We’re #spreadingthegoodstuff this week for this beautiful place we call home and for the great work taking place behind the scenes at Echuca Moama Tourism to showcase our destination to travellers far and wide.
In case you hadn’t heard, EMT has a new leader at the helm – and while she’s only been here a few months, she’s already having a deep impact.
Kathryn Mackenzie comes to EM from the City of Greater Bendigo, where she was tourism manager for more than 20 years.
She’s vibrant, engaging, inclusive and unquestionably creative and her vision to develop Echuca Moama’s reputation as an authentic experience-based destination is one to get excited about.
And she has the runs on the board. Kathryn assisted Bendigo in becoming one of the leading cultural, heritage and arts destinations in Australia – and her marketing of the Marilyn Monroe Exhibition took out bronze at the national tourism awards in Darwin last year.
We’ve been fortunate to work closely with Kathryn in recent weeks, interviewing local identities and writing the content for Echuca Moama’s new official visitor’s guide and we’re genuinely excited about the direction she’s taking our stunning region.
She believes storytelling has a key role to play in developing and spotlighting the enormous array of ‘experiences’ on offer in this unique part of the world, and we couldn’t agree more.
She is deeply passionate about developing strong and collaborative partnerships, and she believes we, the locals, have a major advocacy role to play in breathing new life into the place we call home.
Well she can sign us up! We seriously love nothing more than spruiking the virtues of our riverside paradise.
You only have to take a look at our little side project #loveEM – which we started on social media in 2012 as a platform to promote and celebrate all that is awesome about Echuca Moama.
We really are blessed to live in one of the most captivatingly beautiful and endearing places on earth, and if we as a collective of ‘locals’ can shout that to the rafters, the people will come.
Stay tuned for the release of the new Official Visitor’s Guide next month. It’s coming together beautifully thanks to Echuca Moama Print and Design and is jam-packed with gorgeous imagery and lovely stories about the many hidden gems and experiences on offer in our region.
And if you’re not doing it already, get proud and loud about this place we call home. There’s nowhere else in the world quite like it.
We’re super excited this week to be Spreading the Good Stuff for our good friend and uber talented local musician Benny Walker who recently launched a brand new single Ghost, which looks set to take his burgeoning career to even greater heights.
Ghost debuted at #1 on the iTunes Blues chart and check out some of the love Benny has received from industry gurus since its release last week on ABC’s Double J with Myf Warhurst:
“Ghost oozes class. Sophisticated and soulful, it’s another step on Benny’s Walkers road to superstardom,” – Jeff Jenkins
“A year ago Benny Walker showed potential. Now he’s the real deal, a soul singer as ready to sing about the world as about the heart, in a rich song that sounds old-before-its-time yet anything but old-fashioned,” – Bernard Zuel
There’s no doubt Benny Walker has ‘arrived’ and if you, like us, have tracked his career since its early days you’ll join us in celebrating his new ‘coming of age’ sound. And we just can’t wait to hear more when the full EP Undercover is released on Monday September 11.
Like many Echuca Moama locals, we are so proud of Benny’s talents, but it’s his ability to stay ‘local’ and humble, which sets him apart.
As a proud Yorta Yorta man, who grew up playing in the bush and swimming in the Murray River, Benny holds strong to the premise that he creates music, and dedicates the majority of his time touring, simply because he is drawn to it.
“It’s an unexplainable thing… but I do it because it’s always enjoyable and it makes me feel good, and always has,” Benny said.
Despite the hard slog as an independent artist and countless nights away from his gorgeous wife Fiona and 14 month-old son Archie, Benny is living the dream and explains how it has provided him the freedom to fully enjoy life.
“I decided I didn’t want to sit around and wait for my life to happen… success can mean something different to everyone and I wish I had gone for it earlier,” he said.
Benny is taking his Wine, Women and Soul tour on the road throughout September and October and you can catch him LIVE in Echuca Moama at The Mill, where he will play his new EP to an intimate audience, which is guaranteed to be teeming with family and friends.
“I just love playing in Echuca Moama and I’ve always felt drawn back home… to family, friends and my ancestral connections – way back,” Benny said.
Benny is super excited about his new sound and the direction he has been brave enough to steer his music, thanks to ARIA award-winning producer Jan Skubiszewski who has worked with the likes of Dan Sultan, Cat Empire and John Butler Trio.
“There’s a huge difference between my previous work and Undercover… it’s an evolution and I’m out of my comfort zone… but you have to be open to it,” he said.
In the past couple of years Benny has played some of the country’s finest music festivals and supported many of Australia’s most talented acts, he was also named Best Aboriginal Act of the Year at the 2016 Age Music Victoria Awards, and you might have heard him as a guest on ABC radio on numerous occasions.
This guy is going places and we are privileged to share just some of his inspiring story.
We suggest you ‘do yourself a favour’ and come along to The Mill on October 15 to see for yourself how this local lad has emerged as a real deal on the Australian music scene.
See you there…
#spreadingthegoodstuff #bennywalker #localtalent #therealdeal
Want to learn how to maximise your productivity and develop smart time management skills to achieve success across your career, family and community life?
What about some practical steps for becoming a great leader, listener and visual communicator to better understand and connect with all those around you?
Or perhaps you’re in need of some expert advice and tangible tips around emotional intelligence, social media, live streaming or marketing?
If the answer is yes – to one or all of the above – then you’re in luck.
Imagine The Possibilities will deliver all this and SO much more in 2017!
We’re now just three weeks out from this fantastic, home-grown regional women’s conference, so if you haven’t already secured your ticket, then hop to it.
If you were an attendee at ITP in 2015 and 2016, you already know how extraordinary this event is, and the positive impact it can have on so many areas of your life. If you’re a newbie – you’re in for an absolute treat!
Now in its third year, ITP offers women from all walks of life a rare opportunity for some pretty spectacular personal and professional development – right here on our doorstep.
Whether you’re a business owner, freelancer, employee, trainee or student – this event will inspire and empower you to live your best life – at work, home and at play.
ITP explores the challenges and opportunities faced by women living large in the country – providing practical tips and insights into professional development, leadership, communication, personal growth and self-care.
And while it’s a rare and wonderful treat having access to top speakers on home soil, the best part is in connecting face-to-face with other like-minded women to share and nurture ideas, and to support and cheer one another on to be our best selves – whatever that looks like for each of us as individuals.
This year’s key note speakers are time management expert Kate Christie, Founder and Director of Time Stylers, who will share her insights into smart time management and productivity; and Jessamy Gee, of Think In Colour, who is a Melbourne artist, illustrator, professional listener and visual translater who will teach us how to communicate well, and communicate differently.
In addition to Kate and Jessamy, ITP guests will have the chance to attend two breakout sessions, which this year feature your choice of Write Style Communications founder Kimberley Furness, leadership performance specialist Louise Thomson, people development expert Reyna Mendes, and social media and marketing coach Erin Griffin.
Not only will this conference enlarge your personal and professional self, it’s also dedicated to a very important local cause. All proceeds from ITP go towards Echuca Moama Girls Night Out and its endeavours to lighten the load for those in our community living with cancer. GNO’s Supportive Care Fund at Echuca Regional Health provides extra care and financial support to cover the hidden costs of cancer including counselling, rent payments, wigs, alternative therapies, lymphodeama sleeves, fuel cards, accommodation, home care and child care.
The Splendid Word is delighted to be supporting MBC in staging this inovative event for the third time, both as partner and MC, and we look forward to welcoming you to ITP2017.
ITP is on Thursday September 14 from 9.30am to 4.15pm at The Venue, Moama Bowling Club.
See you there!
This adventure has been the most extraordinary experience for our family, and I am enormously grateful to you Chris for taking such wonderful care of our TSW clients in my absence, and for managing every facet of the business on your own so effortlessly.
For many years now my husband has worked away from home for big chunks of the week, and on the rare nights that he is home, I’m often working the graveyard shift on the computer freelancing. Our ‘ships in the night’ existence is one we hoped to give a huge shake up by setting out on this adventure. And boy did we ever!
Although we’ve encountered enough communal showers and drop hole toilets to last us a lifetime on this trip, we wouldn’t change a thing, and it’s been a life-changing experience for us all in so many ways. The precious time together as a family unit has without doubt been the pinnacle.
I can’t put into words how liberating it has been to check out of our regular lives, schedules and obligations to spend two whole months together getting lost in this big, beautiful land of ours. No distractions, no responsibilities.
It hasn’t all been smooth sailing of course – it’s a mammoth challenge being under one another’s feet in a confined space 24/7 for that chunk of time – and we’ve had some ball tearing blues over map navigation skills, caravan ‘backing’ & ‘set ups’, the kids (and their father) not picking up their god-damn clothes, me being too precious in the bush (seriously have you seen those toilets!) and so much more.
But despite the menial stuff (oh and the gastro bug that swept through when we were camped without power or water), it’s been an absolute dream come true.
We’ve travelled to some far flung places – exploring national parks, gorges, canyons, waterfalls, infinity rock pools on cliff edges, thermal springs and pristine beaches.
We’ve hiked a million miles, watched the sun rise and set over the most stunning natural landscapes, toasted marshmallows and damper by campfire, mustered 2000 head of cattle, surfed our first waves and swam with dolphins and crocodiles (the latter was unintentional 😬).
We’ve played a billion card and board games, danced under the great night skies, sung our lungs out to pass the time on the road, and laughed til our bellies hurt.
We’ve seriously been bowled over by the incredible beauty we have here in our own backyard.
It’s been a life-affirming, eye-opening time of discovery for us all and it’s given us space to really see and hear each other for the first time in way too long. We’re so glad we could make it happen.
Our heads are empty and our hearts are full, and that’s exactly what we hoped this experience might bring.
It’s good to be back.
I’m feeling blessed this week as I immerse myself in all things ‘writers’ for the annual Bendigo Writers Festival.
Through my part-time Bachelor of Arts studies at La Trobe University, Bendigo I have landed an internship in media and digital content creation, covering the Bendigo Writers Festival (BWF) and other newsworthy La Trobe events, including its Open Day later this month.
I know…what a great gig!
In the role I have interviewed interesting La Trobe Uni folk involved at the festival, sharing their stories via the Vox Bendigo blog writing portal and today I roamed in and around View Street for the annual Text Marks the Spot Schools Day, tweeting from various events.
I must say I don’t need too many excuses to attend a writers’ festival of any description, but to be involved at this level is a real treat.
This year’s festival program certainly has something for everyone and, as you’ll read in the blogs I have written (see links below), any session you choose will provide expansion for the mind and enlargement of the soul.
For me this is what writers’ festivals do: broaden your mind, teach you something new, disrupt pre-conceived ideas and most importantly, inspire. Sadly some believe they are just for the literary elite, those with published work, or people who routinely read a book in one week.
I have always believed writers’ festivals are for anyone and everyone and you don’t have to be a writer, or even an avid reader, to enjoy all they have to offer.
Writers’ festivals are, above all else, about ‘stories’ and today’s school sessions were no exception, with discussions around why you should, and how to, share your unique story.
Storytelling through music and song writing was also on the agenda, as was the stunning art of ‘wordless’ puppet theatre, which touched on the themes of immigration, separation from family and friendship in new lands.
Publisher turned author, Rose Michael hit the nail on the head in her session this afternoon, How to Get it Right when she declared: “writers’ festivals are about the readers.”
And we all read, in some way shape or form. Graphic novelist, Bruce Mutard confirmed this when he declared this morning that comics are no longer just for children. He also made comment that only 10 years ago there would never have been a session at a writers’ festival about ‘comics’!
Just like comics, writers’ festivals have evolved and are no longer a highbrow affair for the literary elite… they are an opportunity for anyone to engage in a cultural conversation and hear stories from all corners of the world, and from all walks of life.
If you haven’t yet been to a one, do yourself a favour and get along to the Bendigo Writers Festival this weekend… I’ll see you there.
#spreadingthegoodstuff #writersfestivals #stories
This week, as we continue on our journey of Spreading the Good Stuff for community, we arrive at Echuca Neighbourhood House and find an inspirational group of people making a real difference.
Echuca Neighbourhood House (ENH), established more than 27 years ago, brings people together to connect, learn and contribute to their community through social, educational, recreational and support activities.
Importantly, ENH welcomes anyone through its door and creates opportunities for people to enrich their lives through connections they might not otherwise make.
Located in Echuca South, this diverse organisation provides a range of services, including no-interest loan programs and pre-accedited training opportunities, as well as health and wellbeing activities.
ENH’s most recent initiative, which you might have seen in the Riverine Herald, is providing access to free showers for homeless people at the Echuca Basketball Stadium, thanks to support from the Campaspe Shire.
ENH Manager Shan Keele explained how after a number of people came to the house looking for access to showers they felt the need to do something.
“We weren’t sure how it would go but we have been absolutely inundated with donations of toiletries and volunteers wanting to help,” Shan said.
“It’s been really heartwarming and a true testament to the beautiful community we live in and how much everyone wants to get involved and do their bit,” she said.
Shan acknowledged the amazing generosity of local businesses and organisations, such as the Echuca Moama Accommodation Association, who has provided a constant supply of toiletry packs to people who really need them.
Donations of soap, travel size shampoo and conditioner, deodorant, razors, shaving cream, sanitary items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, underwear and socks are still wanted to support the program, which currently runs two mornings a week.
ENH is a great example of the incredible work happening every day in Echuca Moama and by spreading the good stuff about its shower program we are hoping to shine a light on what this organisation is doing to support our community.
Whether it is hosting $2 lunches, computer and cooking courses, scrapbooking classes, meditation groups or a community garden, ENH is committed to responding to locally identified priorities and you can help them by donating products for the shower program to the Riv office at 270 Hare Street or at ENH at 261 High Street, Echuca.
Or if you would like to volunteer, or if you, or someone you know, would benefit from any of the services or programs offered touch base with Shan and her team on Monday to Thursday between 9am – 4.30pm, phone on 5482 6914 or visit www.enh.org.au for a full list of current programs.
#spreadingthegoodstuff #echucaneighbourhoodhouse #showersforhomeless #community
We’re a little excited this week to be spreading the good stuff for the announcement of the 2017 GMCU Allianz Campaspe Murray Business Awards finalists because we’ve been recognised in the Home-based Business category!
Yay for us!
To the person who nominated us, we thank you very much for taking the time to do so.
Four years ago we were nominated and named a finalist in the Best New Business category, which was a great experience for our fledgling business, and although we didn’t win it was pretty exciting to be given a special mention at the awards ceremony.
Following our special mention in 2013, for the uniqueness of our business and our ability to run a professional and specialist consultancy from home and based around our families, it was announced a new ‘home-based’ category would be established for the awards to recognise a growing number of businesses choosing to work from home.
This was pretty much like winning for us as it recognised what we were trying to achieve and also acknowledged many similar and like-minded businesses popping up in our community.
Home-based businesses make up a significant portion of the small business sector and it’s fabulous to see the corporate community recognising this fact and embracing the skill, talent and professionalism of individuals who chose to work from home.
Establishing a home-based business can be a relatively lonely journey and can take courage, confidence and determination to follow your dreams, throw in your day job and set up a small business enterprise without the guarantee of regular work, income or guidance from management – you’re pretty much on your own!
We established The Splendid Word in search of an elusive work/life balance after starting a family and still wanting to get paid for writing people’s stories – in a non-traditional fashion.
Juggling family life and a home-based business has been tough at times, but we’ve leaned on each other, sought help when we needed to, and for us the benefits still far outweigh the drawbacks.
We originally set out to achieve gradual, sustainable growth and have grown every year since we started more than six years ago – without going broke or losing our sanity in the process – thanks to hard work and a core group of a loyal clients.
We can’t wait to be involved in the awards process once again and bravo to the Campaspe Shire and Murray River Council for hosting every two years. It’s a huge undertaking and one that provides any business or organisation the opportunity to be recognised for the good work they do.
Good luck to all finalists, particularly our home-based collective, and we look forward to seeing you all at the awards ceremony on October 11.
Maybe this year we’ll be third time lucky?
Christy and Lee
#spreadingthegoodstuff #businessawards #finalists #echuca #moama #homebasedbusiness #freelancelife #wordsforgood
It’s Plastic Free July and in the aftermath of the recent ABC TV series War on Waste it is no longer possible to hide from our shocking reliance on single-use plastics and our love affair with ‘waste’.
If like me, you have spent the best part of 10 years slowly increasing your use of plastic, consuming unnecessary packaging at the rate of knots, and welcomed in most weeks by throwing out half your fridge contents, then you would have also watched the War on Waste with shock and horror and… ‘OMG, how did I not know takeaway coffee cups were not recyclable’!
However, this is not a #spreadingthegood stuff post about shame, blame or hiding under a rock because it is just TOO HARD to go ‘plastic free’ for one month, let alone long term!
It’s a story about how you can help alleviate the problem we have ALL created and about taking small steps to REDUCE your reliance on single-use plastics and all the very handy, convenience items we are now starting to realise are just a big fat waste!
The good news is there are so many small steps you can take to help mitigate this very large problem.
Here are some simple solutions to consider:
None of this stuff is rocket science but more about breaking bad habits to create space for new ones.
During July, and throughout the year, there is a strong collective of passionate individuals and organisations making a noise about our plastic usage and offering simple solutions to reduce our waste.
Boomerang Bags Echuca-Moama (an arm of PBFEM) has been overwhelmed by support for its community sewing bees to create a stock pile of recycled bags for use as sustainable alternatives to plastic bags.
The bags, stamped with a ‘borrow and bring back’ logo on the pocket, will be made available at selected stores and community locations for shoppers to pick up when they forget their own reusable bags – genius!
Those who take a Boomerang Bag are encouraged to continue reusing it and importantly, spread the word and start a conversation with family and friends.
The success of the sewing bees will ensure more to come so get in touch here if you’re keen to help, but don’t worry if you can’t sew… there are many ways to support this volunteer group.
The Campaspe Regional Library has a fantastic display during July, organised by Campaspe Shire Environmental Projects Officer Samantha Ferrier (founder of PBFEM), which provides a wealth of information and tools to support Plastic Free July. Pop in and check it out for yourself.
Also during July, Campaspe Shire has teamed with the newly established Echuca Food Store and Organics and Echuca Neighbourhood House to present the movie Just Eat it – a food waste story. This screening on July 20 at Moama Anglican Grammar is a timely response to both the War on Waste and Plastic Free July and is tool to improve your knowledge and inspire your own plastic free and food waste campaign.
And if you’re not yet convinced about the impact of our plastic obsession or lack of responsibility when it comes to food waste, here are a few sobering facts to motivate change in your home, school, workplace or community:
Do you need any more reasons to take your recycled shopping bags to the supermarket this week?
#spreadingthegoodstuff #plasticfreejuly #waronwaste #everyonesresponsibility
Continuing on with our Spreading the Good Stuff community series, which features local initiatives and volunteers improving the lives of many, this week we are shining a light on Murray Human Services – a not-for-profit organisation providing support to adults living with disability in our region.
Murray Human Services (MHS) was established back in 1963 and is passionate in its mission to partner with adults living with disability to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.
Operating services here in Echuca Moama, and further afield at Swan Hill, Kerang, Kyabram, Cohuna and Rochester, the MHS team supports 200 adults in a range of programs aimed at building capacity to achieve positive outcomes.
Social and community participation, health and wellbeing and lifelong learning underpin the organisation, which aims to enhance the lives of those involved, offering greater choice and independence.
MHS is well known for its robust and well-recognised social enterprise Task Force, which offers employment opportunities for participants to engage in meaningful work, where they receive a wage and ongoing support. The Task Force holistic approach includes family support, liaising with government bodies and incorporates both social and community skills and inclusion. The program employs 85 supported employees across sites at Echuca, Swan Hill and Kerang.
Community support is key at MHS and a strong band of volunteers, including the newly established and enthusiastic women at FUNRaising Committee, work hard year round to raise much-needed funds via regular events and activities.
In mid June MHS and Task Force Echuca were lucky to receive a boost from the generous team at Airbiz – an international aviation consultancy.
As part of its yearly conference Airbiz contributes to a community project and MHS was chosen as recipients for this year – quite incredible for a humble organisation based in regional Victoria.
Airbiz donated both time and the materials to transform a MHS site and within just a few hours the crew of 39 people had the job done with additional support from locals including Macca’s Painting.
MHS explained the day with Airbiz, and ongoing support from its volunteer base, are great examples of community partnerships and what can be achieved when people work together for the benefit of many.
Murray Human Services… #spreading the good stuff.
There is little doubt Echuca Moama is a giving community and in our mission to shine a light on the good news through our weekly Spreading the Good Stuff blog we come across examples of this generosity everywhere.
Over the coming weeks we’ll be featuring local initiatives and volunteers changing lives for the good in our riverside community.
Opening its doors only six weeks ago, in the former Moama Newsagency building on Meninya Street, Murray River Tea Rooms is a unique business venture aimed at supporting CLRS clients to obtain life-long skills, which can be successfully transferred to employment.
This 20-seat cafe offers hot drinks and cakes in an ‘Op Shop’ setting – selling wares from the CLRS Recyclability Centre – with revenue from sales and goods sold reinvested to ensure ongoing business sustainability and opportunities for people with disability.
Assisted by support staff: Glenn, Kellie and Sandra, up to seven CLRS clients serve barista style coffee, high quality teas and scrumptious cakes and scones five days a week and have been blessed with a steady stream of customers since day one.
It has become a hot spot for friends of all ages to meet for coffee and small corporate groups gathering to plan the week ahead (FREE Wi-Fi is available), and all have contributed to 100-120 customers per day visiting to show their support for Murray River Tea Rooms and the Recyclability program.
Established two years ago, Recyclability is a CLRS community-recycling program, coordinated by people of all abilities, involving regular kerbside collection of recyclable goods sold via its Percy Street site and now at the tearooms.
A team of 30 volunteers and clients deliver 800 flyers per week to local households, creating a steady stream of recycled goods and a sustainable business model with the added benefit of reusing so much of the ‘stuff’ we don’t need anymore – now there’s a win, win!
Murray River Tea Rooms was built around the same sustainable model, drawing support from the corporate community and as program manager Sandra explains, “it fosters a sense of community and is a great example that not all donations have to be monetary”.
“Local companies have supplied a lot of our initial set-up equipment, daily bread and milk requirements and other perishable products… it’s a real win, win,” said Sandra.
Sandra explained there are so many ways to support this enterprise in the form of donations and also in time as a volunteer sorting treasures in the op shop or, if you have barista skills, you could find yourself behind the coffee machine whipping up a latte or cappuccino.
Up to 10 dozen scones are donated and delivered fresh each week and local catering businesses regularly provide homemade cakes for sale, contributing to a community-driven sustainable business model with huge potential for growth.
Importantly though, the social skills and community interaction CLRS clients have experienced has been life changing and for Mikayla (pictured middle) her work experience has opened up a whole new world, where she has gained both skills and confidence.
“The outcomes for the clients have been amazing and have well and truly exceeded our expectations,” explained CLRS CEO Suzanna Barry.
Suzanna suggested with continued support from the community, particularly in the form of volunteering, the opening hours (Mon-Fri 8am-4pm and Sat 8am-1pm) could be extended on weekends and for pre-arranged functions.
So if you’re looking for a quality scone and one of the best coffees on the Moama side of Murray, pop into Murray River Tea Rooms and help support a social enterprise doing great things to improve the lives of those with disability in Echuca Moama and spread the word… it’s good stuff!
#spreadingthegoodstuff #community #echuca #moama #socialenterprise