Saturday, March 28, 2015


Here is a lady with the most unique voice - I have to admit I am not usually a fan of the blues - but the samples of her music that I have been fortunate enough to hear - her voice is absolutely beautiful.  To me, it almost holds mystery - it's something I want to hear more of.  It reaches out - once heard, in my humble opinion - never forgotten.

So - welcome ANNEE.

Annee has answered her interview questions as a whole so it is being published exactly as she answered - as a whole.  Please enjoy her story.

'I come from a very musical family and started singing at a very early age.  Our extended family would meet at my Grandmother’s house (in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland, NZ) every time there was a special occasion e.g. Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day etc and everyone would join in with the music having a great time.  Family played piano, guitar, vibraphones and of course sang.  My uncle was a multi instrumentalist who played with well-known Jazz bands, so the parties really rocked.  The piano would be moved outside and away we would go.

'My cousin and I were in the same class throughout primary school and everyday he would play the banjo, guitar or piano at school and I would sing.  We would get out of classes just to go and do our music; in fact we were out of class more than in class.  This went on until just before secondary school and we were known as the performing cousins.  Every spare day we had, we would perform music at home and everyone knew where we would be if they were looking for us. 

'My Mum and Dad encouraged both my brother and I to sing, always wanting to hear us. When I was around 11, my Dad came into contact with a person who was a music entrepreneur, who was very interested in us.   He mentioned both my brother’s and my singing and we went along to this huge studio to perform. 

'My Mum and Dad knew very early on that when I performed it was different – I had a strength and depth to my voice that was unusual for a child of that age.  Sadly, soon after my Dad passed away suddenly and left my family devastated with his loss.  I knew that he loved my singing and I continued to sing with the encouragement from my Mum, Brother, Grandmother and Aunty.

'I feel a great sadness that my Mum, Dad and Grandmother never saw me perform as I do today and never knew that I would go out and be a performer with a band of very talented musicians and do Festivals, some of which have had between 6 and 8,000 people in attendance.

'I then reached my mid teens and my music fell away, although I still loved to sing with my cousin at family events and the occasional gig.  I then married and had my children – I was so busy at this point in time.  I would always find time to sing at home or in the shower.

'In 2001 I lost my Mum, and life as we knew it changed dramatically.  The person we would see everyday and who was so much a part of our lives had gone. It was a very difficult time.  I inherited some money from my Mum and Dad and bought a stereo that allowed me to remove vocals and add my own with the music.  This was the real beginning for me.  I would spend hours changing and adapting songs and gradually got better and better in my performance of them.

'In 2003 I suffered a life threatening event when I collapsed at home. I was rushed to hospital after I had gone into shock with internal bleeding into my stomach from endometriosis.  After having a blood transfusion and major surgery, I made a slow recovery. When the hospital tried to give me anaesthetic before my operation, they found they could not get the breathing tube down my throat and had to go in through my throat fibre optically from the outside.  I was so worried I would not be able to sing again. 

'This event made me determined to use my talent to the best of my ability and never waste a day.  Fortunately after 6 weeks recovery I found I could sing as strong as I ever could and it made me appreciate my voice more than ever.

'One evening I was singing in our lounge and my husband, who is a teacher, was doing his planning, said to me, “You can’t keep just singing at home. You need to be out there and be heard again. You have a talent that God intended to be heard by people.”

'I went along to a country music club. I sang and loved the experience.  This was where I started to perform again and found I had the ability to adapt my music on the spot to fit with any band.  I found I could create a whole new song and had the foresight to be able to instantly create music.  I also found that I loved to do songs in my own style. 

'After trying out with quite a few cover bands I found that I did not like doing performances exactly the same as the original cover and wanted to add my own touch and flavour.  I wanted to bring in songs that were different and distinguishable.

'My first band was then formed, called “Dreamboat Annee” – this was a mixture of genres and did very well.  However, it still did not feel like it was the right direction for me; I then went on to create the first Annee 2CU (the name came about through a song that I had sang with my cousin and then recreated called I Cannot See to See You – originally by Dusk).  This song meant a lot to me and was played at my Mum’s funeral.  Annee 2CU initially played at the Bay of Islands Country Rock Festival and created quite an interest, but it still did not feel right to me. 

'I knew that I had to redefine the band from a general country style band to something that had more depth and meaning for me.  This is where the blues came into it:  the power, the emotion, the effect for me was amazing.  I was so passionate about the blues and wanted to do many blues styles not just limit it to one style of blues.

'Hence, the Annee 2CU Blues Band of today came alive.

'We performed as a blues band for the first time at the Bay of Islands Jazz and Blues Festival in 2010 and the interest was huge, it just took off from then on.

'I always wanted to entertain with my singing – it felt so right and it was truly lovely to see people’s reaction.  I think it really hit home when an elderly lady came up to me and said “you sing like an angel”.   To this day, I remember her saying that and knew I wanted to give with my singing to people.  It is not about making money but about giving pleasure to others with a gift I have been given.  To see people enjoy my music is all the return I need. 

'I also learnt that when you are out in the public arena, you will receive negativity as well as praise; I grew stronger in my belief in myself to walk through any negativity.  I now see negativity as something that gives me strength in my music and it does not bother me. Negativity only makes me stronger and more determined to perform well.

'I also knew I wanted to entertain and would dearly love to perform as a full time job, but unfortunately particularly in New Zealand it is not easy to do this full time. When I entertain on stage it is like I go onto a different plateau – I can reach out to people and connect on a very emotive level and communicate with them through the song.   This is what I have always wanted to do.

'Ultimately, I love the blues, but I have sung lots of genres.  I have sung country rock, pop, jazz and straight rock.  I enjoy all music, but blues has to be my passion. The blues tells a story about life; its sorrows and highs. It does not have to be perfect just believed and raw.

'I have been singing since I was a small child, but professionally since 2004 -5.  My real musical career really took off in 2010. No professional training (I did have an assessment, but no training - my voice is untouched, so completely natural, flaws and allJ).

'I manage the band and my husband is the events manager.  This has worked really well, but as the band is progressing at a very fast rate and getting beyond our management ability it will become evitable that we get an outside manager.

'In my spare time I sing at home and enjoy my family (My husband and I have four children).  When I get stressed or uptight my husband always tells me to go and sing as it is a wonderful stress reliever for me.

'My husband inspires me – he has encouraged me so much and given me the confidence to go out and really perform and he believes in me with a faith that is out of this world. When I am on stage, I always look across and into his eyes and I know I am doing something wonderful and walking the path of my dreams. My children are so proud and that means the world to me.

'Professionally blues wise, my inspirations are Robert Cray, Gary Moore and Etta James.

'Outside of music I work as a senior Personal Assistant.  I have worked in the automotive industry, Drug and Alcohol and also Domestic Violence and worked as a legal personal assistant.

'My long term professional goal is to perform on tour in America and possibly Germany.  We have a huge following from Germany and they have been really supportive.  

'Short term, we are doing a CD recording in May this year – I am really excited about this as our feature song will be the song When a Blind Girl Cries. This was originally a Deep Purple song and I have adapted it to my own style and it is the most emotionally charged song I have performed along with St Gabriel (a song about a woman who was abused and ended up in the Louisiana Women’s Penitentiary in St Gabriel, Louisiana).  These songs are on our website. 

'I have been so fortunate to have a team of first class musicians in my band who believe in me and they can play these songs with the same emotion as I can perform them and understand my every move on stage.

'I do not enter into competitions, so no awards – although I have had two NZ number one songs on “Soundclick”.

'I was interviewed for Blockhouse Bay NewsTalk before going to the Bay of Islands in 2012.  (I have attached the article).

'I have belonged to various music clubs in the past, but my time is now taken up with rehearsals for Annee 2CU Blues Band.

'Ultimately I have the skills of being a wife and Mum to my family – I see these as my greatest achievements.  I have a tattoo on my leg which symbolises this.  A heart with music notes entwined through it and around the heart is a large blue star for my husband and three smaller blue stars for my three boys and a small pink star for my daughter.

'I have trained as an administration manager and senior personal assistant and have gained additional skills by working in not-for-profit organisations such as drug and alcohol. 

'Music is about feeling and giving.  There is nothing more powerful than a song that is about a true emotive issue.  As an entertainer or performer you feel the song, you live the song’, you become the song, and you become so engrossed in the performance the world stops around you.  You leave the stage exhausted but exhilarated and know you have given everything.  As my career has progressed I feel and see a wonder in these songs mentioned above and know that they are about real people and real events in life.  I believe that my singing can give hope, insight, inspiration and freedom to many. 

'An example I would love to share about the wonder of music is when I went to my son’s birthday party and everyone sang Happy Birthday.  There was a guest there who had recently had a severe stroke.  He stood beside me and listened as we sang the song.  I could not believe my ears when I heard him sing line for line the Happy Birthday song, perfectly clear and loud.  We finished and he struggled once again to talk.  The power of music touched a part of his brain that allowed him to do that. To this day I will always remember that and know I can give this incredible strength to people and that is all I ask'.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015


She’s another long standing friend of mine – and she comes from my own original home town of Adelaide.  Please welcome biker KAREN DART, mum to five boys and grandmother to her gorgeous granddaughter, Hannah. 

            One of five siblings, Karen was born and raised in Adelaide to a father who had his own business as a tool drafts man – he used to sell art supplies to schools and local artists.  He also used to tell Karen to travel and find her own way in life – and that’s exactly what she has done.  Her first trip was to Qld – and it seems that’s where she was actually bitten by the travel bug.  Then foreign shores beckoned and at the ripe old age of twenty one she headed to the other side of the world, to the UK.  Like many of us (in those days, anyway) there were times when money was a tad scarce – but we all lived to tell the tale and Karen was still able to live and work in the UK for awhile, as well as visiting parts of Europe and Scandinavia.  She also made many new friends before returning to good old Adelaide in South Australia.  And once back at home she met and married her husband and ten years later – they were the very proud parents of five boys.  Sadly the marriage did not work out and after thirteen years they divorced. 

            Karen found that, becoming a single mum and having to work to support her family – time was precious.  Her various jobs ranged from selling clothes, running the school canteen and childcare.  But it was also at this stage that she realised her education needed a boost to help improve her employment prospects, so it was back to school for her.  Karen subsequently passed at TAFE in aged care, disability, leisure and health, earning herself a Certificate 3.  Over the ensuing years she was then able to work in other fields including community care for the aged, palliative, dementia and disabled care.  The reason that Karen had set her sights on becoming a carer was simply because it meant she could work when the boys were at school – and as it turned out, she did night shifts at a venue convenient to her home – across the road – literally, from her house.  So she could actually check on the boys in her breaks.  How good is that?  

            2006 saw her move up to Broken Hill, just over the border from her home state of SA, into NSW.  While it was a big move, she did have many friends there already – and she had decided that it was time for Karen.  And good on her.  This is also the time when motor bikes entered her life – her first one being a Honda 250.  But Karen was not completely new to motor bike riding – she had done so a few times through her life prior to this and she has always encouraged her sons to ride as well – the eldest and second youngest still do.  The first time she rode one was, as a child, on her auntie’s farm south of Adelaide – and that’s where and when she first felt ‘freedom’.  But now, many years later, in her late 40’s, she was determined to get her licence (which she did – but not until after a lot of clutch crunching and rather slow riding) and she finally also got her pride and joy – a Honda 750 Shadow – it was her turn again and she was determined to make a go of it.  Hence, her love for motor bikes was re-borne and thrived.  It was also the move to Broken Hill that saw her starting to support disabled clients – which she also now does back in Adelaide as she has since returned to SA to live.

            She does belong to some motor cycle clubs too.  Ulysses being one and she now travels around the nation with her friends from this club.  She rides with them up to Townsville for their AGM – leaves her feeling a tad stiff, with a sore bottom – but well worth it.  Another group is G.H.O.S.T. Riders (Grey Haired Old Sports and Tourer Riders).  Also Shadow Riders.  Apart from sharing a love of motor bike riding, these are all also very social clubs.  Karen does love riding with her friends – it seems a lot of tall stories and laughter are swapped when they stop for coffee or lunch.  But sometimes – all she wants to do is ride.  She does add:  ‘When you ride you might have fellow riders nearby but you are alone in your thoughts – not like a car where you listen on the radio or chatting to someone’.

            The rides also vary in length – when she had had her learner’s for only a couple of days and still had her first bike, she rode from Broken Hill to Burra in what should have taken four or five hours, but with the headwind and other factors, it ended up taking her seven to eight hours.  She was also sure that when she eventually got off the bike she was leaning over to one side.  Other trips have included Townsville (as mentioned), Tasmania and in varying weather – at one stage, they were riding in temperatures of 49*C.  Ouch!  Karen does also drive a car which she has owned for a long time.  She also loves going out on 4WD trips with her husband.  One of their ambitions is to take his Nissan Patrol and explore the outback – that’s great to hear – go for it!  She also says she can ride at any time in the country/outback – because of the freedom of the open space and seeing how beautiful our country is.  As she adds, in the city you have to look out for everyone and be two steps ahead all the time as people are racing too fast to look out for you.  Many are the times she has had to change lanes to avoid being hurt because of negligent drivers.  Well said.

            Prior to marriage, her work was mainly in admin – she has worked at different banks, the education department and she ran a computer while living in England.  Most of her employment included data entry or working on telex machines.  Believe it or not, as Karen says:  ‘I laugh now to think I always wanted to be a hairdresser when I was young – and to think when I was in the UK I did not get my hair cut for over three years’.  She adds that these days she has to be told to have her hair cut by her husband.

            Inspirations?  Karen does not feel she had anyone in particular to inspire her.  She has always just moved on and tried things.  ‘I don’t believe in settling down and my aim in life is to see and experience things’, adding that she likes to understand what makes people tick – so, as she says, sometimes she might appear to be quiet (who….Karen???) but this doesn’t last for long though – it just means she is working things out.  ‘What makes me happy is people smiling and laughing.  By travelling, I have learned you don’t have to be rich to be happy.’  Never a truer word was said!

            And spare time?  What spare time?  As she says:  ‘Spare time is what I always look for’, and so say all of us!  As can be gathered she loves riding and when there is a ride on, she loves going with her husband (Steve) to join their friends riding in the hills or along the coast, mainly south of Adelaide.  But she does have other interests including reading – and just plain relaxing.  Naturally she loves having time with Hannah, cooking and watching videos (the latter she says is a good excuse to watch kid’s shows).

            Karen has some advice for other riders, particularly young ones.  She gets very upset when she sees youngsters riding bikes or scooters, wearing only shorts, or just tops and thongs.  She feels that they think if they have an accident, they’ll just hit the road, bounce and be fine – or it won’t happen.  Karen has personally had a few experiences where she can completely support these feelings and advice. 

            And in parting:  ‘You’re never too old to learn.  I was in my late 40s when I decided to learn to ride – and here I am, still riding and having fun.  Riders come in ages young and old and you always look out for each other’.  She does add that over the years she has lost a lot of good friends, fellow riders, mainly through cancer.  ‘But I know they are riding up there with the wind in their faces and having a great time…’

            What a way to go!  And remember, as Karen says – you really are never too old to learn.  Go Karen!


Saturday, March 21, 2015



And that’s exactly what would have happened, had I been wearing any.  Suzanne Waldron, author of the hard-to-put-down recently released-and-doing-very-well book, ‘A Flourishing Mind’ had warned me – and my sox would have been blown to smithereens, had it been cool enough to wear them that day!  This little gem?  It took Suzanne five days to write this book.  Just the writing – all the rest that is involved in getting a book published and out there took much longer but the writing, her bit – five days!  Ouch.

            But let’s start at the beginning.  Suzanne, as she says, has been through a heck of a lot – all very daunting and much of which would make even the strongest of people want to hibernate for the rest of their lives.  But not this lady – not a hope.  If anything, it has had the opposite effect.  She’s written a book about it.  As Suzanne tells it, by the ripe old age of eight she had already had a nervous breakdown!  By her mid-teens she’d been fostered out and then became homeless. By her mid-thirties (where she is now), she had studied a lot in human behavioural change – and she describes ‘A Flourishing Mind’ as being about how one can go through adversity and come into a place where you would flourish.  ‘My very early years were difficult and really my teens and my twenties were also very difficult as I was confused and angry about many of the residual feelings, the impact of some of the activities and circumstances of my life but as I got older I started to realise I really wanted to feel very differently and also have other people feel differently about themselves too’.

            The catalyst for her putting pen to paper initially was her father’s death and her lack of contact with her mother – she felt she had to tell their story in order to tell her own.  And she felt that this was the permission needed for her to be able to actually tell hers.  She was connected to her dad, but not so much her mum, so she finally felt she could really share and help others.  Suzanne is thrilled to be able to say ‘A Flourishing Mind’ is selling very well and sold out within ten days of its launch.  Suzanne is currently being presented with distribution opportunities for Australia and New Zealand.

            As for the gem mentioned earlier – writing the book in five whole days – to top this off she was doing her masters in the same year and establishing her business as well as winning a court case and then mourning her father’s death so she actually intentionally set five days aside to devote to her writing.   Writing the book was the easiest part in her view.  Editing with thousands of changes and production of the book goes through many stages.  It takes a big team to produce a book, which many don’t realise.

            When asked to describe her ‘normal’ day – Suzanne admits her ‘normal’ means variant in that she has a lot of activities that are very different – there is no routine.  She usually starts work at 7 am – usually in her nightie – which is not a problem since she works from a home office.  As a child, her aspiration was very pure and simple – to be safe.  Something she didn’t feel much of as she was growing up.

            Prior to running her own business and writing, she usually held leadership roles in the corporate world.  So she feels most of her roles have been humanistic – and she loves strategy as well.  She also directs on a board for Uniting for Homelessness in Perth.  With efforts to half homelessness in the metro area in the pilot case.

            Her strength in writing is certainly getting on with it.  ‘I hope it is easy to read and you’re not lost in the meaning and that people can actually read what I write and feel something for themselves’.  And her weaknesses are definitely grammar and making up words, which sortof leaves her editors scratching their heads a bit!  Suzanne feels that writing a book requires great organisational skills.  ‘I know that sounds very practical, but if you want to write a book you have to work through it like it’s a project and it also needs to looked at from an organisational time perspective’.  And she has even won an award:  ‘Striving to Succeed’ Runner Up.  It was an organisational award where there were 1,500 people in the organisation.  And inspirational people in her life?  Fran Berry, owner and director of ‘Alive & Kicking Solutions’, who has taught and inspired Suzanne a lot.  The kindness of strangers also plays a big part in what inspires Suzanne. 

Goals – short term is to get as much exposure as possible for the book to make sure it is doing what she intended it to do – help people think differently about themselves.  And long term – to create a foundation for people who would value learning to think about themselves well, especially younger people. Her values are kindness, honesty, increasing others’ self image, integrity – doing what you say you are going to do.  And love.  She is passionate about helping people to have lives worth living.  And ‘spare’ time – again, it’s simple – her spare time is about being curious.  Going to acting classes or life drawing classes, or to see a live show.  Curiosity. 

            And Suzanne is a member of the International Coaching Federation and the National Speakers’ Association as well as a number of smaller groups. 

            And a final word:  ‘I try to get my message out to men and women without excluding any gender.  It’s about having a life worth living set by each and everyone’s own standard. And it seems she is succeeding in doing just that.  Well done.




Friday, March 20, 2015


It is hard to believe when you look at her - she is tiny.  A package that is actually nothing short of fantastic, hugely inspirational and a darned nice person to boot. Enter the amazing JO NASEBY, Executive One Star Diamond Director for USANA Health Sciences.  Wow – what a title!  This ‘little package’ is so proud, so passionate, so enthusiastic, so inspirational, so contagious – the list is endless!

            Born in Japan to an Australian father who was in the Australian Air Force and a Japanese mother who was a dancing teacher, Jo and her family made the move to Australia when she was the ripe old age of eight.  Her parents were both very young when they met and wed – so they stayed in Japan for some years, prior to making that move to Australia.  Jo remembers being a victim of merciless bullying, as in physically having sticks and stones thrown at her, in Japan – just because they looked ‘different’.  Not sure how that worked – Jo looks pretty normal to me!  But their father felt that things would be a lot better when they moved to Australia – sadly, he was wrong and they continued having those sticks and stones and verbal abuse thrown at them.  This was largely due to the fact that, while Australia boasts a huge multi-cultural population now, it has not always been so and her family stood out.  All that bullying, though, made Jo a stronger person.

            Jo’s employment background had always been in the office/admin/secretarial area – always working for employers.

            Their young baby was diagnosed as an asthmatic at nine months old and her whole young life was dealing with constant allergies, cold and flus.

            What didn’t help was the fact that they were living in Lancelin at the time and it was a one and a half hour journey back to the Princess Margaret Hospital – also extremely draining – so they made the decision to move back to the city.  Both Jo and husband Warren were semi-retired but with all this happening and with the financial burden involved, Jo realised she would need to return to working for herself.  She also realised she was not getting any younger – and being all-but chained to the computer for over seventy hours per week, working for several bosses and having to meet deadlines – well, as to be expected, her health suffered.  At times she found herself working to 3 am to meet those deadlines.  And to top it all off, this was in the days before scanners so she was having to physically draw a lot – bolts, screws, arrows – all parts of instrument panels – you name it, all being part of the manuals she was having to type up.  No mean feat.  And as if all this wasn’t enough, she also suffered from Carpal Tunnel (Repetitive Strain Injury).  Her neck, back and other areas were starting to suffer badly.  In short, her health was really deteriorating.  BUT it had to be done – so she did it.  Then Warren was made redundant so Jo found herself working harder than ever (wasn’t she already??) to make ends meet.  She had to.

            When Daisy was eight an asthma attack deteriorated into Bronchitis and Pneumonia and the chest Xrays she then had to undergo simply resulted in the fact that she would need to take more drugs – she was already taking about five different medications, inhalers and nebulizers.  A bit much for anyone, let alone an eight year old.  Chest Xrays simply showed she needed to take yet another prescription medication, this time a steroid – so Jo gave this to her as needed but after about three months found there was no improvement – instead Daisy developed unwanted side effects like circles under her eyes, face swelling, was not sleeping well, was always tired and began having severe mood swings and irritability.  Upon searching the internet about this new prescription drug, Jo was stunned to find that some of the other potential side effects were brittle bone disease, liver and kidney failure among others.  Back to the doctor and Jo decided that she wanted to find someone who could help with some sort of holistic alternative instead.

            Through a friend who was using USANA Health Science products for their own health challenges, Jo also turned to these products in an effort to help Daisy as well as herself.  While she initially was not interested in the business side, feeling as though she had enough on her plate as it was, she only wanted to try some of their products to see if they could offer a better way to maintain their health.  The result was quite amazing.  Within a month, Jo and Daisy were experiencing many personal and life changing health benefits – and Jo realised she’d want to take USANA for – well – life!  But obviously she did not want to pay full price for them so she started to think about becoming a member.  However, in 1999, sixteen years ago, her decision was well and truly made for her – Jo joined and then got her mother to join also, followed by other friends and neighbours.  Within a few months, she was no longer feeling tired and run down and with all these positives, started thinking about the benefits of running a USANA business – and so she did.  She closed down her typing business and went into USANA full time.

            Now, with Warren, she works out of a home office – home being a beautiful apartment on the ninth floor of a city building with a spectacular view of parklands and waterways.  Jo loves the lifestyle which her business now affords her – the compensations are amazing – world trips being just one of many.  They have built a global empire with around 25,000 team members and hundreds of Preferred Customers scattered across the globe – Jo doesn’t pay any of the Associates – USANA does.  How good can life be?  Her working day?  Up in time to take their dog for a walk, Jo goes to the gym for a forty five to sixty minute workout while Warren takes the dog back home.  Jo follows after her workout, has a shower and healthy breakfast, deals with her emails then generally goes out around 1 pm for lunch or afternoon coffee meetings.  Home again for the evening at about 5.30 pm, although sometimes she does meet with clients or skype team members for training in the evenings – those who cannot meet during the day.  And, being her own boss, she can work when she wants to.

            Her inspirations?  Dr Myron Wentz, the founder of USANA and recipient of the Albert Einstein Award, her mother and her husband.  Very clear.  And strengths and weaknesses when it comes to running your own business?  ‘When you run your own business, you have to be mindful of your own time.  So you’re not going to waste your time doing nothing, or the opposite – doing too much’.   She adds that, if managed properly, you can take a day off, take time out and not worry about it.  Consider your business to be a game – something to be enjoyed.  And her passions?  The water and anything to do with it.  And animals.  Values?  Honesty in everything you say and do.  Whatever you say you are going to do – do it – don’t go back on it.

            And a final word to other aspiring business-women?  ‘They always need to have that vision in mind – what they are wanting to create – the life they want to have.  They need to have that vision so they can work toward that’.

            Very wise words from an amazingly inspirational business-woman.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Please welcome the very talented Aboriginal artist - MAITLAND HILL

Please tell us a little bit about your background - your childhood and youth;
I am a proud Nyoongar man who as born in the country wheat belt town of Pingelly and I spent my childhood and youth in the city of Armadale.  My greatest passion in my youth was playing Aussie rules football.  My local footy club was Armadale Football Club and I played for them from juniors through to seniors.  I won many 'Best & Fairest' awards along the way.  My dedication to the football club saw me become the first Aboriginal life member of the club.  My passion for sport has been inherited by my two children.  My son plays AFL for the West Coast Eagles and my daughter play international basketball in America.

When I wasn't playing football or drawing as a kid my time was spent with family.  Mum and Dad would bundle us kids into the car and we would travel back to country and meet up with family.  Big family gatherings were very special times for us; we would take a picnic and travel to places like Jarrahdale or Kwinana Beach.  Many happy times were also spent travelling to and staying in Boddington with many uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters and cousins.

Where do your ancestors come from?  Can you please tell us something about that?
My grandfather, Charles Hill, was born and educated in Bridgetown and as a young man he moved with his family to live in Northam.  He worked the wheat belt areas of Northam, Toodyay, York, Quairading and Pingelly.  He married my grandmother, Rachel Abraham and they lived together in Pingelly.  Grandfather bought some land there and he was a very religious man.  He built a small church for the town of Pingelly on his land and Nyoongar people travelled for miles to attend that church.  My grandfather and his family finally moved to the town of Burekup for work and it was there that he was bestowed the title:  'The King of Burekup'.  He was a very respected man and when he passed away in 1966, his funeral was said to have over 400 people in attendance.

His second eldest son - and also my father, Horace Hill, followed in his father's footsteps of being a very respected Nyoongar man.  My father, who is now deceased, also holds a legacy and has a park reserve held in his name:  'Horrie Hill Reserve' in the city of Armadale.  He was born in the wheat belt town of Popanyinning and worked the land in the surrounding district before settling in Armadale.  My mother's country is Wandering and she was born in the district of Williams.  She spent much of her younger days in Boddington and Wandering and has now settled in the city of Armadale.  She is in her eightieth year but remains active as an Aboriginal Elder Advisor for the shire council in the city of Armadale and holds a seat on the Sea and Land Council Advisory Board.  

Have you always been interested in art?
Yes - from my earliest memories I was always sketching, drawing or illustrating images from comic book magazines.  As a child I would often be up late at night drawing and then be too tired for school the next day!

What age did you actually begin painting?
I attended Clontarf Aboriginal College at the age of seventeen and undertook an art course there, so that was my beginning.  However I drifted away from my art for many years and didn't return to it again seriously until the end of 2013.

What subjects do you enjoy painting most?
I enjoy painting landscape scenery the most because the land has a story to it and the vision that I see in it - is my connection to country.

Does your art usually carry some form of message?
Yes, when I paint I feel like I am caring for country because I am sharing the beauty of my country with others.  That is a message in itself.  Visions also come to me and I feel like I am an instrument of my art.  Those visions often take the form of my old ancestors and they demand to be brought back to life.

You paint for a reason, apart from the love of it.  Can you please tell us something about that?
Yes, apart from the love of it, I paint because I am compelled to.  Many times my hands will start to get hot and they often twitch at the same time.  I feel the painting or artwork inside of me and I then need to outwardly express it on paper or canvas.

You are bi-lingual.  Do you speak more than two languages?
I speak some of my traditional Nyoongar language.

Do you travel for your art at all?
Not at present but that is my burning ambition to travel nationally and internationally with my artwork.

Have you won any awards for your art?
No, but I am actively entering art competitions in 2015.

Have you won any other awards, professionally?

What are your short and long term goals for your art?
My short term goal is to compile a portfolio of my artwork and to have my own website up and running in the next two months.  I am aspiring to become recognised as a professional Aboriginal artist.  My long term goal is to take my artwork internationally and to travel with it.  I also aim to have my own Aboriginal art gallery.

Do you show in art galleries?
I have artworks on commission at Yonga Boodja Aboriginal Art Gallery in the Swan Valley and I exhibited my artwork at the Boddington Community Centre in September 2014.  I also have artwork for sale in my home town of Dwellingup, at the local IGA general store.

Have you done any/many media interviews for your art?
No, I am very excited that this is my first interview - thank you.

What and/or who are your inspirations?
My dog Chloe, who is a fully grown Rottweiler inspires me because she loves to sit at my feet when I am painting.  I also draw inspiration, energy and strength from my father and grandfather in the spirit realm.

What do you enjoy doing in your 'spare' time?
I enjoy travelling back to country to take beautiful images for my next artwork and drawing energy from being 'on country'.  I also enjoy getting together with my 'old people' and yarning with them about the good old times.

Is there anything else you would like to add?
My current philosophy in life is that I 'paint for country and culture'.  At this stage of my life in my forty sixth year I believe that it is time to dedicate myself to my artwork.  I would also like to add that I celebrate my Aboriginality through my artwork.  Thank you. 






Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Please welcome the amazing Monica Perrett - mum, grandmother, award winner and nominee, law changer and fighter for human rights.

Please tell us a little bit about your background;
I am a mum of six children and grandmum of one.  I always stick up for the underdog and fight for what I believe is right.

You are a mother of six children.  Do you work as well?  Please tell us about that;
Yes, I am an aged care worker.  I have been in this profession for thirteen years.

You have also experienced considerable tragedy over the years.  Do you want to describe some of that, please?
My fourteen year old son ran away from home - the law is NOT on your side at all, so I had to fight the justice system to get the Police Commissioner to try to change the laws about runaway teens.  My children have experienced bullying at school - I found NO help at all with any of the principals.

One of your children has died - but as an adoptive parent you were powerless to help in any way.  Thus you worked to get the law changed - can you tell us about that please?
My foster son FINN passed away suddenly - I was told as a foster parent I had NO RIGHTS now that he was dead, so I have been campaigning with different ministers in SA to get FINN's LAW put through, so when a foster child passes away in your care, the foster parents have every right to have a say in their funeral etc....hopefully this year, 2015, FINN's LAW will be made a bill in parliament for ALL foster parents.

You also donate a lot of your time and money to varying charities.  Do you want to tell us about that?
Barnardos - they help with children who cannot live at home for various reasons.  Smith Family - they help children to go to school when their parents can't afford it.

Your family/children have experienced bad times with being bullied at school, resulting in the family being forced to move.  Please tell us about that;
My children suffered bullying at school because they were quiet, polite and refused to be a part of the gang.  They refused to go to school in the end, making up excuses, feeling sick all the time and each time I went up to the school to get it sorted - it was basically put in the too hard basket.  NOTHING WAS DONE.  I had to end up taking my kids out of that school.

You have also been nominated and several several awards.  Do you want to tell us about that too please?
I won Barnardos Mother of the Year for SA in 2014, Pride of Australia Medal in the care and compassion area with the work that I am doing to try to bring on FINN's LAW for foster parents.  I won the award for Most Inspirational People in SA in 2014.

You have worked as a carer for the disabled for about twelve years.  Is this what you are doing now?
I am on a break at the moment as I have full custody of my thirteen month old grand daughter - so she takes all my time at the moment.

What do you see for yourself in the future?
I want to be in parliament, I want to be a voice for the children who don't have a voice.  I WILL make a difference in parliament.  WHY?  Because I actually care about the well being of ALL children.

What and/or who inspires you?
People that I have met and become friends with that put GOD first and foremost - it's not easy - people who have been through so much, faced rock bottom but still get up and fight for what they believe in; people who put their family first, people who are genuine and honest, people who want to make a difference.

What do you enjoy doing in your 'spare' time?
Not that I have much spare time, but I enjoy reading, listening to Michael Jackson or classical music.

Is there anything further you would like to add to this interview?
Always believe in yourself.  You can do anything.  DON't let people put you down.  It only takes one person to change someone's mind, a law, even parliament.  Why not let that one person be YOU.

Monday, March 16, 2015


Bullseye: INTRODUCING....INSPIRATIONAL PEOPLE: INSPIRATIONAL PEOPLE This blog was initially created to be devoted to the fight against bullying.  I have featured many of my own com...



This blog was initially created to be devoted to the fight against bullying.  I have featured many of my own comments/stories on it, then introduced some guest bloggers, whether they had been bullied or not.  These were followed by interviews on new entertainment talent from around the world - but now I have decided to devote it completely to purely inspirational people - whether they have been bullied or suffered through other forms of adversity - or not.  And I invite such inspirational people, world wide, to contact me if they are interested in being interviewed and published for this.  I am kick-starting with a story about moi and this will be followed by an interview with an amazing single grandmother from my own childhood home town - she is an award nominee and winner and is even changing laws.

But first - it's me!

It IS all About Me ... Isn't it?

My life has changed hugely - turned around completely, in the last decade or so.  I could just cut to the chase and say:

I came
I saw
I'm still conquering

But it might be considered that there is a bit more to me than that.  I'll let you decide.

The years immediately following the end of school life are a bit hazy but I do know I was still in Adelaide, working in various positions - ranging from being a nanny/nurse in an orphanage that catered mainly to Indigenous children - to office work to behind-the-scenes in banking, which is the position I was holding when I began being transferred interstate.  This began with Canberra - hated the work but loved my personal life there.  I lived in one of the ANU's residential colleges while there and absolutely loved it.  Finally returned to Adelaide before being sent to Melbourne to train a new member of staff there.  After that, I knew that I did not wish to return to Adelaide - so resigned and foreign shores beckoned instead.  I did know that I would never return to Adelaide to live, whatever happened.  And I never did.

Other more recent 'positions' have included direct marketing in various areas, teaching, supermarket distribution and commercial cleaning - and probably more if I really want to think about it.   I don't.

I was in the UK and Europe for eleven months and had a ball - until I ran out of money and had to make a reverse charge call home.  I finally returned to Australia via Perth - and here I stayed.  Eleven months later I met my husband to be and yes, we are still together some thirty two years later with two beautiful adult daughters, the eldest of whom is now engaged to an equally lovely bloke and the youngest is in a long term relationship with her own bloke, who is also lovely.

I did, at one stage, work for one of the subsidiary companies to Woodside for a couple of years prior to motherhood.  Once my eldest arrived I became a FT SAHM - and promptly became bored stiff.  There were (and still are) times when I really do wonder about myself - more than anyone else, I mean.  All I used to hear from other mums (particularly new ones) was that they just didn't have time for anything apart from their families!  Ok, so why was I - also a new mum - getting downright bored??  What was I doing wrong - or right??  To this day that remains a mystery - my eldest is now thirty and both girls are doing well.

Soooo - I began looking for something else to occupy me.  I took on a series of direct selling jobs - including Avon - then realised that it's probably better if you actually like the product you are trying to sell - and I'm not a huge fan of Avon particularly - personal taste only but one that sort of did make a difference to my sales ability - or lack therein, in that case.  Anyway, the novelty of all these jobs wore off after a while - like a day!  Yes, I was heavily involved in every level of the girls' education, right up to secondary school - when - again - I completely lost interest.  Not in their education and lives - but in any personal involvement (committees and the like) on my part.

Somewhere along the line I had also rediscovered a passion for writing and had a billion (OK, make that around two hundred) penfriends world wide at one stage.  Loved every nano-second of that and yes, that started to keep me busy - and broke.  THEN bright and early - make that early - one morning about ten years ago I awoke with what I can only describe as an 'epiphany' - or something.  Whatever it was, it was overwhelming.  I suddenly knew that I had to get my late father's book published.  I reckon mum's advancing age (late 80s) just might have had something to do with that feeling.  Anyway - problem - how do you have a book published?  Seriously - how do you have a book published??  This just might have stopped me in my tracks - in fact it did - temporarily.  Then I remembered dad's pride and efforts and mum's patience in sitting around for seventeen years wondering if the book would ever see the light of day.  That did it!

Some years later I have two published titles on the market.  The above mentioned one:  'The Sawers from Pitcairn' and the second is actually a compilation of some thirty six cases written and submitted by victims of bullying from around Australia and one from the UK.  And I am currently working on another - non-fiction it is a book about our mighty outback and the wonderful people who live out there.  Another one that I have considered writing would be my first foray into fiction - and doing this was suggested by another author who has done the same thing - writing about an experience she had, in fiction form.  This would be about my own bullying experience.  Time only will tell whether I actually finish it or not...

But writing books (and now articles etc) has changed my life.  Please don't get me wrong - apart from those years at secondary school my childhood and teens were second to none and the rest of my life, leading up to that 'epiphany' have been wonderful to date.  But now I absolutely love life - I am passionate about everything that I do - well - almost.  The book about stations, the one I have been concentrating on for the last three years - has been and continues to be the most amazing experience.  It combines my love for the outback as well as for writing.  Research has involved my travelling alone (by coach) throughout the outback of SA., NSW., Qld and the NT, visiting sheep and cattle stations.  WA is next and I leave on the first of four research trips for my own state in about four weeks.  Soooo excited.  We are also hoping to make a documentary covering this, for so many different reasons.  

I am now also writing for a couple of different publications - one of them will also be in print version and due to be launched in July.  I have my own columns in both publications as well as articles in the latter.  All this is also finally allowing me to use my journalism and photography.  YES.

OH - if anyone is wondering whether I did get dad's book out before mum died - I didn't - I missed - by ONE WEEK!   But - I am told she knew something was about to happen and that made her a happy woman - or as happy as anyone can be when facing the end of life as we know it.

But, for me - life is GREAT.