lined up waiting for jobs!

Having not learnt our lesson we landed in Ouvea and had no way to get to our guesthouse. Andy eventually enlisted the help of a woman from the airport’s check-in counter who spoke a couple of words of English and booked us a transfer. When we got to the guesthouse it was deserted… apparently the owners had flown to Noumea! Thankfully our lovely driver stayed with us and drove us somewhere else.

Stranded at Ouvea airport

Finally managed to get some wheels to burn around the Isle of Pines!

3 Sea snakes are a thing

We only saw one sea snake! It was on the beach on the Isle of Pines and a dog was attempting to play with it, I was petrified for the dog. However we spoke to a lovely French mother and daughter duo who had been to Îlot Maître, popular as the only place in New Cal with overwater bungalows, which they said was absolutely crawling with sea snakes. Apparently you’d be lying on the beach with a snake directly to your left and right… gross.

4 It’s expensive

New Caledonia is not a budget holiday destination. The prices are on par with Australia. I loved it because it’s really nice to go to a place and not feel the uncomfortable wealth gap between yourself and the locals. It’s also not crawling with tourists, we had the beach to ourselves most days.

5 It’s absolutely pristine

Ouvea, never saw more than two other people on this beach!

The islands are the definition of pristine paradise. Because of the robust economy, there is decent infrastructure and the environment is not being exploited for tourist dollars. There are wildlife sanctuaries that are off limits for swimming and I don’t think I saw a single piece of trash on the ground. Very different to places in the Caribbean and Africa where some of the beaches are sadly strewn with rubbish.


6 The locals are really friendly

Hitching a ride in the tray of a ute

Despite the language issues, locals were so lovely to us and keen to help out.

7 So are the dogs

The local dogs are just gorgeous. They can sniff out friendly humans a mile away and will come up for pats and just to follow you and hang out for a few hours. They are healthy and well fed. As a dog lover it was absolutely one of the highlights of the whole trip!

8 The regional airports don’t have security screening (!!)

I’ve never known airports not to have metal detectors or bag screening! Not an issue just a funny little quirk.

9 The food is excellent

Breakfast at Hôtel Paradis d’Ouvéa

Think French pastries, steak and fries, fresh raw fish, lobster, baguettes and brie. We sure did have an excellent time eating.

Cheeses from a small convenience store

Fish at Marmite et Tire Bouchon in Noumea

Dessert at Marmite et Tire Bouchon on my birthday

10 The snorkelling is incredible

Amazing coral reef off Ouvea

Kanumera Bay in the Isle of Pines

Snorkelling on my 30th birthday

I love nothing more than spending hours staring at fish and coral. Sadly, my dodgy eardrums won’t permit scuba diving so snorkelling it is. Andy kindly gifted me a day trip under the water for my birthday and we snorkelled with giant manta rays, colourful fish, sharks and spotted turtles from the boat. Such a dream.

A giant manta ray very low beneath me

Fish in the Natural Pool on the Isle of Pines

Sound good? Have you booked flights yet?! More about the two islands soon!

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We got engaged!


Andy chose the ring. I love it.

I am resurfacing from the depths of radio silence with some good news! Almost three weeks ago, on a beach on the Great Ocean Road, Andy got down on both knees, proffered a lovely ring and asked if I wanted to marry him. I of course said “YES!” instantly before pausing and awkwardly asking back “… do you want to marry me…?” because this is 2018 and I guess you can just never have enough consent? (in hindsight the ring and the question probably should have covered it). In all seriousness I just wasn’t sure what to say!

Little did I know that two months earlier, Andy purchased a ring on our holiday in New Zealand. For my 30th birthday in early August we flew to New Caledonia for a week followed by New Zealand. Andy had attempted to buy a ring in Melbourne before we left but had no luck finding something he liked, which he regretted when we got to New Caledonia and discovered private, pristine beaches ripe for proposing upon. So when we landed in Auckland he wasted no time buying the perfect ring and proceeded to ski with it in his pocket all week, just never finding the right moment to pop the question.

When we got back to Australia Andy thought he might propose at our favourite local restaurant (it was closed that night) or on our ski trip to Mt Hotham (I declared I was “too tired!” for that one last run when he’d planned to ask). Which is how we ended up on the beach at Point Roadknight on a warm-for-September evening watching the sunset while sipping riesling from his parents’ vineyard. It was the perfect moment to do it. We sat on the beach for a while afterwards until the sun went down and the beach got blustery, then we counted the fence posts along the sand back to the steps so we’d always remember exactly where it happened.

That evening we ate at Captain Moonlite, a restaurant in the Anglesea Surf Life Saving Club with spectacular views over the water. It was a full moon which the waiter joked they had arranged for us, I replied that we’d just got engaged hours earlier and they kindly sent over two flutes of champagne. When we got back to the house we had an impromptu Spotify party with songs that have meant something to us over the past four and a half years. Such a perfect night.

We waited until the following afternoon to start calling our family, so for almost 24 hours we were the only two people who knew. The reactions were so lovely. The next two days after that we started telling our wider family and friends in person or over FaceTime. Seeing as nobody calls anyone anymore we had to quickly confirm that we weren’t calling with hideously bad news. Also I want to apologise for the unsolicited video calls, kind of a rude intrusion when you’re not expecting it!

The number one question is “so when is the wedding?” which we don’t have an answer for yet, but I imagine some time in 2020. We won’t start planning until early next year.

The fun thing about having a blog for most of your 20s is you can trace things back to where they started. While Andy and I met in March 2014, the first mention of him here appears a month later when I make a very obscure reference to a ‘bearded man’, a few weeks after that he finally makes a photo appearance. Good times! Thanks for reading x

Drinking White Rock riesling ❤

Used the self timer to take this photo on the ramp to Captain Moonlite (as if I would ask a waiter to take a photo of us making out!). Look at the moon though!

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How do you know when you’re old?

I recently turned 30 and while I feel absolutely no different to a year or two ago, occasionally I have these little moments of recognition that time is indeed passing.

I was chatting with a colleague this week about a fashion event we are both working on. I said how young the models in one of the shows seem (they are all 16+). She replied “my Mum reckons you know you’re old when police officers start to seem really young”. Interesting theory.

A few months ago I was in the change rooms at the local rec centre and it suddenly dawned on me that I was old. Why? Because I changed out of my work clothes and into my gym gear without contorting myself into complicated positions in the name of modesty. I was suddenly one of those weird liberated changing room ladies I’d glared at as a young teen, my arm stuck awkwardly inside my Bonds crop top. The realisation that no one cares or is bothering to look at your de-robed limbs in the harsh changing room light is oddly freeing.

The ultimate ‘oh I guess we are old now’ feeling dawns when people around you start having babies on purpose. As a 30-year-old who only just stopped fearing teen pregnancy, I assume most people around me are also childfree only to suddenly learn they managed to get to work on time having wrangled two small people into clothes as well as themselves. Bravo! I struggle to get my own pants on.

Are you old? How do you know?!

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A plant-filled Melbourne apartment tour

I really love taking a sneak peek inside peoples’ homes. Often for decor inspiration but also because there’s something so intimate and fascinating about seeing what’s on someone’s bedside table. Or what’s stuck to the fridge. I hang out for the house tours on Cup of Jo and Apartment Therapy, so I decided to do my own!

Andy and I moved to our two-bedroom apartment back in January. We came from a share house where we pretty much owned nothing outside our bedroom, so we ended up buying a lot of furniture very quickly. I spent hours trawling Facebook Marketplace for secondhand bits and pieces that were quirky and not too expensive. Then we hired a van through Car Next Door to go and pick everything up. The day we moved turned out to be 46 degrees (114 fahrenheit)! It wasn’t a pleasant experience, to say the least. I was most concerned for my precious house plants, but they all made it safe and sound!


There isn’t really an entryway to our apartment, so I just sort of made one. That little table was $45 from Facebook Marketplace and it’s the best dumping ground for headphones, sunnies and wallets at the end of the day. The mirror is from Target. Unfortunately because we’re renting we have to use those 3M hooks that don’t damage the walls and I swear the ones that are visible (like the one holding up the mirror!) make my eye twitch.

Lounge room: 

This room is probably my favourite in the whole apartment. I love the big windows and sitting on the balcony in summer is just the best. The rug is the most expensive item in the room! I had my heart set on an authentic kilim handwoven rug and new ones start at about $1200+. This one is secondhand (again thanks to Facebook Marketplace) and cost $450. We bought it off a lovely older couple who had an amazing apartment on St Kilda Esplanade with 180 degree views of the beach and the city. It was worth it just to see the view! Our couch is from Ikea and probably the one thing I’m not 100% sure of.

I didn’t want to cover too much of the rug with a coffee table so I opted for a glass one (also secondhand). Space is tight in our apartment so I like how it doesn’t look too bulky. My other favourite thing in the room is the white sideboard which was a steal at $180. Someone has obviously ‘done it up’ by painting it white and added leather pull handles. The photos above the TV are ones I took on our travels in Ikea frames. The chair and lamp and both from Kmart.

I love old family photos. The ones above are of Andy’s maternal grandparents in the States and my maternal grandparents on their wedding day in Ceylon. The skull was purchased on our trip to Mexico and the dog vase is from West Elm.

Dining area:

The table, chairs, bookcase and record player cabinet are all (drum roll please) secondhand from Facebook Marketplace. I’m beginning to sound like a broken record. I wasn’t sure about the green chairs but now I can’t imagine sitting on anything else.

The Aboriginal painting is really special as it came from Laverton, Western Australia, when my team and I went out there to live broadcast some radio shows. That was my second last week of work before Andy and I left to travel. The New Yorker prints were purchased on a trip with my friend Kate. Men with small stands sell them alongside Central Park for something ridiculous like $7 each (literally for a piece of paper probably printed on a Canon at home). She has similar ones at her house in white frames. I love them.

I bought Andy the record player for his birthday, it’s a lot of fun.


I have to admit, the checkerboard kitchen floor was a huge selling point for me! Other than that this kitchen is in desperate need of a makeover. The cupboards are small and poky and there’s virtually no counter space. We’ve made do with a secondhand bench that has great storage space underneath.

Guest room:

Given we have a lot of interstate family and friends the guest room is a great asset. It’s a constant battle not to fill it with crap, so I remain hyper vigilant!

The macrame wall hanging if from Knot Karen. Bookcase, frames and storage cubes from Ikea. Plant stand from Garden World.

Our room:

I find a greyscale bedroom super relaxing. We don’t get a lot of natural light in here so I’m amazed that plant is not just alive, but thriving. The photos above our bed are ones I took in Arizona and had blown up and printed through PhotoBox. The frames and cushion are from Ikea. The bedside tables and lamps are from Kmart.

The hallway:

Buzzing people in with that old school hallway phone makes me feel like I’m in a movie.

Well that’s our place! I have omitted a photo of the bathroom/laundry because it’s uninspiring and I’m still mad that a plant died in there. This apartment has so much potential and if I owned it I would immediately rip out the bathroom and kitchen. But for now I’ll just enjoy the relatively cheap rent and the fact that it feels like home. Thanks for reading x

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By Mari Andrew

I think it’s fair to say I’ve lost all motivation to blog. It pains me to admit this. I’m not giving up yet though! What have you been up to lately? Here’s what I’ve been doing:

Watching The Handmaid’s Tale. Or I was until some bright spark decided to pause it while men run around and play soccer for a few weeks (also referred to as the FIFA World Cup). How are you finding season two? Harrowing? Devastating? Nauseating? All of the above? That’s how I feel but I still can’t tear myself away. I have to know what happens. Watching episode 10 around the time families were being separated at the US border had me in tears. It was too real.  Andy and I watched Hannah Gadsby’s Nanette on Netflix the other night, which is also devastating. How can stand-up comedy be devastating? I can’t explain, you must watch it. To balance all this out we’ve started Brooklyn 99 from season one episode one.

Reading Strawberry Fields by Marina Lewycka. I first picked this up while we were in the States in 2015! Then I lost the book?! And found it, or found another one at Andy’s parents’ place in Tasmania. I’m seriously confused as to what happened. But anyway, it’s a half depressing half amusing novel about a group of mostly eastern Europeans who travel to England for a better life and end up working in horrible conditions on farms. It’s better than it sounds! What are you reading? Give me your recommendations!

Dreaming about our holiday in a month! One week on beaches in New Caledonia, one week in the snow in New Zealand. Quite the packing nightmare but I’m up to the challenge.

Musing about meeting Mari Andrew a couple of weeks ago. She did the illustration above and has written an excellent book on the journey to adulthood. Mari was smart and funny and utterly charming, speaking candidly about mental health and her recovery from a disease that left her essentially paralysed for a month.

Eating my weight in hummus. I went off it for a while but now I’m back baby. I think it makes a huge difference where you buy it (if you’re not going to make it at home). I love Aldi but their hummus leaves a lot to be desired.

Reflecting on a really tough week at work. One that has really emphasised the importance of kindness to me. And how nonconstructive bitterness, anger and spite are.

Wondering why the farmer’s market flowers never seem to last as long as the $5 ones from the supermarket. 

Buying not much since today I splurged on what I call a ‘grown up’ handbag that is pretty yet practical and will fit everything I need for work. It’s black with gold hardware and has my initials monogrammed on the side (!!!). It’s this one, if you’re interested.

Enjoying the feeling of getting stronger. I’ve been doing small group personal training sessions for about 4 months now. I’ve never really done weights other than the odd pump class or workout that left me too sore to go back to it quickly. I’m really starting to see and feel the difference now and it’s really rewarding.

Wishing it wasn’t so cold and that there weren’t still two months of winter left! Running the freezing gauntlet between the heated living room and my warm bed is a serious struggle for me these days.

Worrying about hosting a 30th birthday party and everyone having a great time (including me!). Such a silly, first world problem. I’ve always had host anxiety! I am so blown away and honoured that I have friends flying over from Western Australia for it. I can’t wait for them to meet all my Melbourne people and see where I live.

That’s about it for now. I’d better start dinner. Have a wonderful weekend x

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Women in the know: My bestie on the big career change

Bec and I at the Races in Kalgoorlie 2014

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you will know about one of my closest buddies Bec. We fortuitously crossed paths at the ABC in Kalgoorlie and soon we were working together, living together and finishing each others’ sentences.

Not long ago, Bec made the courageous decision flip her career on its head, to leave media and pursue teaching. I’m so proud of her for making such a drastic change and it makes me tremendously happy to hear about her hard work paying off. Bec is currently working as a high school teacher while completing her Master of Education through Teach for Australia, a program that places professionals in schools in low socioeconomic communities. Working and studying full time leaves few spare moments so I’m very grateful Bec was able to contribute to my Women in the Know series. If you’ve been thinking of taking the plunge into a new career, I guarantee this will inspire you.

How did you decide to leave media and start studying to become a teacher? 

I think I’ve always known that I wanted to end up teaching ‘down the track’. But the funny thing is that ‘down the track’ sometimes sneaks up on you! It was never a case of me not loving my job, but more that I could take those skills and teach them to students. Once that seed was planted in my mind it really took root. I also loved the idea of changing the -perception that teaching is some sort of back-up occupation.

Bec and I interviewing a horse back in 2015

Had you thought about teaching before?

Yes, and no. I’d thought about the concept of teaching and certainly had the fantasy of inspiring young students by jumping on desks and having my very own Dead Poet’s Society moment. But in reality, I had no idea what the everyday entailed!

What were the steps you took to make the switch?

Well I was pretty lucky to interview on radio a young teacher who had transitioned into the profession through a program called Teach For Australia and was being placed in Kalgoorlie.

I like to describe the program as an apprenticeship of sorts. It takes specialists in other areas and puts them through an intensive teaching program and practicum, before placing them in low socioeconomic and hard-to-staff schools, which are often based regionally. We are given an in-school mentor, critiqued regularly and work a 0.8 work load so we can do our Masters in Teaching at the same time. I love being part of a program that’s actively working to bridge the education gap, so I took the plunge and quit my job at the ABC!!

Bec in Port Fairy during a 6 week stint at Deakin University in Warrnambool as part of her teaching Masters

What was the most daunting aspect? 

I was terrified – of so many things! Including:

  • what if I don’t enjoy teaching?
  •  and worse, what if I’m not any good at it!?
  •  I’m taking a serious pay cut, how will that affect me?
  • Will I miss working in radio and TV? Interacting with the community and hearing their interesting stories.
  • What will it be like standing in front of a class for the first time?
  • Will there be as much paperwork as everyone says?
  • What do I wear? (I’ve since learnt the stretch and bend test when shopping for teacher attire)
  • Urgh, doing a Masters on the weekends…

Marking papers in her spare time

Tell us about your first day in the classroom! What was it like?!

I have this distinct memory of sweaty palms, racing heartbeat and a whole lot of adrenaline. To be honest my experience in working in live radio means I don’t get nervous that easily – but it was more of an excited rush!

What do you love about teaching? Is it rewarding?

I couldn’t be happier about the choice to transition into teaching. Building relationships with the students and seeing their progress, even in incremental ways, is so damn rewarding. I’ve tried my best to be authentic and make true connections with students as they have excellent bullshit radars. I’ve kept a promise to myself not to lose my cool and yell at any class, which I think helps me keep my consistency. I love it when I’m so enthusiastic and happy about such simple lessons and teaching them to my kids. But even better than my own enjoyment is seeing student gains on social, emotional and academic levels.

Bec and I back in 2014 in Kalgoorlie

Can you share a funny story from the classroom?

More of a wardrobe malfunction than a teaching blooper! I was rushed going to work one morning and was frustrated with the way to pockets were sitting in my dress as it buckled in a funny way. So I cut the pockets out and didn’t think about it any further. I was sitting in English behind my desk and looked down to see my undies were completely exposed on each side! Hot pink, zebra stripes… I made sure the class was on task and side stepped my way out of there like a crab. Running into my office I asked my boss “have you got safety pins?!” He looked a little dumbfounded until I explained my situation. Through tears of laughter he suggested I staple my dress together. Needless to say the nickname ‘staples’ has stuck.

What have you found surprising about this journey?

What’s been most surprising for me is the reaction, often very negative or sceptical, that I’ve received from other people. “Why would you give up being on TV and in the media?” “Teaching… really?” “Oh, are you doing it for the holidays and so it’s easier to have kids?” “Were you not successful as a journalist?”

I find it hard to swallow such a jaded view of teaching and it’s status as a ‘fall back’ profession. To be frank, I was a damn good journalist, a natural on radio and adored interviewing people. But what I didn’t adore was the isolating nature of the industry, it’s relentless cycle and it’s impact on me and my wellbeing.

They say those that can’t do, teach. Well I call bullshit on that. I know I can work successfully in the media industry, but I choose to work hard as a teacher. I adore being a teacher and influencing students in a positive way. I choose to be a teacher because I want to, not because it’s a last resort.

At the end of every day – whether it’s a hard trying day that tests your limits or one of those which makes your heart soar – I can hold my head high and feel proud of what I do.

Bec in her journo days

What advice would you give to someone thinking of changing careers?

For anyone considering changing careers I guess my advice would be to ask what your motivation is. What do you want to achieve? Know if you’re motivated by money, workplace satisfaction or the need to try your hand at a new industry.
Plan for potential income differences and lifestyle changes. Will your new job require after hours work or weekend shifts? Will you need a new wardrobe? What skills do you need to achieve this change?

But most of all, make sure you have passion!
Passion is the thing that gets me up in the morning when those bags under my eyes could shelter a family.
Passion is the thing that keeps me working on my University assignments most weekends.
Passion is what gives me the patience to try and understand what my students have experienced and what drives them.
Passion is what makes my lessons engaging and hopefully interesting to students.
Passion is what breaks my heart when I see how badly economic and social disadvantage impacts school outcomes.
Passion is what makes me so happy and content in the classroom.

Sky’s the limit

Thank you so much Bec! It’s so important we have teachers like you who keep kids engaged and wanting to go to school.

P.S. Women in the Know: My sister on surviving long haul flights

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