final draft




From the Editors

Amanda Yau

Tony Zhang

Greetings to our readers and a warm welcome

to everyone picking up an issue of ECX for the

first time. We couldn’t be more excited to – yet

again – share the opinions and stories of so many

thoughtful people within our Sydney community.

With the magazine constantly growing, being

redesigned and reimagined, I am of course

thankful for the team behind ECX who are

essential to the magazine’s success.

Issue 3 touches on art; art as a cathartic release,

art as a political statement, and art as a voice

for the voiceless. How can we bring about the

change we want to see in the world? We also

have a number of stories that focus, in one way or

another, about the journey towards success. Our

job here at ECX is to inspire people from all walks

of life to open up about their thoughts, promoting

a ripple of positive changes through the sharing

of personal experiences.

If you have any ideas about doing a feature article

in our fourth issue, we would love for you to

contact us at! Whether you’re

a small business owner eager to share your

journey with our readers, or a student with a

creative passion, we would be delighted to hear

what you have to say.

Thank you once again for your support as a

reader, and we hope you enjoy this issue as much

as we do!

As we go into our third issue of ECX, I’m excited

to continue to be a part of the growing community

we have been building. In this issue, we explored

the various stories of individuals and businesses,

ranging from people who have inspired the local

community to others who are trailblazers in their

industries. In conversation with these people, one

of the main themes that have emerged is that life

can take a different approach at times.

This issue of the magazine really explores the

various stories behind the individual’s success.

You’ll find that the various paths taken by these

individuals are strange and can even seem

illogical. Yet what remains constant is their true

desire to do what they’ve always wanted to do.

Even when faced with adversity, they never looked


It’s not easy to embark on a journey that has

uncertainty to it. It’s not easy to do something

you love and be successful at it. But don’t let the

notions of the need to succeed drag you down.

Just make sure that you are taking a path you

will dedicate yourself to, no matter the success

or failure that comes with it. You don’t know what

life will throw at you because there are so many

different opportunities out there and your journey

isn’t simply bound by one path.

So challenge yourself, be open to different

opportunities, seek them out and keep yourself



Katrina Read

Known best for her meticulous koi fish paintings, this

Australian artist has captured the movement of light

and water in bodies of work that are detailed and

modern. She talks to ECX about what she believes in

most: that is, authenticity and artistic integrity.


Golden Pig & Co.

With her daughter’s life-threatening allergies in mind,

Erika Chan and her husband have opened a restaurant

dedicated to serving delicious, healthy dumplings. No

gluten, no MSG, no egg and dairy ... no worries.


Blak Douglas

Aboriginal artist Adam Hill transforms iconic

imagery into political, social commentary. Indigenous

Australians are the most incarcerated race in the world,

he tells ECX. So what can we do to make a change?


Stephen Fry Colin Cassidy

After a twenty-year career in media, this professional

voice actor can switch from Morgan Freeman to Donald

Trump to David Attenborough in a matter of seconds.


issue 3



Reynold Poernomo is many things: Top 5 contestant of

MasterChef Season 7, one of three brothers, co-founder

of multiple dessert venues around Sydney - and yet,

surprisingly, he’s not a sweet tooth.


Larsen Jewellery

With a wedding ring experience tailored to individual

clients, it’s clear to us that Lars and Susie Larsen’s

passion for handcrafted fine jewellery shines just as

bright as their diamonds.



With many years of experience and a passion for

healthy eating, Yuki Thomas has continued to create

great plant-based receipes. Good, wholesome meals

don’t just feed the stomach - they also feed the soul.



Our founder Eric Wong talks about the misguided

glorification of home ownership; community living; and

his solution for future accommodation.


Two Birds Brewing

Inside Australia’s first female-owned brewery, Danielle

Allen and Jayne Lewis are working their way into the

record books with their award-winning, artisanal beers.

These ‘two birds’ know that ideas are nothing without



Ammar Ahmad

From grassroots to global success, this young

entrepreneur represents an uplifting Australian

success story. Having founded his business at the age

of fourteen, Ammar is now turning over millions - and

he’s telling ECX exactly how he did it.


Is Society Influencing How You Think?

Eric Wong is concerned about how often we let external

factors influence our decisions simply because it’s more

convenient. Is doing what is common the same as doing

what is right?


ECX Corner

A community corner for our readers. This week,

we have Louise Tosetto, a PhD student, spreading

awareness about her thesis topic: the blue-striped


Katrina Read.

When Australian-born artist Katrina Read found herself overwhelmed by client demands and unable

to keep up with her own collection, she made a decision to stop everything in its tracks. “Integrity,”

she says, sitting in the living room of her home in Vaucluse, “that’s what I stand for as an artist. It’s

the most important thing I live by: my honesty and my integrity in my own works. You have to be

authentic. You have to have your own voice and your own style.”

On the wall behind Katrina is one of her own paintings – of koi fish basking in a sun-touched, pebblebottomed

river. The soft whites and greens match the rest of the room, as though everything was

designed to be part of a set. “I wanted to be surrounded by something that made me feel calm,” she

says about her most well-known collection, the Prosperity series. Katrina was still finding her own

style and exploring a variety of genres, from Australian landscapes to beach paintings to figurative

works, when she discovered twenty years ago that her paintings involving koi and water seemed to

be embraced more or sold first.

“That sense of tranquillity, it’s universal. I’ve received letters from people who have been very unwell

in the past but found solace and relief in my paintings. So, I don’t commit to doing an artwork when

I’m tired. Painting is a really emotive process and if the artist is being pushed, you can pick it up in

the energy and in the work itself. If I can feel that my pieces are starting to lose authenticity, then I

wait and I recharge my batteries first.”

Inspired by the elements of nature and her own surroundings, Katrina started to experiment with

light and depth in all her works. Indeed, it reflects the ancient Chinese philosophy of feng shui – a

term that directly translates to “wind-water” in English. The system, in short, seeks to harmonise

everyone with their surrounding environment, reminding Katrina to simply take a breath and relax

amidst the activity of everyday life.


Pure (2002)

71cm x 71cm

Katrina Read has been painting for as long as she can remember, having always been a creative

talent, and it’s evident in the way she talks about her processes just how much respect she has for

the practice. When working with a private client or an interior designer, she begins the journey with

a personal home visit to get an idea of their space. “It’s really important for me to understand how

they live,” she says, “because my painting has to be an accent to the room, one that ties in the whole

design story. It has to work in isolation but also fit in seamlessly with the client’s space.”

“I like doing specific commissions. They’re getting a piece that’s tailored specifically for them. And

when I take into account what colours they like and what things will work for their space, it puts a bit

of them into the artwork too.”

Reflecting back on herself at the beginning of her career, a word of advice she would give to those

intent on finding success as an artist is to take a step back and enjoy the journey. She believes that

it always is a long and complicated learning process in the beginning. “It’s not impossible to earn

$40,000 per painting straight out of Uni, given the skill set of some talented individuals and the

time involved in each piece, but the people who are paying money at that level want to see a career

trajectory. They want to see that you’ve started and you’ve built, and that you’ve gained experience.

Even now when I look at my collection from ten years ago to where it is now, I’m staggered by the

progress and the development in the works.”

For those who are struggling to reach their goals or elevate their career, she says: “Never

underestimate the position that you’re in now and where that may take you in twenty years. Even if

you can’t see the benefit of where you are now, there will be something in ten years’ time that will

make you grateful for the experience.” Whether it’s a contact or a business skill or simply a word

of advice, Katrina believes that inspiration and influences tend to strike when people least expect

it. “It’s essential that you learn throughout the journey, even in moments that don’t feel significant.

Draw from what you can learn from other creative talents, but get your own voice and maintain that.

Spend time working out what your message is going to be, and what your style is,” she suggests.

“And don’t be so hard on yourself. Everything happens in its own time.”


Wishing You Prosperity (2008)

140cm x 140cm

For someone who didn’t initially think she would be able to make fine arts into a career, Katrina

has found herself exhibiting paintings all across Australia, Singapore, New York, Canada and the

Caribbean. Her eye for balance and detail is evident too in her hand-watercoloured illustrations

for Arty Hearts, the stationery range. Designed with “countless hours and a huge amount of love,

thought, and care”, Katrina knows how important it is for stationery to not only look stunning, but to

also be of high standard.

The range spans across a variety of vibrant, summer themes, from pineapples to palm leaves,

including a special feature from Katrina’s iconic koi fish. Her watercolours are done with immaculate

detail, right down to the last petal, and when asked, Katrina says her inspiration for these designs

stem from adventure, travel, and a love of vivid colours. “I really want customers to feel that they are

getting something special and to connect with it on a personal level because they are choosing these

products to give to someone special in their lives.” Her work is all about bringing sunshine and a bit

of fun to offices and workspaces across Australia and New Zealand, allowing for a brief escape to the

beachside through such creative designs.

“I pull on my love of interior design when creating all my pieces as I love to transform a blank space

to give it a story through art,” Katrina says. “Although I’m conscious of current trends and the

influence people and places have on the designs, I’m a big believer that you have to keep your own

design voice authentic.”

02 9281 4190 | 0451 915 112


KOI (“Kids of Ike”)

The creations that come out of Ryde’s KOI Dessert Kitchen

are situated on the cusp of modernist art, bringing an

avant-garde twist to the culinary scene. It’s food as

experimentation. As a way to manipulate textures and push

past boundaries. As reinvention of what desserts look, feel,

and taste like.

Inside, it is bright and open; elegantly furnished. The

desserts are displayed along a marble countertop, ranging

from fruity naked tarts to the intricately decorated, multicoloured

jars. Seeing them arranged into neat rows,

waiting for purchase, is a sight to behold.

The co-founder of KOI, Reynold Poernomo, is sitting with

us in a venue that operates as a café and a classroom, a

space where patrons can enjoy both the creation and the

consumption of food. Behind us, in the large industrial

kitchen, there’s an occasional clatter of trays as KOI’s

dessert chefs glaze their famous mango-yuzu cakes

and popcorn mousses. The intricacy of these desserts

is reminiscent of the dishes served by Reynold himself

as a contestant in the MasterChef kitchen of Season 7 –

pleasing to look at, equally enjoyable to taste. Since then,

Reynold’s name has become almost synonymous with

Sydney’s vibrant and innovative dessert scene.

“I can’t take all the credit for myself, that’s for sure,”

Reynold says about his rise to the top. His eyes move

towards the kitchen where his mother, Ike Malada, is

working alongside the other chefs.


She is largely self-taught, having started in the food

industry as a kitchen hand in a steakhouse before

rising up the ranks and venturing into desserts. “My

mum is definitely the centre point of it all. I mean, KOI

itself stands for ‘Kids of Ike’.”

One glance at the cake-slices topped with seasonal

fruits is enough to tell us that the Poernomo brothers

are creative; but how does that creativity emerge?

“A lot of people ask me that question,” Reynold says

thoughtfully, “and it’s one I can’t really answer myself.

I don’t know where I get my creativity from. I like to

work with new techniques that I’ve come across. And

I like things to look natural, almost rustic. Something

that, say, looks like a garden that you can dig through

and find surprises. At the end of the day, I just want

something to be fun. I’m not bound to a singular

cuisine or a singular idea. I want my concepts to be


His approach to desserts seems to be just that:

welcoming of new ideas, but analytical in his process

rather than spontaneous. It would be in an empty

house after school, taking advantage of the absence

of his working parents and siblings, where Reynold

would read his mother’s cookbooks and try his hand

at the recipes. “When MasterChef aired, I watched

the first season and I saw how food could be so

different. From there, my interest in food grew. My

mum would always be working, my brothers too, and

my dad would also be working late nights. They’re

all in hospitality, so I’d be at home by myself. So, I’d

just read cookbooks. And watch Harvard lectures on

YouTube where chefs came in and showed the science

of cooking. That was really amazing, watching them

break down the different components of what cooking

can be, seeing the techniques that they used. The

cookbooks that my mum had laying around weren’t

really the books that taught you how to bake a basic

cake, or how to make a roast chicken. They were

more experimental, more what you’d call these days

‘modern’ cuisines.”

“One of the books was Alinea by Grant Achatz. He’s one chef for sure that I look up to,” Reynold says

with a smile. Achatz is a name associated with Chicago’s vibrant culinary landscape, famous for

pushing the possibilities of food with his progressive, emotional, modernist style of cuisine. “He’s

really inspired me to get into the food industry.”

The ideas didn’t come overnight as epiphanies; rather, it was through years of reading cookbooks and

experimentation in an empty house. Reynold explains that his palette is often a starting point. “I’m

not a sweet tooth, which probably comes as a surprise. I don’t like things that are overly sweet so I

try to imagine the different balances of flavours, even if I know it may not work. Chocolate and potato

chips, for instance. Obviously they don’t go together but let’s branch further out from that. Let’s try

mushrooms, let’s add a bit of yoghurt, let’s add caramel and use wood instead of tea to infuse it. And

in a way, if I’m lucky, it works out. It’s all relative, really. There are a lot of failures but if I just play

around with different ideas, successes will come through.”

When asked about the failures, he just laughs. “There was one time when I tried to do an avocado

dessert. Growing up, I loved drinking avocado juice with chocolate coffee. I wanted to turn that into

a dessert and for some reason – I don’t know what happened – but after I churned the avocado,

it turned really bitter. It didn’t make sense because before I churned it, it was really sweet and

amazing. It was lovely but turned rancid somehow. I had to change things up, both in the way I

churned the ice cream and the ratio of ingredients so that I could keep the consistency and the

colour.” This creation, later named the ‘Avocado Dream’, featured on the November 2017 menu

at Chippendale’s KOI Dessert Bar: a creamy avocado gelato with chocolate and coffee cremeux,

and salted caramel. A quiet testament, then, to how success is rarely ever linear – you have to fail

sometimes before you can improve.


“I wouldn’t say that my dream is achieved yet, not at all,” Reynold reveals when we ask him about

ambition and how he keeps motivated. “Be certain of what you want. And stay unsatisfied. Your

ultimate objective should be bold but still realistic. I always have one goal after another because if

you’re really passionate about something then you can always think about how to get from A to B,

then B to C, and so on. That way, you can keep going and keep moving towards where you want to be.

Staying certain and keeping realistic help motivate you to get better in your career.”

It’s difficult to imagine Reynold working in any other industry, or what the Sydney dessert climate

would be like without his influence, but even he had his own dilemma when it came to his future. “I

couldn’t find my passion at first,” he reveals to us. “Someone asked me once: ‘Are you happy where

you are?’ And at first, I was like, ‘No, I’m not happy, because I’m not where I want to be yet.’ But they

were like, ‘No, you should be happy. You should feel blessed. Because in a way, what has gotten you

here is that you’ve found what you’re good at and what you like.’ If those two things go hand in hand

for you, like it does for me, then it’s easy to turn it into a degree or a career.”

Shop 3, 62 - 66 Blaxland Rd,

Ryde NSW 2112


Larsen Jewellery.

“True friends are like diamonds –

bright, beautiful, valuable, and always in style.”

- Nicole Richie

The designs at Larsen Jewellery explore an idea of

intimacy through unique, handcrafted pieces, all

sharing a sense of individuality and creativity. Susie

Larsen, co-founder, reveals to ECX the decision to

enter a competitive industry with an innovative, new

idea: an Australian first.

“The concept actually occurred to us at a time when

we were looking to purchase our own wedding rings.

We came across this great idea of making your own

wedding rings, and realised that no one was doing

this in Australia. My husband and I came from very

different career backgrounds at the time, but we

were looking for a new adventure, and that’s when

we decided to open our own jewellery studio,” Susie


To venture into uncharted territory is a bold move,

but was the risk worth it?

“We were overwhelmed with the positive responses,”

Susie answers. “The business was established

with a vision of providing customers direct access

to a jewellery workshop that offers exquisite

workmanship. So we decided to expand our service

by including all forms of fine jewellery such as

engagement and wedding rings; custom made by our


“The design process is really exciting!” Susie

says, when we ask about what Larsen clients can

expect from their unique service, the Wedding Ring

Experience. “Our aim is to make it a really enjoyable

process for our customers. Larsen Jewellery is

the only place in Australia where you can share the

unique and romantic experience of making each

other’s wedding rings under the guidance of your

own personal jeweller.”

“The Wedding Ring Experience only takes around

four hours and we guarantee a perfect result. Most

designs are possible, from classic wedding bands

to unique wedding ring designs involving diamonds,

engraving or a mix of metals. Your jeweller will

add any design features, such as diamonds, after

you’ve finished making the rings and will also make

sure the wedding ring matches perfectly with your

engagement ring, even if it has an unusual shape.”

The process begins with the client given viewing

inspiration to determine likes and dislikes, before

using hand-sketches and computerised drawings to

bring these ideas to life. “Designing and creating a

wedding ring for your fiancé makes it extra special,”

Susie says, “and provides a wonderful memory that

you can cherish for a lifetime.”


At the heart of Larsen Jewellery is a set of high ethical

standards in everything they do, from ensuring that their

diamonds are conflict-free to sourcing their materials in

the most socially responsible way.

“Exploitation in all its forms can be rife at lower levels

of supply chains, and this does not exclude the jewellery

industry. There are gold mines where workers are forced

to labour in extremely dangerous conditions without

proper safety equipment, for very little money,” they

acknowledge. “The blood diamond trade in developing

countries as well, such as Zimbabwe, where profits are

used to fund criminal activity, violence and horrendous

human rights abuses.”

In light of this, Larsen Jewellery has ensured that

they abide by the Kimberley Process, a United Nations

declaration signed by 54 diamond producing countries to

stop the mining and sale of conflict diamonds that fund

war crimes. The Kimberley Process has strict guidelines

to track the origins of shipments of rough diamonds to

certify diamonds as conflict free.

Ultimately, a big congratulations was in order after

finding out Larsen Jewellery was the Official Diamond

Partner of The Bachelor Season 5. “It’s been so

enjoyable assisting Matty with a very special ring for

Laura! The ring is so beautiful and he was such a

pleasure to deal with during the whole process.”

When talking about what other goals they planned to

achieve in the future, Susie explained that one of their

key goals would be to make Larsen Jewellery as ‘green’

and environmentally friendly as possible. This, of course,

includes their aims of becoming a carbon neutral

business, and to be a leader in the sustainable jewellery

industry. They will also be spreading the love about their

new Fairtrade Gold wedding rings.

The Strand Arcade

Level 5, 412 George Street, Sydney NSW 2000

Mount Saint Helens, United States

Photographer: Jason Leem

Golden Pig and Co.

golden pig | noun:

success, prosperity; a life of comfort and luck.

Erika Chan’s presence is a warm and inviting

one. We sit down for a dirty chai in a small,

sun-lit café and here, she tells me about tenyear-old

Jordyn, who is allergic to so many things

that even the smell of certain foods will trigger

hives and facial swelling. “Jordyn is allergic to

egg, nuts, dairy, part gluten, shellfish, and dust

mites. Also, fragrances,” Erika lists. “Even if

we’re cooking eggs, or if we have melted cheese

sandwiches in the room, she will react.”

It was the challenge of finding healthy, prepackaged

options during a time when she was

balancing childcare with work that inspired the

establishment of Golden Pig & Co. “I was looking

after our children when they were little, and I just

found myself being in the kitchen all the time. We

were time-poor but we still wanted to feed our

kids with healthy food,” Erika says.

For Jordyn’s health, and for Erika and her

husband’s peace-of-mind, it came to them as

a realisation that there had to be another way.

“We saw a gap in the market, so we thought,

well, why not offer something for people who are

similar to our daughter? That’s how we started

this business, this journey.”

Golden Pig & Co is a business dedicated to

bringing nutritious food options to everyone,

even (and especially) those with specific dietary

needs. Their potstickers have all the flavour and

texture of wheat based dumplings but are allergy

friendly, made fresh and frozen in convenient

resealable packs. They also offer broths, all

made without gluten, preservatives or MSG.

“Jordyn’s health has improved so much since we

started learning about how to make healthier

choices,” Erika says, smiling. From being unable

to eat any types of nuts to eating macadamias

without any reaction, Jordyn’s family is optimistic

regarding her progress.


“Even in terms of her reactions, they’re not as

severe as before. The type of food that she’s

eating has made a big improvement on how she

can actually better her health. At home, we do

a lot of slow cook dishes and that’s also easy to

digest, and it’ll accompany lots of vegetables,

lots of greens. We do a bit of Japanese, Chinese,

Italian, Lebanese ... so although we can’t go

out and dine with Jordyn, at home, we’ll create

different cuisines so that she can experience that

as well.”

With all this inspired by the birth of their second

daughter, their business is – fittingly – named

after the year in which Jordyn was born: 2007,

the year of the Golden Pig. According to Chinese

folklore, a child born in this year will experience

a prosperous and healthy life – “It seemed only

apt to name our allergy friendly business after

what we strive for each and every day,” she says.

For Erika, working in a health-conscious space

means that it’s particularly important for them

to understand their ingredients – where it was

grown, how it was farmed, how it can be cooked

to provide the most nutrition.

“We were lucky enough to be able to speak to a

lot of farmers in New South Wales through our

organic suppliers, so that we have a better idea

of how our vegetables and produce are grown.

The better we understand where our food comes

from, the better we know how to prepare the

produce and make sure that the nutrients are

still in the ingredients.”

When asked about future plans, Golden Pig &

Co are set on taking their delicious products

from just Sydney and Melbourne to other states,

expanding their gluten-free empire into regional

Australia. “The coming next twelve months are

going to be exciting for us. We know that a lot of

people have missed dumplings for a very long

time because of dietary requirements, so we

just want to hear their feedback, see their faces.

They get so excited! So, yes, that’s our goal -- to

be able to give that option, that joy, to people all

around Australia.”



Solara means sun in Latin. For ancient cultures, the sun was not

only symbolic of the start of a new day, but the reason why plants

grew and crops flourished.

Yuki Thomas knows that access to fresh, nutritious food nurtures

both the body and the soul, hence the name of her plant-based meal

delivery service: Soulara.

What inspired you to start a business that is so healthdriven?

I was inspired to create Soulara to cater for

people like myself who are busy working long hours,

and may not have time to cook, yet would like to follow

a sustainable, ethical and healthy lifestyle. I wanted to

make a solution easily accessible to everyone: affordable,

and without hassle. The concept was initially born from

the idea of sending myself meals each week for my work

lunches, where there weren’t many healthy options

around the workplace.

Has working with healthy, vegetarian foods always been

a passion of yours? I believe that discovering a passion

for healthy eating – and the lifestyle which follows – is

all about trial and error, trying different foods, and being

creative with new ingredients and ideas. Growing up with

very nutritious, traditional Japanese food has helped me

greatly in my mission to use plant-based alternatives in


Where do you get your ingredients from, and how

do you maintain that high level of food quality? At

Soulara, we work with a wide range of Australian family

run purveyors that only grow and produce the best

ingredients for our meals! By working with local, family

run farms and producers we can trust in the quality of

supplies that they offer us.


What are some barriers that you believe are

stopping people from eating healthily? Healthy

eating is a big commitment and not necessarily

an easy task, particularly for those who are just

starting out. People who may have developed

poor eating habits due to their environment,

emotions, or need for convenience could

find switching to a healthier diet difficult or

demanding. Sustaining healthy eating habits

takes time and self-discipline, but changing

this cycle gradually to substitute healthier

alternatives is important to developing and

enjoying a healthier diet.

Time is one thing. When we don’t have

enough time, it’s easy to fall into the trap of

eating something readily available that solves

the immediate craving. In most situations,

unfortunately, quick options aren’t the healthiest.

To source, prepare and cook ingredients for a

healthy meal, it takes time and many people

don’t have enough of that.

Information is another factor. Nowadays,

with information so freely available, it can

be overwhelming to choose the right diet or

nutrition plan, along with deciphering what is

true and false amongst the streams of articles,

fad diets, advertisements etc. Many people aren’t

sure what option is best for them and what kind

of diet will help them achieve their health goals.

Along with all of this, comes affordability.

Unhealthy foods are, in more cases than not,

cheaper and more readily available to buy than

their healthy whole food counterparts. Food that

is highly processed, full of preservatives and

additives also lasts longer and serves as a cheap

and easy fix.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to people

who are just starting to turn to healthy eating or are

wanting to be vegetarians? Following a plant-based

lifestyle sounds daunting at first but it’s really quite

liberating and easy to follow once you get started. Be

daring and try new things in order to discover what you


What are your future plans for Soulara? Where do

you see this business heading in the next ten years?

Soulara, for us, is more than just a business. It’s a way

of living that is much more than just eating plant-based

food, but a lifestyle that passes through to nurturing

the mind, the body, and the soul. We have many plans

that will help us spread a message of positivity and an

improved lifestyle for as many as possible.

What are some new items that will be featuring on

Soulara? We have a very strong team of developmental

chefs with many different backgrounds that allows us to

offer a wide and varied menu that constantly evolves! We

are also very lucky to live in a country that has so much

access to the fresh produce and of course variety.

Right now, we’re working on a whole new breakfast menu

that includes items such as:

• Activated charcoal pancakes

• Natural protein waffles

• Tofu scramble

• And more!


“ S o u l a r a i s m o r e t h a n

j u s t a b u s i n e s s


It’s a way

o f l i v i n g

t h a t p a s s e s

t h r o u g h t o

n u r t u r i n g

t h e m i n d ,

t h e b o d y ,

a n d

t h e s o u l . ”

Redefining Home.

“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs

and returns home to find it.”

– George Moore, The Brook Kerith

It’s without a doubt that Australians have long aspired to own a two storey house in a quiet suburb,

with a white picket fence and a garden big enough for backyard cricket – it is, after all, the Great

Australian Dream. We see home ownership as tied to success, security, and an overall better life; but

in the face of such an expensive market, I have seen many despair about their prospects of securing

a property. As a real estate agent of over five years, I have seen firsthand, too, how families have

struggled to save in order to afford a house. I suppose the issue then is whether it’s worth sacrificing

your lifestyle to save, build, and buy. And if not, then how can we redefine the Great Australian Dream

for ourselves?

The problem: Glorification of home ownership.

Broadly speaking, the young adults now (who are yet to become first home buyers) tend to prioritise

a travelling and flexible, non-family bound way of life. They’re a new generation who are less likely

to own a car, prefer to spend money on experiences, and want the ability to move quickly in order

to take advantage of new economic opportunities. While it’s true that home ownership provides

the appearance of financial success, there’s a sense of freedom involved when a large sum of your

money isn’t tied down to a 30-year mortgage. And it’s a liberty that occurs, I think, when built-forrent

properties cater to this contemporary lifestyle more so than the longstanding commitment of


Indeed, the number of people who have embraced apartment living have certainly surged over the

last few years. This shift in the property landscape is quite evident, with the number of dwellings that

have been rented rising from 2,010,456 in 2006, to 2,561,302 in 2016. Perhaps the new age desire to

substitute possessions with experiences can’t be overstated, as more Australians are leaving behind

the white picket fence ideal and deciding to rent as a lifestyle choice instead.


The solution: Co-living.

The future that I see being embraced worldwide is this architectural concept of co-living. Some are

quick to dismiss it as a Silicon Valley rebranding of share houses and roommates, but it’s more about

using the home environment as a social function. Individuals and families have their own, separate

homes but share significant spaces, both indoors and out, with surrounding neighbours. From a

courtyard built for loud chatter and playing, to a common house that facilitates social gatherings, coliving

is all about cultivating human interaction and purpose.

Families intentionally choose to live away from the isolation of current housing structures; instead,

increasing their social connections by eating together, taking turns cooking, and contributing to

the sense of community. You share the things you have in common. You divide up tasks based on

individual interests. You watch each other’s kids, and lend out your power tools, and borrow each

other’s cars. This alternative way of living is an intentional decision for people, as social creatures, to

live collaboratively and foster connections.

This is not to say that co-living would appeal to everyone, but it’s food for thought, particularly for

individuals who are looking to engage with the broader community and world.


Of course, co-living isn’t a new concept. It’s an age-old way of living and exists across many cultures,

being established in the likes of Denmark, New York, London, and Singapore. And in light of what

many would call the Australian housing affordability crisis, isn’t it about time we utilised our land in

more innovative and flexible ways?

So, forget your granny flats. Forget the communes and share houses.

I really believe that co-living will be the next step for Australian cities; a solution to the rising

property prices. It is affordable for a market fuelled by inadequate supply of housing, and a taxing

system that favours investors over first home buyers. Whether you’re a group of friends struggling to

afford a first home but have always dreamed of living close together, or you’re downsizers looking to

unlock equity for retirement, co-living allows for varied and flexible household groupings.

Interpersonal and financial benefits aside, it also enables a sustainable lifestyle through sharing and

efficient use of resources and space. Common homes have the convenient property services of an

apartment and often come fully furnished, allowing for easy transfers.

Rethink your home and how you live.

Are you interested in this idea?

Email me at,

or give me a call on 0405 629 338.

Lil Miss Collins.

After settling down in Bella Vista, Lil Miss Collins has

moved yet again and popped up in the heart of Parramatta

as our new local favourite – a rustic farmhouse café with

an outdoor courtyard and some real country charm. Gone is

the historic farm, but the wandering chickens, the fresh

food, and smooth coffee are a constant.

Starting a pop up café from scratch is never easy but

Tony Moussa, founder of Lil Miss Collins, discovered

that he had to do that over and over again with each new

location. ECX just had to chat with him to hear what he

has to say.

How did this begin? I started Lil Miss Collins because

I wanted a change in my life. I’ve always been

interested in coffee, food, the whole lot. I cooked a lot

at home already, so I bought myself a coffee machine

and started practicing at home. I’ve always had this

passion. I knew I wanted to open up a coffee shop but I

didn’t have a clue about how to start.

The start was definitely hard. I asked a lot of questions,

sought guidance from many people and spent most

of my time practising at home through constant trial

and error. At that stage, there was a couple of pop up

eateries around but there were no pop up cafés. There

was that gap in the market, so I knew I could create a

café that would be the first of its kind.

I started working with a few people, brainstorming

suggestions with the team, and came up with the

idea to have a transportable cafe. We looked at a

few options, like getting a shipping container and

converting that to a coffee shop. At the same time, I

wanted to also follow a rustic theme. So 95% of the

building materials we used are recyclable material,

from the tin roofing to the timber renovation and the

shipping container. That’s the journey for me, seeing Lil

Miss Collins grow from that shipping container to the

rusty farmhouse café it is now.

Why did you want a change in your life? I would say

I’m blessed in a sense. Having a background of faith,

I believe everything just fell in place. I was previously

running bars and nightclubs, but I knew I wasn’t

getting any younger. The fact that everything seemed

to come together right when I needed change was the

driving force behind my desire to succeed.

What makes Lil Miss Collins unique? First things

first, it’s the portable nature of a pop-up café. Taking

our passion, our food and coffee, around Sydney is so

special to us and also for the people in the area where

we decide to settle in. The second factor that sets us

apart is the most important thing: quality produce.

We roast our own coffee beans, and the background

of these beans are really important to us so we make

sure they’re carefully selected. Same with the produce.

It’s not just fresh but we work with our local farmers

so that we can put something unique on the plate. A

lot of cafés or restaurants don’t focus on fresh produce

or on working with local farmers. Here, you get fresh

produce and you can really taste the difference. We get

it all the time when people come in and say that this

is the best food they’ve ever had. It’s not about making

things complicated, it’s about making sure things are

fresh. We have a good balance.


Amongst both these things, we’ve also got the style and

theme of an old rustic farmhouse that makes it stand

out. Everything matches up here. The surrounding

nature of the café, the rustic farm feel, the organically

farmed produce – it all adds up. It’s something I

conceptualised since the beginning and it’s something

I’ve always wanted to do.

Have you ever had doubts? No. When I want to do

something, I go all the way. If we’re being honest, I put

everything that I had into this, and had to borrow as

well. It was a big risk! I didn’t know if it would work,

I just knew I wanted to do it and my drive pushed me

most of the way.

What’s it like being on the road? We’re not on the road

that much. We definitely stay in a place for a decent

amount of time, maybe three to four months. Our

location now in Parramatta is going to be a couple of

years, but it’s challenging. You’re starting from scratch

every single time. Opening up the café, in the beginning,

is exciting but it’s also the hardest part and most

stressful. We would have to do that over and over again.

It’s probably not ideal but we do it for the passion. We

want to give back to the people and do something for

them. It’s always a joy when the locals of that area

make a special trip just because we’re opening up there

so it’s definitely worth it every single time.

What inspired the kid-friendliness? I love kids. I’ve got

nieces and nephews. I guess we try to tap into that kind

of area, the idea that everyone’s just a big kid. Everyone

has that farm experience when they were young and

going to a farm, being interested in animals. The adults

love it almost as much as the children sometimes,

seeing the chickens walk around. Kids are kind of hard

to entertain these days, there’s not many places where

you can do that well. So we’ve created an environment

where they can come, the kids can be entertained

without the parents entertaining them. The parents can

have time to themselves and the kids can have time

to themselves and I think it’s a formula that’s been

working well and everybody’s been enjoying it.

What’s your favourite dish? That’s a hard question! We

are known for our Wagyu burger, it’s something we’ve

carried from our last location. The Wagyu burger is

really nice, I haven’t seen other burgers that use the

formula we use, so it balances out really well. That’s

from the lunch menu. From the breakfast menu, I’d say

the fritters since they’re really popular and also a dish

that was carried from our last location as well.

Do you incorporate your culture into the food here?

Yes, but not entirely. The fritters come with a fused

balsamic flatbread which does give that Mediterranean

feel. We’ve got the Mediterranean breakfast that is

purely from my culture. Everything does have a little

touch, the fritter has the flatbread, other dishes might

have some sumac and some spices which doesn’t

overpower but balances out when you taste it.

What are your plans for the future? I want to go on a

big holiday! Honestly though, I don’t look too far ahead.

I take every step as it comes. I focus. I always say

that when you do something, put your full effort into

what you are doing. So the more you try to separate

your time and effort, it won’t come out as good. We’re

focusing on Parramatta now, I know there’s a few

offers put our way but we’ll see how we go with that.


Blak Douglas.

Born Adam Douglas Hill, Blak Douglas is an Aboriginal Archibald Prize finalist whose artwork is

regularly exhibited locally and abroad. He’s also a killer Yidaki (digeridoo) player to boot, dedicating

a majority of his time outside of the studio to educating children on music and art through Young

Australian Workshops.

Blak Douglas’ sun-splashed studio in Redfern is a sight to behold. The walls are covered with his

works and even the stairs have been painted the colours of the Aboriginal flag. “You know what I’ve

just realised? We’ve made a historic discovery. iPhones don’t recognize the word ‘lamingtons’,” he

says, reaching into a paper bag mid-interview to pull one out. “How un-Australian,” he declares,

and then laughs.

Blak is a Koori artist, both visual and performing, who works primarily in the medium of acrylics

on canvas. His compositions bring light to the contemporary concerns of racism in postcolonial

countries, critically interrogating through his own language how it feels to be embroiled within the

Commonwealth of Australia as an Aboriginal person. Blak describes his art as being “laced with

humour and comedy, but through tragedy”, each work often revealing several layers of scathing

irony and political truth upon deeper analysis. Ultimately, he is concerned with opening up modern

dialogue on white colonialism, a history that remains painfully recent and relevant for him.

“All my paintings are flavoured with activism,” he says. “Certain writers have referred to my work

as ‘Aboriginal hip hop on canvas’, and I think it’s perfect. It’s exactly what it was at the time. Hip hop

can be a rhythmical sucker punch. You don’t see it coming but then it just hits you, even if you’ve

enjoyed getting to that point where you get hit. That’s what my work does.”

Blak’s approach is sardonic and satirical, at times combining witty turns-of-phrases with scraps

of everyday life to raise awareness; other times delivering hard-hitting polemic against hegemonic

structures. “The main thing that fuels my desire to get up and create in the genre of Aboriginal art,

if it can be pigeonholed as a genre, is that we are constantly at war. And we’ve been in battle for 229

years now. If my art or my imagery could spark a revolution, that would be what I hope to achieve

before I go to my grave.”


Smoke and Mirrors (Uncle Max Eulo)

214cm x 214cm

Archibald Prize 2015 Finalist

Domestic Violets (2016) - Part 1 of 3


Indeed, the works themselves are just as impactful and thought-provoking as the intent behind their

creation. Blak’s distinctive painting style is one that amalgamates traditional Aboriginal dot painting

with 90s-inspired, vibrant colours and popular culture references. His works, at their core, act as tools

of education about Australia’s dark past, whether this means recontextualising White King bleach to

make a statement about white colonialism, or hanging up 130 red, black and yellow rope nooses in an

exhibition with Adam Geczy titled The Most Goaled Race on Earth. The concerns that Blak has about the

high incarceration rates of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (where they represent only 3%

of the total population, yet more than 27% of Australia’s prison population) are prevalent in other works

too, such as the framed graphic in his studio of the “Go to Jail” monopoly square, except it says “Go to

hell” and the print features an Aboriginal figure in the centre.

What does this incarceration statistic tell us about the Australian political landscape? How can we, as

citizens, contribute to social critiques of such racism? Blak Douglas says: “Spread that message. Hang

it on your wall and make it public, as public as you can. Invite all the bogans in your family to Christmas

dinner and explain to them the Blak Douglas that you’ve purchased and why you’ve purchased that

artwork. It’s a little reminder of what we all need to take under our belt being an Australian citizen,

especially in the plight of what we’re trying to achieve with Indigenous recognition and sovereignty for

Aboriginal people. It’s all about spreading the word, getting it out there, and sharing that as much as

you can. Optimistically, at the end of the day, that will permeate through society.”

In 2015, Blak submitted Smoke and Mirrors (Uncle Max Eulo) to the Archibald Prize and became the

first identified Dhungatti Aboriginal artist to have been selected as a finalist in the Archibald. While

portraits of Indigenous subjects have won the prize in previous years, Blak says that no Indigenous

painter has won as of yet. “You can strive to win an award but they’re monitoring you very carefully,

because it’s a great risk to them to give an Aboriginal artist the microphone and lectern at a major art

event in Australia.” Still, with a great grin, he says that he wants to win the Archibald within ten years,

as well have secured galleries in New York, Beijing, Berlin and Mexico – cities where the epicentre of

art excitement are.

Blak’s first large solo exhibition since 2009 will feature powerful new bodies of work, opening on 20

April in Bangalow, NSW. His recent submissions for the Archibald, the Wynne, and the Sulman at the

Art Gallery of NSW documents the first time he’s participated in all three. He says, smiling: “I’ve also

been selected as a finalist in the Blake Prize this year so, things are progressing favourably.”

02 9281 4190 | 0406 408 892




The evolution of the fitness industry has seen

an interesting shift from boxing gyms to the

spacious, all-purpose, 24-hour health clubs now,

that offer anything from Tai Chi classes to holistic

analyses of individual health and team coaching.

With customers seeking a more specialised

experience, boutique gyms too have begun to

pop up across the fitness scene over the past

several years – small studios that focus on group

exercise in one or two areas.

Embody Fitness in Neutral Bay is one of these

boutiques, embracing a vibrant and natural

aesthetic. Merging their innovative regimes

with a healthy, eco-friendly philosophy, Embody

Fitness has but one goal: to create an ultimate

fitness experience tailored for every individual.

ECX spoke to John Rahme, co-founder, to discuss

how he and Scott Capelin combined the best

elements of fitness and brought them under one


What John observed was that of the people

who attend the gym on a semi-regular basis,

many tend to stick with one training regime,

whether it’s weight training or cardio. His goal

for Embody Fitness is to expose people to

different disciplines, combining yoga and pilates

with more common elements of cardio work to

diversify and improve workouts. “I think variety

is an important factor to get people engaged,

coming back and create consistency in their

fitness journey,” John says. To him, it’s all about

building an environment that feels different and

almost-therapeutic; a change of experience and

a place where people can escape to.

Being one of the only places to offer yoga

combined with pilates, strength training and

personal training, Embody Fitness is a key

insight into the future of trending gyms. We saw

big box gyms, large health clubs with thousands

of members as the big hits in the 2000s. And

then it was the 24-hour club experience that

soon followed, where people craved convenience

and efficiency more than anything. “Now,” says

John, “I think people want more personalised

interaction when they come to the club.” The vast

amount of corporate resources and equipment

no longer seem as desirable, with the ‘one

size fits all’ approach no longer motivating or

engaging customers like it used to. “They want

to get to know the trainers and they want to be


One of the things we find most admirable here

is the team’s desire and dedication to providing

a high quality of employment. “The average

trainer in Australia lasts about six months in one

gym, so we looked at that statistic and thought:

how can we let them in as part of the family?

We want our trainers to feel good, to be happy

and comfortable enough to sustain a long-term

career. So we look after our trainers. It’s actually

our mission to be the best employer in the


Ultimately, their ideal is to set a new benchmark

in fitness and create a new standard of living, in

such a way that other businesses in the fitness

sector feel the urge to follow suit and continue

improving the model. To set off a ripple of change

in the fitness industry, John believes, would be a

great thing.


The team worked tirelessly with one of Australia’s leading designers, Shaynna Blaze,

in order to create an open space that is natural and refreshing.

“The biggest thing that prevents people making

progress in their fitness journey is their

excessive expectations. What often happens

is that people have this notion of waiting for

the right time,” John observes, going on to say

that there is, in fact, no perfect time to start

being active. “My advice for people who are

unmotivated at the moment is that everyone’s

capable of making a 5% improvement.”

By this, John means that if you are unfamiliar

with developing a fitness routine, it’s a good

idea to start small. “Whether it’s just cutting

out certain foods, reducing coffee, increasing

water, cutting out sugary foods, or going for a

walk once or twice a week. Once we make this

5% improvement, we see some results, it tends

to build motivation, build momentum and with

momentum, more and more becomes possible.”

“To go from zero to a hundred is a really

unrealistic target to set. People may maintain

it for a week or two but when they have a little

lapse, they go right back to the start. They think

it’s not the right time, it’s not for them anymore

and tend to quit very quickly.”

He concludes, “I believe that smaller changes

over a long period of time are far more effective

than trying to jump in and make a very large

change in a short period of time. Be proud of

small changes, see the results, be patient and

build that momentum which will lead you to

achieve your goals in time to come.”

Arequipa, Peru

Photographer: Johnny Cho

Susi Prescott.

Can you tell us about your journey?

I was born in England and have always been a bit of a wanderer. Apparently, aged less than two,

I toddled off one afternoon and ended up on the main London road at midnight. By the time I was

three or four, I already had a global crossing and several other solo expeditions under my belt! I got

married and had children, but my adventurous nature never left me. I’d watch the seven p.m. news

on the television while cooking for my family and whenever I saw the aid-workers handing out rice

to refugees amid scenes of devastation and suffering, I’d think: ‘That’s where I want to be. Helping

those who need it, making a difference.’

But then the microwave would beep and I’d turn away to continue preparing the balanced meal in my

first world kitchen with every necessary ingredient, shiny appliances, and clean, running water, hot

and cold, available at the turn of a tap.

By the time my husband left, my four children were grown, and I realised my chance had come to do

something about my dreams. I was determined to reinvent myself, to go out into the world and do

good works. And on the way, while giving back, I would heal.

Once I had made this completely impulsive, ill-informed decision, there was no going back, despite

my occasional second-guessing and hesitance. I didn’t really know what I’d done! But I set off

anyway, with absolutely no idea of what to expect.

My first stop was Nepal, where I spent three months training English teachers, then I went to

Rwanda in Africa and trained teachers in French. My next destination was Peru, where I intended to

stay for one year but ended up staying for ten, with still no intention of leaving.

For people that are thinking about leaving a comfortable lifestyle to go on a journey of unknowns,

what would you tell them?

Do it! Go with an open mind and no expectations. Nothing will be as you expected. Go with humility

because you will learn so much. Don’t overthink it, or you may lose your nerve! Every journey starts

with a simple first step. Of course, you must use your common sense and know the precautions

to take but in the end, it all comes down to following your heart, whether overseas, or at home in

Australia. If you really want to and your intentions are good, you will achieve your ends, even if not in

the same way you may have thought.


Your experiences formed the basis of the book, ‘Where Hummingbirds Dance’. Given you’ve been

to so many different places, such as Nepal and Rwanda, why did you choose to settle down in

Peru? What made it special?

I first visited Peru with friends for a trekking holiday, six months after my separation. Our last hike

was around the isolated mountain range of Ausangate. There, I met a small boy who changed my

life, and the experience planted the seed for my return. After that trek, we ended up in Arequipa. I

was in the Plaza de Armas, watching children splashing their hands in the fountain, when a little

voice whispered in my head, ‘You could live here!’ While I am a dreamer, I am also very practical, so

I immediately rushed off to an English teaching institute, to line up a job which could enable me to

return. From then on, nothing was going to stop me.

After your experience in Peru for most of the past decade; coming back to the North Shore, do you

feel it has changed?

I’ve learned that people on the North Shore of Sydney suffer as much as people elsewhere. It’s just

a different sort of suffering; ill health, caring for the aged, disability and mental health issues. What

I do love about Sydney, and especially the North Shore, is that you can set out for a walk and find

beauty everywhere. In Arequipa, you can go to a lovely, flower-filled park, but when you turn a corner,

you are just as likely to see reminders of chaotic disorder and destitute poverty.

How was the book cover selected?

In Arequipa, I lived in a rustic little cottage beside a jacaranda. The cover of the book is the view from

my kitchen window. The hummingbirds danced so near, I could reach out and touch them. Every time

they visited, they filled me with joy and peace.

What is your message for readers of ‘Where Hummingbirds Dance’?

‘When calamity strikes, it may not as devastating as you first thought, if you can just see it in another

way. By making space in your mind and in your thinking, by allowing the universe to surprise you with

new possibilities, you can change the way you see things.’

What would your message be for aspiring book writers?

First, read. Find out what you like, why you like it, and look at the style. Then read some more! And

second, go to a good creative writing course, like those run by Janet Fennell at the North Sydney

Community Centre. Then it’s a case of constant, diligent practice and not giving up. The process will

take on its own momentum from there.

e c x m a g a z i n e .

“ b y a l l o w i n g t h e

u n i v e r s e t o s u r p r i s e y o u

w i t h n e w p o s s i b i l i t i e s ,

y o u c a n c h a n g e

t h e w a y y o u

s e e t h i n g s . ”

Sahara Desert, Morocco

Photographer: Viktor Lakics



Two Birds Brewing.

The first female-owned beer brewery in Australia can be found nested in the Melbourne

suburb of Spotswood, an industrial-chic eatery in a beautiful brick Deco warehouse with big

windows. Two Birds is one of a growing number of brewers fighting against old giants of the

industry to produce independent, artisanal beer. Long-time friends and business partners

Jayne Lewis and Danielle Allen had both dreamed of running their own brewery – one that

was balanced, approachable, and had a little fun.

“We’ve known each other for a long time,” Danielle says, from where we sit in their Sydney

office. The brewery itself is based in Melbourne but Danielle finds herself in Sydney more

often than not, looking after the business side of things. “Jayne and I have been friends

since we were in our late teens. We even went to University together, where I did marketing

and public relations and she studied winemaking and viticulture. We both went our own

ways after Uni, naturally, to pursue our own careers. I ended up moving to Sydney for my

marketing career. Jayne started her career as a winemaker but then transitioned to brewery,

working for Little Creatures, who are the pioneers of craft beer in Australia.”

“We both followed our own paths. We never expected that one day we’d be starting a

business together,” Danielle says. It was during a 2010 holiday along the West Coast of the

United States when they decided to take their dreams and turn them into a reality. “The

lightbulb moment came when I heard Jayne wanted to open her own brewery. I recognised

that if Jayne wanted to do that, she would need some kind of business partner to assist with

sales, marketing and operational aspects.”


“After the trip, we just couldn’t let it go. There

was something meaningful about that holiday and

it just felt like the next step we needed to take for

our future. We spent the next six months figuring

out our business plan, and then we resigned

from our respective employers. Jayne was Head

Brewer at Mountain Goat at that time and I was

in product development in Woolworths. It was

probably the scariest thing I’ve done in my life. ”

Twelve months after their trip, they launched the

Golden Ale in October 2011, their crowd-pleasing,

debut beer with honey and citrus aromas. “We

didn’t have the finance and funding to build the

brewery from the get-go so we started off as a

contract brewer, which means we used other

breweries to brew our beer. Things started

taking off shortly after. People liked our beer.

Our distribution was slowly growing and we

were getting lots of enquiries from people. So

we added our second beer, the Sunset Ale, to

our portfolio in 2012.” These regular releases,

alongside the Taco Beer, pack plenty of flavour

and have collected trophies and gold medals alike

from the Australian International Beer Awards.

“It was in 2014 when we took our big step and

built our own brewery. It was going to be near

Jayne since she lives in Melbourne and handles

all things brewing. We had always been operating

in both states, where brewing is made in

Melbourne and our brand is managed in Sydney.

We found a site, went through all the red tape of

council approvals, zoning and work that needed

to be done to get a blank site up and running.

That marked the beginning of building our first

brewery, a dream that we’d always wanted.”

Their branding of Two Birds is not only colourful

and quirky (as are the women themselves), but

a symbolic representation – a recurrent analogy

for two people who have and will continue to soar

to new heights. “We recently rebranded because

after five years, it started to look dated and tired.

The colours are the same and the logo hasn’t

changed either, but we just added a bit more

depth and a bit more storytelling. We worked

with our designer in Sydney to make sure the

illustrations explain the story, where the beer

comes from, and what the idea means for us.”


“The Sunset Ale, for example, is a hot air balloon

because it’s reflective of the adventures that

Jayne and I had in Perth. Watching the red sunset

in a hot air balloon is a pretty common experience

in Western Australia. The beer reminded us of

our childhood and of all the adventures that we’ve

had, which is why the Sunset Ale has a more

complex taste with a lighter finish.”

They have already trailblazed their way through

the male-dominated industry with an awardwinning

brewery – and yet, their flight continues.

Having already expanded their production line

to make more than two million litres of beer

each year, Danielle hopes to eventually build a

business strong enough for someone else to

come along down the line.

“We had the experience, the background, and the

knowledge to start our own business, but also the

amazing support from families. So, it wasn’t as

challenging as it may seem. I think we definitely

came out with confidence. Our product was good,

and it spoke for itself,” she says.

“Male dominated industry or not, it never stopped

us, it never deterred us from launching and doing

the things in the way we wanted to do. We weren’t

influenced just because we were the minority. We

simply did what we wanted to do and I guess it

appealed and it resonated with people. It’s never

easy in this industry but we were two determined

gals, so we didn’t stop let it stop us in any way.”

“That’s basically the journey we were on, when

it was just the two of us, the ‘two birds’ with

an idea. We now have over 20 employees, a big

portfolio of our own beers, and a chance to do

something special. Like the special one-off beers

for our Kirribilli Event or the collaboration with

the Medieval Faire – collaborations that really

bring a smile to people’s faces, because they’ve

got a beer in their hand and they’re with their

mates. Moments like those, that’s why we do it,”

Danielle says with a smile.



“Fitness is not about being better

than someone else … it’s about

being better than you used to be.”

– Brett Hoebel, personal trainer

When it comes to fitness and improving your

health, it’s easy to fall victim to fad diets and

expensive, quick-fix solutions. In truth, taking

care of your body starts from the inside – eating

fresh food; sleeping well; and, of course,

exercising regularly. To help build and repair

your tired muscles, protein supplements are a

common must-have if you want a boost from the

essential amino acids.

ECX came across Healthyroo recently when the

brand was launched in August 2017, a line of

nourishing health products dedicated to helping

clients achieve their fitness goals.

“It’s a great way to ensure I meet my protein

requirements when I’m super busy or when I’m

on the road all day with work,” says Rebecca

Gawthorne, an accredited practising dietitian

and nutritionist. “With the added nutrient-dense

foods like chia and flaxseed, it’s a healthy and

easy way to supplement my clean eating.”


Healthyroo’s superfood protein powder has been specially formulated to maximise performance in weight

management and support general health. It’s filled to the brim with Australian certified organic protein

isolate, and has all the essential amino acids to help fuel protein synthesis and promote fat burning. The

unique blend of pea and brown rice protein will give you high energy throughout the day and assist with

muscle recovery after exercise to facilitate tissue repair and growth. True to their Aussie roots, Healthyroo’s

products are manufactured in Australia. ZEST SLIM is also gluten-free and has no added sugar, artificial

colours, flavours or preservatives.

Coconut Macadamia Nut Smoothie Recipe

Makes 1


• 2 scoops of ZEST SLIM

• 1 cup of coconut milk

• 1/8 of an avocado

• 1/2 of a banana

• 6 macadamia nuts

• 1 tbsp of coconut flakes

• 1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon

• 1 tsp of honey

• Extra cinnamon, toasted coconut flakes and chopped roasted

macadamia nuts to serve


1. Combine and blitz in a blender.

2. Dust with extra cinnamon, add coconut flakes and macadamia

nuts and enjoy!


Ammar Ahmad.

“Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury

it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.”

- Henry David Thoreau


Growing up with five siblings had its challenges,

especially because my mother raised all six of

us all on her own. Money was tight for us and

our biggest struggle was our financial situation,

so things weren’t always easy. We grew up in

housing commission and relied on the Salvation

Army to help, mostly around Christmas time.

My mum always worked but we still needed

assistance to ensure that we had the basics, like

school uniforms and food. It was hard seeing her

struggle and knowing that there was nothing I

could do about it. Even after so many years, this

is actually my main incentive for doing better,

staying motivated, and striving towards success.

I went through a great deal of hardship during

my childhood and didn’t want my mum to have

to worry about me anymore which was, and still

is, one of my main incentives when it comes to

business. I wanted to be able to provide a better

life for my family, and to prove to myself that I

could prevail through adversity. I refused to let a

tough childhood dictate my future and deter me

from reaching my goals. Witnessing my mum

raise six kids on her own inspired me endlessly.

I made a promise to myself that no matter how

hard things got, I would keep pushing until I

achieved what I’d set out to do. Once I complete

one challenge, I create a new one and use the

same motivation to fulfil the next task/business


I started AMR Hair & Beauty when I was

fourteen. I’d always been interested in business.

Even in high school, I purchased MP3 players

from Alibaba and sold them at school to other

students. It didn’t work out, needless to say,

but after working within the beauty industry for

three years at the time already and getting those

glimpses of success, it just made sense to move

forward within this industry.

I noticed that the large gap between quality

products and low pricing, so I listened to the

customers and thought of ways I could improve

the market for affordable hairdressing products.

At the age of fifteen, I hired my first employee

and was quickly learning what worked and what

didn’t. Before I knew it, I was trying to build

relationships with suppliers and was learning

hard and fast about business management skills.

Back then, it was just about finding a way to

get past the barriers. Age was one of the key

obstacles for me since no one wanted to fund a

fourteen year old with no business experience.

Traders refused to sell to me because I was so

young – I had to tell them that my dad couldn’t

make the meetings and that I was there on his

behalf. I went as far as flying to Italy to meet with

suppliers and nearly got turned away during the

first meeting. I was still in school at the time

too, and my mother insisted that I finished Year

12 before I could leave school to pursue my

business. I had to juggle work life and schooling

for a few years. It’s all just about figuring out how

to get around the roadblocks by staying true to

your end goal.

There were definitely times when I felt like giving

up. I sacrificed a great deal to get to where I am

now and it wasn’t always easy. I had to reinvest

every cent back into the company and I didn’t

have a social life at all. My company failed many

times before I finally got it right. One of my very

first businesses burned to the ground after years

and years of hard work – it was heartbreaking. At

the time, it was easy to think that I couldn’t move

forward because of my age and the struggles that

came with starting a business so young. I just

had to keep pushing boundaries and finding ways

to overcome the misfortune. Every time I felt

close to quitting, I thought of my family and how I

wanted to prove to myself that I could do this.


Success certainly didn’t happen overnight. It took

many years of hard work and just as many years

of learning from my mistakes. I started in 2004

under a completely different name. I only had

25 products with an initial investment of $3,800,

where I sold these products at the Royal Sydney

Easter Show. In 2006, I signed my first lease for a

56sqm premises in Ingleburn. To make the rental

repayments, I had to take on a night shift cleaning

role. The company later started to do extremely

well and even started manufacturing its own

brands. In 2010, AMR Hair and Beauty Supplies

was officially established under that title. After

having to continuously expand our warehouses,

I could feel and see all the hard work paying off.

There’s always a feeling that I need to accomplish

more, no matter how rapidly the company is


I have always considered branching out in other

areas, but my focus is around hair and beauty.

I’m still young so there is plenty of time for

expansion, not only within the company, but also

in other sectors. My focus now is expanding AMR

and trying to bring in new lines for consumers.

Future growth within the company is anticipated,

so we are trying to expand to more locations

across Australia, to provide faster shipping times

for customers.

One piece of advice that I would give to my

younger self would be to never give credit terms

to customers, no matter how big they are. I had

to learn this lesson the hard way a few times. It

nearly caused a one million dollar loss for the

company, which would have forced liquidation.

I would also remind myself to steer clear of

negative people who don’t share the same vision

as me. It has one of the greatest impacts on your

business and can cause misdirection in achieving

your goals. If you are met with resistance, I

find the best way to push past the negativity

is to prove them wrong. Their disapproval can

sometimes end up being the greatest form of


Ultimately, you need to take risks, even if they

sometimes outweigh the good. Be prepared to

fail, but also be prepared to pick yourself back up

again and find another way. You learn from these

mistakes and they help you to never make them

again. Failing is part of the learning process and

is what will help you succeed in the end.


E n h a n c e d

b u s i n e s s

s o l u t i o n s .

Employee training is often overlooked but essential

for improving company productivity, as well as

creating opportunities for career growth and personal

development. “In my days of travel, you couldn’t do

anything wrong. There was never any room for error

and if you did slip, you were simply reprimanded,” says

Thérèse Roby, co-founder of Australia’s award-winning

hospitality, retail, and business consulting firm. “Now, the

best way to rectify an error is to invest in training for your

employees – to help them understand how to approach

customer situations with respect and empathy.”

Enhanced Business Solutions is an organisation founded

by Thérèse and her husband Wayne Roby in 2005,

dedicated to engaging staff and customers through

dynamic approaches.

“Training is so important for the business, and it’s a winwin

for everybody involved. For the employees, we help

to upskill them; to hone in on what they’re good at, and

improve in areas they find challenging. By training them

in a nationally recognised qualification, we make sure

employees are happy doing their jobs, which no doubt

has a powerful influence on the results,” Wayne says.

“Increasing sales, raising productivity, ensuring business

viability – that’s all part of what dynamic customer

service training can offer.”

Thérèse and Wayne offer a variety of short term and

long term workplace training solutions and can help you

benefit from cash incentives through their registered

training organisation partnerships. Courses are

customised to ensure all staff benefit from additional

skills and recognition.

Their philosophy? Never stop learning.

Colin Cassidy.

Colin Cassidy sits across the table from me,

sipping coffee in a hip, spacious ex-warehouse

café in Lavendar Bay. His friendly, relational

personality is quick to fill the room when he

switches from character to character even as he

reveals his journey into voice acting, from Kermit

the Frog to David Attenborough to Donald Trump.

“Voice acting was something I never thought I

would do,” he admits, which is an unexpected

confession given his performative charm and

versatility. “I have a good voice, but it wasn’t

special in any particular sense. I don’t have the

deepest voice or the highest, I just have this range

along with the theatrics and drama to go with it.”

Indeed, he does punctuate our conversation with

sudden but seamless impressions, keeping the

atmosphere light. Having spent time with Colin,

it’s apparent to see how his enthusiasm and

expressive delivery have landed him over three

hundred characters. “I had to come up with a

way to label what my sound was,” he says about

his signature vocal style, the Chatty Gravitas – a

chatty friend meets a trusted advisor. “Everyone

is always the friendly, natural guy. I wanted to

be different and I thought about being the best

I can be, my unique selling point, my point of


He reveals later that his first steps into voice

acting were heavily influenced by faith and

Christianity. Interestingly, it was a group of

returning Christian missionaries from Papua New

Guinea that encouraged him to venture into the

radio industry. “At the time, I was on a spiritual

journey. I was trying to find the meaning of life,”

Colin explains, concluding that sentence with an

impression of a spirit guide. It’s a remarkable

insight into his career, how it both began and

ended with Christianity.

This encouragement led him to a job as a radio

announcer and writer at Southern Cross Station,

and meant that Colin was forever rewriting and

producing scripts in large quantities. “I would

write commercials about twelve to fifteen times. I

probably wrote a thousand scripts, just pumping

them out at mass volume. Then I would have to

read the scripts over the phone to get approval

from ad agencies all around Australia.”

He later relocated to the United Kingdom as

the creative director of Global, Europe’s largest

commercial radio company. There, he led a

team of thirteen creative writers and set record

revenues, winning various awards along the way,

including being the London International Ad

Awards finalist for best Radio Artistè.


And yet, Colin looks at me and says: “In the

end, I just dropped it all.” There’s a pause as he

reflects on this bold decision to turn away from

everything he had built. “As time progressed, I

was still following my journey of faith. I decided,

then, that I wanted to give voice-overs and media

away completely and just be a Christian minister.”

He explains that faith had always been a prevalent

part of his life since the beginning, and that his

desire to study theology had never left. Now that

voice acting had given him the financial means to

study, it made sense to pursue it.

He talks about the Christian philosophy of

death and resurrection here, and how that soon

became an intrinsic aspect in his life. “If you

love something, let it go,” he quotes, applying

this motto to people, ideas, and careers too. “If

it doesn’t come back, then it was never meant

to be. If it does, then it’s yours forever.” It’s a

pithy saying and one that turned out to be rather

relevant for him, since voice acting did find a way

to return to his life. His renewed passion for it

paved his return back to Australia, chasing his

dreams in the industry once more. “It’s been a

weird journey,” he says, laughing.

At the end of the day, Colin believes that voice

acting is a tough industry to settle down into,

particularly for those who are starting out. It’s

an industry, much like acting, where chances

for opportunity can often fluctuate – booming

in one year, and dwindling in another. This job

insecurity can mean that performers are more

likely to suffer mental strain, but Colin faces the

issue with a degree of optimism: “It’s like a rite

of passage. You’ve got to go through the death

experience and you’ll come out sharpened and


It’s quite evident that a voice actor’s life is a

challenging, yet often invisible, one. Though they

bring big characters to life in short films and

smiles to our faces through radio, they seldom

receive any attention for themselves.


Mount Saint Helens, United States

Photographer: Jason Leem

.code camp {

inspiring: students;


One of the things we find most important here

at ECX is the way we can inspire and empower

people to cultivate their dreams into reality.

Whether it’s starting a small business or

discovering a new passion, we’re committed

to helping people take control of their future.

It’s this ideal that led us to Code Camp, one

of Australia’s fastest growing social impact

businesses and a team dedicated to turning

kids as young as five from online consumers to


In a world thriving on digital apps, teaching young

students how to code to create the software of

tomorrow opens them up to multiple avenues of

opportunities (and is basically like offering them

a superpower). From building iPhone and Android

apps to making video games and websites,

there’s a reason that coding is often termed ‘the

most important job skill of the future’. After all,

knowledge is power.

Tech entrepreneurs Benjamin Levi and Pete Neill

founded Code Camp in 2014, a fun, collaborative,

engaging school holiday program where kids

learn the fundamental skills to create real

outcomes that they can proudly share with

friends and family across the globe. The camps

run for three to four days, but students can easily

continue the fun with Code Camp World, which

provides weekly video content and challenges for

students to continue on at home.

Today, Code Camp is also becoming involved in

in-school teaching, inspiring teachers and cofacilitating

in the classroom – providing teachers

with the resources and tools to teach the new

digital curriculum to primary and secondary


Later joined by co-founders Hayley Markham

and Daniel Zwolenski, the team now has inspired

and shown more than 20,000 Australian school

students that learning to code is more than

becoming a developer; it also allows for logical

thinking and problem-solving skills, traits that

can be adapted to any industry.

Most excitingly, Code Camp’s aim is to hit a 50/50

gender split between boys and girls. Markham

says, “We’re setting out this season to tip the

scales back in balance and prove to girls all over

the country that they can be coding and digital

creative superheroes too!”

With a goal to spread enthusiasm and a spark

for innovation to Australian kids, Code Camp’s

mission is to inspire future creators. Neill sums

it up best when he says, “We’re on a mission to

inspire future creators; we want to show students

they can create anything they can imagine. We

aim to show kids that technology creates a life

full of excitement, exploration and discovery”.


We aim to

show kids that


creates a

life full of


exploration and




“How could this place of 50,000 people be the loneliest place in the world?” Daniel Kwarcinski asks,

and it’s a question that I don’t know how to answer. “It just doesn’t make sense,” he says.

For Dan, the campuses of Australian Universities are paradoxical in nature – packed with people of

around the same age, yet notably lacking in terms of opportunities to meet friends. From conflicting

timetables to tutorial groups that leave little room for peer interaction, the sense of community that

Dan envisioned simply fell flat of expectations. “I feel like the main problem is putting yourself out

there,” Michael Leboud explains. The two are best friends, both of whom share the same concern.

“People don’t know if others want to interact. It’s hard to know who wants to make friends and who

wants to just be in and out of Uni,” Mike says.

Both Dan and Mike saw this disconnect between students when they attended Uni themselves,

experiencing firsthand the difficulties of making friends. “We struggled to meet new and diverse

people amidst our classes, commutes, and that monstrous walk between classes,” Dan says.


Going into University, they had pictured a vibrant

experience where friendships were easily forged

and like-minded people had opportunities to

meet. “People end up just hanging with people

they already know. They don’t get exposed to

these amazing opportunities because it’s hard

to take the leap yourself,” Dan continues. Surely,

they thought, we could do something about this?

By putting pen to paper and brainstorming ideas,

Dan and Mike created the first prototype of their

solution to this isolation. “When we made it, we

built this very rudimentary version of the app, but

because neither of us were non-tech founders,

it just couldn’t work properly,” Dan admits.

Instead, they hired a freelancer from Adelaide

who, crucially, became a third member of the

team. “Rick has been amazing. He helped make

the design, ideas, layout, features all become

a reality. It was a leap of faith for us, to make

sacrifices in money and time when there was

much uncertainty. Especially when you don’t have

a lot to your name,” Dan says.

Indeed, Hangs was successfully launched in

Semester 1 of 2017; a simple yet dynamic social

media app that allows students to message other

people, to plan get-togethers, and to attend

campus events.

As a bonus, Dan embedded the Corpus Column,

a media blog function, within Hangs. The Column

is a forum for students to seek words of advice or

offer tips, representing their vision to create not

only a space to interact with other individuals, but

also to cultivate a thriving student community.

To Dan, it’s all about that sense of belonging

to something larger. Michael, too, adds: “It

personally feels amazing, being able to facilitate

these interactions. It’s really inspiring and it

continues to motivate us.”


Chargrill Charlie’s.

Time has never been more valuable. In a world of increasing digital convenience, the team behind

Chargrill Charlie’s have stepped up to the plate and offered customers their latest app, which will

save both time and money. ECX was more than happy to sit down for a chat.

With their new app in tow, it’s clear that Chargrill Charlie’s is moving with the times and at the

forefront of innovation for their industry. Considering that they’ve been three steps ahead ever since

1989, when they cooked their first chargrill chicken, this is an unsurprising fact.

In order to make chicken succulent and tender, one of the most popular methods was (and still is)

to roast the chicken over scorching hot charcoal. The results were delicious but produced severe

underlying health issues for the chefs, due to exposure to the heat and smoke. “It affected my dad’s

lungs to the point that doctors told him that he wasn’t allowed to make another charcoal chicken

again,” Ryan Sher said.


Instead of simply giving up, it was clear

for the Sher family that the only way

forward was to find another way. Thus,

after numerous designs and trials, it

was in 1994 that Chargrill Charlie’s

structured their own machinery with

a cast iron. This meant that it could

radiate the same high intensity heat

as the traditional charcoal method,

retaining the quality of chicken, without

all the health repercussions.

“It reduces the smoke and the negative

by-products” Ryan explained. “I am

very proud to say that we are the first to

come up with this production method.”

This would soon become the industrystandard

method that is used widely by

most charcoal chicken stores today.

Thirteen years later, Chargrill Charlie’s

remains ahead of the game with an

app that means you can order your

favourite meal before entering the

store. “Students who finish school can

just come in, pick up their favourite

chicken, and leave with just a simple

click of the button,” Ryan says.

Ultimately, while convenience is

important, the key highlight of the app

is Ryan’s vision to create a family for

his customers. “The main feature is

actually our loyalty system,” he says.

“It’s an app that makes you feel you’re

a part of Chargrill Charlie’s, that’s the

most important thing.”

Users earn 10 points for every $1 spent

with a $20 ‘Regular Card’ issued when

you reach 3,500 points. For serious

chicken lovers, Gold Level status is

reached once a customer has reached

a certain spend. How to gain access to

Gold Level status, that remains under

lock and key for now. Gold Members

receive a $20 voucher for every 2,000

points, free delivery for at-home

catering over $200, a special surprise

on their birthday and free in-store


At ECX, we’ve got no doubt that others

in the industry will follow suit in no



Is Society


How You


When we’re pressed for time and are busy balancing

responsibilities, it’s natural to want a shortcut when it

comes to making decisions. But when we unintentionally

let social demands and external influences affect the way

we think, especially when it comes to planning our futures,

that’s when we risk simply settling for what is convenient,

and not always what is best. What do I mean by this?

1. Education

One of the more notable examples, to put it generally, is how

often parents (and kids) select high schools based purely on

the annual school rankings. It’s an easy way to analyse how

well each student body performed in the HSC, but perhaps

we’re placing too much emphasis on these ranks and not

enough on their implications.

It’s important to note that the only HSC data available to the

public are the names of the students who achieved a Band

6 in any subject. Contrary to popular belief, the ranking of

the school isn’t actually based on ATAR results, but rather,

the number of students in the Achiever’s List (scores above

90%) as a percentage of all exams sat by the school.

In short, test scores are a good indication of the number of

high-performing students, but rankings alone don’t tell the

full story. It’s hard to say whether or not School A is better

than School B, since despite the fact that it may be ranked

higher, the vastly competitive (and thus, stressful) nature

of the school may actually prove counterproductive to the

student’s needs.

I always encourage further research into student

experiences and extra-curricular activities, going to Open

Days and extending your knowledge instead of simply

relying on one set of rankings.

A similar issue is the tendency to prioritise subjects that

supposedly scale better in the HSC. Parents and students

often lean towards mathematics and sciences over arts and

humanities subjects, simply because they could scale better.

Ask yourself: does an average mark in science make up for

the hundreds of dollars spent on tutoring and the effort of

studying for something that your child have no interest in?

If your child can get 90 in a subject that scales down with

self-motivation due to interest, versus getting 70 in a

subject that scales up but with strained effort due to the

lack of interest; you might be surprised to know that 90

scaling down to 80 is still better than 70 scaling up to 75.


2. Careers

This logic also applies to careers and how often

we tend to choose ‘safe’ jobs based on what we

think has a higher social influence or a higher

employment demand. Whether it’s accounting, law,

or medicine – or even lucrative careers like start-up

businesses and investment banking – I often ask

people to question their own motives: Are you doing

this because you love it, or because you feel like you

have to?

Just as with HSC subjects that see better scaling, it’s

natural to lean towards careers that have feel more

secure and have seemingly brighter employment

prospects, even if your heart may not be entirely in


To step out on a limb and explore other options may

pose a risk, sure, but if it means a lifetime of doing

what you love, of being passionate about your work,

why wouldn’t you take the chance? I followed my

heart and quit my job after years of working as an

accountant to become a real estate agent. I knew

that I would’ve preferred to have tried and failed

than to have never tried at all – and luckily for me,

I’ve never had to look back.

Even if you may have heard that pursuing the arts,

for instance, leads to dead-ends, consider that

new technologies have made it possible to succeed

in typically unconventional areas of interest at an

unprecedented rate. In the age of the Internet, new

avenues for opportunity are continuing to open up

for people who are unapologetic about what they

love and simply enjoy what they’re doing. Daniel

Middleton (DanTDM) is a good example, having

earned $16.5M in 2017 for playing video games on


This article, I suppose, is a gentle reminder that the

road more travelled isn’t necessarily what is best

or what is right. In my opinion, it’s always better to

be fulfilled in a job that you like, than to be safe and

realise that the career that you studied and worked

so hard to be in isn’t actually bringing you any joy.

For me, the question is always: What would I do if I

knew I could not fail? And my advice to anyone who

asks — and to my own children especially — is to

find what interests you the most; to excel in fields in

which you have the most passion and ability; and to

change the world in your own way and on your own


3. Relationships

This topic is a little harder to comment on, since

every relationship is different, and what we see

publicly is often just the tip of the iceberg – a

fraction of what is really happening. My point here,

however, is simply to listen to your heart rather than

any other external opinions. If all your family and

friends disapprove then, yes, it’s likely that there are

red flags but make sure these reasons aren’t about

things that are surface-level, such as how much

money they make, or what ethnicity they’re from. It’s

the oldest story in the book: passing up on potential

life partners because of high expectations, fuelled by

comments from friends and family, only to regret the

decision after it’s too late.

No relationship is perfect, this is a fact; but it is

about acceptance and a willingness to help each

other grow as people. Listening to advice from the

people you trust and respect is important, of course,

but in terms of the more superficial qualities, I

always advocate making your own decisions, free

from any social influence.


I think Albert Einstein (who shares my birthday,

interestingly) best summed it up when he said:

“What is right is not always popular and what is

popular is not always right.” Of course, there’s a

possibility that you could end up out of the frying pan

and into the fire when it comes to challenging what’s

normative. Maybe you crash and burn your first

start-up, or you don’t pick the right subjects, or you

quit your job to pursue your passion and it doesn’t

go well. But just the process of exploring, of really

seizing your opportunities and making sure you left

no stones unturned, is, to me, more valuable than

nothing at all.


Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic


Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic Orchestra (KPO) was founded in 1971 and has since built a strong position

as a Community Orchestra, with a pool of more than 150 musicians of diverse backgrounds and ages

coming together to share their passion for music with each other and their audience. Alongside their

regular performances, KPO’s goals of nurturing young musicians and future audiences alike takes

shape in the form of the NSW Secondary Schools Concerto Competition, an annual competition which

attracts entries from more than 100 of the state’s most talented musicians, and a series of Kids’

Proms concerts, providing young children with a unique opportunity to interact with a professionalstandard

orchestra. KPO thanks Zikira Properties and Eric Wong for their ongoing support.

The KPO is proud to present to you its 2018 season, under the baton of recently appointed Artistic

Director and Chief Conductor Paul Terracini, with the opening concert on Saturday 17 March at The

Concourse featuring Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite and Strauss’ Four Last Songs with internationally

renowned soprano Taryn Fiebig as soloist.


“i’m more than Committed to bringing the

classical music experience to the community.”

- Paul Terracini, conductor

Paul Terracini was born into a very active, musical family. Starting his musical career as a trumpet

player, he held various positions as Principal Trumpet in the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra,

Lecturer at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music, and Solo Trumpet in the Danish Chamber

Players, Denmark. As a concerto soloist, he has performed with the Melbourne, Queensland, West

Australian, and Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras.

Paul spent nearly twenty years living in Europe where, in addition to his position in the Danish

Chamber Players, he was chairman and conductor of the Storstrøms Symphony Orchestra. He has

conducted and recorded 10 CDs with the Prague Symphony Orchestra and appeared as a guest

conductor at the Rossini Festival in Bad Wildbad, Germany, and other parts of Europe.

Beside his engagements as conductor and artistic director, Paul is also a composer; his latest CD:

Paul Terracini – Music for Brass, TP 224, recorded with Sydney Symphony Orchestra Brass, won the

CD of the Year Award from Brass World Magazine, in Great Britain, in 2017. Paul lives in Katoomba –

after living in Denmark he loves the cool climate of the mountains.


“Music is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child.”

- Joal Taylor, double bass

A school teacher once remarked that Joal Taylor was “seemingly completely uninterested in music.”

Joal reflects on this comment and smiles: “Actually, the opposite was true. Although no-one in my

family had ever played a musical instrument, my father loved to listen to all kinds of music, and had

a large collection of albums on vinyl. As I grew up listening to music, I could easily have ended up as

simply a devoted concert audience member.”

“It was a friend at university that convinced me to take up the double bass. He was a French horn

player in a small community orchestra. They had no double bassist. Would I be interested in giving

it a shot? I said no, of course. It was a ridiculous idea. I couldn’t even read bass clef. I’d be mocked,

possibly resented. I couldn’t possibly do it,” he says.

“Secretly, I desperately desired to play. And in time, I relented. After the first day, as I fumbled

through my simplified part, but miraculously landed a crucial final note and earned some applause

from my colleagues, I was hooked. I quickly started lessons with my first teacher. After a handful

of years of learning the instrument, ensemble performance, and some degree of musicianship, a

trumpet player by the name of Richard suggested that I consider joining the KPO. By that stage, I had

a little more courage, and I made the transition successfully.”

“Almost 25 years later, I feel that the KPO will always be like a second home to me,” Joal says.

“There is wonderful music, yes; friendship and community, certainly. Perhaps crucially, performing

with the KPO gives me a sense of confidence, a feeling that even seemingly unattainable dreams can

be achieved if you honestly work at it.”

“I feel fortunate to belong to a double bass section of truly lovely people. By the way, we would love to

grow our section! I can promise that any keen and committed double bass player will be welcomed

with open arms,” he says. “Not sure how learning an instrument would work out? Have a chat with

me. I once felt the same way.”


Growing up in Venezuela, Mariangela Martinez Alvarez became involved with El Sistema, the famous

Venezuelan musical education program, and took up the violin when she was eleven.

“Like every Venezuelan musician I have been part of many (youth) orchestras along my musical

career. At the age of sixteen, I moved to Caracas to study at a prestigious Venezuelan violin academy,

and alongside I studied Architecture at the Simon Bolivar University.”

“During my tenure at the Chacao Youth Orchestra, I won a youth competition as best musician of

the year and performed Kreisler’s Preludio and Allegro with the orchestra. In 2002, I was invited to

perform as a soloist Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with Simon Bolivar Chamber Orchestra,” she says.

“As a professional violinist, I played in the Simon Bolivar Symphonic Orchestra (El Sistema’s

leading orchestra) conducted by Gustavo Dudamel and served as a violin teacher at the Simon

Bolivar Conservatory. After 5 years of living and working in Dubai as a violinist and architect with

my husband, we moved to Sydney, where I joined the first violin section at KPO sharing the leading

position. KPO gave me the great opportunity in 2014 to play The Four Seasons by Piazzolla as a

soloist in a Latin-American program. That’s proof of KPO’s sense of welcome to all players. On the

day, some players even prepared Latin-American dishes to share with the audience. What a privilege

and honour!”

“My son and daughter, now seven and three, play violin and cello respectively and I am really proud to

say that my son just joined Sydney Youth Orchestra. What else can I ask for?” she smiles. “Actually,

we’re still trying to convince daddy to play double bass to complete our quartet.”

“I’m very much looking forward to our first concert of the season on March 17 in The Concourse,

which will present Stravinsky’s well-known Firebird Suite and Strauss’ Four Last Songs with soprano

Taryn Fiebig.”

“KPO has a culture of nurturing its young musicians

and making everyone feel welcome.”

- Michelle Cheung, violin and piano

Michelle Cheung attended Ravenswood School on a full music scholarship and was heavily

involved in their music program as a leader of their senior orchestra and chamber orchestra, choir

accompanist, and as a musician in various ensembles on both piano and violin.

“KPO is an extremely inclusive and friendly community orchestra, with a wide variety of musicians

of all walks of life. Our common theme is that we have all attained a high level of musicianship on

our respective instruments and derive great joy from being able to perform high quality music to our

local audiences.”

“Apart from the usual symphony concerts, we also collaborate with local choirs to perform largescale

choral works, provide a valuable platform for young musicians to develop their skills through

the KPO Concerto Competition and Composers Workshops, and perform several smaller concerts

throughout the year in the form of Kids’ Proms and chamber music concerts.”

“I have had a longstanding connection with the KPO Concerto Competition, both as a competitor

and as a member of the Concerto Competition Committee. In 2001, I won the Multiple Section of the

competition (with Sonja Schebeck) and we performed Sarasate’s Navarra for Two Violins at the Finals

Concert with KPO and maestro Henryk Pisarek.”

“KPO is also a wonderful way to meet other people who are passionate about music. In my case, I

met my fiancé Nick Comino (leader of KPO’s cello section) whilst playing in KPO.”

ECX Corner: Goatfish

ECX cares about giving you a voice in the community to share and

spread your passions.

For this issue, we have marine biologist Louise Tosetto of Macquarie

University writing to us about her PhD on goatfish. What are they?

Where do we find them? Why are they so peculiarly named?

Goatfish are fish that live in coastal waters. They

are characterised by a pair of chemosensory

barbels (whiskas) which protrude from their chin

giving the appearance of a goatee. These barbels

are used to rummage through sand in search of

food. They are benthic carnivores which means

that they eat things like worms, crustaceans,

molluscs and other small invertebrates that are

buried in the bottom sediments of our oceans.

They are found in shallow waters of both tropical

and temperate areas. There are approximately

86 species worldwide. One of the most common

species in Sydney (and the one I am studying)

is the blue-striped goatfish. They are found

anywhere from 3 – 40m deep so if you’ve been out

diving or snorkelling in Sydney you’ve probably

seen these guys digging away in the sediment.

There are some reports suggesting that goatfish

are a possible indicator for the health of our

coastal ecosystems. Goatfish are continuously

rummaging through the bottom sediments

looking for food. While this is an effective way to

feed, it also releases food particles into the water

column making food available for other fish who

haven’t got the ability to dig through sediment.

Goatfish are also vital in aerating the bottom

sediments and circulating nutrients, much like

what farmers do when they plough their land.

This can increase the variety of animals living in

the sediment as well as have a positive impact on

the nearby algal communities.

Some goatfish have the capacity to rapidly change

their colour, just like chameleons. Blue-striped

goatfish can change from white to red (and back

again) in seconds depending on the time of day

or their activity. We often think that the reason

animals change colour is for camouflage but

researchers have found that colour change is

also essential in signalling and communication

in some chameleons and cuttlefish. There is

very little information about why fish can change

their colour and so, goatfish provide an excellent

species to study this phenomenon. It is possible

that goatfish change to red as a signal to attract

other fish for protection when they feed, or as a

warning sign to predators. It is exciting research

which will provide some insights into how

fish have adapted and evolved the capacity for

flexibility in colour.

We want to hear what

you’re interested in!

Email us at and

our editors will be in touch.


Blue-striped Goatfish

Upeneichthys lineatus


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