Based on a True Story | Amelia at Vaucluse House

Maddy, Isabella and I went camping at Uloola Falls (via Karloo Pools) in the Royal National Park and it was just right.

I Was Wondering 'Bout You and That Girl

The water, the water! | I just can’t get enough of these little ladies. Every time I see them they’ve grown a tad taller, lost another tooth and picked up another skill. I know I’m biased but I find them endlessly fascinating and delightful. A simple thing like a visit to the beach is an adventure, their tiny faces full of wonder. I still feel unsure and a little afraid of motherhood but when it comes to being an aunty I have no doubts.

Kind of Like Oceans | It was a public holiday and Bronte beach was packed. The surf was so rough and everyone was getting knocked around by the waves. Not quite the relaxing dip I was hoping for so I hopped out and took a few snaps instead.

You will take the east side and I will take the west. (We had everything for a little while.)

Maddy in the spring time

We found a rundown old race course on the way back from the TarraWarra Museum of Art | Chloe, BC and Michael in Melbourne

Cape Town, South Africa

Our Sunshine (Summer Longing) | I can't conjure up the sensation of sweat on my skin as a warm breeze blows. I don't recall those still nights. When did cool water provide any relief at all?

House & Farm

My Brother Had a Daughter | Oak, Olive + Mosa - July 2015

This is South Africa - Part Two
In the heat of the day the dusty streets of Jouberton are deserted but once the sun starts to sink they fill with families, men on their way home from work, quarreling kids, grandmas in green and the occasional chicken. Cooking ingredients are exchanged and meal offers are made but no one goes home until well after dark. There’s nowhere else to be and it’s clear that nothing’s more important than sitting by the side of the road chatting with your neighbour while your children play nearby.

18 year old Mpho lives with her grandmother, mother, little brother, aunties and cousins plus two month old Lethabo in a three bedroom home. “Family and friends come to stay all the time,” she says. “It’s hard to get a bath around here – unless you’re Lethabo.”

She completed her matric (year 12 exams) last year at a boarding school a few hours away but has now moved home again. She plans to go to college next year and wants to be a nurse. We spend the days walking around her neighbourhood (“Everyone is staring at you,” she said. “But don’t worry, I’ll be your bodyguard.”) and hanging out with her best friend, Lebogang, singing along to songs on the music channel and sitting by the side of the road eating ice blocks to stay cool. Lebogang and Mpho grew up together in Jouberton. He’ll finish high school at the end of the year and then plans to move to Cape Town to study law. They both love music and have incredible singing voices. “Do you like Sia? What about Ellie Goulding? And London Grammar? Yes? Ahhh we’re the same!” said an excited Mpho.

As soon as school finishes, Mpho goes from house to house, visiting her friends. They sit outside listening to music on their phones, eating peaches and pomegranates from the trees or chips and ice blocks bought for less that 10 cents from one of the many ‘tuck shops’. One day I offered Mpho some of my dried fruit/nut/seed mix. She wasn’t keen. “Ew, no thanks!” Later she offered me some of her chicken feet (aka ‘runaways’). You can probably guess my response.

Mpho always wears a hat and long pants or sleeves – even on 40 degree c days like today – because she says she doesn’t want her skin to get any darker. “I’m black on the outside but white on the inside,” she told me.

Photographing Mpho was just one of those wonderful, unexpected encounters that ended up being better than anything I could have imagined or planned. Being the only white person in the community felt uncomfortable and strange but I think it was important to experience that. At times it was confronting and challenging but for the most part it was just plain fun. Mpho and I really connected and she felt like a real friend.

All photos shot with a Leica M6 and Kodak Portra film. Developed and scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

This is South Africa - Nieu-Bethesda 2
I’d been to South Africa twice before but had only visited major cities and tourist-y spots. Shooting Small Town Girl there earlier this year meant I was able to get off the beaten track and meet real people and get a taste of their day to day lives. I feel like my assumptions of South Africa were constantly being challenged/smashed and for that I am extremely grateful. In Nieu-Bethesda I photographed Rebecca and stayed with her family and didn’t want to leave. The landscape reminded me of something in between Broken Hill, Australia and Palm Springs, USA and I had to keep reminding myself where I was. The village proper has a population of approximately 100 people (and no paved roads…but a charming network of water furrows). With the surrounding farms and black/coloured township that number is closer to 1500. It’s situated in the Great Karoo, a vast semi-desert region, and is scorching in summer and snowy in winter. Much like Broken Hill, there are little galleries and studios all over town and ever second person you meet is a painter or jeweler or ceramicist. While Rebecca was at school I cruised around Nieu-Bethesda on a bike, taking photos of this and that, and hung out at this place which was part beer brewery, part coffee roastery and part cheese factory. So, in other words, heaven (aka The Brewery). I met two US backpackers there and we went on a canyon hike then caught a ride back to town on the roof of a local’s old Landrover. I drank Rooibos tea with Rebecca’s beautiful mum Bronwen and we connected over similar life choices and upbringings and outlooks. On Friday night a South African musician named Guy Buttery performed and afterwards I found myself sitting around a campfire with a group of locals and a few other travelers , sharing stories and smokes. I rode my bike home through the black night aware of my place below the massive mountains. The next few days at Rebecca’s place consisted of rustic meals around the family table, a trip through the Owl House, swims and a picnic lunch in a gorge. I wanted to wrap myself up in the warmth of this little family forever. I felt so nourished after a week with them in such a spectacular, peculiar hidden gem of a small town.

This is South Africa - Nieu Bethesda 1
I’d been to South Africa twice before but had only visited major cities and tourist-y spots. Shooting Small Town Girl there earlier this year meant I was able to get off the beaten track and meet real people and get a taste of their day to day lives. I feel like my assumptions of South Africa were constantly being challenged/smashed and for that I am extremely grateful. In Nieu-Bethesda I photographed Rebecca and stayed with her family and didn’t want to leave. The landscape reminded me of something in between Broken Hill, Australia and Palm Springs, USA and I had to keep reminding myself where I was. The village proper has a population of approximately 100 people (and no paved roads…but a charming network of water furrows). With the surrounding farms and black/coloured township that number is closer to 1500. It’s situated in the Great Karoo, a vast semi-desert region, and is scorching in summer and snowy in winter. Much like Broken Hill, there are little galleries and studios all over town and ever second person you meet is a painter or jeweler or ceramicist. While Rebecca was at school I cruised around Nieu-Bethesda on a bike, taking photos of this and that, and hung out at this place which was part beer brewery, part coffee roastery and part cheese factory. So, in other words, heaven (aka The Brewery). I met two US backpackers there and we went on a canyon hike then caught a ride back to town on the roof of a local’s old Landrover. I drank Rooibos tea with Rebecca’s beautiful mum Bronwen and we connected over similar life choices and upbringings and outlooks. On Friday night a South African musician named Guy Buttery performed and afterwards I found myself sitting around a campfire with a group of locals and a few other travelers , sharing stories and smokes. I rode my bike home through the black night aware of my place below the massive mountains. The next few days at Rebecca’s place consisted of rustic meals around the family table, a trip through the Owl House, swims and a picnic lunch in a gorge. I wanted to wrap myself up in the warmth of this little family forever. I felt so nourished after a week with them in such a spectacular, peculiar hidden gem of a small town.

These shots were taken on my Leica M6 and Canon 1V and developed/scanned at Richard Photo Lab.

As my friend and colleague Zan Rowe reminded us all on Twitter this morning, it’s Mid Year Report time! The radio station I work for, triple j, will spend this week looking back over the musical gems and milestones of the first six months of 2015. I’ve definitely caught myself thinking about how awesome this year has been music-wise so I thought I’d join in and let you know what sounds I’ve been digging.

  1. Let It Happen – Tame Impala

  2. Short Movie – Laura Marling

  3. No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross – Sufjan Stevens

  4. Chateau Lobby #4 (In C for Two Virgins) – Father John Misty

  5. Multi-Love – Unknown Mortal Orchestra

  6. Aerial Love – Daniel Johns

  7. Letting Go – Braids

  8. Bad Blood (feat. Kendrick Lamar) – Taylor Swift

  9. Bitch Better Have My Money – Rihanna

  10. Do You Remember – Jarryd James

What about you?

Do you know Ngaio? You need to know Ngaio. We spent the afternoon at her house a few moons ago. Check this gal out, for real: http://www.ngaioparr.com/

Remember my dear friend and old flatmate Gracie? Well she’s about to become a mama and I couldn’t be more excited. A few Sundays ago my other old flatmate Lydia and her sisters Emily and Charis and I went to Gracie’s house for a little baby shower. However, there were no birth date/weight/gender guessing games or melted chocolate bars in disposable nappies (if you’ve been to more than one baby shower in the last few years you’ll know what THAT’S all about). Instead we made natural moisturisers and an exfoliating scrub. Win! You should totally make this one moisturiser at home. It’s simple, nourishing and smells delicious.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup shea butter

1/2 cup cocoa butter

1/2 cup sweet almond oil

1 vanilla pod

Method:

Combine everything in a saucepan over low heat. Stir frequently and allow the ingredients to melt. Remove from the stove and pour liquid into a bowl. Break the vanilla pod and stir the seeds through the liquid. Put the bowl in the freezer until the liquid is solid (not frozen!). Remove from the freezer and use a hand blender (not to be confused with a hand beater) to whip the ingredients until its consistency is light and fluffy. Slather it on your limbs knowing you’re feeding your skin the good stuff, mmm.

Yeah, I know, more pics from summer (I took a whole lot – it was a good one). But it’s a sunny 22 degrees C day in Sydney (what winter?) so I was reminded of this glorious Cronulla afternoon with Rachel, Chloe, Lee, Sophie and Maddy.

My friend Chloe took this picture with her phone outside Woolies on George street in the city last night and I love it. We'd just left a bar where we were celebrating the opening of Small Town Girl - Australia, South Africa and the USA at Gaffa gallery and I was feeling so happy. An hour or two earlier I was in a room full of people I love and people I'd never met. 23 framed photographs representing the best and brightest experiences I'd had over the previous two and a half years were lining the walls. Looking around that room, I realised that the Small Town Girl project encompasses so, so much more than the images. It occurred to me that it really isn't about the photos at all. It's about relationships and connection. The camera is the 'key' that gives me access to the girls' lives - it's my reason for being there - but the experiences we share, the things we learn from each other and the reciprocal understanding we gain is the real reason and purpose. The photos are just evidence, you know?

I'd like to thank everyone who came along and said kind things and told me that the photos/words on the walls made them feel something - the highest compliment. I'd especially like to thank dear, dear Justin - my mentor and friend - who spoke so beautifully about the project and tied it together perfectly. I am so fortunate. The world is abundant.