Central West Mums likes this Ginger Fluff - index

Central West Mums likes this Ginger Fluff

If you are after a simple and quick afternoon tea cake, this Ginger Fluff is for you!

As far as I know, Ginger Fluffs made an appearance at numerous family occasions since the 1930s or earlier. If you grew up in Australia in the 1950s, chances are you enjoyed a slice half a dozen times or more.

A Ginger Fluff is a quintessentially Australian light and airy sponge cake with a touch of spice; ginger, cinnamon and cocoa.

You may be fortunate enough to have an heirloom recipe in the family.  You may have a trusted Country Women’s Association cookbook on the shelves; as the CWA have an age old reputation for fabulous sponges! However if you don’t, this recipe inspired from Baby Mac blog will hit the spot beautifully! There are many variations on a Ginger Fluff; mainly the degree of spice you add, so if you prefer more than a hint of ginger try doubling the quantity.

There is nothing like serving this comforting cake with a good cup of tea after a busy day in the garden, or simply to enjoy with friends and family. My friend Claire made this one (pictured) and has nailed it!

Ginger Fluff


4-5 fresh medium-large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup cornflour

1/4 cup self-raising flour

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp cocoa

1 Tbsp golden syrup (warmed)

300ml thickened cream (+ 1 Tbsp icing sugar to sweeten)


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C
  2. Grease and line base of 2 x 20cm round cake tins
  3. Beat egg whites in a mixer (with whisk attachment) on high speed until the volume increases and then it is important to turn it down to a medium speed until stiff, gradually adding the sugar and egg yolks. This could take up to 15 minutes or so.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, sift both the cornflour, self-raising flour, ginger, cinnamon and cocoa together and then fold gently into egg mixture with a spatula.
  5. Lastly fold in warmed golden syrup
  6. Pour half the quantity into each of the prepared tins
  7. Bake approximately 20 minutes and mixture will pull away from the edge.
  8. While sponge is cooling, whip up cream and icing sugar and then sandwich the two cakes with cream and finish with cream on top and sprinkle with cinnamon.



School Readiness Programs

Would you like to more about School Readiness Programs and why they are so important?

In our Q & A Live video with Michelle Wood from Clever Cookie Academy has answered many of the questions on parents’ minds when considering a school readiness program for your children.

Michelle Wood Bio:

Michelle is a unicorn of the teaching trade holding qualifications in BOTH primary and early childhood teaching. Upon having her own Cookies, Michelle decided that there was much students needed to know before heading to school. Michelle added another degree to her belt and now splits her time between working at CCA and heading up the incredible transition program at one of our high performing hidden gem schools in the Central West! Having led a school readiness program with PROVEN success equipping students with the skills for the transition to formal schooling, Michelle is exactly who we need to be teaching our ‘Lil Cookies!’

For more information, please contact Clever Cookie Academy on ph: 0459 723 807


Marvellous Books to Read this May & June

The Central West Mums Book Club is
proudly sponsored by Colins Booksellers
230 Summer Street Orange.


CWM Mother’s Day Event, ‘Grace Under Pressure’ by Tori Haschka

Did you attend our Central West Mums event on Mother’s Day?

On our Mother’s Day weekend, Tori Haschka, Author of ‘Grace Under Pressure‘ joined Central West Mums with conversation and laughter about modern-day Motherhood and the importance of female friendship and connection to community groups.

The afternoon kicked off with fun tunes by Orange DJs and delicious Swift Sparkling rosé and nibbles including a date and cocoa cake (recipe in the book). Everyone enjoyed connecting with other women our community in the beautiful space of Hive Orange.

Everyone settled in to listen to a fireside chat with Tori as well as hearing from Rochelle Monaghan from Housing Plus about the Orchard and how our contribution of over $1,000 raised on the afternoon could help. Lucky door prizes were drawn and all Mums  walked away with a personally signed book.

Thank you to our local member Sharon Bicknell (best friend of Tori Haschka) for helping to put on such a fabulous event.

Thank you very much to our sponsors and prize providers;

Orange DJs, Hive Orange, Printhie Wines, Leave It To Lucy, The Avid Gardener, Our Town Candles and Brenton Cox Photography for who we could not have put on such an event without you.

See our event photos below. Photography by Brenton Cox.

Tori Haschka bio…

Tori Haschka is an author, food writer and mother of two young children. She has written two cook books; ‘A Suitcase and a Spatula’ and ‘Cut the Carbs!’.

Her articles have featured in Grazia, The Times, The Guardian, Sydney Morning Herald and her blog eatori.com was once ranked by Saveur as one of the five best food and travel blogs in the world.

Grace Under Pressure is her first novel. Tori thinks most days can be improved with a great coffee and a glass of pink wine and is so thrilled to visit Orange – not just because her best friend now calls it home.




Spanish Dinner Party With A Table Of Ten, Orange NSW

Do you love hosting fun dinner parties but hate the End-of-Night clean up?

Most of us love having friends over for the dinner parties, though baulk at the thought of the monumental food prep and towering stack of dishes at the end. So if you like the idea of embracing Spanish gastronomy and hosting dinner parties, then you must lock in chef Ruben Lopez Mesa. Ruben settled in Orange, NSW a few years back and has been modestly building up a substantial following in the food community. He began working as a Head Chef at a local cafe but quickly found himself featuring in a line up of the very best local chefs in Orange at the recent 30th Anniversary F.O.O.D week signature events. He also founded Eat Spanish, to highlight the next generation of Spanish chefs in the Australian community. Spain has long been regarded internationally for its culinary excellence with several restaurants represented in the world’s 50 Best list. Ruben, I have observed, is one passionate and determined soul who loves to share the story of state-of-the-art Spanish cuisine. We are truly fortunate to have him right here in the Central West. To top it off, he is also just a great guy.

A Table Of Ten

Ruben recently founded A Table Of Ten in January 2021 which he explained was a response to the disruption wrought by COVID-19. So throwing caution to the wind I booked the experience straight away. I have thoroughly enjoyed his food in his previous incarnations and the thought of hosting a dinner party without the preparation excited me!

The concept is creating a private dining experience for 10 people.

You book with Ruben and he then quite simply, takes care of the rest, executing a delicious 3-course menu. This includes several amazing tapas dishes followed by a Paella and dessert. I enjoyed setting the table stress-free while Ruben set up. I created a mediterranean themed tablescape; think olive branches, lemons and persimmons which worked well with a few tea lights to finish it off.

Our guests also enjoyed learning more about Spanish food and culture as Ruben would explain the origin behind each plate. One recipe which Ruben has shared recently which he thinks best defines Spain’s classic national dish is Tortilla española and it was absolutely delicious!


Apart from the fabulous company of friends, Ruben introduced a game which we were all open to, after enjoying some delicious drops of wine!

Ruben explained the ‘Bota de Vino‘ wineskin which is essentially a leather bag used to contain, preserve and transport wine. The game was  COVID-19 safe as it involved sharing the Bota de Vino in a very novel way. Ruben demonstrated first and after passing it around the table, we were all laughing and applauding until a winner was chosen. I will leave this element as a surprise for those that book this experience!

The winner of the game received a prize of this amazing salt that Ruben made with Elephant garlic flowers. You can grow these to enhance your garden and then use the flowers in salt for flavour.

To bring further flair to the night, guests wore a touch of Spanish and we played the album ‘Lágrimas Negras’ on Spotify for vibe.

Now if you are salivating like Pavlov’s dog, then I suggest you book now and you’ll love it!
Where to find Ruben –
Insta: @atableof10
Photography credits, Amorette Zielinski, Rob Zielinski and Olivia West.

Paul Bangay Garden Tour, Visit To Stonefields

Are you a garden enthusiast? If so, this is a must-do experience!

Wow, what can I say about Paul Bungay’s, Stonefields…almost lost for words except that it was amazing and for anyone who is a garden enthusiast, or can appreciate a beautiful garden space this garden is definitely one to visit.

Paul Bangay is one of Australia’s most revered landscape designers

I have been studying Paul Bangay’s books for the last 10 years, ever since we purchased our own property that originally consisted of a couple of old gum trees. So out of necessity we gradually started to plant trees and build garden beds, and now has grown into a great passion from there.  Paul Bangay has published almost a dozen books and they have definitely been a reference point of mine and I have even been known to quote them.

Paul Bangay has been a wonderful source of inspiration…

One of my favourites is that “The garden is not a hospital for sick plants” And I often would tell my husband that if it’s not in Paul’s book we won’t be planting it… Thankfully I have since come around, only slightly.

My husband secured tickets for a personalised tour of Paul Bungay’s garden located in Denver, Country Victoria back around Christmas in 2019. I immediately booked in for a highly anticipated Autumn tour which was to be in April 2020; now we all know how that year panned out. So instead of taking up the refund for the cancelled tour, I swiftly rebooked for Autumn 2021.

Getting to Stonefields and the tour

Friday the 23rd of April was our tour date, so we made the road trip from Orange to Victoria a few days prior. The drive from Orange where we are located is approximately 8 hours to Stonefields in Denver or an hour’s drive from Melbourne airport.

On arrival at Stonefields we were greeted by the two gardeners who maintain the garden, Tim and Remi. I quickly struck up a conversation asking about how they maintain their hedges, and in particular what power tools and shears they use and recommend. One great tip that I learnt about trimming buxus and avoiding the burnt look afterwards is to “Always use  sharpened trimmers and prune mid spring and mid-autumn to avoid the extreme temperatures”.

Paul then led our group of about 24 along with his two gardeners and walked and talked around his beautiful property, he was very personable and welcomed everyone to ask lots of questions. We started at the top of his garden and then onto his rose garden, which had a large selection of David Austin’s Munstead Wood roses, along with perennials mixed in.

The next garden room was the Lily Pond garden which had a beautiful pond surrounded by immaculate “bowling green” grass, which we were all too scared to walk on, but Paul stood on it, he commented that it is not that precious. However I was not so sure if the gardeners thought that after seeing all the footprints.

As we descended to the lower levels leading down to his house there was an apple walk which consisted of Crimson Crisp apples that were perfectly ripe for the picking.  They were under-planted with buxus balls that were hedged into clouds. Paul encouraged everyone to pick the apples and take some home, which we all did.

His Parterre garden was a masterpiece with perfectly clipped and manicured buxus shaped into squares and circles, with pencil pines planted in-between. And knowing personally how hard pruning shapes can be, everyone just stood back in awe at the precision that these plants had been clipped. And if anyone has seen spring photos of this garden, he has 3000 tulips planted in amongst it all.

Morning tea was served at the back of his house, where we were spoilt with magnificent views of the valley, whilst enjoying the beautiful rusty colours under the Crimson Glory vine which covered his back pergola. This ornamental grape had leaves the size of a dinner plate, and is one plant that I’ll be looking for to include in my own garden.

From there we went to the “Woodland”, which was a circular garden surrounded by Pin oaks, Sugar maples, and Cherry Laurel and under-planted with shade loving perennials including hellebores and hostas. The colour of the trees was indescribable, and none of the pictures I had ever seen of this garden, had prepared me to how beautiful it really was.

“Just the sheer scale of it was amazing”.

So if the opportunity arises this is one garden that I would definitely recommend to anyone, just be mindful that bookings are essential, as numbers are limited. You can book a morning or afternoon session. But best of all, his garden in Denver, Victoria has a very similar climate to ours in Orange, NSW. So any plant that he has growing in his garden, we can plant in ours.

Happy Gardening.

Instagram: @anfieldgarden



Top 10 Late Autumn Garden Jobs

We truly are lucky to live in a proper four seasons climate and Autumn really is one of the most spectacular.

Gorgeous days of sunshine, cooling nights, falling leaves of luminescent reds and liquid amber, and of course the glorious garden just waiting for us to get stuck in. It’s also an opportunity to put a little extra immune boosting wonders into our food in preparation for winter.

Here are our top 10 jobs for late Autumn.

1. The edible garden.

Plant the following seedlings in your veggie patch for a bumper winter crop:
Brassicas – kale, cauliflower and broccoli.
Broad beans and peas.
Carrots and beetroot.

2. Divide evergreen perennials and fill bare spots in the garden or pot up and give to family and friends. Bearded irises, catmint, lambs ears, achillea, etc.

3. Trim hedges.

Encourage thicker growth by hedging regularly. Hold off in winter when frosts are prevalent to prevent browning of foliage.

4. Weed the garden.

Whoever said, “a job done properly only needs doing once” clearly wasn’t a gardener! Weeds are inevitable. They can, however, be minimised and it is a job worth doing again and again as it reduces competition for nutrients and helps plants to thrive.

5. Mulch, mulch, mulch.

Tuck your plants up for winter with a lovely organic sugar cane blanket. Mulch keeps soil temperatures warmer, reduces weed competition, encourages microbial activity and also breaks down to create organic matter. Apply a thick layer of at least 8cm and top up again in spring.

6. Clean and oil tools.

On the cooler days, get your tools ready for winter pruning. Clean with soapy water and a scouring brush to remove any lingering pathogens. Oil moving parts.

7. Propagate.

Nature is incredibly giving and one of the best investments you’ll ever make. Almost everything in the garden can be propagated or will self seed. Share with family, friends and your community.

8. Compost fallen leaves.

Create your own nutrient gold by composting leaves. Add to your veggie patch.

9. Feed your garden.

We are fans of Yates dynamic lifter. It’s an organic slow release fertiliser that stinks to high heaven! Spread it like you’re feeding chickens. Your plants will love you for it.

10. Lawn maintenance.

Mow at a higher length and less often to encourage deeper root systems. Aerate and feed for a luscious green lawn in spring.

If you’d like to prepare our nourishing roast pumpkin soup, see here.



Nourishing Roast Pumpkin Soup Recipe

This is an immune boosting bowl of goodness. Delicious to eat and good for the soul.

Roast Pumpkin Soup


1.5 kg pumpkin

Olive oil

2 carrots, diced

1 onion, finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

3 tablespoons fresh herbs from the garden roughly chopped – parsley, thyme, oregano, sage

1/2 cup dried yellow lentils (rinsed)

2 litres of good quality vegetable stock

1 small knob finely grated ginger

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric

Himalayan salt

Black pepper


Cut pumpkin into bite size pieces and place in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in a moderate oven for about 40 minutes or until lightly golden.

Sauté onion, garlic, carrots, ginger, turmeric and herbs with a little olive oil in a heavy based saucepan for 5-7 minutes.

Add the rest of the ingredients, including the pumpkin and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes.

Serve with a slice of fresh, crusty bread and a splattering of butter.


Orange, Foodie Heaven, Best Places To Shop For Quality Ingredients

Are you visiting Orange and want to know where to buy the best produce and ingredients?

With F.O.O.D week approaching in Orange, it’s a hive of activity and if you are a family visiting the area and want to shop up a fabulous basket of goodies, then this list should point you in the right direction. I know what it’s like travelling with kids to an area you are not that familiar with; and you might be thinking you just want to check into your accomodation/house and then tick you ingredient list off in a flash. [Cover feature image credit: Stefan from Cured Orange]

Why trust me?

I have lived in Orange for eight years and had a chance to work my way around the block a few times to hunt out the best of the best. I am also a foodie from way back, with half my career spent working on food magazines so it’s no wonder I have settled into a location which presents a cornucopia of fabulous produce and other delights!

As everything can be a little spread out, you just need to know where to go!  So here, I have organised this list in a convenient and sequential way to shop in one area before jumping in the car again before picking up other items. These places are on my hot list because they not only offer quality product, but importantly service is friendly and knowledgable too.


Racine Bakery in Orange is always a great way to start early in the morning at 7:00am to pick up your selection of fabulous organic sourdoughs, croissants, cherry danish (if they are there, they disappear quick), and my favourite morning buns which  after discovering them at Tartine in San Francisco, I did whisper into Sean and Willa Arantz’s ears that that Orange’s finest bakery must have them too.

Follow them on Insta for their daily offerings, or

Website is here

The Sugar Mill is worth a visit too with their pastry and cake creations; some of them look too beautiful to eat but let me tell you if you have an occasion to celebrate, their cakes are out of this world! I have a soft spot for the carrot cake.

Follow them on Insta here.

Ph: (02) 6361 1529

Charcuterie – Hand crafted artisan meats

Cured is highly reputable for producing quality European charcuterie by none other than Stefan Birmilli who a has learnt German techniques from a very young age.  You will find many items here do not have preservatives, dairy, and use quality meat products like truffle Duck liver pate, smoked beef, a huge range of cacciatore, local Second Mouse Cheese from Orange and more. If you’re lucky, you might find some pretzel and brezel buns on the counter too, though be early and be quick! (Image credit: Stefan at Cured).

Cured website for more on address (found in Harris Farm arcade)

Facebook page


Harris Farm is right opposite Cured and if you say hello to Sean and team, they will help you out with requests for all types of fish, prawns, coffin bay oysters (although due to floods, Sydney rock oysters may be hard to come by), marinara mix which my kids love in a tomato base pasta dish.

Tip: If you’re flying through Harris Farm, make sure you pick up some Fresh Fodder dips from Orange and my tip is the Smokey Taramosalata but they are all great!

ph: (02) 6361 0999 and ask for Seafood department for special orders and requests.

Organic and Specialty snacks, spices, olive oil, chocolate and more

Scoop Wholefoods is right here in this arcade with Harris Farm and Cured, so if you are looking for healthy and delicious snacks for the kids, this is it as you can serve yourself what you need. You can often find local garlic which is amazing and pungent! Scoop often use local suppliers like Origin Chocolate and others when they can in bulk for quality ingredients.

Ph: (02) 5353 1170

Essential Ingredient I find often has items that are hard to find like beautiful orange peel when I was making an Italian style torte recently and divine rubs for meats (my tip is buy the Gordon Rhodes pulled pork sauce mix; so easy to feed a crowd and so delicious!), and you might even find our local saffron amongst other items if you fancy cookbook shopping; it’s a slice of heaven!

You can check the latest here

Located at: 145 Summer Street, Orange.

Ph: (02) 6361 8999

Red Chilli Deli is just a hop, skip and jump from the Essential Ingredient, and tucked around the corner; it is also stocked with many items you might need while enjoying a stay in Orange. I particularly love the authentic curries and chutney Ayooma makes here.

You can follow what’s cooking and the latest on Insta.

Located at: 36B Sale Street, Orange.

Ph: (02) 6360 1166


If you are looking for delectable chocolate that is special; particularly if you are celebrating an event with family and friends then Canobolas Chocolate Orange, is the sweetest chocolate shop with the expertise who have been in the business a long time sourcing the very finest available in Australia; all in one store!

Located at: 216 Lords Place, Orange.

Ph: 0417 270 129

Essential Ingredient have some of my favourite brands of chocolate like Koko Black here too.


It can be a contentious issue, discussing the best butchers around but let’s face it everyone has their favourites and for me it is without question, Woodward Street Quality meats.  I have found that they deliver premium ‘Cowra lamb and beef’, pork and delicious chicken with loads of flavour consistently; emphasis on ‘consistently’. I have always been happy with the welcoming vibe from Jay Parkes and his team. For something impressive, you can even purchase a 50-day dry aged prime rib.

Located at: 145 Woodward Street, Orange

Ph: (02) 6362 2067 or mob: 0417 679 561


The subject of coffee and cafes in Orange is another entire article given the number of choices we have for a good drop. Though I am a regular at Omar’s next door to Woodward Street Quality meats and the Academy coffee beans are what I love to bring home with me for the best brew.


You must swing by Spilt Milk for an authentic gelato treat using many seasonal ingredients as they excite with new flavours daily. SMB also cater to vegans too with creamy textures and you don’t feel like you are missing out on a thing!

Follow them on Insta to check out what they are churning next.

Located at: 45 Sale Street, Orange.

If you like classic, then the Coronet Milk Bar is your gig; stop in for aa bucket of lollies or a good ol’ fashioned milkshake; custard and chocolate are the favourites with my lot!

Located at: 142 Summer Street (or just at end of arcade where Harris Farm is).

Fresh Local produce, condiments and souvenirs

For a quintessential experience, it’s always fun to visit the orchards in Orange and pick your own. However, if this is not your jam and you still want to enjoy the local taste of apples, figs and more in season, then these are my go-to places to pick up or have them delivered.

With a heritage that goes back decades in Borenore, the Martelli family know what they are doing and deliver reasonably priced small and large boxes of fruit and vegetables – fast to your door! These are the kind of boxes that you can photograph with ‘no filter’ as everything is glossy and beautiful. You can email them your request or phone.

email: martelliorchards@outlook.com.au

mob: 0402 600 030

If you’d like to choose your own, depending on where you are staying I recommend stopping into;

The Agrestic Grocer – for all things local in the Central West as well as local gin, wine and souvenirs.

Located at: 426 Molong Road, Orange.

The Grocer & Co Organics – organic produce available here as well as amazing spices and teas here too.

Located at: 52 McNamara Street, Orange.

Hillside Harvest – If you are staying up near Borenore or visiting some cellar doors in that direction, a stop in here for supplies like a rich tomato relish or the best olives like ‘Rosnay‘ , it is just lovely; local lovely.

Located at: 1209 The Escort Way, Borenore.


Last but not least, if you are pulling in late-ish and want to settle in with friends and the kids enjoying some local drops, then rest assured you can pick them up efficiently when flying through town.

Orange Cellars offers the largest range of regional wines in Orange as well as local craft cider, beer and spirits. I’ve always driven through and experienced wonderful service.

Visit their website here for more on their range.

The Lane Cellars stock many of the local labels and it is extremely convenient; located in the same arcade alongside Cured, Scoop and Harris Farm.

The Agrestic Grocer – As mentioned ‘above’; if you are here, you might has well pick up a local brew, spirit, cider or wine.

Now you’re all set for a delicious stay – Enjoy!


Orange FOOD Week, 30th Anniversary 2021 events, NSW

Are you a Foodie?

Orange, NSW is a foodie mecca and has long been known for it’s fabulous produce, vineyards and breathtaking views.

In April each year Orange F.O.O.D week, Australia’s longest running regional food festival takes place. The countdown is officially on to this year’s 30th Anniversary celebration of the region’s proud history held between April 9th – 18th.

With a focus on pedigree and provenance, the 10-day COVID-Safe event program will continue its success in establishing Orange as one of NSW’s must-visit foodie destinations by championing the produce, producers, farmers, chefs and restaurants of the Orange region at F.O.O.D Week in 2021.

I for one am a foodie after working for years on food magazines. Little did I know in the years prior to moving to Orange, my husband would use my connection to food to encourage me to see Orange as a future lifestyle and home for our family.

What is the formula for a successful event festival?

One of our locals Robbie Robinson and wild mushroom forager; @themarketcat recounts that his time on the very first F.O.O.D week committee was organising the very first program for 1992.  “I remember the great teamwork, friendship and cooperation of all the committee members and believing in the concept right from the start. These were wonderful times to achieve this together”.

Although many of the signature events have sold out, the program is jam packed with many experiences to enjoy over the course of the 10-day period. You can check out this year’s event schedule here.

Here are some of my suggestions to discover which still have availability;

Enjoy a morning walking tour uncovering the delicious culinary delights of Orange on the Tasting Trail with Country Food Trails. You also have the chance to WIN a tour for 2 on Central West Mums here!

Shining the Light on Orange producers is a show and tell taste workshop and you can meet Angela Argyle from Argyle Saffron here too.

Attend a demonstration and tasting at the Orange Fermentary which is a multi-day event on mornings and afternoons.

For those who love their bubbles, a Sparkling masterclass with Printhie Wines, who are considered one of Australia’s top sparkling producers with their Swift Sparkling range.

If you fancy a hit of golf while visiting, you can play on one of the finest golf courses between here and the Hunter Valley at Duntryleague Orange here.

Enjoy the very best Orange has to offer and bring your friends and family to explore this fabulous region!


The Four Pillars Of Successful Business Expansion

Caught up in the day to day work?

Rachel Clarke, Client Manager at Findex Orange shares what small businesses need to know about expansion planning.

When you’re working in small business, it can be very easy to get caught up in the business of day to day work. This is even more the case when you’re working on a start-up or a side hustle, where you need to be Head of Sales, Chief Packer, social media guru, culture cheerleader, CFO and chief bottle washer.

While it can seem like the impossible, it’s critical to set some time aside on a regular basis to work on the business, not just in it. This is the time where you get to work on your strategy, consider your market feedback, hone your offering, and strengthen the foundations of your enterprise.

The time you’ll need to set aside will vary from person to person and business to business but at a minimum, you should be setting aside a day each quarter to reflect, re-plan and re-energise your business activities.

Once you know your market, have your product or service developed and you’ve established demand, business growth, at its core, fundamentally becomes a simple mix of maths and discipline.

Putting aside the time to reflect and adjust your approach is part of the discipline of running a successful and growing business. If maths isn’t your strong suit, then look at outsourcing the basics and getting an accountant or business coach to run the numbers of your core drivers and performance for you, so you have the summary to work with.

The same goes for expansion planning. Engage the right skills sets to do the crunch work for you and allow yourself the time to reflect on the learnings and messages this holds, so you can spend your time where it has the most impact.

Every successful business has three key pillars and, as it expands further, there are four.


Whether it be a service business or a product business, production (sourcing, manufacturing, delivering) is a fundamental requirement for the business to succeed. You need to have a great offering, and you need to deliver it well and deliver it consistently


This can be a combination of things depending on your business and its target market. It might be social media, it might be pricing, presentation in shop, or engagement in the community. It’s a focus on what your customers want, and how to present it to them.


This is knowing your gross market, your breakeven point, your trigger point for expanding to that administration assistant or sales assistant. It can include your banking relationship, and cashflow funding, and it definitely includes your cashflow planning.


As you expand, you’ll also need to consider hiring, contracts, Fair Work, payroll, super, reporting, management, development and promotion.

The first three pillars are essential to every business, and the fourth to those that have grown to require additional staff.

All of these require someone in the business who is both good at them, and passionate about them. It’s near impossible for one person to be both good at and excited about all of these things, so it’s highly advisable to outsource the elements of these pillars that you don’t care for yourself. This might expand to your spouse, a trusted employee, a business partner, or you might hire in the skill set that you don’t have strength in yourself.

Setting aside time to look at the business, rather than being stuck in the thick of the day to day, will help you to adjust your strategy to cover all the pillars your business needs to succeed. The opportunity cost if you don’t invest your time can be significant.

For more information or to speak to a member of the Findex Business Advisory team, visit findex.com.au or email the Findex Orange office at https://www.findex.com.au/office/orange 


Findex (Aust) Pty Ltd ABN 84 006 466 351While all reasonable care is taken in the preparation of the material in this document, to the extent allowed by legislation Findex accept no liability whatsoever for reliance on it. All opinions, conclusions, forecasts or recommendations are reasonably held at the time of compilation but are subject to change without notice. Findex assumes no obligation to update this material after it has been issued. You should seek professional advice before acting on any material. This document contains general information and is not intended to constitute legal or taxation advice. If you need legal or taxation advice, we recommend you speak to a qualified adviser. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
© Findex Group Limited 2021. All rights reserved.

This post is sponsored by Findex


Covid Vaccine, The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Last week I had my first covid vaccine- the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Developed by a team based in Oxford, UK, this vaccine has had some really bad press recently. I’ve got to be honest, it floored me. I spent 3 days off work, feeling really unwell, with high fevers, muscle aches, and awful fatigue. And in 12 weeks, I’m going to have another one. Am I anxious about feeling that unwell again? No, because if it means I’m reducing my risk of catching Covid-19, and more importantly, spreading it to more vulnerable members of the community, then, in my opinion, a couple of days of feeling unwell are definitely worth it.

The science (The good)

The vaccine is a non-replicating virus vector vaccine, not a live vaccine. It doesn’t reproduce the virus in your body, so you cannot give someone else covid-19 by having the vaccination. Instead the vaccine works by producing the antigen to the virus, thereby eliciting an immune response in the body, essentially “priming” our immune system in readiness for exposure to covid-19.

Efficacy rates of 63% – 76% against Covid-19 have been quoted for the AZ vaccine, with the World Health Organisation stating that anything about 50% efficacy will help control the pandemic. Furthermore, trial data for the astra-Zeneca vaccine have shown no hospitalisations or deaths in people who contracted covid-19 after being immunised. Countries which are ahead of us with their vaccine programme, have shown really positive results, in terms of cases dropping, fewer hospitalisations and deaths.

The second “booster” vaccine is given 4-12 weeks after the first, but there have been reports that efficacy of the vaccine improves when the gap between vaccines is closer to 12 weeks, hence Australia’s vaccine programme being 12 weeks between doses.

The bad

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it has side effects in some people. I was the unlucky one in my practice – my colleagues all seemed to have very few side effects, so nasty side effects certainly aren’t universal.

Very common side effects in the 1-2 days following vaccination include:

  • pain, tenderness or local swelling in the arm where you had your injection
  • feeling tired
  • feeling generally unwell
  • headache
  • general muscle aches
  • fever
  • chills
  • joint pain
  • nausea

Advice is to take regular Panadol and ibuprofen, and in most cases side effects settle within 1-3 days. If they are going on longer, you should seek advice from your health professional.

Side effects are not an allergy to the reaction, and should not prevent patients receiving the second immunisation. The good news is that anecdotal reports from countries who are ahead of us with the vaccine programme- side effects are far reduced with the second AstraZeneca vaccine, so hopefully I won’t need another 3 days off work in 12 weeks’ time!

The ugly

In Europe, various countries stopped giving the AZ vaccine after a few cases of an incredibly rare thromboembolic event (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis- CVST) occurred in people who had received the vaccine.

The rates are incredibly low- 25 cases reported from over 20 million vaccines given. Women under 55 appears to be the most at risk, with these thromboembolic events typically happening 4-10 days after vaccination. Obviously they are now frantically researching whether there is a causal link between the vaccine and these rare, but potentially incredibly serious, side effects. The countries who had paused vaccination programmes because of this potential risk, have now restarted their programmes, as there is no causal link at this stage and the risks are vastly outweighed by the benefits of the covid-19 vaccination.

Anaphylaxis is the other important risk with any vaccination. People who have experienced an anaphylactic reaction to a previous vaccine must inform their doctor of this when they attend for immunisation. The clinics are set up to manage anaphylactic reactions, and all staff giving the vaccines are well trained at managing these situations. Most anaphylactic restrooms occur within 30 minutes of receiving the vaccine, so people who have suffered a severe allergy in the past, will be monitored for at least 30minutes to ensure they are well post-vaccine (everyone is monitored for at least 15minutes after immunisation).

Who is currently able to receive the vaccine

We are currently in phase 1b of the immunisation programme.

Covid vaccinations and the appointments to receive the vaccine are free for all patients.

Who can be vaccinated under phase 1b?

People eligible for vaccination under phase 1b are:

  • Elderly people aged 70 and over
  • Healthcare workers currently employed and not included in Phase 1a
  • Household contacts of quarantine and border workers
  • Critical and high risk workers who are currently employed
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged  55 years and over
  • Adults with an underlying medical condition or significant disability

If you are unsure whether you qualify, there is an excellent tool you can use this government health website

Phase 2 involves immunising the remainder of the Australian adult population, and the timing of this rollout is not yet entirely clear.

Phase 3 involves immunising children, if it is recommended. There are currently trials going on in the UK and other countries to look at the efficacy of immunising our children against covid-19.

Where can I get my covid-19 vaccination?

The Central Western Daily produced a list of all the clinics offering covid-19 vaccination from 22nd March. Other GP clinics may well administer vaccines during phase 2 of the vaccination programme. If you are unsure, please contact your usual GP practice who will be able to advise you on your options.

Orange clinics administering vaccines from week one of Phase 1B:

  • Colour City Medical Practice
  • Orange Family Medical Centre
  • The Wellness House
  • Orange Aboriginal Medical Service
  • Orange Respiratory Clinic

Central West clinics administering vaccines from week one of Phase 1B:

  • Medispring Family Medical Centre (Cowra)
  • Cowra Respiratory Clinic (Cowra)
  • Forbes Medicine and Mind (Forbes)
  • Forbes Medical Centre (Forbes)
  • Loxley House Family Practice (Bathurst)
  • Westpoint Medical Practice (Bathurst)
  • Kelso Medical Centre (Bathurst)
  • Bathurst Respiratory Clinic (Bathurst)
  • Lithgow Valley Medical Practice (Lithgow)
  • Bowenfels Medical Practice (Lithgow)
  • Dubbo Family Doctors (Dubbo)
  • Mudgee Respiratory Clinic (Mudgee)

What about flu immunisations?

We are coming up to influenza season, and the immunisations will be rolling out for this, alongside covid-19. You need to have at least 14 days between receiving flu vaccine and covid-19 vaccine, otherwise there is a risk of the 2 vaccines cancelling each other out and you not developing immunity against either. I have concerns that after last year’s lockdown, where many of us were not exposed to the usual number of “winter viruses” we could have a severe flu season, and will therefore be encouraging all my patients to have their flu immunisations, as well as covid-19.

Don’t forget Testing

Whilst we hope the vaccination programme leads to a significant reduction in covid-19 cases across the world, we are going to have to live with covid-19 for a while to come, and it’s effects are as dangerous now as they were a year ago. We need to remain vigilant, continue our social distancing, hygiene, and most importantly go for testing if we develop symptoms. Even with immunisation, we can still catch covid-19, and we need to protect everyone in our community.

If you have any concerns and questions about covid, and about the vaccine, please speak to your doctor- we’ve all gone through lots of training recently on the vaccination process and also on covid in general!


  1. The Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine: what you need to know


  1. AZD1222 vaccine met primary efficacy endpoint in preventing COVID-19


  1. Information on AstraZeneca covid-19 vaccination


  1. Information on COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca (ChAdOx1-S) in NSW


  1. COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker


  1. COVID-19 vaccination program phase 1b


  1. COVID-19 vaccination in Orange: where to get the Phase 1B jab






Decluttering – The Science Behind Getting SORTED!

Decluttering can be therapeutic, so what’s the science behind it?

The overwhelming international success of Japanese declutter enthusiast Marie Kondo must have some substance to it. What with the millions of books sold on the topic, Marie’s Netflix series, reality TV shows and info segments on our free to air TV channels must mean we are all looking for more of that feeling – whatever that is – we love it!
It’s not surprising that our physical environment influences our cognition, emotions and subsequent behaviours.

A little research gleans so much science – which I hope you find as fascinating as I do.

The human brain likes order, and so when clutter and chaos are present this has shown to increase cortisol (stress hormone) levels. This has a flow on effect on stress, anxiety, impaired immunity, reduced sleep quality, and even weight gain due to lowered metabolism.
A study of women in 2009* with increased cortisol had untidy and cluttered homes, and this correlated to depressive symptoms in addition to heightened anxiety.  Mess in the home may be a sign of depressive illness, as well as a symptom. In more extreme situations, the habits shown by hoarders with loss of insight and ability to manage are signs of more severe mental health issues.

On the upside – other women in the 2009* study who did not have elevated cortisol lived in clean, tidy and more organised homes – which in turn reduced their distraction with any mess and clutter. These women ate better, were more focussed, exercised more regularly and slept better.

An English Neuroscientist, Sophie Scott from University College London agrees that decluttering and tidying practices, such as colour coordinating a bookcase or sorting out a pantry act as rewards, stimulating dopamine, the neurotransmitter known as the brain’s pleasure chemical.

Conversely, there are some people whose brain plays tricks on them and they actually feel physical pain when throwing things away.  This would underpin the behaviours of those who find it exceedingly difficult to part with objects others would not have issues with – or perhaps enjoy.

So whether it is the positive dopamine from your organised home, or the negative cortisol from the chaos – one thing is for sure, there is a lot of agreement that being organised is beneficial in many ways for one’s wellbeing.

While we continue to work alongside our home organising clients, we may not impact 11 million like Marie Kondo – but we do know that the lives we change on a daily basis are heart-warming, and now we have the scientific evidence to boot, which must Spark Joy!

*Nov 2009, Personality & Psychology Bulletin, “No place like home…” Repetti, R. Saxbe, D.E.


Autumn Gardens, Central West, NSW

It’s Autumn and a colourful season to enjoy your garden. If you haven’t established your garden yet, here are some great tips from a local who has been working on ‘Anfield’ since 2010.

Autumn has arrived, and it’s one of my favourite seasons in the garden with its cooler temperatures and stunning autumn coloured trees and falling leaves. Orange definitely has four distinct seasons, which on occasion we can see all four seasons in one day.

Hi, I’m Josie and I moved to Orange from Sydney in the autumn of 2006 with my husband and two children. We purchased some acreage that we named ‘Anfield’ on the outskirts of town in 2010 and that was the beginning of my gardening journey.

I’m definitely no expert however I’ve become passionate and obsessed about my garden, possibly from my self-diagnosed OCD which I was once told was an attribute, so I’m going with that. I will admit however to owning every Paul Bangay book ever published, and COVID permitting we are touring his famous garden ‘Stonefields’ this coming April in Victoria. We have also drawn inspiration from Mayfield Gardens in Oberon which we have visited on numerous occasions and at different times of the year.

What is growing in your garden? Perhaps try some of these edibles in your fruit and vegetable garden.

We are lucky to call Orange home with its cool climate that allows us to grow a variety of plants that are the envy of others in warmer climates. Edibles such as fruit trees all do well here in Orange. We have planted different varieties of apples, cherries, pears, plums, apricots, nectarines, peaches, figs and quince just to name a few and all do exceptionally well. And if you’re thinking that you don’t have the space for a full sized tree, then a miniature variety may be a good option for you. Just be mindful when planting fruit trees to check their cross pollination requirement to ensure that your tree will set fruit.

In conjunction with fruit trees our cool climate lends itself to plant ornamental (deciduous) trees. And if you’re looking for spectacular autumn colour that range from reds, yellows and browns, there are so many ornamental trees to choose from. We have maples that turn red, claret ash that turn claret, golden ash that turn yellow just to name a few. A favourite of mine would be the Autumn Blaze maples which line our driveway and already have started to turn a rusty red colour. You don’t have to look far to see all the beautiful autumn coloured trees just by driving around town.

We love our veggie patch…

Our garden would not be complete without the veggie patch with home-made raised beds that we built from sleepers. This has made gardening so much easier as we are not so low to the ground, and aesthetically looks so much neater with mulch pathways to walk on.  This season we have grown tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, strawberries, corn, peas, and beans, pumpkin just to name a few crops. We also dedicate a few beds to perennials such as raspberries, rhubarb, and asparagus. Currently in the veggie patch we have broccoli, spinach, kale, cabbage and cauliflower. The only thing we have to be careful of is not to plant crops too early in the spring time, as we can sometimes get a late frost which will kill off any plants.

Anyone starting out with a sunny spot I would recommend planting strawberries, as most kids love them.  They can be planted in pots, hanging baskets, raised beds or in the ground. They are a perennial plant which will come back each spring but need to be replaced every 2 to 3 years. Watching my two grandchildren picking and eating strawberries gives me so much joy, they are only 2 and 3 years of age and have quickly learnt  that the red strawberries taste the sweetest, and teaching children about where food comes from is an invaluable life skill. All kids seem much more interested in eating something that they have seen and helped grow and have picked off the plant, and at least you will have the added benefit of knowing it’s organic.

Spring flowering bulbs also grow well in our cool climate, and now is the time to start thinking about buying your bulbs to plant. I will be planting some more tulips and daffodils, and the time to plant them is around mother’s day, so it’s easy to remember. I do admit that it can be a bit of work digging numerous holes with nothing to show for it, but I guarantee that come springtime I always always wish I had planted more!!

Our garden maintenance presently…

Currently in our garden we are cutting back the summer flowering perennials that are now looking tired and weary. Our lavender is cut back this time every year to prevent it from going woody. I’m about to pull out my flowering annuals, consisting mainly of petunias, and replacing them with pansies which are a good option as there are lots of pretty colours to choose from and also can tolerate cooler temps. Mulching is a continuous job, trimming up hedges, dead heading roses and the list goes on…. But at the end of the day when I look out and see some pretty flowers that when it’s all worth it.

Happy Gardening,

Josie Sanders

Instagram: @anfieldgardens

Facebook: Anfield Gardens



Millthorpe, The Commercial – Life Lessons From A Victorian Building

Have you ever considered buying a pub?

Last August, my brother and I bought the Commercial Hotel in Millthorpe. Built in 1877, the building had seen far, far better days.

Bringing the Commercial back to life has been hard, and often extremely boring work. It wasn’t until I had a lot of sweat equity in the 143-year-old building that I realised it had life lessons to share.

90% of painting is prep.

The colour scheme was James-Sheahan-winter-uniform on walls. The delicious anticipation that went with finally deciding on a colour faded to a distant memory as I pulled out old picture hooks, filled the holes and sanded them.  I metho cleaned; inside and out, each of the 97 panes of glass on the front of the building and taped them. Then I taped kilometres (no exaggeration) of skirting, door frames and windows.

Painting was a total anticlimax.

Nothing stays perfect.

The Commercial was full of right angles and straight lines when it was built. Now there’s neither. Anywhere. For a perfectionist, the total absence of symmetry was mind-bending.

I fast realised that if I didn’t accept the building’s imperfections, and my inability to make them perfect, I’d drive myself mad very quickly. Imperfection is part of the building’s old soul and now I kinda love the wonky bits.

Everyone does the best they can with what they’ve got.

Perhaps they couldn’t find a stud, so they kept drilling random holes until they did. Maybe they didn’t want to waste money on an expensive cast iron fireback when they could use and old manhole cover. They didn’t see any point going to the tip – overgrown garden beds are just as good.

As I loaded up the fifth skip, I grudgingly accepted that’s where they were at.

Sometimes their best is not very good.

Do your best with what’s left.

Things aren’t always as they seem

It was neat to know we owned a proper old brick cellar with those cool rails for the kegs to roll down from the street. Then we opened the trap door and it was hip deep in water, had a false floor made from layers of rotted wooden pallets and bread trays (so previous owners didn’t have to stand in the water) and a floor full of sludge. We cleaned it out with a shovel, buckets and a rope.

Then we owned a proper old brick cellar with those cool rails for the kegs to slide down…

Sometimes we fall in love when we really shouldn’t.

It’s a commercial building and I should’ve kept the relationship professional. But after I’d touched nearly every surface while we were prepping and painting, had a few great surprises – and taken a few hits as well – I fell in love with it.


The Commercial taught me to look for what’s underneath. It taught me to be patient and to work hard. When it feels like it’s never going to end, work harder. It taught me to dream big and trust it’ll all be worth it in the end.

CONCLUSION 2 (it’s a bit advertorial):

It’s no cliché to say that it took a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get the Commercial Quarters accommodation up and running last December.

We’re just waiting for our beautiful Smartstone bar and a few other super-special details to arrive and the Commercial Hotel and Kitchen will be up and running in the next couple of months.

I hope you love The Commercial as much as we do.

The Commercial Quarters is located at:

29 Park Street, Millthorpe

Ph: 0408 344 999



International Women’s Day – How Duntryleague Is Walking The Talk

Who inspires you in your local community around International Women’s Day?

Central West Mums member Jo Hunter sat down with Michelle Carroll from Duntryleague Golf Club for an International Women’s Day inspired chat.

Jo: Michelle, tell us a little about your role of Secretary Manager of Duntryleague Golf Club?

Michelle: My position oversees all the operations and finances of the golf club – golf, retail, hospitality and accommodation. It is a big job with lots of areas to be across but I really enjoy what I do.

Jo: Golf has traditionally been a male centric industry. In 2018, Golf Australia engaged the Australian Human Rights Commission to develop Guidelines for the Promotion of Equal Opportunity for Women and Girls in Golf (Vision 2025) to help clubs address the imbalance. How is Duntryleague going with that?

Michelle: I’m really proud of where Duntryleague stands today in terms of gender equality and where we are heading. 66% of our operational leadership team are female, as are 25% of our board, which is reflective of our membership base. We no longer have male members and female members, we simply have golfing members and social members. The percentage of females in our member base is currently a little ahead of the national average of 20%. We hope to improve that even more. So Mum’s, if you are thinking of giving golf a go, we regularly offer female only beginner classes to get you started on the right track.

Jo: 2020 was a year that many businesses would be keen to forget. What impact did the pandemic have on Duntryleague?

Michelle: Golf Club Membership across Australia dropped to its lowest level in 20 years in 2019. Ironically it was the COVID-19 pandemic that has triggered a reversal to that trend. Despite the increase in golfers we have seen, it is really important that we remain agile and forward thinking as a golf club. We have a captive audience at the moment and we need to make sure we are continually looking for ways to improve – the golf course, our food, our service, our facilities, our openness. Our customers need to receive a first class experience day in day out.

Jo: Let’s talk about leadership – the theme for International Women’s Day this year is: Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world. What leadership advice do you have for other women?

Michelle: I lead with respect and empowerment. I want those who work for me to know they have a voice and that I trust their expertise. I give them autonomy, but at the same time everyone knows that above all we are a team.

Jo: What is your vision for Duntryleague?

Michelle: I want Duntryleague to be a place in Orange that everyone feels proud of and connected to – members and non-members alike. Our mansion and golf course are an integral part of Orange history. I want Duntryleague to be synonymous with a great experience – be that playing golf, dining in our restaurant, attending a wedding or other function or staying here.

Featured Image: L-R Sharon McGinley, Paula Smith, Michelle Carroll, Kristen Sherlock. Women form the majority of the Operational Leadership Team at Duntryleague.

Preventative Health, Central West

Did you know?

Chronic diseases are the leading cause of illness and disability in Australia today with 89% of deaths in 2018 associated with these chronic conditions.

These include;

Cardiovascular Disease, some cancers, Type 2 Diabetes and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Not included in this death rate but equally important is the rising burden of mental health disease which has significant adverse health outcomes for many Australians.

There has been a huge rise in these chronic conditions which are largely preventable. They are are associated with obesity, an increase in sedentary lifestyles, poor diet, smoking and excessive alcohol intake. It is important to note that not only are they the leading cause of premature death in Australia, they also impact negatively on how individuals are able to lead their lives – decreasing their quality of life.

Preventative health is a term used to describe a type of health care aimed at preventing illness, disease and other health problems as well as maintaining and improving overall health.

It is an important health initiative which if delivered efficiently, will reduce the number of Australians developing these diseases. This will increase individual’s quality of life and in turn improve the economic burden associated with managing these illnesses in our society.

Unsurprisingly, a healthy lifestyle is vital for preventing chronic disease.

This includes:

Eating a balanced and nutritious diet

This can help reduce the risk of developing lifestyle disease such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. Included in our diet should be 5 servings of vegetables and 2 servings of fruits every day. Healthy fats in things like avocado, fatty fish, nuts and oils should replace unhealthy fats (processed meats, hard cheese, butter etc.) and adequate proteins should be included in every meal. DO NOT do fad diets. They do not work and have serious health consequences as most recommend excluding an essential food group (for example carbohydrates).

Moving your body

Physical activity is one of the most important things we can do for our overall health. Not only does it increase life expectancy, it also makes us stronger; helps improve and mental health; helps maintain a healthy body weight; Reduces cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers; increases bone density and reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis; improves balance and decreases falls in the elderly.

Smoking cessation

Everyone knows that smoking is just BAD!! It is probably the single most avoidable cause of disease, disability and death. Yet people are still smoking. Smoking is known to increase the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. In addition, its expensive!!! Its $50 that could be better spent on a gym membership!!!

Limiting alcohol consumption

Alcohol is associated with a wide range of physical and social problems. Alcohol contributes to a major health burden in Australia. Harms related to drinking result in more than 4,000 deaths and 70,000 hospital admissions every year. Not only is it associated with a wide range of psychical problems; it also is associated with many social problems too (gambling and domestic violence).

The current Australia guidelines state that we should drink no more than 10 standard drinks in any week and no more than 4 drinks on any one day.

Remember that age, gender and other factors will influence this and the guidelines are a recommendation only. Alcohol is not recommended at all in pregnancy or when breastfeeding; and not recommended in children under 18 years of age.

Being sun smart

Every year in Australia skin cancers account for 80% of all cancer diagnosis. We have one of the highest incidences of skin cancer in the world; 2-3 times more than Canada, the UK and he US. Most skin cancers are directly related to sun exposure so it is imperative to be sun smart at all stages of life. The age-old mantra… slip, slop, slap, wrap and find some shade!!

Other important preventative health activities include immunisation programs, screening programs (e.g. cervical & breast screening) and opportunistic patient education.

Immunisation is recommended from birth for all children and then at particular stages throughout life.

Information and education is available from birth and systems such as the Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) and GP recall systems make it easier by sending out reminders which vaccination are due. There are certain groups of Australians in whom additional vaccinations are recommended and some in whom vaccinations are contraindicated.

Screening programs:

Cervical screening program

  • Women aged 25-74 years are invited to participate in the cervical screening program every 5 years. Women of any age who have symptom s (pain, bleeding etc.) should have a clinical assessment which may include a CST +/- co-test if appropriate.

Breast cancer screening:

  • Screening (mammogram) is offered for women aged between 50 and 74 years every 2 years for women at average risk of developing breast cancer. There are some women who are at an increased risk (family members with breast cancer) who may require earlier and more frequent testing +/- additional tests – Risk needs to be determined by your doctors.

Bowel cancer screening:

  • If detected early, bowel cancer can be treated in more than 90% of cases. The foecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a test that is sent in the mail every 2 years for those aged 50 – 74 years. For individuals who are at increased risk of developing bowel cancer (family history or certain bowel diseases) earlier screening +/- colonoscopy may be recommended. It may seem a bit weird playing with your poo… but it is far better than developing bowel cancer that is not picked up until it is too late!! So, don the gloves and get it done.

Other preventable health conditions:

Type 2 diabetes:

Type 2 diabetes is a condition of insulin resistance; risk factors include age, race, family history, women who have had gestational diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome and being overweight. GPs can identify those at high risk opportunistically or if you think you may be at increased risk present and ask to be tested for diabetes – a simple blood test.

Sexually transmitted disease:

Anyone who is sexually active should consider testing for sexually transmitted infections which include chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis. Particularly at risk of these disease are young people, men who have sex with men and those that participate in other risky behaviours (drug use). Many of these infections are asymptomatic but can have huge impacts on our reproductive organs which may affect fertility. Please don’t be embarrassed!! Most of these diseases can be screened for with a simple urine test; the blood borne viruses like HIV will need a blood test.

Cardiovascular disease and Cholesterol:

Cardiovascular risk assessment combines risk factors to calculate the probability that someone will develop a cardiovascular event (heart attack) or other vascular disease (Stroke). This should be started every 2 years from 45years on most individuals (earlier in some groups e.g. ATSI). This mostly involves a chat with you doctor, a simple examination (BP) and a blood test +/- other investigations.

These are only a few of the preventable diseases that impact on our health in Australia. Not mentioned is arthritis, back pain, chronic kidney disease, mental illness and osteoporosis. As you can see, many of these diseases are silent – therefore they are not picked up by the individual until they are advanced and have already caused some damage to the body.

This is why it is important to get yourself a good GP; and make sure you pay them a visit at least every year so that they can assess your risk and conduct appropriate investigation to maintain your health and prevent illness.


The Benefits Of Vacation Care for School Aged Children, Central West

School holidays are meant to be idyllic, right?  Long family board games, walks on the beach, picnics and trips to the movies. Making memories.  Ummm.  Sometimes.

And then sometimes school holidays go more like this…

…constant arguments about getting off technology. Away from screens. ‘Have some outdoor time’.  ‘Stop fighting with your sister’.  Boredom. Add in your work and home commitments and school holidays suddenly become something you dread. No idyllic holiday moments in this household.

A good quality Vacation Care Program benefits both children and parents. It provides stability and entertainment, giving parents space and opportunity to breathe. And work.

What to look for in a Vacation Care program

A good vacation care will encourage children to become active learners through thinking investigating, exploring and problem-solving. A good program is built on positive interactions, enriching experiences and providing a safe, happy and empowering environment.

Not battling to get them off screens or social media.

5 reasons to use your local vacation care

Keep the routine –

Maintaining a consistent routine is good for everyone’s wellbeing. Unfortunately, school holidays can disrupt even the best routine. Hello late nights and sleep in’s. It can be a hard few weeks settling back into the school term after the disruption.

But… with regular vacation care, your children will have a consistent morning routine. They will look forward to it as the program is engaging, fun and social.

Real ‘social’ …not screen social.

School holidays can make it more difficult for our children to have regular contact with their friends.  They may even feel isolated. But, at holiday care, or vacation care, they have the opportunity to not only see their friends regularly but also make new ones.

Vacation care also encourages group activities, like sports and team games. Interacting with other children means that they will continue to work;

  • communication
  • conflict resolution
  • empathy skills during the school holidays.
  • confidence and resilience.

Never, ever, bored. (that big scary word)

It’s no secret the phrase most parents detest is ‘I’m bored’.

That’s because school holidays can seem awfully long for parents and children if there isn’t a lot to keep them busy. Holiday care is a cost-effective solution.

Daily programs offer an action-packed schedule of hands-on creativity, exploration, investigation, and fun! From art & drama to science and sports.

Qualified ‘really fun’ educators

Finding a carer or babysitter in the holidays isn’t easy. After all there are only so many favours you can call in.  Most parents can’t take time off every holiday period to look after their children.  At Vacation Care, your child will be supervised, engaged, and encouraged at all times. Interacting with different adults in a relaxed, happy and friendly environment also improves children’s communication skills.

Time for yourself

We’ve said it before…this parenting gig is tough. School terms can feel like groundhog day again and again, and quite often we run ourselves ragged trying to keep on top of children, school, work, household, extended family and friends.

School holidays aren’t just about your kids. They can be a good reminder to take some time for yourself to be the very best parent you can be.

Right here in the Central West region

April School Holidays are approaching fast!  The Central West is lucky enough to be home to some of NSW’s most popular School Holiday / Vacation Care programs.

There’s something to engage the imagination of every child, and their friends.

Plus, we provide a healthy afternoon tea at no extra cost.

Kinross Wolaroi Vacation Care – ph: 0427 490 914

Bathurst West Vacation Care – ph: 0438 247 606

Kelso Vacation Care – 0427 490 914


You don’t need to attend the school to register for their Vacation Care Programme.

You don’t need to go every day – you can mix and match depending on your family needs – attending as little as a day a week, or full time.

About your local Vacation Care provider Gowrie NSW

At Gowrie NSW, we encourage your child’s natural curiosity, exploration and problem solving in our quality Vacation Care Centres. Our world-class educators and staff value and respect your child’s ideas, and support them to build positive relationships with others.

Our Vacation Care program is built on positive interactions, enriching experiences and providing a safe, happy and empowering environment.

Our parents say…

“I just wanted to thank you, and the team, for a wonderful term 3. My girls have been really happy attending care with Gowrie NSW this year, and it really comes down to the passion, creativity and interaction each of you are sharing with them.”

To secure your spot in a quality Vacation Care program call  (02) 8571 9700

This post is sponsored by Gowrie NSW


Magnificent Books to Read this March

The Central West Mums Book Club is
proudly sponsored by Colins Booksellers
230 Summer Street Orange.


Landscape design – Digging Deep and getting the ground work right

My kids realised pretty early on in their lives that I was the “20 questions Mum”.  In fact they warn their friends before meeting me for the first time!

I was always a ‘curious type’ however my profession as a landscape designer has highlighted the importance of asking the right questions up front to create the best plan for your favourite plants to grow and thrive in.

Before embarking on any outdoor design, big or small, I need to know “why, who, what, how and when”!

Sometimes all the questions asked seem a bit O.T.T, however if you don’t ask, the end result just won’t fit the users, project purpose or challenges of the site.

All the variants keep a landscape designer’s job very interesting indeed, as do the extreme seasonal changes that a garden is a ‘first responder to’.

Depending on where you are up to in life, your ‘driver’ for creating & keeping a garden will change as will your free time & resources for construction and maintenance.  These are the puzzle pieces that need to be put together in the right order to plan and build a garden from the ground up.  You don’t need to waste time planting the wrong things in the wrong place.

Call a landscape designer to get your ‘little piece of heaven’ growing right from the very start.


Recipe: Autumn Persimmon salad

How much do you love Autumn? It’s a wonderful time to be cooking for friends and family.

Autumn is a season that is favourable to most who live in the Central West region as weather is quite delightful and the cornucopia of produce flowing in from local farms and from our own gardens is wonderful.

I hosted monthly cooking classes at home until Covid-19 brought these to an abrupt end. I have always enjoyed showing people how simple it can be to put together delicious recipes with seasonal ingredients that are easily available.

The hero of the recipe

Persimmons are not a fruit people often think of to buy or even use in a salad, but they have such a beautiful colour and can be a hero of an Autumnal plate that pops with a wow factor!

You can also use them as a table decoration along with other items in your garden.

Autumn Persimmon salad


2 ripe Fuju persimmons

2 pieces of Buffalo mozzarella or Burrata Cheese (creamy cow’s milk cheese)

2-3 tablespoons roughly chopped hazelnuts (or you could substitute for walnuts), toasted without skins.

2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

2 tablespoons of Aged balsamic vinegar or pomegranate molasses for drizzling

2 tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

Flaky sea salt for finishing

Edible flowers can be purchased to include in the dish. (Available on request from most good grocers).

Radicchio leaf salad and baguette is lovely to serve on the side too.


  1. Trim and discard the stem from the persimmon and then slice thinly like a tomato and place carefully into a shallow dish.
  2. Pour one tablespoon of the balsamic or molasses and olive oil onto the persimmon to sit for a few minutes.
  3. Overlap the slices of persimmon on your serving plate and place the buffalo mozzarella or burrata in the centre.
  4. Scatter toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds around the plate and drizzle the olive oil and remaining balsamic or pomegranate molasses
  5. Just before serving, break the cheese apart and season with salt to your taste and finish with remaining some olive oil.
  6. Place some edible flowers around the plate and radicchio leaf salad with olive oil, salt and pepper and baguette on side.



Kid’s Water Party

Would you like to plan your child’s Birthday Party with a water theme?

All you need is some inspiration and a little creativity to hold a really fun water party for your child. You do not even need a swimming pool!   This party is generally themed for School aged kids; 6+ years although you can keep the younger siblings happy too with a few ideas outlined below.

Keep in mind though, that whenever young kids are around; water safety is important. Never leave young children unsupervised.

Theme colours: blue, green, white, silver

Food: (that can be eaten with wet hands) Ocean theme for young children with jelly cups and sea creature cupcakes or for older kids;  Camo cupcakes, Target cake

Decoration: Camo prints

Games: This is by no means an extensive list, though should keep the kids occupied for hours!

Dunking station – Throw water balloons or a soft ball at a target to release a overhead water bucket on a kid seated underneath. See here for enquiries.

Obstacle course – Run around a track, under camo netting (buy meterage from spotlight), through a kids pool, over ladders, across balance beams.  If you’re handy you can make the obstacles, or buy from stores. Spray paint cardboard boxes as things kids can hide behind for cover,

Water gun battle – Every kid gets a water gun. You’ll need a filling station, we found these X Shots are the quickest to refill, just dunk them in a water filled blow up pool. You can give the kids white T-shirts and dye the water so it’s more obvious who is wet, and what team got you.

Beach Ball races – each team has a very large beach ball. They have to get the ball from one end of the park to the other using only water gun power.  No hands

Water bomb catch – overfill balloons, have the kids line up in two lines and throw to their team mate.

Water bomb shot put

Sponge relay – fill a bucket with water using sponges dunked in a bucket far away. See ideas here.

Water bomb piñata – overfill large punching bag balloons with water.

Younger kids may prefer a water blob to play or lay on. DIY instructions see Pinterest. Younger kids might also like to play with water balloons too.


A large pump action sunscreen, access to water, hand san, kids BYO towel, swim goggles and a dry change of clothes for the ride home.

Party gift: Wet bag; filled with trinkets and lollies


Central West, NSW, Mushroom Foraging

Mushroom Foraging in the High Country of the Central West region of NSW.

Have you ever been curious about how to forage for mushrooms? Robbie Robinson shares his expert knowledge with us at Central West Mums.

Foraging was a “God send” during the lockdown months of the 2020 pandemic. I jump in the car with a few wicker baskets and head to the Canobolas State Forest on the outskirts of Orange NSW; 1000 metres above sea level. Within 20 minutes I am surrounded by the beauty and tranquility of radiata pines, kangaroos, bird life, foxes, occasional wild deer and the magic world of wild mushrooms.

Autumn is the season for picking wild mushrooms

From February to late July my occupation is forager, searching for, and harvesting wild mushrooms for restaurants, cafes, and private clients throughout central western NSW, Sydney and Brisbane. During an average season I would gather 500kgs of wild mushrooms, mainly Saffron Milk Caps (Lactarius Deliciosus), Slippery Jacks (Suillus Granulatus) and Lilac Wood Blewits (Lepista Nuda) all  excellent culinary mushrooms with many uses in the kitchen.

These particular mushrooms have a symbiotic relationship to the root system of the pines which also helps distinguish them in the forest. The harvest varies every year, depending mainly on rainfall and soil temperature, one can never guarantee the availability of wild mushrooms. Generally, during the season I forage for 3-4 hours a day,  5-6 days a week depending on my client needs and availability.

Wandering through the forest on a beautiful sunny day gathering mushrooms, is great exercise for the body, mind and soul, I ALWAYS come home feeling better for my time in the forest, foraging is recommended for people of all ages.

I love taking friends into the forest and passing on the skills I have learnt over the past 30 years, foraging in different parts of Australia, the UK, Italy, Ireland and Japan.

As a fresh vegetable the mushrooms are packed into small cardboard boxes (3-4kgs), with layers of green pine needles to buffer them during transport. Chefs are very pedantic when it comes to fresh produce, they want it in the kitchen in the best possible condition after harvest, so all care is taken with the packing and transport. All packed mushrooms travel in refrigerated transport to their destination, this guarantees freshness and visual appeal. Only the best mushrooms are gathered for the restaurant trade, which means picking the best 10% and leaving the remainder for other kitchen processes.

When there are excess mushrooms, I dry them (naturally and dehydrator), blanch and freeze, make chutney, pickle with sea salt and powder them into a sprinkle, there are so many ways to value add to this incredible crop. During this pandemic year, the fresh trade was severely limited, mainly to private clients and local restaurants doing take away meals. Lots of value added products have been produced this year, as it was a “bumper crop”, especially for the saffron milk cap variety.

My favourite wild mushroom is the Lilac Wood Blewit, only found in late autumn and into early winter. They are very rare in this region, I forage about 2-3 dozen each year, they always appear in the same places usually after several frosts or snow. They are a soft lavender colour with a citrus, floral aroma and a nutty earthy flavour, retaining their colour during  cooking.

I love them cooked as a separate dish, quickly sautéed in the wok with peanut oil, fresh thyme, and a little garlic. However they are very versatile and can be used in any dish that requires mushrooms. This mushroom must ALWAYS be cooked as it contains a compound that will unsettle the stomach if eaten raw.


The main mushroom foraging regions in NSW are in the pine forests of the central and southern tablelands. These forests can be easily found at Forestry Corporation. State forests are public lands and allow you to forage for wild mushrooms. In the Oberon district the Tourist Information Centre is very helpful with organising mushroom foraging trips with experienced foragers.

The Oberon Tourist Information centre notes;


In Orange, The Market Cat conducts mushroom adventures into the local forests during the Autumn months.

Always learn your foraging skills from someone who is experienced, there is also additional information available on the internet, local libraries and bookshops.

Good authors with books about Australian Wild Mushrooms include:

Bruce Fuhrer

Alison Pouliot

A.M. Young

Also this website:  www.fungimap.org.au

Maps of forest regions within New South Wales are available for purchase from www.forests.nsw.gov.au The Central West Forest Map ($12) contains information on mushrooming as well as the forests in the Orange, Bathurst, and Oberon areas. Good to have in the car.

Please remember that all wild mushrooms need to be cleaned by either brushing with a small brush and/or wiping with a damp cloth. Slippery Jacks should be peeled off their brown outside skin to reveal a yellow/white flesh. It is best to avoid wet or sodden wild mushrooms, especially of the Slippery Jack variety, which have the capacity to absorb water like a sponge. The Slippery Jacks are also prone to attack from insects or slugs, just cut away these areas and  continue.

Foraging for wild mushrooms, requires you to carry a small knife to cut the mushroom stalk, a small brush (a shaving brush is best) to clean away dirt or pine needles from the mushrooms, a basket or two, to carry  the mushrooms. Baskets are good because they allow the mushroom spores to fall through onto the forest floor. A rag is also handy for wiping anything from the mushrooms, your hands or knife. Work boots are the best footwear. Remember the forest can also be wet and with rough terrain.

To see more of Robbie’s amazing mushroom foraging check out @themarketcat on Instagram.

Robbie also shares two of his favourite recipes for you to try after your first forage.

Wild Mushroom (Saffron Milk Caps) Chutney

1kg saffron milk caps cleaned and cut into small bite sized pieces

3 medium apples, cored and chopped into pieces

3 medium onions finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

30gm piece of ginger, finely chopped

250gm raisins

300ml fresh orange juice

650ml white wine vinegar

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tbsp all spice

2 tsp turmeric

400gm soft brown sugar

Large pinch of ground black pepper

In a large saucepan place the mushrooms, apples, onions, garlic, ginger and raisins with vinegar and orange juice. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and down sweat for 5 minutes.

Add the salt, allspice, turmeric and pepper and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Then add the sugar and boil slowly for 2 hours or until thick. Allow to cool then transfer to sterilised jars.

Sterilise your jars by washing used or new jars in hot soapy water, then rinse. Fill with boiling water and stand for 3 minutes. Discard the water. In a tub or bowl, do the same with the lids. They are now ready to fill with chutney. Fix the lids on firmly and keep in a dark, cool place. Once opened store in the fridge and eat within a week.

This chutney has many uses, can be added to soups, slowed cooked dishes, cheese plates or spicy dishes including curries. A wonderful all round condiment.

Pan Fried Wild Mushrooms (a combination of Saffron Milk Caps, Lilac Wood Blewits and/or Slippery Jacks)

Slice wild mushrooms into small pieces, a handful for each person. Cook the mushrooms in olive oil on the stove top with several cloves of sliced garlic. After 5-10 minutes of cooking, stirring with a wooden spoon, add a cup of dry white wine and a mixture of finely chopped fresh herbs like rosemary, parsley, thyme and oregano, or any other savoury green herbs. Also add the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of sea salt.

Cook until the liquid has reduced to a thick sauce. Eat immediately with fresh crusty bread. Sea salt and freshly ground pepper as desired

Wild mushrooms can be substituted for traditional commercial mushrooms in any recipe. Remember they have a more robust earthy flavour and add more colour, texture and character to any dish when used.

Good foraging 🍄🍄


How-To Create A Home Music Studio

Are you looking for ideas to create a music studio room at home? How about using a shipping container?

What started out as a September School Holiday project has blown out a little, but its well worth it.  This Mumma of a Drummer was punching out too many grey hairs and had to create some sort of sound-proofed studio for her aspiring musicians.  The garage was too close to the house, and the garden shed too cold and leaked.  So we removed the garden shed, and installed a shipping container.  I thought it would be relatively quick and straight forward, but the installation process was scarier than we thought.

The Process…

After removing fence panels, and transplanting bulbs from the garden bed, Bathurst Towing gently and carefully tipped the shipping container into position.  The fit was perfect, and my drummer and aspiring guitarist wanted to move in straight away.  The dogs thought there were rabbits living underneath the container, but we finally managed to convince them otherwise.

Having a good team of tradespeople is essential –

Derek Ashpole of Repairs and Renos Orange (ph: 0404 612 120) decided he would take on this crazy project, and after installing lights and power, and sourcing second hand windows and a sliding door, he was able to install Earthwool insulation and line the shed with pine board.  Unfortunately the October rains halted the process, and after adding a corrugated iron roof and a little verandah the studio was complete.

A very kind friend spent two days helping me seal the pine board, which dried very quickly, and my drummer just had to move in.  A “grass rug” helped soften the impact of the sound on the pine boards and while the jury is still out on whether we need to put acoustic panels on our beautiful walls but the addition of a banner announcing the band has certainly inspired my musicians.

Blue Collie Studios logo was beautifully, designed by Claire at Roadtrip Creative here in Orange, instantly meeting the brief of blokey but stylish, and was able to reformat the image for a banner in an instant.  Claire really is a legend.

Mumma has managed to make the IT work, and the recording studio is almost complete.  I realise there is always a little painting to be done somewhere, and the roses in the garden could grow a little faster, but the boys love the space, and I have been known to sneak in for some quiet time too.


The Kitchen Garden – A Simple Guide To Making Your Own Compost

Compost is gold in the garden…

Better yet, it’s super easy to make, the whole family can be involved and it’s the ultimate in recycling. You can feel good about doing your small bit for the planet by diverting waste from landfill whilst also creating a wonderfully nutrient rich soil in your very own back garden. Your plants will love you for it.

Compost is basically a mixture of garden and food waste. There are many recipes and containers available for making compost. All have their value. The simplest method is to layer.

You will need:

An old garbage bin with a lid
Gardening gloves
Dry waste (such as straw, shredded paper)
Kitchen waste (do not use meat, fish or dairy products as this will attract vermin)
Garden waste (such as lawn clippings, old plants and soil)

Cut out the entire bottom of the garbage bin and press holes in the sides to create airflow.

You’re now ready to make compost!

Layer your waste. Dry waste first. Kitchen waste second. Lastly, garden waste. Water in thoroughly and put on the lid.

Keep adding layers as and when you need. From now on, always cover your kitchen or garden waste with a layer of dry waste, remembering to water in well and cover.

Once your bin is full, mix the compost and wait for it to break down.  You’ll know it’s ready to use when it turns into a beautiful dark and flaky soil.

Use generously around the garden. Particularly in the veggie patch. Once you’ve made a batch, you’ll want a few bins on the go. Trust me, it’s addictive!



What To Look Out For In A Before And After School Program

Here is a guide on what to look for in a before and after school care program

This parenting business is a tough gig. The decisions you need to make (and continue to make) impact on the wellbeing of the most precious thing in the world to you – so it’s fair to say, you don’t take them lightly.

Finding an outside of school hours program that does more than simply ‘babysit’ your primary school-aged child is a good starting point.  Find a before and after school care that encourages your child’s natural curiosity, exploration and problem solving. You want the educators and staff to value and respect your child’s ideas, and to support them to build positive relationships with others…

and you want a program built on positive interactions, enriching experiences and a safe, happy and empowering environment.

As a parent, you should expect dedicated, qualified educators who encourage, guide and nurture your school aged child into flourishing learners and contributors.

Regardless of whether your work schedule requires care, there are many positive benefits to sending your child to a good quality before and after school care centre.

Benefits of Outside of School Hours Care

Interesting Learning Experiences

Many before and after school care programs offer day to day, and speciality programmes based on children’s interests. Less maths and English…more activities like:

  • Craft and creativity projects
  • Science exploration
  • Construction using recycled and loose part objects
  • Small group games
  • Physical skills games
  • Artist in Residence
  • Sports clinics
  • Drama and performance

And because we have there are different age groups (5 – 12  years usually), your child will be interacting, learning and playing with children in their own age group; or another if they prefer.

A sense of belonging

A good quality outside of school hours program is a fantastic way for your child to make new friends and connect with peers in a new setting giving them a strong sense of belonging.

Improved social skills.

A good quality outside of school hours program promotes cooperation, support, and respect. This can help children feel more secure about joining a game or starting a conversation and increase self-esteem.

Homework Club

One of the greatest benefits of an after-school program is that many have homework clubs.  So instead of the nightly routine of juggling homework with bedtime routines and video games, your night will be a little calmer knowing your child has already completed the following day’s tasks… and studies have shown this provides a solid structure for success, and helps their confidence.

But first, Let’s ask the right questions

Before you jump in, here are some questions to ask your local provider, to make sure their Outside of School Hours Care is right for your child.

The practical stuff

  • If the OSHC is not located on school grounds, how will my child travel to and from school to the OSHC service?
  • What are the fees charged and what do they include?
  • How far ahead do I need to book? Are places available when I need them? I work flexibly – am I able to swap days when I need to?
  • What qualifications and experience do the staff have?
  • What meals are provided?
  • My child has allergies – what is the centre policy
  • Can I talk to the educators and staff about my child’s needs and activities offered?
  • Is homework supervised?
  • Are any meals provided? Do they cater to special dietary needs (eg allergies)?
  • Do you administer medication if required?
  • What are the centre’s underlying values and how are they seen throughout the program?

The fun stuff

  • What activities do you offer for my child?
  • If my child doesn’t want to join in organised activities, is there supervised free play?
  • Is the environment stimulating and interesting?
  • Do you do any mindfulness, meditation or yoga with the children?
  • How do you support their wellbeing?
  • How is conflict resolutional managed at the centre?
  • Do you have a television and is it supervised?

If you do the research, and ask the right questions, your outcome will be more positive. A good quality after school hours care program guides and nurtures your school aged child…helping them develop into confident, flourishing learners and contributors.

This post is sponsored by Gowrie NSW.




Australian Saffron in the Central West

Angela Argyle from Argyle Australian Saffron has shared with us her journey of growing saffron with her husband after moving to the Central West in 2016.  Saffron wasn’t necessarily part of the dream in the beginning, though a having a passion for amazing produce and the discovery of learning the Orange climate was perfect growing conditions for what is sometimes referred to as ‘Good as Gold’ felt like the perfect business to start after their tree-change.

Tell us a little about yourself and your family?

My name is Angela Argyle, I am 42 and I live in Nashdale with my husband Brendon and our two girls Poppy (4) and Saffron (2). I grew up on a Beef and wheat farm just outside Tamworth, studied Visual Arts at Uni (I still paint), and have spent most of my career (and continue to do so as my “day job”) in Financial Services. Brendon is a kiwi, and has spent most of his career in charity fundraising, and he now heads up sales for The Orange App here in Orange.

Where did you choose to live in the Central West region?

It took us a long time to choose, but the key drivers were it is easily drivable to Sydney to see family and friends, has great education and medical facilities and resources, and is a culturally diverse and developing town. We also liked the growing food, wine and arts scene and saw a lot of potential for growing a business here.

Did you have an epiphany to move and start this business?

Not to move. Although I loved all 20 years of living in Sydney, my country upbringing has always coursed strongly through my veins and I always swore once I had kids I would go regional. In regards to the business, we originally moved out here to start a fruit pickers accommodation business, but after some horrendous experiences with councils backflipping on us and costing us unmentionable money, we had to pivot fast and come up with a new plan. I always had it in my head that we wanted to farm something boutique, and then one day we saw a saffron farmer on Landline, and it piqued my interest, so much so, that the next day I called the farmer directly to find out more. We have not looked back from that day, it changed our lives.

How large is your saffron farm? Are you increasing the volume of saffron you produce each year?

Our property is on 10 acres, however at the moment the saffron only takes up around 2 acres of this. Saffron multiplies in the ground, so each year we get 2-3 times the harvest as the previous year. Having said that, we are still selling out in a matter of months each year, so we will be expanding our crop substantially in 2022,

Why is the process of locally grown saffron higher quality than imported saffron?

The importation of saffron into Australia is unregulated, so unfortunately some of the time you are not actually buying saffron, but a dyed substitute which obviously does not hold flavour or any of the other benefits of saffron. The quality of saffron itself comes down to lots of variables, but soil, harvest processes, and how each farm dries the saffron are big factors. In Australia we tend to be a lot more focused on the quality of the end product, and so for example, we trim the stigmas carefully so you only get the most potent and active part of the stigma called the Negin. In our production, we actually use a different drying process to anyone else in Australia, and very unique to the world where we introduce humidity when we are drying. This has been proven to instantly lock in maximum colour, flavour and aroma by coating the red stigmas as they dry. The general feedback is that our saffron is much more potent than others, and therefore you use less per dish!

Are you planning to run workshops or tours so people can experience saffron farming?

Yes!! For the first time this year, likely around mid April, we are offering tours through Country Food Trails, to come and pick, strip and dry your own saffron. Tickets will be quite limited, so if you want to come and experience saffron farming first hand, register on our website for first access to tickets!

Tell us a fun fact?

Saffron is great for PMS, libido, and lots of other amazing health benefits! We are releasing a saffron facial oil in a few months time!

Where can families find your saffron when out and about in the Central West? To buy and to enjoy on a menu?

Straight from our website, and we deliver locally the next day!
We are also used by a couple of restaurants, Charred and Lolli Redini in Orange are regular users!

Would you like to share one of your personal special recipes?

Sure, my favourite is Saffron and rosewater lamingtons which you can find recipe here.


Saffron And Rosewater Lamingtons

Do you love saffron and looking for more recipes to use it?

This recipe has been contributed by Argyle Australian Saffron.

Ingredients (Cake)

50 g unsalted butter, softened & cut into pieces,

120 g castor sugar

4 eggs (room temp)

1 tsp vanilla extract

120 g self-raising flour

Ingredients (Icing)

Pinch of Argyle Australian Saffron (6-8 strands)

160 g full cream milk

1 tsp rosewater

30 g softened butter

500 g icing sugar

2 cups Desiccated coconut or shredded coconut, for coating


  1. Gently warm milk for icing & add saffron to steep for at least 60 mins.
  2. Preheat oven to 190°C & grease and line a square cake tin (20 cm) & set aside.
  3. Place sugar & eggs into a stand mixer & beat for 5-7 minutes. Then add unsalted butter & vanilla & mix on medium speed for 5 minutes.  Scrape down sides of mixing bowl & add self-raising flour. Mix for a further 30 seconds.
  4. Pour into prepared tin and bake for 25 minutes (190°C) until golden & springs back on touch. Allow to cool in tin for 5 minutes before transferring onto a wire rack. Once cooled, place into freezer for 30 minutes.
  5. Remove from freezer & cut into even squares; approx 5cms.
  6. Into a large bowl, add icing sugar, butter, saffron milk & rosewater & combine well. Into another large bowl place your coconut and then one by one, dunk the cake squares into the icing mix, then gently coat with the coconut.
  7. Once coated, refrigerate for one hour to set.

Central West – Heralding Of A Modern Arts And Crafts Movement

Are you looking for an arts and crafts hobby?

In the late 1800’s, a new movement of craftsmen and women emerged, dissatisfied with the arrival of industry and mass production, leading to a decline in the quality of goods produced. These revolutionaries were known as the “Arts and Crafts Movement”.

Today, there is a renewed push for handmade and handcrafted goods, with reasons behind this being as varied as the crafts themselves. Some people used the COVID-19 lockdowns to learn a new skill, others might be seeking to be more sustainable and eco-conscious, looking to know the story behind each object and where it is sourced from, or just to move away from the materialistic culture of fast fashion. Whether your chosen craft be pottery, woodworking or painting, there are huge benefits to having a creative hobby. It can bring solace in the meditative rhythm of the craft, and can be used as a mindfulness tool to take time away from the daily grind. Personally, I find it beneficial as a way to stop snacking, as my hands are always kept occupied!

Before the age of easy internet access, the way to learn a new craft would be to learn from a friend or relative, head down to Spotlight and look through the myriad of patterns, kits and fabrics available. Nowadays, there are a wealth of online shops, tutorials and easier access to high quality materials, such that these previously dying crafts are seeing a massive revival with more people not wanting to see these skills lost. Below are listed a few of the crafts that have been pushed into modernity.


Knitting has come a long way in the last 10-15 years. The designs have become more modern and not so garish – think Scandi chic. The online platform Ravelry has linked worldwide designers and boutique yarn producers, with incredible results. Even though knitting is very easy to learn and is accessible for people of all ages, there are always new techniques to learn, such as lace and Fair Isle knitting. If you’re looking to learn to knit, I would suggest Skein Sisters in Sydney for classes, or if you would like to self learn, Purl Soho has amazing tutorials on YouTube. Additionally, there are some groups which get together on a social basis if you want to meet other knitters, such as the Orange Purlers, Orange Spinners and Handcrafters and the Knitters Guild in Bathurst. There are also many different fibres to use, such as sheep, alpaca, silk, cotton and linen. I’m passionate about using natural fibres in my knitting, sourcing my wool from indie dyers and boutique wool producers. Some great shops to try are:


Spinning yarn is a very cathartic and calming craft. It can be done using a drop spindle, or with a spinning wheel or e-spinner.  It’s a craft that is easy to learn, but hard to master, with many supportive Facebook groups and a ton of Instagram pictures to drool over. If you’re looking to learn this craft, I would suggest classes run at the Handspinners Guild of NSW, based in Burwood, or The House Of Wool in Leura, and if you want to meet with a group socially, the Orange Spinners and Handcraft Group or the Bathurst Handweavers and Spinners are great groups to join. I enjoy spinning as it is eco-friendly, and I’m often able to trace the fibre back to where it was originally sourced. The yarn created by spinning can be used for knitting, or weaving fabrics on a loom. My hope for 2021 is to get a small flax crop planted in my garden, use the cut flax to spin linen and then weave some napkins. Some great places to find supplies are:


Sewing is a very practical hobby as it can be used to whip up garments and decor. Usually hand crafted garments last a lot longer than store bought clothes and the fit can be adjusted to suit each person. Each item is unique and often the dresses I’ve made have attracted the most compliments!

“Becoming part of the slow fashion movement is great for sustainability and can reduce landfill waste dramatically”.

Also, if you make the clothes out of linen or a linen/cotton blend, they tend to be a lot cooler and easier to wear in the summertime. Judi’s Studio in Orange, Bathurst Fabric and Trims as well as Sew Make Create and Tessuti Fabrics in Sydney run classes to learn to sew, and patchwork classes run at The Home Patch in Bathurst.  I have found the best patterns tend to be sourced online, and then printed out onto A0 sheets at Officeworks (most patterns come with printing instructions). Some great places to source patterns (some are free!) are:

Some great places to get fabric and supplies are:


Embroidery is just starting to make a resurgence in modern crafts, as it was mostly seen as chintzy and a very “Granny” hobby. There are some great examples of modern work on Instagram (seriously, check out #embroidery), which could be used at decorative pieces around the home, or just to personalise clothing to make it unique. The great thing about embroidery is that there are no rules, and you can either buy a kit, or do something completely abstract, depending on your taste. One of the best local places to go to get some inspiration for embroidery, or just some general tips and advice is The Home Patch in Bathurst.

In my own home, I usually have a few projects on the go of different types of craft, depending on how I’m feeling at the time, and my craft room is my personal sanctuary and oasis, where I can allow my creativity to flow. I remember telling my husband when I was dating him that I was of a mathematical and procedural mind, I had no creativity whatsoever. He helped me to try out different activities until I found my preferred ones. Eleven year on, I have not looked back, and it has often been my refuge.

Once you find your creative outlet, it can suck you in, and each new project is exciting. Even if an item sits in the naughty corner for a few days, you will find yourself drawn to it time and time again, until a finished piece of work emerges. When that happens, the immense pride you’ll feel is immeasurable. You will run into challenges, but part of the fun is working out how to overcome them. Be kind to yourself when things get tough, be persistent, but the feeling of accomplishment will help you to forget those hurdles.


Cooking Back To School – Fill Your Freezer

The silly season has come and gone and now it’s time to think about the school season again.

Dear reader I sympathise with you. On top of a busy day there are school shoes to buy, last minute stationary to pick up and of course the biggest headache of all the extracurricular and school schedule (clashes galore).

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m a really busy person. I am. The key to fitting so much into my day is organisation. I like to be organised in all my daily tasks, including what’s going on the table for dinner.

I take my hat off to all the mums who get home at 7pm, after sport or dance (and most likely after a flat out day where you haven’t had time to scratch yourself) with no dinner organised. The daunting task of having to concoct a Michelin star dish with whatever is on hand (and hopefully no one screws their nose up to) begins. I’m not that mum at all.

I prepare my meals in advance. However, I’m not a meal planning mum, I don’t take hours to write up menus of breakfast lunch and dinner for the month- not at all; I frankly don’t have time for that. I just ensure I either have something delicious to marinate for dinner to bbq with a salad, or stick in my slow cooker before I leave in the morning or to pull out of my freezer.

Freezer meals and I are best friends. Nothing satisfies me more than when I open my freezer that’s bursting with a selection of delicious things to eat. When I pull one out and easily prepare it on days where I haven’t had time to even think about what I’m feeding everyone, I almost feel like someone else has done all the cooking for me.

At the start of each school term I take a few hours to prepare and store meals that I know my family love to eat. Today it was zucchini slice (in muffin form- also great for lunchboxes), napolitana pasta sauce (due to an abundance of tomatoes in the garden) and pork, chive and coriander wontons (perfect steamed or in soup).

I simply cook, cool and portion everything and pop it in the freezer. I get excited when the freezer is all stocked and ready to go. If you don’t have time to set a couple of hours aside, consider making double batches of the meals your making anyway and freeze the extra for a meal down the track. Bolognese, curries, homemade pies, the list is endless. It takes the same amount of effort to put double the ingredients as it does for one meal.

Many of you are probably reading this thinking I already freeze meals (high five), plenty of people do and I say good on them! For those of you who don’t I challenge you before school goes back to at make at least one meal to have in your freezer as an emergency dinner. Trust me you will thank yourself, especially on those days where everything seems impossible.


Make Ahead Family Friendly Recipe – Pork, Garlic Chive & Coriander Wontons

Are you looking for a convenient, freeze ahead recipe for quick family dinners or hot lunches in winter?

The beauty of this recipe is you can take the base recipe and mix it up however you like. Add prawn, omit the coriander, use onion chives instead of garlic, add shredded Chinese cabbage for a boost of veg- you get the point. Anything that will get your families taste buds tingling!!

Recipe created by Marianna Saran.

This recipe makes approximately 90 wontons and takes 2 hours 15 mins of prep.


90 wonton wrappers (these come in packs of 30 you could use gow gee wrappers too they are just a little thicker)

500g pork mince

1 large bunch coriander finely chopped (use your food processor)

1 large bunch garlic or onion chives (again use your food processor)

1 tablespoon freshly minced ginger

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 tablespoon chicken stock powder

1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)


1. Mix all the ingredients together very well, you can do this by hand, however you could also blend them in a food processor for the perfect consistency.

2. Allow to marinate for at least one hour.


To assemble the wontons:

Set yourself up with a small bowl of water lay out your wrappers on a cutting board (you will need to do this in batches)

Spoon half a teaspoon of mixture in the middle of each wrapper (don’t overfill as they will bust when cooking).

Dip your finger in the water and run it around the edge of each wrapper.

Fold the wrapper in half and seal well along the edges where you have put the water.

(For more tips on wrapping there are plenty of youtube videos about it if this helps)

Place into single layers in Chinese containers and freeze. These can be frozen for about two months (if they last that long).

How to prepare and cook:

If you want your wontons in soup; boil water in a separate saucepan.

Add wontons and let them cook, when they are ready they will float to the surface.

Strain, and add them to your soup (chicken broth and wontons is the best)

If you would like steamed wontons; simply add to a steamer that has boiling water.

Steam for about 7 mins or until cooked through.

Serving suggestion – Add some chilli sauce.

Happy cooking!


Social Media Etiquette

Central West Mum Anonymous Author…

Living in the 21st Century as a parent certainly has its perks.

The mobile phone has also become our personal camera and digital diary when it comes to those all important moments.

I’ll be the first to admit that I take photos of every little thing my kids do, lost teeth, funny faces, cartwheels, insect bites (you know for future reference should they mutate into an ungodly disease).

However one thing I will never ever do is post my children on social media.

I love socials as much as the next person, I mean how else could I possibly keep in touch with the 2678 people I don’t really know?

I know some people love sharing pictures of their children, all of them have different reasons for doing it. Some do it to share their pictures with overseas family. Some because they want the memories all in one place.

Each to their own- who am I to judge? For me I want my children to grow up being children, I imagine social media will dictate their little lives enough in their future so living out of the limelight for a while is not all that bad. I also do it for safety reasons and privacy. Lets face it- it doesn’t matter how many passwords you have, anyone could maliciously access your content whenever they want. I also do not wish large conglomerates owning pictures of my children (once you post it you lose your rights).

Which leads me to my next pet hate.

If you’re a mother that loves sharing pictures of your children- and you take a photo in a group setting, just because you take a photo with your child in it, does not automatically mean you can post it.

There are many parents out there who do not like their children appearing on social media- I know I am not the only one out there.

Practice some social etiquette, firstly ask if it’s ok to post the photo. Or perhaps keep the photo to yourself for your own enjoyment and respect the privacy of others.

On several occasions I have not hesitated asking parents to remove photos of my children from their social media.

Has this ever happened to you? I encourage you to start a conversation with your friends about social media etiquette. Find out their thoughts do they mind if you post photos of their children?

Perhaps they do mind but are too polite to speak up at risk of ruining a friendship? Perhaps you haven’t thought about how they feel because it doesn’t bother you.

Next time you go to hit that post button, take a pause.


What’s In A Name?

Central West Mum Anonymous Author 

I remember when I found out I was pregnant. My first thought was “I wonder if it’s a boy or girl” closely followed by the question “I wonder what we should name our baby”.

Many parents spend a lot of time conducting research seeking out the perfect word and syllables that their tiny human will identify with for the rest of their lives.

No doubt there’s been many an argument when hubbie loves the name “Hunter”, but it reminds you of the dog who lived next door when you were growing up. The dog’s name was Hunter, he used to dig up the garden.

Some people name their children after heroes, some after parents, some choose traditional names or name their kids after the royals of the world. Some have even chosen to call their kids after fruit, yes Gwyneth Paltrow I’m talking about you.

But on a serious note. When you spend all this time picking out the perfect name, why on earth do other parents take it upon themselves to shorten your chosen name?

If a parent doesn’t shorten their child’s name, then please note neither should you. A young child is probably too polite to mention they do not wish to be called Nicky instead of Nicola.

And if her parents wanted her to be called Nicky, they would have written it on the birth certificate.

I always wonder if children who have their name shortened by a third party have an identity crisis later in life. Which name do they relate to more? Which should they use? Is it super confusing because the name they go by is different to that on their birth certificate?

It’s of course a completely different set of circumstances if the parent of a child decides to give them a nick name or shortens it. The parent in question has made the decision that little Jonathan will be known as Jonny, but the point is that was their decision.

As a parent that constantly has my children’s name shortened. I don’t appreciate it when someone takes it upon themselves to shorten them.

Perhaps it’s not done on purpose, though next time you go to shorten a child’s name, think about it and give them the respect they deserve.


Road Trip – On The Art Trail From Orange to Eugowra

Road Trip Part One – Art and Culture itinerary

If you are looking for school holiday activities that are fun for the entire family, stimulating visually, as well as budget friendly, then exploring the art and culture on a road trip in the Central West will tick those boxes. There is lots to discover in each of the quaint and heritage towns in the region too, which you can plan as a day trip or plan as a staycation.

We experienced this recently with a few friends with children aged between 7-14 years, which is ideal for this itinerary. All they need is a little imagination and the day will be golden.

There are few items you can prepare and pack to make the journey even more engaging.

To encourage your children to get into the mindfulness of art and culture, talking about colour as a way of seeing through new eyes before you set off is a good way to set the tone for the road trip. A guided imagery engaging all the senses (you could be imaginative and describe any story), ending with a colour glowing in a woman’s palm can be facilitated using chalk pastels or even paint colour charts. A range of 72 colours is ideal so that each person can choose their colour and spends the day looking for their colour as part of their journey.

Starting from Orange, the distance to Eugowra is approximately one hour by car.

About 25 minutes in on the Mitchell Highway you may spot the Platypus on a penny farthing and Frog on a Bike – part of the fantastic Animals on Bikes paddock art sculptures. Blink and you might miss them! (There are over 100 on display between Molong  and The Dubbo Zoo via Cumnock and Yeoval).


Talk about recycled sculptures and mailboxes and how you will see them in many places.

Arrive in Eugowra

Stop at the mural walking tour sign and wander around the murals. The murals represent the town’s unique history and community including the Spring Racing Carnival, Canola Cup and Eugowra Show.


Take a picture of you in the mural; not just standing still but somehow interacting with the content. There’s more than 30 murals around town, and you can scroll through the gallery of photos below to see all the fun the children had in front of them! You can find more about the public art and culture map at Culture Maps Central NSW

Food and Drink stop

If you’ve packed a picnic, there are some lovely grassy spots close to the Mandagery Creek or wonderful little cafes that are thriving in town. I stopped for a coffee at The Fat Parcel Food Van which was a good drop and they also offer burgers, sandwiches, toasties, cakes and more. There’s some outdoor seating with some tables providing shade too.

There are also good public bathroom facilities here too, so best to refresh if continuing on.

Eugowra is in the heart of bushranger country so If you have time, stop into the Eugowra Historical Museum & Bushranger Centre where you can learn about Eugowra’s claim to fame in the history books during 1862.

Eugowra has a lovely community pool which might come in handy if it is a cracking hot day; although check the hours of opening as they tend to be limited in small towns.

From here you can continue on the art trail to Grenfell – see link here.


Road Trip – On The Art Trail From Eugowra To Grenfell

Road Trip Part two – Art and Culture itinerary

As part of our Art trail series, Eugowra to Grenfell was the second stop in our itinerary – a further 50 minutes to the Grenfell Painted Silo by Heesco.

If you are looking for school holiday activities that are fun for the entire family, stimulating visually, as well as budget friendly, then exploring the art and culture on a road trip in the Central West will tick those boxes. There is lots of discover in each of the quaint and heritage towns in the region too, which you can plan as a day trip or plan it as a staycation.

We experienced this recently with a few friends with children aged between 7-14 years which is ideal for this itinerary. All they need is a little imagination and the day will be golden.

There are few items you can prepare and pack to make the journey even more engaging.

To encourage your children to get into the mindfulness of art and culture, talking about colour as a way of seeing through new eyes before you set off is a good way to set the tone for the road trip. A guided imagery engaging all the senses (you could be imaginative and describe any story), ending with a colour glowing in a woman’s palm can be facilitated using chalk pastels or even paint colour charts. A range of 72 colours is ideal so that each person can choose their colour and spends the day looking for their colour as part of their journey.

Arrive in Grenfell

The distance to Grenfell from Eugowra is approximately 50 minutes by car. Follow the Gooloogong road to take in some of the beautiful scenery and historic buildings to the statute of Henry Lawson in the main street of Grenfell.  You can key in ‘Grenfell Painted Silo by Heesco‘ in Google maps to get there or find it with all the region’s other public art on Culture Maps Central NSW.


At Henry Lawson sculpture, you can have some fun and interact with him and take a selfie.

A 15 minute walk will take you to ‘Grenfell Painted Silo by Heesco‘ passing by the sculptures around the Grenfell Railway Station at 36 West Street, Grenfell.

The mural is one of several painted silos in New South Wales. These are immense and you can read up about the artist and kids can try and guess how many spray cans of paint it took to create this art.

Food and Drink stop

In town Taylor Park on Weddin Street opposite the Post Office building is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic. It is leafy with a beautiful play area for kids. There are good bathroom facilities here too.

There a number of food establishments in Main Street offering a variety of different foods.

If you need to cool off, there is the Grenfell Aquatic Centre only a few minutes up the road by car on Forbes and Melyra Streets.

From here you can return back to Orange via Carcoar; see link here or continue on to Dubbo or somewhere within the Central West to explore the art and culture trail. Refer to Culture Maps, Central NSW for more inspiration.


Road Trip – On The Art Trail From Grenfell To Carcoar

Road Trip Part three – Art and Culture itinerary

If you are looking for school holiday activities that are fun for the entire family, stimulating visually, as well as budget friendly, then exploring the art and culture on a road trip in the Central West will tick those boxes. There is lots to discover in each of the quaint and heritage towns in the region too, which you can plan as a day trip or plan it as a staycation.

We experienced this recently with a few friends with children aged between 7-14 years which is ideal for this itinerary. All they need is a little imagination and the day will be golden.

There are few items you can prepare and pack to make the journey even more engaging.

To encourage your children to get into the mindfulness of art and culture, talking about colour as a way of seeing through new eyes before you set off is a good way to set the tone for the road trip. A guided imagery engaging all the senses (you could be imaginative and describe any story), ending with a colour glowing in a woman’s palm can be facilitated using chalk pastels or even paint colour charts. A range of 72 colours is ideal so that each person can choose their colour and spends the day looking for their colour as part of their journey.

It’s also a great idea to pack a sketchbook or clipboard with art paper for kids so they can capture and draw the picturesque scenery along the way.

Starting from Orange, the distance to Carcoar is approximately 40 minutes by car.

If you have followed the full round-trip three-part itinerary from Orange – Eugowra – Grenfell – Carcoar then the distance from Grenfell to Carcoar is approximately 1 hour and 20 mins.

Carcoar is a pretty village with tranquil surrounds and makes a great Staycation stop too.


The highlight for all the family here is the 20th Century Toy Museum which is located in the old CBC bank building and has over 2,000 toys in the five rooms downstairs. It costs $4 for entry which I think presents fabulous value!  The collection will certainly have you travelling down memory lane which includes Betty Boop, Simpsons, Japanese Anime, Superheroes, Royal memorabilia and more. Check out our gallery of photos below.

Bring a clipboard with a pen and paper and kids can write something they spot from A – Z for a bit of extra fun.

The courthouse just around the corner is great for kids and adults to “act the part” of judges and plaintiffs. Great for photo opportunities.

Food and Drink stop

Good places to enjoy are the Royal Hotel, Antica Australis restaurant and coffee at the Village Grocer.



What Parents Need To Know About Climate Change

Hello fellow Central West Mums,

I know that Climate Change can seem like a complex and often daunting subject, so I’m here to help you get your head around it, with reviews of the most helpful books that I’ve read, info and recommendations on the best podcasts from around the world on the subject and updates as to what the latest happenings are.  I’ll also have an ongoing Q&A session, where I’ll research the answers and explain why the sources are reliable.

Why? Because:

1. Our kids need us to know about it
2. With knowledge you have the power to make the best decisions
3. Until they are adults, kids need us to make the best decisions for their future on their behalf
4. No matter what you do in life, we can all steer the ship in the right direction. Sometimes we forget that we pull big levers of change when we invest, choose a super fund, a bank or vote. Then there are the small day to day decisions that, if undertaken en masse, add up to big impacts. Most solutions make life better in other ways too.
5. Climate change will impact everything and is being affected by all aspects of the way we live. To be able to keep doing the things that we love, we all need to tackle climate change.

I’m really looking forward to getting this conversation going with you!




Here’s a couple of recommended books for you if you want to get a jump-start….

1. The Weather Makers – Tim Flannery (2006) – or the more concise revision, We Are The Weather Makers.

The book that for many people kicked off their whole climate-awareness shebang. Obviously the science hasn’t changed, there is just more certainty. In his own word, Flannery ” wrote the book with his grandmother in mind and deliberately used plain language that he knew we would understand.”

2. The Future We Choose – Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac

This is one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read about climate change. The authors were key orchestrators of the UN Paris Agreement in 2015, so they understand not only the science but the diplomacy, politics, corporate considerations and human impacts of acting or not acting on climate. Importantly though, they are more aware than anyone about the huge range of solutions humanity can adopt and inspire us to adopt ten concrete actions we can all do. It sets out two distinct kinds of futures available to us right now in 2020. One of these we definitely do NOT want to choose for our children but it is good to take a fearless look at it.  The other is the one we can and must choose, and we need to recognise that we are in a unique window right now to make this our future.


Cronulla beachside For A Mini Break

Consider this…

It is this time of year when we are extremely time-poor trying to tick off our Christmas shopping list, as well as quite likely feeling depleted.

One destination that strikes a great balance with a top surf beach, super shopping and a great selection of delicious food is Cronulla. Travelling from the Central West is a relatively smooth drive on the M7 and M5 freeway. In approximately three and half hours you can be swimming at one of the best beaches in Sydney.

After spending only 4 nights away from our home in Orange since Dec/Jan, this was a perfect solution to treat ourselves to a pre-Christmas family gift and mini-break, killing two birds with one stone.

We chose to stay at Rydges Cronulla Beachside after being referred by a friend. Our family stayed in a one bedroom ocean view suite which was spacious accomodating up to 5 people. There are two balcony areas with views either side to the beach and Gunnamatta Bay. The hotel is older style, therefore you do need to watch children on the balcony as there is a reasonably big drop when you are 10 floors high. There is also a convenient hot spa and pool just above the foyer which is great if the weather turns. If you are ordering room service, there are some local restaurant options on the menu like Thai, pizza etc.

We all had fun and felt so relaxed. It is well worth considering if you are heading to Sydney and wanting to avoid the inner city chaos and traffic.


The convenience factor of being walking everywhere is wonderful.

The beach is across the road. There is a park and play equipment also to keep kids entertained.

If you are craving department store shopping, Westfield Miranda is only minutes by car up the road. You can even GIN-gle at the pop up gin bar if you need a refreshing break!

Favourite foodie spots for families

There are numerous family friendly places to eat. Our favourites were;

Breakfast & Lunch

Next Door for really good coffee, egg and bacon rolls to take away to the beach.

Pilgrims Cafe for a relaxed eat in breakfast or lunch.

Sushi Train in Cronulla Mall is handy too when trying to get some Christmas Shopping done.


South Beach Seafood for reasonably priced quality fish and chips take away on the beach/park or sit in.

C.C. Babcoq for a please all semi-casual dinner

Queen Margherita for Pizza – really delicious Neapolitan style bases.

Salts Meats Cheese in Cronulla is an amazing treat dinner with the kids! It also has good vegan options on menu.






Mother’s Intuition – Why You Should Trust It

Central West Mum Anonymous Author

Dear Mum’s, you know that gut feeling you get?  The feeling that’s almost like an angel tapping on your shoulder telling you something is not quite right? I want you to know you should never dismiss that feeling.

Six months ago I noticed an unusual and very small black spot on my eight year old child’s leg. As six months went by I went to several doctors who all blew it off as something that was apparently nothing to worry about. “You wouldn’t cut it out?” I asked each one, “No it looks fine” was always was the response.

However every time I laid my eyes on this dot I was overwhelmed with that gut feeling  “something is amiss”.

I finally saw a lovely doctor who listened to my concerns and referred us to a specialist.”

That specialist was amazing. I aired my concerns and he replied “while I don’t think it’s serious, you need to listen to that motherly instinct so let’s cut it out and see what the pathology says”.

Within a week I received a call “Your instinct was correct” were the first words I heard. Turns out that dot that was apparently nothing was actually a very huge something.  Chromomycosis – a fungus contracted from a thorn that was stuck in my child’s shin. Not very pleasant, very hard to get rid of, and of course if not treated comes with long term consequences. The only way to treat the fungus was to cut more out of this little leg to make sure it’s gone for good.

The specialist told me that he was extremely surprised with the pathology and he had never seen this in a child. It’s usually common in men aged 70-80 who have worked on farms all their lives.

The point of my story is not for sympathy. It’s to make you aware- that feeling you feel when something is off, don’t dismiss it. Get to the bottom of whatever it is niggling at you and find the answers. Keep searching till someone takes you seriously and don’t stop till you do. It might not be a medical problem; it could be in any scenario really. Just know that as a mum you have this super power and you should use it to your advantage. Never push it aside, you have it for a reason.


Real Life Reviews – Lyndal’s Review Of Jaguar F-Pace

Meet Lyndal; a Central West Mum with a young family of 4.  Juggling her routine with two little ones in tow isn’t an easy act to nail when planning playdates, grocery shopping, swimming, music, daycare, work and more!

Families come in all shapes and sizes and have different requirements when shortlisting a vehicle to buy.

We’ve cut the hard work out for you by showing you some of the family vehicles best suited to Central West Mums, tested in our practical Real Life Review video series to help you navigate you way through 4 key family vehicles from Leahey Auto Group.

Along with Leahey Auto Group we put the call out to Mums to find four willing participants to drive a vehicle complete with Go Pro for 24 hours and then share with us their thoughts along with pros and cons.

In this Real Life Review Lyndal and her two gorgeous boys test out the Jaguar F-Pace to see how it performs as a family vehicle in every day life.

If you enjoyed this, why not check out;

Anna’s review of the Hyundai Tucson SUV here or

Katie’s review of the Ford Everest Sport here  or

Julie’s review of the Ford Escape SUV here 

This post is sponsored by Leahey Auto Group



Real Life Reviews – Katie’s Review Ford Everest Sport

Meet Katie; a time-poor Central West Mum of 5 kids and her husband works a schedule of 7 days on and 7 days off with the mines!

With a busy schedule not limited to; two school runs, gym, home, school, sport and therapy run, Katie clearly admits she practically lives in her car.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and have different requirements when shortlisting a vehicle to buy.

We’ve cut the hard work out for you by showing you some of the family vehicles best suited to Central West Mums who tested in our practical Real Life Review video series to help you navigate you way through 4 key family vehicles from Leahey Auto Group.

Along with Leahey Auto Group we put the call out to Mums to find four willing participants to drive a vehicle complete with Go Pro for 24 hours and then share with us their thoughts along with pros and cons.

In this Real Life Review Katie, Mum of 5 children aged between 10 months and 12 years jumped behind the wheel of the Ford Everest Sport to share with us how the Everest performed from a practicality perspective for a family of 7. Katie’s husband even shares some of his thoughts when it came to the drive and handling of this 7 seater family SUV.

If you enjoyed this, why not check out;

Anna’s review of the Hyundai Tucson mid-range SUV here or

Lyndal’s review of the Jaguar F-Pace here or

Julie’s review of the Ford Escape SUV here 

This post is sponsored by Leahey Auto Group


Real Life Reviews – Julie’s Review Ford Escape

Meet Julie; a Central West Mum who runs a tight ship with three active kids and all the sports gear required to go with them. Julie then zooms to numerous community committee meetings and recently road tested the latest Ford Escape in our Real Life Review series with Leahey Auto Group.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and have different requirements when shortlisting a vehicle to buy.

We’ve cut the hard work out for you by showing you some of the family vehicles best suited to Central West Mums, tested in our practical Real Life Review video series to help you navigate you way through 4 key family vehicles from Leahey Auto Group.

Along with Leahey Auto Group we put the call out to Mums to find four willing participants to drive a vehicle complete with Go Pro for 24 hours and then share with us their thoughts along with pros and cons.

Watch Julie, Mum to 3 children and bus driver to many other children in this Real Life Review of the new Ford Escape. Julie drives between Canowindra and Orange which provided her with a great opportunity try out some of the Escape’s features as well as to see how this vehicle performed out on the open road.

If you enjoyed this, why not check out;

Anna’s review of the Hyundai Tucson mid-range SUV here or

Katie’s review of the Ford Everest Sport here  or

Lyndal’s review of the Jaguar F-Pace here or

This post is sponsored by Leahey Auto Group


Real Life Reviews – Anna’s Review Hyundai Tucson

Meet Anna; an adventure loving Mum of two boys and two dogs who cruise all over the Central West for Rugby and other road trips.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and have different requirements when shortlisting a vehicle to buy.

We’ve cut the hard work out for you by showing you some of the family vehicles best suited to Central West Mums tested in our practical Real Life Review video series to help you navigate your way through 4 key family vehicles from Leahey Auto Group.

Along with Leahey Auto Group we put the call out to Mums to find four willing participants to drive a vehicle complete with Go Pro for 24 hours and then share with us their thoughts along with pros and cons.

In this Real Life Review we asked Anna, Mum to 2 boys and 2 fur babies to put the Hyundai Tucson to the test. Watch what Anna thought after she put this mid sized SUV through its paces for 24hrs.

If you enjoyed this, why not check out;

Katie’s review of the Ford Everest Sport here  or

Lyndal’s review of the Jaguar F-Pace here or

Julie’s review of the Ford Escape SUV here 

This post is sponsored by Leahey Auto Group


Kid’s Cooking – Christmas Spiced Cookies

Christmas traditions

If there’s one Christmas treat you can nail this year, it’s these! My boys and I have been making these for a number of years now since living in Canada. It is an activity that your children can participate in and it passes the time rolling the dough and making the shapes. Choose shapes like Christmas baubles, stars, reindeer or other animals They don’t have to look professional as it is more important to involve your family in the tradition.

They are filled with sugar and spice and all things nice. You can eat them without icing or with; either way they won’t last long – totally delicious and make lovely home made gifts.

Recipe for Christmas Spiced Cookies – makes approx 32 cookies

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or sharp cookie flour (and more for dusting on bench)

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground cloves

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

250 gm block of butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoon vanilla paste

1 large egg white, mixed with 1 tablespoon water lightly whisked

Royal Icing – optional

1 egg white

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 1/2 cups of pure icing sugar, sifted.


1. Combine dry ingredients; flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, salt, nutmeg and cardamom in a medium mixing bowl

2. In an electric stand mixer, beat butter and sugar in large bowl with paddle attachment until creamy.

3. Beat in eggs one at a time with vanilla until fluffy.

4. Remove bowl and stir in flour mixture until combined and divide dough in half and roughly flatten each into discs and wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for 1.5 hours.

5. Preheat oven to 180 C.

6. Spray your cookie-cutter shapes with non-stick cooking spray.

7. On a lightly floured surface with floured rolling pin, roll out half of the dough to approximately 1 cm thick.

8. Press your cutters in and pull them gently and place on trays lined with baking sheets.

9. Brush with egg-white mixture.

10. Re-roll scraps of dough and repeat.

11. Bake cookies in oven for 15 mins or until slightly golden. Remove to racks to cool.

For Royal Icing;

To make royal icing, whisk egg white and lemon juice together in a kitchen aid bowl or similar. Add icing sugar one spoonful at a time to whisk until smooth and combined which might take around 5 minutes and look a little meringue like. Using a piping bag, fill it and make any designs you like on your shapes.

Store at room temperature in an air tight container for 7-10 days or freeze.



Offroad Adventure Tours – Central West

Extremely experienced and trusted

The man behind the tours, Simmo, has been running Simmo’s Offroad Tours for 10 years. After moving from the hustle and bustle of the city  25 years ago with his family and moving on from the police force he hasn’t looked back and now thoroughly enjoys a much greener eco-friendly lifestyle here in the Central West.

Inspired by the relaxed environment and leaving behind most of the stresses in the world, Simmo started the business so that he can share the adventure of going off grid and experiencing what nature truly has to offer. Sometimes sitting on a rock by a river or stream is all you need to reset and maintain a healthy perspective. Simmo admits a touch of ‘Gold fever’ set-in too. His relaxed philosophy to life is evident for all to see and it definitely washes over you during the day.

Reflecting back on all the tours that he has guided over a decade, Simmo says each group arrives with a positive attitude, pumped up to find gold and have fun. Every tour is memorable; he mentions he has never had a bad tour!

Father’s Day trip

I booked the Hill End Gold 4WD adventure which started at Bathurst Visitors centre. Simmo informs me that Day Trips including winery tours are the most popular with many destinations on offer.

For the overnight trips, cabin accomodation with softer beds are preferred over camping after long days in the vehicle.

Outback Safaris

In July you can head off on a 10-day Outback Safari to Lightening Ridge, Bourke and Louth. Enjoying the scenery along the way, mining underground for some opals and visiting a sheep farm are just some of the experiences you can expect to participate in. Simmo assures me all you require is your All-wheel drive or 4WD vehicle and you are good to go.

Buy experiences, not stuff

One of my fellow tour group buddies, Michelle says she is trying to declutter the house and “avoid buying more ‘stuff’ that doesn’t get used”. Michelle has decided to book more occasions for Father’s Day, Birthdays, Christmas etc, so her family has can treasure these memories in future.

I tend to feel the same and given this year has been so ordinary in so many ways, having a moment away from it all is the magic we sought to re-energise ourselves.

Trust in Simmo

Given that this was a first for all of us, I’ll be honest and say that there were some butterflies floating in my tummy, however Simmo has this calming voice that immediately puts you at ease; like ‘I trust this guy with my life’ kind of feeling.

Our mid-sized Landrover Discovery Sport was just about the smallest vehicle in our convoy, although I trusted it was up to the challenge. Hubby dutifully read the owners manual not once but twice but we still felt pretty underdone.

We set off at 9:30am and arrived at around 10:15am in the quaint town of Sofala which is the oldest surviving gold town. A quick wee-stop (tip: go pee behind a tree as the toilet is best avoided) and then off towards the majestic Turon river. Bring some morning tea snacks you can enjoy in the car. Simmo told us more about the history of the area and gold rush period via our walkie talkies or CB radios. There were lots of opportunities on route to ask Simmo questions as well.

We knew we were at the starter’s gate when we all jumped out and deflated our tyres to 25 psi in preparation for some serious off-roading. We successfully traversed our way down a mightily steep hill and then within minutes we encountered our first river crossing. There was palpable excitement as the water cascaded up our windows and maybe the odd squeal. This was followed in quick succession with more river crossings and the most hairy and exciting moments were when we climbed out of the rivers and up the slippery banks. A few attempts were often needed and the odd Max Trax and tow rope were employed for the steeper banks. Our fellow adventurers loved helping us out and there was a such a strong community feeling. Everyone was only too happy to get out and help.

A break beside the river half way to learn how to pan for gold and then relax with a hearty pot stew that Simmo cooked up on the campfire was the perfect tonic after some feverish gold panning. The children on tour bonded by building as a team a river bridge and skimming stones.

Gold Fever

We were all visibly excited to strike gold, though a half hour in and we realised what hard yakka it was.  We successfully found five sparkly specs while others found twenty, so there is plenty of gold to be found!

My husband was behind the steering wheel and I was an extra set of eyes.  After a few hooley dooley moments crossing the river Despite losing a $400 piece of plastic trim from our car we and our car basically remained unscathed. We are definitely keen to come back another time. However Simmo chuckled and said “Go home and read your manual a 3rd time!”

Check out here:



Insta: @simmosoffroad


Santa Photos and activities

What’s On

If you are asking the question about where to have a photo taken with Santa this year, here are some venues for you to visit.

The Complete Camera House in Orange is holding Santa’s Studio.  They first produced Santa photography more than 25 years ago at Myer, and all of these years later still love the interaction with the children.  They are now photographing the second generation of children, which is lovely.  They have created a Covid-safe studio, in which Santa’s reindeer provide the 1.5m clearance necessary.  Many of the younger children seem to appreciate the extra distance between themselves and Santa.

Do you need to book? What is the cost?

All digital files will be supplied on USB at the conclusion of your sitting, for $50.

Included on your USB is a complimentary $10 print voucher redeemable online from Camera House.

From December 1st, the photography times are:

Tuesdays – 10am-12noon,   1.00pm-3.00pm

Wednesdays –  10am-12noon,    1.00pm-3.00pm

Thursdays – 10am-12noon,  1.00pm-3.00pm,     5.00-7.00pm

Fridays – 10am-12noon,    1.00pm-3.00pm

Saturdays –  10am-12noon,   1.00pm-4.00pm

Sundays – 10am-12noon,  1.00pm-4.00pm

Orange City Centre

Santa Photography and have introduced online bookings and contactless payments through their website now. This means you will not need to wait in line for your photo session and you will have a set time to enjoy your special experience with Santa. Santa’s grotto will be reconfigured to allow for social distancing and provide a safe distance from Santa with additional props and decorations.

Sensitive Santa bookings are available on the morning of Sunday 6th December.

All of you photos from the session will be loaded onto USB for you to take home on the day.

Book a session from 5 December here

Book a sensitive Santa session here 

Bathurst City Centre

Win a zoom with Santa and PJ Masks

This Christmas is a little different, with COVID Safe practices in play so there will not be Santa photos this year.

We will however host a virtual Santa competition through our Facebook page.

Customers will have the chance to enter for the chance to win an exclusive Zoom session with Santa and his superhero friends, PJ Masks in the days leading up to Christmas.

Five lucky winners will win a one-on-one session each with Santa and his friends, as well as amazing prize pack with a total value of $2,000. Zoom calls will take place between 10am and 1pm, Tuesday 22 Deccember.

To enter for the chance to win, simply tell us what your kids want for Christmas from Santa in the comments below. It’s that easy!
Terms and conditions apply. See website for details.

Acts of Kindness

This Christmas Bathurst City Centre have partnered with B-Rock and 2BS to spread some Christmas cheer to the community. Customers will be asked to nominate a friend or family member that deserves to win a $100 Bathurst City Centre gift card.

Throughout December both stations will surprise the person nominated with a gift card on behalf of their friend/family member, helping to give a little treat in the lead up to Christmas.

Bathurst City Centre and the team from B-Rock/2BS are giving away $3,000 worth of gift cards to the community for their support and kindness as we begin to look toward a new year.
To nominate someone you know who deserves a little thanks, simply head to www.bathurstcitycentre.com.au/acts-of-kindness
Winners will be announced live on air throughout December! T&Cs apply.

Other suggestions for Santa Photos

If you can’t make it to a centre that is setting up Santa photos, perhaps book a photographer for a mini session and bring a Santa to you!

A friend may help out by jumping into a Santa Suit, buy some decorations as props and you can still walk away with family portrait photos with some festive cheer. Check out our Little Black Biz Book here for some fabulous photographers who are holding family portrait sessions pre-Christmas.


Broken Hill Road Trip

2020 has changed everything including our travel plans. Like many families from Sydney and the Central West, Broken Hill has become a popular destination. Our stay in Broken Hill was part of a 10-day road trip around NSW that included Orange, Dubbo, Griffith and Parkes.

Broken Hill is approximately 9 hours from Orange in the Central West, and 13 hours from Sydney by car.

How long to stay?

We travelled to Broken Hill with our four kids in early October. Our initial plan was to stay for 2 nights but after speaking to friends we decided to change our plans and stay an additional night. There is so much to do and see around Broken Hill, that a 3-night stay is the minimum.

Plan ahead and book as much as you can

You will need to book your accommodation well in advance. With interstate travel restrictions, regional holidays are proving very popular. We booked 90% of all accommodation, restaurants and activities where we could. We even booked dinner at a local pub for our overnight stay at Cobar and we are glad we did! If you don’t book, you will at the least be disappointed and the worst spending the night in the car!


For large families with 4 kids, there are not a lot of options. We stayed in a three-bedroom apartment at the Red Earth Motel. The motel is well located, modern and very clean. Highly recommended.


There is some great food in Broken Hill. Visit Silly Goat for breakfast, brunch and lunch. You can only book one week in advance. The staff had inner-city Sydney attitude – which was a little amusing – but the food and coffee is worth the visit. They also do take away coffee. The Broken Hill Pub (BHP) has had a recent renovation and is the pick of the dinner venues. Their COVID Marshalls take their job very seriously. We also ate at The Astra and had a great night with more personal service. The Palace was disappointing. It is an iconic destination, but the food was average. Pop in around lunchtime to check out the décor, wall and ceiling artwork and take some photos etc, but give dinner a miss.

Day Trip to Silverton

Allow a day to go to Silverton. There is a lot to see. A visit to Daydream mine is highly recommended. The mine tour provides an eye-opening insight into the brutality of life working underground. If you are not able to book in advance, you will need to get there early to avoid a long wait. If you get claustrophobia, give it a miss as the tour does go underground into tight spaces.

Silverton is home to the iconic Silverton Hotel and the walls are lined with photos from movie sets. You can also visit the Mad Max Museum and a number of galleries. If you like photography and/or gardening visit the Silverton Gallery & Garden. Helen loves a chat.

Finish your trip with a short drive to the Mundi Mundi lookout.

Take in the view

There are a number of fantastic locations to take in a panoramic view with Broken Hill enjoying amazing sunrises and sunsets.

Head up to the Line of Lode Lookout and Miners Memorial to take in the view over the city. The memorial is dedicated to the 800+ miners who lost their lives working in the Broken Hill mines. The Broken Earth Café at the same location serves basic food. It should be a premium food location, but isn’t.

The Living Desert and Sculptures is a must see. Enter the reserve about an hour before sunset, view the 12 sculptures and find a spot to enjoy the view. Take a warm jacket as it can get cold in the evening. There is a $6 entry fee per person to enter the Living Desert State Park. No bathroom facilities are here.

If you plan a day trip to Silverton, head to the Mundi Mundi plains lookout for a spectacular view.

Art Galleries

Broken Hill is an inspiring place for creatives – photographers, filmmakers, painters, print makers, sculptures etc. I think it is a combination of the harsh beauty of the outback, larger than life personalities and the light. The Regional Art Gallery next to the BHP is definitely worth a visit. Entry is free but you will need to book. The Gallery has permanent works as well as short-term exhibitions. The Pro Hart Gallery is also worthwhile.

Other attractions

The Bruce Langford Visitors’ Centre is located in a working Royal Flying Doctor base. Tours provide a unique insight into life in remote areas of Australia. Pre-booking is required for groups of 10+. We really enjoyed the tour.

If you love a retro milkshake, Bell’s Milk Bar is not far from the Royal Flying Doctor base.


Driving Conditions

With four kids, we drove to Broken Hill in a Kia Carnival. Most of the roads around Broken Hill are fine and a drive out to Silverton is also no problem. You definitely want to be careful driving at sunset and at night. Slow down and watch out for roos. If you are planning a trip to a more remote area, the information centre can advise on road conditions. If you do not have a 4WD this is strongly recommended.


Top 10 Attractions In Cowra For Families

If you’re looking for that ‘perfect’ country escape filled with fields of gold, fresh produce, friendly faces and a slow-paced style, then look no further than Cowra. We offer the best of both worlds, the country life while only being a stone’s throw away from larger towns and cities.

If you’re in town for the weekend, I’ve put together a few of the spectacular places our town has to offer;

Cowra Japanese Gardens

The jewel in our crown, the gold at the end of our rainbow. With the perfect mix of Japanese and Australian culture the whole family will enjoy feeding the fish and ducks and taking in the breathtaking sights. As well as gardens, in the Cultural Centre there are many Japanese artworks and sculptures to enjoy and you will often find visiting art exhibitions on display too. Relax at the beautiful café and enjoy your surroundings. The Gardens are part of Cowra’s Peace Precinct which I will touch more on later.

Address: Ken Nakajima Place, Cowra NSW

Cowra Visitor’s Centre

The history of Cowra is part of what makes us so special. Here at the Visitor’s Centre you can listen to our friend, ‘Clare’, describe to you the events that took place in 1944. You will feel like you’re right there when it happened. The friendly staff here will tell you everything you need to know about Cowra and direct you to all the special spots. You can book tours here and buy some beautiful local produce.

Address: Corner of Boorowa and Grenfell Road, Cowra NSW 2794 (at the base of the Cowra Golf Club, next to McDonalds)

Cowra Rose Gardens & Cafe

The beautifully manicured corridors of roses provide a gorgeous backdrop while you enjoy your lunch at the café here, next to the Visitor’s Centre. Suitable for all ages, enjoy dining in or take your lunch to the playground at the end of the gardens and enjoy under the beautiful trees. Make sure you give the, ‘Big Bird’ a try.

Address: Corner of Boorowa and Grenfell Road, Cowra NSW 2794

Cowra Art Gallery

Located in Cowra’s main cultural precinct along with the Cowra Library, World Peace Bell and the Cowra Civic Centre (where shows, concerts and special community events are held). The Art Gallery is ever-changing and showcasing world-class exhibitions. Offering children’s workshops in the holidays and taking pride in supporting many local artists. Some notable exhibitions include; The Archibald Exhibition, Operation Art and the Calleen Collection. There is plenty of parking here which includes a TESLA charging station.

Address: 77 Darling Street, Cowra NSW

Indigenous Art Murals

Found under the Lachlan Bridge, the murals covering the bridge pylons were painted by local Aboriginal artist, Kym Freeman. The paintings show the history of the Wiradjuri people, the original custodians of the Cowra area. This spot is the starting point for the Lachlan River Walk, the perfect place for a stroll, a picnic, or even a swim. There is plenty of space on the sporting fields for children to run and enjoy the sunshine. The leash-free dog park and tennis courts are also situated here.

Address: Beneath Lachlan River Bridge, Cowra NSW

The Cowra Peace Precinct

This area of town includes many different significant historical features. As well as the Japanese Gardens, you will also find the Statue Park, Cowra Nature Based Adventure Playground, Cowra Lookout, Avenue of Trees, the POW Camp site and Garrison Walk in this area. The walking and bike tracks link most of these places, but you can also easily drive between them all if you prefer.

Address: Corner of Evans Street and Sakura Avenue, Cowra NSW (to begin at the POW Camp Site)

Wyangala Dam

Holding twice the volume of the Sydney Harbour, the Dam is the perfect spot for boating, camping and fishing. It is also a fantastic place for hiking, swimming, and animal spotting. There are many beautiful ‘off-the-beaten-track’ places to set up camp here, but if a bit of comfort is more your style, you can head to Reflections Holiday Park. A place I love to visit for a picnic and a family game of cricket is down at the Dissipater. If you head into the little village and head down to the base of the wall, you will find a special little open space. I often spot platypus here and there is something quite spectacular about being at the base of the wall looking up at it towering above. However, if dam swimming is not your cup of tea, be sure to check out the Cowra Aquatic Centre.

Address: 2891 Reg Hailstone Way, Wyangala 2808

Europa Park

Found just after the COWRA sign as you come into town from the Sydney highway. This park commemorates the 17000 migrants from 27 European Nations who passed through the Cowra Migrant Centre between 1948-1955. You will find a walking track, outdoor gym equipment and BBQ area here. Soon to feature a children’s bicycle and scooter park (due before Christmas 2020).

Address: Mid-Western Highway, Cowra NSW 2794

Japanese War Cemetery

This carefully maintained cemetery has 523 graves, and is the only Japanese War Cemetery to still remain in Australia. Although a solemn place to visit, it is well worth the trip and is a beautiful place to pay respects to those fallen.

Address: Doncaster Drive, Cowra NSW 2794

Cowra Railway Station & Lachlan Valley Railway

Train enthusiasts will enjoy these spots filled to the brim with Australia’s railway history. The Railway Station has an open day on the last Sunday of each month from 9am to 3pm. Lachlan Valley Railway is open each day, manned by volunteers, and the home of some beautiful old engines, some of which will be on the tracks again soon for joy rides. The LVR is a work in progress which is all undertaken by volunteers.

Addresses: Lynch Street, Cowra NSW 2794 & 3 Campbell Street, Cowra NSW


Summer Swimming Spots In The Central West

It’s Summer time

Summer feels like it’s here and it’s time to get out the dusty cossies and get ready for the wonderful chaos that is taking the family for a cool dip at a waterhole or lake.

But before you empty all the packet food out of your pantry and hunt for all the old towels in the house, have a look at this list, pick your swim spot, pop it into Google maps and make sure it’s definitely far enough away from home to make it at least a half day school holiday activity.

If it’s not; pick two – one for the morning and afternoon, then pack your medium size SUV and hit the road!

This list is by no means comprehensive, but a good place to start your fresh water swimming and water sports adventures with kiddos in the Central West. Check out 10 of the best:

Lake Canobolas, Orange, NSW

This freshwater beach complete with seagulls is a winner for everyone. There is a short walk around the lake, BBQ facilities, a cafe, a playground and lots of shade. Good for kiddos big and small. Lake Canobolas is a short 15 mins drive from downtown Orange.

For more info and directions: click here

Flat Rock, Bathurst NSW

Only 20 minutes from Bathurst and just outside of O’Connell, Flat Rock is a great spot for camping, fishing and of course swimming. The water can be fast flowing so supervising little ones is a must. The river banks are awesome to explore with the kids and plenty of shade for picnics and playing out of the sun.

For more info and directions: click here

Lake Burrendong, Mumbil, NSW

Situated midway between Orange and Dubbo, Lake Burrendong is a great spot for an all day adventure with the family. In the dam you can swim, fish, boat, kayak and more and when you are waterlogged check out the Botanic Gardens and Arboretum.

For more info and directions: click here

Cascades Waterfall Fourth Crossing, Mullion Creek, NSW

Located only 20 mins from Orange, Cascades waterfall is a great 900 metre single track to a waterfall with a swimming hole at the base. There are plenty of spots along the creek to splash and play and look for critters for little kids. And the swimming hole is deep enough for big kids and adults. This is a real winner for a fun day out in nature near Orange. (See images featured).

For more info and directions: click here

Clarence Dam, Lithgow, NSW

Located just off Bell’s Line Road, Clarence Dam is east of Lithgow and is a great spot for swimming with tweens or older kids. There are cliffs and the pool is deep so not great for little ones, but an excellent spot for older kids to cool off and experience and an awesome freshwater swimming hole.

For more info and directions: click here

Lake Cargelligo, Cargellio, NSW

Our most westerly location for swimming holes in this list, Lake Cargelligo is 2 hours south west of Parkes in the township of Cargelligo. With red dirt roads this spot is great for a real west bound adventure. The natural lake is located at the end of the main street in Cargelligo and has great fishing, kayaking, swimming and birdwatching.

For more info and directions: click here

The Beach, Abercrombie National Park, near Oberon, NSW

This secluded campsite is managed by National Parks NSW and is a free campground with 4WD access only. A short walk from the campground is a swimming hole perfect to cool off in summer. There are BBQ and bathroom facilities but no drinking water so make sure you have more than enough for your time there. Bookings are necessary as there are only five campsites available.

For more info and directions: click here

Windamere Dam and Cudgegong Waters Park, Mudgee, NSW

Located 30 kilometres out of Mudgee towards Bathurst, Windamere Dam is a great spot for a day trip or weekend trip of swimming, fishing, camping and watersports. With flat water and boat and watersports access via the Cudgegong Water Park this is a great spot for families with big and little kids looking to cool off in summer.

For more info and directions: click here and here

Wallaby Rocks, Sofala, Upper Turon, NSW

Located just outside of Sofala, Wallaby Rocks is a great rocky creek area to have a dip with kids. Camping and fishing is permitted as well. There are no facilities so you will need to bring everything and take everything out with you but plenty of shade and river banks to explore when you are ready to get out of the water.

For more info and directions: click here

Lake Lyell, Lithgow, NSW

Lake Lyall like Burrendong and Windermere Dam is set-up for water sports and swimming as a recreation reserve. The lake has BBQ and bathroom facilities, and water sports are easily accessed via boat ramp access. Lots of spots to swim and for kids to explore.

For more info and directions: click here




Orange Anglican Grammar – Year 12 Graduation In 2020

2020 has been a Year of firsts for schools and for our community

For the first time Orange Anglican Grammar were unable to welcome the families to take part in students’ farewell celebration. The school created something so special that our students would be able to set aside their covid-related grief and enjoy their final moments in a very different way.

Covid aside, they planned very memorable Valedictory celebrations.

The Headmaster, Rev Louise Stringer noted that “with some clever thinking from our Year 12s and our staff team we think we managed to celebrate this group in a way that best planted the ‘Year 12 2020’ stamp on our history books!”

A highlight of the day was the annual presentation of the Year 12 Gift to the school; an impressive set of soccer goals which represents the soccer mad Year 12 cohort who regularly led competition on the top soccer pitch. They also gifted each stage with a signed soccer ball, complete with a ‘shoot out’ against a Year 12 student! As you can see Kindergarten were victorious!

Given the eased restrictions a gathering on Wednesday 25th of November at the Orange Ex-Services Club to celebrate the graduating class at the Year 12 Valedictory Dinner. This is the opportunity for the families and student’s, along with some select staff members to celebrate the culmination of the Year 12 journey.



Puppy Training With The Dog Lady

When to Puppy Train?

Many families have introduced puppies into their loving home during 2020. Though, how do you teach your puppy the right behaviours?

There are three main reasons to book your puppy into training; learn more about puppy training with Deb Coleman the Dog Lady who was best dog trainer in New South Wales in recent years via the video here.



Get Your Garden Summer Ready

The cicadas are emerging from the ground, the daily temperatures are steadily rising, Christmas carols are playing in the shops…summer is well and truly on its way. Now is the time to start preparing your garden for the extreme heat and lack of water that lends itself to summer in Australia.

Give your garden a spruce up and reduce competition for nutrients and water by giving it a good overall weed followed by a generous application of fertiliser. We like to use dynamic lifter. Word of warning, it has quite a pungent aroma but will settle down after 2-3 days and the results will be worth it. Trust us!

One of the most valuable things you can do for your garden is to mulch. Our personal preference is to use organic sugar cane or pea mulch. It tends to break down beautifully over time putting more organic matter back into the soil, encouraging earth worms and micro organisms for happy and healthy plants. Mulching suppresses weeds, retains important moisture and also reduces the amount of watering needed. Be generous with the amount of mulch you apply. At least 8-10cm in depth.

Water early in the morning or late in the evening. This will reduce evaporation, ensuring maximum moisture reaches the roots of your plants.

Most importantly, enjoy your garden. There will always be something to do and the job list will be never ending. A little bit consistently will reap rewards over time. Pour yourself a G&T and enjoy the warmer weather!

Lemonade lemon gin and tonic

Load a chilled glass (highball or rocks) with ice.

Pour 1 part gin over ice.

Squeeze a good amount (about half a lemonade lemon, less if using a normal lemon or lime) over gin and ice.

Add 3 parts tonic.

Garnish with more lemonade lemon and fresh rosemary from the garden (the rosemary adds to the experience with a lovely aroma every time you take a sip).

Enjoy in moderation.


How To Get Active Everyday

Getting up and active every single day all year round is so important for both children & adults alike!

As we face an epidemic of childhood obesity issues in our country, we have the capacity to turn the tide for our own kids and future generations.

Why Is It Important?

In addition to supporting them to eat a variety of healthy foods from the primary food groups, moving regularly is also critical…. and regular exercise comes with so many health benefits, not just relating to healthy weight management.

Moving and playing every day can create great opportunities to connect and have fun with friends, reduce anti-social behaviours as well as support the development of comradery and peer support networks.

Getting involved in sports and other physical activities can also boost self-esteem and assist with the management of many mental and emotional challenges.

Of course, all of those benefits are all in addition to the proven advantages associated with improved general fitness, strong bones and muscles, better coordination and balance, and a reduced risk of unhealthy weight gain and other chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Aerobic Activities:

Brisk walking, swimming or dancing, will raise your heart rate and improve circulation of oxygen around the body.

Resistance Activities:

Lifting weights (light or heavy), climbing stairs, carrying shopping or children, or digging in the garden can improve muscle tone and bone strength.

Sit Less & Move More:

Break up sitting time (at your computer or in front of the tv), by getting up and moving for at least a few minutes every hour, but also consider the following options to get more active:

  • Incidental exercise – take the stairs, use house work to raise your heart rate;
  • Try to walk for 30 minutes a day, even if it’s in 10-minute bursts;
  • Walk the kids to school;
  • Try out a sport or get back into one you enjoyed when younger;
  • Be active with others – support will help to keep you motivated;
  • Look for challenges in your area, eg, fun walks or runs;
  • Do activities you enjoy – you’re more likely to stick with them.

If you can increase this for at least 60 minutes per day, your body will truly thank you for it!



Keeping Up With Active Kids

Whether you’ve got one child, or a whole team of them…. once they become mobile, they’re going to keep you on your toes! As an actively engaged parent, you want to be able to join in that soccer game, jump rope with them, or go for a bike ride… or maybe you just want to lead by example, in terms of living a happy, healthy and active life.

If so, you’ll need to have a reasonably good level of fitness…. but what is ‘fitness’ anyway? ‘Fitness’ can come in various forms and each of them are important for health and enhancing quality of life. Here are the basics:

Cardio Fitness:  is your physical ability to maintain aerobic exercise for prolonged periods…. like playing soccer or jumping rope. It’s how well your heart, lungs and vascular system can deliver oxygen to your working muscles during sustained activities.

Muscular Endurance:  refers to repeated or sustained muscle contractions over an extended period of time…. like walking, running, vacuuming or even hanging out the washing.

Muscular Strength:     is the amount of force your muscles can exert against resistance for short duration activities. Resistance can include body weight, free weights or any other weighted object. Carting all those shopping bags from the car to the house…. or lifting and carrying tired kids to bed, all require strength!

Flexibility & Mobility:   refers to the range of motion and control of our limbs and joints when moving. This can include reaching up to top shelves or down to the back of cupboards… or crawling into an awkwardly built cubby house!

What are the Other Benefits of Getting Fit?

Improving your fitness will boost your health and reduce your risk of developing:

  • High blood pressure,
  • High cholesterol,
  • High blood sugar,
  • Cardiovascular disease,
  • Type 2 diabetes.

It can also help you to manage a healthy weight, as well as reduce the risk of developing some cancers.

Quick bursts of exercise will also give you an instant energy boost (even though that sounds a little counter-intuitive), will improve your mood and mental health, and will enhance your focus, concentration and memory!

With all these benefits of improved health, disease prevention, better daily functioning and performance, as well as living a longer life, it goes without saying, that your capacity to be a more actively engaged parent is greatly enhanced…. and that’s a bonus for both YOU, and your kids!



Family Road Tripping Tips

The beauty of a good ol’ family road trip is a budget wise option that gives you the flexibility and freedom to head to your destination at your own pace. Staying safe and enjoying your journey are the main takeaways here.

There are so many places to explore and see in the Central West and beyond, although do you dread it weeks out from the date you leave or do you embrace it? Family road trips can be a great bonding experience without it being an experience like National Lampoon’s Vacation. Rushing a trip is usually a recipe for disaster and not entirely safe either. The best outcome is to stay chill, and stop and smell the roses so to speak.

Here’s what some of our local Mums have to say about enjoying your travel (not just surviving it), when planning your holiday. Every family is different, so you need to devise a plan that best suits your individual needs although safety on the road is the number one priority.

1. Leave Early

Most families agree that getting some kilometres in under your belt before children wake up is a wise decision.  However, disturbing your sleep rhythms by setting of at 3-4am can be dangerous and could go either way depending on what age your children are so these takes delicate execution. For example; lifting them out of the beds into the car just before you set off with that vibration of the car humming already.  Place them carefully in their seat and ensure they are buckled up with the comfort of their pillows, a throw or blanket over them. Remember to leave them in their pyjamas and pack a change of clothes for the first stop.

2. Research your break stops

Park stops are great for kids of all ages to stretch their legs, have a play and snack when on the road. It’s good to have a plan about when and where you will stop. Packing a football is a great tip too! Taking regular breaks every 2-3 hours works quite well for both the driver and children and is much safer. Always check that everyone is buckled up before leaving each break stop.

3. Snacks

Preparing an individual snack/meal box for the car is helpful so that kids can manage that on their own and you avoid a stiff neck! A good variety helps pass the time although healthier ones are best, as any parents knows sugar highs in a confined space is not a good combination! Water to hydrate is the best choice here as try to avoid sugary juices and soft drinks (you could always use these as a bargaining chip towards the end if you feel things are going south). Bringing a couple of sick bags are not a bad idea either.

4. Entertainment

Planning some games that can be enjoyed by the family make sense. If you can play games that involve everyone enjoying the scenery then it’s a Win-Win! Suggestions are; I spy, would you rather? game, animal or vegetable, spotting A to Z number plates, age-appropriate lists of things to find along the way; like black and white cow, five silos in a row, a red mailbox etc can really break up the journey and lessen that monotonous question from the kids of “Are we there yet?”. Technology can play a role too as long as it isn’t excessive. A few toys and window crayons can be fun. Devices that enable kids to watch movies/shows, listen to audio books, their favourite music playlists, podcasts are fabulous to set-up before-hand too. Remember to pack headphones.

5. Stop, Revive, Survive

Driver Reviver sites are all over NSW serving biscuits, tea and coffee. They also have water, shade and toilets at these too. There are numerous NSW rest areas listed on this map here. You can also check if there has been any live traffic incidents as well.  Free Cuppa for the driver is a scheme that runs from 1 March – 31 May each year if travelling at this time.

May all our community be safe when driving as well as have fun on your family vacay!





On The Twelth Day of Christmas…


Renshaw’s Pedal Project – An Interview With Mark Renshaw

May I preface this interview by saying that Mark Renshaw, a professional cyclist and gold medalist spoke lovingly about his wife Kristina; who is an integral partner running many of the operations in Renshaw’s Pedal Project which they opened together earlier this year.

As well as juggling many facets of the business, Mark shares with me that Kristina has mothered three children, and given birth in different countries, speaking other languages and travelled back and forth between Australia and Europe over 16 years. For all of the parents reading this who also know what it is like to parent alone for weeks and sometimes months; Kristina has also managed this without family to help at times and Mark says without a doubt, she is the strongest woman he knows. What a winning team!

Tell us a little about yourself and your family?

I’ve recently retired as a professional cyclist after 16 years on the UCI World Tour, racing in events like the Tour de France. During my time in Europe I lived in Monaco, on the Côte d’Azur, with my wife, Kristina, and our three children: Will (8), Olly (4) and Maggie (1). We moved back to Bathurst at the start of the year and opened Renshaw’s Pedal Project, to grow cycling in the central west.

What age did you start cycling and how did you end up cycling on the Champs-Élysées in the Tour de France?

I started cycling at the age of 10, riding on a bitumen flat track with the other kids in the Bathurst Cycling Club. I was on a BMX until Mum and Dad organised with the club for them to loan me my first track bike. It had a bright pink frame and probably wasn’t the coolest looking machine, but I was stoked to be riding something half decent!

I worked my way up the levels of competition as a teenager, from the local ranks to the national stage and eventually international track events like the Commonwealth Games and World Championships. By the time I was 21, I’d switched over to road racing and was competing against the best cyclists in the world at events like the Tour de France.

The Champs-Élysées is the grand finale of Le Tour, at the finish of the final stage into Paris. It’s viewed as a world championship for sprinters. It’s an incredible experience, racing over the cobblestones with thousands of fans cheering you on. But after three weeks of hard racing, just making it to the end is a massive achievement in itself.

How many years were you in France for, and what was your role on the team and what did it teach you?

I lived in France and Monaco for 16 years, representing a few different teams. I spent most of my career as a lead-out man, helping the team leader get the victory. My job was to save myself until the final kilometres of the race, protect the sprinter, and put him in the best possible position to win with 100 or 200 metres to go.

Being a lead-out rider teaches you a lot about teamwork, which might surprise some people. Cycling is a team sport where individuals win, but without a strong team it’s very hard for a cyclist to achieve much success. I also learned a lot about leadership and how to manage athletes, as towards the end of my career I was mentoring a lot of younger cyclists. It was my job to teach them different skills and help them climb up the ranks.

What do you talk about when you are on the road for 220 km in a single day with riders from 15 different countries?

It sounds like a lot, but honestly 220km goes by pretty quickly when you’re on the bike. A stage might take us six or seven hours, but you spend a lot of that time just focused on doing your job. You have to be especially switched on at the start and finish of each stage, when a lot of the attacks are happening, or you can be caught out.

When you’re not riding at full speed, it’s great to have a few laughs. In the middle of each stage you usually get some time to chat with your teammates and catch up with old friends who are racing with the other teams.

The peloton has riders from all around the world so understanding different languages can be challenging. Fortunately, many cyclists know enough to get by speaking three or four different languages. You also see a lot of incredible sights while you’re racing, which you’re sharing with the other riders. The beautiful scenery is a universal language.

As a guest commentator for the tour, what do you miss most about not being there?

The atmosphere at the Tour de France is what makes it such a special sporting event. I miss that buzz and the pressure of performing at the highest level.

I still get ‘racing heart’ when I watch the sprint finishes, as I put myself in the position of the riders on TV. During each stage of this year’s Tour de France, I was sitting on the couch in the SBS studio and feeling the butterflies in my stomach, along with that familiar rush of adrenaline. I miss being in those situations on the bike because the pressure is what forces you to be your best.

Tell us why you decided to return to Bathurst, Australia and did you ever think about doing something outside of cycling?

It was an easy decision to relocate back to Bathurst at the end of my career because I never completely left. Throughout my career, I came back to Bathurst for a few months at the end of every season. I grew up here, I’ve got my family and friends here, and I love the town. It’s always been a home for me.

There was one stage, at the end of my career, where I was pretty close to becoming a real estate agent, but I spoke with Kristina and we decided that it would be crazy for me to completely jump out of the sport I love. We made the decision to stay in cycling and create Renshaw’s Pedal Project. It was the right choice!

Tell us a bit about the Pedal Project and what do you hope to achieve in the Central West community? What could local government do to further support cyclists in the area?

The Pedal Project is our vision for cycling in the Bathurst area. We want to get more people riding bikes in the Central West because it’s a fantastic sport with great health benefits. We especially want to help more kids, women and elderly people get involved. We see the shop as a home for bike riders of all skill levels and disciplines.

Since opening the store this year, we’ve actually been helped by COVID with a massive spike in bike sales and repairs. Everyone I speak to is super keen about jumping on the health bandwagon, working on their fitness and getting out in nature after a tough lockdown. Cycling is the perfect solution!

As for what local government can do to further support cycling; I actually think Bathurst Regional Council are already doing a great job. There will always be a push to improve road safety, because the biggest fear people have about cycling are the cars on the road. It’s important to build harmony between cyclists and the other road users, and awareness campaigns can help with this.

Infrastructure is another key factor, with hard shoulders on roads for cyclists to use and good bike paths. But honestly, in Bathurst we’re very lucky to have a council that supports cycling and cycling events so well.

Cycling has always been a male dominated sport, a few of my girlfriends have recently taken up road cycling, however are a little concerned about safety; do you have any advice here for women taking up the sport?

Women’s cycling is a massive growth area for the sport. We’ve seen that firsthand over the last few months, with a big spike in sales of women’s bikes. Renshaw’s Pedal Project is here to support women getting into cycling, with weekly group rides that leave from the shop, catering for women who are just starting out and who might need some guidance.

If I could give one piece of advice to people who are new to cycling, it would be to ride on quieter roads. It’s important to be selective about where you ride, avoiding the busier parts of town. It’s much better to pick back streets or country roads with a good shoulder, where you don’t have cars passing you closely at high speeds. It’s also good to be selective about the times that you ride, to miss peak-hour traffic.

And finally, it’s crucial to be well prepared. Go to your local bike shop to make sure you’ve got spare tubes etc and that your bike is in a safe working condition. The Pedal Project team are always happy to help on that front, with bike servicing and a friendly chat.

Are there any family focused bike tours you and the Pedal Project might be hosting in future?

A main focus of the shop at the moment is e-bikes, especially the mountain e-bike range. We’re putting together a demo program or five or sixs bikes that we’ll be promoting tours with, exploring local tracks at Rydal, Orange, Mudgee and Bathurst, to give everyone the experience of riding an e-bike and discovering how fun they can be.

For the road cyclists, we also do shop rides on Tuesdays and Thursdays, where our youngest participants are usually around 14 years old, riding with a parent or guardian. These rides are for cyclists of all levels, from beginners all the way up to advanced riders.

Check out Renshaw’s Pedal project here!

Insta: @renshawspedalproject



On The Eleventh Day of Christmas…


On The Tenth Day of Christmas…


On The Ninth Day of Christmas…


So, You Think You May Be A Business

Rachel Clarke, Client Manager at Findex Orange helps you consider the differences between a hobby and a business…

Congratulations on the side hustle you’ve got going!

Life is all about doing those things that light us up, fill up our cup and make us feel like we’re making a difference. And a great side hustle can tick all those boxes.

But have you ever wondered whether your side hustle is something that should be formalised as a business? At what point do you need to have an ABN and insurance? Should you be keeping records?

It’s a bit frustrating, but there isn’t one single measure that dictates whether you’re in business or you’re running an awesome hobby.

You might be running a business if you:

  • Intend to make a profit (ok, so who doesn’t!).
  • You’re repeating activities.
  • You advertise or have a website or social media presence.
  • You have a separate bank account.
  • You need to have a licence or qualification.

There are a number of other factors too, but the more you operate in an organised fashion, the more likely you are to be considered a business.

How Sarah’s candle making hobby became a business

Sarah started out making soy candles when she was 18. She enjoyed making these for family and friends and gave them as gifts. At particular times of the year, she would make extra and advertise them for sale on her private Facebook page.

Sarah sourced the pots from Kmart and made the candles at home. She didn’t have a business name or social media page, and whilst she put a lot of time into making her candles every few months, she didn’t have a concerted pattern of production or advertising.

At this point, Sarah’s activity is considered a hobby. This is because, despite making some sales, any profit she makes is a secondary consideration and simply helps to pay for her expenditure on an ad hoc basis.

As Sarah’s skills grew, her candles become highly sought after. After a couple of years, she decided to get a bit more serious. She developed a brand and registered it, developed a variety of scents, set up a business social media presence and actively worked to increase visibility and engagement.

She regularly attended markets, purchased branded stickers for her pots and increased the quality of the materials. She regularly manufactured her product so that she always carried some stock. She tracked her income and expenses and expected her profit to help to pay for her university costs.

At this stage, Sarah is considered to be in business. This is because she is actively seeking to make an income from her activity and she is marketing her product and engaging in regular manufacturing and sales.

Now your side hustle is a business, where can you get support?

There are some great small business Facebook groups you can join to meet other business owners who are in similar positions or have done it all before. There’s also government subsidised online community groups like BizHQ that have very low fees and provide a range of resources.

It’s also a great idea to hire yourself an accountant. Whilst spending some money on financial expertise might initially sound intimidating, it’s a decision that could end up paying you serious dividends down the line.

The best place to start is by seeking some references then picking two or three to interview. Remember, they will be working for you! Find someone that explains their fee schedule, clearly steps you through the things you need to do or decide on, and is also a good fit for how you communicate.

Ask them about the people they normally work with, including the types of clients they have and the staff that make up their teams. You need to feel comfortable you are in good hands, and have a clear understanding of what you will be paying for and how it will benefit you.

For more information or to speak to a member of the Findex Business Advisory team, visit findex.com.au or email the at Findex Orange .


Findex (Aust) Pty Ltd ABN 84 006 466 35

While all reasonable care is taken in the preparation of the material in this document, to the extent allowed by legislation Findex accept no liability whatsoever for reliance on it. All opinions, conclusions, forecasts or recommendations are reasonably held at the time of compilation but are subject to change without notice. Findex assumes no obligation to update this material after it has been issued. You should seek professional advice before acting on any material. This document contains general information and is not intended to constitute legal or taxation advice. If you need legal or taxation advice, we recommend you speak to a qualified adviser. Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.
© Findex Group Limited 2020. All rights reserved.

About Findex:

As one of Australasia’s leading integrated advisory firms, Findex provide uniquely tailored, integrated solutions for people, businesses, government organisations and institutions that transform and grow as their needs do. We pride ourselves on a high touch, personalised approach to help our clients achieve their financial, professional and life goals.

With over 110 offices throughout Australia and New Zealand, our vast geographical footprint provides you direct access to our expert advisers, the ability to respond to international and national issues, access to competitive solutions in your location, while understanding and supporting local communities.

For more information on Findex and the Family Office approach to small business finance, visit www.findex.com.au

This post is sponsored by Findex.


Celebrating Scots All Saints College Year 12 students

As Year 12 students approach the end of their schooling Scots All Saints College ensured this important milestone was celebrated well.

There have been many challenges faced by all schools this year due to the impact of COVID-19 as teachers, staff and students had to modify their educational programs, sometimes on a daily basis to maintain the NSW Government Health Guidelines.

Scots All Saints College in Bathurst was more fortunate than most schools to be able to deliver continuity of learning in the classroom and/ online as required. With two spacious campuses, students were able to literally ‘spread out’ and Middle School (5-8) boarders were able to be housed on the All Saints Campus and Senior Boarders (9-12) housed on Scots Campus.

Scots All Saints College was extremely fortunate to be able to maintain all of our core curricular programs, our boarding school and where possible find new ways of doing things such as the introduction of our “Active Afternoon” sports program activities such as mountain biking, scooters, running, martial arts, orienteering, soccer, hockey and rugby could continue inside school time. Sports carnivals also could take place in new ways.  Despite the challenges, our Year 12  were very well prepared for the HSC as we were able to operate almost completely as before coronavirus with minimal disruption. For students who needed to isolate online and video lessons were provided so that students experienced very little difference in their preparation for the HSC compared to a “normal” year.

Throughout the final week of Term 3, Year 12 students enjoyed some fun and games before the start of their Higher School Certificate (HSC).

There was also been some organised games including a Year 12 versus teachers volleyball game (which the teachers won), a scavenger hunt, a water fight and a scooter time trial.

“The staff are very proud of how the Year 12s have handled this year and how they’ve conducted themselves going into their HSC exams. (see photos – dress up in their favourite childhood character)

A special ceremony was held at Aikman Hall on Friday morning 16 October for teachers, staff and senior students to farewell their Year 12 students. There was a moving tribute by College Captains, Natalia Burgess and Harry Dickenson reflected on the resilience of the College to pull together and continue to provide supportive and motivational learning. Friendships made throughout their schooling was strengthened and they will always cherish the memories of their time here. As they are now sit their Higher School Certificate (HSC) and move onto the next journey of their lives as young men and women of purpose, we trust that their efforts and preparations have guided them to achieve their best. Due to COVID-19 Safe practices, parents and family were unable to attend the ceremony in person but a special video presentation was shared with their parents and the College community.

The Year 12 Formal Farewell will be held at the Bathurst Goldfields on 27 November 2020.  Senior staff are working closely with their Year 12 students to ensure they celebrate the occasion in style. Academic prizes and awards will be presented to the Year 12 students on this evening, in the presence of their parents. We wish all Year 12 students all the best in their HSC exams and for their next chapter beyond the school gate.



On The Seventh Day of Christmas…


On The Sixth Day of Christmas…


Kinross Wolaroi School Graduation Day

After a challenging year for Year 12 students, students can finally celebrate the HSC exams finishing this week.

On Saturday 14 November 2020, Kinross Wolaroi School in Orange will bring back the Class of 2020 and their parents to celebrate their graduation and the successful completion of their school education.

The graduation will be held in the School’s Derek Pigot Auditorium, where the cohort will be split in two so that they can be joined by their parents for an hour-long ceremony and awards presentation. With one ceremony at 10am and the next at 1pm, both will be livestreamed so that family, friends and the school community can share in the celebration and speeches.

Later that day the students will return to school for a school sponsored, students-only Graduation Ball, including dinner and dancing.

A professional photographer will capture all the day’s events so that the photos can be shared among graduates, family and friends.

Throughout the day the school will carefully adhere to the COVID-19 regulations for school graduations, while at the same time doing everything possible to ensure the students and their families have an enjoyable and memorable day.

The Principal and staff trust that Year 12 2020 will enjoy this important occasion, especially after all the challenges they have faced in the past year.




On The Fifth Day of Christmas…


On The Eighth Day of Christmas…


On The Fourth Day of Christmas…


On The Third Day of Christmas…


Bathurst Scots All Saints College Preparatory School – Opening 2021

As the population of young families moving to pockets of the Central West increase, there is a huge demand for available spots in pre-schools and prep schools.

News off the press

In Bathurst, Scots All Saints have announced they will provide the school readiness children need prior to entering the Early Learning Stage 1 curriculum for Kindergarten. Construction is already underway on a purpose-built, modern Preparatory School on the All Saints Campus to be ready for the start of 2021.

Head of College, Mr John Weeks said, “the Scots All Saints College Preparatory School will form an integral part of our educational offering , providing 4 and 5 year olds with an outstanding start to their education”.

Also known as “The Prep School”, it is the only pre-school option in the Bathurst region which is part of a New South Wales Education Authority Registered K-12 school.

“It will offer 2,3,4 and 5 day options in an idyllic environment for young children to thrive”.

Features include modern technology and new resources, as well as a new playground with a nature area. The bike path, play equipment, vegetable garden and small animal farm will ensure a well-rounded program to develop the whole child physically, socially, emotionally as well as preparing them academically.

It is important for children to have a strong school foundation program. This improves the child’s learning experience as they confidently prepare for Kindergarten.

As a result of these new arrangements, all Pre-Kindergarten students enrolled at Scots All Saints College in 2021 will attend the new Preparatory School on the All Saints Campus.

See website for more information

Facebook: Scots All Saints


The CWM 12 Days of Christmas


MooGoo Scalp Cream Review

Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis)

Cradle cap is a common skin condition that usually affects infants between 1 and 3 months and usually clears up around 12 months old. Less commonly, children can experience cradle cap for longer.

Please contact your doctor for advice if it does not go away over a short period or you notice the patches spreading over your baby’s face and body.

My daughter is 5 months old and is experiencing a lot of cradle cap, and has a slightly larger fontanelle (Fontanelle is that soft spot that infants have on top of their skulls). Under the age of six months, I do not want to risk using any products with chemicals on her scalp.  Most of the products I have found have a disclaimer on packaging reading; ‘product can cause irritation and you should avoid washing and shampooing your baby’s hair during any treatment’.

MooGoo saves the day

MooGoo Scalp Cream is a vegan product that uses natural oils to treat the Cradle Cap in infant. The active ingredients in this product are Olive Oil and Coconut Oil and the combination of a few excipient ingredients that together work really well on removing the cradle cap out of my baby’s hair.

Value for money

Honestly the best part for me is that you don’t need to use much work to get a good result out of this product. Just a small amount of the cream spread on my baby’s scalp at night is all it takes, and when she wakes up a good amount of the cradle cap has come off or it’s just hanging out of the tip of her hair. The product retails for $17.95 for a 120 gm tube.

In my case, I saw the difference in her scalp after 48 hours of using the product and I’m still using it after a few days as she does have some cradle cap remaining but much less than the start and I would believe that in general you won’t really need to use this product for more than two weeks to be satisfied. Also, you can bath or shower as usual and I wash and shampoo her hair without any problem. According to the product’s description it can also be used for the relief of seborrheic dermatitis in adults so I would recommend it is worth a try if you suffer with this condition.

Pros: Effortless, fast action and nice smell

Cons: It will leave your baby’s hair a bit oily so it has that constantly wet look.

*This is an independent review and it’s not sponsored by any company/ brand.



Halloween 2020 – Orange Open Air

Family Friendly Event –

Under the glow of the blue moon on Halloween this year, families headed out to Blood Orange; the inaugural Orange Open Air film event, for a fun and spooky screening of the must watch 1993 classic; Hocus Pocus. The movie was a great choice and had the entire family audience glued with the special effects and amazing costumes.

Central West Mums was proud to sponsor the costume competition and the effort that both children and their families put in was overwhelming. It was tricky to choose a runner up and winner.

Spilt Milk Bar created a signature flavour of pumpkin spice with choc chip on the evening, and OOA ensured that there were plenty of candy, popcorn and some trick or treat activities to entertain the kids.

We look forward to more events from Orange Open Air, so stay tuned by checking here.

Check out some of the amazing costumes on the night in our gallery; can you spot the winner?



Greek Horta Recipe (Greek Greens)

The Mediterranean diet is good for your health

Spring is an important time of year in the Mediterranean diet.  On the Greek Islands, locals are known to forage for an abundance of wild greens that nature provides known as “horta”. In Greece there are over 300 different edible wild green species such as dandelion, chicories, arugula, spinach, endive as well as an abundance of wild herbs. Their health benefits are believed supreme and are considered a superfood.

In Australia, many of these species can be purchased through supermarkets, organic produce outlets and farmers markets. Of course, you can also grow an abundance of greens yourself which takes eating your “horta” to the next level. There’s something so satisfying about watching something grow, cultivating it and preparing it into a healthy meal. You also know where it’s come from and can whole hearty know that your produce is organic.

One thing to remember when preparing Horta is that your greens will wilt to nothing so more is better!

There’s no limitations to the greens you can include, whatever you like will work. The recipe is flexible and will of course work with more greens or less. Adjust the herbs and spices to suit your palate – there really is no right or wrong here.



2 large bunches silverbeet

1 large bunch mixed kale

1 large bowl mixed spinach varieties

1 large leek

1 large cup freshly finely chopped parsley

1 large cup fresh finely chopped dill



1 lemon (or more to taste)

Olive oil (locally produced or Greek extra virgin olive oil is best for this)


  1. Start by soaking your greens for at least an hour in some water and apple vinegar. Give them a good rinse and roughly chop the leaves and finely chop the stems.
  2. Boil a large pot of water and add the greens to the water. Cook until the stems are soft.
  3. Once cooked, drain the greens- water from this can be reserved for drinking (the Greek use this as an elixir) or simply use it to water the garden.
  4. Finely chop the leek (white part and some of the green) and fry in some olive oil until translucent and soft.
  5. Add your drained greens to the leek and throw in the dill and parsley.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste
  7. Add the juice from your lemon (add more/less to taste) and combine the mixture by giving it a good stir.
  8. Drizzle with as much olive as desired.

Horta is perfect to eat on its own, or it can be used as a lovely side dish for chicken, lamb or fish.

It can be kept in the fridge for two days after being prepared, but to be honest it makes you feel so good it probably won’t last that long.


Try giving your Horta an extra special twist by:

  • Adding some dried chilli flakes
  • Swap out the lemon juice for finely chopped preserved lemon
  • Swap leek for white onion
  • Use melted grass fed butter instead of olive oil for frying and drizzling



Love Your Local Butcher and Local Lamb

Spring lamb is a succulent, flavoursome meat and across the Central West it’s that time of year when we are lucky enough to have an abundance of locally produced lamb.

It’s not difficult to source either, thanks to our lovely butchers who supply spring lamb, the perfect meat for the backyard BBQ as the weather heats up.

Woodward Street Quality Meats prides their business on stocking as much local produce as possible. “Meat is graded depending on many factors and we are passionate about supplying our community with high grade produce which is locally sourced here in the Central West at Breakout River Meats in Cowra” Jay Parkes says.

Jay Parkes started his apprenticeship with the original owners of Woodward Street Quality Meats 26 years ago. Jay says his family it’s now carrying on the legacy after making the decision to buy the business “My wife Nicole and I purchased the shop nearly 7 years ago.”

When buying from your local butcher you’re guaranteed freshness “We have numerous deliveries weekly so we can cater for our customers and provide the freshest produce available” says Mr Parkes. You’re also keeping money and jobs local when you choose to buy from Woodward Street Quality Meats.

And if it’s something unusual your looking for the in store butchers are more than happy to try and source it for you, all you have to do is ask! Jay says “the most peculiar piece of meat someone has asked us to order in is a Bulls penis?! Apparently it’s used for medicinal purposes in China”.

While spring lamb is the pick of the season, why not also grab a couple of the Woodward Street Quality Meats sausages? “Not only have they become a bbq favourite, but we were lucky enough to have won the ‘NSW sausage competition’ a few years ago” Jay Parkes.

Next time you’re entertaining, head into Woodward Street Quality Meats and grab yourself some delicious Cowra spring lamb. If you’re having a BBQ we recommend you try a family favourite here at Central West Mums- Greek BBQ Lamb chops! It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and we guarantee the smell of them cooking will make your neighbours envious! Enjoy!!


Greek BBQ Lamb Chops with Greek salad & Tzatziki.

Serves 10

What you need for the spring lamb chops:

10 Cowra Spring Lamb Shoulder Chops available at Woodward Street Quality Meats 

2 tablespoons dried oregano

2 tablespoons dried basil leaves

Juice of  2 lemons

2 large garlic clove minced

1/4 cup Olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper

What to do:

Marinating your chops:

In a glass dish that fits your chops, mix the oregano, basil, juice of 1 lemon, minced garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper together to make a marinade rub. Rub each chop with a little of the marinade so both sides of each chop have been covered. Cover your dish and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 4 hours.

Time for the BBQ:

Take your lamb chops out of the fridge and leave to come to room temperature while you heat up the BBQ.

Place chops onto the BBQ and cook for 3 minutes each side for medium or 5 minutes each side for well done.

Place chops in a clean glass dish, brush with the remaining lemon juice.

Cover with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

Serve your chops with Greek salad and tzatziki.


What you need for the Greek Salad:

3 large ripe tomatoes cut into wedges

2 Lebanese cucumbers cut into chunks

1 green capsicum chopped into slices

1/2 red onion finely sliced

3 tablespoons black pitted whole Kalamata olives

200g block of Greek Feta

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

pinch of salt

crack of pepper


What to do:

To make the perfect Greek salad make sure your ingredients are fresh and ripe. Did you know traditional Greek salad never contains lettuce!

Wash and prepare your vegetables and place them into a big bowl.

Add your olive oil, red wine vinegar, pinch of salt (remember your olives and feta will be salty so don’t add too much) and pepper and mix.

Break the feta into large chunks and place onto of the salad.

Sprinkle with the dried oregano and if desired, add a little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top.


What you need for the Tzatziki:

1 cup thick plain Greek yoghurt

3 cucumbers washed

1/2 cup fresh mint washed and finely chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 garlic clove minced

1 teaspoon salt

crack of pepper


What to do:

Place your yoghurt into a bowl.

Add the minced garlic, chopped fresh mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir.

Cut your cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out and discard the seeds.

Grate your cucumber (a fine grate is best) and squeeze out as much liquid from the cucumber as possible and add to the yoghurt, give it a mix.

Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste.

Tzatziki can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.


This post is sponsored by Woodward Street Quality Meats, Orange NSW



Postnatal Depression

What is Postnatal Depression?

This is different to the “baby blues” that many women experience in the first few days after having a baby, and which resolves quickly. Many women, especially new mums, will experience some of these symptoms for a day or two, but if these symptoms are present most days for a couple of weeks, you need to speak to your midwife, child health nurse or GP. If this feels too hard, talk to a close friend, partner or family member. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • Feeling low or sad, tearful, negative
  • Not enjoying things
  • Struggling to bond with your new baby, or worrying about the baby
  • Extreme tiredness and lack of motivation
  • Hopelessness, worthlessness or a sense of inadequacy
  • Anxiety and panic attacks
  • Suicidal thoughts

“Depression alone affects up to one in ten women during pregnancy. In the first year after birth, it affects up to one in five women. Perinatal depression in dads or partners is not as well-researched. Evidence to date estimates about one in ten new dads are affected at some point from pregnancy through to the first year after birth. This rises to I in 5 if the mother is depressed. Dads’ roles have evolved in recent decades and men can find this transition to parenthood tricky”. The Gidget Foundation

The usual assessment tool health professionals use to help diagnose Postnatal Depression is the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Score (EDPS) https://www.cope.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/EPDS-Questionnaire.pdf


What happens if I am experiencing these symptoms and don’t want to say anything?

  • It is nothing to be ashamed of, it doesn’t make you a bad mother, and no one will judge you. But it is not something that you can “snap out of”, and you will likely need some support to get through it. Many women I see with postnatal depression take several months to come forward, and once on the road to recovery look back and say “I wish I’d sought help sooner”. So please, speak out, speak to someone you trust, and get the help you need and deserve.

What can I do to help myself?

  • Build a support network, meet other mums for a chat, reach out through Central West Mums to fellow mums who may be in a similar position
  • Accept offers of help
  • Make time for some exercise, even if just putting baby in the pram and going out for a walk
  • Focus on healthy and regular meals, and make sure you drink enough water. Reduce alcohol and caffeine
  • Get up, showered and dressed, even if you don’t plan on leaving the house, having that routine can really help your mental health
  • Keep a mood diary – it helps you notice changes in your mood, and how people, places and situations around you affect your mood
  • Mindfulness – this doesn’t have to be time consuming; you can even practice it whilst your baby is feeding. There are multiple apps available to help with this.

I’m worried about being prescribed antidepressants as I’m breast feeding

  • Not all women with postnatal depression need antidepressants. Many can be helped through their condition with simple strategies such as resting, exercise, getting some time out for yourself, extra support at home or with your new baby.
  • For those women with more severe symptoms, counselling or psychological therapy can provide many therapeutic benefits
  • For those women who require antidepressants, your GP will ensure you are prescribed one which is safe with breast feeding. Please don’t let this fear get in the way of seeking help.

I think I need psychological support but am worried about costs

  • Your GP may be able to provide you with a Mental Health Care Plan, which allows you to access the Medicare rebate on psychological therapy. There is likely to be an out of pocket cost, but the psychology practice you are referred to will go through these costs with you. Generally, the majority of the cost is covered by the Medicare rebate.

I had postnatal depression in a previous pregnancy. Will I get it again with this pregnancy?

  • There are things you can do during your pregnancy to help yourself be as strong as possible before your baby arrives. Ensuring adequate rest (not always easy if you have other children at home), reducing stress levels, accepting help and support from those around you can all contribute to improving your mental health antenatally, and potentially reduce the chances of developing postnatal depression with this pregnancy.
  • Tell your midwife, obstetrician or GP about your history – they can work with you to make a plan for after delivery. The good news is that if you’ve had it before, you are likely to recognise the signs and seek help sooner.
  • It is thought that approximately 20% of women who have experienced postnatal depression previously, will develop it in a subsequent pregnancy.

I’m worried about my partner – is it possible for him to have postnatal depression?

  • Yes definitely, in fact about 1 in 10 dads develop postnatal depression in the first 12 months after their baby is born. And 50% of partners of mothers with postnatal depression, will experience similar symptoms. As with maternal postnatal depression, it often goes undiagnosed.
  • Symptoms in men can be different, and include withdrawal from family, work or social situations, frustration and irritability, alcohol and drug use, indecisiveness, insomnia.
  • If you have concerns about your partner’s mental health, please contact your GP, speak to him, or to friends or family for support.


If this article raises any issues or concerns, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours / 7 days)

If you’re concerned about your own or someone else’s mental health, you can call the NSW Mental Health Line 1800 011 511 for advice.

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department.

PANDA, the national Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Association also has a helpline 1300 726 306 (Mon-Fri 9am – 7.30pm). More information about PANDA is available at www.panda.org.au

MumSpace is an online support resource for new Mums at every step.


Cope (Centre of Perinatal Excellence)

Black Dog Institute

Postpartum Depression statistics







Mayfield Gardens, Oberon

Mayfield Gardens is one of those places I’ve always heard people rave about, though it’s convenient location near home in the Central West had me popping it in the “it will always be there” basket. Now that I’ve been there, I wish I had visited sooner!

Open 363 days of the year (except for Christmas Day and Boxing Day), the beautiful gardens have so much to offer for the whole family and you can tailor the visit to suit your group of people. They are a wonderful source of inspiration to see what grows well in our Central West climate for your own home garden.

Taking the kids?

The maze, the aviary, and the flying fox are a must do!

Just be sure to check out the Mayfield Gardens website as some activities are only open at certain times of the year. There are also some areas of the garden which are mobility friendly and are suitable for prams. It can be a bit of a walk for the little ones so be sure to pack enough water to get through the morning. There’s no doubt you’ll be hungry and ready for a rest after all that fun so pack a picnic lunch or grab some takeaway from the café and enjoy it in the picnic area.

Going with your girlfriends?

Make sure you book ahead and enjoy breakfast or lunch in the café. If it is beautiful weather, then definitely opt for outside seating and enjoy a glass of bubbles and the sharing cheese board. The Water Garden offers a serene walk to finish off the morning, just be sure to leave the heels at home.

Going with your partner?

You’ll want to take the boardwalk around to the jetty and enjoy a relaxing row on the lake. Refueling is not a worry with the ‘Big Daddy Beef Burger’ on the café menu. Mayfield gardens are also dog friendly, so bring a leash and your furry friends can join you on your stroll through the gardens.


For an adult, the cost is $35.00 pp during the festival seasons and $20.00 pp outside of the festival weeks. Also be sure to ask about the school holiday workshops for kids.

It is worthwhile booking in advance. There are discounts for locals (Oberon, Bathurst and Lithgow) during the festival seasons so ensure you enquire when booking.

Tips on bathrooms;

There are four located in the gardens;

  1. At the cafe on entry
  2. At the Croquet court (sometimes there is a water station open to fill bottles)
  3. The Chapel
  4. The Amphitheatre

Where are they located?

Located 10km out of Oberon Mayfield Gardens is a short 35- minute drive from Bathurst or an 80- minute drive from Orange.

530 Mayfield Road, Oberon




Contraception for couples – Mens Health, Why have a Vascetomy?

When the subject of “the snip” comes up in conversation most men will try to change the subject.

Despite this, vasectomy remains the safest and most successful form of permanent contraception when compared to tubal ligation in females.

How does the procedure work?

The procedure is usually technically straightforward and is performed under local anaesthetic or a light general anaesthetic.

A tiny incision is made on each side of the scrotum and a small piece of the vas deferens (the tube which carries sperm to the prostate where it joins the seminal fluid) is removed, both ends ligated and separated.

How long does the procedure take and what is my recovery time?

The procedure takes 15-20 min and recovery is usually complete in 1-2 weeks. As some live sperm can persist in the system for a while after the procedure it is important to maintain contraception for around 12 weeks and wait for a clear semen analysis. There is no effect on sexual function or libido.

Careful consideration

Whilst the majority of men make a full recovery and have no long-term issues there are some implications and risks which require careful counselling prior to the procedure.

Couples should make a firm decision that they have completed their families and should regard vasectomy as irreversible. If circumstances change, vasectomy reversal or IVF are options but are not 100% successful. The success rate is very close to 100% but occasional cases of fertility returning after a successful vasectomy have been reported (1 in 3000).

This is thought to be due to the 2 cut ends of the vas deferens re-joining (re-canalisation of the vas) but is extremely rare with modern techniques. Around 1-2% of patients will suffer from post vasectomy pain syndrome which can affect quality of life and may lead to some regret.


Quick Fix Energy Kicks

When the kids are bouncing off the walls running us ragged, it may seem counter-intuitive to give them an energy boost…. but in many instances, hyperactivity, poor concentration and generally disruptive behaviour, can reflect low energy reserves and a lack of quality nutrition.


Surprisingly, plain old H2O is one of the quickest, easiest (and cheapest) energy boosters you can have! When kids (and adults) become dehydrated, physical energy plummets… brains become foggy…. and concentration becomes difficult (often leading to erratic behaviour)! Although plain water is best, it can also be infused with fruits or flavoured teas to add more interest.


Despite popular ‘diet culture’ veering away from grains in recent years, whole grains are still one of the best sources of energy available to us. Filled with dietary fibre and carbohydrates, traditional rolled oats provide a slow-release source of energy that can be jazzed up in a whole range of interesting ways, including the addition of fruit or cacao.


Protein foods are essential for building strong muscles as well as keeping ‘hangry’ mood swings at bay! Eggs are a fabulous, clean and easy source of protein… and with so many ways to cook them, the kids will never get bored! Scrambled eggs with cheese is classic comfort food for kids, and a boiled egg is a healthy addition to any lunchbox.


A lack of potassium in the body can result in lethargy and memory problems…. but bananas are a great source of it, and thus help to regulate and calm the body’s nervous and muscular systems. Most kids love bananas, but if the taste or texture becomes an issue, try blending frozen banana chunks with yogurt and fruit for a creamy smoothie.


The omega 3 fatty acids found in oily fish like salmon, have been proven to reduce hyperactivity and increase focus and concentration. Being high in quality protein means tummies stay fuller for longer, and blood sugar (and moods) remain steady.

Some kids are reluctant to eat fish, so try starting with something familiar like tuna melts, or adding a little salmon to scrambled eggs, quiche or zucchini slice. They won’t even know it’s in there!


Disclaimer: This post is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and you should seek professional verification on matters such as legal, health and wellness, travel or financial opinion prior to relying on such information.


Movember and Prostate Cancer screening – Men’s Health

Men’s Health:

So November is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and also Movember. This is a favourite time of the year for most men as instantaneous societal approval is given for them to ditch the razor and grow a moustache. Sadly, most women are less keen on this sudden sprouting of facial hair. However, at the end the day the awareness and huge fundraising boost to Men’s Health is massive and it’s a month to celebrate. Interestingly, there are new ways of raising money other than simply growing a moustache; including moving for 60km, hosting a Mo-ment or just doing some gruelling test of physical endurance. Check out their website.

So let’s switch gears a get into the specific topic of prostate cancer. The first question to address is where and what is the prostate?


It’s a gland about the size of a walnut sitting just below your bladder. Its function is basically to secrete protective and nutritious fluid (also known as the seminal fluid) to ensure sperm can reach their ultimate destination.  Put simply, its role is to aid in reproduction of the species.

So now that we know the basics about the prostate lets discuss how it can become abnormal. Basically the major abnormal finding is enlargement. As you age your prostate grows just like your eyebrows and ear hairs. This is called simple or benign enlargement (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia) and is not a cancer. This growth can lead to urinary symptoms like a weak stream, dribbling at the end and frequent bladder emptying. These same symptoms can also indicate prostate enlargement due to cancer. So if you have any of these symptoms pick up the phone now and book yourself into your GP. The GP will take a detailed history, particularly focusing on any family history of prostate cancer. Depending on your history, symptoms, age and family history the GP will then discuss prostate cancer screening tests.

Do I need to have rectal examination?

Well, there are mixed views on this question. The procedure involves a lubricated gloved finger being inserted up the bum. Obviously men don’t look forward to internal examinations, however, all urologists (surgeons who treat prostate cancers) strongly recommend that a digital rectal examination is performed at the time a prostate cancer blood test is taken. This blood test is called the PSA and its short for prostate specific antigen.

The challenge with the PSA blood test is that there is no ‘normal value’. The PSA is dependent on many factors including your age and the size of your prostate. Remember your prostate grows as you age, so the PSA goes up over time too. To this day, it remains a very debatable screening test for detecting lethal prostate cancers. What do the expert governing bodies think about PSA screening? The Cancer Council of Australia is on the fence. It states that men with average risk for prostate cancer who have been informed of the benefits and harms of testing can choose to have a PSA screening testing. In this scenario, a PSA should be performed every 2 years from age 50 to 60. If the PSA is greater than 3.0ng/mL more investigation is needed. In short, men who understand what they are getting themselves into with PSA testing can opt for screening.

More specifically, the Cancer Council does not recommend PSA testing at age 40 or for men older than 70 as the harms outweigh the benefits. But if you have a higher than average risk, because your father had prostate cancer, then PSA testing is recommended from age 45. The Cancer Council is more decisive on the role of a digital rectal examination. This is not recommended on top of the PSA test. One of the reasons for this statement is not deter men from seeing their GP due to anxiety regarding the rectal examination.

So this brings me to the more fundamental question; what is the role of cancer screening?

This may get a bit heavy but stay with me. All of the prostate cancer patients I see in clinic are adamant that prostate cancer screening is a must for all men. But screening is not only about improving the health and life of an individual but also protecting the whole screening community from unnecessary interventions and harm. There are thousands more men who are screened who do not have cancer.

So to attempt to explain the complexities of screening lets start at the beginning and answer the critical question –

What is the purpose of cancer screening and in particular prostate cancer screening?

One would naturally think it must be to detect cancers early. However in actual fact the goal of any cancer screening program must be to make you live longer. Some prostate cancers are so slow growing that you will die from other diseases well before your prostate cancer spreads and leads to your death. This sounds unbelievable as there is so much dread associated with the word ‘cancer’ but trust me on this one. Other cancers are highly aggressive and can take your life within years.

There is thus a massive spectrum in the severity of prostate cancer and all cancers are clearly not the same. We must strive for a cancer screening test that can identify the dangerous and lethal prostate cancers and also tells us which prostate cancer is an indolent one and can be watched or ignored. A good analogy here is to think about a 1 foot high fenced in area which represents your prostate.  Imagine there are 3 types of prostate cancer inside the fence represented by a turtle, a hare and a dove. The turtle is the very slowing moving prostate cancer that will never escape your prostate and thus can be safely ignored. A cancer screening program should not identify these cancers or at least be able to tell us we can ignore them. The dove is the very aggressive prostate cancer that has in all likelihood already spread beyond the prostate. If we detect this cancer in the prostate with a screening test its immaterial. It’s simply too late to cure this cancer as it’s already flown from the prostate. Lastly, the hare represents the prostate cancer that has the potential to escape the fenced in area and become a lethal cancer but can be identified early using a screening program ie. before it can jump over the fence and escape. It is this cancer, if removed early, that will result in a life saved from screening. Get it?

So what can or should I do?

The best advice is to be body aware and involve your GP if there are any obstructive urinary symptoms or changes to your wellbeing. Don’t sit on things, or your prostate, and hope they go away. The next piece of advice is to focus on the modifiable risk factors for prostate cancer. These are maintaining a healthy weight range, regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet and following the guidelines for alcohol consumption.

Prostate cancer is hormone driven and the more fat you have the more leptin you have to potentially cause prostate cancer.

Studies have demonstrated the association between increased prostate cancer and waist circumference1. High blood pressure has also been demonstrated to increase your risk of prostate cancer. Other analyses2 have explored the role of diets rich in tomatoes (source of lycopenes) which appear to have a modest role in preventing prostate cancer if copious amounts of raw tomatoes are eaten. The Mediterranean diet has captured a lot of media interest of late. It’s a diet full of leafy green vegetables, low red meat and dairy intake, high intake of legumes, nuts and wholegrain cereals.

Why is that so?

In a nutshell (pardon the pun) the Mediterranean diet is abundant in foods that may protect against prostate cancer (n-3 fatty acids and phytochemicals – lycopene, resveratrol and Vitamins E &C) and is associated with longevity and reduced cardiovascular and cancer mortality. Compared with many Western countries, Greece has lower prostate cancer mortality and Greek migrant men in Australia have retained their low risk for prostate cancer. Consumption of a traditional Mediterranean diet, rich in bioactive nutrients, may confer protection to Greek migrant men, and this dietary pattern offers a palatable alternative for prevention of this disease. At the end of the day, it’s hard to categorically conclude based on the evidence that following a Mediterranean diet will lower your chances of prostate cancer but nonetheless it is a healthy approach to eating. Several meta-analyses have concluded opposite findings, one3. where there is no benefit and a second4 study which did demonstrate a lower probability of dying from cancer.

  1. Effect of metabolic syndrome and its components on prostate cancer risk: Meta-analysis – K Esposito et al Journal of Endocrinological Investigation 2013.
  2. Increased dietary and circulating lycopene are associated with reduced prostate cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis – J Rowles et al Prostate Cancer and Prostatic Diseases 2017
  3. Mediterranean dietary pattern and the risk of prostate cancer. A meta-analysis – S Cheng et al Medicine 2019
  4. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of cancer: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies – Lukas Schwingshackl  et al Cancer Medicine 2015



Noteworthy Books to Read this Month

The Central West Mums Book Club is
proudly sponsored by Colins Booksellers
230 Summer Street Orange.


Blayney Skatepark and Adventure Playground – Central West, NSW

Allow me to start by saying that if you have children that won’t sit still and always up for the next adventure, then read on…

Blayney is a small village about 30 minutes southeast from Orange and 30 minutes southwest of Bathurst by car.  There are  charming historical buildings nearby and if it’s at the right time of year; (around end of September/October) you might spot some bright yellow canola fields along the road when driving via Millthorpe.

The Skatepark is situated in Heritage Park. This is a picture perfect destination for a day trip so pack a picnic and bring the entire family including your dogs (there is a dog-friendly area where you can let them off the leash).

Please note, if you have young children, you need to watch them at all times as there is water in ponds although certainly not suitable for swimming. If you are counting on take-away, there is very little open on a Sunday.

Our boys jumped out the car so fast with excitement that they beat our dogs to discover this huge playground. It has been well designed with multiple pieces of equipment to play on with shade sails. The skate park was opened late 2018 and has been well maintained looking virtually new.

You can bring your scooter, skateboard or bike as the surface is super smooth. The bowl design is not too big for the younger kids to tweens.

There are bike paths not far away as well and if you love soaking up nature; you could spot up to fifteen species of birds in the area.

The toilets are not bad, although I always bring tissues and hand sanitiser where ever I go.

Heritage park is on the corner of Adelaide and Martha Streets.

Grip it-n-Rip It!


Em & The Wild Things

If you’re looking for Emily Eckhard you’ll usually find her behind the lens of her camera. Talented photographer and business owner of Em & The Wild Things, Emily spends her days capturing some of the Central West community’s most memorable moments. Originally from Sydney, Emily moved from London all the way to Molong back in 2010. A a single mum to three gorgeous children and self proclaimed hopeless romantic who loves hiking, podcasts and reading, Emily chatted with us for a little business back chat!

What is it that you love about the art and culture scene in the Central West? 

There’s a lot of talent in the community and artist and creatives support each other.

What do you think makes the Central West unique?

Endless inspiration in our landscape. More physical space to create. It’s a smaller pond so everyone gets to know each other, and it doesn’t feel as cliquey or as exclusive as it might be in bigger city/region.

Tell us a little bit about your recent exhibition- what inspired it?

My last exhibition was called Tree stories. It was a group show with Fiona Barrett-Clark, Ingrid Kwong, Ingrid Bowen. We explored the beauty and mystery of trees through photography and paint. Creating our own narratives by looking at silhouettes and patterns, light and shade, and the intrinsic nature of our arboreal relationships.

What really inspires your photography?

Beauty, truth, and love. The way people feel about each other. The way I feel about the natural world.

How would you describe your photography in three words?

Romantic, Timeless, Cinematic.

What is your favourite time of year to photograph in our region?

Each season has its own charm, autumn gets the most attention, but winter gets my vote because of the fog and frost.

What’s currently on your camera card?

Weddings and families.

Where can people see your gorgeous photography?

You can buy my prints from Camera House in Orange, Lime and Stone in Molong and Warruga Shack Airbnb in Orange.

To see more of Emily’s amazing photography check out @emandthewildthings on Instagram or head to her website.


Careers with Horses

Lindy Maurice is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Thoroughbred Industry Careers. After living overseas and starting a family, the country called her all the way back to Borenore, where she now lives with her husband and children. With a strong passion for horses, Lindy wanted to educate people that careers with horses is exciting. Lindy tells Central West Mums that being a horse trainer or jockey is just one of many jobs available in the Thoroughbred Industry.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

I live on a property at Borenore with my husband and two children aged 13 and 9. My parents moved to Orange when I was about 12, so I had 6 years living here as a teenager and then had around 20 years away, predominately in Sydney with a few stints living and working overseas with horses and later with racing.

We decided to move back to Orange after a few years working in Dubai when our eldest child was just a baby. Dubai is a very challenging place to live, the summers are too hot to go outside and the water too hot to swim in. Culturally it is also very challenging – you never really felt at ease and although I will never regret going there, it made me crave Australian country life as the place we wanted to bring up our children.

We have been back in Orange now for nearly 10 years, time flies and we love it. It is nice to have time with our families and for our parents to see their grandchildren grow up. My husbands family are on a property only 1.5 hrs away and my parents are here on the outskirts of Orange and we have some great mates here whom we have a lot of fun with.

I have been fortunate enough to continue my career in the Thoroughbred Industry from here and what we love about Orange is it close enough to Sydney but still feels a world away. Orange is a very different place to when I grew up here, but on the whole, the progression of the town has been extremely positive.

How did you come to run Thoroughbred Industry Careers and how long have you been running it?

It was very simple really, I took my kids to Guerie Pony Camp and re-entered a world that I hadn’t lived since I stopped competing when I went to University. It made me think…what are we doing to engage these young horse riders into the industry’s workforce? It is important to mention that over the past decade or so, staffing in our industry has become very scarce, with factors such as; the increased urbanisation in Australia (90% of Australian’s now live in city areas), the mining boom, lack of awareness of careers in our industry and a lack of strategic recruitment strategies, all playing their part, I decided that there was a job to be done to guide the next generation through.

So I called John Messara, who would be one of the most intelligent and influential people our industry has seen over the past century, and had a chat with him about it. Then, I did my research, I spent a year driving around the countryside to equestrian events, speaking to young people, their parents and their teachers. I then flew to England and Ireland and reviewed what they were doing and off the back of that formulated a plan for what I thought we need to do here in Australia.

Then came the hard part – who was going to fund it?

In the end, I went to those who I had a connection with and we raised $1 million over three years to kick it off.

Arrowfield Stud, Godolphin, Adrian Bott/Gai Waterhouse Racing, Chris Waller Racing, Lindsay Park Racing (Hayes Family), Tony McEvoy Racing, The Australian Turf Club are the original 7 benefactors. Since then Racing NSW, Racing Victoria, Racing Qld and Racing SA have made contributions.

Thoroughbred Industry Careers has been up and running for two years now and we are starting to gain real momentum. If we had more funding I would put on more staff to cope with the workload.

What does Thoroughbred Industry Careers offer and who can attend?

Predominately we are the marketing arm for careers in the thoroughbred industry, but we felt that we needed to bolster some elements in the education space so we have developed two signature educational programs which aim to bridge the gap for young people who want to enter our industry.


1. Explorer Program (18 – 24yrs) – this program runs over 12 months and is broken into three sections.

Part 1 – Boot Camp (3 months) – students learn the basics of everything breeding and racing (theory and practical learning) whilst residing at Western Sydney University’s Hawkesbury Campus.

Part 2 – 4.5 months for a leading racing stable (paid full time).

Part 3 – 4.5 months for a leading stud farm (paid full time). So in 12 months, Cadets should have a thorough understanding of the whole industry from how racing is administered, funded, how the carnivals work, the breeding cycle, the stallions, the major players along with strapping and riding racehorses, foaling down mares and prepping yearlings for sales. Cadets on this program have been incredibly successful. Applications are now open for this program.

2. Accelerator Program (18-27 yrs) – this is our latest offering, a 12-week intensive track-riding program where students are mentored by the best jockeys in Australia. This program is suited to those who are competent riders and want to learn the art of track-riding correctly and safely. This is also a good stepping stone for those who might aspire to be a jockey.

Currently, we are managing 70 students on both these programs. Students are placed with the best of the best so that they learn from the best of the best.

Our next big initiative is to introduce Pony Racing in Australia. That will see kids between 9 and 15 racing their ponies on racetracks as a grass roots sport that is currently lacking and this is the concept I am most excited about. This is the sport I would have like to have done with horses growing up.

Can you tell us a few of the jobs in this industry that perhaps people don’t think of or consider may be a job?

Most people think our industry has two jobs….a horse trainer and a jockey as this is what viewers see on the television.

The thoroughbred industry in Australia employs 75,000 people so you can imagine the scope of roles which keeps the show on the road.

The bloodstock world is very exciting, roles like Bloodstock Agents who are responsible for all of the buying and selling of horses at different stages and these roles are nearly always international roles, Bloodstock Auctioneers, the marketing teams behind nearly every operation, social media people, tech roles for online selling platforms etc.

Racing stables have many layers: from ground staff to logistic staff, racing managers, jockey agents, client managers….then the race clubs employ big numbers of people to deliver racing carnivals and race day logistics, the media in our industry have a lot of varied roles, the stud farms often employ over 120 people per farm and there are different departments on farms who manage the different stages of the horse, the racing regulators, stewards etc.

You also have the veterinary, horse health and well-being roles – vets, nutritionist, physiotherapists, farriers, feed merchants etc

If you love horses there is a job for everyone in this industry. From accountants to lawyers to pedigree experts to television presenters, photographers and equine artists even. What I love is you can combine what you are good at with your love of horses and you have an interesting career that doesn’t feel like a job.

For a full list of roles, please see – https://tbindustrycareers.com.au/a-z-careers/

What are some of the career paths your students have gone on to?

Foreman at Chris Waller Racing, Sales and Syndication Manager at McEvoy Mitchell Racing, we have a handful of students now studying Vet/Equine Science, track work riders for the 2020 Caulfield Cup winner 2020 ATC Oaks winner, 2020 Everest contender, Bloodstock assistant to American Horse Whisperer Monty Roberts, Assistant Broodmare Farm Manager, apprentice jockey’s, Stud Groom for Lane’s End Farm – leading stud farm in Nth America.

Why should young students consider taking a career path through Thoroughbred Industry Careers?

Because we give people the core skills and understanding of the industry and then guide and mentor them to work for the best of the best in Australia.
Do students who want to get involved in this industry need previous experience or prerequisites?
A good attitude to life and a love of horses is all they need, we take care of the rest.

How can people interested get involved?

Working in the thoroughbred industry isn’t a job, it’s a life – it is the most exciting, addictive industry involving our most treasured animal, ‘the horse’.
All the information is on our social media platforms and our website. If you follow our social media you won’t miss a thing!

Website: tbindustrycareers.com.au
Facebook – Thoroughbred Industry Careers
Twitter – TBredCareers


Mums to join Network – Daily Liberal

The Daily Liberal included this article on 12 October 2020. In it founder of Central West Mums Amorette Zielinski invites mothers to join the community. To read the article click here.


Like a Duck to Water

As a mum it’s easy to get stuck on the daily hamster wheel of mundane tasks and duties that require fulfilling. So, when the opportunity to try something completely out of the ordinary presents- I will always be the first one there (unless it’s jumping out of a plane- I’m not doing that).

Central West Mum’s teamed up with Orange Pinnacle Dragons to do just that- push mums to get out of their comfort zone, while having a little “me time”. Over the past few weeks many Mum’s have picked up a paddle and given dragon boat racing ago (good on you to those who did).

Sunday the 25th of October the weather was raining and cold. I was looking forward to this day so much and contemplated whether it would be cancelled. After no email popped up I headed out to Lake Canobolas. When I arrived at the lake I wasn’t sure if I was the only crazy one and all the other mums had opted to stay in bed. Turns out we were all as excited (and crazy) as each other- a little drizzle wasn’t going to rain on our parade.

After collecting our paddles and putting on life jackets 15 amazing women piled into the dragon boat and pushed off from the shore. Under the amazing instruction of Orange Pinnacle Dragon Boat Veteran Pearl (she’s been dragon boat racing for 14 years), we were off. Doing drills, rowing in time. After 10 minutes on the water I thought “wow we’re so good ready for the next regatta”! I’m not quite sure what was going through Pearl’s mind, but after playing back some video, I think a little more practice is required.

Half an hour in there wasn’t a dry patch on the boat, we were all drenched, I remember the lovely instructor Bree saying to me- you literally have water dripping off you everywhere (insert hypothermia). Nevertheless, I believe the weather added to the experience, we were all having so much fun we stuck it out. Some mums thought it was much better to keep rowing in the rain, then going ashore to deal with children who decided to take a dip fully clothed. There was actually something quite freeing and magical about being in the middle of the lake when it’s raining.

I’ve often watched the dragon boats training on Lake Canobolas and now I’ve experienced first-hand why they love it. I actually loved it so much I plan on joining the Orange Pinnacle Dragons crew. It’s such a fun way to exercise with a lovely group of people and it’s an all-inclusive sport that doesn’t require you to be an extreme athlete to participate. If you’re given the opportunity to try something out of the box and new give it a go. Don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back, you never know if you’ll get the chance again. Most of the mums I spoke to on the day had never tried anything like Dragon Boating but took to it like a duck to water!


Halloween activities

Even with COVID-Safe Guidelines released from the NSW Government for Halloween this year, there are plenty of activities you and your family can do to make Halloween fun.

After my family and I lived in Vancouver, Canada prior to moving to the Central West, our love for Halloween was born and it is now one of the most exciting events our boys look forward to each year.

Canadians really go all out to celebrate on October 31 with many spending months planning the decorations and go to lengths to  display at their home. Our neighbourhood around the Douglas Park area in Vancouver was a big attraction for Houses decked out which you can see from some of the pictures in gallery below.

There were adventures to the pumpkin patch to choose your pumpkins, the excitement of coming up with your costume and making some Halloween crafts and treats. We made some friends for life in Canada who introduced us to many traditions that we have brought back to Australia. Halloween is slowly growing to become a much bigger celebration here in Australia now too.

First and foremost, take the opportunity to learn how to carve a classic Jack O’Lantern which does take time to master so best to get carving early on! Our beautiful friends Nicole and Liam (let’s call them the experts), have put together a quick video tutorial for you to follow. The important thing is take your time, and certainly if your kids are participating, take care with any carving implements.

What you’ll need:

  1. A good sized pumpkin
  2. A knife or even better if you can buy a pumpkin carving tool pack (can be picked up online or from Woolworths), which are ideal too as they have serrated, dull-edged blades for cutting through pumpkin flesh.
  3. Spoon
  4. Bowl
  5. Newspaper and Paper towels

Note: You can also bake your pumpkin seeds too with some olive oil or avocado oil, some salt and baking paper. See below for a quick healthy snack recipe for in-between all the treats!

The final result

Once you are happy with your Jack O’Lantern’s ghoulish grin, then pick up one of those battery operated lanterns from a dollar dazzler store and light it up.

Some other inspiration that will keep your kids occupied as well as excited about Halloween, are to lookup some recipes to make some delicious and haunting treats. There are so many recipes online; here are some favourites (see images in gallery below);

> Brownie graveyard

> Band-aid biscuits

> Marshmallow and caramel ear buds

Recipe for baked Pumpkin seeds

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius (or 350 Fahrenheit). Once you have removed and cleaned your seeds, rinse them off in a bowl under tap and pat them dry and leave for a bit to dry further.
  2. Add a tablespoon or more of oil and stir it through.
  3. Spread your seeds on a baking tray lined with baking paper and add some salt on them.
  4. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes or until golden. Allow the seeds to cool down before eating.

Happy Halloween!




Swift Sparkling 10th Anniversary Celebration

The Swift family is a force to be reckoned with, moving to the Central West in the 70s and establishing their first vineyard in 1996. Jim and Ruth Swift founded Printhie, and since 2002, their sons Ed and Dave have worked hard to build up the Printhie wine brand.  In 2004, the winery and cellar door were built and now the winery has a 750 tonne capacity with barrel store and warehouse at the original property.  In 2020, the team behind Swift Sparkling celebrated their 10th Anniversary and the elegant range that have been handcrafted by world class winemaker Drew Tuckwell have all picked up significant awards at the NSW wine awards.  I was lucky enough to secure a ticket to this pinnacle event celebration and it is a pleasure to share what I have learned about this fabulous range from Ed and Dave Swift.

How do you all balance your work and family life?

To be honest at the moment we are lacking in balance! We’re running the winery and working in the cellar door 7 days a week. After the Covid shutdown we decided to move the cellar door to our new site at 208 Nancarrow Lane, Nashdale and it’s been non-stop since then. We will eventually build a new cellar door with a restaurant on the site but for now we’re running out of a beautiful old fruit packing shed built in the 1910’s.

When did you first have the thought and inspiration for producing sparkling and why?

It’s been a passion of the team for a long time now to create a premium methodé traditionelle sparkling. Which basically means we’re making champagne but of course we can’t call it that. This means secondary fermentation happens in the bottle and the yeast eating the sugar creates CO2 which produces the bubbles. Most sparklings produced in Australia are simply carbonated wine. A lot more skill, time, effort and patience goes into a methodé traditionnelle sparkling. Discussions started in 2008 and 2010 was our first vintage of creating a methodé traditionnelle sparkling wine. Our youngest Swift Sparklings are aged at least 5 years before we release them and our Blanc de Blancs is now 10 years old

Where is your sparkling made?

The base wine is made and stored in our winery. When it is time for disgorgement (after several years) we send it away (where the neck is frozen and yeast solids removed) as this is a very specialised piece of equipment.

You created that beautiful brand art piece for Swift in front of the Opera House; tell me more about that story?

We wanted to recreate the old Hollywood feeling of glamour but with an Australian perspective which captures the fun of drinking sparkling.

Our event Mumfest Central West event chose the serve the beautiful rose just prior to wining the Best Sparkling at the NSW Wine Awards again this year which was so exciting!  How is your rose made?

The Sparkling Rosé uses the same wine base as the Swift Cuvée (named in the 2021 top 10 best Sparklings in Australia by James Halliday) with the addition of Pinot Noir at the dosage stage. Whilst only a small amount of Pinot Noir is added it changes the profile of the sparkling completely and produces a beautiful complexity to it.

How challenging is it for you and your business to have sparkling wines laying in the cellar developing over 8 years ready to release for consumption?

We’ve actually got some that have been there for 10 years. It’s a huge investment to have stock sitting there for a decade before you bring it to market. It’s certainly not an easy decision to make but our aim is to be considered one of Australia’s best sparkling producers and the awards we’ve received in the last few years are testament to that.

The French have set the benchmark with their champagne; how do you position your sparkling against their product?

Australia’s Tyson Stelzer, considered an expert on both French champagne and Australian Sparkling, has used the same scoring system on our sparklings as he does on French champagne and our sparklings are on par with French champagne houses such as Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, Pommery and Perrier-Jouet.

Tell us about the exciting new release Swift 2016 Blanc de Noirs?

A very individual wine for Swift Sparkling, given that all other Swift wines are chardonnay dominant. This wine has been inspired by some of Champagne’s notable grower producers, where we have attempted to produce an interesting, high quality wine first that just happens to be sparkling as well. Ripe red fruit flavours, some savouriness from barrel fermentation, cloudy juice for depth and texture. It is a little left of field, intentionally so. Viva la difference.

For a bit of fun, share with us your favourite food pairings with each sparkling in the collection?

Cuvée – freshly shucked oysters

Rosé – something slightly Persian with feta, greens & pomegranate seeds

Vintage 2012 – Something a creamier such as mushroom risotto

Blanc de Noirs – Go for salmon, trout, duck pancake, sashimi

Blanc de Blanc – Also goes well with salmon/sashimi

“Our sparklings are not just aperitifs – they are complex enough to go beautifully with main meals.”

Why is this 10 year celebration significant for Swift Sparkling? Tell us about the evening’s event?

We’ve come a long way in 10 years since starting the Swift Sparkling range and we wanted to take a moment to celebrate the journey. We are only releasing the 10 year old Blanc de Blanc now so it’s been a long time coming and something worth celebrating especially since it has been received so well. The evening is all about enjoying sparkling.

Check out Swift Sparkling here:

Insta: @printhiewines

Facebook: Printhie Wines

Website: www.printhiewines.com.au


The Impacts of Stress on the body

2020 has been a stressful year for everyone and we are often unaware of the impacts that stress can have on the body. We can experience stress emotionally and physically, but the body can also experience stress when we feel like we are coping well.

What is stress and how stress works?

The body effectively has two “fuel tanks” or nervous systems to assist us to function on a daily basis.

The main fuel tank in the body is the parasympathetic nervous system. This is also known as the “rest and digest system”. This is the system that we should be operating out of 80% of the time. When we are using this fuel tank, the body is able to digest food, heal injuries and illnesses, we are calm and the body is functioning well.

We find that we experience good quality sleep and wake refreshed. It is important to know that the body heals when it is asleep, and if we are not getting enough sleep, or good quality sleep, then our body is unable to heal or function to the best of its ability.

Could you be putting your health at risk?

The second fuel tank is called the sympathetic nervous system, or our emergency fuel tank. This is known as our “fight and flight nervous system”.

It is only meant to be used for short bursts. The sympathetic nervous system is present at anytime we need it; day or night for example if someone attacks us, or we are placed in an emergency situation where we need to run, we have the energy to do so.

When this fuel tank is being used, the adrenals are firing and we have a burst of energy. During this time, we are unable to process foods and the majority of foods turn into fats (in case we are stranded on a deserted island with no food, it enables us to survive for longer periods), and we are unable to heal any injuries or illnesses. The body is using all of its energy to simply survive what it perceives as a dangerous situation.

As mothers, we all lead busy lives!

When we are up through the night, or rushing to get the kids out the door, our adrenals kick in and we move into the emergency fuel tank. We then tend to rush around doing all of our jobs, going to work, and juggling the stresses of daily life.

This year, we have experienced increased stress caused from COVID-19. Unfortunately many of us will be using our emergency fuel tank majority of the time. This is not good for the body and if we remain in this state for extended periods, you can risk adrenal fatigue and other conditions such as Chronic Fatigue. When we have depleted the main fuel tank and rely solely or mainly on the emergency fuel tank, we are at risk of burning out and then we are no good to anyone.

Is your body under stress?

The most simple way is to consider if you have to keep busy and get all of your jobs done because you know when you stop you may feel exhausted and it is too hard to get going again? This is a clear sign that you are using your emergency fuel tank to function on a daily basis. Another sign is waking after a minimum of eight hours sleep and still feeling lethargic.

What are some stress-busting strategies that you can implement to assist you to return to your main fuel tank?

  1. Deep breathing: I teach people to “bunny sniff” through their nose to ensure they are activating their diaphragm and then ensure they are breathing into the belly on the inhalation. Number breathing is also useful. If you can take 3 deep breaths every time you brush your teeth and every time you sit in the car. This will reset you into your parasympathetic nervous system.
  2. Take time out for yourself. It can be as little as 10 minutes a day. It may be having a hot cup of tea, reading a book or going for a short walk. It is important to consciously relax but not be asleep.
  3. Book yourself a treatment. It may be a massage, a facial or a treatment to work on your nervous system. (Physiokey/Scenar session or an Acupuncture treatment can both help).
  4. Ensure you get a good 8 hours of sleep a night where possible
  5. Drink plenty of water (aim for a minimum of 2L but more is even better, especially as it warms up)
  6. Avoid stimulants such as caffeine as much as possible
  7. Be Kind to yourself
  8. If everything is feeling on top of you, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Speak with your GP and consider a referral to see a psychologist.
  9. You have all heard some of these strategies many times, but how often do you complete them?
  10. Try and make time time for yourself. Once you are feeling amazing, you will have more energy and clarity to be able to assist your family and those around you.

If these strategies are not effective, please arrange to see your GP and seek further advice.


The Edible Garden – Tomatoes To Table With Recipe

Tomato seedlings like a sunny position with protection from strong winds. Prepare the soil by digging in some good quality organic matter. Plant spacing will depend on the variety. Once in the ground, water in well with a liquid fertiliser and mulch with organic sugar cane to a depth  of at least 5cm. Stake plants while they are young to encourage tall growth and airflow.

Tomatoes need regular watering and feeding to ensure success. It is best to water early in the morning and low to the ground (not on their foliage) as this helps combat diseases such as mildew.

Consider planting sweet basil as a companion plant for tomatoes. Not only does this combination make the perfect pairing on the dinner table (think buffalo mozzarella, sun ripened tomatoes, fresh basil, a drizzle of local olive oil and some cracked pepper…heaven!!) it is also thought that basil helps to repel aphids, flies and other insects.

What to do with end of season tomatoes? Turn it into homemade tomato sauce. This is a super easy recipe and will fill your home with the most glorious aroma. Use it for pizza bases, spaghetti bolognese, a simple sauce for pasta, whatever you fancy…

Homemade Tomato Sauce
1kg ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
Handful of fresh, torn basil leaves or Italian parsley
1-2 onions, roughly chopped
1/2 bulb of garlic, peeled
1 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Salt to taste
Place all ingredients in a baking tray. Mix well. Bake in a low oven (150 degrees Celsius) for 2-2.5 hours. Allow to cool then blend til smooth. Bottle in sterilised jars or freeze in containers.
Delicious, nutrient packed, healthy tomato sauce. Will keep in the refrigerator for about 4 days.

How You Can Create A Stylish Home, Even When You Have Little People

Just because you have children, or as I like to call them, sex trophy’s, doesn’t mean your sense of style is dead and buried. Though, it does present a new set of issues.

So, how do you create a stylish home that is both beautiful and spagbol friendly?

Let’s talk about the room you’ll find most of us hanging out in most nights; the living room. Firstly, you want to think about the big-ticket items first, like the lounge. There are two main things to consider here, the style and the fabric.

As far as style goes, it’s hard to look past a nice big sectional… plenty of room for everyone to spread out and excellent for building pillow forts. Now the fabric, this is so so so important because it’s going to determine the life span of your new couch. So, when you start couch shopping don’t just make a beeline for the one on sale.

The number you should be focusing on is the one determined by the Martindale Test, basically jargon for a way to measure a fabric’s wear and tear resistance.

  • Light Use: scored between 10,000 – 15,000
  • General Use: scored between 15,000 – 25,000
  • Heavy Use: scored between 25,000 – 40,000
  • Over 40,000 and you’re moving into commercial fabrics

Heavy use is the magic number you want to aim for, along with a bathtub amount of Scotchguard.

Next for the living room, you want to think about where the 1.3 million toys will live. I mean it’s cute while they’re playing, but nobody enjoys walking through a Lego minefield at 2 in the morning.

Furniture that serves two purposes is a great solution; think ottoman with hidden storage, open coffee table with wicker baskets. Stylish tick + Solution tick. Alternatively, just bin the lot, they probably spend more time playing on the iPad anyway.

My final tip is to bring some fun (and a splash of colour) into your home by framing your kids’ paintings. Not only will you win some bragging rights as “Mother of the year”, but it also looks fabulous when done correctly. The key with this one is to choose frames that are all the same colour. If you pick white, stick to white, if you want timber, stick to timber and so on.

Happy decorating.



Helping Young Children Through The Death Of A Loved One

Death, dying and grief is overwhelming for all. There are so many unpredictable emotions and experiences during this time and knowing how to give sudden and unexpected news to children can be difficult. What we know is that the best person to give that news is the person who is closest to the children and who know and love them the most. Children need a sense of safety and source of comfort when hearing and holding bad news.

Depending on the age of your child, ensure you don’t give them too much information. Timing is also important, wait until they are well fed, after school/preschool and if possible, at a time when you can all come together.  If you can, try to regulate and ground yourself first, so you can hold the space for a moment, when telling the news. If this is too hard, ask the next closest person to the children to help you do this. Keep your most sensitive child close to you, they will often be the ones to take off to their room and that’s ok. The more pragmatic child might need to ask more questions and that’s ok too.

Start with;

“I need to give you some really sad news that Grandma is no longer with us, she has died”,

it is very important to use the word died and not just ‘passed away’ or ‘gone to sleep’, especially for younger children (under 6) because they don’t have the cognitive capacity to understand less concrete concepts.  A young child might become fearful of going to sleep if they are told that their loved one has gone to sleep and not woken up.

It is ok to say when someone has died that their body had an illness that made it stop working. This is a concept that little people can understand. Keep information simple and age appropriate and when your child has had more time to process the information, they can ask more questions.  For older children it is ok to say how their body stopped working, but again, keep details age appropriate.  Try not to speak too catastrophically around little people as the shock, especially of an unexpected death, can trigger a major threat to their sense of survival.

Pause and give your child a moment to process and take in what you have said. You will notice that for those children who understand death, there may be overwhelming tears and they may throw themselves into your arms as it is too big a thing for them to hold on their own. For really young children they may not understand the word death and dying, so you will need to help them understand that death doesn’t go away, for example “Grandma’s body has stopped working, she can’t breathe or move or cuddle you anymore”.

Don’t assume that every child will express their grief with overwhelming distress. Make room for those children who don’t show any distress, they are likely processing the information in small chunks in a way that their brain can deal with it.

Let them ask questions, if you don’t know the answers, it is ok to say “I don’t know but I will try to find out”.  Let them know it is going to be a sad time for your family but that you will all be there together. Tell them that you might all need different things to cope with these sad times . Let them know it will hurt in your hearts, and that it will make you feel really angry or sad and that’s ok. Tell them that sometimes they will see mummy and daddy crying or feeling really sad and that’s ok too.

It is really important to reassure children that the loss of the loved one is NOT their fault. Children tend to quickly blame themselves. Reassure your child that you can help them with whatever big feelings come up and that you will all get through this together. The sense of connectedness and sharing in grief with each other will be comforting for all.  Surround your children with people in their inner circle, those closest to them.

Offer whatever comfort you know your child will respond to, some will need more hugs and to stay close, more soothing and touch and others may need a little space or more distraction.

Keep their routine as close to normal as possible in the initial days and weeks, this will give some predictability at a time when they feel they have no control over what has happened. Try, if possible, to not remove young children from their primary caregiver during the initial period of loss.

Some children will become more clingy, they may regress in some of their developmental milestones like wetting the bed, be more upset more easily or demonstrate more tantrums. They might also express fear and worry that you might die too, all of these behaviours are normal reactions to losing a loved one. Comfort and reassure your child as best as you can in these moments. These fears and behaviours will gradually improve over time.

Talk to your children about the person they have lost, gather photos and memories and store them in a special box or album where your child can go to easily. Have photos around and visible. Invite your children to put things in the special box that have meaning to them. Buy them a toy or cuddle bear that they can talk to or hug when they feel sad. Plant a tree or create a space they can go to celebrate and remember their loved one.

Invite your children to draw pictures about how they are feeling and memories of their loved one. Notice that they will express their feelings through their play. Play is the most powerful way within which children process their grief. Make room for these experiences and resist the urge to direct how the play or drawings go. Read stories to your children about death, dying and recovery. Primary school aged children might like to write stories about their loved one or journal their feelings.

Give children a sense of safety to be able to talk about their feelings when they need to and note that girls will naturally want to talk more.  Listen and validate their big feelings i.e. “I can see you are feeling really sad and it is ok to feel sad” and DON’T dismiss their feelings i.e. “Come on, Grandma would want you to be happy, you will be ok”.

Imagination and fantasy can be comforting and protective for younger children, so create a story that is in line with your values and beliefs i.e. Grandma now has a special star in the sky and when we miss Grandma we can find her in the sky and we can talk to her.

Openly celebrate important events such as birthdays for your loved one. Invite children to be involved and have some input into how you celebrate these special times.

It is important to keep the memory of your loved one ever present.

If in time you are worried about your child’s response to loss, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. You can talk to your GP or a Psychologist or Grief Counsellor. I would suggest though, don’t jump too soon to do this(i.e. in the first few days or week) unless you are really concerned about your child’s response.  It is important to give your child the sense that their big feelings are normal and that you as a family can hold them together. Do what you can to look after you too and seek support from your loved ones and or support people as you navigate through this difficult time.

NALAG (National Association for Loss and Grief) have a list of services on the Resources page that may be helpful. They have a branch in Dubbo and although they are not a crisis service, (They do not have a 24 hour phone line) and can refer people to the best type of local peer support groups for young people who have lost a parent.

Ph: (02) 6882 9222

Kids Help Line – This is a 24/7 service for a child who needs someone to talk to in a crisis situation; for children 5 years old through to young adults.

Ph: 1800 551 800




Triple M interview with Neil Gill

Click here to hear Amorette chat to Neil Gill about the Central West Mums website and connecting Mums during COVID19.


Keeping Connected

Click here to see an interview with Amorette Zielinski speaking to Prime News about the new Central West Mums website, a way of staying connected during COVID19.


Healthy Dog Needs with The Dog Lady

Looking after our dogs to be the happiest they can be is important, but it’s not always easy to understand how. Learn types of enrichment you can implement into your dog’s life and environment with the Dog Lady, Deb Coleman.



Glow In The Dark party (5-10 years)

A glow in the dark party is super fun a spectacular theme for kids. With a bit of imagination you can create an exciting party that you can host during the day and can be set up at home. You can choose a room inside your house or a garage or shed is perfect too; you just need to make the room as dark as possible. Black fabric or plastic over windows with some Blu Tack or similar, will do the trick. You can also make a temporary curtain with the plastic too; just cut vertical lines from bottom up and place over doorway which will keep the doorway covered and dark too. Your kids will be talking about this party for a while, guaranteed!


Take a black light torch in your bag when shopping for supplies. You’ll be surprised what will glow. For the party, wear old pants and shoes in case they get paint on them. Daylight will charge up the glow in many Glow items, as will black light torches and globes.


You need an easy clean area, a dark space, black light globes, wall mirrors (eg rent a dance hall), black light torches to power up paints etc.


Black, neons, white


Cake icing made with tonic water will give a slight glow under black light. Just mix in tonic till it is the right consistency (like lemon juice and icing sugar; but tonic instead).  White foods reflect the light; chips, marshmallows, rice, pasta, meringues. You can put neon icing splattered onto brownies to match the tablecloth too.


Black cloth with glow in the dark paint splattered over it used as a tablecloth. You can charge up this paint in daylight. Happy Birthday is fabulous in neon cardboard or a glow stick chandelier. Reflective or hi-vis fabrics work well.

  • Make over room before you enter the party: nail painting with glow in the dark nail polish, tattoo station with glow in the dark temporary tattoos, glow hair spray or hair mascara.
  • Art class – 1. Each kid gets a small canvas to paint with glow paints or 2. Each kid gets a white T-shirt to paint each other/paint fight.
  • Glow sticks jewellery – bangles, necklace, glasses etc
  • Cut open and empty glow sticks into bubble mix. Add to battery operated bubble machine for hours of glowing bubble fun. (Purchase glow sticks that say they are non-toxic and adults should handle it carefully with gloves).
  • Dance party
  • Paint your piñata in glow in the dark paint to look like a glowing moon.

Enjoy the best glowy fun!


Sculptures In The Garden Event – Mudgee

In the lead up to the 10th Anniversary of Sculptures in the Garden (SIG) in Mudgee, we spoke with Curator of the event; Kay Norton-Knight to tell us a little more about it for our readers. Kay and her husband moved to Mudgee in 1983 and raised their four girls in this beautiful town. They have a close-knit family who love getting together and sharing some laughs. Kay’s family created the most beautiful gardens at ‘Rosby’ and have worked on them almost daily for 37 years since living there. SIG is a not-for-profit event with proceeds going towards the Mudgee Support Group of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT and a local arts initiative to create a public sculpture walk in Mudgee.

How did the plan for the inaugural Sculptures in the Garden event come about?

We have always been passionate about art and sculpture and wanted to celebrate local artists at a small community event at our home, so with a group of like-minded people, we put together the first event and people loved it. It seemed to be something that was really missing in the community.

How has the event grown over 10 years?

The word spread quite organically about the event with more and more artists hearing about the opportunity to exhibit their works every year and more and more people hearing about the event and wanting to come and see the works on display.

What’s in-store for the 10th Celebration celebration event?

This year’s event has been extended by 2 weeks and is now going from the 10th October to the 25th October. Each weekend will have food offerings and live music with the Rosby wine bar and artwork exhibition on every day.

Tell us a bit more about how kid-friendly the event is and what’s on for kids this year?

Kids are welcome to attend SIG free of charge and they will enjoy the beautiful gardens and sculptures and specifically the SIG for Kids! section with artworks created by children from the Mudgee region.

Where do all the artists travel from to exhibit their sculptures?

We have artists exhibit from all over Australia. The majority this year are from NSW and this is mainly due to COVID-19 and the limitations this has caused. We have artists from the Blue Mountains, Central West, Central Coast, South Coast, Southern highlands, Newcastle, Northern Beaches and more areas across NSW. Also, artists are exhibiting from Victoria and Queensland.

What is one of the most memorable moments of the event in the past?

We loved having Wendy Whiteley, Dame Marie Bashir, Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the late Edmund Capon all come and open the event in the past. Annabelle Hickson was also a delight to have involved.

What sort of impact do you think this event has made to the arts industry and visitors to Mudgee?

Because of Sculptures in the Garden, we have been able to bring the enjoyment of art to the community and create a legacy with the Lawson Park Sculpture Walk. Something we’re immensely proud of.

Will this continue into 2021?

Yes, we have exciting plans for 2021 and we will be able to share these next year so stay tuned!

Book tickets

Check out more on Sculptures in the garden here:

Insta: @sculpturesinthegarden

Facebook: https://m.facebook.com/sculpturesinthegarden

Website: www.sculpturesinthegarden.com.au



A Dog’s Life – Hawks Nest, NSW

It’s September, and it is hard to believe that this is the first family getaway since December 2019. We decided, given the challenging year it has been, that we would bring our dogs with us as they certainly deserved a break too.

Holidaying with dogs takes some consideration, first and foremost the space in your car. You might need to plan for a roof pod to store your items as our vehicle was snug with a Border Collie and Spaniel in the boot. Remember, you need room to pack their bedding, food, snacks, toys and essential doggie poop bags as they are like two extra kids travelling with you. Bringing bikes or scooters will also come in handy if you can squeeze them in.

Hawk’s Nest is located on the Mid-Coast around Myall Lakes and about 5 ½ hours North from Orange.  A friend recommended the area to me as a dog-friendly area with a super relaxed vibe for the entire family.

On our journey, we stopped into Café 2273 in Glenbrook at the bottom of the Blue Mountains. The website doesn’t appear to mention that it is super dog friendly, though take my word for it, there is an ambient outdoor area which allows you to sit at a table or take a picnic rug and set-up on the grass. The food is delicious, and I recommend the “Cluck Norris” burger or for a holiday treat the French toast with Persian fairy floss and popping candy.

In Hawk’s Nest there here are loads of Pet-Friendly accommodation places available like Reflections Holiday Parks or there are many Pet-friendly houses in the area. We chose to stay close to Bennetts Beach which is a lovely mega-long beach extending for 14.3 km with multiple entry points.  The scent of jasmine and wisteria fills the air and the children and dogs are squealing with excitement to head down the beach asap!

On first thought, you could be sitting on the set of film ‘Castaway’ as many times we were the only ones there on the stretch of beach where we entered. Looking out, it almost reminded me of Fiji without the palm trees. On the beach it is a treasure trove of shells, reminding me of my childhood.

Our dogs loved playing with other dogs off leash, chasing the seagulls as well as 4WD vehicles which can drive up some tracks leading onto the beach. There are ample opportunities to go off road and do some sand driving to really get away. The beach is generally unpatrolled except during school holidays. Life-guards set-up on the weekends although dogs cannot go into the flagged beach area. The water is the simply sparkling blue-green and as close to your dreams of a beach paradise. Although it can be rough with strong currents, so probably not ideal for young children (< 5yo)  to swim. Our boys (aged 7 and 11 years) had fun splashing about and hopping on their boogie boards.

An everyday highlight is spotting a pod of dolphins which appear not far from shore, who swim in unison and appear to be catching their own waves just for kicks. However, shark sightings are also common, so if you hear the siren go off; get out of the water immediately! The small sand-dunes on Bennetts were an added entertainment bonus; let the kids surf or boogie board down the dunes in-between swims in the ocean. Endless fun and sure to exhaust even the busiest of little people.

Jimmy’s Beach which is just around the Yacaaba peninsula and 5 mins away was like glass when we visited and is generally a safer bet for young children.

Or if you’re up for hike, head up to the Yacaaba Headland to soak up the best views of Nelson Bay and Port Stephens.

Note – Dingoes have been spotted roaming around, so do not let your dogs or children run off alone in the scrub area off the beach.

The essence of a super chilled holiday to me, is to be able to walk (or scooter) around without having to get in and out of the car. A 20-minute trip approximately over the Singing Bridge and you’ll arrive lakeside at ‘bustling’ Tea Gardens. It’s kind of like the Big Smoke in comparison to Hawks Nest but is really very charming and peaceful.

There are plenty of marine and wildlife to observe and walks to enjoy around Hawk’s Nest and Tea Gardens. Marine Drive is where you can scoot along, check-out the sculptures, grab a coffee or bite to eat. If you’re like me and love checking out local artists, there is also a lovely  not-for-profit cooperative The Gallery which is run by the artists, so you are likely to meet a few of the artists when visiting. A fortunate location, was the Tea Gardens Ice Cream shack with lolly shop next-door for my boys to enjoy while I ducked in.

Feeling starved of water and sea air, our 4-day itinerary was mainly beach time but there is plenty to do if you want to adventure around the region. You can hire kayaks and sup boards from Ezy Kayaks or hire bikes and ride around the area on one of the many routes which begin and end at the Tea Gardens Visitors Centre.

You can jump on a ferry from Tea Gardens (which run several times a day) over to Nelson Bay for a day trip to enjoy a shark and ray encounter and wander the marina, with many lunch options and really good gelato.

A major highlight for us were the sand dunes at Dark Point, where you can discover a playground to surf and slide down. Boogie Boards are a must! Just follow Mungo Brush Road (from Beach Road, Bennetts Beach) for around 18 minutes in the car and turn right at Dark Point. Note: You will need a Parks and Wildlife permit which is $8 for the day which can be purchased at the Hawks Nest newsagency or visitor centre. Dogs sadly are not welcome here.

What do you do when the weather changes? Ensure you bring some games up or hit the So-Lo warehouse just down from Lovey’s IGA on the corner. It has loads of craft type items you can buy to entertain the little ‘uns. If you fancy catching a film, the closest cinema is an hour’s drive away in Nelson Bay.

My Recommended places to eat:

The Benchmark on Booner  bar and grill know how to feed families with generous servings of food. There is a huge selection of items on the menu from oysters to classics and grill items as well as some serious burgers and pizza.

We chose to stop in for lunch and ordered the Benchmark Works burger, the Snitty Burger and the kid’s cheeseburger (with the thickest meat pattie I’ve seen in a kid’s serving) hit the spot. As a family tradition we rate the chips wherever we go and they got a 4/5! Coffee is not bad and there is a Dog Friendly courtyard too.

Phone: 4997 2980

Open: Breakfast 8am-11am – Lunch 12- 2:30pm – Dinner from 5pm

Pizzas all day from 11am

Where to find them: 100 Booner Street, Hawks Nest

Tillermans is a café/restaurant which served a superb breakfast and presentation was beautiful. Coffee was probably the best I could find around Hawks and Tea Gardens area. They serve lunch as well. Peter and Kerry Hodges have also run two-week food, wine, language and relaxation tours to Dordogne region in France, and although that is on hold presently due to Covid, I am sure that they will continue welcoming their guests to their converted farmhouse close to the town of Bergerac in future.

Phone: (02) 4997 0138

Open: Thursday – Saturday from 8:30am – 6pm and Sunday from 8:30am – 3pm.

Where to find them: 77 Marine Drive, Tea Gardens

Hook and Cook is by far and away one of the most delicious fish and chips I have enjoyed in a while tastes extremely fresh and not overcooked in oil. Grab a table outside or sit across the road looking out onto the Myall lake. I also love the Tea Gardens kombucha served here. Dogs can happily sit outside in the sun. while you are eating.

Phone: 4997 1899

Open 7 Days from 11am till 7pm.

Where to find them: 71 Marine Drive, Tea Gardens

Tea Gardens Boatshed serves delicious food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, not bad coffee with a relaxed service; my tip is to beat the crowds by arriving early at a meal-time and to secure a table.

Phone: 4997 0307

Open: Coffee, cake and sandwiches – All day 7am to 3pm

Breakfast from 7:30 – 11am

Lunch from 12 – 2:30pm

Dinner on Friday & Saturday from 5:30pm.

Where to find them: 110 Marine Drive, Tea Gardens

Fish Coop, Tea Gardens

If you want to eat in at your accommodation, it is a must to stop by the coop and enjoy the local Tea Gardens and Kuruah oysters, delicious sweet prawns and fresh fish. Amazing quality and reasonably priced.

Phone: 4997 0606

Open: 9:30am-3:30pm Tuesday – Friday and 9:30am-2pm Saturday, Sunday and Monday

Where to find them: Marine Drive, Tea Gardens



Incy Interiors – An interview with Kristy Withers

Creating the ultimate space for your child is no easy task. As they grow their room requirements change; it may morph from a nursery with a cosy cot to the cool kid room, making way for the very first “big kid” bed. Amazing mum Kristy Withers has made the challenge of finding the perfect furniture for tiny tots so much easier with her one stop online shop Incy Interiors. Kristy chatted with Central West Mums to share a little about her family and daily routine.

Tell us a little bit about yourself? 

“I have just turned 40 and I am the mum to two beautiful children – Oscar (12) and Polly (8).  I am also the wife to my lovely husband Simon.”

How long have you lived in the Central West?

“I have lived in the Central West for most of my life.  I grew up on a sheep farm just outside of Oberon, went to school and university in Bathurst.  I did spend 12 years in Sydney before returning back to the Central West eight years ago.  We now live on 100 acres just outside of Orange.”

What’s your go to family outing in the area?  

“We have recently got another puppy, so our absolute favourite thing to do on a Sunday is to take our two puppies for a walk around Lake Canobolas. It is so beautiful and is far enough to burn off energy for the kids + puppies, but not too far that they become whingey and over it.  We always stop at the café afterwards.”

What is your favourite kid-friendly coffee spot?

We are so spoilt for choice in Orange.  During the week when I am at work, I mix it up between Mad Hatters, Good Eddy and Nimrods.  On the weekend its Groundstone or Lake Canobolas.”

What inspired you to start Incy Interiors?

“I started working on Incy in August 2010, after a long and exhaustive search for Oscar’s first big boy bed.  I was working at eBay at the time and I was travelling all over the world seeing all of these amazing products which weren’t available in Australia so I decided (after much encouragement from my husband) to take the plunge and do it myself.  That was 10 years ago now and we have evolved so much.”

What has excited you the most while on this journey as the Founder and Director of your own business?  

“Ten years in and the thing that still excites me the most is hearing stories from customers about how much they love the products and seeing their pics from the rooms they have created.”

What has been one of the hardest lessons you have learnt since running the business and why?

“Probably my biggest learning is to not sweat the small stuff. In the beginning I wanted everything to be perfect all of the time. It’s the same philosophy I have adopted with parenting and that is to pick your battles – battle on the things that matter!”

What is your best piece of advice or tip to others starting a small business?

“I get asked this often. My biggest tip especially in the early stages of setting up a business is to decide if you have a business or a hobby.  If it’s a hobby then just have fun with it, but if it is a business you need to figure out a way to make the business profitable from the very beginning.”

Do you have a morning ritual that sets you up for the day?

“Coffee! I’m an all or nothing person. I’m either clean eating/exercising all hours of the day or I am eating Nutella for breakfast I have never been able to master balance so depending on where I am on the scale really depends on my morning ritual but the one constant is coffee.”

Describe a typical day in the Central West for you?

“My husband’s alarm goes off at 5.30am so we are all generally up by 6am. I try to squeeze in a walk/run/exercise before 7am.  This certainly didn’t happen very often over winter but now the weather is warming up I am much more excited to get out and exercise. It is then the frantic early morning rush – breakfast, school bags, getting everyone dressed etc. I drop the kids off at the bus stop in Lucknow at 7.50am and I am at work at The Hive in Orange by 8am. I am pretty much at The Hive Monday to Friday 8am – 4pm if I am not at our head office in Sydney.  Whilst at work my day varies between Zoom calls, e-mails, budgeting, designing, anything really. I leave the office at 4pm to make sure I am at the bus stop by 4.15pm. I am trying really hard to finish work at 4pm and not bring it home but that doesn’t always work.  The kids are ALWAYS starving when they get off the bus so it’s a matter of feeding them, doing homework, getting things ready for the next day and taking the dogs for a walk.  We try to eat around 6ish and have everything done by 8pm so we get a chance to wind down.”

How do you manage the juggle of running a successful business and looking after your family’s needs?

“Some days are great, others are a disaster. I certainly haven’t figured out the perfect balance yet, but I have come to accept that that is ok.  Some days Incy needs me more and other days the kids need me so I just try to focus on what is important each day. I do find that splitting my time between home and work does really help. From 8am – 4pm Monday to Friday I am 100% Incy and outside of those hours are family time. Of course it doesn’t always work but that is my general rule.”

Where do you love to escape to when wanting some R & R?

“I love travelling and generally (outside of Covid) we go away every school holidays. My husband and I work really hard during the school term so that we can take a week or two each school holidays to spend quality time with the kids.  It is something we all look forward to and hopefully something the kids will remember forever. Given travelling isn’t really an option right now I have to get my R & R in other ways so it’s a bath, a glass of wine and a good book right now.”

Is there an area of the Central West you haven’t explored and would like to?

“I have never really spent much time in Parkes/Forbes so I am really keen to get out there and do some exploring.  Paigan (our Marketing Manager) is from Forbes and she recently wrote a blog on the area and there are so many cool things to do out there I can’t wait to book a weekend away.”

What is your definition of success in life?

“This is a really lame answer, but it is health and happiness. I am old enough now to know life is too short to be concerned about anything else.  As long as my family and friends are happy and healthy then I think I’m winning at life.”

Check out Incy Interiors here:
Insta: @incyinteriors
Facebook: Incy Interiors
Website: www.incyinteriors.com.au



Fun Spring Holiday Adventures for Families


Mudgee Mini-break

“Mudgee, oh yes I’ve been there it’s such a charming town you might think that you’re in country Victoria!”

I once overheard this comment and well it has to be said, Mudgee is a very lovely place. I’m lucky enough to be a regular visitor as this is where my parents live.

With international travel on hold and government restrictions keeping us within state catchments the nether regions of New South Wales are finally being well and truly explored. And so it seems, the secret of Mudgee is out! I love the place and I want you to also, so I’m going to share what I do & where I go when with my family whiling away a couple days.

Although Mudgee is a great place to go on a drinking fest …or should I say a wine tasting adventure with your adult friends, it also very much welcomes the whole family.

Be prepared! Mudgee is around a 3 – 4 hr drive from Sydney heading north west. Stunning scenery unravels before you as the road becomes less populated until it’s just you & the odd Ute or animal playing roulette with its life! Yes, do keep an eye out.
We prefer to take the Bells Line of Road across the Blue Mountains, stopping to stretch the legs & enjoy a cheeky pie or coffee in Bilpin or at one of the few apple orchards.  The Great Western Highway also offers glorious little stop offs like Leura, Katoomba or Blackheath.  Either way takes a similar time & both route you through Lithgow.

We usually end up arriving in Mudgee around cocktail hour. On a Friday eve we might decide to join the locals & have dinner at one of the towns many pubs. Our pick is The Red Heifer at Lawson Park (you will need to book a table). We don’t just like it for the enormous steaks & huge scrumptious desserts but in the name of keeping everyone happy, it also has a kids’ outdoor ‘speedboat’ play area. Whilst your kids make new friends you might too.

It’s Saturday morning and I’m slipping out for an hour of me time at Mudgee Moves for a yoga class. Yup – I’ve booked in and nothing is going to keep me from a little bit of self-care. Mudgee Yoga Centre is also a winner.
After class I am feeling blissed out & I stroll into the Saturday buzz to meet the gang for a well-earned brunch at Alby & Esthers. I find them sitting in a sun-dappled courtyard relaxing with the papers. Chilled music & the hum of morning banter adds to the ambience of this delightful cafe.

After brunch we take a stroll down Market & Church Streets to take in the old-world charm & of course to support the local economy by shopping in some very tempting boutiques & gift shops!

You can almost imagine Cowboys horses tethered outside some of the historical buildings. In fact, we hear clip clopping & are passed by a group of people on a town & vineyard tour with Hoofbeats Carriage Rides. We are tempted to book in but want to get to the farmers market before it closes at 12.30pm.

The Farmers’ Market is on every 3rd Saturday of the month. Luckily for us we are bang on! We head to Robertson Park where the market stalls are set up in a circle around a bandstand surrounded by roses, trees and lawn. We do a lap and leave with local honey, olive oil, pickles, breads, jams and let’s not forget the fabulous cheeses from High Valley Cheese. You might imagine we’re going to have lunch at home but oh no we are going to jump on our hired bikes and peddle out of town to Lowe’s Vineyard. Here we will laze away the afternoon over a cured meat & cheese board together with a drop Lowe’s fine organic & oh so refreshing bottle of rosé. The kids love it here, they can play boules or simply run around exploring – there are donkeys, chooks, vegetable gardens, vines & a dam to see. We love it here as you are actually ‘in’ the countryside. The food and wine taste exceptional in this open air under a glorious blue sky!

What a day. With the sky so blue and sunny we decide to cycle on to more vineyards. Next stop Craigmoor. This is Mudgee’s oldest winery & vineyard. It’s also home to a great museum so bolster your wine & regional knowledge here. If that doesn’t float the boats of the little folk, have a run on the cricket oval or wander down to the creek. Following Craigmoor, duck into Van Gents for some Harry Potter feels … you’ll see what I mean.

Now we’ve got the museum itch one of us wants to head out to Robert Steins Vineyard to see the Motorcycle Museum. Its small, but well worth a visit for any aspiring rev-head in the family. Another good reason to go to Robert Stein‘s Vineyard is to dine at the highly regarded Pipeclay Pumphouse Restaurant. Open both lunch & dinner. I’ve been fortunate enough to partake in the degustation menu & let me tell you it’s well worth fasting beforehand! They focus, of course, on locally sourced faire. The cured meats being produced on this very farm. You can’t get more local than that! This is somewhere that I would recommend for evening if it’s going to be adults only. Book in time for a sundowner & enjoy the vista over the dam with its quirky sculptures. Kids can join you by all means & if boredom strikes they can go exploring outside where more than like they can count the roos in amongst the vines.

Our day is drawing to a close and we are heading home for a simple supper and a board game. Sunday tomorrow and the kids are desperate to go to town pool for a dip. Nothing like relaxing poolside with the shrill yelps of excited kids on the high diving board & the crackle of a not quite tuned radio playing tunes from the ’80’s… in the chill of early spring! We make a promise to take them another time. How about the skate park?

This article is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and you should seek professional verification on matters such as legal, health and wellness, travel or financial opinion prior to relying on such information.
COVID-19 update: please note that all the information on the website is correct at the time of publication. Please check the relevant website before visiting a venue or destination for the latest COVID-19 information. Central West Mums is not responsible for any cancellations or closures.

Disabilities – What you need to know when seeking support and services in NSW

Circumnavigating the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) can be difficult at the best of times, even for those with a significant knowledge base surrounding it. So, for those individuals that find themselves in a position whereby they need to access support from the NDIS for whatever reason, such as having a child recently diagnosed with a disability, being in an accident rendering themselves or a loved one with a disability or even yourself or a loved one developing an illness leading to disability such as dementia, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis and so on… it can be an extremely distressing process and cause a lot of stress if you are not supported adequately in the journey.

If you have developed a disability as the result of an accident, medical condition or progressive disease you would usually have been in hospital and as a result have access to a social worker who will be able to guide you, they will help make sure you get the help you need, such as emergency accommodation, financial support, and health or legal services. They will coordinate the different support providers, while advocating for you and helping you to navigate the healthcare system.

Otherwise you can find social workers in hospitals, community health centres, aged care services, mental health services, and drug and alcohol services. They also work in education facilities, child protection services, family support, employment services, the justice system, housing, and disability services. Some social workers operate in private practice.

You can speak to a Centrelink social worker by calling the Centrelink Employment Services line on 132 850 and asking to speak to a social worker, or by visiting your local service centre.

If your child is diagnosed with a developmental delay or a disability under the age of seven then you contact the Early Childhood Early Intervention (ECEI) who are excellent at supporting families here in central NSW who have young children needing supports. ECIE tailor supports to your individual child’s needs and circumstances and if required will help with the NDIS process.

The NDIS support individuals with disabilities aged from 7 to 65 yrs of age in many ways; it basically provides “reasonable and necessary funding to people with a permanent and significant disability to access the supports and services they need to live and enjoy their life. Every NDIS participant has an individual plan that lists their goals and funding. NDIS participants use their funding to purchase supports and services to help them achieve their goals. Everyone has different goals. Goals might include things like volunteering, getting and keeping a job, making friends or participating in a local community activity. NDIS participants and their nominee or third-party decision makers control the support they receive, when they receive it and who provides it.”

In other words, the individual with the disability can control how the funds are used to support them and they are able to choose which services they access in order to receive that support. The Disability Advocacy Service in Bathurst provide excellent support for anyone that needs support to understand and access services and will speak to individuals on your behalf.

Local Area Coordinators can be found at Social Futures in the Centrepoint Arcade in Summer street on the first floor; LAC’s work with people with disability and psychosocial disability, they work with their local community to make it more inclusive for all people with disability. They can help link you to information and support in the community and mainstream services, such as health and education. For most people who become NDIS participants, LACs will work with you to develop your plan, help you implement it, monitor how your plan is going and undertake your Plan Reviews. Your LAC will be your main point of contact for the NDIS.

LACs also work with people with disability, participants and their families to build capacity and to support them to achieve their goals by building new community networks and accessing support and services in their community. They engage with local organisations and communities, including other government services, to build awareness and improve opportunities for people with disability to access and actively participate in community activities.

Your NDIS plan should provide funding for a Support Coordinator, especially initially; either until you become more knowledgeable of the NDIS and the services you are able to access wish to perform this function yourself or on an ongoing basis. Support Coordination is generally funded to strengthen your ability to connect to and coordinate with a range of more complex informal, mainstream and funded supports; they help you to coordinate services from a range of suppliers or providers, address service delivery issues and develop the capacity and resilience of your support network. Unfortunately, trying to find a Support Coordinator in the Central West is difficult and good ones are even more difficult to find; but your Social Worker, LAC and the Disability Advocacy Service should be able to advise.

Support Coordinators work closely with you, your service provider and if applicable, your plan manager, in order to ensure that the funding that you have been provided with by the NDIS within your plan is used effectively, correctly and you are not over-serviced so your funding runs out too quickly as a plan funding usually is over a twelve month period and different aspects are allocated for specific use such as equipment or access to specialist support as well as support for personal care and access to the community if required.

The NDIS funding can be managed in one of three different ways and this is extremely important to understand when you initially apply for funding as it can affect your choice of services later.

NDIA managed – whereby services submit invoices to the NDIA for payment – this can be quite restrictive as to your choice of service as they all must be NDIS registered in order to access the funding.

Plan Managed – whereby your plan has funding allocated for a plan manager who managed the funding for you, and service providers submit invoices to the plan manager for payment. Good Plan Managers work closely with you, your support coordinator and your service providers in order to ensure your funds are allocated appropriately and will last the twelve months. They should be able to provide you with a snapshot of what has been used, what is due to be paid out and what is left when requested.

Self-Managed – whereby you manage the funding yourself and you access the portal, set up and bank account, invoices are submitted to you for payment. This can be a time consuming and difficult task and you would be submitted to audits to prove where the funding has been spent so you need a clear paper trail. It does have benefits in that you have more control over the services you use.

With both Plan and self-management, it is possible to use services that are not NDIS registered and as more and more smaller service providers are setting up across the Central West, this does give you more choice.


Barcoos Farmstay Bathurst: A Country Escape In The Central West

Does your family need a little fresh country air and some time interacting with farm animals? How about a Central West farmstay at Barcoos, just a 10-minute drive from Bathurst.

At Barcoos Farmstay you can interact with all sorts of farm animals, from the friendly sheepdogs to Georgia the pig, the dozens of interesting varieties of chickens, horses, cows, ducks, a donkey and two alpacas. There are daily pony rides and also rides in the sulky, pulled by a sweet little Shetland pony called Coco.

Hunter the little white Shetland pony is very patient indeed with all who ride him. Even the farm dogs enjoy a pony ride. Patting Prudence the gigantic Clydesdale horse is another favourite activity. Kids also love collecting the freshly laid eggs from the chicken coops.

Animal feeding takes place twice daily and it is carefully supervised. Kids need to be taught how to carefully approach some of the animals, especially Erica and Aqualigia the alpacas who can be quite skittish. But they are soon literally eating out of the kids hands.

There are several accommodation options at Barcoos Farmstay, with two two-bedroom cottages and the five bedroom farmhouse which can sleep 10 people. There are also caravan and camping sites, both powered and unpowered.

Families can also visit Barcoos Farmstay for farm tours, without staying the night. This is a great idea for a day out at the weekend or during school holidays.

Barcoos Farmstay does get booked up quickly, so it is always best to plan ahead.

Barcoos? Yes, it is a funny name. The farmstay is actually named after Farmer’s Elaine’s first ever Clydesdale horse, a gentle giant named Barcoo.

Barcoos Farmstay

Address: 1080 Trunkey Road, Perthville (via Bathurst) NSW 2795

Phone: 0429 337 439

Check out more about Barcoos Farmstay and book a visit here:

Barcoo’s Barn website is here


Let’s Celebrate SPRING!

What’s your favourite thing about the new season? It’s a season that’s so full of life, growth and beauty to discover and share with our kids.

There are so many awesome things about spring, but these are my personal top 5:

Warmer Weather

We can say goodbye to the icy winter and enjoy a more moderate transition before a hot summer kicks in.

Blossoms & New Shoots

Trees begin to blossom and beautiful colours brighten the landscape. New leaf shoots emerge and the grass begins to turn green once again.

More Daylight

The days are naturally becoming longer and we also turn the clocks back an hour following the Spring equinox.


After a dreary winter, sunlight is the best remedy! Sun exposure increases the release of serotonin in the brain, which boosts the mood. Sunlight also reduces melatonin during the day and increases it at night to allow for a better night’s sleep.

Fresh Spring Produce

Oh yum…. so many of our favourite fruits & vegetables start to come into abundance right now! Keep your eyes open for these varieties in particular:

Apple Banana Grapefruit
Honeydew Melon Lemon Mandarin
Mulberry Orange Pineapple
Strawberry Tangelo Watermelon
Artichoke Asparagus Beansprout
Beetroot Broccoli Brussels Sprout
Cabbage Carrot Cauliflower
Fennel Leek Mushrooms
Onion Parsnip Peas
Rhubarb Silverbeet Spinach
Sweet Potato Turnip Zucchini




Helping Kids Cope with Hay Fever

In the current climate, it’s easy to mistaken your child’s sneezing, congestion, and runny nose, as symptoms of a cold… or something worse… but if he or she experiences a similar response at the same time each year, it’s possible that seasonal allergies may be the cause.

Seasonal allergies, or hay fever, occur during certain times of the year, usually when outdoor molds release their spores, and trees, grasses, and weeds release tiny pollen particles into the air to fertilise other plants.

Our body’s immune system treats these spores or pollens as dangerous invaders, so to protect us, it releases chemicals (including histamine), into the bloodstream. It’s these protective chemicals that create the allergy symptoms.

Seasonal allergies can start at almost any age, but they usually develop by 10 years of age and reach their peak in the early twenties. Symptoms will often disappear later in adulthood.

Signs and Symptoms

Allergy symptoms will usually come on suddenly and last as long as a person is exposed to the allergen. They commonly include:

  • sneezing/runny nose
  • itchy nose and/or throat
  • nasal congestion
  • coughing


Seasonal allergies are fairly easy to identify because they typically return each year following exposure to an allergen. Talk with your doctor if your child’s symptoms are severe or if you are unsure what is triggering the response. A simple skin test will identify the cause.


There are many ways to treat seasonal allergies, depending on how severe the symptoms are. Some kids can get relief by reducing or eliminating exposure to allergens that bother them. If reducing exposure isn’t possible or is ineffective, medicines can help ease allergy symptoms but talk to your doctor first.

Take care!


Mindful Moments for Daily Bliss

Every new generation has its own sources of stress… everything from school pressures, friendship dramas, cyberbullying, dramas at home, and even concerns about social issues like the environment and human rights.

Dealing with daily life can be stressful, and the rising rates of anxiety and depression among teens and even younger children is why so many concerned parents are turning to mindfulness as a way of helping their kids cope with negative stress.

Mindfulness is all about being ‘present’ in each moment… and not worrying or thinking about the past or the future. It means slowing down the mind and taking notice of what you are doing, thinking, and feeling, in a relaxing, stress-free, and non-judgemental manner, and usually involves some combination of meditation, relaxation, deep breathing, and/or visualisation, which creates the following benefits:

Cognitive Benefits

Executive functions performed by the brain include the ability to concentrate and focus, organise information, remember details, and engage in planning. When consistently practicing mindfulness techniques (over just several short weeks), students can show measurable improvements in regulating their behaviors and focusing on the task at hand. Kids have also been shown to perform significantly better at other performance-based tests and achieve greater improvement in areas that predict future academic success.

Emotional Benefits

A positive sense of well-being is an important foundation for good long-term mental health. Mindfulness activities, not only help kids to manage stress but also increase their sense of optimism. A greater sense of inner calm, better quality sleep, and an enhanced sense of well-being can also be reached.

Social Benefits

Difficulty interacting and communicating with others can lead to greater learning challenges, however, mindfulness techniques can produce more positive results. This is achieved through the facilitation of a more accepting and compassionate environment where emotions and impulses are better regulated and the concept of ‘self’ is enhanced.

Ideally, mindfulness should be practiced every day…. and when children (and parents) learn to do this as part of their everyday ‘normal’, a much more positive and stress-free outlook on life will be achieved!


Decluttering Your House and Mind for Spring

Honestly, nothing feels better than waking up to a clean home (unless the kids woke up before you, then it’s back to square one) and Spring is the perfect time to get your home in order.

Now, it can seem like a mammoth task, but if you tackle it room by room it won’t seem so bad after all. So, whether you have 5 minutes or you’re feeling motivated and plan to attack over the whole weekend these tips will help you get started.

Declutter Your House

Spring cleaning is easier when you have less stuff cluttering your life! So, get to work Marie Kondo-ing your house. Clothes, toys (not Mummy’s, they always spark joy), books, shoes, even mail.

If you’re a bit anxious about going through your own clothes, start with the kids and you’ll be surprised by how motivated you’ll become to tackle your own wardrobe. Plus, when you’re done, your wardrobe looks amazing because everything that was pulled out is now neatly folded and in its place.

Curtain Call

When it comes to cleaning curtains, there’s two main ways to do it. Using the washing machine or using a steam cleaner. Use the latter if you couldn’t be arsed taking them all down and removing all the little hooks, plus it’s a great arm workout.

If you opt to use the washing machine, be sure to set it to a delicate wash, especially for lightweight sheers.


While you’re washing your linens, now is the perfect time to also pay attention to the mattress itself, and it’s not as hard as you may think. First, give your mattress a good vacuum and then use a stain remover to spot-clean (if you’ve got bed wetters you’ll have to go to town on that sucker). Finally, make it snow by covering your bed in bi-carb and vacuum again.

Bonus Tips: If You’re In The Mood To Keep Cleaning

  • Have your carpets professionally cleaned.
  • Organise the medicine cabinet.
  • Make the inside of your oven shine.
  • Tackle the junk drawer.
  • Clean the grout in your bathroom.
  • Break out the broom and evict the spiders.
  • Wash the washers – dishwasher and washing machine.
  • Tackle Mt Washmore forever!

Burruguu ‘time of creation’ – Sharing knowledge through art

I first fell in love with Sandon’s art after seeing a piece called ‘Four Seasons’ which is on display at Molong hospital. When meeting Sandon recently, he strikes me as someone who is deeply passionate and respectful of the world around him. He is also surprisingly modest about his work. Sandon Gibbs O’Neil is an artist who was born in Orange and has spent most of life on Wiradjuri land visiting family members often. He follows his family cultural heritage of Nhunggabarra from Goodooga, NSW and currently lives in a beautiful shack amongst the gumtrees on the Hinterland of the Central Coast which is where he creates is art. His pieces I feel are both energizing and harmonizing as well as providing a sense of wonder about the amazing world we live in.

The name Burruguu meaning time of creation is an amazing name, though why do you think your Grandfather suggested this name without hesitation? How is this reflected in your work?

Thankyou! I guess it is the basis of our culture. ‘Burruguu’ is the time when everything was created on Nhunggal country and the starting point for everything. In a literal sense though – every time I paint, I am creating, I am sharing, I am learning, and I am continuing on aspects of our culture. He picked the name perfectly.

Why is art so important in Indigenous culture?

It is how we have shared stories for thousands of years and is a teaching and learning tool used across generations. It is also a way that we can continue to connect with culture. It is one aspect that hasn’t been completely lost and even through contemporary styled Aboriginal art it is a way to connect with culture and encourage a deep respect for the longer living culture in the world. For me I see it as a way to share culture with everyone and bridge a gap to start a conversation.

You have talked about your Grandfather, artist Tex Skuthorpe, and how he has inspired you – tell me more about your relationship with him and your cultural heritage?

He was and still is one of the main reasons I paint. It wasn’t until more recent years though that I realised the depth of his cultural knowledge, the talent he had and the importance of carrying on the knowledge for future generations. He has always been a role model and a caring grandfather who may have been one of the best golfers I’ve played with and had some of the best yarns. He never had a bad word to say about anyone and had a great way of looking at life. He always said that if you hold knowledge you have a responsibility to share it and that is what I hope to continue to do. I will never be able to share half as much as he could of about our land and culture, but I do hope to continue on his legacy in some way. The main thing I take from getting to know him more is that respect for everything was a part of all aspects of our culture and something that I believe was one of his main traits.

Tell me more about the visit to Alice Springs to spend time with him and at what point did you have the epiphany to start painting as your career?

I visited Alice Springs back in 2014 as he had been living and working there. When he was younger, he spent a bit of time on the land there and learnt some of the culture in that area. Through work and connections with community he also gained some stories and knowledge. It was amazing to hear the stories of the land surrounding us and to see the land and hear the story alongside it made so much sense – you could actually see the story within the land.

I was inspired then but more so when I was studying at university. I realised I was putting so much time aside for ‘western education’ and with my Grandfather being one of the lecturers also I realised I had so much about my culture that I should be learning. I just wish I started earlier.

Is there a story you have learnt from your culture that you really love? Does it carry through into all of your creations?

I love all of them and the way that each person can interpret them differently and pick different values and meanings out – just like an artwork. But my favourite is ‘How The Sky Was Built’’ because it is the first one I went through with in detail with my Grandfather. There are some symbols and designs which I just use when painting traditional stories but the connection to the land and representing it definitely carries through into every single one of my creations.

I never use the word dreamtime as I feel it is a western word used for all of the Aboriginal culture and stories across the nation. Every Aboriginal nation across Australia would have a different word for the ‘dreamtime’ and ours is Burruguu. There isn’t a particular story that goes across all artworks. In addition to the story mentioned before I love painting the Warrambul (the Milky Way) as it is a place where all people and Ancestors who have passed live on.

Is there a unique style that sets you apart from other Indigenous artists?
My work is different to many Aboriginal Artists and there are some styles that are specific to specific areas. My use of diamonds in traditional stories and certain symbols are ones I have learnt from my Grandfather.

My husband and I have engaged you for a commission to celebrate our 10th anniversary and we are excited to see our piece!
Explain the process of commissioning a work through you?

Thank you for the opportunity to create a piece for you and happy anniversary – I hope you both love it. Check out my website for more info around commissions. This year commission spaces are full and I have quite the waiting list building for next year. If you are interested jump on the website and fill out the commissions form as I plan on sending out some further information in a month or so. Commission spots for 2021 will be extremely limited.

What has inspired you while you have been working on our piece?

It has been amazing creating this artwork. Firstly, my culture and the land is the number one inspiration. For your painting though I was able to gain inspiration from a range of places – meeting you and visiting your home allowed me to get a feel for the space and get to know you. The wonderful stories you shared alongside what you would like represented in the piece and some colour inspo. I hope next year to have more experiences like this one where I am able to engage with each customer commissioning a piece on a more personal level and hopefully document more of the painting process to share alongside the artwork at the end.

Do you have an exhibition coming up? If so, where will this be?

I don’t – I don’t have time haha! I have been so busy completing commissions which has been awesome but it has also meant I haven’t had a lot of time to create originals or hold an exhibition. I did have one earlier this year but due to Covid-19 I was unable to hold it as planned. However, I ran it on Country and was able to sell my artworks through my website which I really enjoyed. Might be the way of the future and I definitely I plan on another online exhibition next year so keep an eye out!

To follow Sandon, see www.burruguuart.com or Insta @burruguu_art or message him on burruguuart@gmail.com


Paddle Adventures Await

We’re often asked “What is Dragon boating?”   

Well, that’s easy to answer:
It’s 20 people paddling in unison,
It’s a drummer beating time
It’s low risk, high fun
Races are fast, furious and fun

But beware    its also addictive.

It’s a sport that opens up a world of opportunities – for those who want to grab them or it can be your weekly dose of “ME” Time on your local waterway with a few friends.

For Pearl,  coach of the Pinnacle Dragon Boat Club and Pinnacle Dragons Abreast, Orange for 13 years, its opened doors the world over and led her to achieve things she’d never dreamt of, in fact when she began dragon boating back in 2007 – she didn’t even know what a dragon boat looked like!

Dragon boating appeals to many as it is perfect for the highly competitive and for the ‘Social’ paddler as well as a terrific sport for families or for the individual.

The Paddler’s Path can take you to the world – or for those who prefer your local waterway can provide all the fun you’re looking for.

Perhaps you’d like to step outside your comfort zone  – Train to be a race official, to be a coach or a sweep (steerer).

The opportunity is there for those who want to grab it, to travel the world.

It’s a sport you can get as much involved as you want, or not, no pressure.

Adventures Pinnacle Dragons has included racing in Canada, in Hawaii,  in Israel (on the sea of Gaililee), paddling around the islands of Venice (and down the Grand Canal), in company of the Venice Lionesses (a team of breast cancer survivors) with teams from UK,  France and Belgium, they’ve trained with the Rome Butterflies on Lake Gondolfo, Pinnacle Dragon Juniors have competed in Thailand with the Australian Juniors, some have been in the NSW State team.

We’ve paddled gently down the Ord River (56km), under the the 7 Bridges of the Derwent river, down the Nepean and 32 km down the Huon.

We’ve raced in Sydney, Canberra, Falls Creek (Victoria), Darwin and many places in between. We’ve raced with and against our friends in Dubbo, Mudgee, Parkes, Lithgow, Bathurst. Forbes and Wagga Dragon Boat Clubs.

We’ve made friends the world over and many wonderfukl memories  – All because someone, 13 years ago was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

The little hiccup led to seven people getting together in 2007 and forming Dragons Abreast, Orange. We’ve changed slightly over the years to allow us to open the club up to any over 11 years of age; regardless of shape, size and ability, this is an all inclusive fantastic sport. The club has always maintained our link to the world through the International Breast Cancer Commission, to the Australian Dragon Boat Federation and Dragon Boats NSW.

We’ve met incredible people along the way, the most significant being Dr Don McKenzie, Head of Sport Medicine Research at British Columbia University, Vancouver. Contrary to medical thinking in 1995, he believed repititous exercise of the upper body would be beneficial to breast cancer patients. The volunteers for Dr Don’s research program – became ‘Abreast in a Boat’, they are still paddling today. Many thousands of men and women, the world over have grown in confidence and fitness in a dragon boat.

This article is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and you should seek professional verification on matters such as legal, health and wellness, travel or financial opinion prior to relying on such information.
COVID-19 update: please note that all the information on the website is correct at the time of publication. Please check the relevant website before visiting a venue or destination for the latest COVID-19 information. Central West Mums is not responsible for any cancellations or closures.

Step-by-Step with Marley Spoon


‘Sparadise’ – Day trip to the Japanese Bath House

The Japanese bathhouses was the biggest hidden gem I came across 5 years ago. It has transformed over the years and is now better than ever. I’ll note that the website does not sell it one bit. But trust me it’s worth the gamble!!

Cleansing the body and spirit in a Japanese bathhouse using heat and steam promotes improved health and wellbeing.

Get a group of girlfriends together or take your husband for a day trip or an overnight relax. There are accommodation options to suit all budgets at the venue.

I personally have always just gone for the day trip; 10minutes outside of Lithgow and it overlooks Lake Lyall. Pack a towel, bathers, and your comfiest tracksuit for the drive home.

What does it cost?

Entry for three hours of bathing will set you back $80 and my tip is to add on a 30-minute massage $100 (you won’t regret it), and while you are there why not enjoy a delicious traditional Japanese meal as well, priced between $20-$30. The authentic Japanese meals are so lovely. There are approximately a dozen dishes to choose from and my personal favourite dish is the teriyaki chicken rice bowl with greens. You could even complement it with a lovely herbal tea.

I recommend you book via email and they advise you to book at least three weeks in advance as they are practicing a high degree of hygiene as well as keeping to a 100% COVID-safe system.

In Japanese Bath Houses, there are some common rules of bathing to follow and basic manners to observe while enjoying this ritual.

Where are they located?

The Japanese Bath House is approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes from Orange, or 55 minutes from Bathurst, which makes it a very doable day trip experience.

For more information, click here.

This article is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and you should seek professional verification on matters such as legal, health and wellness, travel or financial opinion prior to relying on such information.
COVID-19 update: please note that all the information on the website is correct at the time of publication. Please check the relevant website before visiting a venue or destination for the latest COVID-19 information. Central West Mums is not responsible for any cancellations or closures.

5 Family Friendly Cellar Doors to Visit in the Orange Region


Mum’s Group Put on a Party

Click here and here to read the articles.


Celebrate being a mother – Central Western Daily

To read the article click here.


Superior Books to Read this September

The Central West Mums Book Club is
proudly sponsored by Colins Booksellers
230 Summer Street Orange.


MumFest Proves a Hit!

Mums from across the Central West converged on The Greenhouse, Orange on Saturday afternoon in an effort to bridge the gap between online and offline community. Central West Mums, NSW, is an online Facebook group designed to offer support for mums in the region but Saturday’s event was a chance for those members to meet in person, enjoy some pampering, live music and socialise with other women from Orange and afar at the event dubbed ‘MumFest’, organised by Amorette Zielinski.

Read the full article here.


Who is the dog lady?

After a surge in the number of animal adoptions and puppies being brought into new homes this year since Covid-19, these furry friends settled into homes where there was someone home most or all of the time. So what do you if you have never owned a pet before or are trying to manage separation anxiety issues?

My family recently adopted two beautiful dogs from Jasmine Smart who runs Central West Animal Rescue.  Remo is a 9-year old Border Collie who has been incredibly well trained by his past owner who passed away, unfortunately. His behavior has consequently helped teach Emma; our 6-month old rescue puppy. Remo has been a terrific example to Emma, our cheeky and not-so-little Sprollie (Spaniel x Border Collie), what-not-to-do which is extremely helpful.

However, there were a few issues that needed to be addressed; like running out of the gate when we were trying to leave the house. I was referred to Deb Coleman and she immediately provided me with her expert advice over the phone to try, before I could arrange an appointment with her. As I followed her instructions with some small pieces of chicken each time I’d drive out the gate; after 10 days it worked – Just like that! Emma sat up as if to wave me goodbye without running out.

For more information click here.



My son Sam is currently away on his gap year jackarooing on a Cattle Station up in Northern Queensland in the Gulf country.  He finished Year 12 last year and like most 18-year olds wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. There were so many recommendations to jackaroo flooding in from older students, friends and even the school principal! They say it is the one time in your life that you may get this opportunity ……. so he decided to defer his university degree and embark upon a year of hard work and plenty of adventure.

Anyone can be a jackaroo or jillaroo.  There are really no age limits either.  As Sam says you just have to be prepared to commit and work hard.  You really need to have a genuine love of the land and farming life and just need to be able to ride a motorbike competently and/or the basics in horse riding. A well-managed trot is enough as it won’t be long before you are an accomplished rider!  A lot of the Stations use one or the other so you can always choose where you go.

In Northern Queensland, Northern Territory and far north Western Australia the wet season dictates the periods of work.  Usually the jackaroos and jillaroos head up after the wet season around end of February early March and work until the wet season comes in again usually in mid/late November. There are plenty of big properties in NSW so you don’t have to go interstate if you don’t want to.  The experience will just be a little less extreme.

The job description is basically to do anything required on the Station. This can be from cleaning out sheds to mustering cattle.  Every day is different.  Sam has had various training days being taught how to shoe horses, intense riding schools, welding, just to name a few.  You just have to be easy going and prepared to do whatever and whenever.  The pay is usually anything from $150-$200 per day plus food and accommodation.

The jackaroos are housed in their own quarters, having their own rooms and usually share bathrooms.  The girls have their own quarters and rooms also, but most Stations have a “Rec Room” and in Sam’s case they have a shed that is decked out with a bar, pool table, and table tennis table. There was also a kitchen and barbeques with lots of tables, chairs and lounges including the requisite tv with wifi.

Many stations will have a communal kitchen with a fulltime cook and so meals are prepared everyday. The fare is as expected; plenty of steak with the traditional pudding, and always plenty of cake, quiches and biscuits for smoko time. (That could also be another fun job as a cook on a station!  Again, there’s no age requirement except someone who is dedicated and organised and they get their own accommodation and usually Sundays off).

The cattle station is a real community.  There would be at least a dozen houses, housing everyone from the Cook to the Farm Manager to the Station Manager to the Mechanic.  The gardens are like an oasis with palm trees, bougainvillea, hedges and surprisingly lush green lawns.  They are the nicest bunch of people and a great crew of jackaroos and jillaroos, or “ringers” as they get called, the ringers all around the ages of 18-28.

This year has been like no other of course.  They have only had a couple of rodeos and races.  Usually the social life if rife so there is always a function to look forward to every couple of weeks, but having said that, they have made their own fun and gone fishing on the Leichardt River or kayak on local gorges where they have camped and partied. They also travel up to the barramundi capital of Karumba with the famous sunsets and abundant fresh seafood.

There is lots of driving but the roads are mostly, surprisingly good and most of the properties these days have to be extremely safety conscious. They do get grilled on general farm safety and I guess it is another step of them growing up and taking responsibility for themselves.

To apply is easy – just jump on the internet and google the various jackarooing websites such as Bush recruitment, MDH Pty Ltd, Paraway Pastoral Co.  There are many.  Locally there are sheep properties such as Egelabra or Haddon Rig in Warren. Any time from now until December is a good time to get in touch and organise.

Sam was once told if you don’t get anything else out of this year, you will learn how to work hard which will hold you in good stead for the rest of your life.

I asked Sam what he would say to others and he said, “It’s the best thing I have ever done and would highly recommend it.  Best experience ever.” That’s a pretty compelling testimonial. He has made some amazing friendships along the way.  I definitely can see how much he has grown in himself during the year and I am really proud of him.

Just warning you though, some never want to leave!

This Article Is General In Nature. It Is Not Intended As A Substitute For Professional Advice And You Should Seek Professional Verification On Matters Such As Legal, Health And Wellness, Travel Or Financial Opinion Prior To Relying On Such Information.
COVID-19 Update: Please Note That All The Information On The Website Is Correct At The Time Of Publication. Please Check The Relevant Website Before Visiting A Venue Or Destination For The Latest COVID-19 Information. Central West Mums Is Not Responsible For Any Cancellations Or Closures.

Family Law During a Pandemic

Amorette Zielinski talks to Alice Burnes from Cheney Suthers Lawyers about Family Law during a pandemic.

Other helpful resources:

Statement from the Hon Will Alstergren – Parenting Orders and COVID-19

Disclaimer: This is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and you should seek professional verification on matters such as legal, health and wellness, travel, or financial opinion prior to relying on such information.

Marley Spoon

Marianna Saran road tests Marley Spoon, the latest meal boxes to hit the Central West.


3 Lifestyle Hacks for Healthier Families

As parents, we can often feel pressured to give in to the requests (or demands) of our kids. Sometimes it saves arguments, other times it’s just quicker and easier to let them eat what they want to eat…. or stay up that little bit later!

Ultimately though, we have the power (and responsibility) to support the development of optimal health of our kids and our families (and in doing so, we positively influence the health of our broader community).

Here’s 3 simple lifestyle hacks to help keep your kids happy & healthy:

  1. Try to Eat Home-Prepared Food:
    In studies that have examined the relationship between where food is prepared, and the total number of calories consumed, results have shown that eating commercially made food leads to an increase in calories compared to eating a similar meal at home.
    These studies highlight that foods prepared away from the home (including fast food eaten at home and away from home), are both fuelling the childhood obesity epidemic.
  2. Aim to Eat Meals as a Family:
    Research has also found that children and adolescents who share meals with their families at least three times per week are less likely to be overweight, eat unhealthy foods, or be at risk for eating disorders.
    Children from families who eat together have better nutrient intake because they eat more fruits and vegetables and consume more milk. They also eat fewer fried foods and drink far less carbonated soft drinks. Research also shows that children who eat with their families make better food choices when they don’t eat at home and are more likely to eat breakfast.
  3. Create a Regular Sleep Schedule:
    If you have trouble enforcing bedtime with your kids, here’s another good reason why you should! Studies have shown that younger children who get more regular sleep are less likely to be obese!
    Children who have regular sleep schedules and sleep for the recommended number of hours each night, have the least risk of being obese or having unhealthy blood markers. In contrast, kids who slept the least and had irregular sleep schedules had more than a fourfold increase in the risk of being obese and having unhealthy blood markers that indicate the beginning of other chronic illnesses and disease.

(And we could all use just a little more sleep, right)?


This article is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and you should seek professional verification on matters such as legal, health and wellness, travel or financial opinion prior to relying on such information.
COVID-19 update: please note that all the information on the website is correct at the time of publication. Please check the relevant website before visiting a venue or destination for the latest COVID-19 information. Central West Mums is not responsible for any cancellations or closures.

Top Tips for Keeping Kids Motivated & Healthy

It’s been a challenging year… so staying motivated day after day and trying to keep the kids focused and on-track (particularly with exercise and eating healthily), can be a little tricky!

There are some simple things that everyone can do to keep moving towards their respective goals though, so here’s 5 great tips that the whole family can follow (for health and more):

  1. Explore New Opportunities:
    Not everyone has to be a marathon runner or is best suited to team sports. Everyone is different, so explore as many opportunities as possible and encourage your children to discover what they are most passionate about. It may take a few tries along the way, but there is something out there for everyone in the family to love and enjoy.
  2. Write Down Your Goals & Visualise them Often:
    Writing down your goals focuses attention & sets in motion the actions required for achievement. Even younger kids can draw pictures of what they want to achieve! (eg: trying a new sport or making it over the finish line at the school athletics carnival). By regularly visualising the actions needed to reach the intended outcome, the more real they become to the mind, which in turn makes them so much easier to complete in reality.
  3. Make a Plan & Set Time Aside for Action:
    In order to reach goals, everyone needs a plan. You and your kids can create a strategy by making a list of step-by-step actions towards the desired outcome. It’s important to set some time aside to follow the steps too! Scheduling dedicated time in the diary or on the family calendar will act as a visual cue & constant reminder of your commitment to the goal as well as allowing focused time to make progress.
  4. Remain Positive & Get Excited:
    Excite your kids about their goals and ambitions! Showing your excitement will boost positive energy for everyone (especially yourself) and this will motivate everyone to continue towards achieving their goals and remaining happy with their progress along the way. Having a positive approach towards goal achievement will also boost confidence and feelings of self-efficacy in other areas of life as well.
  5. Encourage & Celebrate:
    Believe in your own abilities and let your children know that you believe in theirs as well! Tell them how great they are going and dismiss any doubts or fears they may have. When you (or your children) accomplish goals, be proud and celebrate these successes together!


This article is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and you should seek professional verification on matters such as legal, health and wellness, travel or financial opinion prior to relying on such information.

Tax Time Tips

I simply can’t believe that it’s already September with the deadline of 2 November looming for lodgment of your 2020 tax return. This year feels like the unwanted gift that just keeps on giving!

So far 2020 has probably been a year a lot of us would like to forget, although for me it has been very special with the birth of my third child seven weeks ago. Being on maternity leave during the COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had its upsides; I haven’t missed out on any parties or weddings and it has also given me plenty of time to keep across the constant government announcements, many of which affect the 2020 income tax year.

The first thing I’d like to get you across is registration of your ‘My Gov’ account. If you haven’t already got yourself set up, now is the time to do it. My Gov is the government’s portal for their online services, which includes the ATO, Centrelink and Medicare. If you have already setup My Gov you will also need to ensure that you have linked the ATO as a service. If you have already done both, grab a coffee and skip the next 2 paragraphs.

To create your My Gov account, head over to my.gov.au, you will need a current email address and documents to identify yourself. To link the ATO as a service you will need your TFN, however the easiest way to do this is to contact the ATO and get a ‘linking code’ phone 13 28 61. Please see the following link for any easy ‘How To’ video: https://www.ato.gov.au/General/Online-services/Get-started-with-myGov-and-ATO-online-services/

To prepare for your 2020 income tax return, one of the first things you should do is log into your myGov account and head over to the ATO linked services. Under the tab ‘income statement’ you can access your PAYG summary from your employer (if you are still calling this a group certificate its time for a night cream!). If you have been in receipt of JobKeeper or JobSeeker payments these will be reflected on your income statements as usual. You do not need to do anything differently to account for these payments.

Through the ATO linked service you can view a ‘pre-filled’ copy of your tax return which is essentially a record of all the information the ATO has already collected for the 2020 year. To view this, go through the tab ‘Manage Tax Returns’ and select the current year. ‘Pre-filled’ information can include income statements from your employer and/or centrelink, interest received, dividends, limited capital gains information and private health insurance data. You can also lodge your own tax return through this portal, however I always recommend seeking the advice of a professional accountant.

If you choose to use the services of an accountant you should still check and verify the details in your ‘pre-filled’ report and note any issues to take with you to your meeting. Your accountant also has access to these reports so you don’t need to write down all the details. Other information that you need to take to your accountant includes the following:

  • Income and expenses relating to any rental properties, including interest on loans
  • Details of any investment purchases or sales including shares and property
  • Bank statements showing interest received
  • Health insurance statements
  • Details of any dividends or distributions received
  • -Details of any deductions including supporting documents.

The most common deductions individuals can claim relate to their work expenses. Generally, to claim a deduction for a work-related expense such as uniform or travel, the cost must directly relate to your job. Your employer must not have reimbursed your expenses and you must also be able to produce the proof of purchase. In some cases a bank statement or statutory declaration will be accepted as proof of purchase.

If you have received investment income you could be entitled to claim for costs related to this income, such as interest charged on money borrowed to buy shares or rental properties. You may also be eligible to claim the cost of investment advice.

This year, the ATO has introduced a ‘shortcut’ method to calculate a deduction if you worked from home between 1 March 2020 and 30 June 2020. For this timeframe, individuals can claim 80 cents for each hour you worked from home to cover any eligible tax deductions. If you wanted to use this method you will need to keep a record of the hours worked from home.

The ATO website provides more details on the deductions that you can claim and the supporting evidence required. This can be accessed through their website at ato.gov.au

Child Care Subsidy (CCS) reconciliation has also started for the 19/20 income tax year and now is the time to update your income estimates with centrelink. If you have children in daycare or other approved service you may be receiving CCS. Each year the government withholds 2% of your payments to create a buffer for any overpayments. When you lodge your tax return (or advise the ATO that a return is not necessary) there is a reconciliation that is done between the income estimate that your benefits were based on and your actual income. Any variance is then adjusted and you either receive or are liable to pay additional CCS.

Finally the ATO has announced that its areas for close monitoring will again include unsubstantiated work-related expenses and rental deductions. Make sure that you only claim what you are entitled to and always remember that once you have lodged your tax return, keep all records of your expenses. The ATO may ask you to provide evidence to support any claims that you make.

This article is general in nature. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice and you should seek professional verification on matters such as legal, health and wellness, travel or financial opinion prior to relying on such information.

Going Green with Kate Hook

Kate Hook is a mother on a mission. She’s on a crusade to “go green” and hopes families across the Central West will also consider reducing their carbon footprint in their day-to-day choices. Leading by example Kate has built her entire business around reducing carbon emissions, she’s also kicked plastic to the kerb. Kate sat down with Central West Mum’s to share she story, here is what she had to say.

Tell us about yourself and your family and how long you’ve been in orange?

We came to Orange in 2006. I have four children, two girls aged 17 and 15 and two boys aged 11 and 13. We live on a small hobby farm in Borenore.

Tell us what inspired you to start your environmentally friendly chauffer service, Eco Luxe transfers and how long has it been running for?

Eco Luxe Transfers was started in 2018, when I was trying to solve my own problem of not wanting to buy another petrol/diesel car (as I was feeling too guilty about carbon emissions). However there was no other car on the market that was fully electric and able to fit my family other than the Tesla Model X, which had a purchase price outside of my budget.

After a lot of research and consideration, I realised that the cost of ownership of the Tesla over the same period as I had my previous car (a diesel Audi seven-seater) will actually be cheaper, as you have zero fuel costs and virtually zero mechanics cost – as there is no engine, just a battery, and only 28 moving parts in the whole car, as opposed to 2500 moving parts in most fuel cars.

So initially, the idea of using my car for local and longer distance transfers was to reassure myself that I could afford it. Now that I’ve realised the car is cost-comparative with my previous car, the income is just a bonus.

What is it about your car service that is different from others out there?

There is nothing like the comfortable drive you get from an electric car. It’s smoother, quiet (no engine), lots of space as there is a gap between the two second row seats and if you think it’s fun to accelerate, this one accelerates unbelievably.

The other difference is Eco Luxe operates as a ride-share service, meaning you just buy a seat in the car for a trip, making it more affordable. You can also pay more to be driven exclusively.  Passengers also enjoy chilled water in glass bottles, zero-waste snacks, neck pillows and noise-cancelling earphones. Pick up from your front door if you live within 10 mins of Orange CBD and drop-off also to your chosen location if within 10 mins of destination (eg Sydney) CBD.

Have you transferred any famous people?

I transferred Taryn Brumfitt for the Central West Mum’s “Mumfest” event last year which was so much fun, we had great chats.

My other favourite was Craig Reucassel (Of “War on Waste”, “Fight for Planet A” and “The Chaser” fame.  What a lovely human.

I was looking forward to bringing Dr Karl for this year’s Sustainability Week in Orange, but it has been postponed to next year.

I have had quite a few “influencers” from social media, but to be honest, I had no idea who they were, so they didn’t feel like famous people to me!

What has the response been from customers?

They all say that they can’t wait to get an electric car!

Are there any plans to expand?

Yes, the plan from the start has been to grow the business into a fleet of community-owned electric cars, where members of the community can also earn money from their car while they’re at work, on holidays or otherwise not using their car.

What makes you so passionate about sustainability?

Every lungful of air we breathe, every mouthful of food we eat, every drop of water we drink, depends on the natural environment. We have pushed it too far and have a very small window of opportunity to drastically change things for the better before the rate of change in the climate is out of control.

That is not a legacy I want to leave my kids or anyone else’s kids. I need to be able to look them in the eye in ten years’ time and say, “I did what was necessary,” which is a lot different to saying, “I did my best.”

Why did you start plastic free orange?

Together with fellow members of the Environment and Sustainability Community Committee, which advises Orange City Council, we picked up on the global Plastic Free July movement and promoted it locally. I think both David Attenborough’s final episode of Blue Planet II, showing the horrendous amount of plastic killing marine life, together with the ABC’s War on Waste series (with Craig Reucassel) with it’s “plastic footprint” on Manly beach analogy, made it clear that this is a massive problem that will not go away unless people influence it with their purchase decisions or votes. The UK passed a law in parliament that after 2025, companies will need to find other alternatives to package their products unless they can justify why plastic is absolutely necessary. I think perhaps legislation is the only way to achieve this – so that needs to be communicated to political representatives.

What are your top three tips to avoid plastic?

  1. Shopping bags – say no before the shopkeeper puts your good in a bag. If you’ve forgotten your reusable bag, buy another one, so that you have more to divide between the house, car and pram/bike. The act of buying another one will be slightly annoying enough to remind you for next time.
  2. Avoiding (new) plastic toys. This is tough at first but helps SOOO much, when kids learn that it’s just the way things are. They will end up stopping themselves mid-sentence; “Mum, can I have this…..oh wait, no, it’s plastic” – this might sound like child abuse at first (!) but it’s amazing what wood/metal/natural things they find to play with. I also encourage pencils rather than textas.
  3. Drinks that come in plastic bottles are out. Again, they kids just know not to ask for them. Chocolate milk in a cardboard carton is OK though. (There is plastic lining on cardboard cartons but nothing like as much as the solid plastic bottles.) Yes, the bottles are recyclable but as The War on Waste showed us, only 10% of recyclable materials actually get recycled. For milk, you can get 1L cartons in Woollies. Also 1L glass bottles in Harris Farm, and they will accept your clean empties so they can commercially clean and reuse them.

How hard is it kicking plastic to the kerb?

In my house, we try to be as low plastic as possible. Sometimes you get caught out but it’s not as hard you think. Just start with the mindset that you want to go zero waste eventually and bit by bit, you work out how.

What’s you’re advice to other households out there who are considering ditching plastic?

Just start. There are great blogs, Instagram people and Facebook pages to share ideas. It’s so much easier than you think if you just tackle one thing at a time. Also shopping is easier if you split it up over different days that you might be in town. Then it doesn’t feel like you’re going to 6 different places that you know can satisfy your plastic-free need