Monthly Archives: February 2016

From Didgeridoos to Art-Deco

The didgeridoo building in Yass has been somewhat of a landmark over the years. A run-down, boarded-up building—vacant for 19 years, and with its three didgeridoos in the forecourt you can imagine it being a common meeting place for visitors; ‘meet you at the didgeridoos—you can’t miss them’, and indeed you couldn’t … until now. By Aine Dowling


Tootsie is the brainchild of local mosaic artist Michaela Pothan, who has brought the building out of its sad and dusty 19 year hiatus and turned it into an art-deco butterfly—full of colour, life, and energy, and with its new name, it’s raring to go!

Tootsie, in case you’re wondering, is the old Chevy parked out the front—well actually that’s not the real Tootsie. The real Tootsie has gone to Gundagai to be rebuilt but the other Chevy is close enough. “Tootsie was my grandfather’s car,” says Michaela, “and when I was younger he gave her to me. She’s been languishing in the shed for many years; seemingly forgotten—much like this building, but now she’s undergoing a transformation too.” Step inside the new building and into the wonderful world of art-deco. With pressed tin ceilings, retro furniture, and an impressive collection of artworks, Tootsie is a gallery and coffee shop in one with the art and furniture all part of the café experience.

Enjoy a coffee in the cafe corner complete with retro furniture

Enjoy a coffee in the cafe corner complete with retro furniture

The building now includes the revamped entry with its stunning mosaics and café corner, the gallery, a large workshop, and a beautiful outdoor garden area which we’ll come back to later. Michaela is running the gallery as a collective with works from many local artists including painters, photographers, mosaic artists, and glass and metal workers. Pieces from Peter Crisp Gallery and artist Jan Matson are just a few of the local names on display. Mosaic classes are held in the workshop.

Artwork by Jan Matson

Artwork by Jan Matson

The artwork will change fairly regularly as Michaela plans to run theme based art—at least for the paintings. The gallery opened in November 2015 with Girt by Sea—an Australian theme which included oceans, beaches, and landscapes—now its Beauty in the Beast and includes smiling paintings of poultry and pigs, dogs and cats, snow leopards, big cats, and wildlife, and a selection of simply stunning photographs of horses by local photographer Nicole Godding, as well as the most amazing metal sculptures in the rear garden.Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

The garden also includes The Wall—again a brilliant initiative by Michaela who decided that a blank wall was just not good enough, and, to encourage community involvement in the development of the gallery, contacted mosaic artists in Australia and around the world to contribute a small panel to be attached to the wall. The artists responded with enthusiasm and the result is breathtaking. The wall is not complete—pieces are still to come from overseas, but the response has been amazing.

Mosaic Community Art Project includes local, national and international artists

Mosaic Community Art Project includes local, national and international artists

“Artists just loved the idea and got right behind the project,” says Michaela. “We received some beautiful local pieces, and then the international responses started to come in. We sent them specifications and they sent their mosaic piece back on light webbing and we just fixed it to the wall and grouted it on. On seeing photos of their piece on the wall, many interstate and international contributors have now decided to come and visit and view the wall in person—something that will also contribute to the Yass tourist industry.”

Mosaic Community Art Project - garden steps

Mosaic Community Art Project – garden steps

So take a trip out to Tootsie and soak up the art and ambience and enjoy coffee and cake at the same time. And, while you’re there, see if you can spot the hidden items on the entrance mosaic. During the renovation, six items were discovered under floorboards, in wall cavities, and other nooks and crannies and were included in the mosaic. Can you spot them?

All images by LFW

Peace and Quiet with Banjo Paterson

Life in the fast lane getting you down? You don’t have to go far to recharge your batteries in the total peace and quiet of Wee Jasper, and spend some time with the memory of Australia’s most well-loved poet and writer, A. B. (Banjo) Paterson. By Aine Dowling

The Garden Wing private garden

Relax in The Garden Wing private garden

Once the home of Banjo Paterson, Coodravale is an iconic Australian homestead, and from 1850 was used as a station property until purchased in 1908 by Paterson together with a member of the Lindeman wine-making family. Paterson lived at Coodravale until 1911 when he returned to Sydney. Coodravale Homestead is now a private residence owned by John Robinson and Rosemary McKenzie, and extensive renovations and upgrades have turned a large rambling homestead with servants quarters into a beautiful home, and The Garden Wing; stunning self-contained accommodation including large double bedroom, bathroom, lounge/dining, kitchen, and wide verandah with amazing views of the valley.

Just 90 minutes from Canberra (via Yass) the first thing you notice at Coodravale is the absolute peace and quiet. Surrounded by lush gardens and paddocks of 16 acres and 500 metres of Goodradigbee riverfront, this is the perfect place to relax and wind down after a week in the ‘dusty, dirty’ city. The second thing is the generous hospitality from hosts John and Rosemary, who treat their visitors as long-time family friends without being intrusive.

Garden Wing private verandah

The Garden Wing private verandah

“We bought this property with a small B&B in mind,” says John. “We absolutely fell in love with it the moment we saw it even though it was covered in dust and cobwebs, and needed a new roof! The location is perfect—we’re far enough from neighbours to not notice them, but close enough to be part of a welcoming community.

“The gardens still need bit of work but we’re getting there. We have lots of seating and quiet spots scattered under the trees and there’s swimming holes in the river so you can cool off on hot days. The only noise at night is the occasional wombat trundling past the verandah, and the beautiful birdsong in the early morning. Every day we feel blessed to be living in such wonderful spot.”

Goodradigbee River just a few metres away

Goodradigbee River just a few metres away

The Garden Wing is attached to the main house but has its own entrance, verandah, and garden. Everything is provided for your comfort from kitchen staples to your own BBQ, a well-stocked reading room, air-conditioning for the summer, and heating and snuggly doonas and lap blankets in the winter. And, if you do need anything else, John and Rosemary are only too happy to help.

Garden Wing bedroom with French doors to verandah

The Garden Wing bedroom with French doors to your private verandah

Wifi is also available, but seriously, why bother? This is wind-down time so learn a bit of history from John and his favourite book You Can’t Eat Scenery—Life in Wee Jasper from 1850 – 1970 which features Coodravale. Or bury yourself in Banjo’s famous works, a number of which he wrote while living at Coodravale, including A Mountain Station.

The Garden Wing at Coodravale offers exceptional self-contained accommodation in beautiful surroundings and company, where the stars are everlasting and the vision is truly wing verandah

Images by LFW.  LFW stayed at The Garden Wing courtesy of Coodravale. 

Move it in March!

‘Change Your Mode for March’ by Wendy Johnson

Actsmart1I don’t know about you, but every once in a while I need a bit of a push to shift the way I move. Actually, sometimes a shove. A focus. A motivator.  And a focus and motivator is exactly what the new ‘Change your mode for March’ challenge is all about.

The brainchild of Actsmart, an online hub that helps us create a more sustainable future in the capital, ‘Change your mode for March’ challenges us to do our bit for the environment by parking our vehicles for 31 days and walking, cycling or taking a bus—to work, do chores, or socialise.


Better still, the challenges help you in other ways—improve your health by being active, save money on petrol and parking (not to mention wear and tear on your vehicle), and help the environment by saving transport emissions.

Before you scratch your head on the transport emissions bit, consider this. While the ACT is leading the nation and is on track to meet its 90 per cent renewable energy target by 2020, it needs to address emissions from the transport sector. That’s because transport is one of the highest emitters of greenhouse gases in Canberra.


We need to get a handle on these nasty emissions before they get a handle on us, through traffic congestion, air pollution, and an even greater negative impact on climate change. And that includes the short trips so many of us make in our car, to pop to the shops, drop the kids off to a nearby school, or head to a destination that is literally around the corner.

‘Change your mode for March’ is free, easy and fun. Compete as an individual or get together a team of friends or colleagues and simply:

  1. register online (
  2. visit the website each week during March to record how much active travel you’ve completed (you can download a phone app to track your distance)
  3. watch the website calculate the number of emissions you’ve saved through active travel
  4. watch your progress on the leader board (you might even win one of the few prizes up for grabs).

To take the challenge you absolutely must register by 5pm on 29 February.

Photo by LFW

Photo by LFW

There are no restrictions on how much or little you do. If you can’t shift the way you move all 31 days in March, do as many as you can. Any distance counts—1km, 2km, 3km or more.

If you need free resources to help you plan, just head to  Actsmart will even guide you to a free walking and cycling map as well as to Park and Ride information, Bike and Ride information and a handy tracker called NXTBus which tells you where your bus is and when the next one will arrive.

LFW is moving it in March—are you?


‘CC’ images courtesy Actsmart


By Wendy Johnson

Designer applications are out, dates are locked in and in 2016 FASHFEST will hold more catwalk shows than ever before. The new dates for Canberra’s pre-eminent and largest fashion event are 29 September to 1 October.

FASHFEST 2015 - photo by Martin Ollman

FASHFEST 2015 – photo by Martin Ollman

Why the switch from May? Co-founder Clint Hutchinson says the change in dates was logical.

“We’re now aligned with Australia’s overall fashion calendar and the timing of ‘sister events’ such as the major weeks in Melbourne and Sydney,” says Clint. “And, let’s face it, September is warmer than May in the capital so guests can glam up, as they love to for FASHFEST, without shivering their way through the show.”

Another major change is the number of shows FASHFEST will host in 2016—six in total, with two each day. “The new dates also mean we have the time needed to prepare for the added shows. Each year we get stronger and the event gets more exciting. This year is no exception,” says Clint.

Once again, the event will be held at the National Convention Centre, powered by sound and lighting that will transform the space into something magical.

FASHFEST 2015 runway, National Convention Centre - photo by David Burke

FASHFEST 2015 catwalk, National Convention Centre – photo by David Burke

Designer applications are out now and due 14 February. Once again, FASHFEST is  throwing its weight behind local designers as well as designers from interstate and overseas, focusing on independent labels. “Last year, we had 30 designers, including Melanie Child from New Zealand, who was a big ticket item on the catwalk,” says Andrea Hutchinson, Co-founder. “So we’re encouraging a wide range of designers to apply.”

FASHFEST 2015 - photo by Red Photography

FASHFEST 2015 – photo by Red Photography

“FASHFEST is young by Australian standards and we’re still growing and maturing, learning more and more all the time”, says Andrea. “We’ve come a long way in just three years and our ability to put on more shows during this, our fourth year, is possible because of how much we’ve progressed and the creative team working with Clint and I on the event.”

Let the fashion fun begin … !

LFW will keep you posted on events relating to FASHFEST as they unfold and we’ve already locked in the dates so we don’t miss out.

Fans should also follow the event on: